Part I Edit
"Forty." The goblin smiled up at her, exposing a jagged row of sharp, pointed teeth. He adjusted the crooked brim of his beat-up leather hat. "No less."
Nazumai sighed and turned her back to him, lifting her skirts to withdraw the coin from the pouch strapped down to her thigh. The pouch was significantly lighter when she was done.
"Forty." She remarked, peering at him through her glasses. Her gaze shifted to the device he had said he could alter.
He bit one of the golden coins, then gave her a sly wink and pocketed the sum. Turning his attention to a battered workbench, he strapped on a pair of goggles. Each lens had a telescopic piece that whirred outward to examine the device closely. He turned it over approvingly in his hands, then selected a tool from a dented metal box without looking up. He poked one metal end of the tool into a corresponding indentation on the device and opened it, exposing its wire-and-gear innards. Withdrawing a kerchief from up her sleeve, she dusted a precarious-looking lop-sided stool and perched on it, watching him work.
She nearly jumped from her seat when he dumped all the innards out, taking each whirlygig apart and examining it closely. He waved at her absently, and she lowered herself back into her seat. He pulled wires from their nodes and switched them, reattached gears to other shafts and placed some new ones within. She finally lost interest in the work and found her mind wandering. Sand intermittantly beat at the hut from outside. The thin cotton of her robe clung to the sweat that rolled down her back.
Being on the run was difficult -- but she knew she had to do it. Her mere prescence posed a danger to all of her colleagues and all of her friends. Besides, she knew that Dinaestra would excell in her position and perhaps whip the Agents into shape, and Zanthalas and Tyrianna would assist her with the more social intricacies of the position. She wondered what had become of Elisia. The woman had brought all of this down upon them, unknowingly and blindly, through greed and lust for power. The games she was playing were far more dangerous than she could comprehend; Nazumai was certain that Elisia could not know the extent of the players she was assisting in moving across the board. She was no more than a pawn, and was totally expendable.
Mai knew, though, what the others did not. She knew that the Black Flight had been in touch with Elisia; that one of their whelplings had been assigned to push her toward their devices. She had probably been promised some position that would never come to fruition. The Black Flight was always a cruel mistress -- and could give Elisia lessons in manipulation. And yet, Mai could find pity within herself for the woman. She was a product of what she had been forced to grow into, what she had been forced to become. Unfortunate circumstances shaped her character, molded her into ultimate self-destruction.
It was the other one she couldn't get an accurate read on. Cilandra was somehow ever-saving Elisia from herself, to her personal detriment. Elisia never thought of Cilandra's feelings, and Mai truly wondered what it was in Cilandra that needed Elisia at all. There was something strange about Cilandra... she was not what she appeared to be, and that was all Nazumai knew.
And then Catinan, caught up in Elisia's web of lies, pregnant and endangering herself and the child. She was under the misguided assumption that Elisia could care about someone or something other than herself. What was it these women saw in Elisia? Mai could sense old scars in Catinan that had never healed over, and she knew that Elisia was exposing and using them to her own benefit. She just couldn't figure out the motivation. Did the warlock need a reason to create chaos? Or was there a higher purpose to her scheming?
She thought of Lynissa and the thought enraged her. Not even her own mate had been untouched by the warlock's silver tongue. She cooled the fire by switching the motion of her thoughts back to the task at hand. She was having the locational system of her hearth frequency cloaked. Though she wished to lead them away from Agency, she did not want to be caught if she could help it. Only Nikajah knew what was truly happening.
She wondered if Lynissa was heart-broken, and reminded herself that it was for the best. She would do anything, anything to protect the woman she loved, including removing herself entirely. Her own heart ached with thoughts of her lover, wracked itself with pains for the hurt she'd caused her. Salt stinging her eyes brought her mind back to Gadgetzan, back to the desert that wanted to wrench every ounce of moisture from her body. She wiped the sweat away on the back of her sleeve and retied the white scarf around her head.
She remembered the moment she knew she was being chased, that after so many years, she was found.
Alone at her desk, the lanterns burned low. She had her head in her hands, studying a tome from a stack about various artifacts, attempting to find out what they had been searching for, to withdraw from Elisia's grasp. The lantern flames shuddered and winked out, leaving tendrils of smoke curling in the moonlight.
Her head snapped up when the office door blew open, revealing a man-shape. He was odd, somehow, as if whoever had put him together did not quite know what they were doing. The proportions were off; his head was too large for his narrow body, and his legs too long for his short, skinny torso. Before she could understand it, though, fear iced over in her belly.
"You won't stop us, you know." The voice was not quite right, either; something between adolescent squeals and nasal whines. "The time of Magic is at an end. The mortals have abused it and brought ruin upon the world. They must be purged."
Nazumai slowly stood. "We will not allow it."
He laughed then, maniacally, until the moments stretched out into eternity. "The others are lost in their own battles. They care not for the mortals. It is only you and yours that oppose us, and you will be dealt with soon enough, soon enough, soon enough."
She stood then, flexing.
"It has been so long since you have been yourself, you have forgotten how. You are pathetic." He laughed again and drew closer.
"You forget that you cannot sever me; for my magic is divine," Nazumai growled, then sped into an incantation.
It struck air and faltered. He only grinned a lop-sided grin that seemed to be larger than his face. "Sever? No. Shield? Yes!" He started to chant, his voice feverish.
She braced herself for the killing blow, the moment when her body would burn, and she would be discovered for something other than herself. Everyone would wonder what had happened to Nazumai, where she had gone, and feel fear for what they found. The rush of the spell was defeaning; she steeled herself for the force.
And she was whisked away into nothingness, Traveling in a way that she could not do alone -- someone had saved her life. Space was nothing. Time was everything. Time and space and void and dizziness for all of eternity, all of her existence, forever spent reeling...
She landed in the caverns.
"Done." The goblin interrupted her reverie, holding up the device intact. She took it, inspecting it closely.
"It will cloak my location?"
"And voice." He gave a curt nod, as though her question were an insult to his trade. "Want something else?"
"No. Thanks." She got up from the stool as he turned his back on her, pulling out and replacing tools and half-finished projects. She squinted against the harsh sunlight and bent her head down against the wind-blown sand.
It was time to move.
Part II (by Kuugen) Edit
"By Elune it's hot" Wiping the sweat from his brow Dritts looked off into the distance at the Silhouette of Gadgitstan. Taking a flask of water from his satchel he took a drink before pouring some for Emmy to lap at as it fell. "I don't know about you Em, but I'll be glad to get out of this oven.
Emmy, growled her approval and began to trot once more toward the town. After a while they arrived at the city gates where he tethered his storm saber and patted it softly as it began to drink from the water trough "Thanks for the ride my friend. Rest up and we'll head out again later"
Heading through the gate Dritts and Emmy headed to the small inn. Walking through the door he found an empty table and sat as Emmy laid down under the table. A moment later a goblin waitress came to his table "Can I get you something to drink handsome" she asked. "Why yes do you happen to have any honey mint tea?" the waitress nodded "We just got a small shipment of it yesterday... Its a rarity around here so it wont be cheap. Five gold a cup." Dritts sighed as he handed over the money. "Thank you handsome. I'll be right back with your tea"
Dritts nodded and waited quietly until the waitress came back with his tea. "I brought some water for your cat." The waitress smiled as she bent over to place a small bowl in front of Emmy who purred loudly and began to lap at the water, she even allowed the goblin to scratch her ear which caused Dritts to smile. "My thanks." Reaching in his pouch he took out another five gold and handed it to waitress. "Your tip." Grinning she took the coins and patted Emmy once softly before going to tend to another customer.
Smiling he looked down at Emmy and nudged her with his foot. "There you go making another friend... I thought you were suppose to be vicious?" Emmy nuzzled against his leg as if say *But I -am- vicious...see?* Before turning back to the water, causing Dritts to chuckle softly. After they had finished with their drinks they rose quietly and headed out into the now windy street. "This day just keep getting better and be-" he stopped as he saw a familiar figure exit one of the small buildings and smiled softly as he watched her look around before bending her head against the wind. "Well well well... so this is where you've been hiding..." Working his way into the shadows of one of the buildings he watched her head toward the gate.
As she rounded the gates he started to walk after her "Em... we're going to follow her...shes in trouble and it's about time I got some answers from our dear little Mai..."
Part III (by Kuugen) Edit
As he gazed down at the small kaldorei woman sitting by the small campfire from his vantage point at the ridge Dritts smiled softly. He had been on her trail for days now and he was amused at how well Nazumai hid herself. She had stayed away from the main roads and backtracked on occasion. "If only she had gone the way of the hunter." he quietly mused to himself "She would have been a dandy one." Looking down at Emmy he he made a small circular motion with his hand. Emmy nuzzled his hand in understanding then slowly melted into the darkness of the night.
As he waited for Emmy to make her recon of the area he thought back to when many of the officers of the guild had up and disappeared Nazumai amoung them who had written a hasty note giving all control to the guild to Dinaestra. Sighing inwardly he moved softly around the camps peramiter checking to see if there was anything snooping around the camp besides himself. A half hour later he and Emmy had finished and determined there where no threats in the immediate area. Leaning down he whispered in Emmys ear. "Bait."
Emmy nuzzled him in understanding once again and slowly made her way down to the the camp. Going near a bush she rubbed up against it rustling its leaves.
Nazumai's head popped up from her contemplation and looked toward the sound. "Who's there? Show yourself!" Slowly but surely Emmy made her way into the firelight. Nazumai tensed a moment before taking a closer look at Em. "Emmy? Is that...?" Cursing she turned around to see him sitting on a log behind herChuckling softly he rose from his seat. "Such language Mai..." His face took on a serious look. "Now... your in trouble... so tell me what I can do to help."
Part IV Edit
She turned away from the hunter and his animal companion, immediately dousing the fire with a small pail near her tent. She kicked sand over the embers with her sturdy walking shoes, perhaps a bit more violent than was necessary.
"You should not be here, Drittsyn Silverleaf. Turn and go and do not look back. You endanger yourself and me both by being in my presence, hunter." As soon as she said it, in her most firm and commanding voice, she could see by the mere steeling of his jaw that he would stubbornly await a more thorough explanation.
Frustration sunk in. His foolishness could cost them both everything they held dear. If they even glimpsed him following her path... silently she scolded herself for starting a fire at all. It was enough. She had to make an impression.
She stared at him hard, hard enough to penetrate his elven gaze, hard enough to pierce his soul. Taking a few slow steps backward, she bent double and her eyes closed. Fixed in a state of concentration, she was able to project an illusion. It was the illusion of a great pair of red-gold, leathery wings, flexing skyward and beating down in long arcs of translucent, but magnificent, display. Her voice seemed to magnify in his head, a deep bellow that shook the very depths of his being, but in reality her voice was little above a whisper.
"Go now, Drittsyn Silverleaf. Go now or face the wrath of the secret you have now discovered, the truth of what I am. Though I am grateful for your offer, the only thing you can do for me is to leave me now, and make certain that you are not followed."
In an instant, the illusion vanished, leaving only the hazy smoke of the fire and exhaustion tugging at the corners of Nazumai's eyes. She began to break camp wordlessly, making it clear to the hunter that she would disappear, and do a more thorough job of eluding him this time. She had an appointment to keep.
Part V (by Kuugen) Edit
Dritts watched as Nazumai walked off into the night and gazed in the direction she had gone after she was no longer in sight. "Em... follow her... I know shes trying to protect us... but still..." Emmy looked up at him a moment before nuzzling his hand in understanding. "Heh good girl. Make sure your not seen. But if she does get in any real danger... help her as best you can. Be careful Em..." Purring softly Emmy brushed up against him before bounding off and disappearing into the night.
Sighing he worked his way up to to small overlook before taking out his hearthstone and activating it. A swirling of colors and slight disorientation later he was standing in front of the Heros Welcome in Dalaran. After getting his bearings he headed down the street past the people still up and about until he came to an inn with a small sign that read "The Dreaming Dragon" Smirking he entered and was greeted by a young kal'dorei girl "Greetings Sir to The Dreaming Dragon. Is there anything I can help you with?" Smiling softly he gave her a couple gold coins "Yes please little miss. If you could be so kind as to get me some honeymint tea? I've been on the road some time and would love a cup just now." Smiling she curtsied "Yes sir... I'll have some brought to you in soon." As she began walk away he stopped her "I'm sorry but could you tell me is Nikajah is here? I'd really like to talk to her." The young girl shrugged "I'm sorry sir but I do not know but I shall check and see if the Lady is indeed home. Whom may I tell her is asking for her?" Chuckling he handed her another gold piece. Tell her Dritts has come to pay homage to her beauty." Blushing the young kal'dorei girl nodded "Y...yes... I shall tell her if she is here. Please give your weapons to the golem and take a seat."
As the girl walked away rather hurriedly Dritts walked toward the golem, and as he came closer the golem raised its hands expectantly. Chuckling he handed over his polearm. As he turned to walk away the golem moved in front of him, barring his way. "Huh? Oh... sighing reluctantly he unslung his quiver and bow and gently placed them in the golems hands. "Your knife as well Drittsyn Silverleaf... if memory serves its hidden in your right boot." a feminine voice ordered from behind. Chuckling to himself he knelt and removed the said dagger and also placed it in the golems hands. Turning he smiled at Nikijah. "Hello Nika..." Walking over he grabbed her palms and knelt to kiss each one "Your looking well for living a retired life." Nikajah grinned as he rose. "The Children are all the job I require... besides the odd contract now and then. So why are you here? Its certainly not to pay homage to my beauty you nefarious neredowell.
Dritts chuckled a moment before his face took on a serious expression. "I saw Mai... the 'real' Mai... and shes in trouble. Now I've got Emmy tailing her for now... but I dont know for how long, so I need to know... what in the nether is going on. and what are we going to do to help her?"
Part VI Edit
Nikajah's light expression darkened immediately at Drittsyn's news. She crooked a silent finger at him and led him up the curling stairway at the rear of The Dreaming Dragon. Long emerald robes enshrouded her well-muscled figure, feet bared in simple sandals, the beads and feathers woven into her hair clicking and swirling with her every step.
The building's structure fascinated its patronage, for it seemed to be crafted of one impossibly large, marvelous tree. At the second level, the druid led Drittsyn down a door-lined hallway and up a second winding stair at the rearmost part of the great tree. There was a design at its crest, a carving of a silver-etched leaf, as though someone had poured liquid silver into the hallowed lines scraped expertly from the wood itself. Vine carvings curled around its perimeter in a large semi-circular fashion that reached to the floor.
Placing her left open palm in the center of the door over the silver-etched leaf, Dritts noted the sparkle of the ring encircling the fourth finger. A hum grew, and the carvings seemed to glow a lush green. There was a sense of vitality in the artwork; a great sense of nature and all her beauty that was life. The vines glowed with such intensity, they appeared for a moment to be real foliage, bursting into life by the mere touch of Nikajah's hand.
The carvings pressed inward then, taking the center of the area they encompassed with them, and slid to the side. The doorway opened, then, to their passage, and Nikajah smiled as she noticed the silent surprise painted on her cousin's face. The room they entered was a well-furnished sitting room, and though Dritts saw passages beyond, he politely restrained his curiosity and took the seat proffered him by Nikajah, a plush chair of elven design. She sat opposite him then, concern quickly replacing her mild amusement at his reactions to her temporary living quarters.
"I know little about Mai's situation, as it seems she has taken great pains to cloak herself from all of us -- even her closest family. I know my sister-mate to be wise... wiser perhaps than many mortals, but she is young in the terms of her true form. I suspect her enemies are foes of the Red Flight, and she means to divert their attention from us, but this is simply guesswork.
I am most concerned that they have shown such an interest in our company in particular, when we are not the only threats to the Black and Blue Flight, but one organization of many warriors of the Alliance and Horde alike. It brings me to believe that perhaps someone has done something in particular to show ourselves a beacon to these foes, to draw them to Agency so magnetically.
I cannot say for certain that it is Mai's doing or another, though I doubt that, in Mai's wisdom, she would have done something grand enough to bring attention so focused on us -- unless they mean to use Agency as a weakness against her, likewise having discovered her true form.
There are simply too many questions, Dritts, and when Mai does not wish to be found, you will not find her. She will elude even your formidable skills and those of your feline companion. As much as I fear to say it, I believe that pursuit will only heighten the danger to her and ourselves."
A long, pregnant pause ensued as she seemed to study a single stormcrow feather caught between her fingers.
"I will seek an audience with the Life-Binder. I fear it is our only hope of helping Mai."