Phealea allowed the druid into her gambling house in Goldshire but denied her entry into her laboratory. She allowed Nightshade to wander about the upstairs area, under the gaze of Douroon, as she made her way intot he basement. She began to infuse the wood with further magical properties. The wood began to glow a soft blue color for but a moment before the light would fade. Satisfied with the initial step she returned up to speak with Nightshade.
Nightshade sat at one of the card tables idly running chips through her fingers. She smiled as Phealea rounded the corner, Phealea on the other hand was as usual stone faced. Before the druid could mouth her greeting Phealea raised a hand to stop her.
"I need the blood of four magically inclined races to form the proper runes. Though the races in question have must have birthed warlocks. That shows that the race is powerful enough to sustain the magic need to keep the heart beating until I am ready for it. I already the blood of a sin'dorei, an orc, and a human. Once we get the last sample I can form the ink, make the box, and place the runes upon. Then..." Phealea explained coldly from the doorway.
Nightshade began to laugh happily which interrupted Phea's explaintions. Phealea narrowed her eyes and the druid shook her head. "What is the last rrrace you seek?" She ask inquisitively .
"A forsaken, they are not a member of the Alliance and thus much easier take." Phealea said with a hint of irritation in her voice.
"No no, undead blood does not mix well with that of the living. Plus theirrr blood is fouled with the powerrrs of the Lich King. May disturrrbed what you seek." Nightshade said with a ever growing grin.
"You bring up a good point. The forsaken may be a bad choice, the interference could prove to be annoying... that leaves the gnomes. Leper gnomes are not suitable either. Hmmm, but where...?" Phealea put a hand on her chin and looked up as if in thought.
Nightshade flashed a toothy grin and rose from her seat. "Why not take from what you know?" She said coyly.
Phealea turned her full attention to Night and frowned slightly, "Talula? Going after members of the Tong is bad for business. I have worked with them for too long and..." She trailed off as her frown grow. "I can't do that... Lula is... Lula is.."
"You know they only wish forrr one rrreason to cast you out. Do you think they will accept you with a demon's hearrrt? They will do to you as Von did to me. They will cast you out and hire assassins to do what they can not." Nightsahde said as she frowned with a bit of concern.
"But still..." Phealea said with a bit of a shake in her voice.
"What is rrreally holding you back? Your emotions forrr the gnome? She would be an easy tarrrget, one you could lure away. One who would not be known as missing forrr some time. Time enough forrr you to finish what you need too. The logic is therrre Phealea, yourrr emotions are blinding you too it." Nightshade purred attempting to restore that cold gaze back to the mage.
Phealea closed her eyes in concentration and waged a mental war against her swimming emotions. She frowned deeply as she slowly began to bring the calm of cold logic back into her mind and drowning out the cries of her weak heart. Irritation grew in Phealea, as her emotions seem to be getting more troublesome as she gets closer to everything. She sighed and opened her eyes and gazed cooly back at the druid, who could barely contain her wicked grin.
Phealea switched her com to a private channel. "Talula, this is Phea. I need you to meet me in Un'goro. There is something I need to ask you and you seem to know these jungles better than anyone." Phealea said cooly as she pulled out a rune stone. She fiddled with the rune stone as if lost in thought for a moment.
Nightshade grinned rather wickedly as everything was falling into place.
Talula was surprised to hear her roommates voice in her ear. Over the comm, Phea heard the gnome say "Please excuse me for a moment, gentlemen." The noisy tavern sounds faded and then she heard the familiar squeeky voice say "Miss Phea? So lovely to hear from you! What's this about the crater?"
Phealea's cool voice came back over the channel. "I could use your help. No one knows Un'goro like you. Can you spare a moment?"
There was a pause, and then Talula said "I would be delighted. The High Admiral is giving me some lip right now. Let me finish up with them and I'll meet you in the crater tonight. How about 10 o'clock at the flightmaster's tent in Marshall's Refuge?"
"That will do," Phea said. "Oh, and Lula? Don't tell anyone you're coming here. It's for a surprise."
"You got it! Anything to get away from these drunk dwarves." Talula's voice was easy and cheerful as she switched off her comm and went back to business.
Phealea nodded once she heard the click of the com. Talula was on her way to Un'goro and everything was coming together. Yet, instead that intoxicating rush of success as her plan began nearing its completion Phealea only felt what she assumed was anxiety. And she loathed every minute of it, but to her benefit her face was the perfect picture of neutrality. With the rune in hand it was but a simple thing to imagine her destination and her current location, assert her will on reality and for a moment bring both places together. Nightshade smiled and graceful stepped through the swirling portal. Phealea quickly followed after and the portal vanished into memory.
Once in Un'goro Phealea and Nightshade made their way quickly to the tar pits and began to sweep the area clean of the filthy elementals that called the place home. The area needed to be clean so there would be no disturbances or witnesses for the scene. The beasts and elementals screamed and howled in terror and agony for a long few moments and then silence. When the job was done for a hundred yards nothing lived. One human had stumbled upon the two women and was thrown screaming into a pool of inky darkness. Once his cries sank into the pit, Phealea heard a click in her com and a familiar, cheery voice popped into her ear. "Miss Phea, I just landed in the crater. Where are you?"
"I am in the tar pit area. You should be able to spot me. Careful of the elementals." Phealea said calmly.
"You got it Miss Phea. See you in a bit." Talula said as she took off like a gunshot.
As Talula spotted Phealea she waved a warm greeting and approached the mage. For some reason, as she approached, Talula could not shake the feeling something was off. Phealea had been acting weird for some time, not the happy and sassy girl she was when they had moved in. It was like she was someone else. Talula looked up at her roommate and tilted her head slightly. "Everything alright Miss Phea?" She asked curiously.
Phealea just looked down at the gnome, her hands shaking slightly.
"Miss Phea, what is wrong? Are you in some kind of trouble? Do you need help?" Talula asked each question with growing concern.
Phealea struggled to keep her face stone cold as she watched the gnome. No, as she watched Lula, her friend. Phealea frowned and mouthed two words and a tear formed in her eye. It froze, cracked and faded into the wind. Talula looked up at her roommate with wide eyes and reached out to grab the mage's hand. To help comfort her, against what was troubling her.
Phealea scowled coldly and jerked away from the gnome. "Close the deal." She said to no one in particular.
Nightshade prowled in the shadows and moved to "close the deal".
Isturaus stood gazing out his room's window in the Wayfarer's Rest, the cool breeze of the Eversong night flew gently into his room, filling it with its heavy scent of flowers and life, the same scent that descended from every blade of grass to every troublesome weed in the beloved forest of Eversong. He plucked his cigar from his lips and blew out a thick cloud of gray smoke, the winds quickly whisking it away and scattering it. Isturaus clutched the window sill tightly and narrowed his eyes, peering into the dark. Even with his powerful eyes that could see things in the dark other races could not, what he looked at did not appear as his gaze called to it.
He sighed deeply and loosened his grip, shaking his head and pressing the cigar into his palm, no sign of movement indicating he could even feel the sting of the ash digging into his delicate flesh. He tossed the now extinguished cigar into the streets below, a broom controlled by some wizard's spell quickly wisking it away to deposit in a more suitable place for such trash. "Something stirs in the wind...something...unsetteling..." Isturaus wrinkled his nose with a troubeled frown and stroked his forehead in an attempt to soothe his worry.
His efforts were invain which aggravated him more. He again looked into the night "What's wrong?" Isturaus looked over his shoulder to Noirs who was sitting up, bedsheets tucked around her lithe form to protect her warmth from the cold touch of the night's wind. He smiled gently and shook his head "Nothing love. Sleep. Every moment you are awake our child loses some of her's sleep too." He smiled lovingly to her, which she returned as she looked down to her stomach and stroked the now large lump on her belly. "Alright.." she nuzzeled her head back into the soft pillow and pulled the sheets up around her, quickly drifting back into the realm of slumber.
Something spoke to him. An inner voice of wisdom thatd rifted over his thoughts, its powers allowing it to override even his scarred brain filled with many a thought ranging from dark, to cruel, to happy, to joyful, and to troubled. "I believe someone...or someones may soon face a fate not even I could foresee...", he muttered softly to himself. With that, he closed the window and turned sharply on his heel, shucking off his shirt and crawling into bed, holding the now smiling Noirs in his protective, warm embrace.
"Close the deal? Miss Phea you're not making sense. What are you..." Talula's voice trailed off as she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. She turned to see a Night Elf casually walking toward them.
"My pleasurrre," the druid purred and shifted into the form of a giant black panther.
"No no no!" Talula's mind raced as she began to get a sense of who she was facing.
"Miss Phea! Run! You've got to get out of here!"
The gnome put her small body between her friend and the danger that approached. Hearing no footsteps, she turned to see the mage, standing still as a statue, her face a frozen mask of perfect porcelain.
"Phea! Run! Now!" Talula ordered again as the cat rushed her, claws flashing.
Deftly, the gnome dodged and rolled, blades sliding soundlessly from their scabbards. "This isn't a fight you can pull punches on, Spannerbang. There is only one way to survive this."
Talula inhaled sharply and disappeared into the surrounding jungle. Nightshade did the same, leaving Phealea standing alone in the ferns.
"She's impatient. Wait for her to get sloppy, then strike." No leaf rustled as the rogue carefully maneuvered to gain the upper hand. She sniffed the air and picked up on Nightshade's scent. Sharp eyes scanned the area and then she spotted it - a muddy pawprint, just filling with water. She focused her attention and made out the faint shape of the stealthed cat.
"I see you."
Slipping behind the druid, her blades flashed in the moonlight and a yowl of pain echoed across the crater.
Nightshade turned, biting at the heels of the gnome as she leapt out of the way. "Please let there be enough poison left on the blades!"
Shifting back to her Night Elf form, the druid said something sweet and ancient. The ground beneath Talula began to twist and writhe. Vines sprung up grabbing the gnome's feet and legs, holding her in place, trying to crush her. Then, an odd sort of dance began, as hands deflected coiling tendrils and feet freed themselves from the vice-like grip.
Nightshade growled. The gnome was supposed to be soft. An easy target. She had not counted on this. She shifted again, this time taking the shape of the bear. A mighty paw slashed across the small back, cutting leather armor to ribbons and drawing blood. Lu turned on her then, the look in her icy blue eyes had changed from concerned friend to lethal killer. Nightshade landed a second blow, knocking the gnome off her feet and tearing open her thigh. A snarl came from Talula and her blades flashed with the speed of summer lightning. Nightshade parried some, but countless others landed on her thick hide, cutting her flesh, forcing her to lose ground until she felt her hind quarters slip into the thick tar. Talula jumped back, seeing her enemy preoccupied. Nightshade heard her gasp of pain as she limped over to where Phea stood. Talula yelled again for the mage to run and shoved her with both hands.
A burst of ice sprang forth from Phea as the gnome made contact. Talula found that she could not move. "No! Not yet" was her last thought as the cold settled into her brain, slowing everything down.
Nightshade pulled herself from the sticky pool and transformed again. A soft chuckle escaped her lips to see the gnome frozen in place. She slowly drew her dagger. She would savor the taking of this heart.
"One down, two to go," she said, raising the blade high.
Phea's icy voice said only one word. "Wait."
Phealea watched the two vanish into the jungle surroundings and narrowed her eyes a bit. Her mind continued to replay the words Talula had spoke to her. The concern in her voice and the way she positioned herself in front of the druid. Time appeared to slow down as she watched the fight ensue. AThe spectacle was like a performance. Talula and Nightshade locked in a intimate dance of survival. It was when Talula was struck hard by the bear-shaped elf that Phealea saw something in the corner of her eye.
She shifted her gaze to see snow gently falling to the ground. She blinked at what she saw and then turned to fully view the impossible sight before her. The land in the crater had been frozen and cold winds swept through the former jungle. At the far end of her vision sat a tall throne made of ice and appeared to leak shadows. Shadowy tendrils lazily coiled about the throne and snaked their way upward into the sky where they would dissipate into nothingness. Phealea took one step closer to the odd throne and felt ice crack under her weight and then shatter. She quickly jumped back to she the landscape shatter away leaving a large chasm between her and the throne. Phealea gazed deep into the chasm and she heard a icy voice echo in her mind.
"All you must do is continue forward. Cast aside your fears and take what you will." The icy voice echoed.
Cautiously Phealea took a step out into the black maw of the chasm and something streaked from the darkness and stopped under her foot. When Phea gazed down at the thing which offered her footing she blinked in surprise as it was a human skull. Soon several more skulls came into view, forming a bridge which ended halfway to the throne. Curious she looked out at the pathway of skulls and and noted that some where different, nonhuman. Orc skulls were among those gathered for her own personal bridge. The orc skulls were larger than a normal orc, more fangs and spikes protruded from the base of the skulls. Before Phea could make sense of the vision, she was startled by shouting coming from behind her.
As she spun around everything was normal again and the druid had been foolish enough to fall into a tar pit. Talula use the time to move away from Nightshade and yell warnings at Phealea. As her senses returned to her she frowned at the druid for making such a amatuer mistake. When Talula reached out to grab the mage it was a simple deed to surround the gnome in energy and then freeze it about her.
For some reason, it was then she thought of all the times she had jokingly commented on freezing Talula. Now she stood before her frozen roommate and more memories floated back into her mind. Of how they sat about the work table hashing up new ideas, making the first prototypes of the new communicators, and toy plans for Taai's kid. A small smile almost formed on her face until a voice once again snapped the mage back into the real world.
"One down, two to go," Nightshade purred happily as she raised the blade high.
Phealea said one word which caused the druid to blink in a bit of confusion. "Wait." She ordered as she took a few calculated steps forward.
"What is the matterrr? Everrrything went as planned." Nightshade asked with a bit of annoyance in her voice.
Phealea narrowed her eyes and sighed with a bit of displeasure. Phealea crossed her arms and spoke in her icy tone. "The gnome will not be killed here, nor will it be done by your hand druid. She will be used during the ritual of my ascension. She is more than just a body. She is one last attachment that must be severed during the last phase of the ritual. My last act as a mere mortal and the completion of my ritual."
Nightshade's face twisted in rage at being denied her prize she opened her mouth but closed her mouth and grinned. A epiphany came upon the druid in that instant and she sheathed her dagger.
"Ah, I see. Verrry cleverrr my dearrrest mage. But if you arrre serrrious about keeping yourrr emotions in check till the time of yourrr ascension then I should keep hold of the gnome. Just incase you have a moment of weakness" Nightshade purred soothingly.
"I do not need you to protect me druid. My emotions do not stand in my way. Not anymore and nor will they ever. I will keep hold of Talula until I am ready for her. Understand." Phealea said with her ever calm voice. Her eyes still focused on the druid.
"That maybe so, forrr now, but if the Tigerrrs get any idea and poke about yourrr house. They may find morrre than you can explain." Nightshade said as she motioned at the frozen gnome.
The logic was sound but the druid was not, Phealea thought. Phealea uncrossed her arms and shook her head. Her emotions had been acting up far too much for her liking. She walked past Talula and stopped a few inches away from Nightshade and allowed a bit of energy to chill the air between the two. Nightshade's glowing eyes meet with Phealea's icy stare and Phealea allowed the tension to spread over a moment of silence.
"Fine, take her to the Swamp of Sorrows. There you will keep her and make sure she does not escape. However, up until the day of the ritual her life is your life. Remember that druid." Phealea uttered the threat and let it linger in the air.
Nightshade smiled warmly and nodded her head in agreement. Phealea pursed her lips for a moment and then nodded in satisfaction.
"Then I will meet you in the Swamp in one day's time. Near the border of the Blasted Lands. We will have hunting to do there as well." Phealea said with a slight edge to her voice.
Phealea then walked off into the jungles and vanished into the brush.
Nightshade smiled with horrid glee as she loomed over the helpless gnome. The gnome would live, for now, but she was going to have some fun first.