Bound and chained to the cold stone floor of her basement floor the bandit was trapped. His midsection had been split open and his ribs broken and removed, leaving his still beating heart exposed. The man's lungs moved in pain, agonizing breaths and his lazy gaze focused on the mage who deemed it fit to do this too him, with the ever present question of "why" contained within.
Phealea was seated not more than twenty feet from her test subject. She was channeling negative energies about her and flowing them into the bandit, keeping his organs functioning as long as possible. The same energies that subtly kept those under the curse of undeath, now pulsed in the man to keep him from falling into the realm of the dead. She maintained the energies pulsing about the bandit for a good hour before she was satisfied with her results. She stood up and walked over to a wooden box which was etched in odd runes. With the box in hand she knelt over the broken and tortured bandit and looked him in the eyes.
"Because I will it to be so." She said coldly as she pulled out her dagger. She saw the fear in the man's eyes as she began to channel negative energies into the dagger. The man screamed.
With a few precise cuts she removed the man's heart and concentrated for a long moment, letting the arcane energy flow into the heart and force it to continue it's beat. Phealea placed the heart into the runed box, which then began to glow, keeping the heart going.
Phealea satisfied with the results nodded to herself and turned to the man. She began to channel the power of fire into her hands, intensified it's power and then launched it at the open body of the bandit. In less than a heart's beat the body was nothing but ash. Phealea turned her back to finish her experiment.
She summoned Douroon to her side and then cut her finger with her dagger. She quickly went to work and summoned power to her hand. Once the power was sufficent enough for what she intended she placed a rock inside of the water elemental and then placed a hand what would be considered his chest. She froze a small section of his chest and etched a single rune in her own blood and allowed the rest of her energy to charge her blood with power. Phealea frowned in concentration and placed her hand over the rune and allowed her free hand to gather more energy. She began her chant and her hands lit up like stars in the dark room. In the climax of her spell the light from her hands expanded in a quick moment and the runed box exploded.
Phealea cleared her senses and looked at Douroon. Where the rock floated now floated a still beating human heart, which without the energies of the box finally died away. She turned to the shattered and smiled thinly as she saw a rock tumble gently against the broken wood.
"Perfect... now I need a to conduct one more test and fetch more wood from Teldrassil." She spoke softly to herself as she made mental notes.
A orc would fall, then a sin'dorei. Soon her true prize will suffer the same fate.
One step closer.
Phealea sealed the basement with physical locks and magical wards. There was no way she would allow anything to disrupt her plans. As the last seal went into place, she heard a loud quorking coming from outside. She needed to get to Darnassis but something about that sound piqued her curiousity.
Atop her roof, an unusually large raven looked to be building some sort of nest. The corner of her mouth turned up in a menacing smirk as she gathered the power to freeze the creature in place. The raven looked down at her, it's head cocked to one side. It gave a loud caw and swept off the roof, taking the bundle of sticks with it.
The mage paused, holding the magic in check as the black bird deposited the wood at her feet, then flew to the relative safety of a nearby pine. Phealea looked down at the gift and then blinked with surprise.
The wood was unmistakable. Deep mahogany red swirled with lush purple and gold. This was from Teldrassil.
"Now how did you know that?" she called softly up to the bird who was making the quorking sounds again. It fluttered to the top of the tree and Phea could see its glittering black eyes looking down on her.
Phealea gazed up cautiously at the crow and scowled. She then knelt down and examined the wood. After a moment of inspection a thin smile formed on the mage's lips. The smile quickly vanished as she stood up and placed a hand on her wide brimmed hat.
"Now how did you know that?" she called softly up to the bird who was making the quorking sounds again. "I wonder... are you a servant or the master? And why do you give me what I seek? Are you attempting to make amends?" She continued softly as she gazed up at the crow.
She did not know how the druid found out about her studies, but she was curious. For now Phealea would stay her hand until she gathered more information.
The large raven hopped to another branch and cawed with a bit of glee.
The large bird sized up the mage for a moment, then gracefully made its way to the ground. Phea watched with a hint of surprise as the raven's form twisted and shimmered and became a night elf. She grinned.
"Nightshade I presume? It's a shame I'll have to kill you now. You've been incredibly helpful."
Phealea said words that caused frost to gather on her lips and razor-sharp shards of ice flew from her fingertips. Nightshade dodged, but not before getting sliced her across the cheek. She touched the wound reflexively and then sucked the blood from her fingertips. This was going to be more dangerous than she anticipated.
The druid altered her form once again and her panther shape faded into the shadows of the forest.
"Hold, mage. I have no quarrel with you," the druid's honeyed voice called from somewhere in the woods.
"I have about half a dozen hearts - including one allegedly belonging to a friend - that tell a different story." Phea turned in place, her sharp eyes scanning for signs of her enemy.
"Von sent that orrrc to kill me. I was defending myself. Surrrely, every crrreature has that rrright." The voice came from the left.
"And I suppose the other hearts you sent were from people Von sent to kill you as well?" Phea asked, trying to get Nightshade to continue speaking so she could locate her.
"I only sent the last one. To show him that I will not be crrrushed under his heel so easily. The otherrrs were from Von himself. He needed some way to get the Tong to help destrrroy me. He's trrrying to set me up. You have no idea what he is capable of." The night elf's voice circled around in front of the human. Phealea smiled at the realization that her opponent was not completely stupid.
"I think we have a pretty good idea of who Von is," Phea called back.
"No. I don't think you do." The Nightelf's voice echoed off the house. "We were togetherrr for a hundrrred yearrrs. No doubt he told you that all the evil deeds we did were my fault. It's not trrrue. He was the one who killed that carrravan. He was the one who killed ourrr child."
"Your lies bore me. I have no reason to trust you." Phea held her spell.
"Yes. The Tigerrrs have taught you that lesson well, haven't they?" Nightshade purred.
"Why don't you just come out and let me finish this?" The mage called, growing irritated.
"How long did it take before they said they trrrusted you? Did you believe them?"
"I've earned the respect they give me."
"Ah. But rrrrespect and trrrust are two differrrrent things." Nightshade reappeared then, shifting back into her Nightelf form.
"If your leader trusted magic, don't you think he'd have you around all the time? Your abilities make you the most powerful of the Tigers. Why aren't you his right hand? Why does he get that look on his face even when you offer something as simple as a portal?"
The druid took a cautious step forward and continued, "And Kennia. Isn't it true that you have to suppress your ability around her because she reacts badly to magic? What about even your roommates? That undead girl is almost never home when you are there. The gnome is so lost in technology she could never possibly understand you. They would call themselves your friends? Don't you think you deserve better?"
Phea let go of the magic she'd been holding in reserve. Bits of slushy ice dropped from her fingers. "Been spying on me quite a bit it seems."
"I want to help you. We are alike, you and I. There is a kinship between us." Nightshade held out a hand, her voice soothing and ernest. "These are dark magics you are casting. What for? Power? Revenge? Respect? I understand the way of magic like none of your so-called friends ever could. Let's not suffer the mistrust of these Tigers any longer. Let's show them what we're made of. Let me help you."
Phealea watched the druid take a few cautious steps towards her as she spoke her honeyed words. Her hand, still wet from her spell, dropped to her side while her other hand rested easily on her wand. "Most likely using animals to watch my movements. How troublesome" She looked at the half naked night elf before and gazed coldly into those glowing eyes. She began to consider her options.
"They all still walk on glass about me at times. Tai still fears what I can do. Krelle is far to involved with other things to notice me and Talula is almost the same. None of them can be of any help to me in my plans." Phealea thought as she held the druid's gaze.
Something deep inside her reacted for a short moment and she felt a hot flash course through her. "They are my friends! She is dangerous! Nightshade will drown me in her own darkness!" wailed through her mind. Her face formed into a scowl as she felt something shift. It took her a long moment to readjust herself again. Her scowl turned neutral once again and her warm had vanished. Light and Darkness had nothing to do with logic or power, just words that are used to hold back ambition.
"You are lucky today druid, I do not need a night elf for my experiments, nor do I need your heart to impress my coworkers. My time is precious and you may be a use to me. You actually can understand some magical theory and you also seem to lack the conscience that limits others." Phealea said with a thin smile on her face.
"Do not presume to know me, kal'dorei. I seek one simple thing and your knowledge and power may be a aid in getting me what I need faster so I can be free and tie all the loose string together. But know this druid, there are allies and there are enemies. Allies I use and enemies I kill." Phea said with a edge to her soft voice.
Nightshade continued to hold out her hand as a smile spread across her features. "And what I am?" She asked with a cat like curiousity.
Phealea looked down at the druid's hand and clasped it in her own. A icy chill ran down Nightshade's arm from the unnaturally cold touch of the mage. Nightshade pretended as if it were nothing. "Allies." Phealea said and let the word linger in the air for a moment. "For now." she added in a moment later.
Nightshade smiled lovingly at the mage as she released her hand. She took another few steps toward Phealea and placed her hands on Phea's tight shoulders. "What is it that you seek, my dear Phealea?" Nightshade whispered softly into Phealea's ear
Phealea turned her head slightly and watched the druid's face from the corner of her left eye and smiled a wicked little smile. "The heart of a Nathrezim to replace my own human heart. So I will no longer be confined by the warmth and weakness of a mortal heart."
Nightshade's eyes burned brightly and her smile turned into a rolling laugh that startled birds from the trees and curdled milk in the village.
"The hearrrt of a Drrreadlord? How positively lovely! Which one are you afterrr?" The druid purred with delight. This mage was more than she could have hoped for. Qal'Tirrin would get what he deserved, the Tong would be destroyed and she would use one of their own to do it.
Phea stepped back and collected the wood at her feet "First things first. There are more materials to gather. I trust that you don't mind getting bloody?"
Nightshade affected an innocent expression and said "Well, I'm surrre they are verrry bad people and deserrrve to be punished."
A wicked grin crossed the nightelf's face as Phealea turned and went back into the house.