Katrynne

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Katrynne last won the day on February 10 2017

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  1. Don't Get Bit “Zak’s Pack,” as some affectionately referred to the group, were gathered in the brush at the edge of a clearing. They looked across the clearing at an abandoned mine. Abandoned by humans, that is. A handful of worgen could be seen out in front of the mine’s entrance. There were seven worgen hunters on this particular team of volunteers. All were armed and armored. All listened as their captain briefed them on today’s mission. “I have received word that Alpha Prime has been sighted entering the tunnels there,” Zak informed them. The team had hunted here before, outside the mine, but they’d never ventured into the tunnels. “It is probably just a rumor, but we will still check it out. It is long past time we cleaned that place out anyway.” The report of Alpha Prime being there didn’t match other intel they had on him. If he was there though, and if they managed to bring him down, the team knew they would win a big victory over the beasts. The potential victory was tempting enough to make the hunters believe it was worth the risk of invading the mine. In any case, there were definitely worgen there that needed to be exterminated. “Inside those tunnels will be dangerous,” their captain warned. “The worgen know the layout; we do not. Stay together, and watch your step.” Zak paused before adding quietly, “Don’t get bit.” “Don’t get bit,” the other seven murmured back. It was their quiet way of honoring a fallen team member and reminding each other not to fall to the same fate. Katrynne blinked quickly a few times, her eyes moist. Alain squeezed her hand. The group fought their way through the worgen at the mine’s entrance, as well as the additional beasts that came out as reinforcements after the fighting started. When no wolf man still stood, the humans paused to catch their breath. Zak assessed them for injuries. A few bruises and scratches. Nothing serious. No bites. He motioned for silence and led them into the tunnel. A few hours later, the group was still roaming through the tunnels. They had killed every worgen they’d found. It was tricky in the dark, winding tunnels. The beasts had better night vision, and Zak didn’t let his team carry any light brighter than Phaedra’s staff, which glowed softly with some kind of magic. Each kill was an ambush. A draft traveled from deep in the tunnels towards the exit, so the humans were always downwind. The team surprised each worgen as they came across them, and made quick kills before any alarm could be raised. “Are we heading back towards the city?” Lonan whispered. Zak shushed him. Katrynne was amazed anyone had any idea where they were. Without being able to see any references—the sun, the city, the Wall—she had no idea where they were in relation to the world above them. Zak held up a hand to get their attention then pointed his finger first at the side of the tunnel then above him, where the roof was held up by rickety support beams. Phaedra lifted her staff, and Katrynne could see loose rocks held up by wooden beams that were half rotted. They hurried under. Several yards later, the passage they were in ended in an elevator shaft. Pieces of the wooden elevator lay smashed and rotting on the floor. The shaft itself had collapsed and filled with rubble. The team turned around to go back the way they came and found themselves cornered. Katrynne heard their menacing growls. She saw one white worgen before she saw the other darker shapes moving towards them. She gripped her sword and prepared for the fight. In the darkness, she couldn’t tell for sure how many there were. More than three and less than ten, she decided. The pack of worgen lunged at them. Katrynne heard Lonan’s scream turn to a gurgle. She looked just in time to see his throat torn out before he fell to the floor. She shoved aside the horrid image and brought her sword down on a worgen that Alain was struggling with. Together, Alain and Katrynne slayed the beast. When it fell to the ground, they looked over the rest of the team. The group was scattered by the battle. Most were near the rickety overpass. Katrynne and Alain were close to the elevator shaft. No worgen moved on the floor. They heard a howl, answered by another and another and many more. The sounds echoed through the tunnels so it was impossible to tell how far away they were. “We need to move,” Zak said. “Ugo and Alain, get Lonan. The rest of you, watch your step.” Katrynne stared at Lonan’s body as the two men picked it up and carried it away. There was a hole in his neck where his throat had been. It had happened so quickly. Just a cut-off scream and his life was over. It was so sudden. “Kat, come on!” Alain called. The rest of the group was under the rickety ceiling and moving down the tunnel. The howls still sounded through the tunnels. They sounded louder now. Katrynne started after them, but a furry hand grasped her ankle. It was the white worgen. He wasn’t dead like the others. He’d only been playing dead. His red eyes glinted and he got to his feet, flipping Katrynne off her feet as he did so. The breath was knocked from her, and she lay stunned for a moment. The worgen circled her with a hungry look in his eyes. She tightened her fingers around the hilt of her sword and leapt to her feet. Down the tunnel, the howling had stopped, replaced by sounds of fighting. In her mind, Katrynne again saw Lonan’s throat being ripped out, his body falling limply down to the dark floor. She forced the image aside and focused on the worgen in front of her. Don’t get bit, she reminded herself. The white worgen was huge, but then, all the worgen she’d ever seen were more than two feet taller than her, so they were all huge. He stared at her, waiting for her to make the first move. She needed to end this fast, so she could help the rest of the team with the worgen they were battling down the tunnel. Katrynne stepped toward the worgen, stabbing her sword at his chest. The worgen sidestepped the blade and grabbed her wrist. Using her own momentum against her, he spun her so she ended up with her back against his chest and her hands held uselessly in front of her. Don’t get bit. She tried to twist her sword to aim it at his head towering over her. She stomped on his feet. She kicked her heel at his shin. Don’t get bit. Then she sensed his head lowering. Don’t get bit. She heard his mouth opening next to her ear. Don’t get bit. She felt his embrace tighten around her to hold her still until she could barely breathe. Don’t get bit. Finally, she felt his fangs pierce through first the leather of her armor and then into the skin on her shoulder. She screamed. The worgen loosened his grip on her and she squirmed away, stumbling towards the rest of the team. Their fight was just over and Alain was coming towards her as the others assessed injuries. Suddenly, Alain stopped with a look of horror on his face as he stared at the trickles of blood coming from puncture wounds on her shoulder. Katrynne stopped just before the rickety part of the tunnel. She’d been bitten. Recent memories surfaced, bringing with them a sense of dread and hopelessness that made her tremble. ”There is no cure,” Zak had told them as gently as he could. ”He will change. And we will have to put him down.” Her free hand went to the ring on a chain around her neck. The grief on Alain’s face nearly broke her heart. She saw Zak looking at her now. He had a pained expression on his face that probably had nothing to do with the gash on his forehead. Alain took a step forward, but Katrynne shook her head. She would not make them go through that again—the horrible wait for the inevitable change and following execution of one of their own. With tears rolling down her cheeks, she raised her sword and struck with all her might at one of the half rotten support beams. The beam gave way and the ceiling collapsed, blocking the passage with pieces of wooden beam, rocks, and dust. Beyond the sound of the falling rubble, Katrynne heard Alain’s cry of anguish. She choked back a sob as she backed away from the debris. A low growl sounded through the room. Katrynne turned to face it in the total darkness. She held her sword before her and glared at the worgen she couldn’t see. She had nothing left to lose. “Let’s play.”
  2. Henri “Zak! Savas!” Katrynne shrieked. Over and over, she called for the team’s leader and its healer. She was on her knees beside a fallen teammate. Her brother, Henri, had gotten the worse end of a fight with a worgen. The worgen was dead now. Katrynne had helped Henri finish it off, but not in time. Savas and Zak joined them, followed closely by Alain and Phaedra. Savas took one look at Henri, and his hands began glowing softly with the Light. He knelt down beside Henri and hovered his healing hands over the worst of the injuries—a piece of ripped and ragged flesh in Henri’s arm. Zak frowned, but said nothing at first. He stood silently over them. He sighed, and was about to say something, but Savas spoke up just as the rest of the team joined them. “It’s not healing,” the priest uttered, disturbed. “He has been bitten,” Zak said softly. “It cannot be healed.” Katrynne looked up at Zak quickly as he spoke, glaring at him, as if by speaking the words, he was responsible for the fate of her brother. She felt Alain’s hand on her shoulder. “Keep trying,” Katrynne pleaded to Savas. ”There is no cure,” Zak told them as gently as he could. ”He will change. And we will have to put him down.” “No!” Katrynne shouted at Zak. Alain took her in his arms. “You should take her away from here,” Lonan suggested quietly to Alain. Alain looked at Zak. The captain nodded. “Come on, Kitten,” Alain said, trying to sound comforting. “I’m not leaving him,” she stated firmly. Alain dragged her away, still protesting and struggling. After a few steps, she heard her brother groan in pain and fear. She heard joints popping and bones cracking. Alain continued to drag her away, and she caught only a glimpse of Henri’s body contorting into a new shape. The groan turned to a growl of anger. Katrynne heard the sounds of a very short scuffle, then a sharp yelp, then silence. It was over. She stopped struggling against Alain. She stopped moving at all. Alain gathered her up in his arms and held her. She buried her face against his chest and cried.
  3. Leaving Home “I won’t have it!” Tadeas Janson raged. “No daughter of mine is going to dress up in armor and go off and play soldier, or hunter, or whatever it is you think you’re going to do!” “I’ve already started training, Father,” Katrynne said in a voice carefully level, taking equal care to keep her expression calm. “I can’t just stand by and do nothing. I want to help.” “You can help by serving the Light in a respectable manner--praying and working at the church!” “Praying won’t keep the city safe from those monster. Captain Zak says—“ “’Captain Zak’,” Tadeas mocked. “I served with Zakariah in the Second War. I know what kind of man he is. He thinks violence is the answer to everything. If it weren’t for the healing from me and the other priests, there would be no ‘Captain Zak!’” Kat fell silent. As her father turned to pace a few steps across the room, she looked at her brother for help. Henri had also signed up for the worgen hunting team. He looked away. He wasn’t going to stand up to their father for her. She frowned at him, but she couldn't really blame him. “This is about that boy, isn’t it?” Tadeas asked in a tone that suggested he already knew the answer. “I’ve forbidden you to see him. If I find out you’re sneaking off behind my back….” He let the threat trail off, and Kat offered no information. She wouldn’t lie to her father if it could be avoided, but neither would she admit to doing just as he had suspected. “Is that boy in on this farce of a monster hunting party too?” “Yes, but I didn’t sign up because Alain….” “I knew it!” her father interrupted. “I’ve told you that boy is no good for you! He’s a soldier, nothing more! I’ve spoken to Father Merrill, and he knows of a nice boy who lives on the other end of town—his sister’s nephew or some such. He’s in training to be a priest. Father Merrill has arranged for this boy to stay with him for a while so you two can spend some time together.” “Father, I’m not interested in spending time with…” “I’ve told the good Father that you’ll be at the church after your lessons every day to help out with whatever he needs.” “I won’t go,” Katrynne said quietly. Tadeas stared at her, his face turning red. “How dare you?” he questioned, shocked at his daughter’s defiance. “How dare you refuse my wishes! Everything I’ve done for you out of love, and you think to defy me to be with some common soldier? By the Light!” “I’m not a child anymore,” she stated. “I’m old enough to be on my own.” “Father,” Henri finally spoke up, but Kat caught his gaze and gave a slight shake of her head. Their father would not change his mind, and it would help nobody for Henri to get in trouble now too. Tadeas didn’t even hear his son; he was so enraged at his daughter. He grabbed her roughly by the arm and pushed her against the wall. Katrynne didn’t fight him, but she wouldn’t be intimidated to change her mind either. She just stood there, looking past him, waiting for the shouting to resume. “Get out of my sight,” he whispered, with such hostility that she nearly ran into her mother and sister in the doorway as she hurried out. Hours later, when everyone else was asleep, a packed bag fell from the girls’ bedroom window. Katrynne landed on the ground after it and walked away into the darkness.
  4. Know Your Enemy Katrynne, with the rest of “Zak’s Pack”, minus Zak himself who had stayed outside to go for a walk, was in the Jolly Frog Pub. They’d just finished their third successful worgen hunt in a less populated neighborhood nearby, and they were feeling good. After a few drinks in them, they were feeling really good. Some of the other regular patrons of the bar were feeling good too. One of them was feeling so good that he reached out and pinched Phaedra’s backside as she walked past. “Hey!” she yelped, swatting at the man’s hand. “Hey, lovely, nice walking stick,” the drunken man slurred, gesturing at her staff. His friends laughed. “Wanna see mine?” The drunken man grinned and reached out to her again after thrusting his hips, and pointing to his covered ‘walking stick’. Savas stepped up beside Phaedra and brought his own staff down on the man’s wrist with a resounding thud. The drunk howled, and his friends all stopped laughing. The man swung a fist at Savas, connecting with his jaw. Savas swept his staff at the man’s lower legs, tripping him and causing him to fall to the floor. The drunk’s friends moved in on Savas. Katrynne, Alain, and the others of the team moved into position around Savas. “I suggest you stand down if you don’t want to end up on the floor with your friend,” Alain suggested to them. “I suggest you go runnin’ home and cry to your momma,” another of the drunks retorted around a burp. The man who had pinched Phaedra was picking himself up off the floor. He shouted an undecipherable curse at Savas and drove a fist into his stomach. Then all fel broke loose. Zak’s Pack engaged the charging drunks, and a full brawl broke out in the pub. Chairs were broken, tankards were dented, and a window was broken, all despite the frantic yelling of the bartender to settle down. The sound of a sharp whistle pierced the air. Zak’s team began to extricate themselves from the fight, some of them throwing one more punch before backing off. The man who had started it all though, was not finished. He grabbed Phaedra’s arm and started to draw her to him, but suddenly found the point of a sword in his face. “Release the lady, sir,” Zak said in a calm and reasonable voice as he held the sword. The drunk seemed to think about it for a minute before shoving Phaedra away. She moved to Zak’s side, along with the rest of the team. Zak tossed a pouch of jingling coins at the bartender for the damages, and the team left the pub together. Nobody said anything for a while on the walk back to Zak’s place. They all sported bruises, split lips, bloody noses, or other marks from the brawl. “We kicked their asses!” Lonan called out of the blue. That set the rest of off, cheering each other and bragging about their own skill. Zak, who was walking in front of the rest of them, stopped, causing the rest of them to stop as well. He gave them a stern look, though in truth, he wasn’t angry with them. They were young, and their blood was up after risking their very lives against the worgen earlier that day. “Always remember who you are to fight and why,” Zak said to them in his eternally calm voice. “The ability to fight and injure and especially to kill, is not one to be used lightly. If you ever forget that, you will be on the same level as those drunken gentlemen, or the beasts we hunt.” The team sobered and walked the rest of the way to Zak’s in silence.
  5. Sneaking Out Katrynne hurried through town on her way to Zak’s. The moonlight shimmered off the wet cobblestone streets, and her footsteps echoed softly through the sleeping town. Morning training started at six o’clock. Breakfast was at five-thirty. Zak didn’t believe in working his team on an empty stomach, and he knew most of them weren’t likely to fix a hearty breakfast for themselves that early. So each morning, he cooked for them, and they took turns doing the washing up. Katrynne’s father thought she was going out early to do the Light’s work. She believed she was doing that, just not the type of work he imagined. Protecting the people from the aggressive worgen attacking their town was just as important as feeding and praying with them. After all, they couldn’t pray if they got eaten or became monsters themselves. Still, she felt guilty for deceiving her family. On the other hand, she wouldn’t give this up for anything. Being out in the town before anyone was awake was like being in a different town altogether. She always looked forward to the breakfasts, with the team good-naturedly all teasing and joking with each other and a father figure who never drank or preached. Even the training brought her a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment along with the bruises and aching muscles. She left her own house before her brother Henri each morning, although they were both in training together on Zak’s team. She told him it was in case she got caught sneaking out. He could play ignorant so he wouldn’t also be in trouble. If he knew the real reason, he didn’t say anything. Katrynne left extra early every morning because before the training, and before breakfast, she had somewhere else to be. Alain would be waiting for her at the picnic spot by the river, about half a mile from Zak’s house. Another thing to feel guilty about. Her father had forbidden her to see him. Every morning she felt guilty. Every morning, she knew her father would have her hide if he found out. And every morning she snuck out into the predawn darkness to have secret meetings with her lover and then train to kill monsters.
  6. The Old Argument Katrynne was running along the riverbank with her fist clenched in her skirts to keep from tripping on them. Her breath came in gasps, and she risked a quick look over her shoulder to check for her pursuer. As she looked at the path in front of her again, she nearly collided with a man dressed in dark leathers. Muscular arms encircled her waist, lifting her off her feet as her momentum tried to carry her forward. She gave a short scream, startled, and she slapped at his shoulder. As her captor’s head nuzzled her hair, she broke down into laughter and threw her arms around his neck. “Miss me?” Alain whispered against her cheek. His fingers moved against her sides to tickle her ribs, just to feel her body squirm against his. Her renewed laughter was cut short as his lips found hers, brushing softly at first and then more demanding until she gently drew back from him. He let her back away only an arm’s length. His expression fell into one of resignation and prepared patience. “What?” Katrynne asked him. “You have that look.” “What look?” “That look. The look that says you think you shouldn’t be here.” “I shouldn’t be,” she agreed. She removed his hands from her waist and turned to watch the river. “Ah, Kitten,” Alain whispered into her hair as he came up behind her. His arms came around her again, over her shoulders to loosely cradle her neck. “You can’t let him live your life for you. You can’t let anyone do that. It’s your life. Do what you want with it. What you want.” That was easy for him to say, she thought. He could do what he wanted. Nobody minded. Daily, she was torn between the life she wanted to lead and the one she was expected to have, between freedom and family. “He’ll disown me. He’ll say I’ve forsaken the Light by dishonoring my family, and it will forsake me in turn,” Katrynne argued as she watched the water flow by. “To fel with him!” Alain cursed. “Shush,” Katrynne objected. “I’d have nowhere to go. I’d lose my whole family. Swearing isn’t going to change any of that.” “As long as I’m around, you always have somewhere to go. Let me talk to him.” “No!” “Come on, Kitten.” “Don’t… No, it wouldn’t do any good,” Katrynne explained. “It would only make things worse for me.” “That guy needs a sound beating,” Alain muttered quietly, sliding his arms from her and turning away in frustration. “Hitting people doesn’t solve everything!” “Neither does sneaking through the woods for secret rendezvous, Kat!” “Then maybe we should stop,” she answered bitterly. It sure would make things easier for her at home if she stopped seeing the man her father had forbid her to be with. “Yeah, we should stop sneaking around," Alain said, as he said every time they had this particular argument. "We should tell him we’re going to be together, and that’s that.” Katrynne knew he thought it was that simple. He would do exactly what he said if she allowed it. He would actually go straight to her father and tell him the way things were going to be, whether he liked it or not. He just didn’t understand how it worked in her family. He led a simpler life, and he saw things in a simpler way, and she loved him for it. Suddenly, she wanted to stop thinking all these troubling thoughts. “I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” she murmured. Without turning from the river, she reached up and pulled her hair back on one side, exposing the soft curve of her neck where it met the simple cloth of her dress. Like a moth to a flame, Alain was drawn in. She felt his lips softly exploring her skin. She turned into him, her fingers moving to the laces on his vest. They tumbled to the ground in each other’s arms, and for the next hour or so, her mind was empty of any thoughts, troubling or otherwise.
  7. The Patient When she was fifteen years old, Katrynne worked as a volunteer in the infirmary tent that had been setup outside the healers’ office to shelter the overflow of patients. The civil war of Gilneas took its toll as neighbors turned against each other, creating a battlefield out of a city. Every able-bodied citizen was expected to aid in some way. Katrynne was no exception. How stupid it was! A kingdom fighting itself, when there were so many other evils in the world to fight. But we didn’t know of those other evils back then. We were hidden away from them, kept safe from them behind the Wall. One day, Katrynne was rolling bandages on a four-legged stool. One of the stool’s legs was shorter than the others, and she had to keep adjusting her balance to keep it from wobbling too much. “’Scuse me, miss?” a hoarse whisper called from a nearby cot. She set the bandages aside and went over to him. He was young for a soldier, only a few years older than Kat. He was handsome, or he would be, once the bandages could be removed from his head. His eyes were a deep blue, and they sparkled with mirth even though he just woke up. “Has the Light taken me already and rewarded my service with such a lovely angel?” Katrynne felt the heat rising in her cheeks, and she turned away before he could see them turning red. She said something about getting the healer, but the injured man stopped her with a grip on her wrist. “What’s your name?” he asked. “Katrynne,” she answered. She turned her arm in his hand, and he let go. “Katrynne,” he repeated drowsily. “I’m Alain.” “The healer really should know you’re awake. She’ll want to check on you,” Katrynne insisted. She started to move away from him again, and this time, he didn’t stop her. Over the next several days, as Alain recovered, Katrynne made excuses to spend more time at the infirmary than was required. Her father heartily approved of her sudden eagerness to do the Light’s work. She didn’t tell him that she went for a boy and not the Light. Alain was always telling stories and jokes. The other patients nearby were also entertained by his tales, and the healers often had to shush the group and remind them that this was a place for recuperation, not parties. “Can I see you again?” Alain asked Katrynne the day before he was scheduled to be discharged to return to battle. He had a pink rose in his hand that he offered to her. Katrynne hadn’t thought about him leaving. He was a patient. Of course, he would recover and leave. And then what? Should she let him go out of her life, or tell her father she’d fallen for a simple soldier instead of a more devout servant of the Light? She smiled and turned from him, pretending to straighten the perfectly neat blankets on the empty bed next to his. She felt him watching her, waiting, so she pasted a forced smile on her face and turned back to him. “If you’re not careful out there, you’ll see me again in here.” It was a lame response. They both knew it. He stared at her for a long moment. Then he nodded once. She could see the disappointment that he tried to hide. What must he think? That she didn’t really care for him? That she was just doing her job, being nice to the patients? She didn’t offer any explanation. She couldn’t tell him that he wasn’t good enough in the eyes of her family. “I should go check on the laundry,” Katrynne said weakly. She turned to leave, suddenly uncomfortable near him. “Kat,” he called, after she had gotten only a few steps. She stopped but didn’t turn around. The twinkle was back in his eye, and he was smiling again. She didn’t see it, but she could hear it in his voice. “I will see you again.”
  8. Flashes of Life the History of Katrynne Simms They say that you see your life flash before your eyes just before you die. What will I see as the last breath leaves me? More importantly, what would I see after? Would the Light welcome me, or would I face endless darkness and torment? I wonder if I have done enough good to atone for the evils I have done. At the same time, I know that’s just not possible. It wasn’t a glass of milk spilled, that I can clean up and refill. It wasn’t a vase I had broken, that I can glue the pieces back together. What I have done cannot be forgiven. And yet, I still hope. Hope is what has kept me fighting all these years. Hope that by doing enough good, by vanquishing enough evil, that somehow, I can tip the scales in my favor again. But no matter how many innocents I save, no matter how many monsters I slay, those who have died by my hand will remain dead. I cannot undo what I have done. And yet, I still hope. I grasp at the words of the paladin who assured me that everyone can be redeemed, if they truly wish it, and prove it, and are not just trying to be redeemed to avoid eternal punishment. I do not fear that punishment, for I know I deserve it and more. And yet, I still hope. To see him again. To hear his laughter. To feel his touch. To tell him how sorry I am and beg his forgiveness, for never have I forgiven myself. ((I made some of these posts out of order a few years ago when Kerala posted a challenge to pick a song from your playlist each day for a month and write a story. Now I've put them all in the right order, and added more sections to fill in blanks. I also added pictures from Kat's mood board, which was another fun exercise we did here on TNG once.))
  9. "Care to explain to me why you countermanded the orders of the Mandate to keep a filthy pinkskin alive?" Ruuki, a tauren Sunwalker and The Grim’s High Inquisitor, walked through the stone and wooden hallways of the Grim's guild hall, the flames dancing along the edge of Ashbringer casting twisted shadows along the walls. Kiannis, her subordinate, walked alongside her as they made their way to the portal Mai'kull had left open to where the bounty lay bound. Kiannis held a cold countenance as he stalked a half-step behind the High Inquisitor. It had been the late evening when he had entered her office and requested her presence, and now it had become truly dark. The small ember of the elf’s cigar lit up his features in the flickering darkness, followed by a billow of skunky smoke before his retort. "In death, lies her only service to the Mandate,” the elf explained. “This is no rank soldier, this one was a hunter. One who sought us specifically. And for that, she will be made an example of." He smirked only a little at his unseen machinations. Going through a mage's portal always left Ruuki with a creeping feeling on the back of her neck, and this time was no exception. Stepping through into the dimly lit room, she glanced about, her nostrils flaring slightly as she identified where the Worgen, filthy as she was, lay in the dank pit. She stood above it at the edge, and the golden glow of her sword almost made her appear to be a hope for salvation... or an executioner surveying their next victim. She scoffed. Stepping effortlessly through the dimensional tear that is teleportation magic, the elf drew his hood down and dropped the stubby butt that remained of his smoke, quenching the thing with a stomp. Working up a toothy grin, he rose to stand beside the High Inquisitor. "This? This is the dog you paid ten thousand gold for?" she asked. The hood hid a fair amount of her features, but her voice carried well in the small room, filled with tangible disdain for the broken creature. "You paid far too much. You'd best make what use you can of her before I put her down." "The payment is irrelevant, and her use will strike fear in the Alliance." "Get whatever information you think she holds so that we can be rid of her,” Ruuki ordered. “We've better things on which to spend our resources and time." She scoffed as she noted the light flickering off the pieces of gold littering the floor. "Though apparently Mai'Kull doesn't think the same." He looked down at the netted woman in rags. She was in bad shape. For several days, she had been forced by the nets to sit on her broken legs. The spells and enchantments in the stone had been slowly but steadily siphoning the strength from her. At first, she didn't move when the two approached. Eventually, she mustered the strength to slowly lift her head and pin back her ears. He narrowed his eyes at the peppering of gold pieces in the pit, but continued, taunting into the pit in a slightly broken common, "Well, Worgen. You were after The Grim. I am sure this is not how you hoped your 'hunt' to end." Ruuki was not amused at Kiannis's answers, and she watched dispassionately as he spoke to the creature in the pit. She walked a little along the edge of the hole, the golden glow of Ashbringer following behind her and continuing to illuminate parts of the room that had been wreathed in darkness. "My only regret," the prisoner rasped. "Is that I didn't kill more of you before my hunt was ended." Kiannis had drawn down his hood as he spoke to the beast and now seemed intrigued at her words. "The only deaths of late have been lowly guardsmen." the elf nudged his scruffy chin against his metal fist, as he worked this out, "So.. that was you. Impressive that you found our hall, and even more-so that you survived your exploratory attack." He sat squat on his haunches at the edge of the pit, peering down on the woman with a sour mix of disdain and acknowledgement. She had bested him, once, in Suramar. That encounter was the spark that had ignited her bounty and sealed her fate. "You will bear for me a whisper of the Mandate, to the dogs of Dalaran. Tell us, then- Who set you on this hunt? Whom do you represent?" The dim, flickering light of the cavern revealed a small twitch in Kiannis' mouth--a smirk. He pondered the woman's fortitude, if she still had any fight in her after the weeks of isolation and deprivation she had been subject to. He also, for the first time, took real stock of the worgen, his eyes darting from neck to finger to ear, in search of any sentimental items that the executioner may have overlooked, but the only thing of sentiment she regularly wore—the golden wedding ring on a chain—had already been taken from her, along with all of her armor, weapons, and other items she had in her possession when she was captured. She had been left only with her simple leggings and tank top that she wore under her armor, neither of which offered much protection from the barbed net that held her in place. "Lowly guardsman," Kat repeated quietly. She was silent for a moment, as she considered her numerous Grim encounters over the past fifteen months. Some were certainly low ranked--guards, messengers, scouts, and the like. But not all of them. "You once had among your number an elf. She was...not as slender as most elves. Filora. Was she a lowly guard as well? What about the troll known as Xek? Was he also a lowly guard? "As for who set me on this hunt,” she continued, “the answer is simple. You did, when you captured and tortured Chancellor Skylah Mackinzie.” Her voice had thickened into an angry growl as she spoke of Skylah, and she strained against the nets holding her in place. She was weak from her capture and captivity though, and the nets held her easily in place. All she could do was glare at the two Grim. "You are monsters." Kiannis did not seem it, but he was slightly taken aback at the captive’s words. He had known of Filora’s death, but not of the details. Xek he had only met in passing, and to learn that this prisoner had Grim blood on her blades instead of only annoyances--was bittersweet. He gazed sidelong at Ruuki with the same small smirk he had held since he had entered the chamber. "Still a waste of resources, High Inquisitor?" “Depends on her answers,” Ruuki said, and then she remained quiet, allowing Kiannis the lead in questioning the worgen, as it had been his little project to capture her. The elf gripped the ledge with one gauntlet and guided his jump downwards, for a moment wondering if the High Inquisitor had known the details of those deaths. His form wilted some under the magical drain of whatever Mai’kull had done to the place, but he had the vitality to withstand its effects for now. Looming over Katrynne’s form, he delivered a swift kick to her midsection, knocking the breath from her. She hunched over, gasping and then coughing as she fought to breathe again. "You misunderstand, woman. What tabard do you wear? Whom do you count as friends and allies? Who.. am I sending this message to?" If she thought he didn't already have access to the answer to his question, she may have refused to give it to him. But she'd already made it clear she started this after the torture of another member of the Empire, and Lazarus knew what organization she belonged to. She suspected this question was merely a test. Kiannis circled his prize, prodding with his greaved feet at the barbed net that encased her. The movement of the hooks brought fresh pain to already sore wounds. "I serve the Twilight Empire," she answered through clenched teeth, "but this hunt was my own." Ruuki scowled deeply, her nostrils flaring ever so slightly in restrained anger. She stepped back. Surely in the state the prisoner was in, Mai’kull had drawn more than enough answers from her, and he would have ways to ensure she was telling the truth or just lying her ass off. "Is that so.." The elf mused to himself. He did not know the intricacies of the Alliance guilds, and knew less about the major players that ran them. Skylah was a name he recalled from archives, before he had heard the call of The Mandate, and his sources in the Path had told him little more than he had announced on the bounty. Kiannis's gauntlet swiftly found Katrynne’s neck, raising the woman to the tips of her toes. Kiannis peered for a moment into the woman’s eyes, seeking whatever he may glimpse behind the gaunt gaze. Determination burned within--strength enough to not break under the strains of all this detrimental magic and neglect, at the very least. He considered for a moment, the worth of torture, and of pain, and what this woman may or may not know. The moment passed. With some considerable effort and a scowl to match, he heaved the woman up, causing the net’s barbs to rip through her flesh as she was pulled free of them. He shoved her onto the main floor, scrambling up over the edge to follow her tumbling form. The look he gave Ruuki could be considered a glare if he were more impudent. "What should have been done with this killer of Grim, then, High Inquisitor? A swift death would be too forgiving." Kat gasped for breath through the pain of the rough handling. Blood dripped from several wounds where the net was ripped free of her skin, and her broken legs screamed in pain renewed. With great effort, she propped herself up on one arm, glancing around the floor near her for anything she might use to her advantage—an object to use as a weapon, cover of any sort, even something to use as a distraction. Seeing nothing, she pushed herself to a sitting position and looked up at the two Grim. Aside from the obvious agony she was in, her expression revealed little else. "I doubt she has further use to us,” Ruuki answered. “We should 'return' her to her fellow guildmates with a message." Ruuki held a hand out, the gauntlet glowing golden as she called Judgment down upon the broken woman. Light and heat intensified around Kat, setting parts of her clothes and fur smoldering. Kat finally gave voice to her pain, groaning aloud. She writhed and scrambled on the floor, seeking escape from the agony. But even if her legs weren’t broken, even if most her strength hadn’t been sucked from her through vile spells, there was nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, in this dank room that served as a cell. "By the law of the Mandate I find you guilty of crimes against the Grim,” the High Inquisitor stated as she delivered her sentence. “Your punishment is death, and you will serve as a warning to your little pinkskin family. They will meet the same fate as you next time we see them. Your actions have put marks on all of their heads." Ruuki moved her hand upward, fist closed this time as a golden hammer materialized and began descending rapidly, smaller orbs of power swirling rapidly around it to bombard Katrynne with pain as the Execution Sentence was carried out. From that point, the suffering was blessedly short. In that moment, even through the suffering, Kat did not fail to see the irony. Her death was brought upon her with the Light, after she’d spent the better part of her life seeking it. She did not have time to consider whether that was a good omen or ill, before all that remained of her was a smoldering corpse, stinking of scorched fur. ((Written by Ruuki, Kiannis, and Katrynne))
  10. Lazarus appeared in the crypt with a snap from the portal. His customary red robes were worn sans his usual cowl. No light emanated from his dead eyes and his scalp was utterly devoid of hair. Walking over to the pit that the beast was in, he looked down at her now pathetic form and clasped his hands behind his back. “Good day,” he stated. Katrynne’s ears turned as she heard someone nearby. She slowly lifted her head up and opened her eyes. Her nostrils twitched, and she recognized the undead gardener she’d attacked in Silverpine Forest. She tensed, but the spells and enchantments holding her soon reminded her that any struggles would be pointless, so she simply watched him expectantly. The man flicked a hand and a small portal appeared behind him. He hopped into the pit, landing softly, whether by enchantment or otherwise isn’t immediately noticeable. Once in the pit, he snapped his fingers and a heavy oak chair appeared behind him. Sitting in it, he looked down at the prisoner. He could feel the work of the stone pulling at his strength, but he didn’t seem to care. “Do you know who I am?” he asked. “I saw you in Silverpine,” Kat answered dully. Her words were soft and slow, as she tried to conserve what strength she might. “That is not what I asked,” Lazarus said, his words even and crisp. “I asked if you know who I am.” He paused, looking her over. Something at her neckline caught his attention. “Your answer is irrelevant largely. I doubt you care. But here I am.” He paused. “I am Lazarus S. Graysong. Former Keeper of the Twilight Empire.” He lowered his voice so that none outside might hear. “Friend of Katelle, and her sister Ketani. Friend of Siane Dawnlight.” He crossed his right leg over his left. “You see, I lost my memories when I became what you see,” he continued. “That person you smelled was Ketani. Visiting me to see how I was doing since my condition was known to her.” The worgen showed some interest at his words. “You were of the Empire, and then you joined these monsters…why? How could you, after everything they’ve done?” “You’re a terrible listener.” He sighed and shook his head. “I lost my memories, you dolt.” “But now you have them back,” she argued, showing no reaction to the insult. “And still you are one of them.” A thought slowly came to mind. “Do they know?” “Which they do you speak of, dear?” he asks. “My life is complicated, and I joined The Grim because they were kind to me in my state. I know who they are now.” She shook her head ever so slightly, suddenly finding her question unimportant. Surely, he was not here to justify his associations to a prisoner. “Why do you tell me this?” “Because I am deciding whether or not to offer you a mercy.” “What mercy?” she asked skeptically. He got off his chair and leaned in closer, peering at her neck. “Are you going to bite my neck as payback?” She referred to when she came upon him in Silverpine and attacked him by grasping his neck in her jaws and shaking him like a rag doll. “What a queer question. I am not a vampire. You will die here, my dear. I cannot change that. I do, however, have respect for Katelle. She would want me to protect you. I am not the only warlock here.” He sighed and looked her in the eye. “What do you think the others will do with your soul as a plaything? I can have it sent to Katelle if you desire. Or not. Perhaps you trust the other Grim more than I do.” Just as Kat was thinking this was a trap of some sort, and there was no way she would agree to letting this warlock suck out her soul, Lazarus reached for her neck. Too late, she realized what had caught his attention there. Alarmed, she snarled and tried to snap at his hand as she felt the chain of her necklace break with his pull, but the spells weakening her slowed her movements too much. “My. It seems you have a friend,” the warlock said as he held up the necklace—a simple golden band hung on a copper link chain. “Tell me. Do you want a mercy? Or do you wish to try your luck? I can offer no more to you than that.” Her gaze was fixated on the wedding band dangling so close to her, and yet, so far out of reach. In her head, she knew it shouldn’t matter. It was just a ring. She would likely be dead soon and have no use for it anyway, so why should she care? But she did care, and her voice was hollow as she turned down his offer. “I trust you no more than I trust the rest of them.” “Fair enough. I have offered my favor, though it seems to you a monster I remain,” Lazarus said. He looked at the necklace, twirling it idly. “Does the hunter have a special friend? Does this person live, I wonder?” Kat closed her mouth and looked straight ahead, feigning a lack of interest in the jewelry even though it tore at her heart to see the precious object in the hands of a Grim. Lazarus went back to his chair and inspected his prize. “Silence. How charming.” His voice grew deeper. “Do you know that special items can bind people? Some even speculate that a piece of a person might even be connected to such things.” He held his palm out and the ring floated above it. “I ponder what I might find if I look. Would be a pity for me to ruin your expectations of me.” The worgen woman looked back at the ring as he spoke. She had expected bad things to happen to her in the hands of The Grim, but she never expected anything like this. She didn’t know if he could actually do what he threatened, or if there was still enough of a link between the ring and the one who gave it to her after all these years. She strained against the nets holding her in place, but it had no effect in her weakened state. She wanted to rip free, to lunge at him, to rip out his throat and take back the ring, but she was quite aware of the reality of her situation, so instead, she pleaded softly. “Leave him be.” Lazarus seemed to deflate over her plea. It lasted a moment before he spoke again. “Him? Is he not one of your own?” He clasped his hand over the ring. His voice rose as he continued. “You would have killed me without a thought. You tried to kill my friend because she defended me.” He stood over the woman. “Why? Why should I care?” The Grim was going to kill her, and probably torture her. Of that, she had no doubt. She had no desire to endure their hospitality any longer than she had to. She wondered if she could push him into ending it all now. With effort, she dragged her gaze from the golden band to the warlock. She snarled and pinned her ears back flat against her head. “I would kill you still, if given the chance. I would kill any of you. Monsters.” “Your argument for my caring is unconvincing,” he informed her as he put the ring in his pocket. “You tried to take from me. Now I shall take from you. I hope you told him goodbye.” The warlock’s eyes flickered. She closed her eyes briefly, trying to hide just how distressed she was over the loss of the ring. She didn’t bother to tell him that the man who gave it to her was already dead. Maybe that would make his spellcasting, or whatever he had planned for it, more difficult. If not, if he managed to do something to that man's soul, then Kat would surely be twice damned. Lazarus regarded her coldly, and then his expression softened. “I do not understand you. Have you any words for me to give to the Twilight Empire?” Although she obviously distrusted his intentions, she nevertheless gave a generic answer. “If you actually do have contacts there, as you say, then I would ask you to tell them that I am sorry I have failed.” His face tightened. “And I am sorry I never killed Skylah. We all have regrets.” He took the ring from his pocket, as if he knew it was the token of her own deepest regrets. “Die well.” With the word spoken, the chair behind him vanished. “I had heard rumors you were Skylah’s pet,” he muttered, his eyes glowing, when he noticed her reaction to his words about Skylah. Her expression was hard, and a soft growl rumbled through her throat. “Pet? I became close to her,” she growled. “Enough to know what you monsters did to her.” “She tormented me. When I was alive,” he said as he stepped closer to her. “Antagonized me. Goaded me into attacking her. I never did.” His eyes glowed brighter. “She is a monster. Not I.” “I will not believe your lies,” she said with certainty. “They don’t matter anyway.” Lazarus began giggling. Something about it seemed off. “Of course not,” he stated. “I’M THE MONSTER!” He screamed as he jumped at her and shoved her head to the floor. Her hackles rose, but she had no chance to avoid his attack, being trapped as she was. In a weak attempt of a counter attack, she snarled, mustering what strength she could to bite him. Although she managed to get a grip on his arm, it didn’t seem to matter to Lazarus. The sane part of his mind had been pushed aside by anger and dropped into the swirling madness. Skylah had wronged him. This beast, Skylah’s hand, had tried to kill him. There was no room for anything other than hatred. With a cry, he latched onto her and began siphoning her vitality. A green wave began ebbing and flowing from the hound to the man. She shook her head with his arm in her jaws, but his spell, along with the floor spells and enchantments on the nets that held her in place, soon made her too weak. She went limp and suffered in stillness. Even her growl faded to a whimper and then it too was silent. Lazarus still held her in his draining spell, his mind guided by years of repressed anger being projected on another. Inwardly, he knew it wasn’t rational, but the dam had broken and it wasn’t stopping. He was aware that somewhere along the lines he had started crying and that awareness gave way to his realization that his spell had stopped. He wasn’t sure if he had killed her or just lost focus, but panic set in. This isn’t what he wanted. In horror, he pushed himself away from the beast as his mouth worked wordlessly. He found himself back at his manor by reflex, and wordlessly walked into his study. He was trembling and the woman’s ring weighed heavily in his pocket. Back in the cell, Kat still breathed, but barely. Some time later, she came to, though she lay still, tangled within the nets, waiting for some strength to return to her, and unsure whether it ever would. “Light save me,” she breathed.
  11. With his assailant distracted Mai’kull reached for his trump card, “REAVES!” the mage cried out. With a thundering crash, a small mechanical shredder droid no bigger than a gnome dropped to the beach at its master’s side. “GREETINGS MASTER!” it chimed in an oddly chipper tone. “Reaves, activate combat mode, NOW!” Mai’kull barked, taking hold of the blunt arm on the machine. “AFFIRMATIVE!” it sparked. Something inside revved up like an engine roar as Green Fel-Flames issued from its back exhaust-port. Electricity surged from every joint on the construct as it began to grow, to almost twice the size of a well fed Tauren. A small cockpit opened in the front of the machine which Maikull crawled inside before it sealed shut once more. “COMBAT MODE ACTIVATED, PRIMARY AND SECONDARY WEAPONS ARMED, HULL INTEGRITY: 100%” the mechanical recited. Its voice now booming, almost as ominous as the Doomwalker that guarded the Black Gate in Outland. Kat could hear the commotion, but it wasn’t until she regained her vision did she see the hulking behemoth before her. “TARGET IDENTIFIED” it announced as its Cannon Arm aimed directly at her. There was movement from inside the cave, she hadn’t noticed it before, but a Pandaran Monk was now standing there, bearing the banner of the Grim across his chest, but even he stood there stunned at the sight. He must have come out when she charged at the mage, but he wasn’t moving towards her. She looked back at Reaves as an intercom screech pierced the beachfront for a moment before clearing up the all too familiar voice. “Come now, Kitten…one last dance for daddy…” Maikull’s voice echoed, followed by his maniacal laughter, as the main cannon began to hum and charge for an attack. It was time for Kat to leave. She plucked a grenade from her chest piece and tossed it at the machine. A small explosion caused sparks along the thing's torso where it hit, but it didn't seem to do any real harm. The worgen turned to flee, vanishing into the shadows. Mai'kull, however, still had his goggles on and had no trouble following her movements. He triggered the machine to shoot rapidly, firing Gunpowder charges at her, which knocked her out of the shadows. She sprinted away anyway, trying to outrun her attacker long enough to get to the rocky hills where she might find cover. The death knight she had scented earlier, hidden until now, finally entered the fight by lashing energy out at Katrynne and yanking her back to him. She hadn't even regained her footing when Mai'kull's machine jumped through the air toward her. Dull cracks sounded through the air and she yelled half a second later, when pain consumed her legs. The machine had landed on them, breaking them both. "Your hunt is over, Kitten," the mage said as he aimed the machines cannons down at her once again. "Peace through annihilation!" Kat snarled, but she was crippled and pinned down. She saw the flashes of gunfire and barely felt the impact of the shots at point blank range before she plummeted into the dark silence of death. ((written by Maikull and Katrynne))
  12. As Kat launched herself at the mage to Mutilate his abdomen, he was already prepared to move. Shimmering backwards he readied his Ebonbolt to fire. Kat kept her eyes not only on her prey, but the two looming minions she was now in-between. The Water Elemental fired a Water Bolt as the Voidcaller launched a Void Bolt. The slow movement of the two creatures even at this range was staggering. Using her elusiveness, she feinted through their attacks which scraped against her armor. She could see the Mage was almost ready to unleash his spell, and she attacked again with a Vendetta. Shadowstepping, she seemingly teleported behind the mage, slashing at his back with her daggers so quickly it appeared as if time was a blur. She stabbed him with both daggers, contaminating the wounds with deadly and crippling poison. Yet Mai’kull had anticipated her shadow stepping, and had saved his last Shimmer for this moment, launching forward once again into the embrace of his minions as his Water elemental fired a Freezing blast at her location. Ice clung to Kat’s legs. The Icy Veins coursing through the mage’s body kept the spell he was weaving intact, and with his target immobile for the moment, launched the Ebonbolt directly at her, catching her square in the chest and knocking her out of his snare. Fighting through the pain with a duck and roll, Kat was back on her feet and noticed the sizeable distance between her and her foes. Mai’Kull launched a Ray of Frost at his foe, followed by a Water Jet from his Elemental. There was not much in terms of cover, but there was some. Jagged rocks protruded around knee and hip height in various places. As the spells tagged Kat in various places, she slipped into a Cloak of Shadows which resisted the harmful effects as she dove for the nearest rock structure to break line of sight. She could hear the mage laughing at her. And her sense of smell reminded her, the caster had others about. She had to end this quickly. “Come out…Come out…Wherever you are….” The undead sang. He ordered his minions to circle around opposite sides of the rock to flank his opponent as he began to back up and prepare a new spell. As the elementals closed in on her, Kat jumped up onto the rock and Sprinted off it, running at the mage. It was unexpected for sure, but she was not the only one with tricks up her sleeve. The Mage instinctively readied his Ice Barrier. As the rogue came at him, he saw a blur as she sped toward him. He had prepared the spell in his mind for as soon as she showed herself, and commanded an Icy Nova within the cave, freezing Kat once again but a few feet from her target. The Minions took heed of their master’s telepathic orders, and turned to face her, closing in and reading another shadow and aquatic barrage. She was having none of this nonsense, again reaching into her bag of tricks, Kat produced a small pouch she tossed at the mage, blinding him momentarily and preventing him from an immediate assault. As the elementals launched their attacks at her, Kat deflected both attacks with a precisely timed Evasion, and breaking herself free from her frozen binds. Wasting no more time, she struck. She whirled around, slashing at the two elementals that had closed in on her, then leaped into the air. Mai’kull had just recovered from her blinding agent as he took notice of her absence before him. It was too late for him to react as his eyes sluggishly traced her path above him. Katrynne came down upon the mage with Death from Above; both daggers with such a force that it crumpled him to his knees. The daggers dug straight through his cloth armor and into his chest cavity, Kat spared not a second sawing the blades deeper to cause as much internal damage as she could, reveling in the look of shock and horror upon her victim's face. The sound of ripping flesh and his gurgling noises almost made up for his consistent taunting. Yet despite the shock and the pain, the mage managed to snap his hands up, grabbing the rogue by the wrists. In what appeared to be a last-ditch attempt at life, the mage encased himself in an Ice Block with a flash, trapping her at arm’s length along with it. She couldn’t pull her arms out of the Ice Block, and knowing others were around only raised her uneasiness. Looking around to her left she could see the water elemental evaporating, dropping its cuffs on the ground, but no Grim. Looking into the Ice Block itself, the lights in her target’s eyes faded to black, The Mage was dead. Now if she could only get out! Looking to her right she could see the void-caller begin to slowly dissipate, but the shadow essence of the creature did not fade away, instead seemed to pool to the ground and seep towards her and into the Ice Block itself. Preparation. Mai’kull was more of a tactician than a fighter; he knew a simple one on one bout against the rogue, even handicapping her stealth ability, was going to stack against his favor. That’s why he had approached the Reaper Warlock Malhavik beforehand, locking his spirit within a Soulstone. The shadow energy of the Void Caller soaked into the Ice Block and activated the life restoring magic. Kat watched the lights in the Forsaken’s eyes burst with a bright, burning light. Her hands were growing hot as if the mage was catching fire. A primal roar filled the cavern as a Blast Wave erupted from the Ice Block, breaking the frozen enchantment, and sending Kat flying back crashing into a small pool of water. Even with his goggles on, Kat could see the intensity of the burning mage’s glare at her as tinges of magic flickered off his form. Despite being engulfed in flames, a Blazing Barrier surrounded the Pyromancer, the heat generated from him was slowly increasing the temperature inside the cave. There was seemingly no pause from the mage’s resurrection and his assault. Perhaps the Rune of Power he stood on taped into the Time Warping magic, for the speed at which he hurled his Fire Balls at the Worgen seemed almost un natural. Not only was the conflagration of fire infighting the air around her, but the ground itself was erupting from multiple flame strikes and leaving behind a path of embers on the ground that burned her feet as she ran. If she didn’t stop this assault soon, she was cooked. She knew the mage had popped all of his offensive enchantments at once, a mistake she was going to make him surly regret. Using her evasion, she pushed through the damage of the Fire Blasts from the mage and closed the gap. Her timing could not have been more perfect, as the flames that engulfed his form began to fade as she reached him. Spinning around she kicked the mage square in the chest, which unrooted his feet from the ground and sent him to the ground. Kat’s Vendetta had her already lunging at the spell weaver with daggers at the ready to Mutilate her opponent. Stunned from the kick, and unable to call upon his spells, Mai’kull withdrew the handle of a small gun from his belt and fired at his attacker, catching her in midair with a Net-o-Matic Projector. The net’s hooks clung and wrapped around her as she dropped to the ground not far off from the mage. As she quickly cut and tore through the bindings to freedom, Mai’kull had already gotten to his feet, and activated his rocket boots, sending him running from the cavern onto the beach front at blazing speed. By the time she had regained her footing, the mage had restored his variable distance sending streams of scorching fire at her. Comparatively they were nothing paralleled to his first volley of flames, but she suffered too much at his first attack, and had to jump behind the cavern walls, drinking from a crimson vile in her belt to sooth her injuries. “STILL HIDING KITTEN!?” The mage shouted, as he readied another flame strike at the maw of the cavern. She couldn’t stay in. She was certain he would turn the cavern into an oven if she remained inside; her best bet was to engaged the target out in the open. At least there she could try and flee, this battle was dragging out too long, and the two others she could sense still had not revealed themselves. Withdrawing a Gunpowder Charge from her belt, she lobbed it at the mage, and in response he blinked out of the way, just what she was hoping to force him into. The Assassins Resolve peeked as she emerged from the caves entrance cloaked in shadows. She charged at the mage who responded by converting the floating orbs that orbited him into Phoenix Flames that flew towards her. She responded by throwing a fan of knives in front of her which caught the spells in midair, exploding on impact. The shockwaves of the blasts were partially absorbed by her cloak of shadows, but she could still feel pain from it. As she closed the distance, she could see the mage turn his back to her running away from her at an enhanced frenetic speed, but that would not stop her as she used Shadow step to appear right in front of him. Daggers at the ready, she Eviscerated the forsaken, and delivered a sinister strike to his abdomen, rupturing his spine. But she was so focused on unleashing her attack she did not notice what he was holding in his hands until it was too late. The mage had turned his back for a reason, as he held in his hands a Gunpowder charge, the pin already removed. Her eyes trailed up at his face, which twanged from the pain of her attack, but still held a malevolent grin. The resulting explosion sent both combatants flying away from one another. Maikull landed in the open sands, and Kat was thrown into an abandoned Murloc hut which collapsed around her. Maikull was now in bad shape. His Blazing Barrier had soaked most of the damage from the explosion, but notwithstanding his cauterization of the wounds her initial assault had left him crippled and unable to feel his legs. Katrynne was in worse shape. She somehow managed to Cheat Death, but this fight was over, she had to get out of here. Weakly pushing the rubble off her, the world was slowly tilting back and forth, her head was pounding and vision was blurred. She could make out the mage laying in the sand, and she was sure she had delivered the neurotoxin to his spinal cord. He wasn’t going anywhere. She knew she was in bad shape, but no one was rushing to his aid…perhaps the smell of the panda and other undead she detected was just a lingering smell. They had ample opportunity to ambush her during the fight if they were there hidden somewhere. Finding the last, unbroken rejuvenation potion hidden in a flask in her boot, she drank from it swiftly, feeling a bit of her vitality and energy coming back to her. Taking a deep breath, she withdrew a small dagger from inside her belt, her own blades falling away from her somewhere after the blast. Mai’kull was however laughing as he rolled over, pushing himself up and looking at the Worgen. “So now the final bell tolls…you going to try and finish this, or am I going to put another little child in the hospital from my next love letter to you?” “There won’t be a next time…” Katrynne growled as she slowly advanced on the mage. He couldn’t walk, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t cast spells. “…and it looks like your friends aren’t coming out to save you.” Kat snarled, giving a side glance at the cavern, still no movement from within. Her eyes affixed on the mage again. He couldn’t be allowed to live, not with all he had done, not with all he was capable of. She needed to get out of there. He could have called for backup, but this was possibly her last chance to end the monster before her. She ran. Her muscles cried in protest, but she pressed on. This was the end. The mage tried to crab walk back away from her, but the distance gap closed almost instantly. Kat raised the dagger high above her head to crack open the evil little corpse’s skull. He had initially held up his hand as if a makeshift shield, but it was a ruse. His hand dropped as she brought the dagger down, and spewing from his mouth was a long torrent of flames--Dragons Breath, at point blank range. Instinct kicked in and the knife dropped from her hands as she clasped them over her face to shield from the flames, but the damage was already done. Staggering away from the mage she cried and cursed loudly as she tried to get the ash out of her eyes and snout. ((written by Maikull and Katrynne))
  13. The smell of Tirisfal Glades, and so many undead residing in one place, reached Kat well before she reached the border from Silverpine. She directed her black gryphon to land. She would travel on foot the rest of the way. She dismounted and changed into her worgen shape. Leaving the gryphon to browse and hunt on its own, she made her way through the forest. It was no secret that the Grim guild hall was near Brill. Kat had to move cautiously through the enemy territory, but she managed to avoid being seen by keeping to shadows and shelter provided by trees and rundown structures. Eventually, after some searching and following scent trails to a place heavily visited by people of various Horde races, the Grim base came into view. She remained hidden in a patch of trees and low foliage a moderate distance away. She snorted in frustration. Too many guards surrounded the place for her to have even a slim chance to get inside. The sound of footsteps a short distance away caught her attention. An orc was walking toward the Grim base. He wore the familiar black and red tabard. She hesitated a moment, remembering the tabard on an elf woman who was not Grim. But surely this close to the Grim base, this orc must truly be a Grim. Kat slowly drew a dagger and waited. When the orc was as close to her as the path would take him, she leapt from her cover and launched herself at the unsuspecting orc. He staggered with the impact, and by the time he’d caught his balance, Kat had wrapped herself around him, using her legs to hold her position. One of her hands was pressed tightly over his mouth, and the other slid a dagger across his throat, before he managed to throw her off and make a gurgling sound. Kat looked toward the building. Two Forsaken guards didn’t seem to notice anything. There was still some brush between her and the Grim base. She wondered, if she could get inside, how many Grims might she kill before they stopped her. The engineering bombs were fastened to her armor in such a way that if she jerked them free, the pin remained fastened to her armor. In this manner, she quickly threw three bombs at the two Forsaken guards. One guard was knocked backward, and the other got one of his legs blown off by the explosion. The third bomb imploded harmlessly against an invisible barrier over the building. Kat snorted. She wasn’t getting in that way. A handful of Grim emerged then. Their races varied as much as their ready weapons did, but they all had the same dangerous expression. She threw another bomb at them, but a shield of some magic surrounded the group, protecting them from the explosion. A Sin’dorei among them raised a bow. Kat turned to run, dropping down on all fours for faster travel. The magic shield fell, and the group came after her. She turned her head for a glance over her shoulder, and an arrow launched at her, grazing her forehead over her right eye and prompting her to run even faster, weaving through the forest. When she could no longer hear them behind her, she slowed to an easy lope that would carry her into Silverpine where she’d left her mount. A short time later, she came upon a rundown manor. A Forsaken man was outside, inspecting the small garden in the sunny afternoon. A few weak plants grew in the ground there. Kat paused for a breather, taking cover under a tree as she watched the man. He smiled at his plants, and hummed, seeming remarkably happy for a Forsaken. Lazarus bent over the garden, fussing over it. He produced a small trimmer and clipped around a carrot. Kat tensed. As he moved, she caught a glimpse of the red and black symbol of the Grim stitched into his clothing. Kat wiped her forearm across her face, wiping blood out of her eye from gash on her forehead. She pulled a dagger as she advanced on the man. She did not notice a nearby ward flaring vividly to life, warning Lazarus of an intruder. “Oh,” he said to the warning light, and then “Ah,” he managed when he turned to see the angry worgen. “Filthy Grim!” Kat growled as she raised her dagger. Lazarus screamed. The door on the nearby house burst open, and a positively angry looking succubus appeared. Her eyes found the worgen and she roared in fury, although she was too far away to really accomplish anything. A fur tipped ear turned to the sound of the door opening, and Kat caught a glimpse of the succubus, along with a scent. A human scent, and one she vaguely recognized. She stalked toward the Forsaken. “You have a human in there, Grim?” Lazarus blinked. “Well. Hello.” He looked between Kat and Vilrida, the succubus who was advancing slowly toward them. Oddly though, she wore a simple robe rather than anything overtly sexual as most of her kind seemed to do. She did still carry a whip though. Lazarus spoke to Kat. “I do not possess a human, no. What a peculiar question! Do you possess a human?” A feral grin twisted her wolfish face at the question. “….in a manner of speaking….” She tossed the dagger from her right hand to her left, then used her free hand to pull the pistol from her boot. She fired one shot at the advancing succubus. The demon cried out and fell to the ground. Lazarus looked from the succubus to the worgen. He looked shocked. “Wh-why?” Shouts sounded in the distance. Kat heard them and flatted her ears against her head as she looked back to Lazarus. “Because you are monsters. All monsters must die.” As she spoke the last word, she leapt at him with bared teeth. He hobbled backwards, falling onto his back. Kat landed on top of him. She closed her jaws around his neck and shook him violently. The Forsaken cried out as he was whipped around like a rag doll. His cries grew quiet after a few shakes and the glow in his eyes faded. The shouts in the woods grew closer, and movement could be seen through the trees. The approaching Grim party was prompted to even greater urgency by the Forsaken’s cries. Kat released Lazarus and turned to run, yelping as an arrow sprouted from her arm. Lazarus’ body became engulfed in fel flame. After a second, he sat up. His hair burned away in the heat, and he shouted a demonic word, sending fire snaking toward the brush the worgen had just disappeared into. The scent of scorched fur wafted back to him, but Kat continued to run. He stood in one place as the Grim party rushed past him, his eyes flickering with fury. Then he gingerly carried the fallen succubus inside the house. After a long, winding run, an exhausted Katrynne finally felt certain she had lost her pursuers. She took a brief rest, before finding her gryphon and returning to the Broken Isles. ((Attack on Grim base and death of Grim NPC were done with Awatu's permission))
  14. Katrynne did not sleep that night, nor eat the next day. She was in Stormwind, sitting outside the Cathedral as she often did, when the message came to her, as she knew it would. General Larmont summoned Kat to her office. Katrynne had made no secret of her Grim hunt, and had even spoken with the General about it after the recent city attacks. She knew that Katelle agreed with her, but as far as Kat knew, it was still unclear where the Council stood on the matter. One thing that always had been quite clear, however, was that the killing of any non-hostile Horde was not permitted. Although the breaking of that law was secondary to what the killing did to her standing with the Light, it was still a concern. She would not be able to hunt if she were locked in a cell. A few minutes before the Cathedral’s clock began chiming the hour, Katrynne approached the building that housed the General’s office. There was a blood stain on the porch. It was old, but the scent still lingered, sheltered by the porch roof and winter temperatures. Kat didn’t recognize the scent of whoever it belonged to, so she went inside and didn't concern herself with it. It had crossed her mind that she might be greeted by several Keepers and locked up somewhere, but only the General seemed to be there. Kat walked up the steps and stopped before Katelle’s desk. “General,” she greeted cautiously, not knowing what to expect, though she had no doubt why she had been summoned. Katelle looked up from the scrap of parchment before her and offered Kat a small, tired smile. She dipped her head respectfully. “Katrynne. Thank you for coming. Please, have a seat. Can I get you anything to drink?” “No, thank you,” Kat answered as she sat wearily. “You look as though you’ve seen better days,” Katelle murmured, noticing the dark circles and troubled expression on Kat’s face. “Everything alright?” “I’m fine,” Kat said. It was an automated response, just to move the conversation along. “You wanted to see me?” she prompted. Katelle smiled wryly, clearly unconvinced. She didn’t comment further. Instead, she got straight to the point. “What happened in Booty Bay yesterday?” Kat had no doubt that the General already had the basic facts, but she stated them anyway. In some ways, Katelle’s empathy and understanding were worse than if she’d been judgmental and accusing. “You did what you had to do, under the best of your knowledge, Katrynne,” Katelle said after Kat recounted what had happened. “It’s nothing more than what I’ve done myself.” That’s why she was so understanding, Kat thought. She’d made the same mistake herself at some point. “You have? How do you get past it?” Katelle’s lips flattened as she considered her answer, mashing them together for a moment before offering a vulnerable smile—and vulnerability was not something she shows often. “Sometimes I’m not sure that I have gotten past it. But…one day at a time, Katrynne. One day, one hour, one minute even, and I just keep telling myself that I couldn’t know the truth without maybe being dead myself.” Katrynne nodded, her hand absently going to the ring on a chain around her neck. “It will never end, I think.” She had lived so long with the guilt of what she’d done to Alain all those years ago. It had never faded. There was no getting past it. As Katelle continued to reassure her that there was nothing else she could have done without putting her own life at risk, and they must keep moving on, Katrynne realized that the General was perhaps speaking to herself as much as to her audience. “If you need some time, Katrynne…some time to come to terms with what’s happened…nobody could truly fault you for it. I needed…more time that I’d rather admit, after…” Katelle trailed off, finally shaking her head. “It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and sometimes it makes it easier to move forward.” Kat slowly released the ring and lowered her hand to her lap. “Time won’t help. I know that. And The Grim won’t take time off from their killing and terrorizing. I must work harder to put an end to this.” “No, they won’t,” Katelle agreed with no small amount of resignation. “Just try to not lose yourself along the way. It’s disturbingly easy to do.” “I know,” Kat agreed, thinking of the year she had willingly lost herself in the Storm Peaks after Zak’s death. “I won’t.” After she left the General’s office, Kat went to the house in Old Town that she'd inherited from Zak. It was a small house. She had kept the smaller of the two bedrooms. The master bedroom remained as it had while Zak lived there. The cellar door creaked as Kat opened it. She swiped at cobwebs as she descended the stairs, lighting torches as she went. When the room was lit, she surveyed the small armory before her. This was only a portion of the armor and weapons Zak’s team had kept in Gilneas when they hunted worgen. The items were all dusty, but they had been well made, and most of it was still in fine condition, lacking only a good cleaning. Kat gathered an armful of weapons and took them upstairs to give them just that. Several hours later, Kat had her usual blades strapped to her hips, a small pistol in one boot, a knife in the other, and a set of throwing knives on her belt. She also had several simple engineering bombs attached to her armor. She looked longingly at some of the other weapons still gleaming on the floor, but she didn’t want to weigh herself down any more than she already had. She stepped outside, locked the door, and headed for the portals.
  15. A street beggar ran up to Katrynne in Dalaran. Impossible to tell whether it was male or female, the youth had a dirty face and the typical short haircut to stop lice from infesting it. He or she wore dirty clothes and well-worn home-made boots of wood and canvas. “That man took some Grim elf woman to Booty Bay,” the child panted. Kat decided it sounded more like a boy than a girl. “I couldn’t risk following him, but it looked like it was important. He was almost dragging her through a portal.” Katrynne pressed a few coins into a dirty hand, and ushered the child to be on his way. Something’s not right, she warned herself. How would a little street urchin know she would be interested in following a Grim? She had not been quiet about her goals lately, but she couldn’t imagine why such a child would take interest in her hunt. She would not pass up the chance to catch a Grim though, and she hurried to retrieve her gryphon and then headed for the portals. She rode through the sky over Booty Bay until she spotted it—the horrible red and black cloth of The Grim. The tabard was worn by a blond-haired Sin’dorei woman. She stood by a fire, talking to none other than Baal’themar Dawnsorrow. Kat had suspected he must still have friends among The Grim, but she would not stay her hand for him. The black gryphon flew low over the pair. With blades in hand, Kat leapt from her mount and landed on the woman. Baal made no effort to interfere as sharp blades slashed through his companion’s throat. He simply watched as the woman grabbed at her throat in horror, her blood pouring onto the stones below. Katrynne watched him warily. He knelt next to the bleeding woman as the life in her eyes slowly faded, but he did nothing to try to stop the blood flow. “Shh,” he soothed, speaking in Orcish. “It’s okay. I’ll make sure your children are well cared for. You have earned some rest.” The woman paled and died without any fuss as the blood stopped spurting and slowly leaked from the wound. Katrynne wiped her daggers on her leggings and took a step back, preparing to leave. She raised her arm to summon her gryphon back. Baal pulled the tabard off the woman’s body, revealing her blood-stained dress and a small handbag. "Well done, Katrynne. You are wonderfully predictable." He spoke common now. Opening the handbag, he pulled out a picture of children. “Did you think it strange that she was unarmed? Or does it not matter, so long as the tabard is on them?” Kat paused before mounting the bird, turning back to him. “Armed or not, they must die. My goal is to destroy them. I care not about giving them a fair fight.” “You just killed an innocent woman.” He looked at the picture, then handed it to Katrynne. “And a mother.” Becoming irritated with whatever game he was playing, and still with the feeling that something wasn't right, Kat pointed at the tabard in his hand. “She was Grim.” She tossed the picture into the fire after barely glancing at it. “She wore a tabard I paid her to put on,” Baal stated. “You what?” “Ah, now you care? This woman worked as an escort. I paid her to wear this tabard to prove a point. And you came through.” Katrynne frowned, horror crossing her expression as she realized what she had just been tricked into doing. “You set her up to die. By my hand. Why?” “To prove a point. You shouldn't attack someone just based on their tabard,“ he answered, and she remembered something he had said when they met outside Thunder Bluff: Then you would have attacked me because of a tabard. Horror turned to disbelief. Disbelief turned to rage. “Why would anyone wear that thing if they're not Grim? Why would you sentence her to death just to prove a point?” “I didn't,” Baal countered. “You could have waited, could have studied the target, but you chose to attack, blinded by what you believe.” And Kat remembered something else he said that day: Monsters are everywhere. They hide under lies and people skin. “I have studied you, “she said, her voice shaking with anger, “enough to know that you are still a monster.” Baal’themar was no longer Grim, but he was still evil. Perhaps there was no redemption for people like him. And if not for him, then likely not for her either. “And what are you?” he challenged. Kat was a monster herself. She knew she always had been, ever since that fateful day when she’d been bitten by one. But she wouldn’t tell him that. Instead, she’d show him. Bones broke and reformed. Muscles stretched and contracted. Fur sprouted from her skin. “Your end,” she answered, her voice rougher in her worgen form. She lunged at him with her daggers, slicing at his torso. He disappeared, and then he taunted her from the shadows. “Better ditch the body Katrynne. You don't want the guards to find her.” "She is your problem now." Kat had no intention of hiding the body, or hiding from what she’d done. She had killed a woman who had done nothing more than wear a piece of cloth for some coins, probably to feed her children. If Kat had ever had the slightest chance of the Light’s forgiveness for her sins, it was surely gone now. "I doubt that very much.” His voice faded with a soft laugh. "You'll learn to see things for what they are soon enough." Troubled, and still enraged, she mounted the gryphon and kicked him roughly in the sides to take flight.