The Upheaval (Closed RP)

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Post  Quixoticus on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:39 pm

This is a Closed RP; please refer to the sign-up thread if you aren't already part of the thread.

The Players:

Gabriel Alvairn (Quixoticus)
Guro'jintal (Quixoticus)
Dyrian Velmoran (Mormosi)
Uthelas Sorenthal (Mormosi)
Durnae (Miss Tiger)
Tabitari (Miss Tiger)
Elisha Nixiediode (Izdazi)
Izdazi Shadowcreek (Izdazi)
Rizno Redwire (Zeria)
Lucan Farwield (Zeria)
Kwasi Manyara (Akatora13)
Midnarwen Proudoak (Akatora13)
Esbern Marborough (AWizardDidIt)
Lezandra Larimar (Alezin)
Lauren Anzelle (Sorrowrunner)
Tulzscha (Fireseed)
Meksnag (Fireseed)
Rothiron Malagan (Fedora Dracula)

There is an expanded character list on the sign-up thread.

Because we have so many characters and RPers, please title your posts with the name of the character bolded and italicized so it's easy to keep track of characters' progress in the thread. I've titled the introduction post as an example.

Last edited by Quixoticus on Thu Jan 05, 2012 12:41 am; edited 4 times in total

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Post  Quixoticus on Tue Oct 11, 2011 5:46 pm


Tahirus looked at the corpse of Charles Marand slumped in his tall-backed chair. The man’s eyes were blank, and they had fallen out of sink; they had been like this for almost a minute, shortly after Tahirus and the others had come knocking on his door and presented him with documents that incriminated him in the sale of empowered crystals to the Cult of the Damned for the production of war-scale mana bombs.

I didn’t have a choice, Marand had said. Tahirus recalled his cryptic words, and they still made no sense.

My hand was forced.

In the second it had taken Tahirus to detect the magic signature in the room, Charles had shaken as if suddenly gripped by seizure, and then had sunk back in his plush chair, dead.

“Don’t touch anything,” Tahirus said to the others.

He walked around the desk and began looking over the body. There were no obvious wounds. Whatever magic signature he had detected earlier was gone, or expended. But when Tahirus pushed the body forward to look at his back, he saw the small golden piece at the base of Charles’ head. It was no bigger than a thumb, but the icon of a hammer surrounded by a spiked halo was unmistakable. The implications made Tahirus incredulous, until someone began to hail him over the communication stones.

+Tyrion? Is that you?+

+Yeah, Tahirus. Where are you? You should hear the chatter at SI:7. Charles Marand is suddenly a hot commodity.+

+We’re at Marand’s office right now, Tyrion.+

+What? No, not good. You need to get out of there. He’s been red-flagged, and you know what that means. Our boys are getting ready to pick him up.+

+Charles Marand is dead, Tyrion.+

+Rusty piston pumps! Tahirus! Did you kill him?+

+No. Someone else. Your boys will figure it out when they see it.+

+Well you still need to get out of there. If SI:7 finds you with the body, you’re not the only one in trouble.+

+Understood, Tyrion. I’ll contact you in two days’ time.+

Tahirus severed the stone connection and turned to the others in the room. “SI:7 is on their way. We are leaving right now. Meet at the Slaughtered Lamb in one week’s time. Until then, no one makes contact with anyone else here.”

Minutes after they departed, a trio of humans in civilian clothing and sporting sharp military haircuts entered the building and headed up to Charles Marand’s office.

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Post  Quixoticus on Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:10 pm


Charles Marand’s mysterious death did not take Guro’jintal by complete surprise. The draenei Tahirus had seemed like trouble from the very beginning, and the discovery of mana bombs in the Plaguelands had been Guro’jintal’s first hint that they were getting involved in something that was a lot bigger than guerilla warfare with the Cult of the Damned. Judging by Marand’s quick and seemingly professional death, whoever had the human under his thumb was just as powerful as the Cult, and just as dangerous, too.

With that in mind, Guro’jintal decided to stay on the move until the designated meeting at The Slaughtered Lamb. He spent most of the week in transit, only making an overnight stop in Booty Bay before returning to northern Stranglethorn, where he made the rest of the trip to Stormwind on foot. He couldn’t trust the Horde channels, and the Alliance would be even less help; the only person that would be aware of his arrival in Stormwind was the ferryman they had commandeered on previous occasions.

The ferryman looked like he had always been old. His skin was covered in liver spots and he was bald except for a thin halo of hair near his ears. His eyelids seemed permanently drooped, and his lips sagged as if his body was too tired to hold them up anymore. The worst was the smell, which reminded Guro’jintal of dust and fermented eggs. He couldn’t imagine the human as a child.

The five minutes he spent on the small boat seemed to stretch into half an hour, and Guro’jintal was not happy about getting used to the man’s stench. He did not wait for the boat to stop at the landing, deciding to jump the three-foot gap and nod half-heartedly as he departed. He adjusted the heavy robes that concealed his larger frame and lowered his head to further conceal his tusks, and then retraced his steps to The Slaughtered Lamb through the maze of Stormwind’s back alleys.

Avoiding the guards came at the risk of having a row with the seedier residents of Stormwind, but in Guro’jintal’s experience, no matter what race they were, cutpurses and thugs were reluctant to get in a fight. Whenever someone made eye contact or started toward Guro’jintal, the troll lifted his robes to show them the large bone-carved dagger tucked in his belt, and his would-be assailants let him pass unmolested.

When he got to The Slaughtered Lamb, the tavern floor was relatively empty, like last time. He pulled his hood back and started toward the bar, taking notice of how unsurprised the few patrons seemed with a troll in Stormwind. But that was because it was The Slaughtered Lamb; most of the patrons were here on business that would not go over well with Alliance authority, so blowing the whistle on Guro’jintal would be as good as blowing the whistle on their selves.

The bartender, Jarel Moor, looked up as Guro’jintal approached. If he recognized Guro’jintal from the last time the troll had been there, the human didn’t show it. He continued arranging mugs while watching Guro’jintal.

“I’m looking for Tahirus,” said Guro’jintal, in Common, quietly.

Jarel Moor continued to stare at the troll without making any sign of hearing him. “He’s not here, yet. You can wait in the tavern,” he finally answered.

Guro’jintal nodded and left the bar, returning to the table area of the tavern. The other patrons had spread themselves out generously to have the most private conversations possible. The troll eventually settled on a large roundtable near one corner and sat down.

He had planned on ordering food, but the stench of the ferryman was still fresh in his nostrils, so he decided to watch the other patrons while he waited. It took his mind off the task at hand, which had been festering in the week since they had disbanded: what was Charles Marand into, and why did it feel like they had walked into something that was much bigger than they were?

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Post  Izdazi on Wed Oct 12, 2011 6:00 pm

Elisha 'Nix' Nixiediode

Stormwind City - SI:7 Headquarters
Six days ago.

Elisha Nixiediode, or Nix as his friends commonly called him, was content. He was happily working in his small office, or, more accurately, the tiny corner of the office he worked in.

His desk had everything he needed within easy grasp. Everything was orderly. The manuals he frequently consulted lined the upper shelves. A wrinkled, but still accurate, map of Azeroth covered the wall. The windows were far, but he had enough artificial lighting to still be productive. And there were always the assortment of gadgets that made his job easy when they worked and pleasantly challenging when they didn’t.

However, the best part was that his little cubicle was an island of predictability in a job that specialized in instability. Intelligence reports arrived in the inbox. The results of his analysis were always tidy in the outbox. The lad who delivered the interoffice correspondences was almost always punctual. Coffee was always waiting at eight bells of the cathedral. Every Tuesday Jen would bring Danishes in the morning. Every Friday was casual Friday.

Even the topic of conversation around the water cooler was pleasantly predictable (which is more then can be said about the general operation of the water cooler itself). Who won the latest joust or who is getting the next promotion? Lately, it’s been about the sons and daughters returning from deployment in Northrend. And, more somberly, it’s also been about the ones who weren’t returning.

But Elisha’s environment was predictable. He liked that. He appreciated that. A stable work environment meant he could devote his concentration on the ever unpredictable state of the geopolitical structure of Azeroth.

And that was what he excelled at. Given the intelligence SI:7 routinely receives, through various sources and methods, about the political entities in Azeroth he was able to program the various heuristic statistical computers that he manned. And so far, the math has been ominously close. Not always, but close.

There was a 71.2345% that Garrosh would take control of the Horde. No one believed him when he predicted it, but it happened. (Of course, the calculations also predicted a 53.2111% chance of Garrosh usurping power from Thrall by force. That didn’t happen, but no one has called him out on that prediction.)

There was an 82.983% that without the Lich King the Scourge minions would go out of control and swarm Azeroth. That hadn’t happened and despite his pressing for more detailed account of what had truly happened in Icecrown, he had been told that he didn’t have the security clearance.

Accounting for the lack of information, Elisha’s revised calculations came to 92.9832% that the Lich King was still alive and that there was a cover up in progress. But despite his math, the celebrations of the end of the war continued and he was reassigned to other areas to analysis.

Right now, with the end of the war and Horde undergoing an unsettling change in leadership, the chance of all-out war between the Alliance and the Horde has jumped to 83% and that number continues to rise by .025% a day with occasional spikes.

Cult of the Damned activity had dropped to 14%, but with a 70% chance of smaller cells branching out. However, other cultshad jumped 66% in the months leading to the end of the war. Most unsettling was the report of several missing high-yield mana bombs shortly after the shutdown of a CotD Cell by a group of freelance operatives. That jumped the threat by unknown independent entities by 7.1215% across the board.

Right now, Analyst Second-Class Nixiediode was preparing eleven more punch cards in order to program the heuristic computer with updated information about some new cult. It was a new doomsday cult that has grown more popular throughout the Stormwind Kingdom. Some smaller groups have even sprouted in the dwarven lands and reports point to similar activity within Horde territory.

The computer, a complex mess of brass gears, ley guides, arcane logic crystals and various punch card readers already had information stored about the other states of unrest throughout Azeroth. With the new cards, labeled Twilight 004.1 programed, he carefully inputted the new variables and pulled a leaver.

The computer began spooling up. Gears turned. Ley lines flickered. Dials twirled frantically and then he heard the familiar staccato sound of an output card being punched. The computer came to a hard stop and a small bell dinged. He took the ejected output card, studied it closely and carefully removed any hanging chads.

He certainly didn’t want to spend a week recounting the figures on the account of one of those flecks interfering.

Scratching the curly black hair on his head, he grunted at the suspicious lack of holes in the card. The mechanical monocle over his left eye whirred quietly as he zoomed in on the holes, checking for any near misses. Satisfied, with the results, he inserted it into another machine. Following a series of rapid firing clicks, a new sheet was ejected along with the card.

Twilight 004.1 Summary
Result: CANNY
Conf: 100

He looked over the form in bewilderment and then shot the computer a withering stare. The machine, as usual, didn’t offer an opinion on his unhappiness.

CANNY was a code used for a calculation that was impossible for the computer to process. It usually resulted from a mistake during the programing of the variables. However, with the confidence reading 100%, that meant the computer understood what Nix had given it. It simply couldn’t figure out what he was asking.

The last time the computer had shown a CANNY with 100% confidence was shortly after a fleet of smaller then usually necropolises were spotted flying toward the capital cities of Azeroth. And the result was a biological attack that had caught everyone from SI:7 to the Argent Dawn completely off guard.

Granted, that computer was a much earlier and simpler version then the current model, but the message was clear. The computer knew something was up, but its responses were limited. He had to ask the right questions.

And that was precisely when his calm predictable day came to a shattering end.

“Nix! The Chief wants to see you,” a young human woman with short blond hair called out. He pretended not to hear her and kept staring at the dismal results. He had a mystery that demanded solving.

After he didn't respond for a few minutes, she slid her chair from her cubicle to the entrance of his cubicle and knocked on the wall.

“Nix! The Old Man is calling for you,” she called out louder in a deliberately annoying high voice. He sighed. There was no fooling her now.

For being one of the tall folk, Elisha always found her a bit attractive and they had a playful, if discrete, flirtatiousness going on. Besides, despite being a human and something of a novice mage, she was also one of the few who came close to his level of mathematic understand. That had to count for something.

“I can’t, Jen. I’m on to something,” he replied.

“He wants you in his office right now and he’s in a mood,” she warned, in her sing song voice, before sliding away from his cubicle.

“See? This is why I can’t get anything done around here! Too many interruptions,” Elisha grumbled, as he put the forms down and jumped off his chair.

“He calls me most of the time,” Jen retorted from her cubicle without a trace of sympathy for the mystery Elisha was being forced to put aside.

If it were anyone else, the gnome would have fired back with a reminder that he’s work was regarded more importantly then theirs. However, he couldn’t bring himself to say that to her and instead, made his way to the chief’s office.

* * *

The sound of the heavy door at the chief’s door slamming shut behind him reminded Nix to leave the attitude outside. The Chief wasn’t an analyst or mathematician. Nor was he skilled mechanically or alchemically. But what he didn’t have in such skills, he had in experience.

He was an old human, with long white hair, a grizzly mustache and sunken eyes. Despite the appearance, Nix knew he was still strong and always ready to defend himself. He was in charge of this office because they wouldn’t allow him into the field anymore. He should have retired to a peaceful country cabin, but Samuel Hayes had lived an eventful and adventurous life. A man like him didn’t know how to calm down. He couldn’t live the slow life.

Rumor has it he worked undercover amongst the Defias for years. Before that, he had slowly worked his way up the ranks of the Stonemason’s Guild. While he was on record with supporting the Stonemason’s when they protested against the nobles for not paying them, he continued keeping an eye on them as some went on to become part of the Defias.

So, even though SI:7 thought him too old to continue working in the field, he had enough clout in the hierarchy to keep from being retired. Working in an office, however, didn’t sit well with him. Unlike other chief’s in SI:7, Samuel Hayes didn’t have a fancy oak desk and a plush leather chair. In fact, there wasn't a chair to be found in his office. He preferred to stand and his office was dominated by a large table. Forms were scattered around the surface of the table and though it looked random, Nix could see the pattern in their placement.

He recognized most of the folders as dossiers SI:7 kept of independent contractors.

“You called me, sir?” the gnome asked, sounding a little contrite. He hated being interrupted during his calculations, but Samuel was an imposing figure to be in the presence of. The gnome felt his mind become blank as the human’s dark eyes turned to him.

“I’m sending you to Rut'theran Village,” he rumbled, tossing one of the envelopes toward the part of the table Elisha was near. “I need you to interview someone there. Afterwards, you’ll be returning to Stormwind to meet with a Gabriel Alvairn. The information on the meeting will be included in your itinerary.”

“Sir, isn’t there someone better to send? I’m on to something concerning this new doomsday cult and-“

“Ms. Lenner is taking over that project.” Samuel interrupted.

“Sir, the computer reads a CANNY with a confidence of a hundred on this cult,” Elisha pressed on. He was rewarded with the sudden, if brief, look of surprise in Samuel’s eyes. But the moment was fleeting.

“Did you document your variables?” he asked. The Chief may not have understood what went into calculating these things, but that didn’t mean he was completely ignorant of their type of work. One of the things that impressed Nix was that the Chief always asked intelligent questions.

“Well, of course. I can show you-“

“Good. Ms. Lenner can take over your project. Talk to the secretary about your boarding information. You’re dismissed.”

Elisha opened and closed his mouth as he tried to formulate the words to counter the Chief’s decision. It wasn’t fair and it certainly wasn’t logical or efficient. Jen was competent but this was ‘his’ mystery to solve.

“Uhhh… Chief,” Elisha finally managed to say. Despite trying to face the Old Man with some bravado, meekness seeped into his voice. “I-I really think someone better should do this.”

“I said you’re dismissed. Don’t miss your boat,” Samuel declared without looking up from the notes he was studying.

With a sigh, Elisha took the envelope and departed from the office.

Rut'theran Village - Teldrassil
Three days ago.

If there was anything Nix couldn’t stand, it was wide open spaces. The private conference room the night elf sentinel had escorted him into was much larger than the Chief’s office. There wasn’t much in the way of furniture to occupy the empty spaces.

A gentle but constant sea breeze wafted through the large open windows, keeping him uncomfortably cold. The elves didn’t seem bothered by it, but Elisha preferred things warmer.

And this entire excursion was entirely too unpredictable for his liking. What was the Chief thinking, sending him here?

The door opened and two armored sentinels entered briskly. Flanked by them was another kal’dorei female. This one wore rather non-descript civilian clothing. Her navy colored hair was unusually done into slender long dreadlocks and the marking on her face resembled claws, although the paint was fading away.

With a gesture, the sentinels motioned for the civilian to sit, which she did silently. Shortly thereafter, they left and it was just Elisha and the elf. Though she was shorter than the guards, she was still an imposing figure to a gnome.

He cleared his throat and reviewed the information in the folder quickly before looking back at her.

“My name is Elisha Nixiediode, analyst, second class. I work for SI:7,” he said by way of introduction. “You must be, Istasy Shadowcreek.”

“Izdazi. It’s pronounced Izdazi,” the elf corrected. She sounded annoyed.

“Right. Izdazi. Sorry about that.” Elisha replied nervously. “Our records show that you worked with the draenei Tahirus to unravel some issues with the Cult of the Damned. Is that true.”

“I remember a Tahirus and some Cult of the Damned stuff. Sure,” the elf said. He picked up on the sarcasm in her voice but chose to press on.

“You left shortly after the raid on the cult cell in the Plaguelands. Why?”

“Personal reasons,” Izdazi said in a clipped voice.

“Care to elaborate?” Elisha asked.

“Not particularly.”

“Look, Izdazi, I get it: you don’t want to be here. But, we’re just trying to get our facts straight on a few matters. The sooner you help me, the sooner we can get going.”

“Or, you’re looking for someone to take the fall,” the huntress answered. “I know how you Eastern Kingdom people work. Everything has to be nice and tidy. No loose ends. I heard what happened to the noble, Charles Marand. He was a lead in our investigation. Now he’s dead and who is there to blame?”

“Look, I don’t know where you get this view from, but we’re just seeking the truth,” the gnome snapped. He was surprised how much strength there was in his voice, but then again, he was growing annoyed. “You’re right, Charles Marand was a noble. He’s dead. Your team had leads on him and just before our operatives can get to him, he dies. Do you see where this going.”

“Yes. You’re trying to wrap it around my neck,” Izdazi fired back heatedly. “I didn’t go anywhere near Stormwind after leaving Tahirus and the others. We were earnest about learning Marand’s involvement.”

“Then why did you leave the team?”

The elf leaned back on the chair and sighed. Her silver eyes seem to bore into Elisha and he had to look down and feign interest on the report just to avoid her glare.

“I heard that my mother was killed,” the huntress finally said. “I had to go home to… to say ‘goodbye’ and to make right what I should have years ago. Commander Ravenheart will confirm what I just told you. Satisfied?”

He looked up and saw the hurt in her eyes at having revealed the family tragedy. Elisha felt a moment of regret for forcing Izdazi to reveal such a thing, but he pushed it aside. This was a loose end that had to be tied off. Somehow, he knew that the sentinel commander would confirm what she just said.

“I’m sorry for your tragedy,” he said softly and then quickly switched the subject. He figured she wouldn’t care much for his pity. “Are you aware that your team is being recalled?”

“I am, but I’m not going. I’ve been offered a way to make amends for some… choices, I’ve made in the past.”

The gnome jotted the information down and shrugged. He could get more details from Sentinel Commander Ravenheart later on.

“What can you tell me about your team? Tahirus for instance.”

The elf scoffed and raised her foot against the lip of the table. Pushing against the table, she leaned her chair back and slowly rocked it on two legs.

“Tahirus. He’s your typically mage. Likes to keep information to himself. Loves making things sound theatrical. He’s an intelligent leader but his selective teasing of information was really beginning to get on my nerves.”

“And what of some of the others?”

“Don’t you have records of this stuff?” Izdazi asked, sounding annoyed again.

“We’d like a more personal view assessment,” Nix replied, as he re-inked the pen.

“Fine. Let’s see. Dyrian is the quiet type but competent nonetheless. And there were some trolls. Guro’jintal, Kwasi and Zeria. Kwasi’s a shaman. Seems like he’s just getting into it, but he’s a good… for a troll that is. Guro’jintal and Zeria are exceptional marksman. The prior never really spoke much and the latter had a good sense of humor. We also had a blood elf mage, but I didn’t get a chance to speak with her much. She knew her trade.”

“Anyone else?” the gnome asked, as he continued scribbling furiously.

“Well, there’s Alezin. She’s a tauren druid and a decent healer. Fun to talk to. Very curious though, so she needs to be watched carefully or else she’ll find herself in trouble. And there’s Fireseed. No nonsense kind of orc. Brutal, but honorable… or at least I hope he still is,” she added. Her face seemed to darken for a moment.

“And then there’s Durnae,” the night elf said, pausing a moment. Finally she nodded and smiled slightly. “If anyone was the heart of the group, it was Durnae. She’s always there to talk to and she always had the right thing to say; just a very caring and giving person, overall. You know how the draenei are.”

The gnome nodded as he finished scribbling the information. “I think I got everything I need. Thank you for the information.”

“Can I go now?”

“Sure, although, if I might ask. If you could, would you help this team again?”

The elf’s face darkened and she allowed her chair to fall back on the four legs. After a moment of thinking she shook her head.

“I have nothing personal against the members of the Horde that we had on our team, but right now, I can’t work with them. My mother died during the Horde's cowardly attack on Silverwind. What they’re continuing to do in Ashenvale is an affront to my people’s birthright,” Izdazi nearly growled. She softened a little before continuing. “I don’t trust myself to maintain focus on the objective with them around. Right now, I’m just not that strong.”

“I see. Well, thank you for your time and information, Shadowcreek.” Elisha began placing his the notebook into his pack and gathering his cloak. He started for the door.

“Yep, whatever,” the elf answered noncommittally while looking out one of the windows. She didn’t look back as he left.

Stormwind City - The Slaughtered Lamb

He’d only been to this tavern once and he distinctly remembered not liking it. The service was terrible. The people looked shifty. The lighting was poor. And worse yet, they had no gnome friendly chairs.

Elisha took another sip of what was presumably ale and grimaced. It was terrible. He could only imagine how a dwarf would handle it.

Well, they wouldn’t be here to start with. I can’t believe this Alvairn fellow insists on meeting in this warlock dive. Hell, even the troll sitting at the table some ways away wasn’t drinking any of it.

Yes… here I am, sitting in a disgusting, bug infested, fel stinking, warlock dive, with a troll, of all things, seated nearby. Did no one care that a troll was here?

I mean, there’s a
TROLL sitting in a tavern in STORMWIND! What the hell? Where’s the math to account for that?! This is totally and unequivocally INCONCEIVABLE!

Pushing the terrible drink aside, Nix pulled a small mechanical calculator out of his bag and began passing the time calculating how bad an idea it was that he was here. Taking the elf’s place was yet another bad idea. He’s an analyst! Not a damn operative.

Elisha studied the troll as he fiddled with the device. He'd never seen one in person before. He'd read many bestiaries and learned about them, but words couldn't describe actually seeing one.

“I want to be in my cubicle,” he muttered, while turning the gears on the calculator and entering a new figure in the calculation. He pushed a button, heard the small machine tick a few times and then watched as the dial stopped spinning. The number looked depressingly low.

He looked up surreptitiously at the giant seated troll and adjusted several variables that he hoped would account for the totally, and still, inconceivable, presence of a troll.

The depressingly low number suddenly changed to a whole new level of depressing. There was now a 7.2653% chance he was going to totally regret this.

“Oh joy,” he muttered, taking another gulp of the ale and swallowing it in one gulp before this tongue could process the horrid flavor. “I knew the Old Man hated me.”

Last edited by izdazi on Thu Oct 13, 2011 7:35 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Spelling and rewording of some sentences.)

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Post  Zeria on Thu Oct 13, 2011 11:30 am

Lucan Farwield

In the Cathedral Square of Stormwind, Lucan Farwield knelt in prayer by the steps leading to the cathedral itself. He had returned from successfully containing the Scourge threat in Northrend, and received a hero's welcome alongside his brothers-in-arms of the Argent Crusade. His superiors on the field had mentioned that this victory may not have routed the Scourge completely, and reports of continuing cult activity in the Plaguelands had been coming in for weeks. Lucan knew that the Argents would have to act soon. He felt anxious at the thought, as he always was at the prospect of battle. The Argent Crusade hadn't taken away his Stromgarde fighting spirit, after all.

The paladin stood up and shifted his gaze to the tops of the cathedral, marveling at the building that served as the very soul of Stormwind. Stromgarde never had such a structure, or at least not one as grand as this. He looked over his shoulder as he felt a tug at his cape. One of the orphans from the nearby orphanage had strayed away from his group as they took their daily walk. Lucan smiled and gave the boy a pat on the head, kneeling down to the child's level.

"Your matron has already been here," he told the boy. "You should catch up to them so you don't get lost."

Shaking his head lightly, the boy turned to look up at the cathedral as Lucan had. "I know my way around this place, sir," he said respectfully. "I just wanted to visit some of the priests inside. Maybe they can teach me how to use the Light so I can fight the my father."

He looked down at his last words, but gave Lucan a pat on the shoulder. "I might be a priest when I grow up, too. Or a paladin, like you! Anything to fight those stupid zombies."

Lucan raised an eyebrow at the boy's decision, standing up straight. "Wielding the Light is a big responsibility, son. You can't just charge headlong into battle with evil forces without help from your brethren. Believe me, I made that mistake a few times during my training. Still, if you really want to start on the path of the Light, I guess it is best to begin as soon as possible. Perhaps I'll see you on the battlefield when I get as old as Highlord Fordring!"

Chuckling lightly, the paladin nudged the boy toward the cathedral. He looked up at Lucan and smiled. "Are you sure you don't wanna come in with me?" he asked. After a moment of thought, Lucan nodded and ascended the stairs with the boy.

"You can tell the archbishop about your intentions. I'm sure he would be delighted to see you give such interest to the Light," he told him as they entered the Cathedral of Light. Impressive as it was from the outside, the inside gave just as much of an awe-inspiring feeling, and Lucan thought the sentiment would be tenfold for his new friend. Indeed, it seemed as if this was his first time entering the cathedral, or perhaps the feeling of awe never left.

Archbishop Benedictus greeted the two warmly and turned to shake Lucan's hand. "Ah, Lucan Farwield. How fares your exploits since returning from the Northrend campaign, my child?"

"I have been hearing reports that our enemies are still at it in their hideouts outside Northrend, Archbishop. My hope is that I am called to the Plaguelands soon to deal with them, but that is not why I came here. This boy wishes to give himself to the Light, and is interested in training to be one of its champions. Will you accept him?"

The archbishop smiled at the orphan and nodded. "The Cathedral of Light welcomes all who wish to learn of the Holy Light and its ways. I will have to discuss this with the matron of the orphanage, but I am confident that she will allow it. Thank you, Lucan, for bringing him to me. Now to find a suitable master, and assess your inherent abilities. You will have to study a fair amount, my child, and this will not be as easy as we make it seem."

The boy nodded in understanding. "Yes sir, I know. I think I'm ready, and I'll do anything I can to be a great champion of the Light like Mister Lucan."

"Excellent confidence, my boy! We have a long day ahead of us. Shall we get started?" Benedictus asked. Lucan smiled, knowing that he did an admirable service to the Light. He left the cathedral in high spirits, making his way to the Dwarven District to continue his blacksmithing work for the day. Thankful for the time of peace, he knew in the back of his mind that it would not last long. The Light needed its champions now to repair the damage the Scourge had caused. He would be prepared.

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The Upheaval (Closed RP) Empty Scarlet Penance

Post  AWizardDidIt on Sun Oct 16, 2011 1:08 am

Esbern Marborough

The priest clad in blinding scarlet stuck out like a sore thumb amongst the clergyman at the Cathedral of the Light, much to his dismay. And yet, perhaps not in the way one would expect of an emissary of the Scarlet Crusade. Esbern was fully aware of his order's slow, painful death far to the North - but by no means did this stop him from dressing in lavish red silks and proudly displaying the crimson flame that emblazoned nearly all of his possessions. It marked him as a foreigner, but not one to be afraid of. One to shun, one to ridicule, and one to treat only with the smallest semblance of diplomatic respect.

Of course, had he been sent simply a year or two before, Esbern would most likely have been detained (permanently) or simply killed on the spot by the gate guards. But things were different now, thanks to Joseph. Joseph was either a madman or a visionary, depending on who you asked - or, both, according to some. Esbern saw him as little more than another tyrannical overseer, with perhaps a slightly more refined sense of ethics than some past ones. Whatever the case, Joseph's "liberation" of the final Scarlet stronghold in Lordaeron, the Tirisfal Monastery, had drawn the eye of the leaders of the Alliance. If a pact could be forged with the reformed Scarlets under Joseph's command, the Alliance would not only gain a fortress in the center of Tirisfal to act as a thorn in the side of the Forsaken, but a full garrison of one or two thousand raving zealots, ready to ravage the undead countryside at the orders of some fat, balding general sitting at a table in Stormwind Keep.

Esbern could not help but be surprised when he was chosen (alone, no less) to journey South. He was naught but a lowly preacher, spending most of his days in the library, and seldom venturing down to the graveyard to take part in a... heresy "trial." But this, according to Joseph, was why Esbern had to be one. Since the day of his joining, which was not so long ago, the young man from Southshore had been all but disjointed from the Crusade's methods, preferring to keep to himself, and hesitant to take any vows of chastity or holiness. Esbern could not help but enjoy the irony. His feelings and "policies" regarding his fellow crusaders had often made him the butt of a particularly cruel joke, and of an inquisition on more than one occasion. And now, here he was - a zealot, compared to any priest or priestess who served the Light in the South, but one of the few Crusaders tolerant and closed enough to properly act as a neutral legate.

He had set out for Stormwind with only a horse and two days' rations. Most would call it suicide, especially in the Plaguelands. And yet, he had survived the journey and come away unscathed. The news of the New Crusade, as it was being called, had spread quickly, and every tiny Alliance stronghold from Chillwind Camp to Refuge Pointe had welcomed him with open - albeit cold - arms.

His first few meetings had been of an icy temperature. Many of the clergy at the Cathedral had at one point or another served in the Argent Dawn, or, the Argent Crusade, as it was being called now. Hatred and scorn ran deep between the two orders. At certain times, Esbern had difficulty keeping himself from cursing or yelling at the silver-clad fools. And, at certain other times, he spat or cursed behind their backs as they walked away, their noses pointed high and their bright, finely-tailored robes glittering in the torchlight. When he had the fortune to meet with any Church, military or government official who was not ready to cut him down where he stood, the opposite seemed to happen - while they were open, even warm, towards Esbern, Esbern found himself lacking the charisma to make the "New Crusade" seem like anything other than a pile of horse dung coated in a ludicrously thin layer of gold. To put it simply, most of what he told them, and most of what he proposed, they found worthless, inadequate, or "not of interest to us at the time being."

That was weeks ago. Now, the meetings had stopped, and the only reason the Cathedral still let him stay was simply out of diplomatic goodwill. It almost made him want to laugh, the absurdity of it all. Here were Alliance leaders who had so openly and so insolently requested emissaries from the Crusade, treating the organization as if it had not existed for the past five years, now openly and insolently rejecting him outright.


Esbern walked slowly down the hall, always sure to put a bit of swagger into his step, as to intimidate any fools he might encounter. Though, at this hour, the chances of seeing anyone were... quite small. Contrary to most in Stormwind, the Scarlet priest needed no sleep at this hour. His eyes remained wide open and his senses as sharp as those of a hawk. Crusaders, especially ones in an area as tainted as Tirisfal, had to be ready at all hours of the night to repel attacks from Forsaken or Scourge. Esbern, while not a military regular, was no exception. He had no sleeping schedule - sleep through twelve hours of the day, or two hours of the night and not at all otherwise - it mattered not.

But the blackness of this night nonetheless was managing to play tricks on him. It was late. Midnight, at the earliest. Not a single star shone in the sky, and even the moon itself was hidden by cloud cover. The night was so pitch black that even the dozens of torches lining the halls of the Cathedral provided only a meager helping of light. Their dull flickerings cast macabre shadows on the walls.

As noiselessly as possible, Esbern creaked open the two great doors to the central chamber of the Cathedral. He was shocked to see a man at the altar, on his knees, whispering loudly and quickly. Despite the dark, it was clear that the fellow was out of his prime by his lack of hair and visible paunch. But he wore the armor of a knight - and few men of such status graced the halls of the Cathedral past midnight. Curious, Esbern veered to his right, shifting his gaze and focus entirely to the kneeling man.

"...and the Light will have mercy on the souls of the damned." The knight's tone quickened, giving a frantic note to his already quivering voice. "N-no man, no matter how long he has tread in the shadows, will ever be... be unable to... to..."

Those are holy verses, Esbern realized, as he tapped his foot loud enough to attract the man's attention. Obviously startled, the knight whirled around, his prayer ending abruptly. He reached down into the darkness at his side and grabbed a blade, which he then pointed at Esbern, who was still enshrouded in the gloom of the evening. Something... viscous... was dripping from the tip of the sword, ever so slowly. Esbern raised an eyebrow, and, unfaltering, stepped forth into the light, revealing his scarlet visage. The flames of the altar candles reflected off his staff and shone magnificently.

"F-father! I... I apologize, I thought..." The man lowered his blade and once again sunk to his knees.

"Be at peace, my son. You are in the house of the Light now... though, by the words of your prayers, I assume..."

It was almost as if the knight finished Esbern's sentence in his mind. Before the priest could even spit out another word, the man dropped entirely and began to weep like a babe.

"Father, I have sinned!"

Esbern turned his attention back to the sword. Its tip, now illuminated by the gleam of the candles, was covered in steadily drying vermilion blood.

"Please," Esbern began, kneeling down. The knight was now prostrating himself entirely before Esbern, bawling loudly. "Start from the beginning. As you stated yourself, none may walk in the Shadow so long as to be exempt from the forgiveness of the Light."

"Bancroft. Eros, Bancroft. My name." More sobbing. "Two months ago I took a wife... young, beautiful lass, but my friends and family told me she would make a cuckold out of an old fool like me... And, lo and behold..." Bancroft paused and let out a choking noise that Esbern almost thought sounded like a chuckle. "There was a man. Young, handsome fellow. Some scribe for the King. Name was... Arcine, or some such. He... he was always looking at my Allison, always staring like some kind of lecherous pervert!" He slammed his fist in the ground, and his crying, which was beginning to subside, once again intensified. "She... she was mine!"

Esbern sighed, and laid a single hand on the man's back. The anger seemed to leave Bancroft as the priest patted him softly.

He's like a dog, panting after he's exerted himself.

"Continue, my son. I am here so that I may listen and speak for the Light."

Bancroft managed to gather enough of his wits to begin his blabber anew. "T-thank you, Father. For your kindness. You... I've seen you around here before. You may be Scarlet, but you're a good man... no matter what they say about you."

"Hush now," Esbern replied, and setting his staff down near the blood-caked blade. The Crusader's voice reeked of paternal condescension. "We are here to discuss your grievances, not mine."

"The... He... Arcine. The scribe. Today, I came home to... to find him in bed with my Allison. She was... Oh, Light, she was..." Bancroft once again began to wail. His mewling was so loud that Esbern wondered how he had not woken every priest in the Cathedral. "Father... I killed him. He was a boy, and I drew my sword and shoved it in my chest as though he were... some... some sort of demon. And she... Allison... She wept and wailed and ran to Light knows where, leaving me to watch as that boy bled out in middle of my chambers."

Bancroft was beginning to quiet himself, much to Esbern's relief. The knight was sweating like a great beast now, making him look even more like a pig than he had before. Esbern wanted to twist his face into a scowl of disgust, but past experience and better judgement got the better of him. Yes... there would be a way to gain from this situation yet.

"I was just... just, so angry..."

"This is most grievous indeed, my son." Bancroft looked up from the floor and locked eyes with Esbern. For what had to be seventh time, he started to blubber once more. "However... You are a good man. We all sin. What you have done on this night is not your fault - or, anybody's fault but the Shadow, for that matter. But I do fear for your soul, Eros Bancroft." The oaf began to shake his head at Esbern's words, almost as though he wished to blot them out.

"The... church is currently in need of tithes from wealthy donors. The poor of the kingdom rot in squalor each day. There is little we can do to help them, for, like most of this city's people, our money has been drained away to finance foreign campaigns and conquests." Esbern pretended to make an expression of disgust. He knew that Varian Wrynn was hardly the most popular king within the city of Stormwind - now seemed the perfect moment to take advantage of that fact.

"However... It seems that on this day, the Light is watching over you. Of all the gifts it has blessed you with, Sir Bancroft, wealth most certainly appears to one. If you give to me a humble donation of, perhaps, three hundred gold coins, I will give it to the poor of Westfall and Elwynn, and in doing so, erase the blemish you have made on your eternal soul. And in addition, I will see to it that your name is cleared with the Stormwind Guard of any wrongdoing."

Bancroft looked up, and scrambled to a kneel. His eyes were finally beginning to dry. "Thank you, Father... I cannot begin to express my gratitude..." He fumbled absently for his purse and withdrew two dozen, huge, elephantine gold coins. With his hands trembling, Sir Eros Bancroft reached out and dropped them into Esbern's open palms.

"Hurry along home, now." Esbern slid the money coyly into a pocket on the side of his robes. "It will not look proper for a man such as yourself to be seen here at this hour. Go, my son, with the blessings and the forgiveness of the Light."

"Father... I cannot thank you enough, Father... I apologize for my rudeness, Father, but I do not know your name."
"Esbern." The priest's small, innocent smile burst like a pustule into a broad, toothy grin. "Marborough."

"Father Marborough... You have saved my soul from eternal nothingness and damnation. I will never forget this act of... kindness."

"I am simply a humble servant of the Light, my son. Now, as I said, you must be headed home. It is late."

Sir Bancroft nodded quickly, picking his his sword and sliding it back into his sheath.
I'll have to mop up the bloodstains, thought Esbern, as the fat knight hurried for the door.


Bancroft turned, his face still red as a pomegranate. "Yes, Father?"

"Your wife. Allison. Send her to me." Esbern paused, the cogs and gears in his mind whirring with devious intent. "Do not forget, she has also sinned. Should she commit adultery again, she will most surely be damned."
"Of course, Father. I will send her right away."

That night, Allison Bancroft was ultimately guilty of two counts of adultery.

Last edited by AWizardDidIt on Sun Oct 23, 2011 1:01 pm; edited 1 time in total

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The Upheaval (Closed RP) Empty Re: The Upheaval (Closed RP)

Post  Akatora13 on Sat Oct 22, 2011 10:40 pm

Kwasi Manyara

The sun was slowly setting on the Southern Barrens, bathing the plains in streaks of gold and red light that could be seen for miles. A small Earthen Ring camp, a few miles west of Camp Taurajo was already nestled in the shadows at the foot of the mountains that bordered The Barrens and Mulgore. The small camp only had about six tents and a fire pit for cooking and gathering. The group had been dispatched by the Earthen Ring to try and communicate with some unruly Earth Elementals that for some unexplained reason kept attacking the tauren settlement nearby. A few unlucky travelers had already had bones shattered from what were described as unprovoked attacks.

Kwasi Manyara and the rest of the group had only been there about a week, but everyone was growing frustrated with the lack of progress. They still hadn’t found where the angry group of elementals was congregated, and the few individual spirits they had found had not answered them when they tried to communicate with them. They had been forced to defend themselves.

Earthmender Norsala had personally headed up the mission, and for the past four days they had alternated between two people at the camp during the day to guard it, while the other six individuals hiked around the base of the mountains looking for clues. The group was made up of five Earthen Ring shamans, and three local tauren shamans who knew the paths through the mountains and could serve as guides. Besides Norsala, the other members of the Earthen Ring had only been members one to two years, but it had been decided they each showed enormous potential, which was why they were here. Currently, six of them were gathered in the camp, starting preparations for dinner as they awaited the return of the last pair.

Kwasi wasn’t on dinner duty this evening, so he took the little free time he had for some quiet contemplation. He took off his sweaty tunic and leather bracers, the day’s hard work done. Walking to the edge of camp in just his leather kilt, he sat just on the edge of the camp, the light from the flames licking his naked back and his garment spreading on the ground around him. Now that the sun had sunk behind the nearby mountains, the air grew chilly quickly, the hard ground unable to retain the heat for long. The troll relished the cool breeze though after the heat of the day. He had grown up in the Barrens, but it had been on the Coast, where there was always a breeze rolling off the ocean. He leaned down, rolling his shoulders forward and exhaling, before rolling his spine up slowly back into a straight position.

Feeling some of the tension in his muscles ease up, he allowed himself a look up at the stars, the brightest ones just beginning to appear. He sighed, as the wind gently teased his Mohawk. A tauren Longrunner had appeared yesterday with mail for the week for them. Norsala had gotten most of the letters, having traveled to Camp Taurajo every other day to mail her reports. But Kwasi had gotten a letter too.

He had had to leave Tahirus’ group before they had completed their mission. Tidus Village had been damaged by a powerful storm. Luckily some of the shamans in the village were able to prevent the worst of the damage, but the house his mother lived in had been all but destroyed and she couldn’t fix it herself. Everyone in the village had been busy with their own projects, so he had sent a passive aggressive letter to her son. (“I’d fix it myself, but my frail bones just can’t handle the pressures of reattaching a roof and making sturdy stoneware! All of the young tauren in the village are quite tied up with their own homes. I will try and do it myself, but if my young, strong, son who’s out saving Azeroth doesn’t hear from me ever again, I invite him to come dig my bones out of the wreckage.”)

What could he say, except that he was loyal to a fault.

After that, he had joined the Earthen Ring, so he could further improve his shaman skills. He liked it better than the Horde forces he had briefly been a part of in Northrend. Along with the acceptance of other races, he just felt understood by his peers and leaders. All in all, he was in a comfortable place.

But now, Charles Marand was dead, and something else was going down. Kwasi still felt guilty about leaving the group, and this would be his chance to make it up. Earthen Ring membership worked on sort of a voluntary basis for younger recruits anyway, so he didn’t feel that bad about leaving the other seven members early. He would have to discuss it with Norsala in the next few days.
Suddenly, he heard a faint cry coming from the base of the mountains. He looked back into the camp, noticing the activity had stopped, and everyone’s attention was in the same place. Kwasi strained his ears to hear if there was another sound. He heard a faint “Help!” in Tauraje, and got to his feet.

Earthmender Norsala had begun running in the direction of the sound, and signaled him to follow. Kwasi squinted through the darkness, and could make out the faint outline of a tauren female carrying something bulky in her arms. As he got closer, he realized it was one of the Taurajo scouts, carrying an unconscious Earthen Ring orc. She was breathing heavily and slowed as Norsala and Kwasi reached her.

“We were…attacked…the elementals…” She laid the orc on the ground in front of Norsala. The troll laid a hand on the tauren’s shoulder.

“Be calm, ju are safe now. Tell me what ‘appened.” Kwasi knelt down next to the orc, fighting down nausea. The bottom half of his left leg had been crushed and Kwasi could see shiny white bone fragments piercing through the dark green skin.

The tauren took a few breaths before continuing. “The elementals…before they’ve always just struck once…and gone away…but this time…” she took another deep breath to calm herself before continuing. “They took us by surprise. One smashed Rumgar across the back of the head, and knocked him out. I thought they’d leave, but another one smashed his leg over and over until it looked like this.”

Norsala gestured to the fallen orc. “Kwasi, if ju’d please. While his injuries are not life-threatin’ it’d be betta to ‘eal ‘him before infection sets in. We’d best get ‘im back.” Kwasi nodded and careful of the orc’s mangled leg swung him up and over his shoulder, holding onto his thighs with his arms. Not the most elegant or delicate way, but it’d keep the orc’s legs from moving around much.

All three jogged back to camp and while Kwasi was muscular, he was also pretty thin and gangly, and the orc’s bulk began to weigh down on him by the time they reached camp. The others began to ask what happened, but Norsala quieted them. “We will take care of Rumgar, if ju all would take care of our tauren friend. She’s ‘ad a rough afternoon.” Kwasi followed Norsala into her tent, setting the orc down on her sleeping pad. He made a soft groan. The female troll began to run her hands over his injured shin, inhaling deeply as water began to pulse and flow down her forearms and around the injury. Kwasi was busy watching, so her sudden question made him jump a little. “Kwasi…I know ju ‘ave only started ‘ealin’ trainin’.” He started to nod, but then noticed her eyes were still closed. With a scratching noise that but his hairs on end, the bone began to sink back into the skin, which began to mend itself.

“Uh, yes, Eart’mender.” He said sheepishly.

She nodded, before opening her eyes. The leg already looked better, but the bruising had become so profound, the green skin now looked a sickly black. “I’ve set da bones back to deir original positions. Now I want ju to mend dem.”

Kwasi looked surprised. “I don’t…I don’t t’ink I’m qualified-“

She interrupted him, taking his hand in her own and then placing it on the orc’s leg. “I want to see what ju know.” She then put her own hand over the orc’s knee, so she could feel what Kwasi did.
Kwasi kept his hand there, not daring to move it for a long minute. He then took a shaky breath and began to sense the orc’s leg. Closing his eyes, he could feel each of the breaks in the bone, and cringed outwardly. It was bad. Even though Norsala had done a lot of the work, there was still much to be done before Rumgar could recover. “I’m…I’m not sure…” he began, but Norsala cut him off.
“Begin. Now, Kwasi.” Hand trembling slightly, he began to summon the healing powers from the water around him and inside of him. He could feel it trickling down his forums. Norsala’s voice chimed in again. “Ju must be more confident. Ju cannot ‘eal a cut wit’ dis amount.” Kwasi grimaced, before summoning more. He could feel it swirling through his fingertips, and into the orc’s leg. He told it what he wanted, what the orc needed. He could feel it grab hold of each of the bone fragments, and in one swift motion, pulled them together.

Rumgar, though unconscious, cried out in pain, and Kwasi’s eyes snapped open, the healing water falling to the ground before disappearing entirely. Norsala had quickly moved and placed both her hands over the orc’s leg, continuing what he had started, though less painfully. She shot a stern look at Kwasi who was breathing heavily, as if he had just run a mile. “Ju must soften the pain first. Move slowly. Ju cannot ‘eal if ju cannot have confidence in jorself. Or da spirits will betray ju.” She looked down at the orc again, who now let out a contented sigh. The Earthmender herself stood up, dusting off her robes. “ ‘ee will be walkin’ again in a few days.” With that, she walked briskly out of the tent. Kwasi moved to cover Rumgar with a blanket before falling back on his haunches warily. “Sorry…” he whispered.

Dawn found Kwasi practicing his martial arts forms. He moved quickly forward, crouched, and using the aide of the wind to launch him in the air, flipped over bringing one leg down on a pile of rocks in front of him, the earth separating itself from the touch of his heel to form a satisfying crunch.

The sound of his name being spoken softly behind him startled him. He turned to see Norsala, fully dressed, her head held high, hands folded in front of her. She always looked proud. “Walk wit’ me.” She requested. He nodded, picking up his light cotton shirt and pulling it over his head.

Early morning in the Barrens was quite lovely. The sun always came up early, but it still was cool from the night before. Gazelle herds and the occasionally kodo could be seen mulling about slowly in the distance, and the chatter of grass dwelling birds echoed off the mountains. It was a while before Norsala spoke.

“Kwasi, I am sorry about last night. I fear I put ju in a position when ju weren’t ready for it. Kwasi nodded, somewhat ashamed he hadn’t lived up to her expectations. “Ju are a very accomplished shaman. I ‘ave ‘igh ‘opes for ju. But bein’ a member of da Eart’en Ring means ju are well rounded. Ju don’t necessarily need to know ‘ow to ‘eal a missin’ limb, but I expect for ju to know, and practice da basics.”

She turned to face him now, smiling. “But ju are young, and ju ‘ave time. I know ju will be leavin’ us soon.” Kwasi looked surprised.

“Eart’mender…I was gonna say somet’in…” he began.

She chuckled, interrupting him. “Fear not. It is somet’in’ I ‘ave seen. Like I was sayin’, ju are young, and da world is jors.” She looked at him seriously now. “But, a bit of an assignment while jore away. I want ju to practice da ‘ealin’ arts. Start wit’ animals. I would like ju to be able to work on a person comfortably by da time ju return.”

He nodded his head in understanding. “T’ank you, Eart’mender. I ‘ope I can satisfy you by da time I return. I will not be gone long.”

She placed her hand on his shoulder. “Jore a good shaman, Kwasi. Don’t forget it.”

Kwasi found himself a week later riding a dinghy poled by a gnarled looking old human across the canals of Stormwind in the darkness of the early morning. He was wrapped in enough cloth and hooded so that his size might place him as a draenai to anyone who gave him a quick onceover. The operator of the dinghy didn’t care; he had had this particular clientele before. All the same, they stuck to the shadows and the hours of the morning where the only people out of their beds were drunks passed out on the street.

The dinghy bumped into wall with a large hole covered by a rusty grate over it. Kwasi dropped a fat sack of silver into the man’s hand, and he grunted in acknowledgement. Kwasi climbed into the tunnels, looking at his badly drawn map of the secret passages of Stormwind. He had bought it from a goblin in Ratchet, so he wasn’t entirely convinced it was right. But the directions proved true as he emerged from a drain hole across the alleyway from The Slaughtered Lamb. It wouldn’t be open yet, not at this hour, so he hunched down by some crates near the kitchen door, arranging his bulky clothes around him so that anyone walking by might assume he was a pile of trash or at the very worst a human bum.

He had spent two days straight traveling as stealthily as he could manage across Alliance lands, and hadn’t gotten any sleep because of it. The meeting wasn’t for a few hours yet, so he hunched down and tried to catch a few hours of shuteye. He was awoken in the early hours of the morning by keys turning in the kitchen doorway a few feet away from him. The human going into the kitchen either hadn’t noticed his huge pile of rags, or it was such a commonplace occurrence in this city it didn’t bother him. Kwasi waited a few minutes, making sure no one else would come wandering down the alleyway, before he discarded the rags surrounding him and slipped through the door as quietly as a seven foot troll could manage.

No one in the kitchen seemed to pay him any mind. Apparently, this sort of thing happened all the time, and soon Kwasi found himself in the common room of the tavern. The place was dark and dingy, and he got a few surprised glances as he came in, but no one said anything. He looked around some more and with a start, noticed another troll sitting in a very dark corner. He looked harder and realized he recognized that troll. Quickly moving over, he slid into a seat across the table from him.
“Guro’Jintal,” he whispered in Zandali. “Am I glad to see you.”


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The Upheaval (Closed RP) Empty Re: The Upheaval (Closed RP)

Post  Quixoticus on Tue Oct 25, 2011 6:05 pm


“The Light is behind my strength. The Light is behind my resolve.”

Gabriel heard the priest approaching down the aisle with the incense burner. The chain links made a faint clicking sound when they rubbed together. Gabriel inhaled through his nose deeply as the priest passed. The potent Earthsage vapors burned his nostrils and numbed his sinuses. He exhaled through his mouth. His breath felt warm and thick.

“The Light is behind my will. The Light is behind me.”

Gabriel examined the worn tiles he was kneeling on. He remembered when the stone was fresh. They had been replaced twice since he had been there. The tile was smooth and indented from when he would kneel for prayer in his armor.

“The Light is my armor. Faith is my shield. Justice is my weapon.”

The litanies were instinctive at this point. Now, during prayer, Gabriel would devote his thoughts to recollection. No time of prayer was the same for him, faithfully or emotionally; though, to Gabriel, faith and emotion were synonymous.

“I am an engine of Holy vengeance. I am an arbiter of Holy retribution.”

Today, Gabriel was steeling himself. Though it was nothing like the Northrend campaign had been, his task required as much from him as any battle had in the past. It is one thing when the enemy was the Undead; it is another thing entirely when the enemy is one of your own.

“Burn the demon. Purge the heretic. Banish the Evil in all its forms.”

Gabriel believed corruption was the most sinister and destructive of the Enemy’s shapes. He had witnessed its effectiveness in the aftermath of the Scarlet Crusade and Prince Arthas’ fall from grace, but he had seen the results first-hand with the Scarlet Crusade. Many of its members, so impassioned by the fervor of their faith, did not see how the corruption had twisted them into lunatics. Gabriel found that the Enemy was not always diabolical; sometimes, the Enemy was simply mad, an anarchistic nuisance whose souls had been rotted with selfish intent.

“The Enemy is entropic. The Enemy stagnates. The Enemy is a usurper. The Enemy is the anathema of justice. The Enemy seeks to destroy all that the Light builds.”

Like all soldiers, Gabriel’s value to the Church of the Holy Light was his survivability; the more he endured, the more valuable he became. Gabriel’s worth was measured by his ability to survive.

“My body and my spirit belong to the Holy Light. I am a weapon of Divine absolution. I am an arbiter of Holy justice. I am incorruptible. I am Silver Judge.”

He slapped his gauntleted hand against his chest plate twice, first open-palmed and then closed-fisted.

“The Light protects.”

Gabriel picked up his war-hammer and stood up to leave. He nodded to the priest as he left the prayer chamber and entered the main hall of the cathedral, where a public mass-prayer had ended a few minutes before. Gabriel scanned the ecclesiasts in the room, nodding to the few that made eye contact with him as he passed through. He was going behind their back, and he knew that.

After leaving the Church, Gabriel went to the fountain in the square. The gnome, Tirion, was already there.

“We’re exposed here,” said Gabriel.

“And good afternoon to you,” answered Tirion. “And we’re not exposed. Do I look like Stormwind Intelligence?”

Gabriel grunted. The gnome was dressed like a civilian. “We could be more discreet.”

“You could have left your battle armor at home,” said Tirion. “Anyway. The Stormwind Intelligence liaison is a gnome named Elisha Nixiediode. He’ll be fairly self-sufficient, and I doubt he’ll get in the way. He’ll be there if and when you need him.”

“What’s Stormwind Intelligence’s interest in this?” asked Gabriel.

“What’s the Church’s interest?” countered Tirion.

“Fair enough,” returned Gabriel. “Alright. Where is Elisha?”

“He’ll be at the Slaughtered Lamb tonight,” explained Tirion. “You won’t have to wait on him, he’ll keep pace. We don’t want to get in the way of the Church’s work.”

“That’s fair,” answered Gabriel. “Anything else?”

“I don’t think so,” said Tirion. “If anything comes up, you’ll hear through Elisha. Good day, paladin.”


When Gabriel arrived back at the fountain square, the Scarlet liaison was already there. Gabriel could see the Scarlet Crusade regalia in the light of the lamps. Gabriel waved the man down as he approached.

“I am Gabriel. Are you the Scarlet Crusade’s liaison?” he asked when he got closer.

The wiry man looked up from the thick, dusty tome laid out across his lap. “That I am. Here to taunt me more? Or do you have a legitimate reason for contacting me?”

Gabriel ignored the man’s crass reply. “What’s your name?”

“Esbern. Marborough.”

Gabriel nodded. “Alright, Esbern. The Scarlet Crusade reached out to the Church on this investigation that we previously agreed to have you along for. You are welcome to come along with me tonight. If you have a vested interest in the Light and maintaining its constitution, I think you will find it worth your while.”

"Welcome, or required? If this 'investigation' is simply more Argent foolishness, I may choose to keep my distance,” replied Esbern.

“I can’t speak on behalf of the Argent Crusade. I know very little as it is,” relinquished Gabriel. “It’s my understanding that while the Argent Crusade has instigated the investigation, it’s a matter that will involve all branches of the faith’s institutions. I represent the Church’s interest, and you would represent the Scarlet Crusade’s. Needless to say, compliance reflects well on the individual as well as their respective institutions. Your involvement isn’t required, but it would not look good for you or the Scarlet Crusade to decline.”

"I care little for the institution that Joseph has put in to place,” Esbern trailed off before continuing. “But, I suppose I can comply. Expect me there tonight... Argent."

“I am going to the meeting now. I can’t promise that the investigation will wait for you,” responded Gabriel. “If your things are in order, you might as well just accompany me.”

Esbern sighed as he stood, brushing dust off his robes and shoving the tome back into a satchel at his side. "So be it. Lead the way. I certainly hope your suspicions are worthwhile."

Gabriel nodded. “Hopefully these allegations will be dealt with swiftly. Internal investigations are never pretty.” In Gabriel’s experience they had never been swift, either, but he did not say that. “Follow me.”


When they arrived at The Slaughtered Lamb, Gabriel stopped inside the entrance and scanned the tavern area. Several patrons had already started to get up and leave. Gabriel waited patiently until the room settled again. Two trolls sat together at a table in the far corner, and near them was a gnome that looked too clean and pure for The Slaughtered Lamb. The gnome could have been Elisha. Gabriel would find out soon enough.

“If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming,” announced Gabriel.

Last edited by Quixoticus on Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post  Mercutio on Thu Oct 27, 2011 9:17 pm

The merciless Durotar sun bore down on the populace of Orgrimmar, during the worst drought the orcs have had since settling in the crimson land. The Horde was in the middle of an agricultural crisis with the people in Orgrimmar lacking food and water. Shipments were made from Mulgore, but it was simply not enough to support their families. There were nearly riots when the shipments were delayed when trouble arose in Mulgore. It was obvious that the orcs could not continue this sort of existence for long, especially under their new Warchief, Garrosh. Indeed, war is coming, Leon thought to himself.

The Forsaken was a sore sight wandering the crudely paved streets, both in terms of not belonging and not being welcomed. The leather clad rogue was regarded with glares and spits from any orc who so much as glanced his way, save the few children who regarded him with either curiosity or, more frequently, fear. Indeed, there was not a single friendly smile for the undead, nor a single gesture of respect or honor. It was just as well, since he absolutely despised being here. The dry heat did not agree with his body, and he did not fancy his allies either. The sooner he completed his task here, the sooner he could depart, with express haste.

After walking through the dimly shaded crevice known as the Drag, Leon came to the newly reformed Valley of Wisdom. He had been here once before during the occupation of the Undercity by the rogue apothecaries, and could already tell how the new leadership was changing the city. Where there once stood Grommash Hold, Warchief Thrall’s seat of power, there were now tents and campfires, with the pacifist tauren dwelling everywhere. The rogue had noted the renovation of several buildings, with brand new structures made of iron taking their place, but this was perhaps the most drastic change he had seen yet.

Realizing his quarry was near, he pressed onward, looking for someone. He was not particularly difficult to find. Leon caught sight of the cloaked figure sitting by the pool of water to the right. It was obvious the man was not a tauren or orc from the width, and a troll would’ve been far too lanky. And one of those prissy Blood Elves would rather be caught in hell than in this wretched place. No, it was obvious that he was Forsaken as well, and there was only one who chose to dwell here.

With certainty, Leon walked forward, careful not to let his feet make a sound as he approached his “kin.” A hand went to the hilt of his dagger resting on his waist when he was roughly three yards away. The warrior seemed unawares of his visitor, continuing to wrap his arm in bandages. It was then that Leon made himself known.

“Hello, Rothiron,” he greeted in a mockingly friendly tone.

The warrior froze in place, halting his treatment, but not immediately turning around. After a brief moment of silence, he slowly glanced behind him, seeing Leon standing there.

“Hello, Leon,” Rothiron greeted back, without any of the fake amicability the rogue gave him.

The warrior then stood up casually, and turned to Leon. Unlike the latter, Rothiron was clad in rather ornate armor, entirely unfitting for one of his race. It was an old set from the glory days of Lordaeron, and while its blue and gold metal had seen its days of battle and wear, it was still a sight to behold. Over this Rothiron wore a large cloak which served to hood his head. Indeed, one could nearly mistake him for human were it not for some of the more obvious features a rotting undead would have.

Leon shifted a litte though when he noticed that Rothiron in turn had his own hands on a sword, a two-hander with a blue cloth wrapped around the blade just above the hilt.

“May I ask why you’re holding your blade such?” The knight asked.

Leon felt his hand tightened just a bit as he explained. “Just a precaution, brother. I was told to tread carefully around you, given your recent behavior toward the throne.”

“I spoke out against Sylvanas. I did not lift up arms against her,” Rothiron spat. “You may rest assured I have no intention of doing the same to you, either.”

Leon felt a bit of relief in this news, but nonetheless kept his hand on the dagger until Rothiron placed his sword on his back. The rogue idly noted the remains of peacebloom and Silverleaf besides him.

“Crafting preservatives and salves to preserve your body still, I see… I confess I find it pathetic that you have not yet come to grips with who you are. You are Forsaken, brother! Embrace that and revel in it!”

“Did they send you all this way to lecture me on how I treat my body?” Rothiron sourly inquired.

Leon chuckled at the question, “Ah, I wish I was given such amusing tasks. No, I was sent to pass on an assignment of sorts.”

The rogue expected Rothiron to outright refuse then and there, but to the warrior’s credit he remained silent and composed, awaiting whatever he had to say.

“Recently, it came to our attention of some foul work going on in Stormwind. We heard of it through our agents in the Argent Crusade, who are also investigating it. From what we’ve been able to gather, a corrupt noble involved in dealings with the Cult of the Damned has been killed.” He paused, giving a waving gesture as he continued, “The details of that incident are not important. What is important is to discover what is the cause and significance of this ‘conspiracy.’”

Rothiron hesitated before asking, “Why?”

Leon grinned maliciously. “Why, so we can exploit it, of course. Look around you, brother. War is coming, and we’re going to need every edge we can afford against the Alliance…”

Rothiron then resolutely crossed his arms. “No.”

Leon then looked at him with confusion, though he knew what the warrior meant. “No?

“You came here to ask me to be your rat. I will not.” Rothiron had conviction in his voice, and for a moment Leon thought he couldn’t be convinced to change his mind. “Send one of yours. They’d be better suited for a ‘mission’ of this sort anyway.”

“True, you might not be the most… subtle… of people, but thanks to your efforts to treat your rot and such, you can pass off for a human at a distance or quick glance. The same cannot be said for most of our other agents. If they were ever caught in the act… Well, you get the idea.

“Don’t worry, we know where you should go. There’ll be a meeting in Stormwind, at an establishment called ‘the Slaughtered Lamb.’ The details are in here.” Leon held out a purple envelope, sealed by black wax in the shape of the Forsaken insignia.

“The answer is still no.”

Leon shook his head. “I’m afraid this isn’t a request, brother. These are orders coming from the higher ups. And they’ve been personally approved of by the Dark Lady herself.”

“And this changes things, how?”

“If you refuse… I’m afraid we’ll have no other choice other than to up and brand you a traitor to the Forsaken.”

Leon couldn’t help but grin when he saw the look in Rothiron’s eyes flicker. Hell, he was barely able to hold in a chuckle.

“You think this concerns me?” The warrior acted like he didn’t care, but Leon recognized he had struck a weak spot in the Forsaken’s mind.

“Being exiled from the Forsaken? Heavens no… But in this time and age, with the Horde’s… leadership… you have to realize a rogue Forsaken would not be a welcome sight. Especially not so soon after the Wrathgate…”

Rothiron abruptly reached for his sword, hatred breaking his composure, but as Leon instinctively reached for his own weapon, the warrior relented. “I have friends among the other Horde. They will speak out for me.”

Leon erupted into a fit of laughter at this shining example of naivety. “Do you honestly think that lummox, Garrosh, will give a damn about that? He already regards us with distain. You wouldn’t last a day if we were to give him incentive to hunt down a ‘traitor.’ And we wouldn’t be lying either.”

The Deathstalker now enjoyed the sight of the formerly proud and resolved warrior squirming from the weight of his misfortune. It was truly pitiful. He would’ve felt sorry… if his heart still pumped blood instead of ichor. Finally, after a moment of silence, Rothiron gave a sigh of resignation, and faced Leon.

“Very well,” he finally gave in. “I will go.”

“Excellent. I knew you’d see reason, brother,” Leon said cheerfully as he handed over the envelope.

“I am NOT your ‘brother’,” Rothiron glared.

Leon shrugged off the cold statement with not a care, and proceeded to walk away, his job done and over with. As he reached the entrance to the Drag, he turned around and looked at Rothiron standing where he was, looking down in defeat. Satisfied at a job well done on his part, he stepped back into the shadows.


Entry into Stormwind was not easy. Rothiron had to take great care that he didn’t draw much attention from the guards. He opted for a less garish outfit, as his armor would’ve been far too noticeable. A leather vest imbedded with metal rings over a plain brown shirt, and matching leather leggings, complete with gloves and boots. With his cloak obscuring his facial features, he appeared to be like the standard adventurer that came and went in the city. He would warrant a glance from a guard, but nothing more with any luck.

As he warily walked through the gates, he kept an eye out for any animals, or worse, druids walking in their feral state. While most humans wouldn’t pick up his subdued scent, there was no hiding it from animals. This was why Rothiron chose not to commandeer a horse, even if it wouldn’t run away because of his unnatural touch. He also had to be wary of warlocks, mages, and priests who could possibly sense his undead state. Put plain, one does not simply walk into Stormwind without difficulty, even under the cover of night.

Rothiron counted himself extremely fortunate he was able to make it to the rendezvous the letter mentioned. It was nothing short of a miracle that he also arrived when the meeting convened.

“If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming,” announced the man in the doorway.
Rothiron hid in the shadows outside, eavesdropping on whatever was to be said.

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Post  Quixoticus on Thu Oct 27, 2011 10:05 pm


Guro’jintal nodded when he saw the troll, Kwasi, approach his table and sit down.

“Guro’jintal,” whispered Kwasi, in Zandali. “Am I glad to see you.”

“I am glad to see you too, Kwasi,” Guro’jintal whispered in reply. “You’re the first familiar face. Hopefully not the last.”

He turned to look at the gnome who had sat down a few minutes ago. The gnome, who was only a few tables away, had snuck a few glances at him since he had arrived. Guro’jintal also noticed that the gnome’s drink was barely touched.

“I’m not sure who’s going to show up,” continued Guro’jintal. “I considered not coming back. But I also haven’t been paid yet. Money’s tight.” He glanced over at the gnome again. “Also. That gnome? He’s been here a while. Seems more interested in what we’re doing than his drink. Looks too honest to be here, too.”

Guro’jintal looked up instinctively as he heard footsteps. To his disappointment, the newcomers weren’t from their group. They were two humans, one in full plate battle armor, and the other in crimson robes, a member of the Scarlet Crusade, judging by the symbol on his regalia. Immediately, several of the other patrons got out of their seats and left. Guro’jintal grew curious when the two humans remained.

“What are a paladin and Scarlet Crusade doing here?” whispered Guro’jintal.

“If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming,” announced the paladin, out loud. He didn’t look at Guro’jintal and Kwasi when he said it. It was more of a general announcement.

Several of the remaining patrons turned to look at the paladin and then resumed their whispered conversations. Guro’jintal looked at Kwasi. The troll considered that they were already in hot water after the strange events in Charles Marand’s office, and now with the arrival of a human paladin who knew about Tahirus, and probably about the meeting, there was a very good chance that things could get a lot worse for them.

But they were also trolls in the middle of Alliance territory; the paladin was in a position of authority and had several good excuses to apprehend them or kill them on the spot. Despite this, he wasn’t making a move. Guro’jintal decided that it might be in their best interest to figure out how much bargaining power they had, if any.

“How do you know he’s not coming?” he answered, in Common.

The human paladin looked at Guro’jintal. He nodded to the Scarlet next to him and then started walking toward the two trolls. “Tahirus has not made contact with the Argent Crusade since the death of Charles Marand, and as of right now, he is missing. I am taking over his commission in lieu of his absence.”

“You’re Argent Crusade?” asked Guro’jintal.

“No. I am a member of the Church, but I am representing the Argent Crusade’s interest in the matter. My name is Gabriel Alvairn.”

“What is the Church’s interest in us?”

Gabriel smiled. “What’s your name?”

“Guro’jintal,” answered the troll.

“You ask a lot of questions, Guro’jintal,” said Gabriel. “The Church and Argent Crusade share the same goals. With most of the Crusade’s resources spread out over the territories, the Church offered assistance for a situation that was so close to home.”

“As in Charles Marand,” followed Guro’jintal.

“His death complicates it,” answered Gabriel.

Guro’jintal leaned back in his chair and sighed. He returned to speaking Zandali for Kwasi to hear. “First Tahirus gives us a run around, and now this Gabriel.”

There was something more to Charles Marand than his involvement with the Cult of the Damned, but after Tahirus’ reluctance to divulge, Guro’jintal had a feeling that those details were strictly need-to-know, and he and the others did not need to know, apparently.

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Post  Zeria on Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:31 am

Lucan Farwield

While walking through the Dwarven District of Stormwind, Lucan couldn't help but feel a sense of uneasiness in the back of his mind. The sensation was strong enough to pull him away from his previous smithing commitments in favor of wandering about the city. He felt the need to visit the park shortly. The serenity of this part of Stormwind had fascinated him in a different way than the Cathedral of Light could, and he found it refreshing to serve as a place of reflection from time to time. He had little business here, however. The uneasy feeling tugged him away from the park and he continued to follow its guidance.

With a sigh, the paladin turned south and crossed the bridge into the Trade District. He had been here several times before to offer his swords and shields to the various visitors to the city. Stromgarde techniques were apparently well sought after among the purveyors of weaponry, much to the delight of Lucan's coin pouch. He smiled lightly to himself before feeling another gentle nudge of interest, glancing down the path to the Mage Quarter. Something was wrong about the place today, but he couldn't put his finger on what it was yet.

Lucan's senses drew him to the shady tavern known as the Slaughtered Lamb. It was no surprise, then, to find out that the unnerving feeling came from here. Clad in red and gray armor with a dark-bladed longsword sheathed along his back, he would simply wait among the tavern-goers that decided to get some fresh air. He scanned the faces and behaviors of the people coming into and out of the tavern, not knowing exactly what he was even looking for. His intuition gave him enough reason to stake out the Slaughtered Lamb, and so he continued to wait.

"Light grant me the patience to see this through," he mumbled under his breath. Not much for prayers, Lucan would've normally just walked straight into the pub for a more direct approach, but today was different. He had to be careful, but why? It bothered him to have this heightened awareness sometimes. It paid off when a commotion drew his attention to the door of the tavern. He made his move and slipped inside as people left, finding a table close to the entrance. A quick glance around the room revealed a gnome and two...trolls? His heartbeat increased slightly out of the initial shock, but he realized these weren't the kind of trolls he was used to fighting in Arathi. They were thin and wiry, with an air of calm about them. Darkspear.

“If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming,” came an announcement from a voice near Lucan. Who was this Tahirus person, and why would there be trolls perhaps looking for him? This intrigued Lucan and he ordered a dwarven stout from Jarel Moor, the bartender. Attempting to avoid suspicion wasn't something that was likely going to happen now, with the room quietened, so he made the most of the situation. He began drinking his stout and keeping an ear out for anything interesting.

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Post  Izdazi on Mon Oct 31, 2011 5:58 pm

That 7.2653% chance that he was going to regret participating in this field mission suddenly jumped 21% with the entrance of another troll. He kept his face centered on the untouched drink on the table. He had already forgotten what he ordered. His mind was running the math in his head on how to account for the unprecedented presence of these two trolls.

But what was more unnerving was the total lack of alarm from the few patrons at this dive. No one cared. They weren’t even wearing good disguises and no one seemed alarmed.

Keeping his head still, Elisha kept moving his eyes towards the troll and then to the glass before him. What was he supposed to? It wasn’t that gnomes couldn’t fend for themselves. It’s just… well… about the most dangerous weapon he ever wielded was a broken protractor.

Like most citizens, he carried a small dagger and he had a small pistol that his cousin had given him a few years ago. Truth be told, he should have brought that, although he’d have to read the instructions to figure out how to use it. SI:7 didn’t spend money on training analysts for field tasks.

Worrying about his proficiency, or lack of, using a pistol was a moot point. It was, ironically, tucked away safely in his cubicle drawer. The very cubicle he’d rather be in.

“The old man is trying to kill me,” he repeated just as the doorway darkened with the arrival of two newcomers. Others had been arriving throughout the day. Most had been cloaked, which seemed to be the style of this dump. In fact, the more Elisha looked around, the more he began to cringe. Perhaps he should have worn a cloak and hooded his face. Then he could keep a better on eye on these spying trolls and the other shady denizens of this place.

As if on cue, a handful of the patrons abruptly stood up and quickly, yet quietly, exited the tavern. Elisha wasn’t sure what to make of this turn of events. Did they know something he didn’t?

Well, that much was likely. Everyone here knew more than he did at this moment. This was the reverse of the way the gnome typically experienced things.

As the two newcomers stepped past the brightly backlit doorway, he realized that one was armored and the other wore the red robes distinctive of the Scarlet Crusade.

“Of course,” he muttered, as his fingers quickly danced across the dials of his calculator. “We have trolls, so why not zealots.” He wasn’t sure what calculations he was throwing into the mechanical device, but it at least kept his mind off the crowd.

From the corner of his vision, he saw that the two trolls had noted the arrival of the unusual pair and were whispering amongst each other about it.

“If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming,” the paladin suddenly announced with a booming voice. It seemed to be a general statement to no one in particular, but Elisha felt his ears burn as if he’d just been caught red-handed borrowing his brother’s wrench. He kept fiddling with the calculator.

“How do you know he’s not coming?” he heard one of the trolls suddenly ask. He was speaking in Common, and although there was an accent, he was surprisingly easy to understand. No longer caring about the calculator, Elisha glanced up at their table and watched the paladin approach it.

“Tahirus has not made contact with the Argent Crusade since the death of Charles Marand, and as of right now, he is missing. I am taking over his commission in lieu of his absence.”

The analyst sat back, picked up his drink and listened intently as the two spoke. The troll asked some rather pointed questions, to which the paladin replied with as little information as possible. It was a game the gnome was familiar with. Selective data dropping, as the saying goes.

He wasn’t familiar with trolls enough to discern what they were thinking, but somehow, he suspected that the one talking wasn’t impressed by the word dancing the paladin was masterfully playing.

“You ask a lot of questions, Guro’jintal,” said Gabriel. Elisha’s eyes grew wide. Guro’jintal! It was the troll the elf, Izdazi, had told him about. Gabriel continued speaking. “The Church and Argent Crusade share the same goals. With most of the Crusade’s resources spread out over the territories, the Church offered assistance for a situation that was so close to home.”

“As in Charles Marand,” the troll chimed in without hesitation.

“His death complicates it,” answered Gabriel. Elisha sighed and watched as Guro’jintal leaned back and whispered something in foreign language to the troll sitting next to him. The game was growing old.

Making up his mind, the gnome, slipped off the chair and straightened his vest. He made his way toward the table and cleared his throat.

“So, if Tahirus is not to be expected, what do you want with those he who once associated with him?” Elisha asked. “I’d say there’s a 53% chance you have something you need us to do. Also, from what I know, there’s only a 11% you think Tahirus and his crew are responsible for Marand’s death, which begs the question, what exactly do you want?

“And what is he doing with you?” he added, pointed a trembling finger at the figure in crimson robes.

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Post  Akatora13 on Sun Nov 06, 2011 1:22 am

Kwasi’s posture eased slightly as the other troll began talking. Kwasi followed Guro’jintal’s gaze towards the gnome. “Also. That gnome? He’s been here a while. Seems more interested in what we’re doing than his drink. Looks too honest to be here, too.”

Kwasi had to agree. Although he by no means was skilled in the art of espionage, most everyone else in here was a human, skulking about, taking great pains to hide their faces. At best, the gnome seemed like a frightened rabbit too scared to move. Kwasi could sympathize. No one else had come, and even though The Slaughtered Lamb had been a safe haven last time they were in Stormwind, there were no guarantees one of the humans wouldn’t get greedy and go find a city guard. And then they’d both be dead in a heartbeat.

Kwasi looked up when he heard heavy footsteps, hoping to see a familiar face. His face fell when he saw the two humans, one in full battle armor, the other in Scarlet Crusade robes. While Kwasi didn’t think the Alliance was friendly with the Scarlet Crusade, this man could still be some sort of diplomat.

“What are a paladin and Scarlet Crusade doing here?” whispered Guro’jintal.

Kwasi could only shake his head minutely. He was becoming genuinely nervous now, and while he was glad to have Guro’jintal at his side, they were still extremely vulnerable.

Suddenly, the paladin announced to the whole room, “If you’re waiting for Tahirus, he is not coming.” Kwasi caught the other troll’s eye. His own fight or flight instinct was beginning to surface, and Kwasi struggled to maintain his calm. Luckily, Guro’jintal seemed up for chatting.
“How do you know he’s not coming?” What followed was a brief conversation between the two that the paladin, Gabriel Alvairn, was taking over Tahirus’ stead. He was acting in the Church’s and the Argent Crusade’s interest. After hearing him speak a little, Kwasi’s gears eased slightly to a point that he no longer felt the need to upend a table and bolt before all of Stormwind came down on his ass.

Guro’jintal leaned back in his chair and said to Kwasi, “First Tahirus gives us the run around and now this Gabriel.”

Kwasi didn’t like it either. While he would have liked his money, or to see his old comrades, he didn’t see either. Sure, Tahirus had been one for secrets, but this was too much for Kwasi to handle, especially when his and Guro’jintal’s lives were endangered for just sitting here. He whispered back, “I don’t think we can trust him. Do you think we should leave?”

Guro'jintal shrugged. "If I had a back-up plan, I might. Right now, this human is my meal ticket. It might work in our favor to see how things go."

Kwasi grunted slightly, not currently able to identify with Guro’jintal’s practiced ease. “What about the Scarlet? I doubt he’s here for the food.” Kwasi shot a quick disapproving look at the priest.

Guro'jintal nodded. "Whatever politics drew the Church and the Scarlet here, I don't really want to know. It's politics, so it's probably not worth knowing, anyway. But we're the hard labor. And for whatever reason, Gabriel's interested in keeping us around rather than rounding up his own people. I have a feeling we've got some bargaining power, even if we don't know what it is right this moment."

Kwasi sighed, mentally conceding that the other troll had a point. If this was some sort of elaborate trap, they still weren’t dead. Kwasi shot another look at the two humans. The paladin, at least, seemed definitive. The Scarlet Crusader behind him, however, remained silent. Kwasi was still trying to figure out what part he played when the gnome Guro’jintal pointed out earlier sauntered up to the table.

“So, if Tahirus is not to be expected, what do you want with those he who once associated with him? I’d say there’s a 53% chance you have something you need us to do. Also, from what I know, there’s only an 11% you think Tahirus and his crew are responsible for Marand’s death, which begs the question, what exactly do you want?” The gnome paused for a moment before stretching out a trembling finger towards the Scarlet Crusader Kwasi himself had been wondering about a moment before. “And what is he doing with you?”

Kwasi squinted down at the gnome, addressing him in common. “I’d been wonderin’ da same question as de gnome ‘ere, but who are you? I was under de impression dis was a secret meeting.” Kwasi grimaced before sitting back and rubbing the end of one of his tusks anxiously.

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Post  Miss Tiger on Wed Nov 09, 2011 7:47 am


Standing in Marand's study, staring at his lifeless body, Durnae decided she wanted out. It wasn't that a man was dead. The draenei didn't shy from death or murder, though they were things that she preferred to avoid when possible. No, this desire stemmed solely from the insignia adorning the bit of gold that was pressed into the back of the human man's neck.

Twilight's Hammer. Viewed by the common folk as just another group of crazies prophesying the end of the world, known by most military and government officials as actually working to bring it about. The difference between a man walking around saying that someday we will all die and a man loading a gun to ensure it.

It was one thing, to go after a single man and a leaderless cult. Going head to head with the Twilights was something else entirely. The Cult of the Damned worshiped death. Foolish? Certainly, but understandable for the mortal races, who all, one day, would have to succumb to it. Perhaps it made them feel like they possessed some sort of control over it. But the Twilight's Hammer worshiped something deeper, something darker, something far more malevolent. It wasn't power they sought, but nothingness. Obliteration. So long, and thanks for all the fish. They couldn't be reasoned with, and even interrogation of any but the lowest rank served little purpose. They were dedicated to their cause. One did NOT mess with Twilights, not if she were interested in prolonging her life.

Before Tahirus sounded the retreat, she was out the door, though she just caught “...Slaughtered Lamb in one week’s time.” She snorted under her breath.

Screw the blank check, screw the weeks of work. Write it off as a loss and get your ass out of there, Durn.

She always gave herself the best advice. In less than an hour, Seannu was winging his way out of the city, the draenei astride his back. They flew north. Beneath them, the land changed from volcano, to snow, to green lands, to swamp, to mountains. Three days' flight saw her in Aerie Peak, drinking an ale. Surely that was a long enough distance for her to relax, just a little. If Marand's room had been under surveillance by the people who had killed him, her retreat had to be seen as just that; a retreat. She wasn't a threat. She was out.

I wasn't even the first one out, either, so no need to feel guilty for leaving a job undone. The shaman, darling Izzy... Yes. A bit of time keeping my head down and things can get back to normal. Maybe now's a good time to go to Kalimdor... bother Izzy on a whole 'nother continent...

She was in the process of lifting her ale to her lips when the hairs on the back of her neck rose. She continued the gesture, fiercely resisting the desire to go rigid at the sensation that she was being watched.

Paranoia, or...?

She glanced in a mirror on the wall at the back of the bar. The tavern was full; dwarven ones always were. But there was one figure who wasn't drinking, or telling stories. A human man, in the corner, practically boring holes in her back with the intensity of his gaze.

“Hmm,” she murmured as she drew a tube of lipstick from her bag and spread it over her lips, all while keeping an eye on the man in the mirror. The bartender watched her preen before glancing over her shoulder.

“Looks like ye have an admirer, lass,” the dwarf observed.

Durnae put the lipstick away and started fluffing her hair in the mirror. “I'd noticed,” she replied, then smiled at the dwarf over the top of her glasses. “How do I look?” she asked.

The bartender gave her a critical once-over. “Yer a bit tall fer me, lass, but I'd nae kick yeh outta bed,” he replied after a moment's scrutiny. That actually gave Durnae pause for a moment, and she stared at him, then winked. “Well, let's hope my admirer sees things your way, hmm?”

The dwarf watched as she stood and smoothed her dress over ample curves before swaying her way over to the human man that had been staring at her back. She leaned down, murmuring something that the dwarf couldn't hear over the noise of the bar, then, to his shock, kissed the human full on the mouth. “Mebbe there's somethin ter the taller races after all. Move a lo' quicker'n a dwarf, 'sfer sure,” he grumbled as he watched the pair stand and walk down the stairs, towards the rooms. Luckily for Durnae, he didn't notice the dazed and glassy look in the man's eyes, or how he didn't seem able to navigate the stairs without her help. All he saw was a pair of lovers, unable to keep their hands off of each other, headed off to a night of debauchery.

“Lucky lad,” he grumbled under his breath before returning to shining a mug.

Two hours time found the 'lucky lad' unconscious and tied to a chair in the draenei's room. Letting the human pass out had been the first mercy the draenei granted him. The healing techniques that she employed to keep a subject alive were possibly the worst part of her sessions. The Shadow was not a healing force by nature. It performed her bidding, but dove into the worst memories and terrors of the person being healed. The damage it knit together of the body, it wreaked on the mind, and this was not a man of exceptionally strong mind to begin with. Durnae thought she knew the reason why.

She sat that in a tall, comfortable chair near the window. A cigarette burned between the first two fingers of her left hand, unnoticed by the draenei. Her silvery gaze was locked entirely on the man bound to the chair. He hadn't been able to tell her anything, but his belongings had told her plenty. In her right hand, she lazily flipped a badge she'd taken from his pocket. One particularly high flip brought it into her range of vision. The hammer surrounded by a halo of thorns was unmistakeable.

Twilights. Shadow damn it all, I was not a threat to you! I was going to be gone!

And on a table nearby, as though just to shatter any hope she'd had that she had been mistaken, or overly-paranoid, rested a note she had taken from another pocket. It contained her name, physical appearance, notes on her demeanor, and orders. To keep an eye on her. To stay close. And to report any movements she made. Clearly he hadn't been very intelligent. The note should have been destroyed. Instead, it was in her hands, a clear sign. They were on her trail.

Damn it all.

She ground out her cigarette and stood, smoothing the wrinkles out of her dress. Unwelcome as it was, knowledge was never a bad thing. It was figuring out what to do with it that was the problem. With her spy dead, she could flee again. Kalimdor. Deep woods, mountains... There were places to hide, if one knew how; and if there was one thing that she was good at (and let's not be coy, I'm good at everything), it was hiding. She flipped the badge again, glancing at the insignia.

You don't outrun Twilights.

“I hate the intelligent voice in my head.”

Her gaze wandered from the badge to the unconscious human. What to do with him, though... He knew his orders. He knew what she looked like, and he knew that she knew all of this. Her hand drifted towards a slim dagger at her waist. So easy to silence him...

“Fel,” she muttered under her breath before placing the badge alongside the note in a pouch on her hip. She strode up to the human, then knelt before him, thumbing one of his eyes open and staring into it. When she spoke, her voice thrummed with power.

“You never saw me. You've never even heard the name Durnae before, or the Twilight's Hammer. You're a simple-minded but hard-working young man, come to find honest work with the dwarves here at Aerie Peak.”

He stared back at her blankly, then nodded slowly. “Yes,” he agreed, his voice vague. A small smile spread over his lips as she patted his cheek.

“That's my good boy. You'll work hard, right?” she cooed as she untied him, pulling him to his feet. The human nodded eagerly. “Yes! Good, honest work!”

Short bursts of mind control were useful in combat, but wore off in moments. That was helpful, really, since they didn't need to last much longer than that. But mind control as a long term, hopefully permanent, solution was more difficult. Luckily for her, the man was a very simple type, and easily manipulated. Likely hadn't even chosen to fall in with the Twilights...

Durnae, righter of wrongs, savior of the simple-minded.

She chuckled wryly at the thought as she gently tucked him into the bed. “Sleep now, darling, so you'll be good and ready to work tomorrow,” she ordered. He nodded, obedient as a child, and closed his eyes. A second later, he was snoring. And a minute after that, the draenei was gone.

Seannu seemed less than enthused to be flying back south after their desperate flight north, but he eventually agreed, and before midnight they were winging their way back to Stormwind.

The flight was uneventful, and they arrived back in Stormwind City just in time for the meeting. She left her beloved gryphon with the flight master, choosing to walk the rest of the way. Tight hand on her belongings, hood up over her head, she wove her way through the crowded Trade District. At only six feet tall, she didn't stand out at all among many of the other races of the Alliance. Her long, black cloak and hood, though, drew a few looks. It was unseasonably hot, after all. But better to get a curious glance from the man selling bread than to be recognized by another Twilight spy. The city was crawling with them, after all.

The crowd thinned out as she left the Trade District, crossing the bridge over the canal. Her hooves rang on the flagstones, and it was a relief to step on the soft grass of the Mage District. At least then, just walking didn't announce her presence for anyone to hear. The district fairly thrummed with magic in the air. While the mysteries of the arcane were beyond her knowledge, the benign nature of it was comforting.

As she neared her destination, though, the sense in the air darkened. This was more familiar to her; darkness was darkness, though it be birthed by the arcane or the Shadow. Her eyes beneath her hood narrowed, however, at the sight of a paladin and a... Scarlet priest, of all people, walking into the district. She leaned back against a tree, waiting for them to pass. Their path led them into her destination: The Slaughtered Lamb. Curiosity more than anything spurred her to follow.

No one noticed her as she leaned against the door frame, watching the conversation between... was that Guro'jintal? Would wonders never cease... the troll and paladin. Then a gnome spoke up... and another troll. The shaman that left early. Amazing that he came back. They were the only two of the original group that had returned. Her silvery gaze moved towards Kwasi as he spoke, and she decided to make her presence known.

“I’d been wonderin’ da same question as de gnome ‘ere, but who are you? I was under de impression dis was a secret meeting.”

“Kwasi's right. This was supposed to be a secret, and it really isn't an especially good idea to be shouting this inside a tavern that makes up a decent chunk of Stormwind's underbelly, is it?” she asked sweetly as she pushed her hood back, exposing her face. A hand slipped into her pouch and withdrew the badge she'd taken from her most recent subject, flipping it lazily. “Especially considering who might be after just this sort of information, hmm?”
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Post  Mercutio on Wed Nov 09, 2011 10:34 pm

Rothiron glanced up alarmed as another traveler, a Draenei, walked by, following the duo. He quickly but carefully slid into a small alcove, waiting for her to be past. She remained by the doorway, content to listen in on the conversation. Luckily, Rothiron could hear plenty from his hiding place. He was very surprised when he heard a distinctive troll accent.

Others of the Horde? Here? How could they possibly be involved…

Rothiron put his questions and thoughts aside to concentrate on what they were saying. From what he could gather, Guro’jintal, as was the troll’s name, worked with this Tahirus under the Argent Crusade. Doubtlessly, this was part of the investigation on the Cult of the Damned that Forsaken intel was able to gather, but apart from Tahirus’ disappearance, none of it was new. It was then that a third voice spoke up questioning the paladin, Gabriel. Rothiron judged it to be a gnome by his rather light tone, and the talk of percentages strengthened his conclusion. The gnome asked what Gabriel wanted with Tahirus’ fellowship. Another troll spoke up, marking the gnome as a stranger, also slipping the fact that originally this was to be a secret meeting. It was then that the Draenei made herself known to them all.

“Kwasi's right. This was supposed to be a secret, and it really isn't an especially good idea to be shouting this inside a tavern that makes up a decent chunk of Stormwind's underbelly, is it? Especially considering who might be after just this sort of information, hmm?”

If she hadn’t brought out a small insignia just then and started flipping it casually, Rothiron would’ve guessed that she was referring to the Cult of the Damned… But the symbol she had belonged to perhaps a far darker order of maniacs. It was the insignia of the Twilight hammer that she held in her palm. Rothiron knew then that this went far deeper than his “superiors” even realized. His common sense told him that he should leave the matter alone, but he didn’t have much choice in the matter. He was now involved in this as much as anyone in that tavern, whether they knew of him or not.

Rothiron knew that now that she had told them about the risk of eavesdroppers and punctuated that risk with the Twilight icon, Rothiron would have to sneak closer to hear more clearly. The matter warranted at least that much, as well as keeping an eye out for the Twilight agents the Draenei hinted at. While she was tossing the coin about, the warrior cautiously moved towards the ledge of the path outside, making sure not to make any sudden movements in her peripheral vision before sliding behind a tree next to the wall. He scanned the area around him once more for guards and spies alike. Only after he was certain no one else was around, and that they did not hear him, did he crouch and continued listening in on the conversation. Previously he despised the idea of being a rat eavesdropping on private conversations, but seeing as the Twilight Hammer concerned everyone on Azeroth, some good just might come from this venture.

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Post  Zeria on Sat Nov 12, 2011 1:00 pm

The tavern was filling up almost as quickly as it emptied out earlier. Lucan finished his stout as a dark-robed draenei woman entered, and the uneasy feeling that drew him here grew slightly stronger. Whatever was causing it had moved closer to him. Was she the one? In his recent years as a paladin, Lucan had only ever met friendly and kindhearted draenei that were interested in furthering the cause of the Alliance. There was something different about this one, and the man didn't quite care for it.

And then he saw it. The insignia of the Twilight's Hammer, known by the Argent Crusade as the cult of misguided fools who sought the destruction of Azeroth through manipulation of elemental lords years ago in Silithus. The draenei had held the badge not like someone who belonged to the cult, but likely someone they took an interest in. They were not the only ones, for Lucan was perplexed at her behavior and body language compared to her kin.

I'll keep an eye on you, he thought as he turned back to the rest of the group. He was somewhat fortunate in that he had not been noticed by them yet. It was likely due to the shock of seeing a Scarlet walking freely in the city, or perhaps because the dull red armor he wore didn't signify him as a paladin as much as the man next to the Scarlet. He smirked. That reaction was perfect for these kind of intelligence gathering outings, and Lucan was particularly glad he did not adorn himself with the Argent's tabard. Low profile was a must in places like this. Deciding it was best for him to continue gathering information, he signaled Jarel Moor for another stout and paid the man when he reached his table. Sons of Arathi were almost as good at holding their cups as dwarves themselves. Another mug wasn't going to impair his judgement.

And so he sat. Watching and waiting. And drinking.

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Post  Quixoticus on Sat Nov 12, 2011 8:34 pm


Just as soon as accusations started flying, Durnae had arrived. That made three from the original group. Guro’jintal felt better having another familiar face around, but there were just as many newcomers, and they were still holding most of the cards. Guro’jintal hadn’t figured out how he, Kwasi, and Durnae fit into the situation. But there was still time to find out. Gabriel, their new leader, was currently on the defensive. So long they bombarded him with questions, he would be more willing with information.

The gnome, one of the new faces, had called the Scarlet into question. Gabriel looked from the gnome to the human clergyman. “His name is Esbern Marborough, and he represents the Scarlet in lending us his support.”

Guro’jintal was put off by the fact that Esbern was Scarlet. He narrowed his eyes briefly as he studied the clergyman. Based on what he knew about the Scarlet’s previous standing in Alliance and Horde affairs, they did not make friends easily. A compromise between the Church and the Scarlet did not settle with the troll.

Kwasi then called the gnome into question. The gnome, who seemed unprepared for the attention, looked between he and Kwasi. Guro’jintal wondered if the fact they were trolls was adding to the gnome’s agitation.

“Who? Me?” asked the gnome. He swallowed hard. “My name is Nixiediode. Elisha Nixiediode. I’m an agent of SI:7.”

The gnome must have been expecting something else from the way he announced it, because Guro’jintal was not impressed. His reaction was quite opposite. He pushed his chair back with one leg and dropped his hand to his dagger. He looked from the gnome to Gabriel. “What is SI:7 doing here?”

Gabriel raised his hand in a peaceful gesture. “SI:7 is assisting in matters of intelligence. Elisha’s role is strictly supplementary. He’s not a watch dog.”

Guro’jintal looked at the gnome. Judging by the expression on Elisha’s face, he’d realized his mistake. It was reasonable to think that the gnome was not only unfamiliar with trolls, but relatively green in general. He lifted his hand off his weapon, but he didn’t sit down.

Guro’jintal turned his attention to Durnae, who raised her concerns from the tavern doorway. Guro’jintal noticed the piece that Durnae was playing with. He nodded his head toward her. “Durnae, what you got there?” he asked in Common.

Durnae smiled sweetly, pushing herself from the doorframe and walking into the tavern properly. "Just a little trinket an admirer left me," she replied, still flipping it idly. She caught it, insignia up, and offered it to the troll for inspection. "Love fades, but the gold remains," she sighed.

Guro’jintal inspected the badge. He immediately recognized the hammer. His first reaction was confusion. His second reaction was anger. He turned to Gabriel. “Paladin. Explain this.”

Gabriel turned to face them. Guro’jintal tossed the badge to him. The paladin caught it and inspected it for several seconds. Guro’jintal watched his face, and when the human made no outward recognition, Guro’jintal cursed inwardly. He knew Gabriel would recognize the insignia of the Twilight Hammer, but his lack of surprise meant he already knew something.

Gabriel looked at Durnae. “Where did you get this?”

"A man who was following me," she replied, drawing out the note she'd taken from her 'admirer', offering it for his perusal. "I've taken care of him, have no fear," she added, then put her hand out. "I would like my trinket back. It was a very intimate night we shared together, after all." A slow smile spread across her lips, and she licked them at the memory.

Guro’jintal watched Gabriel return the trinket, and when the paladin remained silent, he pressed. “SI:7 was surprise enough. What does the Twilight Hammer have to do with this?”

“For the very reason that you and everyone else in Tahirus’ command are not on trial for murder,” answered the paladin. “Charles Marand died from a lethal shock to the brain by a device that had the insignia of the Twilight Hammer. Based on that and questionable records of his business’s operation, we believe he was serving the Twilight Hammer under duress.”

Guro’jintal narrowed his eyes again. The news was shocking, but also seemed convenient, given that they had been hounding Charles Marand on the suspicion that he had also been in bed with the Cult of the Damned. “Charles Marand was involved with the Cult of the Damned and the Twilight Hammer?”

“It’s too early for anything definite,” answered Gabriel. “So far there’s only a paper trail. No one knows where the trail leads, but the Alliance and Horde is anxious to follow it.”

Guro’jintal did not like where this was going. Gabriel’s pause only seemed to confirm his suspicions. “And you want us to do it.”

Gabriel nodded. “Your assistance in the matter is invaluable. Your previous involvement would put this investigation at a great advantage. This is no longer the primary concern of the Argent Crusade. The Horde and Alliance is funding the operation.”

Every explanation raised more questions for Guro’jintal. Why was this now a joint faction operation? Something had changed, and if it was important enough to supersede the political divisions between the Horde and Alliance, it was more serious than Gabriel was letting on. Guro’jintal started to miss Tahirus, because when the draenei was concealing information, he didn’t easily let you on to it; Gabriel was very transparent when he was withholding information. It was like Gabriel openly advertised that you couldn’t trust him.

“The Horde and Alliance are involved? Why now? What about the Earthen Ring?” asked the troll.

“Like I said, it’s too early for anything definite,” answered Gabriel. “Consider this, for now. If you accept, the Alliance and Horde offer full compensation for expenses and diplomatic immunity while employed. On completion, additional payment and, if it applies, full exoneration of any and all war crimes.”

The paid expenses had been enough to convince Guro’jintal to stay in and test the waters, but when Gabriel explained the rewards, Guro’jintal realized he had to take the offer. He couldn’t be sure if the Alliance would honor the deal, but he had to take that chance. For Guro’jintal, exoneration was worth more than a paid reward. It meant he could stop living out of hostels.

“I don’t expect an answer immediately. In three days’ time, I will be at Chillwind in the Plaguelands at dawn. If you accept, I will see you there. If you don’t, then you will deal with faction authorities on your own. And whoever may be following you.” Gabriel looked at Durnae when he said the last part. “Think it over. I hope to see you all at Chillwind.”

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Post  Mormosi on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:35 pm


"You cheated! I saw you that time!"

Dyrian said nothing to the woman seated across from him as he raked in his earnings with a sweep of his hand. He counted fifteen silver coins, a sizable amount for cards. Losing money mattered little to the rogue anymore, as he knew of countless ways to make up for any costs, but he could not say the same about his opponent. While her demeanor had initially been gleeful upon joining the game, it was only growing more and more distressed with every passing hand, and now she was blaming others for her poor luck. It amused Dyrian; her attitude reminded him of a spoiled child. And perhaps that was not far from the truth.

For a woman so young, she was expensively dressed. Her purple dress was embroidered with gray designs, with not a stain or crease to be found. A cloak trimmed with ermine was draped over her shoulders, clasped at the throat with a brooch studded with moonstones, just low enough to reveal a shining necklace of silver. Just like her clothes, her face was unblemished, though a sneer contorted her features, green eyes locked on Dyrian. To top it all off, her arms were crossed defiantly, as though she knew exactly what he was up to. The perfume that wafted from her conflicted with the smoke from Dyrian's cigar.

"Calm down, Ena. The man is playing as honorably as one can with cards," her companion, a tall, handsome man, reassured her. It seemed to cool Ena's anger somewhat. The man was garbed similarly, clad in a white doublet and bearing a short cape over one shoulder.

"Which is to say not at all, yes?" Brother Clydas said from his position next to Dyrian. He began to deal the next hand. "I've played many a game in my years. There is a certain amount of skill in it, I suppose, but never honor. An honorable thing would be to donate that silver, rather than spending it on another bet!"

So what does that make me, then? Dyrian thought with a smile, turning to look down at the people below them. For a typical morning, the Blue Recluse was crowded. The returning veterans were attracting all sorts to Stormwind. Students of the arcane were breaking their fast next to people missing arms or eyes, listening to tales of valor and horror. Others were of a more morbid sort, soldiers with downcast looks that sat beside the usual drunkards. As he watched, another crowd streamed in, followed by a lone human.

His group was just like any other, a motley assortment of folk. To his left was the priest Clydas, with his modest robes of white wool, and to his right was a grizzled dwarf with many a scar to bear, who went by the name Ironarms. Still glaring at Dyrian like a cat, Ena sat closely to her dark-haired friend at the opposite end of the small table. They'd managed to make a barrier with their attitudes and highborn mannerisms, but it didn't bother Dyrian as it did the others. He was familiar with nobles, more than any man should be, and he was certain that these two were of some minor house or another, or at least a wealthy trading family.

Although it would take effort to make himself pop out in such an environment, Dyrian had adopted a persona of sorts after the split of Tahirus' group. With the eyes and ears of the Cult of the Damned, the Stormwind Guard, SI:7, and now the Twilight's Hammer abound in the city, he dared not use his own name when he could avoid it. For a few more days he was 'Guy Hawke', a mere courier supposedly running messages all across Stormwind, and a man that enjoyed a smoke and a risk or two in his spare time. A simple citizen with a simple name, which was all his gambling opponents thought of him. Untrained to look past masks... Whether or not it would work against an SI:7 spy was yet to be seen, but he contented himself with the blind gazes of his opponents. He'd dressed the part appropriately, wearing tan and brown linens left loose for mobility, with a bag slung over one shoulder. His hair was bound back by a headband, his pants were tucked into his boots, and he left his outermost shirt open at the throat. His only weapon was an ordinary belt knife, hardly an uncommon thing to behold.

Dyrian leaned back in his hair as the next round of the game ended. Due to its steady pacing and potential for trickery, "Teron's Trio" was a particular favorite of his. It bore the death knight's name well. As I'm sure woeful Ena is inclined to agree. Ace of Nobles, Ten of Undeath, and Ten of Nobles won him another handful of copper coins. Ena's eyes turned to narrow slits.

Ironarms frowned at the outcome and turned to the side to spit. "Haven't won a single hand yet. If I didn't know any better, I'd be inclined t' agree with th' lass."

"Luck favors no man. Your time will come at one point or another," Clydas spouted out, giving the dwarf a grandfatherly smile. Half of the things he said seemed to consist solely of words of wisdom, Dyrian noted, and most of it was simply pointing out the obvious.

Ironarms scowled back before carefully dealing the next hand. "Shouldn't ye be preachin' instead o' playing, priest? Way I hear it, Church could use some more prayers."

Something in his quip touched Clydas, his smile fading. "I could not agree more, dwarf, believe me. Yet... the Church no longer seems to want my voice." He sighed, shaking his balding head at the deck. "For fifty two years I have lent my voice, soul, and all my belongings, but now I fear they seek to expel me."

Ena's companion's face gave no flicker of sympathy. In fact, his gaze only seemed to grow cold at the priest's explanation. "Forgive me for saying so, Brother, but that is a tale I hear daily, among nobles and priests alike. Tell me, if the Church has appreciated your service thus far, why would they cast you out now?"

"You know of the hangings to take place at noon today, yes?"

At this, Dyrian leaned forward. "Two priests and a trader, right? I overheard two paladins speaking of it yesterday." In actuality he had overheard dozens of people discussing the matter. Alongside the returning veterans, corruption, especially within the Church, was also becoming a popular topic. Rumors were giving way to full-blown investigations and trials concerning crimes from theft to treason. Nobles, priests, and even the veterans were being put to question; no reputation was spotless, not with the Cult of the Damned's, and now the Twilight's Hammer's, fingers so deep within the hierarchy.

The fruits of our labor. In a way, the grim news was pleasant to hear. After all, uncovering the Cult of the Damned's hidden fingers had been Dyrian's old group's goal, before the split. Even the cigar in his mouth, an expensive product from Mulgore, was a result of their skulking, a trophy from a chaotic night in Stormwind alongside the orc Fireseed. He did not smoke regularly, but he did enjoy its quality. Once their work was complete, and this conspiracy was uncovered, the rogue would have a blank check in his hands, whatever amount of money he desired. And he knew exactly where he intended to place it.

Clydas grew more somber. "Yes, the priests are being tried for a multitude of foul acts. After they found the messages in the catacombs..." He shook his head again, harder. His mouth twisted in disgust. "Not cultists, necessarily, but one was proven to have stolen corpses. And to think that I've worked with Matthias for over twenty years..."

Ena's companion remained unconvinced. "So, how does that relate to you?"

"Well, I was quite close to the two. I was practically blood-related to Matthias. It is not enough to have me convicted of graverobbery and conspiracy, but no one will look twice if I'm subtly removed from my place. Soon I will be unable to do more than hand coins to strangers and donate to the orphanage-"

"Alright, alright," Ironarms growled, waving away the priest's words. "Enough with yer sob tale. What about that other one, th' trader?"

"The trader was smuggling in magical artifacts from Northrend. Isn't that right, William?" Ena looked to her friend for support.

"Indeed, the guard found a stash of objects laced with dark magic and a note that proclaimed his intent to sell them to another party. Normally she would be sentenced to years in prison, but with recent events and the fact that the objects she holds could level a building..." William shrugged. "The woman was as good as dead from the start, another body in a pile."

Clydas won the fifteenth round. As they began to explore the details of the trader's crimes, Dyrian took a glance around the room. Little had changed. The innkeeper was bringing up more chairs for a large party, a young woman had passed out from one too many drinks, a gnome mage was still juggling tiny fireballs, and, next to the table in the corner-

Suddenly, Dyrian found himself staring at another human, all by his lonesome, leaning against the wall directly behind him. Now where did you come from? He was utterly average in appearance, with a short haircut, a youthful, forgettable face, and plain black clothes. While he stared, trying to reach back in his memory for any sign of him, the stranger turned and locked gazes with him, just for a moment. A moment was all either of them needed. Recognition flared. Dyrian had seen the man entering the inn less than five hands ago. Soon enough they tried to dupe one another, continuing their lazy observance as if neither had seen the other. The rogue turned back to Teron's Trio.

Dyrian's thoughts shifted from puzzling out the 'average' man's origins to doing the same to his identity. The Stormwind Guard knew his face well enough, but SI:7 knew much more than that. Either cult was a likely source as well. The moment the current round stopped, he dipped his hand into his money pouch.

The game's changed. He brought out a gold coin, by far the largest bet anybody had placed down so far, flipped it, then set it in the middle of the table. The lion of the Alliance roared up at the contenders, their eyes widening at the sight of the gold gleaming in the tavern's candlelight. He exhaled, letting out a long stream of smoke. "Let's up the ante, shall we? I'd like to make some real coin before taking my leave."

William raised an eyebrow. "I'm not one to bet so much on a mere card game." Subsequently, Ena also withdrew.

However, Clydas and Ironarms tossed in a gold mark of their own, albeit the latter did so reluctantly. Three, how fitting. Dyrian could not recall a longer game of Teron's Trio. Not a moment went by when he felt like checking over his shoulder for the lookout, but the rogue knew better. If this spy bore a foul intent, he would not enact it here. He played the game as one normally would. After what felt like an hour, Clydas emerged victorious.

During his exit Dyrian looked again for the lookout, but saw no sign of him. He made for the Blue Recluse's entrance at a brisk pace, squinting at the daylight as he stepped out into the lightly crowded Mage District. Signs of an oncoming storm were abound. Gray clouds darkened towards the horizon, heralded by a breeze ruffling Dyrian's clothes. Though the air was chilly, it was nowhere near what was expected of autumn, being practically on a level with spring. The rogue inhaled, then let out a large cloud of smoke before heading straight for the Cathedral Square.

The feeling of being watched never left him. He took a glimpse over his shoulder every now and then, but saw nothing concrete. A flicker of movement, an arm that quickly vanished beyond a wall, or a figure hidden in a throng of people. The rogue grinned at how his pursuer kept a distance. Average appearances and subtle searching reeked of SI:7. Having learned from their previous encounter in the Blue Recluse, he was adapting methodically, as SI:7 agents had a tendency to do.

All along the way to the Cathedral Square, they continued at their game of hide and seek. Thrice Dyrian caught sight of his pursuer continuing the hunt down a street or alley, nothing more than a blur in a haze of a crowd. Nothing seemed to shake him. Melting into clusters of people deterred him momentarily, impersonating a customer of a bread vendor provided only a greater pause, and the hunter clearly had a knowledge of Stormwind's streets. Eyes like a hawk. Very perceptive boy, I'll give him that. Good enough for SI:7. All across the Mage District and Park they battled, one move after the other. Little by little, Dyrian tried to wear down the agent's hawk-like lock for the final blow.

When he got to the Cathedral Square, the bells were tolling. It was noon. Dyrian broke into a jog, rushing across the nearly empty square. Now was his chance to break free of the agent's grip once and for all. His goal came into sight as he rounded a block. West of the cathedral loomed the gallows, dark and grim against the white stone of the Cathedral, and below them was an enormous, yet surprisingly quiet crowd. He wasted no time in weaving himself into the thick of it, flicking away his cigar and removing his headband to shake out his hair.

Gazing up with the rest of the crowd, Dyrian saw that all of the criers had spoken true of the situation. Three prisoners stood behind four nooses, shackled, each person matching the statuses of the convicted. The first two were older men, a draenei and a human, both wearing white robes that frayed at the edges. Beyond them was a short, dark-haired female human in a seafarer's garb. Stoic as a statue, the executioner waited patiently by his lever.

The slight whispering within the crowd vanished when another human stepped forward. "Anchorite Zermuud! Matthias Dawnblessed! The two of you have been found guilty of graverobbing, murder, theft, and of practicing necromancy. The punishment for these crimes is death," the man bellowed for the crowd to hear. Anchorite Zermuud bowed his head and closed his eyes, muttering something under his breath. Matthias seemed to be on the verge of tears. The crier ignored them both. "Has anyone any evidence to counter these claims?"

"I-I told you! I'm being framed! A-a-ask anyone from the Church, they know I wouldn't sell corpses! Ask Clydas! He knows!" Matthias' tone was desperate.

"We have already questioned everybody within the cathedral, even Clydas, and have found no evidence to the contrary. Does the crowd bear any proof to his claims?"

Not a soul stirred.

Without a second glance at the priests, the crier moved down to the last criminal. "Irene Carter! You stand accused of smuggling, possession of evil objects, and of conspiring against the Church! Has anyone any evidence to counter these claims?"

Irene brought her head up. "I wholeheartedly confess to each of those crimes." Murmurs roiled through the crowd. The crier scowled, a look of absolute disgust washing over him.

A long moment passed. The crier read their final rites. The trio took a step forward, forced to let the nooses fall about their necks and be tightened. The executioner gripped his lever.

"If you've anything to say, do so now."

Anchorite Zermuud remained silent, and whatever Matthias was trying to say was drowned out by his sobs. Irene, on the other hand, drew herself up. "What is dead may never die, but rises again, harder and stronger."

The trio dropped. Almost immediately, the crowd began to shift and fall apart. Some stayed behind to mutter a prayer, while others discussed the event in low, solemn tones. Many simply left. Dyrian had every intention of leaving, but for the moment was transfixed by the macabre image before him. He took out a coin and flipped it. The fruits of our labor...

Thunder drew his attention upwards. During his trek across Stormwind, the gray clouds had settled overtop the city. The gambler felt a drop hit his face and run down into his beard, and more followed, sprinkling the gallows. It made the scene all the gloomier.

As he began to stroll away towards the Dwarven District, Dyrian realized that he had forgotten all about the agent. His hazel eyes quickly ran over his environment, finding no sign of the lookout. Lazy as it was, he found that he did not care if the man was hidden. With rain pouring down all around him, the rogue strode away from the Cathedral at a brisk walk, digesting what he had witnessed, flipping his coin all the while.


4 Days Later

The rooftop rushed up to meet Dyrian's limbs. He broke into a roll upon meeting the stone and continued his sprint, moonlight illuminating the path ahead. Below, small pockets of people lurked about in the streets, drifting in and out of darkness. Rooftops away, he could see torch-bearing guards patrolling about.

It was a clear night, lightly clouded, accented with a heavy, chill wind. Dyrian welcomed the cold with open arms. As a whole, he loved Stormwind. He enjoyed its labyrinth of alleys, the fog that enshrouded it during the autumn and winter, the variety of people that inhabited it, and even SI:7's antics. However, despite its luster, he could never abide the heat. A summer in Stormwind was defined by a nearly unbearable humidity, which he couldn't help but despise. The night's air, even if it was nowhere near cold enough for autumn, was much more reminiscent of what he was used to.

He stopped at the next edge, then lightly dropped himself onto the roof below. While the night was clear, he knew his attire would aid in helping him remain unseen. Hours earlier he had traded Guy Hawke's courier clothes for things more befitting of a rogue-for-hire. Dark leather encased him from head to toe, the colors ranging from gray to black. With his vest hooded and a cloth encasing the lower half of his face, only his eyes remained bare to the world, save for a few stray hairs here and there. Disdaining the use of a cloak, the rest of his equipment had been left as light as possible. A short, curved blade rested next to a similarly curved sword, bordered by an array of throwing knives, pouches, and other useful tools. Tonight was the night Tahirus had scheduled them for another gathering, and the rogue did not intend to come unprepared.

But first he had to take care of something. Again, he set his eyes toward the cathedral, its pointed towers always poking above the lesser roofs. He climbed, leapt, and ran across rooftops and walkways until his legs grew tired and the surfaces beneath his feet leveled out. Finally, he found himself atop a tall tailor's shop, "Julian's Silks", a meager place on the outskirts of the Cathedral Square. Just next to the attic was a small hatch. Once a month, the titular Julian left it open and unbarred for a thief to descend and deliver him silks, dyes, and other rare goods from a greater and livelier shop in the Mage District. Julian, however, was always within the basement during his thief's entrance, oblivious to whatever went on above, making it a good way to get from the rooftops to ground level without busying oneself with a climb, if they could find an opportune moment. Julian's thief was a very timely fellow, always arriving around midnight, but that didn't stop Julian from unlocking the hatch hours earlier, "just in case".

Dyrian knelt and tugged on the handle, the hatch opening. Occasionally, something got in the way of Julian and his partner's misdeeds, but, thankfully, no such thing had occurred tonight. He slipped inside, and was walking across a dark street moments later.

Just as expected, a figure waited for him under a streetlight towards the side of the cathedral, no more than the silhouette of a robed woman against the bright light. As he got closer the rogue could make out her auburn hair and the gold embroidery of her robes. The priestess' head picked up when she saw him approach.

Dyrian casually lobbed a bulging pouch at her, which she caught deftly, if a little awkwardly. "Seventy five silver coins, no need to count them."

The young priestess opened it all the same. She peeked inside, russet eyes widening slightly, then closed it up to beam at the rogue. "Light be upon you, sir. The Church will appreciate this donation, but..." She trailed off, unease withering her smile.

But a shadowy donation in the night is no way to show affection for the Light's servants. He could tell what bothered her, and it was not altogether surprising that she was only voicing concern now. "Afraid of a noose tightening about your neck?"

The priestess was taken aback by the suggestion, but she nodded. "Please, sir, you must have heard of the trial four days ago. It takes very little to be imprisoned these days, no matter the souls of the people involved. What shame is there in donating during the day? Simply hand this money to the caretakers, it will be better for us both."

Dyrian crossed his arms, weighing his options. "Tell me, do you trust those caretakers?"

"What? Of course I do! They're servants of the Light, just as I-"

"Yes, and you're meeting with an armed man in the middle of the night, accepting 'donations'." He smiled beneath his mask and shrugged. "Who's to say what they do during their nights? Maybe they're frequenters of brothels and races. Maybe they enjoy a hearty helping of ale during their prayers. Coin is easily spread."

"But someone would know! The farmhands would complain!" The priestess sounded just like Ena with her naive wails. Yet, doubt was eating at her, crinkling her brow, diverting her attention to the coins.

"Perhaps you should take another look at Dawnblessed and Zermuud. Dead they might be, but just how many corpses did they steal before their capture?" He didn't allow her a chance to retort. It would only raise her confidence in denying his money, exactly the opposite of what he wished. "Consider this: Our way is not better for us, but it is better for the Church. If I were you, I'd place that money where it belongs." He turned to leave.

"Could you at least tell me where it comes from?"

Dyrian stopped and looked over his shoulder. "It comes at no one's expense, I assure you," he lied.


"...If you accept, the Alliance and Horde offer full compensation for expenses and diplomatic immunity while employed. On completion, additional payment and, if it applies, full exoneration of any and all war crimes. I don’t expect an answer immediately. In three days’ time, I will be at Chillwind in the Plaguelands at dawn. If you accept, I will see you there. If you don’t, then you will deal with faction authorities on your own. And whoever may be following you. Think it over. I hope to see you all at Chillwind.”

The words were enough to give Dyrian pause as he entered the Slaughtered Lamb. From what he could tell, the meeting he had intended to attend was closing, and nothing had gone as expected. Not only was Tahirus completely missing along with most of the old group, but three others had taken their places, and were now leaving the establishment. Teron's Trio, the rogue thought, stifling a chuckle. They certainly seemed fit to be ill omens. One human, their apparent leader, was wearing a paladin's armor, making him a rather interesting aspect. As was the man swathed in scarlet and gold, apparently a member of the now-reformed Scarlet Crusade. Beside them was a gnome. Dyrian could not get a read on him, but he certainly did not look like a member of the Church.

Yet, the rewards this paladin offered were enticing, and surprisingly so. The money was not a blank check, but he was certain it was at least a decent amount. Diplomatic immunity and full exoneration of war crimes, however, could aid him greatly. Maybe they'll even forgive a few mishaps from the Second War.

Moving on, Dyrian walked towards the table they had been standing near. Three members of the original Argent Crusade-sponsored group remained: Durnae, Kwasi, and Guro'jintal. None of them seemed happy at this turn of events, Guro'jintal most of all.

"He had me at Chillwind," Dyrian said with a laugh, pulling back his hood and dropping the cloth covering his mouth and nose. "This autumn could use a little ice." He looked at the entrance. "So, how does the gnome fit in this web?"

Last edited by Mormosi on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:36 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Derp, meant to say Executioner.)

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Post  Quixoticus on Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:47 am


Guro’jintal watched Gabriel, Esbern, and Elisha leave. When they were through the doorway, he sat back down and motioned for Kwasi and Durnae to join him.

“I don’t like this,” said Guro’jintal. “Church working with Scarlet and SI:7? What’s going on?”

Durnae sat down at the table, placing her badge on the table before drawing out a file and working on a rough edge on her nail. "Business, sweetheart. Dangerous enemies make us all consider allies that we normally wouldn't think twice about."

Kwasi's relief at seeing Durnae was fleeting, as the overwhelming sense of danger from the unknown Alliance members threatened to consume him. "Well, dey 'aven't killed us yet, but dat may be because it's too 'ard to explain why you 'ave dead troll bodies inside city walls. And I really don't t'ink you can call a member of da Scarlet Crusade an ally. When 'ave dey ever 'elped *you* out?"

"I kind of got the feeling that the little Scarlet fellow? He was just along for the ride," commented Durnae.

Guro’jintal nodded. “He probably has his own agenda. I get the feeling Gabriel does, too. There’s a lot he isn’t telling us.” Guro’jintal stopped when a human entered the Slaughtered Lamb. When he came closer, the human spoke.

"He had me at Chillwind," he said, pulling back his hood and dropping the cloth covering his mouth and nose. Guro’jintal recognized Dyrian. "This autumn could use a little ice." He looked at the entrance. "So, how does the gnome fit in this web?"

“Good to see you, Dyrian,” said Guro’jintal. “The gnome is Stormwind Intelligence. Your guess is as good as mine how he fits in.” Guro’jintal remembered the story Durnae had told about how she had acquired the badge. “Dyrian, Kwasi. Were either of you being followed, like Durnae?”

Kwasi shook his head. "I've been spendin' most of my time wit' da Eart'en Ring, I would 'ave seen if anyone was followin' me out der...but..."Kwasi hesitated. "Der are always spies."

Durnae's gaze flicked towards Kwasi. "Smart -and- handsome..." she purred, giving him a slow look up and down. Kwasi's eartips turned pink and he mumbled something about how he might have seen a spy once.

Dyrian gave Durnae a curious look. "So, I wasn't the only one. SI:7 tried to keep an eye on me several days ago. Crafty agent, but not crafty enough."

"Twilights, old-timer," Durnae commented, nodding towards the badge in front of her on the table, still filing her nail. "I wish it was just SI:7."

Dyrian picked up the badge and flipped it as he would a coin. "Seems we've traded a dagger for an axe. This cult was quick to sort us out."

Guro’jintal wasn’t surprised he hadn’t been followed; the troll hadn’t lived in a permanent address for several years. But news that someone was watching Dyrian just made things worse. It wasn’t a coincidence that two of their group was under surveillance. Guro’jintal shook his head. “So Twilight Hammer was following Durnae…and SI:7 was following you?” He thought about the proposition Gabriel had presented them with, and the information, however little it was, he had given them about the Twilight Hammer’s involvement. “I think we’re more important than Gabriel is letting on.”

Durnae's eyes followed her badge that Dyrian flipped, keeping a sharp eye on it before glancing back at Guro'jintal. "We're important? To who? SI:7 knows everything that we know. Twilights would surely like to keep us from flapping our gums about what we know, though," she mused, sitting back and crossing her legs.

"Well, if dey can use us to get to da Twilights, especially when we're gonna be doin' all da grunt work on the front line...why wouldn't dey?" Kwasi grunted unhappily.

Dyrian shrugged. "Well, we certainly aren't mere pawns. This 'Gabriel' could easily hire others, people with stricter ties. Agents he could control more effectively. If we can't offer anything noteworthy to the operation, then there is no point in hiring us again."

Guro’jintal nodded. “We’re not important to the Twilight. Not yet. The only thing we know is that Charles was involved with the Twilight. And the Twilight knows we know. I think they’re keeping tabs on us. What if Gabriel is using us to draw the Twilight out?”

Kwasi grumbled, thinking back to a certain devilsaur. "I 'ate bein' bait.”

Durnae snorted. "I don't like the idea of being bait. And I'm thinking that running off to Kalimdor and finding some cave to hide in for the next few decades is sounding more and more appealing."

"And then what?" Dyrian retorted, amused. "Neither the Twilights nor SI:7 would simply let you run and hide. As long as we're involved, we're loose threads. Better to burn a few strands, rather than let risks run awry."

Guro’jintal nodded. “He’s right. Gabriel’s a problem, but he’s also protection. Whatever the Twilight is planning, they’re going to be careful. Hiding in a cave will just make you an easy target. So long as we’re under the Horde and Alliance’s watch, we live a little longer.”

Kwasi grins. "So instead of waitin' for trouble, we just go lookin' for it instead. 'opefully with 'eavier coin purses."

Durnae arched an eyebrow. "Yeah, remember all that pay we were promised before? How much of it is weighing down -your- purses?" she asked, then sighed. "Shadow damn the lot of you, you're making too much sense."

"And imagine," Dyrian added. "Once we're done with this, no one will look twice at us. Salvaged in the eyes of the Horde and Alliance, as well as the Church. Future opportunities, a heavier purse, diplomatic immunity, all war crimes simply ripped from the records... I say risking a job with the Church is worth it, even if the average priest is not as pious as they used to be."

"Or, we'll be dead!" Kwasi added happily. "So, der's always a nice fallback plan."

“Tahirus was a private contractor. Gabriel is a member of the Church. I have a feeling he’ll be more reliable to honor a deal.” Guro’jintal leaned in. “All we can really do is hope right now. But we’re in a good position. Gabriel knows more than we do, but we know that we’re more valuable than he’s letting on. We can make it through this, but we have to do it together. Everybody wins.”

"All for one and one for all?" Durnae quipped, the file in her hand going still even as a small smile played across her lips.

"More like 'dose 'oo slay togedda, stay togedda.' I'm in." Kwasi gave a small grin.

Dyrian flicked the badge back onto the table. "Allies, then. Though perhaps we shouldn't make this agreement so obvious, yes? Gabriel would be wise to split us up whenever he can. And that scarlet priest..." He chuckled. "The standard is low, but he's taking a zealot before any other, for investigative support, no less."

Durnae picked up her badge, running her thumb over it slowly. "Maybe he's got the zealot in the same position he has us... Maybe the Scarlet's just got nowhere else to go either," she mused.

Guro’jintal shrugged. “If we’re being used as bait, who knows how the Scarlet and the Stormwind Intelligence gnome come into play. For now, we agree to the deal, and keep an eye on the three of them. But no secrets between us. If Gabriel is willing to use us against the Twilight, he is probably willing to use us against each other.”

"As much as I'd like to trust the three of you..." Durnae started, then looked back down at the badge, tracing the insignia. She sighed. "What we're fighting, it's bigger than all of us. I'm in, boys. No secrets from me." Her eyes shot over the trolls, a lecherous grin tugging at her lips. "Not a one," she promised, licking her lips slowly.

Dyrian stood silent for several moments before answering, his expression blank, his hazel eyes locked on Durnae. Finally, he nodded. "Plotting is something I'm quite used to. In this conspiracy, truth could make all the difference." He nodded again. "You will have no lies from me. I cannot say the same for Gabriel."

"It's been ingrained in me from a young age by an overprotective mudda not to lie. Also, I'm a member of da Eart'en Ring, so sneakin' aroun' and tellin' alf-truts isn't my forte. You can trust me as well,” said Kwasi.

“Good,” said Guro’jintal. “Between the four of us, we might make it out of this alive. See you all in Chillwind.”

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Post  Zeria on Wed Nov 16, 2011 2:29 am

Lucan breathed a quiet sigh of relief as the men departed, the tension having loosened its grip on him. His second mug was now being emptied as he listened to the aftermath of the meeting, the group forming an alliance for their journey to Chillwind. This was getting interesting, and Lucan assumed he was now tied up in the situation as much as the gathering at the table.

Playing eavesdropper allowed him to place names with a few of the faces. The main contractor, as it were, was Gabriel. As for his new "employees," the strange draenei woman was Durnae. An elder man named Dyrian arrived late in the offer, and seemed like he knew the others well enough. That left...the trolls, Guro'jintal and Kwasi. Kwasi had mentioned in passing that he was a member of the Earthen Ring. A shaman. The typical heavy Zandali accent Lucan associated with the trolls had been curiously absent from Guro'jintal for the most part. Perhaps he had been a hired hand long enough to lose it, and Lucan found himself wondering if that dulled his identity as a troll. The thought momentarily drew him to his own self-reflection.

He had begun studying the Holy Light shortly after the invasion of his home in Stromgarde, at the behest of his older brother. In the highlands of Arathi, he had been an adept warrior. He fought the enemies of his people with great zeal, rivaling that of an orc in ferocity. As he stared into his empty mug, Lucan wondered if the path of the paladin had caused him to sacrifice his identity.

This may be the opportunity I need to prove myself wrong, he thought. My warrior spirit can exist alongside the virtues of the Light. I must have no doubts...

As the group took a vow of truth to each other, Lucan noticed that none of them seemed to trust Gabriel. He shared that opinion. Although he may be a brother in the Argent Crusade, there was definitely something suspicious about him. Namely that he was flanked by members of two organizations that had histories of unsavory dealings, to put it mildly. It was too early to judge, of course, but the first impression he gathered from the others was that they were generally well-intentioned. Given the locale, Lucan inwardly chuckled at the idea of well-intentioned mercenaries. Still, if they had their suspicions, there was at least some good in them. He resolved to find out just how much as he got up from his seat and moved over to their table.

"Hail, friends," he began. "I couldn't help but overhear the situation you find yourselves in. As it stands, I believe I may be of some use. You will be travelling to the Plaguelands, correct? I'm sure a Light-blessed blade would be a welcome addition during your battles with the remaining Scourge there. I am Lucan Farwield, of the Argent Crusade. Rest assured that I will keep no secrets from any of you as well. Do you accept my offer?"

Perhaps a bit blunt, but he blamed it on the stout.

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Post  Miss Tiger on Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:26 am


Durnae glanced up at the human man that approached them. Without even thinking, her badge had disappeared into her sleeve. Dangerous thing to be flashing to strangers these days. Her other hand gripped her nail file.

“Eavesdropping, handsome? Here, of all places?” the draenei asked sweetly, though her violet hand over her nail file was turning white, and her eyes flashed with anger. “You do, of course, realize that here, in this place that is as far removed from your precious Church as you could get, I could knock you out, find the deepest, darkest cavern in this place, spend a few hours 'playing', and Mr. Moor there would have the mess cleaned up and an alibi provided because he has not an ounce more love for overly-curious Lightswingers than I do?” Her voice remained steady throughout all of this, sweet enough to charm a bird from a tree, but contempt -dripped- from every word, and she gripped the nail file like it was a weapon.

She snorted. “Luckily for you, pretty boy, it's not up to me.” Her gaze darted towards Guro'jintal. “Your call, 'leader'. I don't have time for Lightthumpers with more faith than brains.” She stood, pulling her hood back up over her head. “I have a petulant gryphon to convince to fly back north. See you in Chillwind.”

With a last icy glare at the paladin, she stalked out the door.

Last edited by Miss Tiger on Wed Dec 14, 2011 4:26 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Post  Akatora13 on Sun Nov 20, 2011 1:57 pm

Kwasi watched Durnae leave before turning his attention to the new arrival. He didn't seek to intimidate often, but now he put on his best feral troll glare, showing all his teeth.

" 'Oo do you t'ink we are? We're not your friends. If you wanna play whack-a-ghoul, der's plenty in Nort'rend you can slay on your own time." Kwasi stood up, nodding to Dyrian and Guro'Jintal, before taking a page out of Durnae's Book of Threats. "Were we anywhere else, Spirits be willin', I'd bury you alive and under da ground so far, a Dark Iron Dwarf wouldn't be able to find ya. I dunno 'ow t'ings work where you're from, but around 'ere, especially in dis place, you keep your moth shut if you wanna stay alive. Word of advice. Take it or leave it."

He spoke then in Zandali to Guro'Jintal. "I'll be seein' you. Stay out of trouble until we meet up again."

Kwasi walked over to the bartender, flipping some silver on the counter and informing him he'd be staying the night. The bartender nodded gruffly, and told him to help himself to any of the empty rooms upstairs. No sense in trying to get out of Stormwind until the wee hours of the morning. Kwasi swung his bag over his shoulder, still seething from the uncomfortable feeling about all the strangers tanking a sudden interest in their doings on top of the Twilights being on their tails. Having worked with them, he trusted Dyrian, Guro'jintal and even Durnae explicitly now, but there were still preparations to be made.

He sighed, opening the door to a vacant room before shutting and locking it. Before he did anything else, he set up a small fire spell in front of the door. If anyone tried to get in without his knowledge, they'd become instantly busy with putting their feet out. A small flame flickered merrily on the floor, not consuming anything except the air around it. Kwasi was content to fall asleep until the late night. With a happy sigh, he collapsed on the bed, suddenly very tired.

He didn't know how Durnae did it. It was exhausting being threatening.

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Post  Quixoticus on Sun Nov 20, 2011 5:51 pm


Leader? When was this decided? Not a chance, thought Guro’jintal. More than likely, the draenei was passing it off to him for a little fun, but only for herself, because Guro’jintal did not find it the least bit entertaining.

Guro’jintal continued to inspect the human as Kwasi gave him a lecture. He could smell the alcohol on his breath, so the troll wasn’t sure if the human was being genuine or having a laugh. Regardless, he had been eavesdropping to some degree. At the worst, he was a spy who had been lying in wait, and at best, he was a whimsical drunk. There were no upsides to picking someone up off the street to run their operation. And since he was, in fact, not the leader, Guro’jintal felt no responsibility toward the situation.

“I’ll be seein’ you. Stay out of trouble until we meet up again,” said Kwasi, in Zandali.

Guro’jintal nodded and replied, “Do the same. I’ll see you in Chillwind.” He looked at the human eavesdropping and nodded politely, then spoke to him in Common. “Sorry. Not our decision to make. Good night.”

He checked that he had his belongings, then pulled his cloak over and left the Slaughtered Lamb, heading back to the ferry. Guro’jintal had to retrieve some of his belongings from a safe house in Booty Bay, and while he was there, he would also ask after Gabriel Alvairn, a human with the same mystery as Tahirus but who seemed twice as dangerous.

Gabriel, Esbern, Elisha

Gabriel thought the meeting could have gone better. Elisha’s quick revelation of his Stormwind Intelligence affiliation had put some of the others off. He knew it would happen, eventually, but he wasn’t counting on it during the introductions. The troll, Guro’jintal, was quick to jump on every breadcrumb. Gabriel had already relinquished more information than he had wanted to, but he was still in an optimal position for the Church to get work done. Now it was a matter of controlling the flow of information. And, it would seem, keeping a tighter leash on his Scarlet and Stormwind Intelligence compatriots.

“What are your experiences in dealing with the Enemy?” he asked Esbern and Elisha, as they walked through the near-deserted trade district.

Esbern shivered uncomfortably, hugging his loose robes closer to his body. Fortunately, he had managed to keep his mouth shut so far. Silence was never his strong suit, but it was crucial that in this situation he did not betray any secrets that he could keep to himself, if at all possible. It required quite an effort to stop himself from yelling curses and slurs at the subhuman filth he had just been force to stand near.

Trolls, Gnomes… and Eredar. Wrynn has some low standards.

The Troll – Guro’jintal, or something similarly lacking in eloquence – was of little interest to him, nothing more than another barbaric example of his race. Apparently the Gnome represented some sort of intelligence agency centered in Stormwind. He would have to keep an eye on that one. And the demon… she reeked of blasphemy. Her every word seemed to be a blackguardly slur, and her manners of dress and movement were… interesting, to say the least. Why the Argents and their friends would ever associate themselves with such a succubus, he did not know, but he relished the idea of giving the creature a lesson in the ways of the Light.

“I am barely aware of our ‘enemy’s’ identity, sir Gabriel. Recall that you dragged me into this. The only reason I remain is my organization’s possible interests in this little… situation.”

That was a lie. Esbern had to admit, he was quite curious about the puzzle he had been presented with. The Cult of the Damned was certainly one thing, but the Twilight’s Hammer was another entirely. There was little historical evidence of the two working together, but…

Heresy begets heresy. No wonder this damned city is so full of garbage.

He cleared his throat, and tapped the butt of his staff on the cobblestone a few times, as if to gain his compatriots’ attention.

“I myself have never taken part in an interrogation of any cult members, but I have been told they are particularly difficult to break. Rest assured, though, I trained with Vishas himself prior to the… incident. Should it be required of me, I can wring whatever info we need from the black soul of any cultist.”

Elisha was walking faster than he was accustomed, just to keep up with the two humans. His mind, however, was running much faster. Meeting the two trolls, along with others of the party had caused him to re-factor several variables in his calculations. Much to his chagrin, he had fallen prey to stereotyping. Nix often prided himself on keeping impartial with his various calculations and analysis. This time, however, he realized he had mentally misjudged the trolls as simple-minded savage brutes.

The two in the group were calm and collected. They listened and every word spoken was hung on. The tall one, Guro'jintal, seemed to communication like a tactician. The other, Kwasi, while appearing younger, was more silent. But his eyes also shared the intelligence that was seen with Guro'jintal. Despite being a shaman, Elisha realized that he couldn't take for granted that Kwasi would be no less observant.

And the draenei, Durnae, was stunning. He usually shied away from the females of the taller races, but something about her seemed so alluring. And despite how soft and delicate she appeared, that she had taken a Twilight badge spoke of strongly of her skills and confidence. This was a unique group indeed.

But the Gabriel character bothered him a bit. The troll's incessant prodding for more information was met with only very little selective tidbits. Elisha was in the intelligence business long enough to know when he was being given breadcrumbs. And as far as Elisha was concerned, nothing the Scarlet could do would make him trust him any better. But for the moment, the gnome's current concern was the latest inquiry by Gabriel.

"I'm an intelligence analyst," he replied. "I've never really been on a field job. And what of you Gabriel? I thought the church only directly associated with paladins for their fighting needs?"

“The paladins are the weapon arm of the Church. We are responsible for everything within our reach,” answered Gabriel. “Anyone, and anything, that is a threat to the stability of the Church is the concern of its paladins.”

Gabriel leads them to a residential block of Old Town. He pulls out a folded sheet of parchment from his belt pouch, unfolds it and begins to look it over. He eventually stops in front of an apartment door, then turns to Elisha and held the parchment out to him.

“Elisha, I understand that logistics fall under your expertise,” said Gabriel. He handed Elisha the parchment, and started reciting from memory. “Aaron Burgels, clergy alumnus at the Church of the Holy Light. Responsible for the accounting and management of select Church funds from private donors.”

Esbern looked like he was about ready to scream in frustration and confusion “By all means, avoid asking the man who is living at the Church about a Church official.”

Elisha took the offered parchment and then glanced around the street. The roaming coffee cart that usually frequented the streets of Old Town was nowhere to be seen. He wanted his morning cup of coffee and he was a frequent customer of that roaming cart. It was the only shop that offered a night elf coffee blend that really got him going in the mornings. He had stunned his coworkers by actually drinking from a cup that was portioned for night elves. Plus, the coffee content was strong enough to keep him going for hours without a break.

However, from the look on Gabriel's eyes, it seemed he wasn't going to have the opportunity to continue his daily routine. With a huff his eyes started studying the numbers and columns on the ledger. This was a very precise breakdown of the income and expenses being collected by this particular fellow.

Briefly, Nix wondered how Gabriel got his hands on this ledger and whether he was suppose to reveal it to someone like him. However, just as suddenly as the question rose, it was squelched by a sudden aberration in the flow of the rather mundane arithmetic being done on the parchment.

Something was off. The math wasn't aligning like it should. Mathematical balance was being upset by what could at best be called gross incompetence. How could an accountant make such subtle errors?

One mistake was excusable. Math was an art that most humans didn't have the patience to understand and hone. But this was different. These errors were numerous, random and yet subtle and hidden. There was no manner of sense to them. This wasn't an accidental shifting of a decimal point or a failure of carrying a number. He couldn't even excuse penmanship as a reason. No. These errors weren't mistakes. They were intended, and rather skillfully so. Most people back checking these would blame fatigue for these mistakes. The ledger was densely filled. Such math would take awhile for a simple clergyman to solve and a competent accountant will always double-check his math.

"The math doesn't balance," he reluctantly announced, while verifying his own calculations. Despite the subtle errors in individual rows, it added up quite significantly at the subtotals. The oddity is that the subtotal for expenses came up to balance very closely with the incorrect income, which meant he was masking his trail by inflating expenses. Elisha amended his original suspicions about the competence of the clergyman. He had taken several intelligent steps to further conceal the missing monies, while at the same time keeping it from being too perfect.

"If I add up all eighty of the income subsets and tally in their percentages I come with a number that is about 33.8% higher then what he's showing here. However, the expenses match closely to his number which makes me believe that they've been altered," the gnome continued. His natural right eye suddenly widened. "Wait a sec."

His fingers traced along the names and the monocle over his left eyes whirred he continued studying the form.

"F.L.T. Inc. and Gryphon Haste Inc. appear to be the only ones whose numbers have been adjusted," he said, looking back at Gabriel before glancing around the area where they stood. It was the residential quarter of Old Town. He turned and narrowed his eye at Gabriel. "You already suspect Mr. Burgels?" he asked with a cautious whisper.

Gabriel nodded. “F.L.T. Inc. and Gryphon Haste Inc. are owned by Iris Orsmind, who was arrested yesterday when her company was found in possession of mana bombs en route to known Cult of the Damned cell members. Orsmind, with Burgel’s help, has been using the Church to launder her money.”

Esbern grinned broadly. In a state of amusement, the wiry man resembled a lizard. “And you accuse us of clerical corruption…”

“Corruption is unbiased. No one escapes scrutiny.” Gabriel adjusted the grip on his warhammer and took up a stance at the door. He turned back to Esbern and Elisha. “This wood splinters easily. Look away.”

Gabriel wound up and swung the two-handed hammer. The door folded in like parchment, sending dust and splinters out into the street. Gabriel was already moving in as the door fell in, holding his weapon at the ready. His armored boots crunched pieces of wood underfoot as he stormed into the dark apartment.

“Aaron Burgels!”

There was a desk and leather couch in the first room, and a doorway connecting to the second room. Gabriel approached the doorway and slowly crept through. To his right was a closet, and to his left, a bed. The bed was empty.

“Aaron Burgels!”

Gabriel stepped into the middle of the room. He heard something move on his right. The paladin immediately spun left, swinging his hammer around. The head of the weapon caught Burgels full in the chest as he tried to run past Gabriel, loudly breaking several of his ribs. Burgels was lifted off his feet by the force of the blow and flopped onto the floor.

“Aaron Burgels, you are under arrest for crimes against the Church and the people of the Alliance,” said Gabriel. He turned to Elisha and Esbern. “Search the apartment for any further evidence. Traitors do not act alone.”

Burgels lay on the floor, groaning in pain. From the look on his face, Esbern assumed that the poor fellow was aware that he was about to be thrown in prison, but due to his broken bones, he was in no fit state to answer. Esbern kneeled down next to Burgels and placed the tips of his fingers on the wounded man’s chest. A soft glow began to emanate from them, and Burgels’ injuries began to fade.

“Do not think this is a token of goodwill, thief. It is simply impossible for us to interrogate you while your chest cavity is filling with blood… And rest assured, you will be hung for your transgressions.”

The Scarlet pulled away. Burgels looked appeared only partially healed, but opened his mouth to speak. Before he could get a word out, Esbern muttered a quick spell under his breath. A rope-like coil of bright, white energy wrapped around Burgels’ body, and a single fold around his mouth. He continued trying to speak, but his words were so muffled that it was impossible to understand.

Esbern stroked the jeweled tip of his staff, smiling. “Hush. You’re only to going to hurt yourself more. Don’t worry, we’ll attend to you in a few minutes.”

Gabriel ordered them to begin searching the apartment, which Elisha began with a slight grumble. Esbern sighed and shook his head, but followed the command nonetheless. The first place he went was to the common room where a desk was set near the window. He wasn't familiar with where and what to do during an official 'search.' Such tasks were often the prevue of real field agents. So, Nix went to the one place where he felt more in his element. The desk.

And a fine desk it was indeed. Nice leather inlay on the lip of the desk facing the chair to allow the wrists to rest comfortably. There was a smooth slab of marble set into the desktop and two integrated gaslights. This was not the desk of a simple clergyman.

Frowning, he quietly searched the drawers. He pulled out random folders and quickly perused the contents before replacing them. Aaron Burgels apparently had good taste in quill pens and stylus. There was a small wooden box in the back of one of the larger drawers that contained several fresh rolls of blood thistle and a small coin purse filled with nothing but gold coins.

Elisha pondered for a moment what to do with the coins. He suspected that for Mr. Burgels, this was the beginning of a very bad time in his life that would probably be punctuated with his hanging. Surely he wouldn't miss the coins. For a moment, the gnome considered taking them for himself. He could use the money and it would be a good rub against Gabriel for assigning him such a mundane and silly task.

Then again, this money was probably skimmed from other funds that were donated to the Church. Even though he wasn't a very spiritual person, Elisha found it difficult to justify stealing it for himself. He confessed to having his own doubts about the equality of Love that the Light had. The Light might well be nothing more then a force of good incandescence and not an entity that looks down with loving grace, as the priests are often wont to preach.

The Light wouldn't strike him down for taking money that was already stolen. Surely it doesn't work that way.

The gnome picked up the bag for a moment and then dropped it back in the box. He returned the box to the drawer before searching the other drawers. Whether the Light was a philosophy or a deity, he wasn't sure. Mathematically speaking, it made more sense to believe the prior, rather than the latter.

However, that same math argued that Church did fun many philanthropic activities. People donated with the intention of their money going to the good the Church should be doing. He couldn't take money like this, regardless of what a thistle addict, cult funding, hypocrite intended.

"Nix, you fool. You'll never make it as a field agent with that mindset," he muttered as he opened more drawers. Nothing unusual was found until he jumped off the leather seat and noticed a panel under the desk, just above the leg well. He peered at it closely, pushed a latch, and it opened. A small gray tin box fell onto his hand.

He glanced around the room to make sure jerk Gabriel and the broody Scarlet guy weren't around and then he studied the handheld box.

It was a device of some sort. There were coils set to aside and dials labeled with symbols along the face. There was a small red and clear light bulb flanking some sort of diaphragm in the front. It was a gnomish design. The coil work on the top was too precise to have been made by anyone else.

He heard footsteps and stuffed the device in his pocket. He'll study it closely later and once he knew what it was for, he'd report it to Gabriel.

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Post  Izdazi on Tue Dec 06, 2011 12:04 pm

Chillwind - Plaguelands
Two days later.

Coffee. Coffee would be great right about now. A nice, large, steaming mug of hot coffee that he’d have to use both hands to life. That would be hit spot just right.
Elisha shivered and pulled the woolen coat tighter to his body.

I want hot coffee and I want to enjoy it in my warm, cozy cubicle, he complained silently.

He thought he remembered reading a report a few months back that mentioned ogres being where they were headed.

They’re probably going to feed me to them as a diversion or something, he thought bitterly. He didn’t really believe that, but he couldn’t help thinking that whenever that beautiful draenei arrived the mood would be different. In fact, he was sure it would be better.

That might mean that the trolls would join them, but she didn’t seem to have a problem with them. Hell, trolls would be better company then that nasty Scarlet and his mean stares.

Well, maybe at least. Don't troll eat people too?

But, she wasn’t here yet, so his mind wandered back to the coziness of his cubicle (which it really was since he built a heating radiator next to it) and the crazy calculations that at their worse, would give him only a paper cut. And a giant red mug of steam hot strong kal’dorei coffee with eight scoops of sugar, a tablespoon of milk and a drop of honey.

I want my red mug.

* * *
That evening.

As evening came upon them, they pitched the tents near the outskirts of Chillwind. They had arrived earlier then Gabriel had intended. Hopefully the next day would bring the others, if there were others.

The thin fabric walls of his tent flapped violently and loudly in the mountain gales. The thick earmuffs he wore did a good enough job of muffling the noise. If only it did as well with keeping his ears warm. With a blanket draped over his shoulders, he quietly passed the time by studying the device he’d taken from the office of Aaron Burgels, the church accountant.

The glow of the small battery powered glow bulb he had brought varied inconsistently as he withdrew the device he had taken for himself.

Elisha didn’t really specialize in engineering, but every gnome is a tinkerer of some sort. He was sure he could figure this thing out, even if he wasn’t as efficient as an engineer. Unrolling a small pouch where he carried his tools, he withdrew a small screwdriver and started working the screws holding the tin enclosure together.

Dwarves carry dice. Gnomes carry screwdrivers. It’s just the order of things.

The work was slow and tedious, but with painstaking caution, he delved deeper into the mystery. The tiny motor in his monocle whirred as he magnified in on the mind boggling complexity of the components within. His green eye widened and without turning away from the treasures within, he reached out with his hand and snatched a notepad and a carbon.

His eyes never wavering from the device, he began sketching the rune-etched components that were soldered in the device. Everything from coils and capacitors to the warded shielding on the inside of the enclosure were detailed.

Whatever this device was, it was a miniaturized melding of technology and magic. Though he wasn’t skilled in this kind of tech, the glowing scaled-down energy conduits coming from a small polished sphere deep in the box was unmistakably Titan in technology.

Not wanting to risk damaging a device, he carefully closed it and reapplied the screws. Light only knew what this thing did, but as the Old Man would say, this thing was hellishly over his pay grade.

Why would a cleric have such a device? Elisha wondered as he studied the sketches. Despite having an eye for finding the most obscure patterns in everything from reconnaissance reports to numbers, he could find nothing.

At least not yet.

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Post  Mormosi on Sun Dec 11, 2011 6:13 pm


Uthelas disliked every aspect of Strahnbrad from the moment he laid eyes upon it. A man in Chillwind had claimed that, in its prime, the allegedly prosperous town had acted as a trading center between Alterac and Lordaeron, but Uthelas could hardly tell that from the sight that greeted him. Everything had degraded into dilapidated ruins long ago, from the town hall to the fences that lined the area. There was no window unstained or unbroken, no roof with most of its tiles remaining. Whatever colors had once graced the buildings had faded into shades of grey long ago. Even the trees failed to provide any semblance of life, winter having stripped them of their leaves. In many ways, the warlock found it reminiscent of a graveyard.

As Uthelas guided his felsteed into Strahnbrad at a slow pace, eyes narrowed at the sun's glare, one hand on the hilt of his sword, he peered at every opening he could find. While an early dusk was obscuring fine details, he glimpsed upon filthy rooms laden with broken pieces of furniture. Nothing stirred save a few signs and open doors rustled by the wind. If any travelers had been through the area recently, the streets showed no sign of it, as no prints stood out to the human's eyes. The loudest sounds that reached his ears were those of his horse's hooves. The warlock found himself grinding his teeth, out of frustration rather than unease.

Normally, one would expect vacancy from a ghost town, but Uthelas had evidence to the contrary. His targets were, if nothing else, clumsy individuals. From Andorhal to the edges of Alterac he had tracked them, following an strew of marks left behind, never once uncertain of their path. At first the clues had been minor things, mere prints or broken twigs, but those had been the very least of their mistakes. Broken wine bottles and scraps from bandages had littered the road to Alterac. Outside of Chillwind the warlock had been rewarded with a mottled map that detailed their exact route. It was a wonder to him that they'd managed their theft at all, let alone escaping on foot, unscathed, from a member of the Ebon Blade. Such audacity was almost unheard of from common brigands.

Yet, despite their sloppy execution, Uthelas could find no further trace of them. Now he stood in the middle of a dark town with nary an indication to the thieves' path or position, surrounded by a variety of vantage points and hiding spots. Strahnbrad was not a small town by any means; the criminals could be anywhere from the town hall to the cellar of a house. The thought of searching the town from top to bottom did not sit well with Uthelas, nor did the fact that the thieves could be watching his approach, but his options were dwindling by the second. Nightfall would make things much more difficult. They would not dare risk an autumn night upon the road with the supplies they have. They have to be here.

As if reaffirming him of the current weather, a breeze brushed against his coat. Autumn's chill would have some trouble in penetrating his layers, though the warlock had dressed as simply as he could for this mission. His wool coat was a dark blue and stretched to his knees, adorned with two black onyx pins on its high collar. One resembled the Ebon Blade's sword, the other the Argent Crusade's star. Overtop the garment he wore leather vambraces, spaulders, and a studded vest for protection. At his belt was his longsword, dagger, and pouches. Blue leggings and thick boots completed his attire. He had but one trinket on him, a diamond-shaped ruby pendant on a gold chain. Against the blue, gray, and brown it looked horribly mismatched, that he knew, but he still could not bear to part with it.

The further he traveled, the larger the buildings became, and the shadows grew ever darker. He could barely see the objects within some alleys. Something moved at the very edge of Uthelas' vision. He twisted in his saddle, nearly wrenching his sword from its scabbard. It was not the thieves, just an old notice posted to a blacksmith's shop. Nevertheless, he made his felsteed vanish in a spurt of smoke and flame, and he strode over to the worn parchment, clutching his sword hilt all the while. By some miracle the key points of the large poster had survived.



The notice went on to list dozens of other convicted men and women, many of them nobly born. Others were servants thereof, or commoners of all sorts. Some already seemed to have already been deemed criminals, such as "NESALA, CUTTHROAT OF SOFERA'S NAZE". The poster's sheer size had been chosen primarily to fit every name on it. Stains blotted out around twenty of them, as well as most of the section beneath it. From what Uthelas could tell, the final pieces of text detailed various methods of dealing with the criminals, should they be found.

There was also another blurb, one that had been scrawled all over one of the dry stains: "The orange banner shall rise again. ~S" Below the stylized S was a tiny drawing of an eagle in flight. It took little thought for Uthelas to connect the three. The Syndicate had placed this poster up, and recently at that, judging by the fresh state of the nail that held it. Not for its original intent, but as a warning to anyone that read it.

A pointless gesture. Nothing will revive their kingdom now, and their numbers only dwindle, the warlock thought, frowning as he ripped the paper from its nail. The revelation changed nothing. If his targets intended to meet with others, then he would simply have to kill more; the numbers scarcely mattered to him. Half of them will flee at the first sign of danger, and the rest will fall just as easily. Arcane energy set the parchment ablaze at his command. As the ball smoldered and he shook away the remains, his hand quivered. The other reached up to touch the pendant about his neck.

Suddenly, a noise rang out behind him, gradually rising in volume, quivery and high-pitched. Uthelas' sword was halfway out of its sheath by the time he finished whirling around, his boots grinding the dirt beneath his feet. Even when he recognized the musical nature of it, he remained poised for battle, blue eyes locked on the four-storied inn he faced. He could barely see a dim light humming in the corner of a broken pane on the third floor. The noise sounded, of all things, like the notes of a violin.

His right hand began to glow a dark purple.


The charged fireball sent the vagrant sprawling across the table, his body scattering the objects atop it and shattering wine bottles. He rolled over once, then slid to a stop at the foot of a chair. His dagger lied just beyond his reach.

Uthelas scowled at his defeated foe. Not to his surprise, the rest had fallen just as pathetically. The violinist's corpse rested against the windowsill, his eyes slack and his face dark from a lack of air, which was more than he could say for the other one. Brains splattered the wall from where Uthelas had obliterated the girl's skull, and half of her arm was on the other side of the room. At least they had had the sense to draw their weapons. A single spell had been enough to ruin the last.

Yet, the final one lingered, clinging as criminals so very often did. It did not take a doctor to realize that his wounds were crippling. Wine glass jutted from bloodstained patches, trickles of flame still lit the ends of his coat, and his left arm was obviously broken, as well as his ribs. Hazy and distant, his eyes were closing, drifting away from consciousness. Against all odds, one of his hands still tried to grope after his dagger.

Uthelas stamped on the boy's hand, prompting him to let out a slight cry. He likely did not have the strength to scream. The warlock gripped the thief by the orange scarf at his throat, his other hand baring a dagger.

"Do not provoke me."

Somehow, that seemed amuse the rogue. Though his eyelids were drooping further, he managed to shake his head. "You can't... do anything else. I'll be dead soon." He smiled at his own supposed triumph, but Uthelas could see how his mouth quavered.

"You think I've done my worst?" The warlock's grip tightened. "I could keep you alive for as long as is necessary. One vial of blood would be enough to remove any internal damage." His other hand moved the dagger closer. "Then your life would be in my hands. The glass could stay while I afflict you with curses and let my demons have their way."

Whatever courage the boy had thought he was mustering up simply shattered at the thought of torture, his smile vanishing.

"So, tell me." Uthelas gave the boy a shake. "Where is the last of your group? Four set out from Andorhal, do not deny it. You three, and another woman. You also stole a phylactery, where is it?"

"...A what?"

Had he not been on the mere verges of wakefulness, Uthelas would have struck the thief. "A phylactery," he said through gritted teeth. "A small metal canister, covered with runes."

Recollection crinkled the boy's brow. "I think... I think Thea took it when she-" Blood spurted out of his mouth in a violent cough.

"Took it where?"

The boy made a feeble gesture with his hand. "West," he said hoarsely. "She went west, into the mountains. To some... castle. She said she would... she said she would meet with our contractors there-"

"Contractors? What do you mean? Who are they?" Uthelas frowned at the reveal. Almost everything had seemed to be the work of the thieves, and them alone. They seemed more than petty enough for common brigands, as they certainly had the appearances and skills of such, but adding a second party to the situation gave a new tone to all of that. A desperate attempt by the Syndicate for support?

"People in... purple robes. Some had this weird symbol, with a hammer. None of us knew who they were, but they..." Another cough wracked his slumped form. "Thea said they offered us gold. Enough to stop stealing. We would sit here with the loot while she met with them to show the philo... the phal... that thing. Then they would come back and take the rest."

For several seconds, Uthelas could do nothing but stare at the boy's face. The Twilight's Hammer, he thought. The boy's description was unmistakable. He glanced at the objects strewn about on the floor, and suddenly the implications were clear to him. The artifacts ranged from crystals to powders to orbs, but they all shared a common motif of being magical in nature. They must be preparing for something. A cough brought his mind back to the boy. Uthelas took in his hazy eyes, grimy, blood-smeared face, and shredded clothes, and decided that he could divulge nothing else from him.

After a quick jab of his dagger, the warlock gathered up the stolen items, before taking the corpses outside to burn.

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