- --by Shisou
Even here the air felt charged, like he could just hold out his hand and feed off the world itself. He'd actually tried that before meeting up with Lucky but all he'd gotten was a headache. Of course, that was in that Hellfire place. The place that reeked of fel from ground to sky. After he'd met up with Lucky and helped her take care of a bounty, the two of them had ferried some packages to this place. Shattrath.
He'd heard the word before of course, but hearing and seeing were two different things. The place looked so old. And it was full of all sorts of things. Orcs. Humans. Races he'd never seen before. And, of course, elves. He'd passed pilgrims on the way here. Pilgrims coming out here to aid Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider of course. Prince Kael'thas who had come to Outlands to fight the Legion and destroy the Scourge once and for all so they could never again threaten the elven people.
Lucky had left him at a place called the Worlds End Tavern. He sat at a table along the wall, watching all the peoples coming in and out. So many races. And then there was the figure sitting in the corner. He tried to be subtle with his glances over there but his mind was too tired to be that sharp. All he could make out was long silver hair, long ears, and silver eyes. What were the chances of finding a Quel'dorei here though? Some said that they were a myth, that all of the elves had become blood elves. He wanted to believe that some part of the old still walked the world though. A part like Osan...
He shook his head and looked back at the door. Lucky'd probably come ambling back at any moment to show him some other shiny bit. Like that big thing in the center of the city. A naaru... He'd gone up and bowed to it when she'd dared him too... and the thing had responded. The whole thing gave him a sense of immensity he just couldn't conceive. Lucky just seemed annoyed by it, but it had stunned him outright. That something should be that big, that old... Well, it felt old anyway.
Shisou's thoughts were broken as a figure moved up to his table and took a seat. Smooth thalassian greeted him as Shisou looked straight at a face marked with true silver eyes. "Greetings. I couldn't help but notice your attention. Is there something I can do for you?"
"I... uh... huh... uh..."
The other elf raised an eyebrow at Shisou's stammering. "Oh, my apologies. My name is Esslar. I didn't mean to disturb you, but you looked as though you might use some help?" His words spoke with a genuity that went beyond just the words he spoke, but it was still
"... You're a high elf."
Esslar smiled. "Indeed I am." He lifted a hand wrapped in linen and Shisou caught a glimpse of what looked like silver under the straps of cloth. He was dressed in simple enough clothing, that could pass for some variance of normal just about anywhere.
Shisou shook his head, trying to clear it. Everything crowding in there lately made it feel like an overstuffed crate sometimes. "Sorry, my name's Shisou. I'm just out here to make some deliveries. Imma courier for Grey Tiger Shippin', ya know. Are you out here to help the Sunstrider?"
The man frowned. "Why would you say that?"
"Well... I thought..."
"Listen, my friend. It would seem to me that you are of some youth, and likely unacquainted with this world beyond the portal. Just what do you know about Kael'thas?"
Shisou looked around uncomfortably. He wasn't sure he liked where this was going. "'e's our leader, out here fightin' to protect us..."
Esslar frowned and looked sad for a moment while he spoke. "It's true that Kael'thas was a great leader..." He took another drink from the clay cup in his hand. "Alas that we have lost him."
"Whatda ya mean?"
"Kael'thas is sworn into the service of Illidian the Betrayer. He's working for the Legion now, kid." Shisou's eyes went wide, if it were any other sort of person saying this he wouldn't have beleived it. "It is possible you have heard of the Scryers by now. They were originally to be the Prince's reinforcements. Once the revelation of the Prince's affiliation became clear though, they came here instead and allied themselves with the Naaru here, against the Prince.... Are you well?"
It was just too much. Silver and Osan. Leaving Silvermoon. Turning his back on Cel. He'd been shoving it all off for so long now, but he no longer had anywhere to shove it to. If Kael'thas was with the Legion... the honor of the elves truly was lost. They were little more than the demons that assaulted the world. He felt sick. "I've... got to..." He jumped to his feet and bolted towards the door leaving a concerned looking High Elf watching after him.
He ran through Lower City as fast as his feet could carry him. He needed to run. Needed to get away. He didn't know why. He just did. It was just one thing after another and he was so very tired. He spotted one of the corridors that would lead up out of the city and veered towards it.
What was he without his pride? A demon? An elf? He fed on things. He broke natural order to sate his hunger for just a time. How could he protect his people when he was no longer one of them?
When he finally stopped he was a distance from the walls of Shattrath, somewhere in the middle of a forest. He dropped to his knees and leaned forward as his stomach emptied. Even when it was completely empty he continued to heave, unable to stop the duress of his spirit over the body. He never heard the shot, not until the needle sunk into his neck...
Esslar half-rose as he saw the youth plow through the other patrons and out the door. I must have said something wrong... All anyone else was doing was giving the young blood elf's back dirty looks. Well... I did this to him, I should check on him.
Nobody liked hearing that the people they looked up to had betrayed them, and a lot of the young kids had looked up to the Prince. The last descendant of the legendary Dath'remar, a top member of the Kirin Tor, and the man who had seemingly picked up the quel'dorei from the ashes of Quel'thalas and given them new purpose and hope. And then he turned around and betrayed them.
The kid's path was easy to follow at first, just following all of the displeased and rude looks. Shattrath was always a city of movement though, and no place more so than the Lower City. Pretty soon he had to resort to inquiring with the bystanders. Fortunately he had aided some of the refugees here already and was liked well enough. He had no real difficulties until the path lead up out of the City.
"Aye, Lunari. Tha lad ran up that way 'n out to tha woods like tha very hounds of tha legion were nippin' his heels." A dwarf refugee told him and pointed out at Terrokar forest.
Esslar picked up his pace outside the city. An out of control youth in a city was likely to cause annoyances and disturbances. Outside the city, in the forest, he was likely to incur much more severe consequences.
The path was fairly straight, and the haphazard speed made it all that much easier to follow. Swaying branches and the occasional footprint marked the way. Until they suddenly stopped in the middle of the forest. A small pool of regurgitated liquid soaked into the forest floor. Perhaps he had been ill...
Sharp elven eyes scanned the foilage and quickly spotted a glove lined with silver. A moment later he found the youth's tunic and the rest of his cloths and then his two swords. All just haphazardly tossed into the woods. There were also tracks scurrying about the area. Someone else had been here besides this Shisou, perhaps two. Esslar collected the weapons and the garments. [i]Grey Tiger Shipping Company was it? Well the least I can do is give them his things and tell them what has happened..."
- written on aged parchment in fine lettering*
Kerspilik has procured for me another excellent specimen this evening: A healthy young blood elf, apparently captured in central Outlands. The subject is 1.3 meters tall and approximately 120 pounds. The shoulders and upper torso bear several markings but it is my initial estimation that these are purely for decoration. There seems to be no use, either practical or arcane, behind them. There is also a scar tracing from the right breast down to the seventh left rib. This appears to be quite aged however and I doubt there is any fear of the wound re-opening. I have designated the specimen as Subject 357.
I am very much looking forward to testing the relationship between our new allies and the so-called wretched. Subject 357 will be an excellent specimen for me to test several theories.
His eyes felt crusty and couldn't focus when they finally opened. He blinked, trying to clear the haze out of them futilely. For a moment, he couldn't remember who or where he was. Slowly, as if emerging from a drifting fog, those memories came back to him. And as for where he was...
He found himself strapped straddled across some sort of table... or was it a bench? It felt cold and hard against his skin. Which apparently meant that his clothing was gone. The thought of his swords popped into his mind and he reflexively snapped against his restraints. He heard a shuffle behind him and to his left and after craning his neck he could see a dim blur that may have been another person. "What's... going on?" Several moments passed but the blurry figure didn't seem to be moving. The elf had almost concluded he must have been looking at a coat rack or something when it stood up. As it came closer, he could see a pad of paper and a pen scribbling away on it. In his inebriated state the motion of the flicking pen trapped his eyes until the figure was standing next to him. Then the pen stopped for a moment and he looked up at the face, now made clearer by proximity. Decomposing hair. Rotted skin. Dead eyes. It was then that the fear blossomed in him. Fel no... anything but this...
The forsaken observed him for several moments, as one might observe a slab of meat for sale in a market, and then left, leaving Shi alone in the dark with only his hunger and his fear to keep him company and whisper in his ears.
Subject 357 regained consciousness after two hours in the lab. I believe I will soon commence with the experiments. It has been most difficult to decide upon which experiments I should perform on this excellent specimen, but I beleive now I have decided. I had thought to deprive the subject of whatever exactly it is that they require to stave of the transformation into Wretched. This may take weeks however, and my experience with subjects would seem to indicate that they do not survive this long in captivity. Instead I will attempt to trigger this reaction by injecting Subject 357 with large amounts of energy. If my hypothesis is true, this should also result in the desired effect.
To this end I have devised a device that will attach to the subject's palms and divurge the energies of whatever I place on it into the subject. This is essential as it will not require the cooperation of the specimen. I have nearly completed my Arcane Forcefeeders and hope to implement them soon.
Shisou spent his few hours in solitude staring at the ceiling while questions ate at his mind. How long would he have to wait? Would the Tong come after him? Would they ever find him? Would he be forced to rise again? What would Osan think of him now?
He didn't even notice the Other return until he felt bony hands jerk his hand so that it was palm up. He turned to watch in silent grim resignation as a device roughly resembling a chalice with a pointed bottom was set over his hand, clamped on the table, and winced down until the point of it pierced his skin. The pain of it shot up his arm, but he steeled himself against it, certain that there would be more to come. He became all the more certain of this as the process was repeated on his other hand. And then the Other left again.
Time began to pass again and then the devices began to glow. He only had a second more to wonder what terrible purpose they were built for. It hit him like a hammer to the brain. Fel! He tore against his restraints, trying desperately to break free. His throat was raw with the intensity of his scream before he was even cognizant of it.
The fel energy flowed into him regardless, honey mixed with midden. He could feel it creeping through him, consuming him instead of the other way around. He could hear the straps holding him down straining against him. He could feel the blood peeling out of his skin where the restraints held him down. It wouldn't stop. It just kept coming. Flooding into him. He tried to shut it out but it wouldn't go away. And there was some part of him, that part where the hunger lived, that wanted to him to drown in it. It gorged on the fel energy and grew stronger. The balance in him tilted and jarred and he felt himself sinking further from the waking world as the hunger took over. As his scream rattled to a close and his eyes and skin paled to a sickly white/grey, Shisou's body came to belong to the hunger.
My forcefeeders worked splendidly! It would appear that I misjudged the amount of energy required to force the transformation however. The Wretched broke free of its restraints but remains confined to the lab. Observation remains possible via Scrying techniques.
It would appear that the transformation does little to the skeletal structure of the creature, although the Wretched does possess a marked stoop. The flesh seems to have become withered however, giving the creature a wiry appearance. There is also an extreme loss of coloration of all parts of the subject. Most notably in the eyes which now are a pale white and glow somewhat dimly. I suspect that this is a reaction to the recent feeding and that the glow will subside. While the markings on the subject's chest and shoulders seem to have faded with the skin, the scar is still quite visible.
Subject 357 has become notably violent following the transformation and I regret that my forcefeeders may be irreparable. The subject seems restless, unable to stay still though it seems to move without any clear purpose. Sometimes it just stares at one spot on the wall and paces. I have also observed the subject gnawing on various items within the laboratory, particularly the remnants of its restraints. I believe that perhaps the worn leather may have become tainted somewhat by it's proximity to such a great quantity of fel energy.
Krelle looked over at the door with a frown.
"You expecting visitors, Krelle?" Nerrok asked.
"No, Ner, not really," she replied, setting her coffee down. The hour was late but in their line of work it wasn't unusual to get a knock at this hour. Nerrok nodded and made his way toward the door.
Giska eyeballed the door. "If its a goblin from Ratchet, I ain here."
"Causin' trouble, Giska?" Krelle grinned. Su'jin chuckled.
Giska grinned. "Me? of couuuurse not."
Nerrok opened the door open wide, taking up most of the frame as he stood in front of the pale elf on the other side. "Shop's closed, Buddy. Come back tomorrow."
Esslar smiled as the door opened and Ner's frightening visage emerged. "Pardon me, I was wondering if I might have found the offices of the Grey Tiger Shipping Company?
Nerrok eyes the elf, his expression hidden behind his helmet. "Yeah you're at the right place. Shop's still closed, though. I got a take-out menu I can give ya if you're after some seafood."
"Well then it may be a slight fortune that I am not here on business. I fear I have dire news concerning one of our couriers and wished to impart it sooner rather than later…T'would only be but a few moments, and then I will be on my way. I have a number of his effects to deliver."
They all frowned at hearing that. "Oh yeah? What's this courier's name?"
"The name he gave me was Shisou."
Krelle looked to the others and spoke in the Cant. "The last I saw Shi he was in Shattrath at the inn," she said skeptically. She'd even paid Lianne to keep an eye on him. Surely he hadn't gotten into trouble at the World's End?
Nerrok nodded though and opened the door wider, stepping out of its frame and motioning for the visitor to come inside. "Come on in."
Krelle rose to her feet as the visitor came in. It took her a moment to place him but as he looked around and she saw his face in profile she realized where she'd seen him before. "You were at the world's end last night, weren't you?" she asked.
The elf bowed graciously. "Greetings," he said. "Just so." He set his satchel on the table and tugged out a large package. "I met your courier in Shattrath. We spoke for a few moments but I fear something I said may have distressed him. He left rather urgently with nary a pardon, and when I attempted to follow him all I found were these articles." Esslar holds up the package, wrapped in cloth and tied with twine and sets it on the table, followed by Shi's two swords.
Krelle stepped forward and picked one up and examined it grimly as Giska narrowed her eyes. "Wha ya say to 'im?" the orc demanded.
"I informed your courier of the current situation in outlands, pertaining to Kael'thas and the Scryers. He would hardly be the first youth to react so dramatically to such news, though I felt the circumstances would require further action."
Sujin idly flipped a dagger back and forth between her fingers, her eyes on the elf. "An' who you be?"
"My name is Esslar Lunari. My aid is available should it be desired, but I am unaware of any groups which may choose to pray on distressed couriers."
"I see," Krelle said, not putting the sword down. "So... he ran off from the inn and you found these... where?"
"Some distance from the city wall, within the forest. I could show you the place."
"Terokkar?" she asked. Giska frowned, sucking at her teeth while watching the elf's movements carefully. Esslar nodded. Krelle exchanged a frown with Su'jin who merely shrugged. She eyed the elf again. His eyes were silver, like his hair, and he was pale. One of the rare high elfs, then. No wonder Shisou had taken the news to heart, the kid practically worshipped high elves. She sighed and put the sword back by its twin. The elf seemed genuine - and these were definitely the Trueheart swords. Bugger, she swore mentally. "So the trail's in Terokkar, only a day old…"
"Dere be 'arda tings ta follow, no doubts," Su'jin suggested encouragingly.
"I did see indications of at least one other individual, but I fear I could not identify what said individual may have been," the elf volunteered.
Krelle frowned at the gear. "Why wouldn't they take his stuff too..?" Does he still have his com? She undid the package and started riffling through his clothes and equipment. She muttered an oath as she found the small metal device and held it up for the others to see.
The elf was talking. "It was my surmation that they must have wanted the boy, rather than his possessions. Beyond that, I would not know."
"This guy's a real tactician," Krelle muttered in the Cant. "Wow. They left the gear cause they didn't want it…"
Sujin nodded. "A genius."
Giska didn't understand the Cant but spoke quietly over the com instead. "Too much ta hope Shi's sleepin under a tree eh?"
"Naked and unarmed in Terokkar? Not for long," Krelle murmured back.
Krelle frowned at the gear and then looks up to the elf again. "What did you tell him, anyway?" she asked. Part of her hoped it could be his fault so she could take it out on him.
"As I said, I informed him of Kael'thas's betrayal. The boy seemed rather surprised to see a Quel'dorei. I feared he may have been somewhat new to your industry."
"He's done a fair amount of travelling but he was new to Outland," she acknowledged.
"Such a pity…"
"He's not dead yet," she said flatly, frowning at the high elf. "Hopefully," she added in the Cant.
"I should think that if they wanted the boy dead, I should not have found his items strewn about the forest. There was no blood at the scene either, so I might surmise he went quietly, if perhaps unwillingly."
"Well there ya go." Where did he go to, that's the question. "We'd better get down there," she said to the others in the Cant. Nerrok nodded and went outside to get their mounts ready. Su'jin stood and went below to fetch their gear. Giska had only understood a word or two of what was said.
"T...that mean, we going ta..Outlands..ya?" the orc asked quietly. She sat back in her seat and stared at her hands mutely when Krelle nodded.
"Had you known the boy long?" Esslar asked as Krelle strapped on her dagger belt.
"Yeah. We're a bit like a family, see."
"Well then I am all the more sorry for this sad state of events."
"Oh, we'll find him," she promised grimly.
"I should verily hope so. If there is any way I may be of further assistance…"
"Yes Esslar - thank you, for bringing us this news and his things. We'd appreciate it if you could show us where you found them."
"But of course."
Giska closed her eyes and bowed her head. Krelle could tell the idea of the trip bothered her but she didn't have time to care at the moment. Besides, they'd only be going to Terokkar, not the Netherstorm. What was the big deal? Probably an orc thing. Orcs got funny about Draenor sometimes.
- * *
Krelle's suspicions were confirmed by Giska's uncharacteristic silence throughout the trip to the Hole to find Phealea. The orc girl found it hard to maintain the stoic façade, however, when they stepped through the portal into Shattrath. She stared about her as avidly as Shisou had the day before. Krelle, Nerrok and Su'jin spoke quietly in the Cant as they rode, speculating about possible motives behind the grab. There wasn't much to say until they saw the scene however, as Nerrok pointed out, so the party was quiet as they left the Lower City and rode into the shady forests of Terokkar.
They didn't have far to go before the elf dismounted and led them to a small clearing. Nerrok sniffed the air and peered around as Voodoo slunk over to where the elf was pointing. The underbrush had been broken and moss disturbed in a small area on the forest floor. Krelle, Su'jin and Giska stayed back as Nerrok dismounted to inspect the scene.
"I found some tracks here, about where the boy must have been, but I cannot identify them," the elf murmured apologetically.
"Forsaken," Nerrok muttered in Orcish.
"Would there be any Forsaken who may have wished to obtain your courier?" the elf asked.
Krelle felt like smacking him for the inane comment but reminded herself to be polite. He was just trying to help. "Apparently there are," she said.
"We sure its forsaken and not just any deadie?" Giska asked, breaking the silence she'd maintained since leaving the Bay with a surly question.
Krelle looked over to Nerrok as he picked up a small dart for an answer. "It's sentient undead. Most likely Forsaken." She absently rubbed at the ache in her hand as she thought it through.
Nerrok followed the path for a few feet then stopped, peering around. "They vanished. Portalled out, or summoned," he reported.
Giska looks to Krelle. "Ideas?"
"They got a portal," she mused, "so likely someone from the magic quarter. Probably not a lock or a sensible sort, 'cause they'd have heard…about the company," she said, glancing at Esslar. He obviously didn't know much about the company's true nature and she was happy to keep it that way. "It'd be someone outta touch with just how bad an idea grabbing Shisou was," she explained to Giska. Shisou had been wearing his tabbard. No way would someone from the rogue's quarters have done such a shoddy job grabbing him. No, it would be someone who didn't appreciate the amount of shitstorm that was about to descend on their head.
The elf cleared his throat politely. "If it was not against your courier individually, then perhaps he was taken more for what he is than who he is? Pardon my saying so, but the Forsaken do occasionally practice rather gruesome... "acts" do they not?"
Krelle gave the elf a neutral sort of look as Giska snorted. "What are you - new? Forsaken are a gruesome sort of action," Krelle said.
The elf huffed. "No, girl, I am not new, but I am not a rude brute either. And it would seem to me as that this Shisou should be found rather quickly."
"I don't like him much," Giska whispered.
"He's a git," Krelle growled back quietly. "Enlighten me then, learned elf," she said aloud, striving to sound civil.
"You say the portal must have gone to Undercity, so then why do we not venture forth there? Unless you think there is more to gleam from the woods here?"
Krelle made a conscious effort to hold back the snappy remarks that sprang to her lips. He's just … trying to be helpful, she reminded herself. "... right. Thank you for your help Esslar. We sincerely appreciate your warning and assistance. Are you staying at the World's End?"
He nodded regally at the thanks. "For awhile I suppose. I will in time move along, but if you wish to find me then that would be a decent enough place."
Krelle nodded. "Obviously I'm a bit pressed for time now -" she gestured to the tracks. "But I will be sure to look you up soon to thank you properly." The words were polite, the tone hiding the double meaning.
"Of course," the elf replied graciously, clearly oblivious. "Twas the least that I should do after upsetting the boy."
"I'll be sure to let you know how it turns out."
"I should appreciate that."
She smiled at him and bowed. "Don't let us detain you."
"I wish you well and light's speed in your hunt, " he nodded, again missing the double meaning. "Good journeys and fair paths," he said with all sincerity before turning and riding back to town.
"Shadows keep you," Krelle answered as he left.
"He reeks of noble," Giska muttered once he was out of earshot.
"He's a high elf," Krelle explained. "They think they're hot shit, what with being the few and mighty who resisted the blood elf compulsion to feed."
"Wonder wha their ears taste like…" Giska said, breaking into an evil grin. Su'jin laughed.
"By the Light," Krelle cursed in exasperation. She turned to Nerrok and gave him a completely vacuous look. "Golly gee, Ner! If Forsaken took him - ya think we might go an' look in tha Undercity? What a clever elf!"
Krelle looked back at the tracks and frowned, dropping the act. "What the fel was he thinking, running out here."
"Im'a thunk Shi in the head for makin me come out here afore I was good 'n' ready," Giska grumbled sourly.
"It ain't so bad in Terokkar. Anyway we're headed back now. I have some calls to make in the Undercity."
Giska nods slowly. "Right."
Krelle looked to Giska and a very different smile came to her face. It might have disturbed some, to see a smile like that on a little girl's lips. "Maybe you can hang on to my friends while I ask 'em," she said. "Sometimes people remember pressing engagements elsewhere when I get curious about things."
"Wonder why," Su'jin muttered.
The party turned around and headed back to Shattrath and the portal room.
Krelle didn't waste time being subtle. Anyone who'd jack a tiger like that either had no idea what they were dealing with or else they didn't care. Her first stop was at Jarvik's.
He saw her coming from down the hall and said a quick goodbye to his current client. "Lucky," he greeted her warily as she strode up to him, Giska in tow. "What can I do for you tonight?"
"I need information, Jarvik," she told the drug dealer. "A portal-wielding Forsaken grabbed one of my men. An elf. This was last night, I want him now. You know anything about this?"
Giska cracked her knuckles but Jarvik's gaze never left Krelle's face. She didn't try and intimidate him, didn't make a joke, didn't mock him - none of her usual games. He shivered slightly and took a half step back. "Ah - haven't heard anything about that, Lucky," he said honestly. "I haven't been to the Apothecarium in two days though, so I only have old news. I can ask around about who might be enjoyin' a new toy if you want...?"
"Do it," she said quietly. "I'll be back in an hour. Find me some news, Jarvik."
He nodded uneasily and scurried off. Giska snorted as she watched him go. Doubtless she thought him a spineless coward. Well, he was, but Krelle and the Tong had all sorts of holds on Jarvik. He was a very useful informant - when he wasn't busy snorting his own compounds. She offered up a quick prayer of thanks to the Lady at her luck: belatedly for the high elf's information and again for Jarvik's current clarity of mind. If anyone could weasle information out of the warlocks in the Apothecarium it would be him.
The Apothecaries were her prime suspect. Mr. High Elf the Dense was right about one thing - whoever had taken Shisou fit the profile of a mad scientist quite nicely. Oblivious to material wealth or the threat of consequences, they'd plucked him from the forest and vanished.
There was one other possibility though. It may have been a message.
"Where we goin' now?" Giska growled.
"To speak to an old friend," Krelle answered quietly. She pulled out her leather, stiff-brimmed hat as she turned and headed deeper into the 'City's tunnels. "Lazruth."
Whispers in the dark... We'll see you soon, Sagara.
Yep, Shisou, no other name will do!
Just a punk kid from Silvermoon!
Yeah, but he's my fox!
I am the shadow of death, and I say don't touch her.
They don't want to hurt anyone, they just want the jerk.
I earned my name long before we even met... but you wouldn't know 'bout that.
You just used enough luck for two lifetimes!
I'm tired, but my friends call me Lucky.
She's your boss, kid. Call her that again and I'll break all the bones in your face.
Take the plunge, roll the dice, pray for snake-eyes.
Ya got potential, kid.
Such a good boy...
Sagara... Something has happened...
Are you sure you wouldn't rather be here, with us?
...The Tong is my family now.
He was in a tunnel, running with all the speed his legs could muster. He could hear them behind him, shambling after. And he knew they'd keep coming, always keep coming. They'd follow him until he could run no more. And then they'd eat him alive.
She held him close and her familiar scent surrounded him. He would always know that scent; the smell of his mother. After a long time that was all too brief she let him go and held him up with her hands on his shoulders so she could look at him. Her face was a blur, the details all smudged together, crowned by jet black hair. He could see her smile though. "Your father and I have to go do this. So that you'll be safe. We'll see you soon, Sagara."
His vision blurred with tears but suddenly the face snapped into clarity. Rotted, decayed, and lipless. And suddenly his mother lunged at him with her mouth wide open.
Book was laying against the alley wall, the contents of his abdomen splayed out on the ground around him, half-eaten. He looked at his own hands, holding the organs of the brother who had named him. And then he took a bite.
He had been trapped in the closet for days. Enclosed on all sites and wrapped in the darkness. No one had come when he called and he was so very hungry. The door opened and he leapt on the person, planting his hands on them and ripping the energy from them. He saw that the person was Osan... but he couldn't stop...
I have made a most marvelous discovery! It would appear that Subject 357 is capable of sensing mystical powers within its vicinity. After some observation I devised that the creature was not staring at one spot on the wall, but rather at myself through the wall. To test this hypothesis I relocated to another area and observed that the subject's gaze followed me. Such a splendid discovery!
Subject 357 is becoming increasingly unstable. I have observed the specimen apparently sleeping one moment and suddenly screaming and reacting violently within its chamber. Often these outbursts will last for several moments before the creature will resume its pacing routine and eventually find a perch somewhere. I fear my labratory has taken some severe damage during this experiment but it is a small price to pay for the chance to observe this subject up close.
Given that the outbursts seem to be decreasing in intensity, I have concluded that the subject requires a steady stream of energy in order to maintain its strength. Perhaps even the transformation itself. I am therefore devising a way to safely introduce soul shards into the chamber as a method of feeding the creature.
Krelle watched as the dealer skittered away and let out a snort before looking back to Krelle. She would have cracked a smile at how the forsaken had handled Jarvik, but the situtation being as it was, she merely watched the small girl. She took a moment to calm herself down before speaking up. "Where we goin now?"
To speak to an old friend.
Giska trailed silently behind the small forsaken as she spoke again while she pulled out that hat of hers.
"He gonna have some news ya think, cause I aint liking that someone had tha brass pair ta take our pinky.." The orc kept her voice a low growl, barely even audible, but knew Krelle would have no issue in hearing her.
Krelle noted the posessive tone in Giska's voice. In other circumstances it would have made her smile. "It's more likely that whoever took him has rocks for brains than brass for nuts," she answerd in matching low tones. "As for Lazruth, he's a Magister. An influencial apothecary who's also a fairly competent warlock," she explained quietly. "We've had dealings before. I told him that if he ever interfered with a Tiger again, I'd kill him myself. If he's behind this then it's because it was a message to us and he'll be expecting a visit. If he wasn't then he won't."
"So let's go see if we're expected."
A competent warlock....was there such a thing?
Giska followed Krelle closely, unsure of the pathing of the tunnels they took, but somewhere in the back of the orc's mind, a mental map was being drawn of the directions they headed. The last thing she would want would be to get lost in the tunnel ways in case this Lazruth was indeed expecting them and things went badly. Not that she expected the worst, but it always helped to be prepared, especially when someone's life was on the line.
"He the tricky sort or just tha every day run of tha mill warlock?" She had to ask, it was part of being prepared and she was positive that Krelle would understand the question. Of course the question really didn't need to be answered, after all, what warlock isn't tricky...and Krelle didn't say he was an idiot......but one can never tell sometimes. She stopped just behind Krelle before she pulled a knife from her boot and slipped it into her belt.
"So let's go see if we're expected."
I have taken much delight in sharing my discoveries to the delight of my colleagues but I believe this experiment may soon be drawing to a close. I have confirmed that feeding the subject does revive it's violent tendencies. For my final test I shall deprive it of it's precious energies and see how this will effect the creature. I have now been observing Subject 357 for 22 hours since the transformation. It shall be interesting to see how long it takes for these creatures to expire when deprived of their sustenance.
Krelle grimly tugged her leather stiff-brimmed had down around her dreads as she and Giska entered the apothecarium. She squared her shoulders, put on her pokerface, and sought out the warlock she'd hoped to never deal with again.
She found him working with Doctor Halsey. "Ho, Magister," she called, crouching on the tick stone banister above his work area. Giska hopped up on the railing beside her but elected to stand with her hands resting on the hilts of her daggers. The Magister and Doctor looked up together as she spoke. Halsey had the good sense to mumble about a patient and promptly left.
"Ms. Krelle," Lazruth greeted her levelly. His expression was far from pleased, but he sounded a bit curious.
Krelle gave him a blank look. "I heard that you wanted my attention?"
He eyed her warily. "Ms. Krelle, I am not sure what you are talking about."
She regarded him in silence for a moment. She couldn't say exactly why but something about the entire scene - him, his demon, the ever-present beakers - told her that he had, indeed, been working. She relaxed slightly. Good. Now I just have to get out of here without starting anything. She nodded down at him. "Good. I didn't think so, but… Best to check." She wondered how much she should say. She didn't want to tell him anything about Shisou at all, but leaving with no explanation would be discourteous: she had come into his place, after all, seeking him. Obviously she'd found something out. It would be infuriating for her to just run off.
Though, the temptation to infuriate him was there… Heh. Better not. She rocked back on her heels, resting her elbows on her knees as she looked down to him. "Sorry to have interrupted your work, then, Magister."
He "hmmed" quietly. "You must think I'm up to something."
"Aren't you always?" she chuckled as she stood.
Lazruth sneered, crossing his arms across his chest. "Did you have a request, Ms. Krelle?"
"Sorry, I shouldn't be rude," she acknowledged. Then, despite her words, she folded her hands behind her back and bowed her head as though trying to look contrite. "You've already answered my question, Magister. One of my men has gone missing. I was concerned you might be involved. Clearly you're not."
"Clearly," he said flatly, moving no more than the necessary muscles.
Krelle offered him a little smile. Without looking away from him she hopped backwards off of the railing to land on the steps. "Pray, don't let me interrupt the fine work you're doing on behalf of the Lady."
He ignored her comment, nodding slightly at Giska as the orc turned and hopped down next to Krelle. "Your flunkies seem to change with every visit, Ms. Krelle. Do you loose men often?"
"I just like to show them all off to you, Lazruth. They line up for the priviledge of visiting the Apothecarium."
"Ahh. I see. A very noble decision." He swept an arm out to the side, gesturing across the expanse of the 'City's deepest of tunnels. "Feel free to roam our humble chamber."
"Naturally," she said, not looking away from him. She only stepped back when he turned back to his work table. "Lezgo," she muttered to Giska.
She felt the hair on the back of her neck stand on end as she left but she didn't look back.
((Thanks again to all ya'll who came to Shi's rescue last night. Quite a lot of hootin' and wootin'! XD))
The four tigers entered a lavish, if simple, study to find their target sitting behind a large half-rotten desk. He did not look particularly remarkable for a forsaken. Small gold-rimmed glasses, a nearly bald head, robes full of pockets of various herbs and implements, and contemptuous look for all others completed the ensemble. He aimed that look at the newcomers. Two trolls, a bear, a forsaken child, and a forsaken adult. "Do you have an appointment?"
"Dis be him, I be thinkin'." said the male troll.
Krelle nodded grimly and advances on the Forsaken. "Niska. Yes?" Korttie walked up the side of the office alone. Niska watched her move but spoke back to the Forsaken girl.
"Well this is the Niska Estate. I am the head of the estate... So logically..." Krelle nodded, like that makes sense. "Now if you don't have an appointment I'm afraid you'll have to leave." The warlock waved them away dismissively.
"We no be goin' anywhere till we done 'ere."
Krelle looked to Korttie and Bulja. "Beat the tar out of him, would you? I'm not in the mood for the slow way tonight."
"Gotcha." Krelle stands back with Rheinhardt, watching as the two trolls advanced on the warlock who was only now rising from his seat.
"hmph, I say!" Bulja was soon on his right and Korttie on his left, with the bear standing over his desk. So cornered, he rose a hand that began to glow with fel energy.
As Krelle slipped on a leather flame-retardent hat, Korttie said "Joo no be sayen more den dat...."
Niska fired off a single shadowbolt into the bear's chest just before Korttie's three-fingers smacked into his temple. He shook his head to clear the stars and shouted "Fools! I'll have your souls!"
"Riiight." said Rheinhart. Bulja snarled as the shadowbolt pushed back Rothide. He moved to smack the Forsaken with the flat of his blade.
But before the new associate could swing, Korttie grabbed the back of Niska's head and launched it head into the desk. "Dis no be good for Joo"
Krelle watched warily, waiting for the warlock to go down. Niska snarled and spits up blood. "The Nether will consume you!" Then he fired off another volley of bolts at both the trolls. Korttie was looking at Bulja with a wicked grin when the bolt collided with her shoulder, searing into the flesh. Bulja meanwhile managed to catch his shadowbolt with his gauntlet, letting the armor absorb the impact. Rheinhardt raised a hand from where he stood and a glow soon surrounded the troll's wounds; closing and healing them. Korttie growled and Vespa bursts into the Room and goes right for Niska. The warlock resorted to throwing a large book at the troll. As the giant serpent closed in on his left he looked up to see Rothide standing before him again, swinging a meaty paw at his chest.
"Don't let her eat him!" called Krelle. Niska lade a fel-charged hand on the shake's chest/stomach and grinned evil as the scales scorched under his corrupting touch. As the bear's paw connected with the warlock, Vespa went out of control from the pain of the warlock's touch and wrapped up both the bear and the warlock in a crushing embrace.
"Ves...VES!!!!" The bear roared in surprise, growled at the snake and raised a paw to swat at its head. Meanwhile Niska had both hands on the serpent's body and was burning it as viciously as he could.
"Call it off, Kort!" shouted the bear's keeper.
Korttie tried to console the serpent quickly but with no luck. "He keep urting er...hit em in da head!"
Meanwhile, Niska shouted "Fools! Wretchs! Imbeciles! Guards!" Two moderately armed guards came ambling in from the door but were met only with a quick and gruesome death as Krelle dropped on them from the shadows.
Bulja's backhand caught Niska in the jaw hard enough that his jaw visibly unhinged and the warlock instantly went limp. Krelle was walking back towards them, wiping the ichor from her blades, when Korttie finally managed to get Vespa to release both the warlock and the bear. Niska fell straight to the floor and Rothide ambled over to Bulja while growling at Vespa. "You two a'ight?" inquired Krelle. She stayed back when Rhein, eyeing the two aggrivated animals warily.
"We'll be fine... Rothide's tougher den he look. Calm down partner... she ain't gonna get ya again."
"Jes sorry bout Ves...all dis mojo" Korttie stroked the scaly ridges over Vespa's eyes affectionately and the snake visibly relaxed.
Krelle moved around the desk now and knelt down beside Niska's limp and drooling form with a frown. She pulled out a coil of flexible wire and bound his hands behind his back very tightly. "Joo tink e talk still?"
"That's Rhein's job. Kort, sit him over here?" Krelle nodded towards a partly broken chair in the corner while she pulled out a long strip of cloth. Korttie unceremoniously picked up the warlock and roughly deposited him into the furniture. Krelle wrapped the bandage around Niska's head over the eyes several times to ensure he was thoroughly blindfolded. Producing another bandage she then wrapped that around his neck and tied it to the back of the chair. As she took out her dagger and carefully spread a dark oil around the edge, she nodded to the priest. "Wake him up, Padre."
"Hope I didn' hit 'em too hard..."
"No such thing, with a priest around." Krelle grinned wickedly at Bulja. Korttie gave herself the same grin, secretly hoping that the new associate had hit the warlock 'too hard'.
"As long as you don't loose the pieces." chimed in the priest.
Rheinhardt reached over, placing a hand on the warlock's head. "[Gutterspeak] Lu aesire goth se re o bor nostyec." Korttie blinks at him as the priest stepped back again. "Any second now." Krelle nodded, watching as the jaw snapped back into place.
Niska started to stir as the spell took effect and seemme disoriented for a moment before realizing he was bound and blindfolded and choking in anger. "What do you want?! I'll have your souls for this!" He spit out with a mixture of petulance and, to the other's delight, fear.
Krelle sized up the warlock's mood and shifted her dagger to her left hand. She then punched him in the nose - not hard enough to break it, but hard enough to knock his head back. Niska's head bounced off the back of the chair and he shouted involuntarily. Krelle jabbed him twice more, until his nose was bleeding profusely. She didn't bother saying anything yet. Korttie snorted at the warlocks words and rubs her tucks as if recalling a memory.
"Interesting interrogation." commented Rhein. He pulled out a quill and some parchment and began taking notes.
Krelle waited for Niska to come out of his daze, then sliced along his ribs, tearing a long rent in his robes and, incidentally, poisoning him painfully. "Ow!" he shouted involuntarily.
"Tink I can rip en ear off...e jus be needn one" teased Korttie.
"What do you want?!" The petulance was still there, but there was also a good deal more fear this time around. He began to seem very disoriented, even wobbling in his seat, as the mind-numbing poison took hold.
Krelle smiled. "I'm so glad you asked."
"Be careful. We don' want him dyin' until after he says somethin'." whispered Bulja to the others. Krelle looked the warlock over, like she was gauging something.
"I no tink e die from losen dar ear..." continued Korttie with a grin and a crack of her knuckles. Krelle made a silent shushing gesture at the trolls and turned back to the helpless warlock. Niska was foaming out at the mouth and would have fallen out of the seat if not for the fabric tied around his neck.
Krelle shook her head and shoved him back into his seat. "Careful, Niska, you'll hurt yourself." She frowned at the still pissed off warlock and punched him again, still holding the dagger. This time she blackened an eye, under the blindfold.
"I will feast... feast... CROWS! For your souls..." rambled Niska. "Ravens for your eyes!"
"I don't think you fully understand your situation here, warlock."
"Vultures for your... your... your garters!" Krelle sighed as the warlock continued to ramble. She pushed the blindfold askew on one side of his head and grabbed an ear with her left hand. She viciously sawed it off with the serrated, poisoned blade. Korttie couldn't help but grin as she nudged Bulja in the rib with her elbow and winked at him. Niska's incoherent rambling was cut off as the half-rotten ear was gruesomely removed from his head. Krelle dropped it to the side in distaste as the warlock thrashed.
"Tol joo dat work.." Bulja watched in silence, crossing his arms.
"Who are you!" screamed the warlock, with blood and ichor pouring down the side of his head.
"We're friends of the elf you nicked from Terokkar, since you ask. Where is he?"
"Elf? What elf?"
Krelle's unimpressed expression spoke volumes. "Our elf. Blue hair. For every minute of my time you waste, Niska, you'll lose a finger."
"Subject 357? What would you want with that?" Niska was clearly loosing it with so much of the poison in his system.
"Where. Is. He." Krelle commanded.
"3.5.7." Niska responded in the same tone of voice. "Eat the soul and go to heaven!" he chimed suddenly and broke into maniacal giggling.
"You really should answer her, old boy." Rheinhardt commented. "When she gets like this, nothing stops her from getting what she wants. Last time, she pulled a guys spine out. Showed it to him before he fell down."
"He's crazy." offered Bulja, only stating the obvious.
Krelle snarls and leans close, grabbing the warlock by the throat. She speaks in Gutterspeak, spitting the words out: "[Gutterspeak] Focus, Niska. The elf. Tell me where he is or your demons' fondest dreams will be realized this day." Krelle pressed the point of the blade against his cheek, under his eye. A tiny welt of blood began to pool there almost instantly.
Niska started shouting "3-5-7!" over and over again, as if it was a mantra.
Krelle scowled. "Rhein!"
"Yes, boss?" The priest looked up from where he had began inspecting the various notes spread around Niska's desk.
Krelle slammed the warlock back against the chair by the neck. "Fix him." Rheinhardt placed his hands on wither side of the warlocks head, sending energy through the wounds. Niska continued to gibber on about "3.5.7" right until the healing cleared the poison from his system. Krelle stepped back impatiently and nodded to Rhein. "See what you can find, then," she said, gesturing to the desk. As the poison was finally cleared from him, Niska began screaming for his guards again.
"I suggest, with respect, that you ask him about this 357, he is muttering about." Rheinhardt suggested as he went back to going over the various parchments.
Krelle stepped forward and put the tip of her blade in his mouth. "Shout again, asshole, I dare you."
Niska looks petulant as he spoke around the blade. "Ull gat nothink vrom me woth throots, gurl!"
Korttie grins at the scene. "Dat bad answer dar"
"I don' tink he gonna give it up without a fight."
Krelle muttered and shook her head. "He already got a fight. And lost. [Cant] This is crazy."
Rheinhardt suddenly looked up from his reading. "Boss."
Krelle looked over, ignoring the warlock spluttering around the tip of her blade. "Mm?"
"I think we can find Shi without the idiot, there. He left crib notes." Rheinhardt held up the book and some papers.
"Ah? Good." Niska's face went even more ashen than it already was and he started calling for guards again. True to her word, Krelle thrust suddenly from the shoulder, sending the knife through Niska's throat and out the back of his head.
"Well, dat's dat."
"Might want to remove his head completely." suggested the priest. "And cut out the heart. Just to be safe." Warlocks were well known for having a nasty habit of recovering from being dead.
"Oh. the entries have the names of the ...'patients' next to the room they are being kept in."
Krelle walked over to the table and held out her hand for the page Rhein was pointing at. "Show me?" She peered at the parchment for a moment before realizing that Niska must have assigned his specimens same number as the room they were in. "Subject 357... yadda... I'm so smart... oh what the FEL?" She fell silent for a few moments as she continued to read. After a moment she looked totally floored and exclaimed "You can DO that?"
"What be wrong?"
Krelle looked more surprised than anything. She looked up at Bulja. "He injected a bunch of fel energy into Shisou.... "
Rheinhardt elaborated with a shrug. "According to this, if you force feed a blood elf enough magic... it goes nutso."
Krelle scanned the entries as she speaks. "Fel. It sounds like he's a cross between a demon and a wretched now." Korttie remained quiet as she watched each person speak in turn. "I thought that only worked on orcs! It's ... it's their thing. No one hears about fel-elfs!"
"You never wondered why they have certain sections of Silvermoon closed off?"
Krelle looked outraged. She tossed the book down to the table and narrowed her eyes behind her mask at Rheinhardt. "Fel elves?"
"Why not? I'm not saying I like the idea, but hell, I'm a walking spell casting dead guy. Why not Fel elves?"
Bulja finally spoke up ".... Dis be bad. I tink we should find him as soon as possible."
Krelle mutterd a few choice oaths in Gutterspeak and then pointed at the corpse. "Rip that apart first, please."
Rheinhardt picked up the book, and the notes and put them into his packs. "These notes need to be destroyed."
"Can I feed 'im ta Rothide now?"
Krelle gave Rheinhardt a suspicious look, but just nods. She looked to Bulja. "Sure thing." Bulja signaled to Rothide, who quickly advanced on the dead Forsaken.
"Fel and nether. He's in the turret, apparently, behind the door marked '357.'" They all ignored the sounds of Rothide messily devouring the corpse. "Well let's go see ... let's go get him."
The nightmares chased him wherever he went. He couldn't outrun them. Couldn't escape them. And eventually, in time, he stopped trying. He became consumed in them; an endless tirade of all his worst fears and hates. Locked inside his own spirit with nothing but the nightmares for company, he retreated further and further until the nightmares faded into a dull emptiness. A substance-less abyss where he could curl in upon himself and evade the nightmares, if only for a time.
As there is no measure of time in the deepest places of the soul, there was no marking how long he drifted, but in time he became aware that he was not alone. It began as the faintest of presences; just an inkling or a tickle on the edge of consciousness. And ever so slowly it grew stronger, forming a vague and familiar shape before him. And as shape gained form, familiarity gained recognition. "Father?" He feared the onslaught was beginning anew, but the voice of memory floated to him.
"Hello Sagara. I've missed you." The presence surrounded him. It supported his ragged spirit and held him up so he could see the man who had been Aoshi Trueheart. The image was dim, as a long memory, but he could see strong man, proud and just, with long blue hair and a kind smile for the son he had left behind.
"...am I dead?"
The expression of his father never changed, ever smiling kindly. The lips did not even move as he spoke. "That is for you to decide."
"Are you real?"
"Does it matter?"
The four tigers found the cell near the bottom of the turret, securely fastened with a large padlock. The entire corridor was eerily quiet, as if holding its breath.
"Dis be d' place?" Bulja pointed to the solid wood door marked with the numbers 357.
Krelle eyed the door for a moment and pulled out a set of lockpicks to go to work on the large padlock ensuring the door stayed closed. "Y-up."
"You're not happy Sagara."
"I keep falling. I keep loosing people."
"You haven't lost me."
"Not because of you."
"And now I don't have a family... a place... a purpose."
"Your family resides within you. You have always carried your place in your breast. Your purpose is ever before you."
"I do not see it."
"You are on it. You have just been blinded for a time."
"I lost. The hunger won. I have been consumed. Now I will consume all else. It is my only choice."
"You did not yet choose. None may choose the demon in their soul. This was something that was done to you."
"I'm not strong enough."
The padlock popped open and the door began to swing open slowly. As the dark room within was unveiled, a pale flash burst through the opening. It leapt onto Balja but a desparate kick sent the Wretched back to the floor. Shisou crouched there for less than an instant, naked and wretched.
As he leapt into the air again, Krelle threw a mana gem at him. The wretched caught it in midair and it disappeared in a flash; consumed by absolute hunger. No one had any time to react as he continued his decent towards his victim.
"You are as strong as you wish to be."
"I'll be eaten."
"You already have been."
"But I'm still here."
"The choice is yours. Will you allow yourself to be consumed?"
"No." The word echoed throughout him. Restored resolution buffering against the sanctuary of his abyss of the soul.
The weight of his impact pushed Krelle to the ground and his pale hands clapped onto the sides of her head, ready to feed. In that moment though, the creature seemed to hesitate. It trembled and hissed angrily but didn't move from its position.
The other's reacted quickly to capitalize on the Wretched's momentary lack of motion. Korttie's gauntleted fist smashed into his temple and sent the small creature sliding unconscious across the floor.
The world became dimmer somehow and the figure began to fade. "Wait..."
"I can't go anywhere Sagara. I am always here."
"What if I can't handle the hunger?"
"You have all you need already. You need only realize it. We love you, son."
Krelle scrambled back to her feet. "What the fel!"
"Exactly." Rheinhardt intoned from behind the others.
"Dis no be good....e be needed witch doctah." Korttie was shaking rubbing her knuckles that she'd used on Shisou. Krelle looked uneasily at the unconscious wretched thing.
"He bee needin' mor' den a doctor..."
Krelle nodded. "We let the 'lock off too easily," she muttered. She pulled her hat off and ran a hand over her dreadlocks.
Rheinhardt was reading the notes to himself with a frown. "The biggest problem is...my magics will not be of any use here."
Krelle nodded slowly and gave him a dark grin. "Yeah. We don't exactly channel the light, eh Padre?"
"I cannot heal him with spells. He'd just absorb the energy from them." Then he added with a smile "You'd be amazed at what I can channel, if need be."
Krelle frowned thoughtfully. "Bulja, tie his hands behind his back, would you? They use their hands to feed. I remember that. Tie his feet, too."
Shisou gave a sudden twitch and Korttie added "Bes urry"
While Bulja knelt and began to bind Shisou's appendages quickly, Krelle flicked on her comm. "Kennia? Are you on the comm?"
A sleepy moan came back over the comm, followed by Kennia's voice. "hummm what?
"... sorry, it's important. You awake? I got a question."
Sounds of the far off Master rising from her slumber filtered through the comm. "Ya ya I am awake......*sounds of getting up* What is it?"
Krelle pulled out a vial of crushed dreamfoil as she speaks. "You told me a while ago about a job we pulled - something about curing a wretched?"
As Bulja stepped back after completing his task, Krelle leaned over and carefully poured the powder over Shisou's face. The Wretched gave a snort and then snapped at the dust as his eye's shot open. He began to thrash wildly across the floor, unable to escape his bonds, until the dust subdued him to slumber once more.
"Oh..Ya ya we got them a wretched and they cured him....Why do you ask abou that?"
Krelle's voice carried the full grim weight of the situation. "Well, we found Shisou... And uh - looks like we'll be needing one of those cures."
"...Please tell me you are pulling my leg."
Krelle tilted Shisou's head back, peeling back an eyelid expertly to check him. The eye was pupil-less, pale and milk-white. The normal glow was completely gone. It was like the eye of a dead thing. "I'm afraid not. The warlock that had him was running "experiments." A gasp from Sannia came over the comm as Krelle continued. "I'm going to take him to the 'Bluff. Can you track down a dose of that cure?"
Kennia's response included an impressive array of profanity in common, cant, and thalassian. "Alright....let me see if I can track down the Scarlet Order. I will see what I can find."
"I dunno if it'll matter, Kennia, but it's not just magic withdrawal, either. 'Parently he got pumped full of Fel energy, then went wretched. So. Yeah. We'll contain him at the 'Bluff but..."
"I dont know how this stuff they made worked. But we have to see if it can help him. Fel energy humm?"
Krelle's voice was flat and devoid of feeling. "Yeah. He looks like a netherghost. It's bad."
"Alright. I have to head north to get to their Keep." The sounds of rustling and light clanking indicated she was donning her armor. "I will be in touch soon Krelle. "
"Thank you, Kennia." Krelle clipped the comm off and turned to the others. "Let's get him to the Zepplin, then. The Tauren know what to do with this sorta thing. "
"Good idea... I'll take 'im dere." Krelle nodded and the troll scooped up the elf and carried him off over his shoulder. "See you dere..."
What once was whole was slowly separating into two. The parts of him that made up Sagara rejected the parts of him that made up sin'dorei. The parts of him that hungered pushed away the parts of him that held that hunger back. And with two factions of the soul now existing within his shattered existence, they began to make war. War for sanity. War for purity. War for survival. War for peace.
Pale lifeless eyes dully reflected whatever moonlight came in from the door. Fixed as they were on the movement in the shadows of his confinement. He did not see the shadows, nor even the moonlight. He did not see the fur or the paws or the tail. He saw only the energy, a small bundle of it, crouching about the tent wall. It darted forwardly, quickly, but not quick enough to escape his explosive grasp from between the bars. He crouched over it, holding it in a deathgrip and being only cognizant of the energy within. Energy he needed. The cries and struggles of the creature did not reach that part of him, but they did reach the other part.
The part that was Sagara refused this and fought the part that was Hunger. It said that this was a dirty thing, a debasing and horrible act, and that it would not take part in it. It said the hunger would not have this. The hunger responded by trying to feed, but found itself still blocked by the part that was Sagara.
When the moon set and the sun rose he was found still crouching and clutching the creature, unable to feed and unable to release.
Kennia left the apartment quietly not wanting to wake Tai. He was not getting alot of sleep as of late due to the meeting with the merchants. There was some odd things happening and this kept Tai so busy. Walking as quietly as she could with most of her armor slung over her shoulder she made for the stables. She would Pay a mage to get her closer North she she might be able to take her horse Kiren. Sure enought the Dragon Whelps which were bigger followed as well.
The Spell to get her closer to the Scarlet Orders Keep was costly, but time was not a luxery. Now in her armor she rode up to the gates to were the guards stopped her. Dismounting she made sure to make no move to her swords. The Whelps were off in the trees staying quiet for once. The fact that most of the birds in the area stopped the morning songs did not help. The sun just made the sky a very pleasent lavander color. It was going to be a long day. Kennia turned her attention to the guards. "My name is Kennia Silvercrane, I am from Grey Tiger Shipping." "I have come to speak to the comander of your order of business matters."
She could tell the guards did not look pleased with the idea of anoucing her espeacally so early in the morning. Kennia's mind swam with topics that could possible be brought up. Like what do you need this cure for? Who is it for? How did he become inflicted. "Blast" Kennia thought. "This is going to be a bear of a meeting, I need help and cant tell them the whole thing." "How in the Fel will I tell them it is for a Blood Elf?" Kennia's mind swam away as she waited outside of the gate.
After more than just a few minutes the guard came back:
"Maticore is currently unavailable to speak to you. However, Abuterfas is and will join you shortly in 'The Boot and Strap' in the keep. Please follow me."
Abuterfas was tired. But the news that a member of the Tong made its way all the way to the Order's keep without being paid to do so was unusual enough to warrant his attention, even if not his, but Maticore's attention was requested. Did they unearth new information regarding the plans of the Royal Apothecary Society and trying to sell it? Or someone else had paid them ... which could mean that the Tong and the Order might stay on different sides this time. Abuterfas trusted the Tong as long as he was sure he was the highest bidder for their services, this visit however might be new territory.
But Ms. Silvercrane was generally pleasant company, so he hurried over to 'The Boot and Strap' - unshaven, but at least wearing a fresh Dangui, his thoughts restless as for the meaning of this visit.
"Good morning, Ms. Silvercrane. It's a great pleasure to see you again."
Kennia smiled at Abuterfas as she walked over to the table. Being a true Gentelman he stood and offered her a seat. Wonderfuly there was freash hot coffee there on the table for her as well as some rolls. Kennia was already impressed with the keep.
She could tell by the look in his eyes that he was eager to know what brought her here. "please forgive my unannouced and early arrival" Kennia offered her charming smile. "There are no worried Ms. Silvercrane, please make yourself comfortable." Kennia nodded her thanks. "I will get right to what brought me here." "many years ago the company worked with you for a cure of the stricken." Taking a sip of coffee she let Abuterfas have some time to recall the job. "I would like to know if I might purchase a vial or two of the potion?" Well it was out, now to gage his reaction and go from there. Already the pit of her stomach lurched, but there was no need in giving him the whats, whos and whys untill he asked.
Abuterfas smiled as he listened to Kennia's request, though his eyes did not. His mind raced as he pondered the implications and bought some time by covering the easy parts of the conversation...
"Yes, of course I remember."
What was the Tong up to?
"The Tongs involvement in said operation has not been forgotten."
Did the Royal Apothecary Society pay them to acquire a vial to figure out how they had pulled it off?
"And the relations between our two organizations reach much further into the past than that one, of course. We have found the Grey Tiger Shipping Co. most resourceful most of the time."
Abuterfas paused for a moment, watching Kennia closely. Was there a worse scenario than the Royal Apothecary Society? If so, he didn't see it, yet. He'd run with it until he knew more.
"I take it you have a very good - or rather, profitable - reason knocking on the Order's door for your request. And I understand the Tong's desire for discretion. However, this request is somewhat far out of the ordinary, to be honest. As much as I would want to believe that the Tong suddenly aligned its interest with the Order's of curing all forsaken and reclaiming Lordaeron, I don't."
Abuterfas eyed Kennia.
"So, how much are you willing to tell me as to what you are up to?"
Kennia looked directly at the man. He was up front and Kennia respected that. And she was sure to treat him with the same respect. "Trust me there is no profit in this request." Kennia put down her mug of coffee. Someone from my family has been made into a wretched" There was the being upfront. Kennia watched Abuterfas as she told him but she was not finished yet. "This is something that hits us personaly, and yes there is more." Kennia put a strand on hair behind her slightly pointed ear. "This man is a family member, an elven member." Now in Kennia's mind this was true. Sure Shi did not share blood ties, but he was still family as in a Tiger. "I am comming to you for help not business." "I don't know how your potin could help one of elven heritage, but please...." Kennia let that sentance hang as she waited for Abuterfas reply.
No profit? Was that good news? In the current scheme of Abuterfas' thoughts it seemed that way. Abuterfas looked closely at Kennia, wishing he could just pry Kennia's head open and look into her mind. Would the cure work for an elf? Abuterfas had no clue. He wasn't even sure if Rytherion would know or at least make an educated guess.
"Well, you came to the right place as far as I am concerned, Kennia. However, there are a few things you might want to ask yourself, first: why have we only cured one single forsaken? Why aren't there any credible stories or rumors out there of more cured forsaken? And have you ever heard again of the one forsaken we did 'cure'?"
Abuterfas bit his lips. Spelling these questions out had not necessarily been prudent. Why couldn't people just write him a letter, such that he could control the flow of thoughts, his and the recipients. Well, no matter. Another thought popped into his mind: weren't there forsaken that were part of the tong? Didn't they get along somehow? And weren't the non-forsaken of the Tong not aware that the forsaken are plotting to infect everyone in the long run? How far did this 'alliance of convenience' go?
Abuterfas refocussed on Kennia.
"So, clearly there are some ... issues. Given that it is a family matter, I would hazard the guess that you are willing to overcome those, no matter the costs or risks involved?"
The questions suprised Kennia at first but they were damn good. Why was it only one? and where was he? Shaking her head she got back to the the one concern. Shisou "you are correct Abuterfas I am willing to take the chances." Kennia still felt she had to explain more. "I come to you since I remember what you did once. I was hoping you have done more cures since then." She smiled "And you know that Grey Tiger Shipping respects the privacy of your clients, so we would not know if you have done more tests or for that matter we don't start rumors of your work." Kennia streaches her back some as she continues. "This is an embarassing matter since this elven man was taken and made into this...wretched." her voice gets a little lower. "if whoever did this to one....there might be others who will creat others?" Holding the mug in both hands she takes a sip, her eyes looking over at the man from over the lip of the mug.
Abuterfas had no intention of answering or even just alluding to any further tests or research beyond the one the Tong knew about, so he skipped the implied question and focussed only on the latter part of Kennia's questions: "Yes, they will try to infect more and more, there can be no doubt about that part." He took a deep breath. "I am willing to help, Kennia. However, it is not for me to decide alone. Nor can I make any promises as to how likely it is to repeat the feat with a night elf. I shall ask and discuss the matter with our experts and bring it to the attention of the council of founders. If the first think there is hope and the latter that we should proceed, I will notify the Grey Tiger Tong at once.
In the meantime, I'd recommend your friends start collecting some serious Mojo. It appears the forsaken are severely lacking it and it is hence a crucial part of the healing concoction. Oh, and one more thing: I am sure the council will find it much more easy to agree to help, if the concoction is to be administered by an Order member and hence never leaves our hands till it reaches its target."
Kennia made no effort to hide her wince at the mention of the night elf. She waited till he was done before speaking. "I personaly thank you for this favor to me, but it is no night elf that is afflected." Kennia waited a split second. "It is high elven." She leaned closer to Abuterfas. "I would like to keep this as low key as possible." "If word got out that one of our compnay memebers was "Sick" then it could hurt our business." What Kennia said was all true but there was more. "I come to you in dire need. We are now collecting this Mojo you have spoken about but we...no I need more."
Kennia slowly stood and held out her hand to Abuterfas. "I will wait on word from you." "Once we do we will work out a way so you yourself give Shi the cure."
As Kennia walked to her horse she still had the uneasy feeling. It was not because of Abuterfas. No it was the fact that this cure was an unknown on how it effect Blood Elves. Once she was sure she was alone she clicked on the comm she wore in her earing. "Krelle? We need to talk."
Abuterfas eyes narrowed at the mentioning of the 'High elve". High elves seemed exceedingly unlikely - Abuterfas wasn't sure as to what was going on. That could wait till later, however.
"Safe travels, Kennia Silvercrane, I will be in touch, soon."
Abuterfas exited 'The Boot and the Strap', moving swiftly to another building within the keep.
"Krelle? We need to talk."
Krelle cursed quietly at the tone of voice. Sounds like bad news, she thought glumly. She kept her tone neutral as she answered back over the com.
"Sure thing, Kennia. I'm free now. What's the word - or did you want to meet up?"
A courier wearing the tabard of the Scarlet Order knocks on the office door of the Grey Tiger Shipping Co. "Urgent message to Ms. Silvercrane! I need someone to sign for this envelope."
After handing over the envelope, he leaves as quickly as he arrived.
The envelope is addressed to
Attn: Ms. Silvercrane, Grey Tiger Shipping Co.
U R G E N T
Inside is a single piece of paper written in hurried, but legible handwriting:
Dear Kennia, the Council initially rejected your request. After some further negotiation we came to the following compromise, however. I can only offer you this in this form, none of the parts are negotiable:
1) The whole deal will remain completely confidential. No word of this operation will ever leave the Tong - or even be passed down to future members of the Tong. 2) No claims are made to the effectiveness of the potion. Side effects may be severe or deadly. No responsibility is taken by the Order for any resulting temporary or permanent damages to the subject or damages incured by the subject as result of receiving the potion. 3) The Order will be informed of any physical and mental status changes of the subject on a continuing basis until the death of the subject occurs or one year passes, whichever comes first. 4) The Order is granted the right to medically examine the body should the subject die within one year. Accomodations to retrieve the body and bring it to the Scarlet Keep in case of death is the responsibility of the Tong. The body will be returned to the Tong after the examination. 5) The Tong will make no effort of any kind to analyze the ingredients of the potion. 6) The potion will be provided as a unique gesture. It is not repeatable, neither to the Tong nor to any other organization or individual. There will be no other explicit or implicit duties or compensations from either side with the exception of the aforementioned.
I understand that this may not be what you expected, wanted or can accept. But this is the best offer I can make. Let me know if you are still willing to go through with this.
She was tired and her head ached. Krelle took the news Kennia told her very well or so it seemed. All they could do is wait. The waiting did not last long thank the Gods.
Kennia singed the for the envelope and almost ripped it open. She read it a couple of times before getting her thoughts together. All Abuterfas asked for seemed to be reasonable but she had to get the ok from Krelle.
"Krelle? You there"
"Yes you got word back from them?" Krelle must have been waiting for news as much as Kennia was.
"I did, meet me in the Bay, I will fly there tonight." We need to discuss this letter." Kennia decided to add her two coppes in now. "I think what they ask is reasonalble, but it might be best you read this as well." "It also might be a good idea to let the other Masters and Vanguards know."
Kennia quickly got ready and almost ran to the griffins.
Krelle read the note with interest. She sat quietly for a time as the others gathered in the office, thinking it over.
So. This must be the "cure" that Ander was talking about, she thought, remembering the self-proclaimed "interested party" who'd come looking for Nerrok after the destruction in Arathi. I wonder if it actually works. He certainly seemed convinced it would.
When Kennia's contact had said there would be "difficulties" Krelle had assumed that the potion was merely time-consuming and costly to make, and that they'd have to pay through the nose for it. Clause 6, however, seemed to imply that no payment would be needed at all. She scoffed slightly at the idea. Nothing was free. The Tong would owe someone a favour when this was over. And if the last clause was euphemistic doublespeak, the rest likely was too.
She thought a bit about what the note must really mean. Absolute secrecy, obviously. Though what we tell our own members is no real concern of theirs, as long as future tigers never wander up to the keep expecting similar favours. They're curious as to its effects. I suppose that's not unreasonable, though I don't know if they actually need to hear about his death, if it happens. She rubbed her chin thoughtfully, dismissing the first four clauses as typical Royal Apotheracy Society-type boilerplate. Why would anyone ask for things that were unverifiable? Clearly these clauses were meant mainly as warnings, messages of the Scarlets' intent.
The fifth clause was the most interesting.
She looked up at Kennia. "What do you think about all this?"
She rode fast, as fast as she could drive the graying wolf, through the valley of Thousand Needles, straight through the Barrens and right through Mulgore. She was sure that there were several innocents on the path that most likely got knocked over in her haste, but if it mattered to her or not was hard to read on her face. She had a goal in mind and that is what was diving her now. Sure, she could have easily gotten there by taking a wyvern, but she truely didn't trust them to fly in a straight line.
She left the wolf to rest at the inn and with the package in hand, she made her way to the tent that held the caged Shisou. She smiled at him and was only met with his growls, snarls and hisses. A small one sided conversation was held as she sat herself just out of Shisou's reach by the cave. Gis'ka shook her head on occasion as the frustration of the whole incident, then quickly calmed herself. She spoke on and on to the elf as she set up the decive that she was to give Shisou.
Watching him react to the images the machine produced only caused her to smile. He seemed to calm a great deal and acted, as Gis'ka mentioned to him, much like a cat or pup chasing his tail. She nodded to herself then and made a point to contact Krelle via the comm to see if her staying to watch over Shisou would be an issue, and of course, as Krelle mentioned, she would have to also get some leave time from Lu to stay long from the track. She wasn't too worried about the security of the track, not since she and Wizzle set up the system she obtained from the forsaken known to few as Kyrii. It would be hard for anyone to believe, but in the short time working with the gnome, she gained a bit of respect for him for not running from her.
She nodded to Shisou before bidding him a short farwell and made sure to let him know that she was going to be close by. She exited the tent shortly after and made her way to a post box and penned a quick note to Lu.
Here she was heading back north. After a long discussion with the others they decided that they would agree to the terms so they might obtain the "Cure". The travle up north gave Kennia plenty of time to think about Abuterfas's terms. The Side effects may be severe or deadly. This hit her hard. Would Shi suffer? Would it be kinder to just end his life? Shakeing her head she decided. No, he has to be given an chance. If the side effects are bad...then and only then will they do what must be done.
It was early evening when Kennia arrived at the Keep. Right away she was ushered into the Boot and Strap. The Order did make you feel welcome at least. Now all she had to do is wait for Abuterfas.
Sure enough he arrived. "Ms. Silvercrane, it is nice to see you again." Kennia smiles and bowed in respect. "Abuterfas, we agree to your terms."
Abuterfas noticed how edgy he was. The potion had been prepared in a hurry and to be used differently than what it was designed for.
Abuterfas forced a smile while addressing Kennia: "Very well. Let me gather some belongings. I take it we will leave at once?"
A small note in neat, even printing was delivered to Giska. It read:
Quote: Tigers should take care of their own. We'll make do without you and send word if there's trouble. Take whatever time you feel necessary.
"I hear you, Krelle."
"Everything's set up. The Southern Barrens is only very sparsely patrolled so you shouldn't have any troubles, but once you get into Mulgore you'll want to stay off the roads. The Tauren get tetchy about humans 'round there and they're terrible at taking bribes."
"Heh. Will do."
"Head north along the foothills once you've come down into Mulgore. The cave will be along the East walls, just past the second stream you cross. Giska and Bulja will be there - you can tell your buddy it's more for his security than anything else, though if he wants to bring a friend, fine - and Ikanda. She speaks Common, by the way, so he can chat 'bout medical stuff or whatever with her. Bulja will be watching out for your approach and will call you over the com when you get close. I'd hearth out when you're done, if I was you, but Giska and Bulja can also escort you back to Dustwallow if that'd be easier."
"Sounds good. We'll get going now. ... how's Shisou..?"
"... Bad. I hope this works."
"I'm sure it will!"
"Mph. Guess we'll find out soon, eh? Sorry I can't be there... oh, last thing? If you guys have any magic stuff on ya, stay away from him, all right?"
"Will do. Thanks, Krelle."
"Thanks, nothin! This one's all yours. You figure out what those buddies of yours'll want in return, if this works, eh?"
"Heh. I will, no worries."
"A'ight. I'll catch you later."
The Storm on the sea delayed them some what and Kennia could tell Abuterfas was tense. Most of the trip on land was pretty quiet with not much wordws passing. This only made Kennia's mind race. Once on ship they secured the horses and made their way to their cabins. It was not the Shark that took them but in some ways Kennia whised it was. This vessel was good mind you just not up to what the Tiger Shark. Sitting in the Hammock Kennia decided that she had to ease her mind especally since she was never one let things just Happen.
"Abuterfas?" DO you have a Moment?" Sue enough he seemed to be tryong to read with the terrible swaying of the ship. He nodded to her closing the book and opening a hand to the one empty chair that was bolted down. "What can I do for you Lady Silvercrane?" Kennia took the seat and wished she stayed standing. At least that way you can ease the movements and also your stomach. "I understand that you might be tense with this, but please know we will honor the contract." Kennia let her words sink in and she watched Abuterfas reaction.
Abuterfas smiled briefly.
"If I weren't convinced that you had the best intentions and are genuinely interested in helping a friend, I would have never brought up the case to the founders."
Abuterfas pondered if everyone in the Tong would still have 'best intentions' in half a year, after the subject was either alive and well, dead or something worse than dead. His gaze wandered to the horizon.
"Where are we headed, anyway?"
Ikanda's tongue was sharper than usual as she supervised the moving of her patient. She was not the kind to take things like this gracefully. It was only because Poxsore had asked her himself that she was willing to put up with such a ludicrous proposition.
"Listen, 'Kanda, I can't tell you any more than that. We're sworn to secrecy. But this friend of ours has something that might help - we have to try. Wouldn't you try anything, if it was someone from the Horn?"
She snorted in irritation as she stomped along beside the litter. Giska and Bulja navigated the seldom-used path with skill, carying the much-sedated blood elf between them.
So foolish to try something like this without explaining it to me. What if the patient fares poorly? What am I to do, not knowing the source of his distress? If they won't tell me what this "something" is, I do not agree that I should be here at all. Am I supervising his treatment or not?
As iritated as she was, however, she knew that she'd still help. Pox had been serious about the secrecy and she had little hope of discovering the nature of the treatment they were to give him - but if it did help, even a bit, that itself would be worth knowing. She also privately admited that it would be unethical of her to stand in the way of a possible treatment. Without intervention, Shisou's fate would likely be similar to that of Talara's.
And so she went.
((Continued in Becoming - Part 2))