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Qabian last won the day on July 23

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About Qabian

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  • Birthday 09/14/1981

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  1. I cannot be "of the people." I do not have any people. I put myself above all others and always have for as long as I can remember. Any I could once claim as mine were erased at the hands of Arthas. Any people who were both of like mind and understood me are long since dead. There are some -- two, at my count, perhaps three -- who understand me, who know me, but they are not of like mind. The Grim, they are of like mind, but they do not understand me. The Grim are not my people. The Grim hold similar ideals, but not identical. The Grim open the path to endless violence, accepted and encouraged. They know and appreciate hate that consumes all. I wonder how many of them actually hold the Mandate closest to their heart, though. How many of them actually hold the Horde on the pedestal the Mandate demands? Their Mandate is a strong banner. It is easy to follow, durable, a strong moral core to uphold the violence, difficult to crack short of the crumbling of the Horde itself, but we all seem to fall under it for different reasons, none of which are actually the Horde. For me and I believe for Syreena, it is the humans. For Awatu, it is the dwarves. For most, it is likely one or two individuals who need to die, or the ephemerality that is love for chaos itself. For all of us, it is the death we need to bring to a few or to many. We accept Horde protection and supremacy as a stand-in for what we truly crave. But the way the Mandate is written, it survives despots and lunacy. It should also survive the fragility of being led by a company connected only by treason. How often does one have to betray the people one claims as their own before they realize what they have become, before they understand their truth? You have no people. You are all you have. It will not be for the elite, no, but it will be exclusive and I will decide who can have it. Wealth is an insufficient indicator of acceptability. It is a good one. Those who have amassed large amounts clearly hold themselves of highest import, but they do not necessarily have sense as well. With the rumors I hear, Northrend may be the only place I can stand to be awake without walking back into the clutches of the Bronze, a place I can survive while the Horde decides if it even wants to exist in the future, or if our precious factions are as meaningless as those who believe themselves heroes would like to claim. I know who I will bring here, and they are not the Grim. They are not my people.
  2. I wish she weren't right. There are ways in which she isn't, but If she were anyone else, I would be disturbed. I might play along, but I would not Instead, I I don't like the idea that I may have had anything in common with them. It frustrates me to even consider such a thing, let alone concede it. The only nature I've accepted was theirs is narcissism. Everything else, the cruelty, the intellect, the power, I built with the help of those like me who never shared my blood. They get credit for nothing but selfishness. Yes, I respect the selfishness, enjoy the selfishness, but that is all they gave me, nothing more, and they used that gift so poorly for themselves. And yet. If there is space for me to act without it, perhaps they did the same, set it aside for something they wanted. I still hate the idea. I would rather be right. It's not like I'm going to fight this. It's not like I want to. But it has to end badly. There is no happy ending. You would think by now that I would be used to wanting things that aren't going to turn out well for me, that I would be used to chasing the present, the hedonism, that I would be used to considering the consequences and weighing them and deciding the future is a price worth the present. But this is such a different game from those I am used to playing. I am used to the cruelty being the song, not the silence. We have never answered to the leadership of the Horde. We answer only to our ideals. We have sometimes, often, failed them, but they have never failed us. We knew as well as she did that this moment wouldn't last. I made certain to ask every one of her loyalists that came to us what they would do when she turned on the Horde. I made certain they acknowledged this possibility. And yet, while she no longer stands for the Mandate, for the Horde, she has turned on us in nothing but words. Lordaeron frightened some, but what she did seemed natural in the pursuit of victory. And everyone else who has fallen at her hands turned against the Horde first, turned toward the enemy. She can no longer be followed, no, but perhaps she can be used? Not as a tool. She cannot be directed. But perhaps if we follow where she walks, where she makes her deals, there will be opportunities to be the destruction we crave. As long as we shield ourselves so that her violence is directed ever outward at others, she could still bring peace in her wake, the soft, ashen peace of Teldrassil. But it's a dangerous proposition, if what she says is true. Why would she bother with our trust? I don't think she needed it, and yet she had it, not from many it seems, but from some. We have been here before, no matter what decisions they make, at least as a whole. Silvermoon has not been here before. Silvermoon has not been without the Prince and the Queen both. Silvermoon has never been entirely at the mercy of someone with as little strength as Lor'themar. He has always marched to the tune of others, and now we need a king and have only a traitor. Rommath has strength, but I do not think he has the will to make things right. I have considered leaving it entirely, but there is always room in the shadows. Where would I go? In Dalaran, I need the shadows. Even in Suramar, I need the shadows. She can be my shadows.
  3. When dreams hold more logic than reality, what recourse is there but to sleep? When those leading the charge fail to grasp what is good and what is necessary, what recourse is there but to withdraw support? When their ideas are good but their tactics are so flawed as to be harmful, what good is it to follow them? It is easier to follow a Warchief whose ideas are worthless but whose tactics are strong than the opposite it seems. However this plays out, the throne must give way to someone new in time, either in body or in action. Perhaps when that happens, there will be reason to step back into the fight. The Regent-Lord fails his people and no one has the strength to replace him. The Mandate will continue. For all its many interpretations, it seems immutable at its core and indestructible in its concept. And there is no abandonment this time. I follow no one anywhere else. I follow only myself into the shadows. I will stay close, but I will stay quiet. I am a child of blood and fire, but every fire burns itself out and the sparks must find new tinder before it can blaze again. There is no fuel in Nazjatar. There was a time I would have given everything in my power to walk Her halls in peace that we now walk in violence, and seeing them from this perspective has shattered every hope I once had for us. I remain Grim, but Grim in my dreams, until I can call on my own fire which has been smothered by this failure of a war. I was never suited to this anyway. I was far better than nothing, yes, and I made it my project and priority, but I was never inspired to it. I know what is good and what is right, but if I cannot impart it with words, I have no other way to convey my knowledge. Convey the truth with violence and pain then? No, that is not my way. All that I am capable of conveying with violence is death, and death of our own does nothing for the war. She understands us well enough to keep us strong as long as she has the bodies to guide. And she has fire of her own and a bloodthirst that far outstrips mine in the here and now. I don't know if the Mandate can hold her up. It weakens under Sylvanas' faltering steps. But in the time she has, she will do well. She is inspired to it in ways I never was. If only those the Mandate needs can find it before it's too late. I have someone to hold my truths. They will grow with her until I can put them to use once again. For now, they have no place outside us. Not anymore. Things fall apart.
  4. What am I doing? What am I... There aren't regrets. Not per se. There was never enough there to make it worth questioning the decisions I made. It's not about what's right. It's not about morality. What do I care about doing the right thing? It's about the value of what I have. It's worth too much to put at risk, so I draw my lines where I need them drawn. I can't help but wonder, though, if I'm falling apart. If the lessons the Bronze imparted have not stuck. I am weak and vulnerable, and I have been preyed on yet again. Have I? I question myself more since then, since everything. It makes me more honest, oddly enough. Still, no one should believe anything I say. They should know better. They should always know better. I've never been comfortable with this, but who else can do it correctly? If someone else tried, I would chafe and want it fixed, want it done my way, so perhaps I need to simply stop fighting. I am more stable when I'm lying. When I'm honest, I am crumbling. Be wary when my words ring true. Falsehood should be reassuring. She wants what she cannot have. We always do, don't we? I don't even know what I want anymore. I want quiet, and that is unlike me. I don't have friends, nor do I want them. Strange things happen when people call themselves my friends if I fail to disagree. Keep them all at arms' length. Am I proud? Beyond narcissism, at least? I take pride where it's earned, but it seems earned so rarely. I think I expressed my ambivalence. I am proud of who we were. I am proud of what we are capable of, should we actually make the effort. But am I proud of who we are at the moment? I don't know about that. All the best of us died to the Scourge. Those of us who were passable then followed Kael'thas and died with him. Only the idiots who left him for the Scryers survived. The idiots and the double agents. Dar'khan steals from us to this day, long after returning to ash. The sin'dorei I don't find vastly unimpressive are few and far between. Lor'themar has so little ambition he hardly deserves to be called a regent. The Windrunners all chose the humans over their own people long ago. Only Rommath keeps me from giving up on us entirely. If she needs pride to see her through, I hope she finds it stronger than mine. Given what she's said of the situation, I doubt there's anything in it to be proud of, but I wouldn't put it past whatever serves for justice in Silvermoon today to fail me utterly and give mercy where it's undeserved. Our nation is ruled by the pathetic. But I've never been a good example. Even when I had the pride, I toyed with it in others to get my own way. I have always put my self above everyone and everything else. I still do, though my methods have taken on different subtleties. And still I wonder. Have I squandered the gift of the Bronze? Have I fallen too far to avoid drowning? Is that why I'm so tired?
  5. I said too much, gave away too many truths. There was a lie anchoring it all, though. Nothing wrong with that. I'm honest about who I am. She knows I can't be trusted. What disturbs me about that lie is the whiteness of it. I could rationalize, make my excuses, that I needed the lie for some other blacker, more sensible reason, but the whiteness of the lie is behind the gifts, too. Maybe I shouldn't have toyed with her, but curiously, I don't regret that at all. It might make her kill me in my sleep, but she wouldn't be the first to try, and good luck guessing where I am any given night. I have my freedom. I never relinquished it. That would be a line drawn that I refuse to cross. However, my curiosity to see how the game plays out, intense as it might be, is nowhere near sufficient. She has earned things from me enough. She has earned abridged tales of tables she could turn. She has not earned me. I suppose, if she were determined, she could make the attempt, but better to break her of that hope at the expense of the game, better to make her think I'm something else, better to make her turn away. Better for everyone. Better for the Grim. I've chosen treason. Treason keeps me loyal. I like how that works. I wonder if she'll hide now, or if she'll make good on her threats, vices and silence. Her problem. Not mine. And the rat lives. She thinks she killed her heart. Hilarious. I don't remember telling her that, but it does seem like something I would do. I wonder if I can get her to admit that in front of Syreena, have Syreena add a heart to her ear collection. I should have killed her the moment she showed her face. Instead, I showed her history and gave her hope. Since when am I an agent of hope? There is chaos in it, I suppose. Hopefully it'll direct itself away from me. I'm failing to do rather a lot of things I should do, not enough to blow up in my face yet, but that is a distinct possibility, growing more distinct by the hour. I spoke with the boy's mother. I don't know what I thought would happen. Maybe I thought I could fix an old problem with a new solution. She thinks she was once broken and is now fixed. I think she was once fixed and is now broken. The best thing for her now, and everyone involved in that tale, would be the quick release of death. Yes, even the replacement. The things we do are objectively harmful, and we will just keep doing them, won't we? Because we want to, and we are selfish.
  6. It should be enough. It should be enough just to hate. I shouldn't need reasons. Garithos was the reason I offered whenever a reason was demanded. He was reason enough, too. I shouldn't She doesn't understand. Hate is easy. It is warm and strong. It protects from all manner of harm. I didn't need reasons to hate. We were just predators, preying on the weak, the lesser, those who would grow and learn and die too fast to remember the techniques we could focus on for decades. We didn't need reasons. Yes, they gave us reasons, but we didn't need them. They weren't my friends. I didn't lose anyone close to me. Not to them. The only thing that killed them was the Scourge, and the Scourge was what? A disease of the world? Arthas and Kel'thuzad can take a lot of blame for being weak and lesser, for falling for trap after trap after trap. Dar'khan can take some blame, for being power hungry, a grand failing of our kind, and his sweet little mutant children overrunning Stormwind now are what happen when you open the gates for death. But even though they weren't my friends, I was too close to what happened to them. It changed me. It changed what made me hesitate. I was always more violent than not, and though I was never demanding, I resolved I never would be. I would never be like them. I would never take the way they did. I would only destroy. She doesn't understand. How could she? Who does understand? A wolf without its pack is prey, and I've been without my pack for too long. The Grim stands in for them, but the Grim failed me. I was prey. More than once. I've learned not to rely on them. The Grim feed the hate, but they do not understand it. They don't need to. I shouldn't need to. She shouldn't need to. Hate should be enough, in and of itself. It does not need reasons to exist. It only needs to burn. It only needs to consume everything in its path. That's all it needs. She is an obsession, a dangerous path with no way to turn from it. Even if I try, I'll always find myself back on the same road. And I have given her everything. Of my own free will. Everything. Prey again, without my pack. The other needs to ask better questions. I don't think she wants to ask better questions. I don't think she wants what she says she wants, to do something for me, which is good, because she won't get it, but I'll get what I want, words and questions, the sound of my own voice, amusement at what nothing can cause. Be careful giving words too much power. They don't have any of their own. The cat disagrees, but also puts a point on the possibility that the only power they have is mischief. I need to spend a week in Suramar to remember what we should have been, but Feralas calls. I don't need brothers, but I'm glad of them, nonetheless, if only for the hope they give. Yes, hope. I like that people assume I know nothing but ruthless cruelty. I like knowing I can drive hate so easily. That doesn't mean I know nothing of things outside hatred. What do I know? I know more than those who worship at its feet. I know more than those who wear it on their sleeves and on their banners. I know because I run from it and it hunts me down. I know because I do not want it, do not need it, and yet I have it. Killing me with kindness would be much more difficult than even the ridiculousness of the cliché implies. Boring me with kindness might be manageable. I suppose maybe you could bore me to death with it? But even then, either you're the sort of kind hearted person I either destroy or walk away from, or you're not a kind hearted person and I take the opportunity to dismantle your kindness, find the motive in it, make you regret ever having plied me with it in the first place. Or you're the kind of person who's better at playing my games than I am. There aren't many of those, so I don't fear them though I probably should. The team building silliness at least takes my mind off the menacing truths running deep under everything I do these days. I would definitely prefer to watch from the sidelines, but that's better managed when other people are on the dais than when I am. And if it makes them stronger, then so be it. I'll take my loss of dignity and chalk it up to forging bonds or some other useless lie. That Eye is pointless. It saw the obvious but not the dexterous. You can tell the truth and not tell the truth at the same time, and how can one device detect that nuance? You can tell the truths that don't matter and neglect the ones that do. There is a way to get every truth from me, and it is actually quite simple, but who actually finds that much value in truth?
  7. Oh no. Oh no no no no. I just realized. The other possibilities. None of this is good. None of it. I think I can keep it from... going entirely off the rails? But it's a mess. Don't they know nothing comes of this? I learned my lesson. I'll play the games and say the words all I want, but it's going nowhere. Besides, behind closed doors, I'm worse. In every possible way. Mm, almost every possible way. They have no idea how much worse I really am. There's only one place I go for truth.
  8. The sound of my own voice never fails to start trouble. Thankfully the number of people who have ever realized this is small. Better not to be interesting. I do a lot of truth telling for someone who is an avowed liar. I wanted to bemoan the place I'm in. I do not mold and encourage and develop people. I can test them, but I do not create them. We could, plausibly, have someone in this role who could create new Grim from troubled souls who find their way to us. I am not such a person. At best, I assess. Even then, I find assessment exhausting. People are... tiring. Destruction in and of itself is much more sensible than people. Not only that, but I am, in fact, a terrible Grim. On the surface, I'm not, but anyone who has been forced to trust me for any amount of time has a sense of it, even if they cannot define it. Awatu does, I'm sure. Syreenna definitely does. The actions I take to keep myself from giving in always have an edge of treason. Never against the Mandate, but often against individuals. Not because I hold the Mandate particularly highly, but it is a ludicrously easy path to follow and not one that actually requires a great deal of rules. People, however, are complicated. I was surprised to hear Awatu mention Loa in such a manner, but perhaps he has ideas I do not. Ideas I tried to contemplate aloud, but of course not. That and... I don't know just how well any given power can obtain souls with so much competition for them out there. There are things I shouldn't speak of. I miss my didactic preaching on the subjects in the time before, when people were simpler and easier to use. I have fears now I did not have before the Scourge, not of the dead, but of weaknesses I then did not realize I had. Every once in a while, those weaknesses make themselves known in places where the doors have not been closed. I should keep my mouth shut, or pretend the last fifteen years didn't happen. One of the two. Instead, true confessions with an insistence that I talk too much rather than an implication that at least half of it was false. No, none of it was false. I have been monumentally stupid. I will likely continue to be whenever weaknesses come to light, but I will not be caught. After all, I already am. Where's Tradire?
  9. What... have we done? I have never seen such... So much... These islands bore me, but Azshara's voice is audible here as it was on the other Isles. I do not fear what she will do. I fear what she will fail to do. I fear she will become just another setback that we will overcome, when the history she holds should mean so much more. History becomes meaningless in the face of the Bronze and the Titans. They strip the value from our stories and endeavor to make us worthless. They will succeed if we do not hold them at bay. Alphaeus asked if I had ever done anything selfless in my life. My immediate response, and the correct one, was an obvious no. But then it occurred to me, and because I enjoy the sound of my own voice, I even revealed that I have evidence to the contrary. Perhaps it is a singular event. No, not entirely singular, but definitely rare. I am capable of selflessness, but if you want it from me, you have to earn it by doing something that means a great deal to me and absolutely nothing to anyone else. In the grand scheme of things, I am capable of no such thing. I have no need for selflessness under the Mandate. The Mandate encompasses my self and every narcissistic action I take furthers its impossible cause. It is best not to dwell on stolen moments that suggest I have the capacity for any real sacrifice. I know that what matters most to me is my self, so I had pieces of me carved away, my ear, my name. But knowing that hardly seemed enough, I tried and failed to do more at the time. In the many months since, I think I have done enough, and look forward to earning that future place of respect without continued sacrifice. But to suggest that anything could matter to me more than I do is heresy of the highest order. Isn't it?
  10. Qabian stepped up the gangplank onto the Banshee's Wail, giving Dazar'alor's great pyramid over his left shoulder a smirk as he set about leaving it behind for another day. The Troll essence pervading everything wore on him. There was enough to it to keep him interested for a short time, but the longer he spent there, the more he wanted out. Despite the Amani's presence in his backyard, Qabian had never been entirely anti-Troll in his past. He knew the sheer duration of their civilization--if it could even be called that, but it was ancient--held secrets that even he could not easily dismiss. Yes, those secrets had left him with a useless, impossible-to-kill cat, but still. Unlike the humans, who had stolen a gift they did not deserve, and the night elves, who had turned their backs on the magic they should have guarded, Trolls actually knew things, important things, held them close, and could use ancient magic imbued with powers that could not simply be denied. But Qabian found himself tiring of their aesthetic easily. It took good, vibrant, powerful colors and threw them into right angles and crude faces, no curves, no sweeps, all boldness with no subtlety, no grace whatsoever. The isles of Kul Tiras were objectively worse, all dead trees and gloom, dreary stone and unpleasant sea creatures, more grey than anyone should have to look at for any length of time, but there, at least, he found no push to appreciate anything. All anyone asked from him in Kul Tiras was fire, and he supplied it with deep contentment, even when it cost him hours in the company of healers later. As the Banshee's Wail set off to bring the day's adventurers to Plunder Harbor, Qabian leaned over the starboard bow and breathed in the salty air. It had memories in it. He had never been particularly naval minded, but the ocean held memories of Quel'danas, and horizon lines brought to mind all those hours spent in honest prayer to the Highborne the sea had swallowed, the Highborne who he had found still lived, the Highborne whose queen he had abandoned for reasons he could not remember. The words of the shark loa floated through his mind. Azshara's motives are hidden behind a vast darkness. She reaches into a place from where she cannot return. Hasn't she been in that darkness for millennia? Qabian thought to himself. Aren't the naga the living proof of that darkness? Did Gral think he knew something different? The blood elf wondered if he would ever find out. The loa had departed with an expressed intention to learn more, but made no promise to return. Qabian was still considering the subject when the ship arrived in the port, and Qabian made his way through a town full of mutineering humans where no one complained when one or a dozen of them were found shivved, floating face down in the water.
  11. War for peace. War for peace. War for peace. And no one sees the irony. No one. I love it. Hit them while they're bleeding. Yes, we're bleeding, too, and risk everything in making the strike, but... But if we win this now, we can force acceptance and servility for centuries. Really? How has that worked out historically? If you insist. If there's one thing I'm never going to argue with, it's scorched earth. Scorch it all. Especially Lordaeron. The Windrunners have had their claws in human scalps their entire lives. Sylvanas was only too happy to find herself gifted with the power to hold human lives in her hands and have them worship her for it. Nathanos isn't just any corpse. I hope she regrets what she's done. I hope it saddens her to see her people, her human people removed from the home they bought with the blood of their families. That pit was disgusting before they turned it into a literal sewer, and it's disgusting now. Leaving it unusable for generations is all it has ever deserved. I hear the rumors trying to pin Malfurion's escape on Saurfang. Maybe so. That might explain his little failed death wish drama. To return their hero to them is a crime that cannot go unpunished. But was Sylvanas not there? Shouldn't she have seen it done? While everyone else bemoans the lack of honor in murdering hundreds maybe thousands of civilians, I'll be over here wondering why they failed to cut the head off the snake. Keep leaving nothing but ash and blight in your wake, Warchief. I certainly don't care how many innocents on either side you take with you in the name of some sort of necessity or survival. This is the annihilation we've been preaching for more than a decade. This is what we live for.
  12. Brinnea made her way through the tables set too closely together and found a seat in the shadows of the dim tavern, away from the bar but with a clear view of the door. She wasn't a regular, just passing through, but the nameless town on the road based its existence travelers like her, so even the icy glow of her eyes in the darkness didn't particularly draw attention. Brinnea didn't protest when the barmaid set a full mug of something beside her, but also didn't drink it. The death knight wasn't there for the drink or the food, or even the chance to be off her feet, but for the chance to listen quietly to patrons for news of the road, for the opportunity to learn if anyone was actually following her, and hopefully, though she knew it was a gamble, be left alone. A ragged looking night elf plunked out a tune from a decrepit piano in a corner of the room beside a large fireplace with a comfortably roaring fire. The music would probably have been cheerful if the piano's poor tuning didn't seem to drop everything into a minor key. The handful of other patrons watched the musician idly as they spoke quietly amongst themselves or drank in silence. Eventually, a human man burst through the door, causing the music to stop and the scattered patrons to all turn to stare at him. If he was the one Brinnea suspected was following her, he paid her no mind whatsoever. Instead, he charged up to the bar, grabbed the bartender's collar, and yanked him half over the bar, knocking a glass onto the floor with a shatter. Brinnea's hand went to her sword, but before she could judge if the encounter was worth interfering in, the stranger grumbled some angry inaudible words in the bartender's face, then pushed him roughly aside then stalked back out of the tavern. The door slammed shut in his wake. Brinnea looked curiously between the bartender and the patrons, all of whom looked shocked and uncertain. The bartender straightened his apron and handed a broom to the barmaid who had rushed to his side as soon as the other man had left. She obediently began sweeping up the broken glass as the bartender walked among the tables to stand in front of the piano, where he raised a hand and cleared his throat. "If anyone has seen Jonas Branson or knows where he is, the Red Blades are looking for him. If they don't find him by dawn, they're going to start breaking down doors," the bartender announced. Then with slumped shoulders, the he shuffled back to his place behind the bar. A murmur went through the room as people looked to each other with questions on their faces. Brinnea narrowed her eyes, watching them carefully, but nothing else seemed to come from the announcement. As the piano player adjusted his bench, an old man came up from the crowd and put a hand on the night elf's shoulder and spoke to him quietly. The night elf simply nodded. The old man stood in the place the bartender had just left. "Hello everyone," the old man declared. His voice was stronger than the stoop of his body would have suggested. "I know none of you know me, but since we've all just been interrupted anyway, I have something I'd like to say. My name is McCallum. Today should have been my daughter's first birthday." Brinnea blinked. If what he said was true, he couldn't possibly be as old as he looked. "I don't think there's any one of us," McCallum continued, "that hasn't lost a lot to violence and war, even if we tried very hard to live good lives and take care of our families. It's even harder when we know who is responsible and that there is nothing we can do to stop them from ruining more lives and tearing apart other families." He choked on his words, then composed himself. "But I thought maybe, just for one small moment, we might look back and remember fondly those we've lost, in honor of my sweet Joy." He took off his hat and wrung it between his hands, looking down at the floor. A hush went over the people in the bar, all of whom paid the man their attention and their respect. Many of them closed their eyes and lowered their heads prayerfully. He didn't let the moment go too long. He lifted his head and smiled. "Thank you. Thank you, everyone," he said hoarsely, then patted the piano and nodded his thanks to the musician before heading back to his table where he sat alone and the poorly tuned piano took up its mournful melodies as murmured conversations picked up again. Brinnea stared at McCallum as the man slumped over his table, then began silently sobbing into his elbow, the evidence in the tremor of his shoulders. Brinnea signaled to the barmaid and asked her for a cup of tea. When the woman brought the drink, Brinnea stood, taking her cup of tea and the mug that had earlier been brought to her, and carried them over to McCallum's table. She put the mug down and pushed it against his elbow. He looked up at her then, his face red and wet. "Oh. Thank you, my lady." He took the mug from her and began to drink it down hurriedly as if he hadn't had anything to drink in weeks. The death knight didn't respond to his words, and eyed him curiously as he chugged the ale. When he put the mug down empty, she asked, "Another?" He nodded, looking a little sheepish, and Brinnea waved for another mug to be brought. She sipped at her tea in silence as she watched the man drink the second with a little more patience. "You lost your family, too?" McCallum asked in between drafts. She nodded. "Some," she said, but didn't elaborate, and he didn't press her for details. Some of those details could be seen in her eyes. "Who was it?" Brinnea asked. He knew what she meant. "They made it look like bandits, but..." McCallum trailed off. "You don't believe it was?" "No," he said. "It was a blood elf of the Horde. He decided I was his enemy for reasons I may never know." She nodded again. The man was holding back details, as she did, but she could understand a lack of trust in strangers. He sunk back into silence. "You may not find justice while you live," Brinnea offered. She had only meant to give the man the drink she had no intention of drinking, but she took the chance to give him some hope on his day of mourning. She stood to leave even as she spoke words she wasn't entirely sure she believed. "But there will always be someone out there fighting for it even after you're gone." The man put his hand on her arm, feebly grabbing her elbow as she stood. "Like you?" he asked, his wet eyes staring up at her. "No. Not like me," she said. She pulled out of his grip, gently but firmly. She took a few coins from her belt and placed them on the table to pay for the drinks, then made her way out of the tavern. Outside, the evening had darkened into night and it had begun to rain. Whoever had been following her had been thwarted by her entering the tavern, either because they had no wish to enter the enclosed space or because something had finally taken them off the chase. She needed to be certain of the latter. She began to walk through the slick mud of the dirt road, then slipped into an alley, making a circuit of the town's few buildings, watching for signs or sensations she was being still being observed. It was difficult to know how much time had passed before she heard the voices arguing back the way she came. The absence of light and the rain removed any sense of the hours. She pulled her cloak down around her ears and determined to keep her distance, until the scream. At the sound, she let her hood fall back in the rain, drew her sword, and stalked back into the alley. Two men stood over a third, kicking their victim repeatedly through his staccato wails. The man on the ground was smaller and... older? When Brinnea recognized the man they were mercilessly beating as the man from the tavern, she didn't offer a warning. She ran the first attacker through with her blade, then slammed his groaning form into his partner, bringing both of them to the ground. She lifted her sword again to strike the other, but she could see from the way his head had hit the ground that he would not be getting up again. "Who-- Who are you?" McCallum stammered from the ground. There was recognition on his face, but also fear. "Nevermind that," she said. "Why were they attacking you?" "The-The man they were looking for earlier, Jonas Branson, was my brother-in-law. He's why I came here," he explained as Brinnea helped him to his feet. "I've only been here a couple days, but I still haven't found him. I don't know where he is. Wherever he is, he must be in bad trouble." "And now that trouble is your trouble. And mine," Brinnea said, looking down at the bodies. "Are you all right?" "Just a few bruises," McCallum said. "I'll live." He straightened his sleeves as he shuffled against the wall of the alley, trying to get out of the rain. "Only if you leave town," she said matter-of-factly. He nodded, sighing. "Maybe I can come back after whatever is going on gets solved, although it seems like even if I find Jonas, he won't be able to help me." She frowned. "Do you have a horse?" "Yes," he said. "I'll take you that far. Then we both better leave this place far behind us." "Yes," he said again, looking down at his feet for a moment before putting his hand on her arm for a second time. "I think you are wrong, and you are the kind who will fight for justice after I'm gone." "Maybe," she said quietly, letting his steps take the lead, but holding her blade at the ready. "But I doubt the families of those men in the mud behind us will feel the same."
  13. She has her claws in too many aspects of my life as it is. Now her brother? At least, he seems unlike her in most ways, but it's just another connection where there are already too many. I should... not have gone there, but I felt like I had no choice. Not that anyone but myself was forcing me, but... After everything, simply... staying away... was not something I could do, not without at least making the attempt. I was lucky it was only Damian around, although perhaps if he hadn't been there I could have been and gone without waking her. What she said about Sylvanas is... her problem, not mine. Or it should be, but anyone whose focus turns to her, after they take out her family, will inevitably find those connections. Given what she spoke about sounded like paranoia, something I'm highly familiar with, I know the path that can unfold from there. There is no way that I am willing to stand between her and Sylvanas' minions if there's any truth to her presumptions. There's also no way I just stand aside and let her die. Or is there? On the one hand, I know what I should do. I should stay away from her entirely. But now her brother. Awatu wants us to pay attention to Genn, but I wonder if Anduin isn't stronger than we're giving him credit for. Yes, he's an idiot child, but I'm not entirely certain he's an idiot child entirely bent to the will of the adults in the room. I think he's too opinionated and has too much power to simply do what everyone else says without asserting his own ideas. Umbral has her tabard, at my insistence, essentially. I went where I needed to go and made my arguments and got my approval, such as it was. It feels like desperation. When she turned over that journal, we should -- and again, doing things I know I should not -- have cut her throat immediately, no hesitation, no compromise. But much of what we do feels like desperation these days. The pendulum never completed its swing. Will it ever? Will we have to force it? Yes, she worked hard. She "earned" the privilege by completing the tasks set for her. Several times over, in truth. But she is so deeply flawed that she is utterly untrustworthy. And it's not because she lies. It's because she won't, so she floats her flaws on the surface where we can all see them, and yet rather than destroy her for them, we are forced to take them in stride. We had to give her the tabard to make sure that hard work of hers doesn't turn against us, not because she is what we need. Now her brother.
  14. Sounds like fun. I'll play again. Qabian.