Krelle smiled over at the emaciated man next to her as the meeting broke up. "So, you're the new priest, eh? I'm Krelle."
He blinked, then smoothly nodded to her and smiled. "I guess I am the new guy. Pleased to meet you, Krelle. I'm Gerfank."
And why did the Lady send you here, Gerfank? "It's nice to meet you," she said brightly. "Hey, how 'bout we go for a drink? I'll buy you one, to celebrate your first meeting. Sound good?"
She chatted idly about the weather on the way to the bar. Buying them each a large glass of jungle-wine, she led him upstairs to one of the quieter rooms. The other tigers had business to attend to for the moment, which suited her fine. She and the priest sat at a table near the back of the room, chatting briefly about the taste of the wine.
"So," she said eventually. "How'd you hear about the Tigers?" It was an innocuous way to start a conversation, and she wanted to be friendly. She tuned out the rest of the bar, giving him her undivided attention.
"Well, in my past… life… I had some dealings with them," he said, with the characteristic awkwardness of the Forsaken when speaking of their human lives. Her interest was immediately piqued.
"Ohhh, really? Before you died? Were you a client? Who'd you deal with?" she asked him a flurry of questions, though she was already answering most of them in her head. Obviously before he died. And he must have been a client - he'd hardly try to get hired by the organization that had wronged him or killed him. He must have dealt with one of the alliance folk. Still, the plague had been years ago, so it must have been one of the older ones. "Ohh, was it Tai?"
Gerfank was looking increasingly uncomfortable. He shook his head. "Was quite some time ago, really. I uh, really shouldn't name names. It was my understanding that my dealings with him were somewhat under the table." Krelle noticed that he shifted in his seat slightly as he spoke. She immediately backed off - no need to pressure him now. Besides, she could just ask the others later.
"Ah, no worries," she said, waving it away easily. "I just think it's neat. I don't remember my human life at all, so I guess I get nosey with other Forsaken sometimes." She grinned at him a bit, looking bashful.
He nodded. "Understandable. I probably wouldn't were it not for my journals," he said, patting a stack of parchments hanging by his side.
A small part of Krelle was disappointed that he didn't remember his own life better - she loved hearing stories of Lordaeron before the plague - but most of her was immediately gripped by a powerful curiosity. She started thinking of ways to get into those books. Meanwhile, she kept him talking.
"Ah, so your journals were talkin' bout the tigers, and you wanted to join? I guess that makes sense."
"It's complicated," he said with a weak laugh.
"Unusual to find a priest interested in the kinda stuff we do," she said in an approving tone, trying to put him at his ease. "It'd be handy to have you around."
"Aye. Well, being a member of the Tong, it would give me access to resources that I otherwise wouldn't otherwise have. One of them being, well, a family… hopefully, within time of course," he said a bit wistfully.
Krelle nodded, smiling encouragingly at him. That reason, she could understand. Though it did strike her as odd that a priest would feel that way.
"There are other reasons… but no need to turn over those stones," he was saying.
Other reasons? Why would he bring them up if he didn't want to talk about them? Maybe he did. She feigned naivete and nodded encouragingly. "Like what?"
He looked grave. "I'd really rather not. I'm just happy to be aboard," he said, though his hand casually brushed his journals, as if to reassure him that they were still there. This guy would be terrible at poker. Unless he was leading her on deliberately?
She nodded easily, waving away the issue. "Sensitive topic? No matter. So yeah, it's a good feeling, being part of a team."
He nodded, evidently relieved. "Hopefully in time I'll be able to prove myself to the Tong, all the while accomplishing what I need to do."
You could start by telling us what the Fel it is you "need to do". Or, y'know, stop mentioning your mysterious errand every twelve seconds.
"Oh, that shouldn't be hard," she smiled. "Everyone's awfully nice, and the work is really independent, so you should have lots of time for little side projects." And I should have lots of time to keep an eye on you. "It's very different than working for the army, like I used to."
He nodded again. "So it seems. Though I did butt heads with that Garond tonight. I hope that wont reflect poorly on me."
Note to self. Talk to Garond. "Oh? I must have missed that, since I snuck in a bit late. I'd never met him before, actually. He seems a bit strange. Offering to do things for free, and talking about missing his targets… I dunno." Krelle did think that Garond's words were a bit odd, but she suspected that he had been joking, and she had missed it. Mostly she was trying to get Gerfank to relax - he was so guarded.
The priest let out a hearty chuckle. "Aren't we all so strange, though?"
"I dunno. I don't think I'm strange." Tell me why you're strange, Gerfank. Or tell me why you think I am.
"Well of course we aren't strange to ourselves. But to others? That's the true test," he said, nodding.
She pretended to consider that. "Oh… Am I strange to you?" she said, sounding intrigued.
He shrugged noncommittally. "Well, I really haven't much insight on yourself, so making such a judgement is hard."
She nodded easily. "Oh, well, I guess that makes sense." Would you just say something! "Well, if you have any questions, I'd be happy ta answer them, since you're new and all that."
"I've done my fair share of research on the Tong and its conduct, so I shouldn't be too far behind."
Research? He'd done research on a secret organization? It had been sheer luck that she had even found out that the Tong existed - and she had been actively looking for something like this - and this priest was doing research? Who was this guy?
"So what is it exactly you wish to do in the Tong?" he asked, surprising her.
"Hmm, me?" she said, stalling a bit.
She decided to be honest. It was simpler than making up something weird - and truly, Krelle had nothing to hide. "I just wanted a family. I don’t much care what we do. Though getting rich would be nice," she said as an afterthough. The priest grinned at her, so she continued. "Money is power, and if you have more power, fewer people can get ya."
The priest nodded. "Money's always nice. I'm looking to be an ambassador-type."
"Oh? Ta who?"
"To anyone we deal with, and those we'd like to deal with. A fast talker is always useful in organizations such as ours."
Krelle couldn't believe this guy. All of the Tong were fast talkers. Like they needed an enigmatic undead priest to be charming for them. She smiled innocently at him.
"Oh, like you'd be an ambassador from the Tong to other people?"
"Aye, you got the idea."
"You're a fast talker then?" she grinned at him.
"Well only when I'd like to be! I try and be sincere with my peers rather than weaving words around them." Oh, really?
She nodded, smiling. "We should get along well then. I'm a good listener!" And you have no clue how much you're telling me.
"Is that so?" he said, smiling. "Well then aye, we should find ourselves getting along just fine!"
"Well I guess it will be handy ta have an ambassador type around. Though having a healer would also be a bonus, really. Some of our missions are a little uh… imperilling!"
He cringed a bit. "Well aye, I've a bit of knowledge in healing I s'pose. Though holy magic.. Well let's just say I'm not overly fond of it."
She tilted her head to one side, examining him. "You serve Our Lady in different ways then, I gather? Still. As long as the wound is closed, it doesn't have to feel good." She had heard of dark magics that could also heal. The sensation was reputed to be remarkably unpleasant.
He shrugged. "I am a Priest of Darkness. I seek to spread no light upon these lands."
She was about to pursue that line of though when Nerrok walked in with a job. The Orc had heard that some of Booth's old contacts were still holed up in the Stonetalon mountains and he was taking a small party of Tigers up to look for them. With any luck they'd get a lead on the traitor - or even find him hiding with them.
Gerfank was eager to help. "Anything you need, just call on me, sir."
Krelle was also happy to help, having no pressing business of her own to attend to. She planned to head back to the Undercity to see if she could find any dirt on this new guy, but in the meantime this would be a good opportunity to get to know him a bit as they travelled. Besides, she was always happy to go to Stonetalon. The mountains were so beautiful.
They headed down to the docks and Nerrok went off to haggle their passage on a goblin trading ship. Krelle eyed an unusually large pile stack of crates with "This Side Up" and "Handle Gently!!!" labels on them. Curious, she shifted into her less-noticeable stealth mode and crept up to them to look them over. As she was climbing over one of the crates she heard the priest call out.
"Krelle? Where'd you go?" he yelled over the noisy din of the dock. She cursed quietly as she looked over at him. His hands were shaking and he was wandering aimlessly in the crowd, staring around as he called for her. What was wrong with him?
She hopped off of the boxes and faded back into view not far from him. "Hey, what's wrong? I was just checkin' something out." Way to almost blow my cover.
The priest was shaking, as though shivering from the cold. He shoved his hands into his coat pockets, rummaging around in them absently as though looking for something. "Oh, sorry," he said. "I uh, thought you'd wandered off, maybe."
"You can always call me over the com, Gerfank. No need to holler across the docks…"
Nerrok came back then, and they boarded the ship. As it cast off, Krelle stealthed away again, acting on a sudden impulse. She moved away from the hunter and priest, watching Gerfank covertly. Nerrok was preoccupied with seeing to his lion - who evidently was not a huge fan of ocean crossings - and Gerfank was left alone. He looked about himself fearfully, then found a corner among the loaded crates to huddle in. Krelle frowned. He looked miserable. All he needed was a hood and a driving rainstorm to complete the picture. Gerfank sat with his hands tucked under his arms, staring into nothing as his shoulders shook violently. Was he sick?
Acting on impulse she rummaged around below decks and found a scrap of metal in one of the holds. She came back up, unstealthing during a moment alone among the cargo, and went to the rail near where Gerfank was huddled. She saw his head rise as she came near, his eyes tracking her.
She went to the side of the boat and peered over, then smiled and dropped the bit of metal. She heard the priest laugh at her, a hollow sound in the wind.
She turned, arching an eyebrow at him.
"Slippery fingers, Krelle?"
"Dropping stuff into the water!"
She shrugged it off. "Just rocks," she said, reaching into a pocket and pulling out the pebble she'd kept from the Hinterlands. "I like watching them splash."
He snorted. Annoyed, she left, heading to the back of the boat. She stealthed and climbed up the wet, wind-tossed riggings to one of the spars, heading out to sit in an out-of-the way place on the crossbeam. Krelle often snuck up here to think during voyages - most people found it hard to get any privacy on board a ship, but rogues had certain advantages.
Gerfank was an enigma to her. Half of the time he seemed to be open and honest, with a real desire to be part of the family, but the rest of the time he was trying to hide things. And badly! If you had a secret, you don't tell people you have one, you just don't bring it up. It's like he was trying to be sneaky without ever having been told how. And why was he calling her out on random thief-like activities? What if she had stolen something and thrown it off the ship? If a crew had overheard their exchange then she would have been suspected when something went missing! Had he just been trying to tease her? Or was he annoyed cause she'd left him alone?
He acted like someone with no background in the stealthier ways of life. Being a priest, she could see that, but it was no excuse. He had better smarten up or he'd never fit in with the Tong.
She peered down from her perch above the sail, spotting him easily. He was where she had left him, out of the wind and out of the way of the crew, almost curled into a ball. He looked like someone who was just… enduring. Miserably.
She frowned. Maybe he was sick. Maybe his "project" was related to that… and maybe that's why he didn't want to talk about it? Hardly wise to tell your prospective employer that you're damaged goods.
She had originally feared that he had been sent here for some reason by the Lady, but that was clearly not the case. Gerfank was useless as a spy. His instincts were all wrong.
She frowned down at him. What the Fel was his deal, anyway?
"Boss? A moment?"
Nerrok nodded and padded over to where she stood by the side of the path. Keldu, Korttie and Gerfank continued on up the path, talking about a possible lead to the north.
Nerrok arched an eyebrow at her as she switched off her com. She spoke quietly.
"I'm getting sketchy vibes from the priest. I don't like him…"
Nerrok nodded, making some show of pointing at the mountains to the east as he switched his own transmitter off, as though they were discussing routes.
"How come?" he said softly. She was relieved that he took her concern seriously.
"He's hiding something weird. I'm gonna be all friendly and stuff, see if I can figure it out. Either that, or read his logs when he's not looking. I could be way off, but I dunno… I don't like him. Just thought I'd give you the heads up."
Nerrok nodded, making more irrelevant gestures. "You do that. You're not the first that's suggested their suspicion."
Krelle nodded slightly, glad it was settled. Then she did a double-take at his pet. Seeing the cat among the forest triggered a sudden flashback to the Hinterlands.
"Hey! I recognise that cat!"
The big Orc grinned down at her. "Ya do, eh? I've only had him around for the whole trip…"
She smirked at him. "You big softy."
His grin widened as he gave in. "You didn't think I'd leave you completely on your own, did ya?"
Krelle snorted at him, grinning. He chuckled and gave her a friendly whack on the shoulder.
"Get outta here."
"Allright. Listen, if we're huntin' for sneaky types, boss, I'm going to go solo a bit, all right? I know a few hidey-holes to check out."
Nerrok nodded at her. "Go to work then," he said, becoming serious again. He always took matters regarding Booth seriously.
She saluted him, then spoke into her com again as he jogged off to rejoin the others. "Guys, I'm going to check out a few little hideouts I know of. I'll catch up with you later."
"G'nite then," Keldu's low rumble came over the com.
"Safe hunting," Korttie's voice said in her ear.
"Take care," Gerfank's voice echoed.
Oh, I will.
Gerfank grumbled to himself as he handed a few coins to Inn Keeper Jayka. 5 silver just to sleep in an uncomfortable hemp hammock seemed like highway robbery to him but he was in a rush to get off his feet and collect his thoughts.
Most would find the peacefull atmosphere of Sun Rock Retreat relaxing, a place where taking time away from the real world is the number one priority but for Gerfank, it was nothing more than a place to take care of bussiness.
Gerfank found a low-hanging hammock in the back corner of the inn, far from anybody else and sat down. He quickly began running every little event that had transpired that night through his head. That Krelle...she was awfully nosey, asking all of those questions. Gerfank was sure she was put to it by Nerrok or one of the others but it didn't bother him. He was well aware of their rigorous screening and they were rightful in doing so.
Gerfank knew he couldn't keep his past a true mystery for much longer, in fact he had never even planned for this really. It had been his intent the entire time to be open with the Tong...for the most part. There were only a few more pages of his journals he had to go over and censor before he was able to turn in the papers.
"Another night," Gerfank whispered to himself as he turned onto his side and blew out the candle next to his hammock. Pulling the tattered stack of parchment he called his journals towards his chest, Gerfank closed his eyes and fell into a deep slumber.
Krelle slipped into the inn through the back door, silently shutting it behind her. The innkeeper was long asleep as were the travellers staying here and she saw no reason to wake anyone. Besides, if she left before they woke it would save them the trouble of having to charge her. It wasn't really stealing. It's not like she was eating anything.
Krelle moved silently along the back of the large common room, looking for an empty hammock to borrow for a few hours. She was tired, having spent all day running through the mountain paths. Two of the hide-outs she checked had been completely empty and although the third had shown signs of use the traces were so old as to be meaningless. She sighed quietly as she moved among the sleeping forms. She had two more places to check tomorrow, but she wasn't hopeful of finding much. Booth and his old cronies seem to have left the mountains - a wise decision in the face of an approaching winter. Maybe Nerrok and the others had had some luck.
She came to the corner where she usually stayed - the hammocks in this group were too small for Tauren, and often empty - and was surprised to find the recumbent form of Gerfank in her usual spot. She paused, surveying the sleeping priest gravely.
He was sleeping deeply, no doubt also weary after a long day of searching. Keeping up with the hunters was enough to tire anyone out. He was also, she noted quickly, sleeping with his journals under one arm.
Her weariness vanished as she eyed the stack of papers. Gerfank had evidently fallen asleep with the journals clutched to his chest, but had shifted somewhat in the woven hammock and they now lay pinned between the side of his chest and his left arm. If she were careful, she could see half of every page without even lifting them.
Krelle held her breath as she stealthed, moving in close to peer at the pages. Her small fingers deftly turned back the edge of the first few, revealing many lines of tight, neat writing. Written in the Common tongue of humans.
She barred her teeth in silent frustration. Figured.
Krelle frowned stubbornly and continued through the pages. The first third or so of the packet seemed to be journal entries - she could see what looked like dates at the top of some of them, and each was signed. Her gaze lingered briefly on the signature as she deliberately memorized it.
Further on the writing became more erratic, as the style of someone taking notes in the field. There were small diagrams, mostly of different plants. Was he an alchemist? More notes, some messy scribbles, what looked like the edge of a map of Tanaris… Krelle paused as she neared the middle of the stack, her gaze lingering on a series of small equations. The notes written beside them were in Common, but she recognised the symbols and diagrams as part of the universal language of engineering. She spent a few seconds memorizing one small diagram she could see the entirety of - some kind of sorting mechanism.
She continued flipping curiously, noting that the style had switched back to neat journal entries. After several pages of this she paused, frowning. She flipped back to the first journal page that had appeared after the schematics and studied the symbols closely. Then she eased the pages back together and looked at the top of the packet again. The symbols were identical.
Checking carefully, she confirmed her suspicion. He had a second copy of nearly all of the journal entries, almost identical to the first, though some entries seemed to be a bit shorter or longer than the originals. Also, she could find no copy of the plant drawings, or field notes. There were some engineering schematics, but they were not the same as the first ones.
Krelle moved away, leaning against a neighbouring hammock-post and letting herself breathe again as she considered. It didn't take her long to come to a few conclusions. First, she could check those last two caves before noon tomorrow if she left now. Second, her hearthstone was keyed to the Undercity, where she had some useful contacts. And third, the only hard part would be tracking down Talula before Winterveil - and actually getting her attention for a few minutes.
She slipped out of the inn the same way she had entered, and the door closed silently behind her.
Gerfank awoke in the middle of the night to find himself in a cold sweat and shaking.
"Not again," he muttered to himself miserably. Realizing that he wouldn't be getting back to sleep that night, Gerfank sat up in his hammock and brushed whatever lethargy remained from his eyes.
He walked up the stairs and out onto the rear balcony and took a deep breath of the fresh mountain air, hoping it would cure his tremors but it was to no avail, he continue shaking as if he himself was seated upon the Throne of Ice.
He sat himself down, dangling his legs over the balcony edge and pulled out his stack of parchments. Chewing on the end of his wand, he flipped through the pages until he came upon a particular page full of schematics, mathematical equations, and a myriad of scribblings, and began sribbling.
Sometimes problems just couldn't be solved, rather they just had to be swept under the carpet.
Krelle sighed, rubbing one hand across her face wearily.
The small Forsaken sat on her desk, one foot hanging over the edge, listlessly banging her heel against the old oak boards. She rested her chin on her knee, her hands clasped about her shin. Charr had found plenty of information about Gerfank, but none of it was what she was interested in.
The dull thud of boot against wood echoed through the empty room as she mentally listed off what she'd learned. He was from the East. Joined the Scarlet Crusade, leaving home and family behind. Thud. Was dedicated, devoted. Ideal cultist. Thud. Is now extremely bitter, because when the plague came and the first of them got sick, his whole company was locked inside their barracks and left to die. Thud. Typical Forsaken sob story. Thud. Every forsaken she'd ever met had one. Her foot paused as she briefly wondered what hers might be, but her thoughts skittered away from the idea, focusing again on the information she'd picked up. Thud. He'd risen. Crazy pissed - as he should be. Thud. Has it out for the Crusade - what undead doesn't. Thud. Did his basic training in the Undercity, but didn't stay with the army. Thud. He travels a lot.
She sighed, bringing up her leg and resting her forehead on her knees, her green dreadlocks falling forward to lay against her cheeks. So now the ex-cultist-turned-dark-priest had joined a secret worldwide family business, because… why? He'd had dealings with them in life?
His name had been Marco. None of the other tigers could remember dealing with a Marco. He had probably dealt with the Tong before it had… well. The plague had been years ago. A lot had happened since then. "Marco" was another dead end.
She bonked her head gently against her knees, trying to figure it out. What would a Scarlet Crusader want from the Tigers - that he would still need in death? It made no sense.
She sighed, obviously not getting anywhere. She needed more information.
Krelle frowned. She would never betray the trust of a family member. But, well… he wasn't one yet, now was he?
"And you won't be til this is figured out, priest. It's for your own good."
Her mind made up, the girl hopped from her desk in one smooth motion, already headed towards the door. She shut it tightly behind her and headed down the long hallway in a brisk jog, trying to shake off the weariness. She told herself she would nap on the airship.
Gerfank's schematics were the key to this - and she just happened to know a stealthy young gnome who not only spoke common, but was also an excellent engineer.
She grinned as she ran. She was so lucky.
Gerfank flipped furiously through page after page, his anger building with each passing moment.
In the entire damned library, not a single book, chapter, page, or even a measley sentence dedicated to what he was looking for. Slamming the book shut, Gerfank stood up from his chair and made his anger very clear to the Druids of Moonglade.
He had come up to the small area on a hunch that if anybody were to have any idea about the substance he sought, it would be those who were still loyal to Cenarius. After all, anything that was the fruit of the land had to exist only under Cenarius' knowledge, right?
The lack of any mention of what Gerfank sought in the libraries of the Druids lead to two possible conclusions:
Either it wasnt natural, or it was foresaken by the Druids.
Talula sighed as she watched the goblin crew unload her first shipment of boxes from Stormwind. Normally, she would be enjoying the last week of her second-favorite holiday but not this year. No, this year she was frantically moving away from the familiar streets of Stormwind, further still from her lost home in Gnomeregan.
She looked out across Booty Bay and spotted her new roommate coming down the dock. Talula waved as Krelle got closer and said "Thank goodness! The first crates from my workshop have arrived and I don't even know where to take them! I really hope the gyroscopic transformers in that box are still in one piece. It looks like someone dropped the..."
Talula stopped when she noticed the puzzled look on Krelles face. "Translator! Right. Stupid..." She rummaged around in one of the deep pockets of her favorite overalls and pulled out the small black box. Switching it on she said "It's so nice to see you! Which way is home?"
Krelle grinned as Talula fiddled with the translator. The little Forsaken was eager to ask for Talula's help with the journals, but that would come later. First, she had a bit of a surprise. Her grin widened in anticipation.
"I show you," Krelle said in the Cant. She was getting much better at it, but still had a tendency to speak in a kind of baby-talk. Talula was also learning the Cant, though neither were experts yet. No doubt they could practise more in their new home.
Krelle told the goblins to stack the gnome's things neatly - and carefully - and then she beckoned to her new roomie, an impish grin on her face.
"Come, Talula! Come see the house," she said, leading the poor, frazzled little gnome along behind her. They hurried through the maze of shacks and alleys to the lower levels of Booty Bay, Talula fretting about her things and worrying about how they were going to carry them all. Krelle just grinned with suppressed excitement, hurrying the gnome along. Finally they came to a low door at the end of a pier, and Krelle stopped. She turned to Talula and handed her a heavy skeleton key, motioning for her to do the honours as she stepped aside with a little bow.
Talula opened the door and gasped.
The flat that Krelle had found them was well-suited to a pair of small engineers. Built up along the cliffside in the lowest level of the stacked up city it was cheap and, most importantly, sturdy. A smithy occupied the space above them, the forge set into the granite of the back wall. Loud noises would not be a problem - and small repairs could be done close to home, should the issue ever come up.
The entire apartment was one room, though the front half had an oddly slanted ceiling held up by large beams. Krelle hadn't been sure how much room Talula would need, so she had set up her own hammock and a few shelves among those beams. She didn't need much space, and had no equipment of her own yet, really. That left the rest of the huge room for her friend.
The walls were covered in shelves, left there by a previous tenant. Some were small, others large and deep, but all were sturdy. There were also two worktables - covered in burn marks, but also extremely sturdy - that had been too large to take out when they'd left. Krelle had measured them out of curiosity and sure enough, they wouldn't have fit through the door. Upon doing some other measuring, she had thoughtfully sawed two feet off of each table leg to lower them to what she figured would be a good gnome-height. That would be safer than stools. She had also cleaned up a space in front of the large front window, thinking that might be a nice place for Talula's bedroom-type-things to go in. The light was good, there, anyway.
It was not the furnishings, however, that had left the little gnome speechless and the small Forsaken giggling in glee behind her. Sitting along those low bench-tables were several other Tigers, all drinking from the chilled wine and ale that Krelle had stored in a bucket. They all greeted the new homeowner with hearty cheers and waves as she stepped through the door.
"What are you all doing here?" Talula asked, her translator dutifully repeating the question in Orcish.
Nerrok snorted. "Drinking your wine!"
Taai grinned and elbowed him playfully. "We're here to help you move in, Talula. You didn't think we'd let you carry those huge boxes by yourself did you?"
The afternoon passed with a decidedly festive tone. Many members of the Tong came and went, some stopping for a few minutes to pass on their best wishes - and, perhaps, to take a pint - while others stayed for most of the day, helping to bring down the heavy boxes and unpack the laboratory equipment. A job that would have otherwise taken weeks for the two small engineers was instead finished before midnight, and everyone settled down for a meal of roasted fish and ale.
The ale had been Nerrok's idea.
"Will there be booze?" he'd asked Krelle with a teasing grin when she'd approached him with the housewarming party idea. "I'll come if there's booze."
He was so wise.
Krelle smiled happily at her little family as they sat telling tales by the firelight. She and Talula had a lot to talk about - but it could wait until tomorrow.
Krelle picked up the neatly-folded note.
I'll be gone a few days. If there is an emergency, I'll be in Ungoro Crater, but comm reception is notoriously bad there. I promise to come back with some interesting ideas for improvements to the Ogrimmar offices.
The forsaken sighed, tucking the note away in her pocket. Looks like she'd have to wait a few more days to enlist Talula in the Great Journal Caper.
Ah well. Nerrok had invited her up to see the renovations going on in Orgrimmar, and to try his stew.
She grabbed a few things, and headed out to catch a blimp to Orgrimmar.
Krelle strode in her quickest courier's walk through the streets and walkways of Booty Bay. She was not alone in her grim stride - nearly everyone in the Goblin-run city was wearing a dark face these days, and what few people stopped to talk in the streets did so in hushed tones, with furtive glances.
Nerrok was busy getting things underway in Orgrimmar and since she had heard over the comm that Talula had returned to their pad in the Bay, she had left him to it. She wanted to wrap up this Journal Nonsense (as she was currently calling it) quickly. If Gerfank was trustworthy then they needed to know that. There would likely be plenty of work for a healer when this business with Ratchet was done.
She unlocked the door to her home and entered, peering around in the darkness.
"Talula?" she called out, closing the door softly behind her. "You here?"
A soft snoring from the gnome's bed made her grin. Finally! Krelle walked up to the gnome's sleeping area, pausing for a moment as her eyes adjusted to the faint light from the torches outside of the window. Talula was curled up in bed. Her hair, still damp from her bath, was spread out on the pillow and she had pulled the blankets up tightly under her chin. She was a tiny, cozy ball of sleeping gnome. Krelle smiled at how cute she was. Talula was probably the only Tiger who was smaller than she was...
Krelle frowned and looked closer - her friend seemed to have a few new bruises. Casting an eye at the pile of dirty laundry by the foot of the bed, she saw that much of Talula's things were filthy, and a few rips were showing. Her eyebrows rose as she considered it. Must have been an interesting trip, she thought to herself.
Ah well. It was past midnight, so hopefully the snoring little gnome had slept enough. Krelle wasn't sure how much sleep gnomes needed, but she knew where Gerfank was staying tonight and also knew that they'd have to move now to catch him.
She reached out a small hand and shook the sleeping gnome's shoulder.
"Wake up, 'Lu. Business calls."
Talula opened one groggy eye. "....mmmmwoszat?...AAHHHHHH!!!" The gnome sat bolt upright, and clutched her covers close under her chin, then relaxed as she recognized the undead face looming over her. "Well, THAT is unsettling" she said. Krelle cocked her head to one side, not understanding the gnomish words. Talula fumbled in the dark for her translator, but was unable to find it.
It had taken her 23 years to learn common and she wasn't picking up the secret language of the Tong any faster. She wracked her brain, trying to think of how to ask what was wrong in the cant. "Miss Krelle," she said rubbing her eyes sleepily, "What's the hamster?"
Two small silhouettes crept along the edge of the jungle towards Grom'Gol base camp. The overcast skies blackened out any light the stars or moons might have shed, and the constant pounding of the surf covered any sound the two might have made.
They scrambled up the outside of the palisade, light and quick as squirrels, hopping easily over the sharpened logs to land silently behind the inn. The outpost was quiet, everyone having long sought their beds. The taller shape led the way, climbing up the outside of the inn's wall. The smaller took a watchful look around, then followed its companion up the enormous beam.
The window they sought was set flush against their improvised ladder, the shutters thrown open to let in the ocean breeze. They ghosted into the small room, coming finally to a stop at the foot of the bed. The taller shape crept up to the sleeping victim as the smaller slowly and silently pulled a large, flattened object from its satchel. Moving as one, they stole the bound journals of the sleeper, replacing them with a similar bundle. Should he turn in the night, he would not notice their absence.
Leaving the way they had entered, the two shadows disappeared into the jungle.
"Want me to light fire?"
"What? Hang on, let me turn this on."
"Would you like me to light a fire? The lamp you brought doesn't seem to be working."
"Oh it'll work, it just needs a moment to warm up."
"… there, see?"
"Neat! You'll have to show me how it works later."
"Of course! But now -"
"Yes. Go ahead and open them, I've already seen them."
"Hmm. The first part is indeed a journal. Here he's talking about joining the Scarlet Crusade… here he's travelling somewhere, and saddlesore…"
"These go on for a while…"
"Skip to the schematics and sketches. Those are what he's excluding from the copy he was making for us."
"Ah here - oh, these are quite good."
"Is that a plant?"
"Yes, this is dreamfoil, see? And here's some of goldthorn…"
"I guess. I don't know plants. What about these schematics?"
"There, see that one? That's the sorter I drew you."
"It looks like part of a more complex machine…"
"What do his notes say, there?"
"I'm reading them, hang on, hang on! Um breakdown compnents yadda sort and dum dum identify… hm. It looks… I'm not sure I understand his machine completely, the human engineering traditions are a bit strange…"
"I think it's a machine that is designed to identify the … component parts of a complex substance."
"Your translator mangled that one. What?"
"It's like he's trying to take a cake, and work out what the recipe was."
"Oh. That would be tricky."
"But not impossible, depending on how you bake the cake."
"Why would he keep that a secret…"
"Well, hang on now, what's 'Drop'?"
"You mean, to fall?"
"Same word. Maybe his journals explain it?"
"Let's check the parts that he was leaving out of the copies. I'll show you where they are…"
Krelle leaned back against a damp tree trunk, frowning. Talula sat close to her dim little thief-light as she read Gerfank's journals more slowly. What they had found was troubling. Gerfank had apparently come across a highly addictive drug called "drop" when he had been alive, and many of his friends had become addicted to it. His journals become incomplete and ill-kept at that point, and degenerated into notes about trying to understand the effects, to control them, and, most troubling, how to make more of the drug.
Talula was skimming through the journals, trying to understand what they had found, but Gerfank had the tendency to use his own shorthand and his writing was messier in the passages that concerned the drug. They had been poring over the journals for an hour and the only conclusion that made sense was that their priest was a drug pusher.
The little gnome finally shut the package with a sigh, and started to tie it back up.
"Nothing else, eh?"
"No. What do you think?"
"If he is dealing drugs secretly, and trying to keep that from us, then he's not only a moron but he's also endangering the company's name. We ought to get rid of him."
The gnome nodded slowly. "That's true… but I'm not entirely sure that that's what's happening here." "Well what do you think it is?"
"I'm not sure, but it feels wrong. None of his notes are about market prices or anything - they seem to be the notes of a scientist, more than of a drug dealer."
"Hmm. Did you see any other reasons in the journal?"
"No, he stopped keeping such a neat journal when he died, I think."
Krelle nodded, making her decision. "Well. Then I guess we won't be learning any more by sneaking around. Let's go put those journals back - I don't want him to know we're on to him," she said as she stood up, brushing loam off of her pants.
"What are you going to do?"
"I'm going to find someone bigger and scarier than me. Then we'll just beat the truth out of him."
Gerfank sat with his back pressed against the wall at the bottom of the Zeppelin tower in Grom'gol and let out a long sigh.
After finding such promising leads on his search, he still had come up empty handed. "What am I doing wrong?" he whispered to himself as he chewed on the end of his writing quill.
Gerfank nearly slammed his head against the wall as he jumped at the cackle of his com, "Anyone be dere?" a coarse Troll voiced whispered.
"Yeah, Gerfank here. That you Korttie? You ok?"
"Aye, need help here at Grom'gol. This chest is too heavy for me to carry"
Gerfank let out another sigh, ignoring the curiosity of Korttie being at the same place as himself, as he stood up and walked out of the Inn and began searching for Korttie.
Krelle whistled softly and beckoned Korttie over.
The tall troll huntress sauntered easily over to where the girl sat, perched on a stack of crates by the edge of the camp. "Hoy, dere, sistah. How you be do'en?"
Krelle grinned, responding softly in the Tong Cant. While she still used baby-talk around Talula, it was only because the gnome's own understanding of the Cant was so limited. By now Krelle had more or less mastered the code. "Busy. I'm glad you could get here so fast. You know Gerfank, the priest associate?" Korttie nodded slowly and the forsaken continued. "He's staying at the inn here in Grom'Gol. Nerrok has had suspicions about his motives for joining us, and asked me to investigate, see?"
Korttie cast a casual glance over one shoulder, her eyes scanning the inn in a quick sweep. "He be tinkin' he be wit' Booth?" she asked, also speaking quietly in the Cant.
Krelle shook her head in a slow no. "I don’t think it's related to the.. Booth… thing," she said, frowning. "It's something else. Talula and I stole his diary last night. I think he's a drug pusher or something. I've found out all I can from stealth. I think it's time to lay that method aside and just beat the facts out of him… Wanna give me a hand?"
"Ya, mon." The two tigers shared a grin of malicious anticipation.
"Great," Krelle said. "Lets get him out of town first. I'd rather not have the guards get curious," she said as she hopped off the crate. The top of her head didn't even reach the troll's shoulder.
"Where to?" the troll asked, cracking her thick knuckles unconsciously.
"Hmm," Krelle said, thinking. "The beach is nice and quiet. I doubt he'd accept an invitation to go fishing, however. We might need something more exotic."
"He male, yah?" Korttie said with a grin. "Ah get 'im out, joo'll see." Krelle eyed the troll, one eyebrow going up. Korttie winked and struck a pose, tossing her long braids over her shoulder. Her mohawk stood in a proud fan atop her head and the moonlight glistened off of her sweat-dewed skin. The huntress was wearing a sturdy halter in the heat of the jungle, and her bulging biceps were not the only assets it showed off. She cut an impressive figure, Krelle had to admit.
"I'll let you handle it. I'll wait out on the beach - he already knows I'm suspicious of him, so I wouldn't want to tip him off," she said with a wry grin.
Korttie nodded, following the little forsaken out the door. "I go to dah beach too - Vespa dere."
"Vespa," the troll said simply, nodding down towards the water. Krelle blinked behind her mask. Coiled in the surf was a giant spitting cobra, apparently entranced by the fish darting about below the waves. Korttie gave a low whistle and the huge serpent slowly turned its head. It came towards them as they walked along the wall, slithering with that peculiar lassitude of snakes everywhere. The three of them paused just around the corner, and Korttie spoke to Vespa in a strange hissing trollish. The snake nodded once, then turned its unblinking eyes on Krelle. She smiled and patted its head. It hissed at her warningly, flaring out its hood and showing its fangs. Krelle giggled.
Korttie nodded. "Ah go get 'im. Joo wait heah," she said, and turned back to the camp. Krelle stealthed so she could peek around the corner, and waited patiently for her mark to come out.
Krelle smiled to herself as Korttie began to lie over the com, asking Gerfank to help her with some kind of treasure chest that was too heavy for her to carry. Krelle shook her head. It was hard to imagine a weight that the troll couldn't handle.
After only a few grumbles, the priest acceded, and soon Korttie was leading him down to the spot where Krelle and Vespa were waiting.
"Where's this trunk?" Gerfank asked, casting his gaze around suspiciously. Krelle moved slowly, careful to make no noise in the wet sand as she circled around behind him.
"'Ere, by da watah," Korttie said, beckoning to the priest.
Krelle was behind him now. With a small smile on her face she let the stealth slide off of her. "Gerfank."
"Gah!" he said, spinning around. "Krelle! What…?"
"Have a seat," she said, motioning for him to do so even as she lowered herself to the ground. Gerfank raised an eyebrow suspiciously, but a quick glance over his shoulder showed him that Korttie was grinning wickedly as Vespa slithered to a stop beside her. The troll cracked her knuckles again, clearly hoping he would cause trouble. The priest nodded slowly and lowered himself to the sand. Korttie and Vespa nodded as one, then moved to take up positions on either side of him. The snake stared at him, unblinking, sitting just at the corner of his vision to his left. Korttie crouched on his right with a grin that showed off her long teeth, and her tusks. Gerfank looked to Krelle, who was seated cross-legged in front of him and studying him with a small frown.
Krelle leaned forward, proping her elbows on her knees, her hands joined in front of her with just the fingertips touching. "Let's get something straight, shall we?"
Shivering, the priest nodded.
"You are on thin ice, priest. I am going to ask you some questions. If you do not answer them completely honestly then Korttie is going to feed you to the fish. In small pieces, since the fish are small."
"Or biggah," Korttie suggested in a voice that verged on a growl. "Vespa 'ere be 'ungreh." The snake hissed, flaring its hood. Gerfank stared from one side to the other, finally turning back to Krelle.
"Is this some kind of joke?"
"Ah no be laughing," Korttie said in a dreadful tone. Krelle was impressed how much she sounded like a large predator. Trolls, she reflected, were fairly intimidating.
"What's Drop?" Krelle asked, cutting off the priest before he could protest.
"Gah! Uh… wh-what do you know about that?"
"Everything you've written down," she said, giving a tiny nod to his journals. "But not enough to be absolutely, completely sure that you're in need of killing. Yet."
Gerfank's eyes had widened, his hands possessively clutching the bundle of papers. "But you haven't seen my journals!"
"I have," she said coldly. "And Talula has. We were… confused. Explain now," she said, and leaned forward, apparently listening attentively.
Gerfank stared at her in chagrin, but Korttie drew one of her axes and made some show of checking the edge. The priest sighed bitterly. "So this is the warm welcome you give all members, eh?" he said, stalling.
Korttie growled and slammed the axe down in front of him, burying half of the blade in the sand. She leaned forward menacingly and hissed in his ear. "It could get coldah, if dass whatchoo want." The priest blanched.
Krelle frowned at Gerfank as Korttie slowly sat back. "Only liars," she answered his question.
"I never lied to anybody."
He seemed to deflate a bit, his resistance crumbling. He hunched over, holding his head in his hands as his shoulders started to shake. "Drop is… a substance. A stimulant."
"Made of plants?" Krelle prompted.
"That's what I've been trying to determine!" he burst out in a voice that hinted at hysteria. Krelle waited, and he continued. "I've… never been able to produce it myself."
"Why joo wanna?" Korttie demanded.
Gerfank glanced at the troll. "I'm an engineer. Curiosity runs in my blood."
Korttie made an indelicate sound of disbelief. "Joo be makin' coin, yah?"
Gerfank shook his head stubbornly. "I haven't made a spot of jink from this cursed substance, it's only cost me," he said in his usual bitter tone. "Have you any idea of the costs of research and development? Surely you do, Krelle," he said, casting an appealing look to his fellow engineer.
Krelle tapped the fingers of one hand on her knee. "I've never tried to make a drug."
Korttie was sniffing suspiciously at the priest. "Joo be usin' diss stuff?"
Krelle arched an eyebrow at the suggestion, tilting her head inquiringly as she looked to Gerfank.
The priests was starting to sweat. "In order to cure, you must first understand!"
"Cure? You said you were trying to make the drug. What is this drug a cure for?"
Korttie sniffed again. "Joo be sick, eh?"
Gerfank shook his head miserably. "It's not a cure. It's the very thing that ails..." Krelle frowned at the mysterious talk, but he continued, glancing at Korttie. "I wasn't sick. At first. In my… past life, at the Monastery, we were researching this substance. In a crusade through Southern Kalimdor , I had come upon an old contact, and he introduced me to it, along with the people it had afflicted, including himself." Krelle nodded, looking interested, and Korttie rubbed a tusk thoughtfully, her axe still held casually in her other hand. "I took some back, to be researched by the Crusaders, and they…" his voice choked off, and he cleared his throat. "They insited that I try it."
"Wot happen?" Korttie asked.
"'To cure we must first understand,' they kept saying." He spat in the sand beside him. "What happened? Hah. Didn't take long for the euphoria to dissipate and for me to realize I was addicted."
Krelle leaned back in sudden understanding. "Oh… you died while you were still addicted?"
Gerfank laughed mirthlessly. "Once you're addicted, there's no going back."
Krelle frowned. "Why didn't you tell us?"
Korttie nodded. "Jah. You be tellin us diss long time ago, yes?"
Gerfank sighed. "I thought I had a breakthrough at the time, one that would allow me to produce my own, and become self-sufficient."
Krelle shrugged her small shoulders. "You still should have told us. It's easy. You say 'Oh by the way I'm addicted to a drug. I'll pay for it.' Like that."
Gerfank stared at her incredulously. Krelle stared back. Now that she understood the situation, she was much less worried about the whole thing. She even felt a tinge of sympathy for her fellow Forsaken. Surely he hadn't believed he could ever be cured?
Korttie was frowning. "Wait - joo say dere no be goin' back once joo be hooked - but cho're lookin for a cure?"
Gerfank shook his head regretfully. "There came a time when I realized a cure was not possible. My idea of a cure is to produce my own drop and sustain the addiction."
Krelle nodded. "You cannot change yourself," she said, quoting her mentor, Hakk. "Only the living have the ability to ever be healed fully. We can only ever be as whole as we were when we rose." If magics or tonics could cure forsaken…. Well, she'd have eyes, wouldn't she? And Hakk would have had a lower jaw. But that's not the way the world worked. Gerfank would never be cured of this addiction. Even if he went a hundred years without the substance, his shakes and misery would be just as acute as the first day he had died.
Gerfank was shaking his head. "Being alive wouldn't do me much better. Don't you see, I was in a similar position when I was alive!"
Krelle shrugged matter-of-factly. "You're dead now. That is all that matters. The Dark Lady bids us deal with the world as it is. 'Leave hope to the humans.' So. All this suspicion over your addiction..." Krelle sighed, shaking her head. What a waste of time.
Gerfank raised an eyebrow. "What was it you thought I was doing?"
Krelle frowned at him. "Dealing drugs, obviously. The humans in the business have very strong opinions about those, I've noticed. The fact that you were hiding your presumed drug deals would have been… well, they would have killed you, if that's what you'd been up to." Krelle leaned back, her palms against the wet sand behind her, thinking. This explained a great deal. The constant shivering, distracted bearing, misery and bitterness… and the desperate edge to some of the things he would say. It made sense now, and she was profoundly relieved to finally get to the bottom of this situation. If his whole barracks *had* been addicted, it would also explain some of the things she ran into in the Undercity when doing her research on his past…
Korttie was talking. "Wot if joo get da stuff now? Da crusaders be havin it, yes?"
"Well, they did," the priest said. "I couldn't tell you if they still have any - though I've been listening carefully to any news of the Crusaders…"
Krelle thought quickly. "But your whole barracks was locked up," she said.
"We were 'quarantined'… and exterminated," he said with a familiar bitterness.
"Crusaders still living wouldn't be the ones you're looking for…" she said, leaving the thought hanging. She and Korttie exchanged a speculative look.
"Mebbe dem dat be alive be havin some books about 'em? Like his?" Korttie suggested, pointing at Gerfank.
"I… might have a quicker way," the little rogue said.
Gerfank slowly raised an eyebrow. "Eh? What's that?" he asked, obviously trying not to get his hopes up.
Krelle sat in silence for a moment as she thought. She absently palmed the pebble from her pocket and started it tumbling across her fingers. Gerfank stared at the little stone as it rolled across the back of her knuckles, dancing in her hand. It paused. "Does 'drop' go by any other names that you know of?" she asked the priest.
He shook his head. "Not that I know of, that's what the locals called it. That was many years ago though."
Krelle nodded absently, the pebble resuming its dance around and through her fingers. She ignored Korttie's questioning look as she thought, her attention fixed on reliving scenes from the Undercity and considering options. Finally, she palmed the pebble again, her attention coming back to the sweating priest in front of her.
"Let me clarify the situation, if I may?" she proposed, sitting up straighter. "There is a lot of new information here." She paused for Gerfank's nod, then continued, ticking off facts on her fingers as she spoke. "You are addicted to drop. You will always be. I think I know where I can find it - though it's tentative. That's one thing I have that you want," she paused, glancing at the hunger in his eyes. His hands were shaking visibly at the thought of the drug. She continued. "You also meant what you said when you told me that you were looking for a family. I know - I was the same way. The tong could be that family for you. So that's two things."
Korttie nodded speculatively, following the logic. "Mebbe we be helpen joo, yes?"
Krelle nodded and levelled a small finger at the priest. "We could use a healer. And I think - think - that you are mostly honest, most of the time. Why don't we make a deal?"
"I've never been dishonest with you at all! I simply… withheld information that wasn't exactly pertinent…"
Krelle and Korttie sighed in unison. This would have to get straightened out before a deal was struck.
"What if we be needin joo, but choo be sick an odders get hurt, hey?" Korttie demanded.
"Exactly. Plus, the Grey Tiger Shipping Company - and the Tong - both pride themselves on never dealing in drugs. If word got around that one of our members were, you could embarrass the company."
Gerfank had once again deflated, looking like a chastened child. "I understand," he said meekly.
Krelle nodded. "Now. Before we take this excellent conversation any further… do you have anything ELSE you've 'forgotten' to tell us? Because if we cut a deal, and I find out that you've been holding back on us…" she said this mildly, even reasonably, but gave a glance to Korttie as she trailed off. Gerfank followed her look and Korttie grinned at him wickedly, the ivory of her tusks gleaming in the moonlight.
Gerfank paused apprehensively, then shook his head. "No.. Nothing like this. Seeing as how you've read all of my journals, I'm sure you've seen it all anyways."
Krelle watched him silently, but Korttie chuckled and rested a strong hand on Gerfank's shoulder. "Dat be good, dat choo be tinkin' like dat, yes?" she said, leaning on him as she spoke. Gerfank struggled to remain sitting under the pressure, and nodded quickly. Krelle's lips quirked into a half smile. He wasn't lying. She gave Korttie a small nod and the big troll eased up. "Dat good!" She said enthusiastically, slapping the poor priest on the back.
"All right then," Krelle said, moving things along. "I don't think this little sickness is an insurmountable barrier. You don't think it's a big deal, do you Korttie?"
"Oh ah be tinkin dat it be a verra big deal! But we be fixin it, yes."
Krelle grinned wryly as Korttie stood up, stretching her long arms above her head.
Gerfank frowned. "You guys are rather light-hearted about this."
Krelle paused, a bit offended. "Well… yeah. We're being nice about it."
Korttie nodded easily. "We be givin you a chance, mon. Joo no be takin dat chance, well… " she said, and ran a finger across her neck.
Krelle nodded. Exactly! Sheesh, it was so simple. "So how's this for an idea. Nerrok finds out everything, cause he's the boss, and obviously gets final say. But I think he'll go along with it…"
Gerfank nodded. "I'm listening."
"Gerfy, you and I will make a trip down to the Undercity and look up an old friend of Marco's who ALSO rose from the ashes of that monastery. He mentioned something that may be of interest to you."
"Oooh?" he said, surprise registering on his face. He had thought himself to be the only survivor, according to his journals, but sometimes rogues go where priests don't.
"We'll tell the humans, if they even bother to ask, that you're sick and take a medicine. The fact that it's an addictive drug isn't really an issue, since you'd never sell it or allow anyone else to even try it - right?"
Gerfank spat. "Wouldn't wish it upon the worst. Other than those damn Crusaders."
Korttie nodded her approval at this and Krelle continued. "Good. Then they won't get all holy about the evils of drugs at you. As for you," she said, pointing at him. "You will smarten up. No more keeping stuff - any stuff - from us. I mean I don't care what you had for breakfast, but Nerrok needs to know stuff like this. And you are going to become the most devoted Tong initiate ever," she finished with a grin.
Gerfank let out a long, quavering sigh, then nodded and stood up. "You guys…. You don't know what this means to me."
Krelle grinned broadly, pleased. "Remember though, Gerfank," she warned. "No second chances, allright? Don't fel this up."
He nodded eagerly, his eyes bright. Krelle smiled and stood, brushing sand from her breeches. She was pleased at how well this had been resolved. Gerfank shook the sand out of his robes and Korttie put away her axe.
"I be goin' an' smellin' round dem Crusaders," the huntress said. "Maybe dey be havin some, or be knowin' sumetin bout diss. Plus, ah be likin dem hummies. Dey're funny," she said with a wicked trollish grin. Krelle snickered her agreement. Humans were funny. "Mebbe ah go boddeh dem up round Goldshiah…" the troll mused.
Krelle smiled. "Well the cheese there is great…. If you get any, bring me back some, would you? Orcs just can't make it like they do in Stormwind."
Korttie laughed at the little forsaken. "You be betten ya."
Krelle smiled happily at the thought of cheese. It was her one weakness. So tasty. "Thanks, Korttie. Good hunting - and thanks for your help tonight."
Korttie nodded, pleased, and gave Gerfank another friendly whack on the back. He staggered forward as she wished them a goodnight. The troll turned with an airy wave and sauntered back towards the base, her snake following her in a swaying gait.
Krelle smiled again, turning back to Gerfank and speaking in the more comfortable tongue of the Forsaken. "Lets go find your medicine. Nerrok will be happy this is sorted out - we need to start messing up Ratchet and the Dark Lady knows we could use a healer there…" The two forsaken made their way towards the blimp tower.
Jarvik grumbled as he swept up near the apothecarium. That madman had managed to shatter sixteen vials today, and there was glass dust everywhere. The foul slime that coated it didn't make it any easier to clean up, either. He swore sulphurously under his breath, vowing that one day he'd quit. He would. The apothecary could take his broom and shove it up his butt! He didn't need this stupid job.
Oh yes. As soon as he found another place where he could get his fix, he'd leave the apothecarium for good.
The sound of glass shards being crushed by steel-bottomed boots made him turn.
"Lucky! Wha… what're you doin' here?" he gaped as the rogue slowly paced towards him, a knowing smile on her lips. He grasped the broom in both hands. "I already told ya everything about… Marco? You're alive?" he gasped as Gerfank stepped around the corner.
Lucky hopped onto a table, crouching easily. "Aren't you fortunate, Jarvik?" she asked as the priest bore down on him, ignoring the glass cutting him through his sandals. "You get to curry my favour twice in one week."
Gerfank seized the trembling man by his jacket, his eyes burning. "It was you," the priest spat, shaking in barely suppressed rage. "It was your fault. Give it to me."
Jarvik trembled violently. Marco had risen too? And he was with them? This night was turning out very badly.
Lucky grinned at him. "You did say the first sample was free, Jar. Why don't you give him one? Then we can talk…"