Part I: Beginnings Edit
Zerik and Aria Nightmoon had a child late in life, a single daughter that had been an unexpected surprise. They were set hard in the old ways, and had high expectations for their little Kyna. From the time she was young, she was groomed to be a priestess of Elune; to follow in the footsteps of her mother, and her mother before her. It was to their complete and utter disappointment, however, when their daughter defied that dream they'd woven for her, and rebelled against the very path they'd so meticulously planned.
From the time she was young, Kyna had a wide-eyed curiosity for the world around her. From flora to fauna to beings unlike herself, she was enthralled with the nature surrounding her and was drawn to its inherent magic. She'd wandered away from her priestly training on more than one occasion, to track down the bird she'd seen flutter past the Temple archway, or to chase the druid panther she thought she'd glimpsed stalking away. The world held so many wonders for her that it was difficult to keep her attention focused on the rituals of the Kaldorei priesthood.
When she'd decided to embrace the druidic arts, she'd known her parents would object. Tossing her tousled bright-turquoise hair over her shoulders -- laden with leaves and bits of grass and twigs from her adventures pretending to be a night saber -- she'd held her head high and marched into their family's modest abode to tackle her fears with all the grace of a fledgling bird preparing for flight. She had expected the anger. She had expected the disappointment. She was not prepared, however, for the possibility that they might sever their ties with their only daughter.
They didn't bother to ease her out of the nest. They pushed. Hard.
Druids were male, they'd said. That was just the way it was, the way it always had been. She would make a mockery of their family if she chose this path. And what of her lineage? A long line of priestesses, each devout to the Goddess, and one lone druidess who defied her family name. She was a disgrace. How would they ever be able to show their faces to the Elder's Council again?
She tried to explain that it was the only path that truly felt right to her, that she seemed destined for. Times were changing, and she knew other female druids existed. Her parents were of ancient blood though, and they looked at her as though she'd sprouted two heads. In her heart, she knew this was her destiny, despite her parents' outdated beliefs. They clung tightly to the ideals of their parents, beliefs so strong that they took precedence over the happiness of their child. They told her that if she insisted on this path, she would no longer be welcome home.
The pain pierced her heart like sharp barbs as her father turned away from her, his jaw working as he bit down on his rage. Her mother's eyes narrowed on her, as if she no longer recognized her only child. Kyna whispered words of love that did not penetrate the new barriers the pair of them had built, and so, with a heavy heart and a defeated sigh, Kyna turned and left to strike out on her own, barely an adolescent; leaving her given surname behind and adopting her own variant, Moonlily, named for the flowers she'd seen growing near the pools of her homelands.
On her way, she'd met the young Krowl, her first husband. He had a distinctly feral nature that appealed to her druidic sensibilities from the moment they'd met. He was the first being to truly need her, and it was for this reason that she married him.
The marriage was not a lasting one, ending eight months after it began. He was a solitary roamer, like a beast who could never be tamed, and drifted back to her less than once per cycle of the moon. She spent many a lonely, painful night before realizing one day that he would not return.
Unlike her brethren, she embraced the humans with the same wide-eyed wonder of her youth. They were remarkable creatures, and at times she wished to be like them. To her, the suspicions of many of her race only bespoke of their archaic ways. She would grow to befriend more than a few, even taking up arms in one of their military's battalions.
She'd fallen in love a second time, with a Kaldorei warrior by the name of Ceridith Silverleaf. Several months into their courtship, he proposed marriage. She agreed, though was still bruised from the failure of the first. This resulted in a long engagement, during which Kyna gave birth to the first of their children, Aceriel, named for her father.
She had been a healer in that life, dedicated to calling upon nature to heal the wounds of her companions. Perhaps it was the priestly influences that brought her to that calling. Or perhaps it was simply her reverence for all of the creatures of Azeroth, both beast and being.
It is here where one journey ended and another began.
Part II: Nightmares Edit
"It can't be helped," the Archdruid stated flatly, crossing his arms over his chest. "You're the one that said you thought she was right for the position."
"The risks of this kind of travel are unknown," Runetotem protested.
Staghelm snorted. "Of course there are risks. And I could name many others stronger than her willing to take on any unknown risk if it means saving--"
"Enough." Remulos sighed wearily, stamping a foreleg into the earth. "I made the decision. She is the one. Yes, there are risks we do not yet know about, but we have no other choice."
* * * * *
Winter, Year 26
The nightmares have increased in frequency. Ceridith was worried, and decided a visit to the priests was in order. Post-partum depression, they'd said. I think they're wrong.
I can't sleep. I haven't slept more than an hour in three days. Sometimes I feel like I'm going insane...
The dream begins with faces floating around me. Some are the faces of my family and loved ones, my friends, and my allies. Others I do not recognize, but I feel a strong connection to, nonetheless. They are trying to tell me something, but I can't hear them.
Then I'm sucked into Darkness. It is not pleasant. It's a void... completely empty. It's terrifyingly lonely, and I start to question my humanity. It's cold. I wonder if I've died, if this is what we have to look forward to in death.
It vibrates suddenly. I'm startled that out of nothing comes this strong vibration. And then it explodes and shatters in a blinding display of light, piercing my eyes. The void has exploded into a million tiny fragments. Pieces of Azeroth float about in space, reflected on the shards like pieces of a broken mirror. Some are scenes of terrors unimaginable. Others are scenes of family, friendship, and camaraderie.
I get an overwhelming urge to find something among the shards. But I don't know what it is. I can't find it.
And then I usually awake covered in sweat. Sometimes Ceridith tells me that I cry out in my sleep and he tries to wake me. Thank the Goddess for Nazumai, our nursemaid. I could not care for the twins alone with this affecting me.
Sometimes, in the dream, I see a rune -- the same rune every time -- on one of the shards floating by, on the faces of one of the people, or simply etched into the void itself. I don't only see this rune when I dream, but often when I am writing, the rune appears on the page. It seems that my mind drifts, and before I know it, I've drawn it. It decorates the margins of my notes, the pages of my tablet, and most anything else I write. Sometimes I swear I see it on other's armor, tattooed on them, or upon street signs. I fear that I am hallucinating. It seems that I should know what it means, but I do not.
I'm going to try a Dreamless Sleep potion again tonight. Curiously, it hasn't worked the past two nights... but it's always worth another try.
Goddess help me...
Part III: The Artifact Edit
"Come forward," Remulos ordered, massive arms crossed over his broad chest. His great, branched antlers and heavy, hoofed feet completed the picture of intimidation and sheer strength. There was softness, though, in his weary eyes.
The druid did as commanded, long green hair pulled from his face into a sleek ponytail tied with a strip of leather. He wore a simple leather kilt, bare of feet and chest.
"You awoke from the Dream. You escaped taint," Remulos observed. Staghelm appeared stoic, and unimpressed. Runetotem stood on Remulos's right side, listening with apparent interest.
"Yes, Master Remulos," answered the male in a soft, reverent voice before the three leaders of the Cenarion Circle. He kept his eyes lowered and his head bowed slightly.
"I was told that you had a vision. Please... I would like to hear it in your own words, child," Remulos asked, tilting his head to the side slightly.
The druid relayed the vision clearly. He explained that he saw a rune being forged in the Void; a dark essence made with sinister, unseen hands. It took shape: a living coalescence of power glowing with strange, wispy markings: a double circle in red, bisected by a single white line and a single black running parallel through the circles. The essence was an attraction for the demons of the Legion, meant to capture and enslave them to the bearer's will. It was evil and powerful, pulsating in the Great Darkness until it could find a rip, a tear, something to bring it to life.
Such an opportunity came. In fact, two such opportunities came... at the exact same moment. Twin tears opened from either side of the Void surrounding the swirling fel energies. Hands reached out to pull, to heave, to yank, to weave the power from its lair. The essence split and built, until each separate half was its own potent lure.
Each half was bound to a dark artifact bearing the rune. Each half was pulled into a separate dimension of the world known as Azeroth. And each half was capable of summoning the Legion's finest to its bearer's will.
The Cenarion Circle of one dimension, with identical sets of leaders, discovered the existence of the artifact in a similar vision. They brought the matter to the Keepers of Time, who insisted they send a liaison to the other dimension to retrieve the second artifact. They selected a druidess by the name of Kyna Moonlily.
The Keepers of Time warned the Cenarion Circle that, since time and space are connected in ways that the mind cannot fathom, the risks of intra-dimensional travel were unknown. Together, they decided to accept the risk.
They opened a trans-dimensional portal with the aide of three highly skilled mages and two very knowledgeable warlocks. It was done within the locked depths of the Cathedral of Stormwind, with full permission from the SI:7 and by proxy, the Stormwind government. The druidess was sent to this realm to retrieve its half of the artifact known only as Anathema. The druid gave a very detailed description of the druidess known as Kyna Moonlily, down to every mark.
It was a fantastic tale... too fantastic to ignore. Remulos listened avidly, even as Staghelm coughed impatiently and rolled his eyes. Runetotem nodded along the entire time. Coupled with the fact that this was not the first they'd heard of the rune Anathema, only the most detailed account to date, Remulos knew that action had to be taken.
All major governments were to be contacted -- even within the Horde. Runetotem was to consult Horde contacts and speak on behalf of the Cenarion Circle. Staghelm was to find information in Darnassus pertaining to the druidess. Remulos summoned messengers bound for Stormwind, Ironforge, and even to Prophet Velen and The Hand of Argus within the Exodar. Kyna Moonlily was to be found and brought directly to the Cenarion Circle.
* * * * *
Spring, Year 26
I spoke with a gnomish warlock I think I can trust with my dreams. Her name is Mnemnoth, and she provided some counsel, along with her friend, Rivina. They listened to my recounting, questioning at every turn to help me discover the source of these nightmares.
One thing in particular that Mnemnoth said struck a chord with me:
"You feel as though you are split between two worlds."
How right that felt!
I believe the rune I saw is called Anathema. And I feel as though it is a weapon. And I feel as though I am supposed to find something... do something. Perhaps I am charged with finding this weapon and saving... what? Who charged me with this mission? Who am I saving?
At least tonight I think I might be able to sleep.
Part IV: The Portal Edit
Zardeth of the Black Claw settled back into his seat. The young beauty was meeting him again this evening. She was positively intoxicating. Rich, beautiful, loose auburn curls framing a face decorated with heated sapphire eyes, thick, dark lashes, and wine-colored, full lips. Even her voice, low and lust-filled yet utterly feminine, aroused a desire deeper than one simply biological. He longed to make her his.
She entered the Slaughtered Lamb, hips swaying, her burning eyes immediately fastening onto his face. She gave him that sexy little smirk of hers, pausing to tug up a stocking that had slipped down her thigh. His eyes followed slim, toned leg to petite ankle to stiletto-heeled shoe. He swallowed hard.
"Lady La`Roche," he spoke softly, standing and bending over her hand to plant a soft, polite kiss.
"Lord Zardeth," she returned, the soft smirk still painted over beautiful lips. She dipped her head and gracefully seated herself in the chair he pulled out for her.
"I've been looking forward to this," he said, casting his most charming smile as he seated himself opposite her.
"As have I," she responded, smirk growing wider. She crossed her legs, allowing him a peek at the lace of her stockings wrapped tightly about her smooth, tawny thigh. "How did your little... 'rendezvous'... work out? I've been most interested in your work," she crooned, leaning over the table slightly. He gasped at the sight of her decolletage.
He lowered his voice considerably. "It went... it went well. We believe the druidess was successfully transported."
She drew her head back coyly, eyes smoldering. "Yet something did not happen as planned. I sense you are holding something back from me, dear Zardeth. I was under the impression we had no secrets between us," she pouted, voice as enticing as her figure.
"I... you are right, darling, something did not go quite as planned. It is such a little thing... There was a tear we could not repair. But why talk of business when we could go down--"
She cut him off, licking her lips. "But darling, your work fascinates me so. I find it... incredibly... arousing to hear such a brilliant man as yourself speaking of his accomplishments. To think the government of Stormwind summoned you personally for this 'project'! Sweetling, do not sell yourself short. Tell me of the tear. What kind of tear?"
Spurred on by her words, his head swam. The words tumbled out before he could stop them. He would have told her anything.
"A tear in space and time that we could not repair. It connects the worlds together, but it is highly unstable. We locked the room. The key was given to Lady Purdue for safe-keeping. Now please... I have missed you so..."
Elisia slid out of her seat. His eyes widened as she sashayed toward him, leaned down, and pressed her soft, sweet lips against his. She pulled back to look into his eyes, fingers curled around his arms.
"I wish I had more time to spend with you tonight, darling, but unfortunately I have other commitments."
Anger surged inside him. "It's another man, isn't it!?" He jumped out of his seat.
She whispered soothingly into his ear, wrapping her body close. "Ohh, my sweet Zardeth. You are the only man that inspires me. How I wish I could spend this evening at your side... I do. Please be patient with me, love." Her crimson-painted nails skimmed his forearm, sending shivers along his spine.
He succumbed to her reassurance, nodding and hanging his head slightly in disappointment. "Very well, darling Elisia. I shall miss you every moment you are away."
She pressed a kiss to his cheek and exited the Lamb, fully aware of Zardeth's eyes following her until she disappeared from view entirely.
Part V: The Agency Edit
"I've found her," came the voice of the young druid charged with finding the errant Kyna Moonlily.
"Very good," Remulos praised. "What have you discovered?"
The druid launched into a tale.
The druidess he found perfectly matching the physical description was named Nikajah Silverleaf. She appeared to be the head of some force simply called the "Agency." He went straightaway into digging through her background with full permission from the Cenarion Circle.
The records only dated back to about a year ago, when she presumably arrived into the dimension. It was reported that she spent time searching the major cities. She made more than one inquiry to the census bureaus about her own identity. Apparently, traversing the portal had resulted in amnesia.
The government of Darnassus was at a complete loss. Scanning their records, they discovered that a druid had gone missing some time ago. She was of the feral arts, and presumed to have lost control to the animal spirits within her. Occasionally, a feral druid is lost to the wild, and so, after a cursory search, they'd buried the file. The name of the missing druidess was Nikajah, but they'd had no surname and no information about her family.
Assuming that she must be this Nikajah, Kyna accepted this name. Curiously, she took on the same surname she bore before traversing the portal. Desperate to learn more about her identity, she questioned citizens of all the major cities. No one had heard of her, but before long, she had the reputation of being some sort of agent.
Her compulsion to search for her identity, and the suggestion that she was some sort of agent, led her to the creation of the Agency -- a private investigations and mercenary establishment. Before long, it became a very successful business. Clients flocked to her, and she built up a strong organization of employees.
Shortly after the Agency was up and running smoothly, she met an elf named Ceridith. For reasons unknown, their courtship was only a few months long and she soon married. Not long after the wedding did she give birth to twin girls: Jasaeri and Isandri. Ceridith had already had one daughter, named Aceriel, whom Nikajah adopted.
"Lately, it seems that Nikajah has not been sleeping well. She's been temperamental and irritable. Often she keeps drawing a repeated rune -- the rune of Anathema. I've found it on several of her notes and files. I've been a model agent, so she has had no reason to suspect me going through her background. I am positive, without a doubt, that she is the Chosen One," he said confidently, drawing himself upward. He almost thought he saw Remulos smile.
"Please have her see me, then. It is time she discover her true identity and mission," he stated, handing the druid a letter of summons.
Part VI: The Case Edit
She was excited by Verlorek's proposal after he'd inspected the rune in her possession. The promise of power was intoxicating, but it was a delicate situation. She had to figure out a way to safely transport the rune to the other realm and join it with its mate.
Upon entering the Dwarven District of Stormwind, she could hear the sound of metal against metal, a blacksmith's hammer molding some armor, or perhaps a weapon, into its desired shape. "Ca-chink, ca-chink, ca-chink."
The burning smell that wafted past her nostrils made her nose wrinkle in disgust. She pulled the cloak around her tightly, clutching a large box wrapped in plain brown paper. She held it close to her body, buried within the folds of her cloak. Clearing her throat, she caught the attention of a familiar figure hunched over an anvil.
His bristled, steel-grey head turned, narrowed eyes landing on her. So it was the famed paladin, hero of the Stormwind and Ironforge communities, celebrated through all of Azeroth. She rolled her eyes beneath the shadowed hood of her cloak.
"I would like to purchase your smithing services, sir. I've heard that you are the best."
He eyed her warily. "Elisia."
"I'd like to hire you to construct a carrying case for me."
Elisia never missed a beat, studying the man's cautious movements. He looked at her skeptically at first, jaw firmly set, teeth grinding in thought. Finally, he smiled benevolently. It was slightly unsettling -- she had expected more. Nevertheless, it had to be him. The whispers were in agreement. Still, something nagged at her like a splinter just under the surface of the skin. She couldn't pinpoint the cause, so she simply shrugged it off.
Removing the paper, she withdrew the rune.
"It's an artifact with magical properties. I have been doing some research for the Explorers' League. They advised me to hire an excellent blacksmith to construct a case for safety purposes.
It is possible that prolonged exposure to the magical essences surrounding the artifact could cause health issues. It's simply too soon to tell. I'd like to have a case constructed to run some tests. So will you accept the job? Just name your price."
He looked between her and the rune momentarily before nodding. "Two hundred gold. I'll have it finished by Monday of next week. You can come pick it up then."
"Couldn't you just measure it now and I would take it with me? The Explorers' League was expecting it back into their vault while the case is constructed."
He shook his head firmly. "I need to adjust the enchantments to the metals of the case to dampen the magical properties. For that, I will need the artifact itself to test against."
She sighed, but bit her lower lip. "Fine, I will pay you a sum of two hundred gold when you've finished."
He shook his head again, smirk tugging at the corners of his lips. "One hundred now, one hundred upon receipt. I think that's fair, don't you?"
Glaring at him from under her hood, she fished out a sack of gold coins and dropped it into a calloused, waiting hand. She carefully placed the rune in the other.
"This is very valuable to the Explorers' League. It's still a secret find, too. The excavation area is still open, and they don't wish to have competition. Don't let anything happen to it, and don't speak to others about it."
He nodded sharply. "See you Monday, Miss La`Roche."
* * * * *
Nikajah wandered away from Moonglade in a daze, mindlessly fishing coins from the pouch at her waist for the gryphon-ride back to Darnassus.
Every bit of Remulos's words rang true, bringing back memories like the emergence of a fish in a still pond, sending ripples of memories off and through her.
Ceridith, the girls, they were hers, he knew!
She could barely contain the sudden welling of rage inside her. He lied to her. Everything-- it was a lie. Aceriel... her eldest daughter... how could he have let her believe she belonged to another?
Angry, hot, bitter tears spilled over her cheeks. She had agonized over this unknown mission, and though he may not have known about Anathema, he had hidden her past from her.
Part VII: Stolen Edit
Elisia traversed the alleyways quickly, the hood of her cloak pulled low over her eyes. She didn't dare travel with an umbrella, despite the rain, for fear it would set her apart from the common folk wandering the cobblestone streets. The rain rolled off the brim of her hood, dripping in front of her face.
She arrived on the doorstep accompanied by the sizzling sounds of the forges and the clash of metals. Bringing up her fingers to the brass knocker at the smith's door, she gave a heavy three knocks. There was a long, pregnant pause, as if the thick air itself was disguising something ugly. Something didn't feel right...
The door opened a crack to reveal a charcoal-haired woman, muddy-brown eyes narrowing on Elisia.
"Can I help you?"
"I'm looking for the blacksmith. I'm here for my case." Elisia shifted, and tensed. Something definitely did not feel right...
The door closed in her face, then opened all the way. The woman was thin and bony, with long, thin hair framing an almost gaunt face. She sniffed, eyes warily following Elisia's movements, drifting down to the wet carpet below her feet.
"You're Elisia La`Roche?"
"Yes," Elisia responded, peering beneath her hood.
"He'll be back soon." With that soft statement, she walked up the stairs and disappeared around a corner.
The door suddenly opened and the steel-grey paladin appeared with a scantily-clad, dripping woman on each arm -- one blonde, blue-eyed, and buxom, the other a shapely, smiling brunette. "Oho my sweetling! I've brought us gifts!" He stopped cold when he saw Elisia.
"Girls, go on upstairs. I have some business to take care of, and then I will be right with you," He slapped each one on the rear, causing each to emit a brainless giggle and bound up the stairs at his bidding.
"I suppose you're here for your case, eh?" He crossed his arms, scarred, weather-beaten face morphing into a wicked scowl.
"I have the other hundred." Elisia started stretching her fingers. Something was coming...
"Hmm... well, you know Elisia, I think I've decided to keep your pretty little object."
She raised an eyebrow. "But -- you, the pristine paladin, would stoop to petty theft? You know, I would have to notify authorities, and somehow, I would imagine that would ruin the sterling reputation you've built for yourself."
He shook his head calmly and grinned. "Who will believe you, warlock, over me? They are sheep and I am the shepherd. They jump when I say jump. No one will listen to the likes of you. You said yourself, I have a sterling reputation."
With a snarl, Elisia lifted her hands, weaving curses upon curses. They hit him and he doubled over... for a moment. Suddenly, a golden bubble of light shimmered around him. He slowly lifted himself upward, offering her a toothy grin. "Assault me again, and I may just have to report it. You know they will listen. I can have my priestess friend here in moments to burn you at the stake. I can't be held responsible for... mob mentality, you know." He examined his nails, and then buffed them against his chest.
She seethed. "You gutless..."
"Now, now, Elisia, you're trespassing. Please leave immediately." He opened the door. "Or do I need to have you physically removed? That would be quite embarrassing... for you."
He was right. The authorities would believe him over her. He had sway that money could not buy. She would have to resort to craftier means of getting her artifact back.
She left with an indignant flourish of her robes and her head held high.
Part VIII: Lies and Truth Edit
"How could you lie to me? How could you not tell me?" She spat out the questions as if she could not stomach them. She threw the empty brandy bottle against the wall. It shattered onto the floor.
"Nikajah!? NIKAJAH!? My name isn't even real! I'm Kyna to you, remember?"
He shook his head. "You are and you are not. You're Nikajah now, and I accepted that long ago. I wasn't allowed to tell you... I wanted to... but that was part of Cilandra's conditions when traveling through--"
"I don't even want to look at you right now." She stormed out, slamming the door behind her. Shifting smoothly into cat form, she made out for the woods.
* * * * *
Elisia built a portal... it just so happened to align with my dimension, my world... whatever it was. Cilandra followed her, bringing Ceridith and Aceriel with her, upon learning from Elisia that I existed here. So Elisia knew. But how could she have known?
Easy, she must have simply recognized me and never said anything. Damn that warlock.
My poor, confused Aceriel... He said he explained to her why she couldn't tell me. Something about altering the threads of time... Cilandra expressly forbid them to do so.
I can't blame him for following me. And I understand why he lied. But, by the gods, it hurts! I feel like everything about me, who I am, is a lie.
She sat, in elven form, at the edge of the moonwell, dipping a finger in the magical waters and watching the ripples.
Suddenly, something behind her rustled. She knew him by his scent.
"I'm sorry, Ceridith. I... lost it. This has been really hard on me." She bowed her head low, staring down into the pool.
"I know, love. I know. And I'm sorry. You don't know how many times I wished I could tell you." His arms slid around her from behind her as he crouched at her back. "It hurt so much to think that you could forget me, that you could not know me. But I couldn't just let you go here, and your daughter needed you. We both did. We had to come, whatever the price.
I loved Kyna, and I love Nikajah. It's true that you've changed some, but the Kyna I knew is still part of you -- still is you." He brushed the hair from her eyes.
She turned slowly, laying her head against his chest. "You know I have to do this, right? I have to find what I was sent to find."
"I know," he whispered, kissing the top of her head. "I know."
Part IX: The Client Edit
Nikajah doodled in the edges of her notes, idly thinking about her mission. She had no idea where to begin her search. A knock at the door interrupted her thoughts.
"Miss Nika? A lady wants see you, but has no 'ppointment. You wants see her? She say it ooo-gent." Jaxie peered at Nikajah from behind lavender-shaded goggles, pushing her spiked bright green hair from her eyes.
"Send her in," Nikajah replied in a near-whisper, longingly eyeing the liquor cabinet.
Jaxie motioned, and in walked a hooded figure, easing herself into a seat opposite Nikajah's desk. Jaxie quietly closed the door, just as the figure drew back her hood.
Elisia... But something inside Nikajah instinctually kept her from dispensing the heated words that she had mentally stockpiled for Elisia over the last few days. She cleared her throat, and forced herself to smile pleasantly at the warlock.
"And what can I do for you, Elisia?"
Elisia tucked a stray auburn curl back into the fastenings of the ruby pins nestled in the sophisticated, upswept knot she customarily kept her hair in. Icy eyes fastened onto Nikajah, and her perfectly-shaped lips crept into the shadow of a sickly sweet smile.
"I would like to hire you to recover a piece of my property."
Nikajah raised a brow, waiting for her to continue.
"It is an artifact with some magical properties, stolen from me by a noteworthy knight."
Nikajah's ears twitched. She looked at Elisia with what she hoped was only a mild interest. She picked up her notebook and pen casually, making notations.
"Can you describe it? Can you name the thief?"
Elisia nodded, slipping two folded pieces of parchment over the table. One contained a name; a name that caused Nikajah's eyes to grow wide. The other shocked her more still. It was a very detailed drawing of the rune etched into Anathema.
"I see you are as shocked as I was that he would steal my property, but I assure you it was he. That second parchment contains a detailed drawing of the runes marking my artifact."
Nikajah struggled to regain her composure and find her voice. She cleared her throat.
"Can you tell me how this happened?"
Elisia nodded, her head as straight as if she were being held up by an invisible string, chin inclined regally.
"I hired him as a blacksmith to construct a safety case for my magical artifact suitable for transportation to the... the Explorers' League in Ironforge. It was agreed upon that I would pay him the sum of two hundred gold. One hundred I paid at the time I left the artifact under his care, the other I was to pay upon receipt. He told me that it would take nearly a week to complete its construction, and to come pick it up the following Monday."
"When I arrived to pick up my artifact and case, he told me he would be keeping it. He kept my one hundred gold down payment, and as much as threw me out of his house. He told me that no one would believe me over such a well-known and well-respected citizen such as himself. So, I've come to you for your assistance. How much will you charge for your fee?"
Nikajah was still in the process of wrapping her head around the idea that Elisia had given her a giant sign-post pointing to Anathema. She realized though, through the haze in her mind this had created, that she needed to keep up appearances at all costs.
"Fifty to cover expenses. Another fifty on recovery."
Elisia withdrew a velvet sack of coin, drawing it open and spilling the contents on Nikajah's desk. She counted out fifty gold coins, and returned the rest to the sack.
Nikajah stood and held out her hand. Elisia took it, rather gingerly, and they shook.
"I'll be in touch, Miss La`Roche."
Part X: The Recovery Edit
The rain came down in sheets, shimmering under the faint light of the street lanterns. Grumbling clouds obstinately filled the sky and periodically dampened the light of the moon and stars, making it the perfect night to make oneself blend with the shadows.
"Hurry!" she hissed into the ear of her companion, a compactly built human who eased a pin into the lock, deftly turned it, gave a slight jiggle and--
"What's the problem?" Nikajah whispered, flexing her glove-clad fingers nervously. The leather squeaked.
"I said I'd get you in... and I will," the figure hissed back. As if to punctuate her last word, the lock turned. The sound was a deep thunk that made Nikajah's spine go rigid. The hooded rogue slipped the pick into the lip of her boot, and vanished into the night without another word.
Nikajah eased open the door handle, pushing it open as noiselessly as possible. She slipped it shut behind her, against the sound of rain beating the cobblestones outside. The wet leather of her boots creaked slightly with her footsteps, causing her heart-rate to rocket.
The blonde floozy she'd paid off had said she'd seen something matching that description in his bedroom, in the top drawer of the bureau. She came to it, the first door upstairs, down the hall, to the left. The room was lit only by way of a solitary flickering candle, flame nearly drowned in melted wax.
Three figures occupied the large, fur covered bed. The nude paladin lay on his stomach, hairy nude rear bared to the ceiling. On his left lay a thin, black-haired woman; and on his right lay a large-breasted woman with fiery red hair. Both were similarly nude, but covered by the fur blanket, thankfully. Nikajah wrinkled her nose, but continued to the bureau.
Easing open the top drawer, she discovered a smooth metallic box. Her stomach fell as she remembered its contents. Carefully, silently she slipped it from its resting place and replaced the drawer. But something inside rattled, startling her and stirring the bed occupants. The paladin stopped snoring, the fiery redhead tossed, but the frail black-haired woman did not move. Nikajah froze.
Seconds later the heavy snoring resumed, and the redhead settled into a new position. Nikajah eased herself out of the room, allowing herself to breathe again. She was down the stairs and out of the house in less than a minute.
As she melted into the shadows of the buildings, a pair of narrowed, muddy brown eyes watched her from the upstairs window.
Part XI: Pitchforks and Torches Edit
Two plate-clad guards burst into the Agency waiting area, ignoring Jaxie's indignant exclamations.
"We're looking for Nikajah Silverleaf," they announced, one clutching a tightly rolled parchment in his hands.
"She not in office, sirs, she is at druids place. Meditatering. Me tell her you come?" Jaxie stated firmly, arms folded over her chest. She was a brave little soul.
"You can give her this. We'll be back by half past eleven bells tomorrow morning to escort her to the Keep," replied the guard holding the parchment. He thrust it onto the desk, turned, and stomped out of the office. His identical companion followed him, stomping in suit.
Nikajah, having heard the commotion and slipped out of her office in stealth, finally slipped out of the shadows and into her elven form.
"Oh, 'Rector Nikki, this not sound good. What happened?" Jaxie asked, peering up at Nikajah with concern on her cherubic face.
"I'm not certain." She took the parchment from the front desk, unrolling it.
Nikajah Silverleaf, you are hereby commanded to
report in person to Highlord Bolvar Fordragon in
Stormwind Keep by noon tomorrow. Should you
fail to report, a warrant for your arrest will be issued
and you will be considered a fugitive of the Stormwind
You are charged with burglary.
Nikajah blinked, then began to gather her files into boxes. "Jaxie, we have to go. My family and I... we're in danger."
Jaxie started to protest, but saw the fierce determination in her eyes.
"I get Ceridith on hearth system," she said sadly.
A few moments later, her hearth crackled to life. "Nikajah love? What's wrong?"
"What I most feared is coming to pass. We have to get out while we can."
* * * * *
They were being chased. Nikajah and the girls packed up a few belongings under Ceridith's watchful eye and added them to the cart containing Nikajah's files. Ceridith knew what to do. He took them straight to Cilandra's home.
"We need to go through the portal," Ceridith shouted, holding Cilandra by her shoulders.
Outside the din of the mob was growing louder by the second.
Cilandra started to protest, but snapped her mouth shut and nodded. They left out of the back way. Cilandra escorted the Silverleaf family to the portal, cast a protective enchantment around them to preserve their memories, and sent them on their way.
She knew the mob would come for her and Elisia next. The pair of them would empty the bank accounts and follow, sealing the portal behind them. The decision had been made.
Part XII: The Grand Opening Edit
Nikajah examined the miniature city of boxes piled haphazardly in the Agency's lobby. Ceridith and his brother, Silthius, hefted her bookcase piece by piece into her upstairs office. She offered a smile to Nazumai, who carried a potted fern in her arms, weaving her way between the boxes to the reception desk. She sat the plant down gingerly, and then smiled at Nikajah and Lynissa who were eagerly sharing decorating plans for the new office.
"You know, these files aren't going to magically float themselves upstairs," Ceridith grunted as he passed his wife on his way to pick up another load of furnishings, wiping the sweat from his brow.
"Oh, my love, but I think they will," Nikajah retorted with a sly smirk for her husband and a stealthy wink at Lynissa.
With a shy grin, Lynissa uttered a few words and a small portal opened near the "box city." With just her boot, Nikajah pushed one inside and it disappeared.
Ceridith shook his head and grumbled half-heartedly as he crossed the awning. "And when you discover half your files have been teleported to the tavern in Shattrath, right in someone's drink, don't come complaining to me."
Nikajah and the girls only giggled, pushing box after box through the portal.
* * * * *
"Curtains," Nikajah noted, examining the windowpanes.
Lynissa nodded and smiled. "I think they brighten up the place, don't you?"
"They are sky blue, Lyn. Sky. Blue," Nikajah commented, raising an eyebrow.
Lynissa's lighted face immediately fell. "You don't like it."
Nikajah bit her lip. "No Lyn. I don't like them. I love them," she responded, smiling brightly. So the office would have bright, cheery curtains. What would the clients expect? Cloak and dagger black velvet drapes?
She looked out the window into the Park District courtyard. Next door was a space for lease that would make a lovely little herbal and alchemy shop. She'd already made an appointment with the realtor, in fact. And right out front was a large moonwell. It was peaceful, for Stormwind City.
The Agency offices were only marked with a symbol etched on a sign posted over the door. A pair of daggers, blades touching in the rough shape of an 'A,' was burned into the wood. She poked her fingers through the mail slot affixed in the door, smiling to herself. She was glad that she still had her work, even if the rest of her life was in chaos.
She put up a small, flat piece of wood with the letters "OPEN" painted on one side and "CLOSED" on the other into the window, propped up on the pane. The sun hit the "OPEN" side as it declared itself to all of Stormwind City.
The Agency was open for business.
Part XIII: The Finale Edit
She cradled the box as she picked her way through Nighthaven, careful not to jostle the contents. She could feel its power calling to her, tugging on that contaminated part of herself, but still she resisted. The Glade tended to settle that struggle from within - a mecca of peace in her chaotic life. She delivered the package personally to Remulos, who stepped forward and knelt on his forelegs to accept it with his humanoid hand. Worry shined in his eyes as they roved over the package, then over her.
"Thank you, Nikajah Silverleaf, for fulfilling your mission."
"With all due respect, Remulos, this is only half of my--" she started, silenced by the formidable twitches at the corners of his stern mouth.
"No, this is where your part in this mission ends, Nikajah. You've become tainted. We knew that would be a risk..."
Her back went rigid and her eyes regarded him with fury. She kept her voice calm and quiet, though it was a considerable strain to do so.
"Tainted? I feel its pull but I resist, Remulos. I am strong."
He shook his head sadly, straightening his forelegs beneath him and drawing up to his full height. His face was compassionate, sympathetic even, as he spoke.
"You must heal, child. And I... I apologize for what we have put you through. We were not fully aware of the risks. You have gone through much toil in the name of this mission -- much personal sacrifice. Too much. I cannot ask more of you, and I won't be responsible for your contamination." Fatherly love emanated from his deep, gentle voice. "You must rest yourself, child."
Nikajah bristled. He was suggesting that she was weak. He recognized what sacrifices she had made, and yet, could not recognize her great strength. But this was Remulos, and she could do nothing but take it in stride.
"The Cenarion Circle will be paying you a handsome sum." Noting the daggers in her look, he went on hurriedly, "You spent time away from your own endeavors to work on this mission, uprooted your business and your home... it is the least we can do."
"Thank you, sir," She responded through clenched teeth. She bowed deeply, angry tears welling in her eyes, burning hot and blurring her vision. She refused to let them spill in his presence.
He looked after her as she turned, hurrying away to the gryphon-keepers. He only hoped he could keep her from knowing exactly what had happened, lest her personal world be turned upside-down a second time. Casting protective and powerful enchantments over the demonic package in his hands, he brought it to the special place he had designed for it until they could destroy it once and for all.