This is Volume II of the Litto Chronicles, "Ups and Downs." It continues the story started in Volume I.
February 24th - A Lucky EncounterEdit
- -by Krelle
Krelle sighed as she flopped onto a bench near the north edge of the Silvermoon bazaar, looking for all the world like yet another Forsaken tourist from the Undercity who needs a break after seeing too many Amazing Wonders.
In truth, she was not terribly impressed by Silvermoon. Maybe it was because she just didn't have enough experience to really understand how marvellous everything was. Maybe she wasn't sophisticated enough to truly appreciate the beauty of her surroundings. Or, she thought, maybe it's because Silvermoon is as ostentatious and gaudy as the Undercity is morbid and dark.
Perhaps she was just too frustrated to care. Tai had sent word that operation "Bilking Blood Elves" was a go and that they'd have all the money they'd need to set up shop. The problem, she reflected as she covertly watched the Tailor's shop, was that elves were more or less immortal. When you have a city composed of people who don't, as a rule, die, you end up with three things: very few weddings, very few funerals, and hardly any turn-over in the real estate market at all. The shopkeepers all seemed to consider their professions to be some kind of noble calling and as far as she could tell none were in debt badly enough to feel any financial pressure to sell.
Krelle sighed again. Figures. One rare time when I'm actually looking to do something legitimately and I'll probably still have to get "creative."
Her thoughts were interrupted as an elf - a warlock, from her clothes - broke away from the crowd around one of the tables and approached her. Krelle watched covertly. She walked differently than the other elves, and her platinum hair was unusually short. The strange elf walked up to Krelle, gave her a friendly nod, and then sat sideways on the bench beside her, facing her.
Krelle raised an eyebrow. "Can I help you?" she asked in a neutral kind of tone.
"No, that's allright. Someone else is already helping me," she replied.
"Oh," the small rogue said, nonplussed.
The elf nodded but didn't explain. She seemed content to rest near Krelle. Her manner was almost that of a friend enjoying the company of another, but Krelle was certain she'd never seen this person before.
Ah, what the hell. Krelle leaned back, drawing up one foot and linking her hands around her leg. "Hey, you wouldn't know anything 'bout the real estate market around here, would you?"
The elf shifted uneasily. "Real... estate?"
"Yeah, like a store or a house."
"Er, no… I'm not from around here. I expect it's pretty pricey. Everything here is."
Krelle nodded, pretending to be discouraged. "That's the truth. It's not the price that gets me, though, it's the availability…"
The elf looked at her, a bit incredulous. "Are you a shop-keeping type?"
Krelle laughed. "Me? Naw. My employer is, though. He's looking to set up a store in Silvermoon - just hard to find someone willing to sell."
The elf leaned forward, conspiratorially. "I hear tell they don't like rentin' ta… well, non-elves."
Krelle was surprised to hear an elf talk like that - maybe, since she wasn't from Silvermoon, she considered herself to be different than the elves who lived here? Light knew that Tellas had nothing but contempt for his own race. The forsaken covered her uncertainty with a little grin. "That might explain a few things."
The elf nodded slowly. "If I were you," she began, then hesitated, shifting around in her seat.
Krelle remained silent, one eyebrow lifted in polite inquiry.
"I'd get myself a pointy-eared catspaw to do the initial renting."
Pointy-eared? This from an elf?
Krelle gave the strange lady a grin. "Looks like I may have to."
"Bet they'll be shocked when they find out they've let a nasty grubby "undead" into the city," the warlock said with an impish grin. Something about her accent was familiar, but Krelle couldn't quite place it.
"Oh it won't be my shop. But yeah - the Silvermoon elves are pretty snooty," she answered quietly.
The elf laughed sardonically. "As opposed to the other kinds? Who are open-hearted and open-minded?"
Who was this? "Truly. They'll buy if the price is right, though."
The lady nodded. "Aye, they'll buy most things. Have you seen their gnomes?"
Krelle blinked behind her mask at the sudden change of subject. "Their gnomes? What, like, gnome pets?"
The warlock nodded. "I'll show ya," she offered, heading to the north end of the bazaar. Krelle followed along, afire with curiosity.
The warlock led her into the tailor's shop - the very one Krelle had hoped to acquire. Making some show of perusing the wares, the two made their way to the back of the shop and slipped quietly through some thick curtains. The cloth concealed a darkened stairwell leading down into a basement that Krelle hadn't even known was there.
The room at the bottom of the stairs was large, round, dimly-lit, and full of gnomes working furiously at looms. The only sound was the clickety-clacking of the machines, punctuated occasionally by the crack of a whip. A succubus patrolled restlessly, surveying the small workers.
The warlock looked around with a frown. "I wouldn't bring your short friends ta visit, ya know?" she whispered grimly.
"Truly," was all she could respond. Wow. Talula would freak.
They stood in the shadows by the doorway, peering into the crowded workroom. So this was how those damn tailors could afford to undercut the market - slave labour. Krelle glanced to the strange elf beside her, who was looking at a gnome locked in a cage.
"Is this… legal?" she asked quietly.
"Umm… I'm not sure. I mean, Forsaken have those blindfolded people, right?" Five different excuses sprang to Krelle's lips, but she didn't bother to utter them. The elf had a point. She nodded as the other continued. "I'm pretty sure the High Tinker wouldn't be amused, though."
"How very interesting," Krelle murmured.
"My grasp of Horde law is a bit weak. But Orcs don't keep slaves, do they?"
Krelle was eyeing the piles of gold coins on the center table, but she doubted the succubus would allow for any serious attempts at mischief. Besides, she was here for recon - not to get into trouble. Still… "Orcs have prejudices about that sort of thing, being slaves themselves once," she answered. "So no, they don't - that I've seen."
"Isn't Thrall kinda in charge of the whole bang-up?"
Bang up? "He's the leader of the Horde, if that's what you mean, but mainly in military decisions. He has no authority over how the other races govern themselves," she answered absently, her mind working as she memorized the layout of the place. It would be a perfect base of operations.
"Hmm," the lady was whispering. "I suspect all this is kept mum in any case. Might harm dip-lo-mat-ic relations."
The strange elf backed away from the curtains, nodding for Krelle to follow and led her discretely back out of the shop. They walked a ways in silence, finally stopping by the fountain.
The elf smiled at her. "Well, have fun in Silvermoon. I'd better scamper before the disguise wears off."
So it wasn't an elf! Several things began to fall into place, but Krelle was still unsure of who the stranger could be. It wouldn't be one of the other tigers - they wouldn't fool around like this, they'd have identified themselves already. "Thank you for showing me around," she said, stalling for time.
"Oh aye, my pleasure. Nice to see someone with less ears and more sense."
Krelle wanted to know who she was talking to - and the lady was leaving! She found out the quickest way she knew how. She introduced herself.
"By the way, I don't think we've met before - I'm Krelle."
"Me name's Shame. Well… at least it is when I'm not 'visiting' here."
Krelle started, unable to conceal her surprise. What the Fel was Shame doing in Silvermoon? Wasn't she supposed to be in Outland - with her Tong-supplied bodyguard? "That's a very good disguise, Miss," she said respectfully.
Shame laughed derisively as she pulled out her hearthstone. "It's a cheap piece of crap. Breaks if anyone touches me - and it has those magic-addict elves sniffing after me like hungry cats. I expected more for my money, to be honest," she said with a faint hint of the accent Garond had when he spoke Orcish: that of the common tongue.
"Well, it looks convincing anyway," Krelle offered. "I know what you mean about the elves though. I always leave my better gear at home when I'm sneakin' around out here. Otherwise they can feel ya comin."
"Smart plan. Well, good luck with finding yourself a patsy," Shame chuckled, activating her hearthstone. The telltale green glow slowly spread outward from the stone as it warmed up.
Krelle gave the powerful warlock a respectful bow and Shame bowed back even as she vanished.
Krelle walked slowly over to take a seat on an ornate bench. Well now, she though as she leaned back against the glossy wood. Wasn't that an interesting little encounter. A slow smile crept over her face. She started making a list of things to do. She didn't bother to write it down, since she never really forgot anything.
Contact Tellas. Buy some dirt on tailor Keelen - the locals'll have some, Tellas can sniff out more. Find out how much this Litto guy is gonna be able to front them for the store. Have Tellas make an offer. If that doesn't work, have Keldu and Reims make some threats. If that doesn't work…I'll go myself, she thought with a grim smile. By then I'll know enough about him to make him an offer he can't refuse.
February 25th Edit
- -by Aryy
Matarka approached the Vayne mansion with a plan. Entering the courtyard, he targeted the first plant he saw and made a beeline towards it. Sadly for him, the cook was out pinching herbs from the herb garden and was staring him down. His only recourse was to knock on the door and hope for the best.
Aryy heard the knock and ran to the door herself. She’d just sent their new butler out to get a few cases of that Suntouched Special Reserve for an impending dinner party. One thing orcs were good for was carrying bulk loads and Aryy had already patted herself many times on the back for hiring the middle aged veteran. He was calm to the very core and had quick reactions. Plus, he was simple and non-demanding (a very good thing to offset the twins' propensity for issuing orders.) And she hadn’t even so much as broken a single nail in the days since he arrived!
Entering the foyer, she suddenly noticed a dead plant in a pot which had been thriving just last week. Aryy exclaimed out loud to an imaginary audience, “Bloody Fel! Dead plant!!” The second pounding on the door shifted her attentions. Anticipating a delivery of the finest clams on the half shell in the entire city, Aryy threw the door open ready to direct the delivery towards the side door to the kitchen.
When she saw Matarka standing there nervously shifting from foot to foot, she opened her perfectly lined mouth and shrilled, “Ah! Dahlin’ it’s YOU! So good of you ta come back!” She grabbed his wrist and pulled him into the foyer, taking hold of his shoulders and giving a little squeeze as she swept an airkiss past east cheek. “MWA, and MWA! What have you brought me now, you sweet little….” She looked quickly for something sweet to say about him, which left a pause in the air. “… sweet an’ TALL thing you!” Being tall was something she would never be, and a rare commodity in her mind. It was the best thing she could come up with without further thought. Suffice it to say, there would never be further thought. Aryy clasped her hands together and waited expectantly.
Matarka felt the urgency to hurry, his bodily needs screaming at him and felt even more urgency to rid himself of the enchanted mirror; but he had to keep up some pretense that everything was normal. Delaying the moment of truth, he reached into his bags and slowly produced a carefully wrapped bundle, then started looking down hallways for some hope of relief while doing a rather jilted little dance with his toes. Perhaps he could just slip down the hall and avoid her discovery.
Aryy grasped the tissue wrapped mirror with anticipated delight and was carefully unveiling it when she caught sight of Matarka’s discomfort. “A toad hop up your pants, dahlin’?”
He looked at her with watery eyes and tried unsuccessfully to speak with his legs crossed. In one sudden realization, Aryy understood he was anxious for facilities. “Mah dear Martooka, don’t you wet mah marble floor, now! The facilities are down this wing, third door on the right. Hurry back, Ah want to know about this mirror!” Matarka ducked down the hallway, seeking yet another potted plant – the only appropriate thing in this mansion he could think of to use.
As he scurried towards relief she held the mirror up for inspection. Looking at the back of it closely, her brows furrowed seeing no engraving like she had ordered. Then looking directly into the glass she gasped as the image swirled to black and a snide voice came from within.
“Oh my, aren’t you the prissy little one! Who put on your make up this morning? Far too much eyeliner I would say. And such glorious freckles! Why hide them with all that cover up. Ever heard of natural beauty? Guess not, since you don’t seem to have any. Correct me if I am wrong but haven’t you had your lids lifted already at your young age? And aren’t your pouty lips artificially injected? Mmm, thought so.” At this juncture, the mirror seemed to lean forward, reflecting off Aryy’s chest. “You’ve got plans here, I should hope?”
Absolutely horrified and near hyperventilating, Aryy’s shriek could be heard from five buildings down in any given direction. The mirror landed on the one rug in the foyer, sadly preventing it from shattering. Kyaa and their cook came immediately running towards the commotion with Matarka, who managed to be relieved and nervous at the same time, skidding down the corridor after them. Kyaa got there first, just in time to watch her sister feigning a full feint like she was some kind of rogue. Matarka watched with awe, wondering just how many times she had practiced that hand to the forehead, knee buckling swoop to the floor. Kyaa tried to catch her but was unsteady on her high heels and both of the twins landed in a heap. “Whatevah is going on in here!?” Kyaa demanded.
Aryy’s eyes popped open just in front of the dead plant and began seething at once. She glanced up to Matarka, who now exhibited the perfect facepalm as he clearly wondered how bad it was about to get. Her hands shakily reached for the mirror as she scrambled up trying to act like she was totally in control again. She shoved the mirror at him, batting the cook’s hands away, who was merely trying to smooth her down in a motherly fashion. Aryy’s shaky sing-song voice nearly cracked as she asserted her ruffled self, “YOU are going ta take this beastly thing to be DISENCHANTIFIED. And THEN find me a quality crafter to DO WHAT AH ASKED you to do - and you'd better find A GOOD ONE, you got all that?!!”
Martaka appeared to wrestle with the mirror, careful to point the face away from him and shoving it back into his bags. He bowed once, and backed up quickly to the door. "Sorry, ya? Just tried ta get ya somethin' special. I'll be makin' it up for ya, ok?"
Kyaa stood back a bit and crossed her arms, smiling at her twin. “You – like, totally deserved that, Ry.”
Aryy looked around, steam coming out her pointed ears. She indignantly marched right over to the dead plant and picked it up, thrusting the entire pot at Matarka and effectively shoving him, as was becoming their custom, right out the door. “Fine, then! You can dispose of this as well! Nothing but BEAUTY adorns the Vayne mansion. Is that clear!?” The oversized front door slammed with a satisfying and ground-shaking thump.
February 26th Edit
- -by Krelle
Tellas stepped from behind the curtain, standing iron rod straight and with the haughty, half-lidded look of a bored lordling in his eyes. Krelle stared, slackjawed. She had teased him about being a prettyboy, but she had no idea he cleaned up to... this.
"Shall we fool them, do you think?" he asked in a thick Sin'dorei accent. A smirk curled Krelle's mouth as he reached back behind the curtain and pulled out another box."This is for you. But first, we have to do something about that hair."
The smile faded. "We're not touching the hair."
"Sorry Boss." Tellas said, his voice going back to the Orcish accent he usually adopted. "There's no way they'd believe that a Sin'dorei noble would have a servent with an odd colored rat's nest like that. You have spent time in Silvermoon, right?"
Krelle let out a low growl and opened the box. A dark red gown lay folded inside.
"I'm thinking a rich black for the hair. True blood elf colors. Bring the dress. I've got someone for you to meet."
In the end, she gave in with only a few tokens of protest. She understood the reasons for it. She had to look like a proper factor if she was going to accompany Tellas to his business meetings, and that, obviously, required a different look.
After her hair had been "fixed" by the silliest elf Krelle had ever met - the high-pitched giggle would be ringing in her ears for days, she was sure - she stood in front of the mirror, examining the transformation. Strangely, she found that she didn't mind wearing a dress this time. Perhaps it was because it wasn't really just a dress, but a disguise. Krelle understood and respected a proper subterfuge.
She grinned at herself in the mirror, then stood up straighter, the grin sliding into a smug little smile. She picked up the ledger book they'd bought her, to make it look authentic, posing with it held in the crook of her elbow against her hip. She tried to look snooty.
A soft laughter behind her told her that Tellas had peeked into the dressing room. She turned calmly, fixing him with her best blank stare.
"Is his Lordship ready to depart?"
"One last thing. Put this on under your dress." Tellas said.
"What is it?"
"Just a little bauble. It'll make you look more... magical. It's much more believable that I keep you around as my personal assistant if you would also make a tasty snack, should you displease me."
Krelle slid the necklace on and Tellas resumed the appearance of the arrogant lord. "Come, Morna. Lead me to this... tailor."
February 27 - Meeting KeelenEdit
- -by: Tellas
The afternoon meeting dragged. Keelen and Tellas had never met before, but Tellas was well aquainted with Keelen's youngest sister. They exchanged pleasenties for a while and then began the elaborate dance of negotiation. Tellas was regretting giving the idea of subtle threats and blackmail to Krelle. Her way would have been faster and much more fun.
"I am afraid it is quiet impossible, Lord Dranik. I have been a tailor here for a thousand years. The Sheets family has owned this building since the founding of the city. I don't see that there is any way you could tempt me with this offer."
Krelle had warned Tellas that it would come to this. The hunter had already spent hundreds of years as a Sin'dorei nobleman and wanted nothing more than to be done with the ruse. Locking eyes with Sheets, he fell silent for a minute then said "How is your dear sister?"
"She is quite well. She's getting married next month to Lord..."
"Oh, Mirnellan wasn't the sister I was asking after," Tellas inturruped. Keelen's face darkened. "I have not seen my other sister in quite some time."
"No, I suppose not. It must be so hard to keep track of family once they fall so far into magic addiction. Lucky for you, I've been keeping a watchful eye over her." Tellas casually leaned back and popped a date into his mouth. "In fact, Morna, make a note. Send some flowers to my dear Shadra. I suspect that she's quite desolate in her cage at the villa."
Keelen's jaw dropped slightly as he looked between Blood Elf and Foresaken. Tellas stood and picked up his glass of wine. Giving a bored yawn, he said "I feel the need for some fresh air. Morna can fill you in on all the little details."
- ((continued by Krelle))
Krelle amused herself during the meeting by keeping as still as possible. She sat on a small stool next to (and slightly behind) the luxurious wingbacked chair that Tellas had taken. As the two blood elves rattled off platitudes and casual conversation Krelle took advantage, once again, of her eyeless gaze. Though she sat without moving during the meeting, she nevertheless examined everything in the room minutely - especially Keelen.
She was pleased to see that Tellas' idea seemed to be working. After the third time in an hour that Tellas had mentioned family, a barely perceptible flicker of suspicion had crosesd Keelen's face.
She decided that the expression on the tailor's face when Tellas dropped his sister's name made the three hours worth it.
"Morna, make a note. Send some flowers to my dear Shadra. I suspect that she's quite desolate in her cage at the villa."
Krelle kept her perfect pokerface on as she flipped open the book she carried and made a tiny note in the Tong Cant. It said "neener," but the tailor wouldn't know that.
"I feel the need for some fresh air. Morna can fill you in on all the little details," Tellas said airly as he got up and stertched, wandering out onto the balcony.
The tailor was trying to control his features, but his attention was on Tellas' back, not on Krelle. He stood, making as if to follow Tellas, but stopped after a step, his fists clenching and his eyes suspicious.
Looks like Tellas was right about the sister - though Keelen's not sure if he believes us... but he doesn't know we're lying, either. Krelle made a mental note to have the others find Shadra, if they could. Actually having the collateral might be handy.
Kellen turned his glare at her. She was a bit taken aback by the force behind those eyes. Careful, here. He's a warlock after all.
She turned her pale face up at him, one delicate eyebrow raised in a hint of inquiry. She waited.
"What details?" he finally spat.
"Whichever details you'd like, my Lord," Krelle replied, unruffled.
"What are you talking about?"
Krelle made some show of consulting her book, running one finger down a column of text. "Your youngest sister, Lady Shadra Sheets - last seen in Silvermoon several years ago, on the family estates, raving and in the company of the house priest. Current wherabouts: officially she has been reported as deceased, though your family suspects she is living with the fallen. She has been under the care of my Lord Dranik for three years and four months as of tomorrow." She paused looking up at the furious elf. She raised her eyebrow a fraction of an inch higher. "Have you any suggestions for the bouquet, my Lord? I'm afraid I do not know the Lady's favourite flowers..."
She permitted herself a tiny smile as the elf spun away, striding to the balcony where Tellas lounged on a gilded lawnchair. Remembering the danger a warlock of his power represented, however, she slid her pokerface back on and hurried after him, glad for the cold daggers in her boots.
"This is an outrage! An outrage! Do you know who I am? Who my family is?"
Tellas looked up at the warlock. His face was calm but his eyes burned dangerously. The air crackled with unused magicks and Tellas resisted the urge to reach out and take ahold of the power.
"I know precisely who you are. I know what you do. I know about the gnomes in the basement. I know how your family came to own this building. I know about your sister. I also know that you will soon sell this building to me. It's time for you to see the world, Keelen. Do not cross me."
Tellas stood and said, "You have until the end of the day to make your offer for how much you want for the building. Morna will be waiting at the Silvermoon City Inn. You'll hear from me very soon."
The two elves locked eyes until Keelen turned away. "Come along, Morna," Tellas ordered and the two Tigers left the building.
"That was great! Did you see the look on his face when you... Hey, you OK?" Tellas had started shaking. His voice came out strained and hoarse. "Give me the amulet. Now." Krelle reached into her dress and pulled on the chain. Tellas grabbed the trinket before she had a chance to take it off. Krelle felt the chain grow warm and turn to dust. The glow in the blood elf's eyes faded and his shaking stopped. Krelle raised an eyebrow at him and he returned a lopsided smile. "Sorry, inya' falore. It's been a while since I've been around someone with that much arcane power. Well, except for Phealea, but she doesn't go around projecting it at me. It's all good." He pocketed the strange dust and said "What now, Boss?"
Krelle brushed some dust off her ner neck. "Now we should go get me another amulet."
"I'm fine, really," he assured her.
"Perhaps, my Lord," she agreed as a traveller passed them. Then she lapsed into the Tong's cant. "But we're not done with these disguises so we may as well keep up appearances. Besides I've left my other magic goodies at home, and if you resort to disenchanting my mask I'll be very put out."
Tellas crooked an eyebrow at her, maintaining his lordly demeanor as they walked along the streets of the bazaar. "Your mask is magical? It doesn't feel like it."
Krelle nodded proudly. "It's special. It's enchanted to allow me to see through it. There's magic in there somewhere, but the enchanter hid it. Good thing too - I guess I'd have to wear dark goggles if the spell weren't hidden. Otherwise the elves would feel me coming."
Tellas nodded regally at a passing noble who nodded back with equal formality. "Why d'you wear that mask, anyway?" he asked curiously.
Krelle patted her fancy hairdo. "S'part of my mystique, don'tch'ya know?"
Tellas snickered but let it drop. "You must make a killing at poker."
Krelle flashed him a grin. "Usually I do. Unless Ollie's cheating, then she wins. Never play poker with Ollie if she needs money."
"She cheats?" Tellas asked, suddenly chagrined.
"Ya didn't hear it from me. Let's head over to the inn and plot our next move."
They wandered along the boulevards at a leisurely pace, not trying to hide their movements. Krelle expected that Keelen would have sent someone after them, so they stayed in character, browsing different stalls and shops for the better part of an hour. They picked up another enchanted amulet for Krelle - it allowed the wearer to fly for several minutes at a time - and a small sack of fresh dates for Tellas.
"They just don't grow dates like this outside of Silvermoon," he mused, munching on the soft fruits.
They took a table in the restauraunt attached to the inn and amused themselves by ordering the most expensive items off the menu. Everything was delicious, though Krelle was shocked at how pricey things like fried potatos could be when you pronounced them in Thalassian.
"So what do you think Keelen'll do?" Krelle asked as she munched on some Ell'ari Binda'faohra (which she decided meant "horribly overpriced minty sticks").
"He doesn't have much of a choice. His sister's marriage to a very good catch more or less hangs in the balance. Either he moves his business or else she loses the match as his entire family is dishonoured."
"Or..." Krelle prompted.
Tellas grinned wickedly at her. "Or he manages to kill us first."
She waggled her eyebrows at him. Pretending to fix her hair, she switched on her com transmitter. "Report in, Tigers."
Keldu's voice rumbled in over the com first. "In position, boss. I hope this warlock of yours tries something."
Tellas arched an eyebrow at her. "Where's Keldu?" he asked.
"On the roof," Keldu replied with an audible grin, having heard him. "Better hope the beams on your inn are as sturdy as they are fancy, Lord Nightwing or you might get backup sooner than you expected."
Krelle snickered even as another voice chimed in on the com.
February 28 - The PromotionEdit
- -by Litto
As Litto read the letter from the Gnome the hairs on the back of his neck stood up. One thing he knew for sure from the time he had been in the Gnome's employment was that he didn't make idle threats. Litto had no real idea what the Nether was like, or if it was worse than the nightly torment he went through, but he wasn't ready to find out.
The task, in the end, wasn't nearly as hard as he had thought it would be.
He went to the Chief Clerk of the Council of Grand Master Warlocks. His plan was to discretely determine if the clerk was bribable and would be willing to sell him the list of Grand Master Warlocks so he could begin determining if any of them were even remotely bribable. He identified himself to the clerk as the Agent of Pariwinkle Cogsworth Rocketfellers III. The clerk immediately recognized the name and began shuffling papers in the pile on his desk. "Rocketfellers.... Rocketfellers" he said distractedly as he shifted through the pile "I know I have something here for him.... oh yes, her it is." He pulled out an impressive looking document. The document looked very much like the diplomas Litto had seen on the walls of doctors and lawyers he had killed.
"Here is his investiture document" the clerk said in a once again bored tone "it is dated last week, unfortunately things have been quite busy and I have not had the time to send it out. There is of course a registration and processing fee. A notary fee. The first years membership fee in the Council of Grand Master Warlocks, and the subscription fee to the Grand Master Warlocks weekly magazine. All together the fees and other costs come to 500 gold pieces, payable immediately. I assume you are prepared as Grand Master Rocketfellers agent to pay the fees?" Litto nodded his head, and provided a bank draft in the amount of 500 gold. The clerk inspected the draft, nodded his approval and informed Litto that he would handle all the administrative processes.
As Litto walked out the door, he wondered how he was going to inform the Gnome. Telling him he had been in the wilds for a whole extra week because a clerk was too busy to inform him he had been accepted as a Grand Master was not going to hack it. Latter that evening, Litto sat at the Gnome's desk and penned a letter....
To Pariwinkle Cogsworth Rocketfeller III
I have done as you instructed. I found a pliable Grand Master, who wishes to remain annonymous, who was willing to grant you the title of Grand Master Warlock for the reasonable price of 500 gold. I am having your certificate of investiture framed and it will be hanging on the wall behind your desk by the time you return to Iron Forge. I trust you will find my performance of your task acceptable.
The slight forgery to the document, changing the date to today instead of a week ago, should not be noticable. If the date ever showed up on some seniority roster or some other documentation Litto could always claim it was an administrative error. Odds were that the Gnome would be so happy to be out of the field and back in his comfortable home that he would not pursue the matter any further. It was never good policy to lie to your employer, but this once Litto figured it was for the best.
March 3 Edit
- -by Litto
The stress was finally over.
The Gnome was back, and had once again taken full control of his own business interests. His time away in Outlands had apparently been trying, as he considerably less patient with his staff than he usually was. Still, after hours of reviewing all the business transactions Litto had initiated, sheparded or completed, he declared himself completely satisfied with Litto's performance.
Litto had breathed a quiet sigh of relief. The Gnome was a financial genious, so Litto had expected him to pick appart the decisions he had made. The Gnome did not tollerate failure in any form, punishing it in an often harse and merciless manner, so it was natural for Litto to consider his life on the line. When the Gnome smiled at him and declared his performance acceptable, Litto knew he had once again survived the fall of the axe.
Now the Gnome was talking about using him in a new way. He was keeping the details to himself for now, but Litto was sure he would be informed of his new duties when the Gnome was ready. The Gnome did not waste time, and expected immediate response to his commands. Litto decided he had better prepare himself for any possible contingencies.
March 5 - Reporting InEdit
"I be 'ere, boss."
Korttie sat low in a alley watching the shop. Her ever-faithful snake Vespa curled around her, waiting for the call to strike. Korrtie found these elves very amusing, especally if one came up to her while sitting. But what made it all the more fun was when she would stand and tower over them. Her eyes focused on the two Tigers and with a smirk she looked at how Krelle was dressed.
"Day be nice treads yes?" With some more snickers she placed the bow on her lap and unless one saw her and looked very closley, one would not see that tthe bow was actually nocked with a deadly arrow.
Ariyana stood on the street causally making small flirtatious conversation with one of the local men. She was dressed in a fine silk dress instead of her leathers, to aid in her camouflage. While she made small talk her eyes were constantly scanning the area she was assigned to watch. When the com kicked in she politely excused herself from her would-be suitor. With a smile on her lips she walked away and whispered ever so gently into her com.
"Ari here, scanning the streets."
Reims liked Silvermoon. It reminded him of his days in Stratholme, before the capture and execution. The elves flitted about, seemingly carefree for the most part. Laughter and music poured out of every building, the whole feeling one of a prosperous city.
Of course, there was a dark secret underneath. There always was, much like the spies running around Stratholme, Silvermoon had its own underbelly.
Reims sat on the roof of the inn, cloaked in shadows, watching. He'd seen some relatively harmless ones travel inside and out of the inn, but you could never be too careful.
With Nerrok on the wrong side of the portal, the hordeside operations were in Krelle's capable hands. Reims knew that his task was to keep an eye on her, both out of loyalty to the Orc, and to Krelle's kindness.
His yellow eyes glowed brighter as he scanned the area. Had he missed something? A preemptive hand reached for his dagger. Something was wrong, he could feel it in his bones.
March 7 Edit
- -by Krelle
Krelle sipped at some imported Everlook icewine, pretending to enjoy it. Blech, this stuff is so gross. I'll never understand alcoholics. "So," she said quietly, setting down her glass. "Where's he gonna try it?'
Tellas pushed his half-full plate a fraction of an inch to the side, then sipped calmly at his own wine as a serving girl immediately came to take it away.
"Truthfully, it's hard to say," he mused, also speaking the Cant. Their mics were live, set to "the Silvermoon channel" (as Krelle had baptised channel 4) so the local skulkers could hear them. Krelle didn't want to get jumped and have to fiddle with buttons in the middle of a fight.
"It will depend on what he's going to throw at us, I think," Tellas continued.
"So. His succubus, if he can pull her off of gnome whipping duty. Fireballs. Rains of fire. Fiery tornadoes." Krelle ticked off her fingers, making a list.
Tellas chuckled. "That's about it for him, as far as I've heard. Thing is, though, his family is also quite accomplished. If he pulls them into it..."
"Think he might?"
"Excuse me, Lord Nightwing?"
They both looked up.
"A letter just arrived for you, m'Lord."
Tellas nodded for Krelle to get it, murmuring "Morna..?" in a I'm-too-lazy-right-now kind of way.
She took it, nodding cooly to the servant even as the man bowed away from them. She looked it over in apparently idle curiosity as her practised eyes scanned for potential traps. She crooked an eyebrow at Tellas but he shook his head slightly. No magic.
"What be on da letter?" Korttie's impatient voice came in her ear.
Krelle's lips quirked around a smile as she worked the seal off.
"I'm not used to performing for an audience," Tellas joked quietly.
"All the world is a stage, Lord Nightwing," Krelle murmured, unfolding the parchment. "Oh, he's kept it simple. How elegant..."
"Dranik," she read softly in Orcish. "Come to the shop at zenith."
Tellas grinned triumphantly as though having won a game. He really was a natural actor, Krelle reflected.
"Excellent!" he said, slapping his palm on the table. He sat up straighter and popped a date into his mouth.
"What's the last word mean?" Krelle asked in the Cant.
"It's a fancy word for midnight," he replied in kind, speaking as though gloating. "Refers to the arc of the moon in the sky."
"The... so zenith is the top of an arc?"
"You got it, boss. Think he'll jump us on the way?"
"I doubt it. Easier for him to control things that are in the shop. Still, we best be careful about it. Reims, Ari, you two mosey up to the bazaar and suss things out. We got about an hour before we get there, if you can give us some warning about what to expect, I'd be grateful."
Ariyana laughed at a joke from the blonde elf who was flirting with her. Smiling coyly, she suggested that they go for a turn in the bazaar. He grinned at the idea, gallantly offering the mysterious girl his arm. He wanted to impress her, and spending money was something he was good at.
Reims and Keldu exchanged a curt nod and the rogue slid into the shadows. He kept to the rooftops of the tightly-packed shops as he made his way slowly around the bazaar's square and north to the tailor's place, keeping Ari in sight.
Halfway past the auction house's stage, he paused, again feeling the prickling on the back of his neck. He carefully scanned the rooftops around him, his eyes searching for a telltale reflection off of some metal or uneven shadow.
Nothing. And yet...
"Don't get cocky," he murmured over the com, in Gutterspeak. "This is their turf."
"Be careful," Krelle translated for the others, her tone serious. Then, softly, "... I hate warlocks..."
Reims ghosted forward, a frown of concentration on his face.
March 12 - The beginning of a beautiful relationshipEdit
- -by Litto
It was official, the Gnome had given him the go ahead to begin integrating himself into the Grey Tiger organization. He was not dissappointed at all. He had grown to like and trust both the Human and his people. His contacts with them had always been smooth and professional affairs that reinforced in his mind what a well run organization it was. As he looked in the mirror the coin his reflexion had flipped into the air landed on the table heads side up. So it would be trust then. Never an easy thing for him to do, Litto put his natuarl concerns at the unknown in the drawer, and turned to leave the room. He would do all in his power to make this trust work.
March 13 Edit
- -by Litto
Litto left the meeting satisfied. He had pledged his loyalty to the Tong, they had accepted it. He had given them his word he would always act in their interest, and if the time ever came where he could not in good concience do so, he would tell them first. Tai seemed to have reservations. Kennia even more so, but in the end they had agreed. Litto had developed a great respect for Tai and his Tong compatriots over the last few months. They had shown themselves as resourceful and decisive. He hoped he could fit in and bring value to their group. He hoped he never had to break their trust. He hoped they never broke his.
March 14: Endgame Edit
- -by Krelle
Dark clouds hid the moon. Reims watched from his rooftop perch as Krelle and Tellas crossed the plaza below. They passed the fountain where Ariyana was sitting with her impromptu date. Neither party acknowledged the other. Ari had her mic off and the entire scene passed before him in an eerie silence.
He felt a breath on the back of his neck.
Reims spun around, a tightly controlled slash cutting through the air behind him. Nothing.
"Boss," he said softly, glancing over his shoulder. Krelle and Tellas were almost at the tailor's door. "Something stinks here…"
"Too late now," her reply whispered over his com. "We expected trouble. We'll deal."
Tellas' sharp rap on the tailor's door echoed through the thin air. Reims got up, creeping through the shadows towards them. Ariyana's laughter floated up to him as Keelen's door opened, spilling golden light across his walkway. A loose shingle shifted behind him.
Reims spun about, his daggers in his fists. "Oo's theah?" he demanded in broken Orcish.
A ghostly laugh answered him as a dark-robed elf faded into visibility. The man was already casting. Too far, Reims thought even as his first dagger whistled through the air.
The dagger bounced uselessly off of the elf's magical shield. The spell took the rogue full in the chest.
Ariyana sat on an ornate bench by the plaza's fountain, the trickle of water blending in with the idle chatter of her new friend "Fael." She largely ignored his conversation, though. She had been scanning the skyline for Reims since his warning over the com and a sudden movement caught her eye. She gasped, rising to her feet at the flash of magic from the roof.
Fael sprang to his feet beside her. "What's wrong?" he said as she put her hands to her mouth.
"What's going on here, Keelen?" Tellas' was saying, his voice carried over the com. She concentrated on what she was doing, trying to ignore the conversation in the tailor's shop.
"That poor man! He's been polymorphed!" Ari cried in artful dismay, pointing up at the rooftops.
Fael frowned. "What was he doing up -"
"DO something, Fael!" she wailed helplessly.
"Of course, my lady! Do not fret - I shall restore him at once!" The elf turned, dramatically raising one hand as he dispelled the enchantment. Reims' black form phased back into shape and Ari was briefly curious as to what his vicious, guttural curses meant.
"What makes you so sure?" Krelle was saying to someone. She sounded pissed.
"Who's that goin' into the tailor's?" Keldu's voice rumbled over the com. Ari glanced to the shop and saw a tall elf in robes silhouetted in the light from the doorway.
"A 'age." Reims spat, sprinting across the rooftops towards an upper window of the tailor's shop. A mage.
"What's going on here?" Fael demanded suspiciously.
"Korttie?" Keldu asked.
"Um…" Ariyana faltered, trying to pay attention to three things at once.
"He be in mah sights, Keldu."
"That man is going into my uncle's Keelen's place!" Fael exclaimed, and started to run towards the warlock's house. Ariyana grabbed his arm, pulling him around. He stared at her.
"On three, Kort. One. Two. Three."
"GUARDS!" Fael bellowed, turning away.
"What makes you so sure?" Krelle asked Keelen, her voice cold. The warlock was lounging indolently in a deep chair strewn with silk pillows. His sister - his older sister, Mirnellan - stood beside him. Her full plate's matte black finish seemed to absorb the light from the candles.
"Because we have you outnumbered, for one thing," a high, amused voice said from behind them.
"Who's that goin' into the tailor's?"
"Ah, Finstral, so good of you to join us," Keelen said.
The elf that stood in the doorway was tall and thin, almost emaciated. He nodded once to Keelen, then gave a half-bow to the blood knight. She nodded back silently, her head the only part of her body not sheathed in armour.
"You didn't really think you'd get away with blackmailing us, did you?" the mage said to them through a sneer.
"He be in mah sights, Keldu."
"And such a clumsy attempt, too. Tsk."
"On three, Kort." Here we go, thought Krelle.
"Come in, cousin," Keelen purred.
"Come greet our guests."
The mage flinched violently as a glowing arrow ricocheted off of his mana-fed force field. The shield wavered, allowing Keldu's three-inch rifle round to blast through his left shoulder. Blood and shards of bone sprayed Tellas and Krelle as the slug travelled between them, missing Keelen's face by less than a foot as it tore a chunk off of his chair.
"GUARDS!" came a shout from outside.
The mage crumpled to the ground with a gurgling cough as the blood knight drew her sword.
"Get the door!" Krelle ordered. Tellas leapt over, pulling it closed. Keelen was staring at his chair. Mirnellan was closing. Krelle bent to get her daggers but the elf suddenly charged, slamming her shield into the tiny Forsaken. Krelle felt her cheekbone shatter under the impact. She flew backwards and her head struck hard against the solid ironwood doors.
The room spun. Tellas was in front of her, blocking the elf's advance. He was saying something but the words made no sense. Krelle rolled to her hands and knees near the fallen mage, struggling to think. Her right eye socket had swollen shut already, she could feel the blood oozing down her face. She stared at the dark red drops on the floor between her hands.
The mage was moving. Struggling to reach something. She crawled over to him, her arms shaking. He was tugging a potion free from his belt. Tellas was yelling now, the com buzzing in her ear. The mage saw her. His eyes widened and he opened his mouth, but only coughed up red foam. She spat blood into his eyes and fell onto him, grabbing for the potion.
She saw a brilliant blue flash as a burst of cold hit her back.
Bloody ashes! Ari thought. She knew she had seconds. She whipped out her sap, struck Fael across the back of the head, then quickly put it away as he fell senseless to the ground.
"Guards! Help! Someone!" she cried, bending over his inert form. She wept in feigned hysteria as she stole his purse. "Oh no... Fael! Guards, help!"
A thunderous clatter of steel boots announced the arrival of the night watch. Damn, they're fast.
"What happened here?" the lead officer demanded.
"Bandits! They attacked my Fael and robbed him!"
"What did they look like, and which way did they go?" he demanded sharply.
She hiccoughed, wiping at her face. "It was some Forsaken! They're all worthless thieves! They hit him and ran off! Three of them!" She spotted Keldu and Korttie sprinting around the west side of the plaza. She pointed east, towards Murder Row. "They went that way!"
Tellas flung the trap at Mirnellan's feet. The hunter thanked the spirits for their mercy as it went off, encasing her in magical sheet of ice. He glanced at Krelle - she was drinking something - then spun to face Keelen. The warlock had backed away, yelling for his succubus. Tellas gulped, gripping the hilt of his sword more tightly as the dark curtains at the back of the shop slowly parted - and the most gorgeous creature he had ever beheld stepped through. His sword fell from numb fingers, clattering uselessly to the ground as he took a step towards her. She was perfect. She was a goddess. He would do anything for her.
"Would you kill for me?" her voice echoed in his mind, the sound an aching promise of pleasure to come. Her black eyes filled his vision.
"Yes," he croaked out loud. The eyes flashed.
He spun around, lunging at Krelle.
Keldu's hooves thundered over the paving stones as he and Korttie sprinted towards the door, ignoring the disturbance near the east end of the bazaar.
"Tellas? Wha - no!"
Keldu slammed his shoulder into the door, shaking it on its hinges. It was too thick to break, he could feel it immediately. He growled in frustration, trying the latch only to find it locked. He looked to Korttie as the sounds of grappling came to them over the com.
Korttie opened her satchel, pulling out her last three explosive traps with a feral grin. He nodded but held up a hand, looking southeast. Once the guards were out of sight… He reached for his own traps.
The potion flowed down her throat, the soothing warmth spreading rapidly outwards as her broken bones were mended. The potion suffused every part of her body, heightening her senses. She stood in one smooth gesture, time seeming to slow down just for her. She took in the situation. Her and Tellas against Keelen and his demon. Not good. She could hear Keldu and Korttie panting, though - backup would be here soon. They only had to delay Keelen for a few moments…
"Tellas?" she asked as his sword fell from his grip. "Wha-" she started to ask, then took a step back as she realized what was happeneing. "No!"
The door shook behind her, but she didn’t have time to turn and let them in. Bloody Fel! So close!
The agile little rogue ducked under his first grab, rolling to the side. He lunged at her again, managing to get a hand about her arm even as she spun, kicking him in the head. He shook off the blow and pulled her into a grapple. Krelle spun in his arms, leaning forward to use his own weight against him as she flipped him smoothly over her shoulder. She heard the latch rattle as Keelen laughed.
Tellas rolled quickly to his feet, his eyes glowing as he lunged for her again. She felt the amulet under her dress turn to dust.
"Oh no you don't!" she yelled, hopping backwards out of reach. Her hand grasped a small pouch from her belt and she hurled it into his face. He staggered back with a hoarse shout, clawing at his eyes. Keelen was actually cackling in glee as they fought, but the succubus looked displeased. She cracked her whip, issuing a short command to Tellas in the strange demonic tongue.
Tellas flinched as though she had struck him, then looked to Krelle, his eyes glowing again. Rotten felshards he knows about my mask! She charged him in a desperate rush, knocking them both over with a flying tackle even as Keelen's front door blew inwards.
The sheer force that five concentrated explosive fire traps can put out is impressive even when dampened by an ironwood door. Any hope the wounded mage had had of surviving that night ended as a ball of fire erupted through the shards of the door, charring him from crown to sole. The blast also shattered the crystal sheet encasing the blood knight and she quickly worked her way free of the ice trap's debris. Krelle and Tellas rolled together on the floor, him trying to crush or strangle her, her smaller form and greater agility making it impossible for him to get a solid grip. Keelen's succubus kept her attention focused on the elvish hunter even as her master stepped forward to join his sister.
As the smoke cleared, Keldu and Korttie stepped through the sundered doorway, Korttie's massive cobra, Vespa, rearing her head behind them. The huge Tauren's rifle was leveled at Keelen's head.
"You lose," Keldu said.
The blood knight charged them even as Korttie stepped forward. Her 200lb frame stopped the charge short as she caught the elf's sword between the blades of her claws. The hunter and the blood knight strained against each other, shaking with effort as each tried to disarm the other. Korttie growled low in her throat, her skin darkening as she flushed in anger. With a sudden hiss of steel the two warriors spun away from each other, blades unlocking.
Keldu fired once, the crack of the retort loud inside the house. He'd been aiming for a glancing blow - they couldn't kill the warlock yet - but he only caught the edge of the warlock's robe as the elf frantically ran back towards his minion.
Vespa got there quicker. Rearing up in front of the succubus, her fangs flashed in the light as her serpent jaws opened impossibly wide to swallow the demon's head. Her fangs pierced the black skin just above the wings and the two creatures fell writhing to the ground. Keelen cried out in chagrin as Keldu reloaded.
Korttie bellowed in berserker rage as she charged the blood knight. The elf's reflexes had been honed through centuries of battle, however, and were too swift for her. Korttie gasped as the elf's sword slid cleanly through her shoulder. She dropped her claws, one giant hand instinctively clutching the hilt as she coughed a mouthful of blood onto the elf's face. Mirnellan grinned evily, sharp little teeth gleaming between her lips.
"Not so fierce now, are you?" she sneered, twisting the blade.
In a normal, mortal race, pain is a powerful deterrent. Pain means you are about to die. In trolls, who habitually regenerate from anything less serious than a beheading, pain is not something to be feared - or even avoided. It is a force to be channelled.
Korttie grinned, barring her fangs between her bloodied lips. Her grip tightened on the hilt of the sword, the other long arm snaking around behind the elf to grasp her by her hair. She wasted no words in witty repartee but pulled herself closer, letting the blade slide further through her shoulder. As they came together she let go of the sword, wrapping that arm around the elf's shoulders. Mirnellan's sneer faltered as she felt herself pinned by the troll's massive arms. She tried to bring up her shield to push her off, but Korttie was stronger than she was. The elf looked up in sudden fear as Korttie yanked her head back by her hair, snarling down at the pinned blood knight.
With two sharp jerks, Korttie stabbed out Mirnellan's eyes - using her tusks.
Krelle rolled under Tellas, keeping her chin tucked down as his hands went for her neck, jabbing him in the face when his eyes started to glow. An explosion rocked the room as she got her knee between them. A gunshot rang out as he elbowed her in the face. She tried for a headbutt but caught his chin. Suddenly he spasmed and went limp. An elf girl was screaming in agony. Krelle shoved Tellas off of her and rolled to her feet.
She took in the scene. Korttie was leaning against a wall, pulling a sword out of her shoulder with a shaking hand. The blood knight was the screaming one, and she was writhing on the floor at Korttie's feet. Keldu had reloaded and was taking a bead on the warlock. Vespa was wrapped around something - the succubus. Keelen was staring wildly, his back to a wall. Tellas sat up groggily, shaking his head. Krelle offered him a hand up and he took it, his eyes flinty as he looked across the room at Keelen. They stepped up to Keldu together.
The big Tauren gave them the barest nod, keeping his rifle sighted on the warlock warily. Korttie sighed as the longsword fell to the ground and sank to her knees, leaning against the wall, coughing wetly and spitting blood onto the floor. Krelle glanced over at the troll, but she looked more angry than afraid, so she didn't say anything.
"Well, Keelen?" she asked wearily, speaking loudly to be heard over the wailing of his sister. "You ready to give in or what?"
Keelen's eyes' flashed, their glow brightening in defiance. He took a slow breath in. Krelle thought he would make a speech or something, but he didn't. He screamed.
Krelle staggered back a step, her mind blanking in panic at the sound. The warlock's scream channelled the Fel energies of his craft and the sound they each heard was their own death wail, with the promise of an eternity of suffering at the hands of demons. Krelle half turned to flee, but forced herself to stop. [i]This isn't death…[/i] she though, tearing her eyes away from the door, back to the keening warlock. Her mind flashed back, images of nails against wood… a chain… rats. I've faced death before, she remembered, growing more certain. And this isn't it.
She turned back to face Keelen as the fel magic faded. Keldu and Tellas had fled. Korttie was unconscious, as was Keelen's sister. The warlock stepped forward, snarling at the lone rogue as he crossed the floor. Krelle bent, removed the daggers hidden in her boots and came up into her slightly-crouched battle stance.
Keelen stopped in the middle of the room, his eyes ablaze. He raised one hand palm-up before him. Darkness gathered above it, a tightly contained swirling vortex. "Shall we see if you can dodge this, little one?" he spat, his face twisted with hatred.
Krelle's heart sank. She recognized the spell from her last fight with a warlock - she had been able to vanish in time to throw off the human, but the balls of fel energy had tracked Nerrok even as he dodged. She looked at Keelen's face and backed up a step. Somehow she didn't think she'd be able to dodge this one…
A piece of shadow detached itself from the high ceiling, falling through the air to land solidly on the warlock, bearing him to the ground in an eruption of dark energy as the spell was interrupted. Keelen cried out, once, and then was silenced as Reims viciously sapped him across the back of the head. Krelle felt a flash of déjà vu, but it was gone before she could chase it down.
Reims stood up, looking at her gravely. "Sorry to take so long," he said softly in Gutterspeak.
"Oh, I dunno," Krelle said, feeling a bit dizzy. "You certainly surprised Keelen." She slid into a chair as Tellas and Keldu ran back into the room. Tellas came over to her, concerned, but Keldu relaxed immediately when he saw Reims standing over the warlock.
"Nice," he remarked laconically. Reims gave him a nod. As one, they all looked to Korttie.
The troll was lying unconscious in a pool of blood - and snoring loudly.
"Would you kill for me?" It had been too long since Tellas had last controlled demons and he wasn't prepared for the full force of the succubus. The magic that swirled around her pulled at his skin. He wasn't ready for her and in that moment, she had him. He felt the sword drop from his hand. His fingertips tingled and the hunger was upon him.
"Yes." His voice sounded hoarse and far away, like someone else speaking. Yes, I will do whatever you ask. Just give me one taste.
He didn't recognize the warbleing voice that assaulted his ears. It cut through the haze of his rapture. She would hurt me, The succubus' voice whispered in his head. She wants to hurt me. Kill her.
He spun around, lunging at Krelle.
"Tellas?" The voice grated against him again. It had to be stopped before it pulled him away from the glorious demon. "Wha-" He dimly saw the surprise cross Krelle's face and she took a step back. "No!"
She spun and twisted like an evil dream. He lunged and felt her foot make contact with his head. For a moment, he recognized the little rogue and wondered what he was doing. In the next moment, the demon's song clouded his vision again. The eel has magic. Take it!
He could feel the amulet under her dress as he grabbed her and pulled her close. The rogue shifted her weight and threw him. He rolled and spun and was on her again. The hunger burned brightly and he pulled the magic out of the amulet through her garment. The tiny surge would not be enough to sate his hunger this time. The mask. Take her mask.
Krelle yelled something, dodging away. His eyes burned as she threw blinding powder into them. His mind cleared again. What am I doing? Krelle?
The succubus' whip lashed acoss his shoulders and her voice was in his head again. "You are mine," she hissed in the language of demons. "Your soul belongs to me. Now, finish her and you shall drink from the bottomless pool of magic for eternity!"
He lunged again, grabbing wildly for the Foresaken girl's face. With each blow she landed, his mind wrestled for clarity, but he couldn't focus. There was nothing to hold onto. Then he caught a familiar glint amid the black hair of his foe. A single scale from a dragonhawk sparkled there like a jewel and in that moment, he pushed the demon from his mind. He felt his body convulse and then it was dark.
The next few moments were a blur. Screaming terror. Falling shadows. Magic subsiding. Gods, what have I done? He rushed to where Krelle sat catching her breath. "Inya' Falore? Are you alright? I am so sorry. She was in my head. I..."
Krelle waved off the concern and gave a lopsided grin, as though it had all been some happy game. Tellas' eyes burned green as realization of what he had done - what he could have done - settled upon him. He turned and rushed the dazed warlock, knocking Reims out of the way. He set one knee against Keelen's chest and grasped both sides of the warlock's face.
"This is what happens when you cross me and mine," Tellas spat in Sin'dorei. The air crackled, as he pulled the mana out of the warlock. He was not Tellas the Hunter now. He was Valendil Brightglade, heir to Laire Andon, wielder of Zin'Serrar and he had every intention of draining this sorry fraction of a Blood Elf dry.
Catching the look from Krelle, Keldu moved forward, trying to prevent damage from being done that would take a priest to fix. Keldu reached down trying to pull back Tellas' arms to simply restrain him. Both the guttural snarl and the quickness of the blood elf caught the Tauren off-guard. The elf's sharp elbow rammed back hard into Keldu's solar plexus, freeing him for a moment.
Keldu staggered for a moment, knocked back the unsettling feeling of not being able to breathe more than the elbow itself. Tellas had pounced back on Keelen, looking to kill or worse it seemed. Despite the pain, Keldu reached forward again, this time snagging Tellas' arms and pulling them back behind them. It was going to be ugly though. The blood elf was struggling to free himself and was capable of inflicting serious injury in the process.
Keldu persisted, trying to calm the blood elf to no effect, "Easy there fella' - Boss wants him alive ..." Tellas growled and ...
"Tellas!" Krelle's voice cut across the room like an arrow flying to its target. Krelle was small, almost tiny, and her voice, though raspy, was that of a young woman, but the effect it had was instant. Tellas' head snapped in her direction and he froze, at least for the moment ...
Ariyana watched as the city guard ran off to the east and sighed. She ached for a bit of bloodshed tonight but was too aware of what was on the line for this job. She reigned in her bloodlust and turned to the shop and watched the ensuing chaos. A small wicked smile formed on her face as she watched the door be blown from its hinges.
She shook her head and went to work quickly. She picked up Fael and dragged him to a near by bench. She took out a bit of knock out poison and poured a small bit down his throat to keep him out until the battle was over. The Tigers did not need another distraction and he could be used against the warlock later on. With that job finished she took to the shadows and crept to the store, with a dagger in the left and her sap in the right.
She stopped in her tracks as Keldu burst back through the door screaming in terror. She sneered as she thought about who they were fighting and about how this shortens the timeline with what the Tigers can work with. This plus the fighting would bring back the guards in no time. Time was now her foe and it was a foe that gave her no pleasure. She quickly made her way in just in time to see Reims crash down upon the warlock, knocking the bastard out. Still high on alert she assessed the situation and was deciding on where to hide the dead and the unconscious as Keldu came back into the room. Tellas finally came back to his senses, or so Ariyana thought.
When Tellas snapped and went after Keelen, the large Tauren was first to act by grabbing the elf. Krelle screamed for his attention which caused a pause in Tellas' fury. It was then Ariyana acted. Swiftly she strode beside Tellas and raised her hand. With a single swift motion she brought her sap down upon the back of Tellas' head. Without waiting for his reaction she moved inbetween the hunter and the fallen warlock. Her other knife quickly finding its way to her other hand she frowned as there would be no time to actually enjoy this.
"Krelle, and Reims, get the dead and unconscious down into the basement. You think all this will go unnoticed? The guard will be her any minute and this is not what we need to see. Keldu, give me a hand if his rage overcomes his senses again."
She held out her right hand and slipped easily into the same battle stance she used for years. Her old wounds still ached but that just caused her to smile.
For the second time, Tellas' vision blurred and the world grew fuzzy. The night elf staggered, but Keldu kept him on his feet.
"Krelle and Reims, get the dead and unconscious down into the basement. You think this will go unnoticed? The guard will be here any minute and all this is not what we need them to see. Keldu, give me a hand if his rage overcomes his senses again."
He tried to make sense of the words even as he watched the Forsaken haul away the bodies. Keldu stood behind him and Ariyana in front. He felt the Tauren's powerful grip on his arm and noticed that the woman was ready to stop him if he persisted.
"He was mine! Flesh to be wasted!" Tellas hissed in Sin'dorei.
"No, he wasn't," came her smooth reply.
He knew that Ariyana was right, but it galled him that he had been controlled, that the warlock could push him that far. His glowing eyes glared at the woman dangerously and he shrugged off Keldu's hold. Rubbing his head, he turned toward the entrance to cool off and deal with any guards. In a casual, subconscious motion, he flicked his fingers and sparks of excess mana splashed away like water droplets.
Light's end, I hate warlocks, Krelle cursed silently, frowning as Tellas stalked over to the doorway. She kept part of her attention on him as she spoke to the others.
"Ari's right, we have to do something about the door - not to mention Korttie and the elves."
Reims paused, lowering Keelen's shoulders back to the floor near the curtained doorway. "Boss?" he called uncertainly in Gutterspeak.
Krelle looked over. Crowded hesitantly in the doorway were the eight leper-gnome slaves from below.
The gnomes had done quick work. The dark curtain had been hung over the shop's doorway within minutes, a small neatly lettered sign affixed to the front.
Please excuse the inconvenience, but we are renovating the shop to serve you better. The shop will be closed until further notice.
The debris outside had been swept away and, outwardly, the shop appeared normal. Tellas seethed silently, but kept a watchful eye out for patrols. He was, after all, Keelen's new business partner and the best one to explain away any disturbances.
The gnomes seemed eager to please. The oldest of them bandaged Korttie and Mirnellan with a practised hand as Keldu kept a watchful eye on the little man. Others busied themselves cleaning up the mess from the fight. They worked carefully around Vespa who was sleeping now, a huge lump distending her belly.
The tigers made their way to the basement, leaving Tellas to collect himself. Keldu thoughtfully picked Korttie up off the floor and carried her - still snoring softly - down to the divan at the bottom of the stairs. Krelle wondered if she'd wake up before or after the hole in her arm was healed.
Reims had dumped Keelen's unconscious form in front of the low desk.
"Better blindfold him," Krelle said, remembering the trouble magic users could cause. "And tie his hands behind his back."
Keldu asked the question they'd all been thinking. "So... what're we gonna do with him?"
"We can't kill him," Ariyana said pointedly. "That would lead to a major investigation - and he has a powerful family."
Reims snorted as he knelt by the warlock, binding the elf's hands. Ari shot him a dark look.
"We never planned on killing him," Krelle said, crossing her arms as she leaned against the desk. "The original plan was to send him off somewhere remote, and keep his place." Her gaze went to the bound-and-bandaged Mirnellan whom Ari had thoughtfully drugged. "Plans change, though."
"He'd only be more trouble if you send him away," Ari said with authority. "He'd spend his whole time plotting the perfect revenge, and strike from where you wouldn't expect it."
"I'm beginning to suspect the same thing..." Krelle murmured, a faint smile on her lips. She absently wiped some of the blood off of her face. The healing potion had helped a great deal, but her cheek was still swollen. Or maybe that had come from wrestling with Tellas.
"We ought to keep him here, where we can keep an eye on him," Ari was saying. One manicured hand gestured with a dagger, the other planted in a fist on her hip. "He'll only get up to trouble if you let him go."
Krelle nodded slowly. "It would be less suspicious if we kept him around, anyway. Like he said, he's been here for centuries. Taking us on as a business partner is much more likely than moving out."
"He's going to be a real pill at business meetings," Reims joked in Gutterspeak.
Ari narrowed her eyes at him but Krelle just grinned evilly at the warlock. "I think we can convince him to play along. Starting with getting his sister's eyes fixed in time for her wedding, for one thing."
A grinding sound followed by a loud clang made them all turn to the back of the room. Keldu had torn down a large cage from the ceiling. The big tauren dragged the iron contraption over to the center of the floor, setting it down beside the warlock with a solid thud.
Krelle raised an eyebrow at him and he grinned.
"This'll help get him in the right frame of mind for the negotiations."
"Do it," she said.
Ariyana watched the little gnomes work, acting as the impromtu slave driver just to make sure the job was done before the guard made another appearance. With a satisfied grin she nodded as the curtain was hung and the sign was put up. It was then they spoke of what the next step was.
After it was decided to put Keelen into the cage Ariyana slipped out back into the streets to retrieve the knocked out Fael. She slung the man's arm over her shoulder and put on a disgusted face.
"By the Light Fael, I told you to stop drinking the wine an hour ago. Now look at you sweetie. We can stop at your uncle's shop to give you some time to sober up." She said in a annoyed voice as a late night walker passed by.
Once inside the shop she dragged him to the others and dropped him rather unceremoniously. She quickly went about to bind his hands, feet, and mouth. She then pickup up the elf and with a warm smile on her face she threw Fael into the corner, making a very satisfying thump, followed by a groggy and pained grunt from the elf. She then turned to the others as she drew a dagger and smiled.
"Consider it another bargaining chip to make our friend more able to see things our way." She said with a bit of joy in her voice.