Part I Edit
Elisia shifted in her cherry-red crushed velvet chair allowing the sides of her black silken robe to fall open. A laced scoop-necked silk gown clung to her every generous curve and narrow waist, dangling thigh-length by thin spaghetti straps that had a tendency to slide down her shoulders all on their own. Tousled cinnamon-red hair tumbled around a beautiful face and intense sapphire eyes that seemed to encase a burning fire within their very ice. A full ruby pout spread over her lips, pulling back from perfect white, even teeth in a smirk. Thin, tawny ankles crossed over an ottoman.
At her feet knelt a human woman of exquisite features; angelic falls of golden curls framed perfectly heart-shaped, rosy lips. Large, crystalline blue eyes peered up hopefully. All she wore was a slim obsidian rune-etched collar around her neck. The rest of her porcelain, aesthetic beauty was on display for her Mistress. She prostrated herself as Elisia's gaze shifted over her, forehead pressed against the marble floors. She earned herself a soft, fond pat; long crimson nails trailed through the golden curls as one might stroke a beloved dog. As the woman's face turned upward once more, her eyes shone with gratitude.
Another beauty clad in white, gossamer robes so opaque that nothing was left to the imagination fed Elisia grapes from a silver platter. Around her neck, the elf wore an identical collar. Her skin was a soft, ripe peach color, shining marvelously against her chin-length ginger hair. Bright, almond-shaped luminescent green eyes peered from behind a thick fringe of lashes, eager to gain her Mistress's favor. The same eyes shot a single, jealous barb toward the golden-blonde.
And dancing before her was a man of sinew and perfectly-sculpted muscle, flawless oiled olive skin, and lush locks of dark hair that framed a chiseled jaw and riveting sea-green eyes. His likeness could have been used to inspire a sculptor, and in truth, perhaps was. Elisia was rather proud of her possessions; several of them people of once-wealthy means and considerable influence. Around his thick, corded neck was the identical obsidian collar etched in runework. The careful way his nude form worked muscle into each pose was breath-catching, truly. She slid her tongue around a plump grape without taking her eyes from him.
The next few minutes happened so quickly. The door slammed open and Thomas was suddenly there, a hulking, sinuous shape carved from shadow, enshrouded by his hooded cloak. When his eyes caught the firelight the pupils narrowed into reptilian slits and shimmered briefly. The two women cowered together behind Elisia, whilst the man appeared as though he were the sculptor's very stone.
"Leave us." Thomas hissed, his voice serpentine.
Her minions spared her a pleading glance before she nodded and they hastily slid from the room. She rose out of her chair and glided with fluid motion toward the fireplace, silken robe billowing behind her.
"Master is displeased. We have given ample time. And yet, still, you do not have the amulet." He seemed coiled, ready to pounce.
"You know, I've yet to see any of this supposed power. And I happen to know that your Flight has sent an Ambassador to the Life-Bringer's Temple. So just what is Deathwing playing at?"
"You will not speak our Master's name! Your tongue is not worthy!" He leaped with sudden agility, and for a moment she thought she caught a glimpse of dark, leathery wings. He shoved her back against the fireplace stone, narrow, long fingers closing around her throat. "The only reason you are alive is because a mortal's hand must make it whole. Do you comprehend who you bandy words with, mortal? Your very life is so fleeting. If I were to just close my fingers a bit tighter, not even much effort on my part, I would crush your windpipe. Do you comprehend now?"
From the corner pounced another shadow. Eliria, her faithful bodyguard, threw herself at Thomas but was instantly repelled with his outstretched free hand. He had not even turned his head to look, but he held her bound with nothing but air, cutting her off from Elisia. Elisia glared incendiary hatred at Thomas. She could feel the fire rising in her veins, waiting to explode and shatter the void--
"We expect you to keep your word, witch. If you do not, I will make certain that your death is a long, painful, tortuous journey from start to ultimate finish." He released her neck and strode out of the room with a flourish of his black cloak, allowing the thick door to thud behind him to mark his threat.
Eliria fell from her invisible bonds, crashing against the floor with unsteady shock and hatred dripping from her eyes. Like a rabid dog, she was eager to sink fang into the figure who had held her back, and gave chase the moment she found her legs. Elisia rubbed at her neck ruefully, considering Thomas's promise.
Part II Edit
Dearest Sister Jasaeri,
I hope this letter finds you well. Northrend is proving to be a difficult campaign in addition to the many duties that Agency requires of me. Forgive me for bringing this right to the point, but space is quite limited and I fear I cannot trust this information to normal post.
I have uncovered Elisia La`Roche's involvement in a plot to acquire sensitive, important artifacts. When I had her installed into office, I inserted a device into her voice relay mechanism which allowed me to tap into her hearthstone frequency against her knowledge. I suspect her of collaboration with the Blue Dragonflight, but I cannot be certain. She must be intercepted before she, or any others, uncover these items. If found and assembled, these artifacts could mean an end to all of the mortal races, and perhaps even Azeroth itself.
Through tapping into her frequency, I have found three possible leads to the artifacts. She intends to investigate the trolls of Stranglethorn Vale, the Dark Iron Dwarves, and the Twilight Cultists in Silithus. She has charged two of her House to aid her in this investigation and bound their tongues in a curse: Wulfe Stargazer and Vestare. She personally pursues the path of the Dark Irons, and assigned the Twilight Cultists to Wulfe, and the Stranglethorn trolls to Vestare.
It is my intention to allow Elisia La`Roche to assist in leading us to these artifacts unknowingly. She has some outside source of information that I cannot seem to penetrate; likely involving magical means. It is my desire that while I am away on duty in the Northrend assault, you monitor her location as your duty permits and report back to me on private hearthstone frequency 12881.
With Love From Your Kin-Sister,
Nikajah M. Silverleaf
She had the lines memorized. Chasing the shadows of overhangs and the edges of buildings, she had followed the warlock into the city. The woman was shrouded in a violet cloak and cowl, but she could not mistake the sashay of her hips, the cold in ice-blue eyes. Through the winding, cobble-stone streets of Stormwind the woman led her, on toward the Agency Headquarters. Three scrolls curled in her gloved hands. Xi made a low growl in her mind, and Jasaeri was inclined to agree. There was something about that woman that made the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
She fingered some leather armor at a merchant's booth across the park, keeping her eyes focused on Elisia through the windows. The scrolls were being unfurled and tacked onto the bounty board. She watched Elisia's shadow finish its task and slip out, glancing around the Park before digging through the embroidered pockets of her cloak. An ornate, golden chalice found its way into her gloved hands. She found a stone bench surrounding the artificial moonwell, and placed the chalice beside her. She shed the gloves like snakeskin, laying each out neatly beside the chalice. Then she bent double, lifting the hem of her expensive, luxurious robes ever-higher, exposing the sheer black stockings beneath. Jasaeri caught a glimpse of a thin dagger-sheath strapped around the warlock's thigh just as the woman withdrew the dagger and palmed it, letting her robes fall to the grass.
"Can I help you with anything... miss?" Jasaeri narrowed her eyes, focused entirely on her quarry. She waved the shopkeeper's unwelcome interruption away. "Miss..."
With another careful glance, Elisia sliced the dagger slantwise against the inside of her palm. A thin line of welling red blood appeared instantly. With her uninjured hand, she slid the dagger back into place, nestled against her thigh beneath the expensive finery. She squeezed her cut palm into a fist over the golden chalice, forcing her blood to dribble down into the goblet. She then withdrew a vial from inside her cloak, the liquid inside inky-black. She added that to her own blood and bent over the mixture, stirring it with her crimson-nailed index finger. Her lips were moving.
Xi! Her mind reached out to her companion. I need to know her words, but I cannot get close.
Xiana instantly began a prowl, staying low and favoring shadows. Her dark fur shimmered and blended with the surroundings, making her even harder to spot. She found a tree but feet away from the warlock's perch, and lowered herself into a squatting position. Words floated back across the bond.
Messages... for two-legs where can see it... important messages. Gold Thing want her kill Alpha She to make dominance, have two-legs for self's Pride. Hear of mind pictures of New Alpha She, is threat to... to Big Plan. Bleeding-Two-Legs-She smell like... like fear. Bleeding-Two-Legs-She want more time. Gold Thing give her a little more time, but... must watch New Alpha She because is too much threat. Will make plan to kill New Alpha She. Gold Thing say no more.
Jasaeri's eyes narrowed. The warlock poured the mixture from the chalice back into the vial, corked it, and wiped the chalice clean with a silk kerchief. She tucked everything away and wound a clean silk cloth around her injured palm before refitting the gloves to her hands. Giving a last, cursory glance, she departed.
Jasaeri lifted her hearthstone and tuned into frequency 12881.
Part III Edit
Anika rubbed her eyes behind her lenses, trying to scrub away the ache. It had been months since she'd last visited, and for that she felt a twinge of guilt and regret. But still, there was a loathsome aversion she had cultivated for this place; with its perfect bleached stonework and neatly-tiled blue roof. Iron bars barricaded each window; decorated at each end in a sculpted point, it seemed a pathetic attempt to masquerade as decoration. Passersby would not be so easily fooled though; the bars were meant to keep its occupants within.
She lifted an iron loop bolted into the heavy wooden door, letting it fall with a thud to announce her presence. A small, barricaded opening slid to the side, revealing a pair of wary muddy-brown eyes.
"Anika Sartienne, Master Ivan." She shifted beneath her violet cloak, the symbol of the Kirin Tor like a leaden weight on her back. She tossed the hood over her shoulders, freeing her mass of tousled auburn curls.
"Ah... It has been long, my young Lady Sartienne." The bolt to the door thunked open and the door swung inward. Ivan's massive barrelled chest and shoulders stood a head taller than she. Cropped steel-grey hair stuck out at odd angles on his head. He shuffled to a small, roughly-hewn wooden table, sliding a pudgy finger along narrow writing in a thick tome that was spread open. He handed her a pen that was attached to the tome via a chain. She marked her name beside the pudgy finger and added the name of the patient -- inmate? -- she was here to visit beside it.
"Marguerite will lead you upstairs. MARGUERITE!" His bellow made Anika cringe.
Moments later, a very round, matronly woman appeared, her mouse-brown hair streaked with grey and tied back severely into a bun. Heavily-lined lips pressed together as she bowed her head slightly in Anika's direction, but she did not crack a smile. She led Anika up a creaky wooden staircase and down a hall lined with doors. Halfway to the end, she paused and withdrew a heavy set of keys from a thick chain around her neck. Selecting one, she turned it in the lock and opened the door.
"Lillian... Lily. Your girl is here to see you." Marguerite's voice almost softened in her address. She narrowed her eyes on Annie. "Do not upset her." Her heavy skirts shifted as she left the room and parked herself just outside.
Lillian's grey hair had been brushed and braided, though the braid only brushed her shoulder, blunt ends sheared neatly. The bed linens were crisp and white. Her mother's veined hands were folded over her abdomen, eyes afixed to the ceiling. She wore a plain white dress, the skirts hidden beneath the sheets. Annie noticed that her fingernails had been filed into very blunt, dull ends, and that her parchment-colored skin was not dry. She gave a silent prayer of thanks for Marguerite's care.
"Mother." The address did not alter the woman's features; she continued to stare mutely at the ceiling. "I have found Elisia."
Lillian merely blinked.
"I... I will make her pay for what she has done to our family." Anika struggled to hold back the tide of emotion rising in her voice. "I am strong now, and growing stronger every day."
Suddenly Lillian shifted, still not looking at her daughter. Her body seemed to convulse and then began to writhe. A loud wail began to emanate from her throat, nearly inhuman. Anika stared unbelieving, barely faltering as Marguerite's heavy frame shoved her aside.
"Now, now Lillian... now, now..." she murmured soothingly, attempting to hold down Anika's mother's flailing limbs. Her eyes rounded on Anika sharply. "I told you not to upset her! You get out, now! Out!" Her voice shifted so easily from the razor-sharp, defensive bite to the soothing murmur she had used just minutes before as she whispered to Lillian.
Anika turned and nearly began to run. She trotted down the hall, face anguished, and did not stop to speak to Ivan. He stared at her and opened his mouth, but before he could make a noise she opened the heavy door and let it slam shut behind her. She did not stop until she was several streets over, catching her breath.
Elisia would pay. Oh would she pay.
Part IV (by Wulfe) Edit
The mountain passes were kept clear even in the worst weather thanks to frequent travelers and their various abilities to clear snow, however it was Wulfe's unfortunate luck to get stuck along one of those passes during a freak blizzard. He and his new bear companion tried to press on to make it through the pass before the snow got too deep but it was just not to be. Within hours the two were forced to find a shallow cave to shelter in. Of course if anyone looked into that shallow depression they would've seen two bears and not the Kaldorei and riding bear that had been in the pass moments ago. Wulfe's ursine mount grumbled in protest and discomfort having been used to the relatively comfortable life of a riding beast for most of his life. Wulfe grumbled right back at him, "Oh shut up. I let you have the inside of the cave after all. Why don't you try and get some sleep. We're going to be here a while."
It was going to be a long while before the storm would ebb and the two of them would be able to force their way out of the cave and down out of the mountains. Their small bastion against the frozen death that awaited them out in the pass served to remind Wulfe of the hideous evils that poured from Icecrown and stirred beneath Northrend itself. Thinking of those evils led his mind back further to jobs left undone and evil allowed to fester in the rest of the world while the heroes of Azeroth tried to deal with the immediate threat of the Scourge and the Lich King. But still back on Kalimdor there was his piece of the artifact the Agency had long ago been contracted to find sitting and waiting. His deep contacts within the Twilight's Hammer still assured him that Ossirian was not yet prepared to give his portion of the atrifact to C'thun just yet. Though what he was waiting for not even Wulfe's contacts could guess at. Whatever the reason it meant that Wulfe still had time to organize and mount an attack on Ahn'Qiraj. Wulfe's only major stepping stone then became Elisia and her pet assassin. He was confident that he could subdue Eliria if it came down to a fight but was concerned about what other allies and tricks Elisia would have up her elegant sleeve.
He would just have to make sure he had back up, or at least enough semi-neutral parties there to ensure that Elisia behaved herself long enough for him to make off with the piece of the artifact. Thankfully she had no idea that Tyrianna and Zanthalas had broken the curse holding his tongue and had already told them everything that he knew. Of course now that they'd resigned he doubted that they would still have any interest in Agency business but who could know for sure. He guessed he'd just have to contact them when the time came and see what they said. For now it would have to wait though. Getting up onto his paws he moved to the entrance of the cave and cleared out some of the build up of snow so they would still get fresh air and then snuggled himself back up against his ursine companion to sleep for a day or so. Maybe his dreams would yeild some insight he had overlooked.
Part V (by Wulfe) Edit
There was an anxious tension in the air as Wulfe made his way along one of the lesser known paths in Ashenvale. Ever since Nazumai had given in to his plan to secure the piece of the artifact in the Emerald Dream he had stayed on the move and tried to be as unpredictable as possible. He kept his hearthstone off most of the time to keep anyone from using the locating function the Agency had built into them from finding him. Even so the fragment seemed to draw evil to it and Wulfe had been forced to defend himself more than once against creatures that otherwise would have thought him a superior preditor and kept their distance. His hope was to find a temporary sanctuary until the druids he'd called for could be assembled. So far he'd been able to keep what was going on frome Naedaelyne but he doubted that would last long once Elodie, Kyna, Katanya, and Obsidian cat had assembled. Briefly he recalled the letter he'd sent out to them:
Under the orders of Nazumai I am requesting your aid in taking an artifact of malevolent origins into the Dream where it will be secured and hidden until the Agency's leaders can determine it's origin, purpose and best method to destroy it. If you agree to aid in this mission I ask that you use one of two methods to contact me. Send word either through a natural messenger or wait for my greeting by hearthstone which will be made on the quarter of each day (dawn, noon, dusk, midnight). Once I have your support we will plan a meeting and as imediately as possible take the artifact into the Dream.
Wulfe StargazerArchDruid of the Emerald Flight
He worried now that he'd said too much in the letter but it was take the risk or risk going too far outside the rules Nazumai had set up and go into the dream himself. He remembered the looks from the citizens of Auberdine at the time he'd passed through to send out the letter and resupply. He was almost certain it was paranoia but there was more than one pair of eyes that followed him for far too long. He was brought back to the present suddenly as he came to a fork in the path, metaphoricly speaking, he could either continue on and join the main road heading for Azshara where he was bound to draw angry Highrborne spirits and Naga to him, or break from the forest entirely and risk making his way through the Horde controlled Barrens. He stood there for a moment, scented the breeze and took a moment to sense out the natural world around him. A few moments later a dark shadow was seen stalking across the brief expanse of short grass along the hills boardering the northern edge of the barrens. It disappeared into the longer grass of the plains with barely a ripple. Wulfe decided he'd rather try and negotiate with Tauren, Orcs, and Trolls than face armies of Naga and Legion of ghosts.
Part VI Edit
Jasaeri sat across the room from her mark, watching her sipping wine from a silver chalice. Her tilted, almond eyes seemed to be focusing on the pair of worn troll dice in front of her, but from the corners she could see every subtle movement. She barely noticed when her opponent banged his fist on the roughly-hewn table in defeat. Jasaeri simply twitched her fingers, scraping up her freshly-won coins and dice for another bet and throw.
The crowd seemed a little rough for the wizard, but then Jasaeri was aware of her true nature. No matter how much coin the woman sported, no matter how finely embroidered those expensive threads of hers were, she had to rub elbows with the dregs of society to get what she wanted. Jasaeri's eyes darted at a sudden movement from along the wall; a door opened and two men emerged, hard bodies heavily muscled and squared faces sporting numerous scars. The pair of oafs arrived at Elisia's side and exchanged a few words before one took hold of each arm and lifted her from her chair. When the warlock opened her mouth to scream, one of the oafs brandished a dagger. The pretty, full mouth snapped shut.
Jasaeri snatched her dice from the table, trying to decide whether she should reveal herself and save the plotting woman or allow her to come to harm and eliminate the threat she posed. Nikajah wouldn't have wanted the woman to die; she wanted to wrench as much information from the woman's friends as she could wring out of her. But she also did not want Jasaeri exposing herself to the mark. The moment's indecision cost her. The woman was ferried through the doorway which thudded shut. Jasaeri was across the room in only seconds, ignoring suprised, sharp looks from the patronage. The door was locked.
"Unhand me you filth," Elisia hissed through her teeth. "I will burn you!" She started to channel, pulling from leylines and the nether equally, weaving it into a bolt of shadow that she could fire off with a simple incantation. Before she could utter the words, the weaving stopped short of completion. Her mind reached out...
...and met something solid, something blocking it. She pushed with all of her strength against the block, reaching out with the tendrils of her mind to find some weak spot, anything... the whispers screamed and she fought down the panic rising in her throat. She had never, ever been severed.
"You'll just hurt yourself."
Her head snapped up; dark, smoldering blue eyes meeting an ice-blue, light, merry pair. The man was tall and thin with a lantern jaw and perfectly straight, white even teeth bared in a grin. Snow-white short-shorn hair stuck out at odd angles all over his head with an expressive pair of matching eyebrows arched in amusement. Oddly, the man appeared no older than Elisia herself. He had no crags, no wrinkles, no age spots. She had seen a few cases, though, when a wizard's spell-gone-wrong frosted his own hair. In some cases, they've burned all their hair off.
There was something odd about the crystalline-blue eyes that peered back at her. Far too much white showed around the edge, like a man gone half-mad or a horse spooked. His gangly body was propped against a wall, arms crossed over his chest, elbows stuck out at sharp angles. He tilted his head, eyes scanning her as if they were taking a measure of her entire worth. She shifted uncomfortably, searching again for cracks in the seam that held her from manipulating magic.
"Who are you? What do you want?" She snapped, trying to distract him. She was shocked when he laughed.
He clapped his hands in glee, jumping spryly from his position against the wall. "Who am I? Who am I? Who are you!? Who are you, I say?"
She blinked. She could not believe it; she must have been dreaming.
"Oh I know who you are! You are a little tinkerer, that's what you are. You play and dabble and pretend you know things but you don't! No, no you don't." His face seemed to change expressions faster than she could process. He was a madman. He was mad, truly mad.
"I can offer you gold..." She bit her lower lip and lowered her voice to a husky whisper. "I can offer you my--"
He cut her off in a merry voice. "Do not want it! Nope nope nope! She thinks her coins mean things to me. Isn't that adorable? Isn't it?" He clapped with glee again, and his oafs joined in.
"I... want..." he drew in closer, so close he could kiss her, but his head was bent sideways and he stared at her oddly. "I want to play a game! Yes! A game!" His head pulled back then, like a bird tucking beneath its wing. A giggle escaped his throat.
"The Black thinks he can be special, does he? Does he? It's time to tell me what he knows! If you are a good little girl... I let you play again! If you are a bad little girl..." he pushed out his lower lip in a pout. "If you are a bad little girl, I will have to punish you. Yes."
I am going to die in this madman's hole in the wall, she thought, her voice loudest amongst the others.
Part VII (by Naedaelyne) Edit
Naedaelyne awoke in Westguard Keep, her eyes swollen after her poor night's sleep. She looked around the room - Wulfe was gone. Snarling, she stomped downstairs to ask a polite but reticent innkeeper when he had last seen him. Apparently he'd slipped out hours before.
"He just better not be trying to give me the slip." Since she was already in Northrend, she decided to take a few messages on across the continent, leaving a very detailed note to Wulfe should he come back, ordering him to get in touch with her as soon as possible.
Over the next few days her fury and anxiety grew steadily. She did some work for the Circle in Borean Tundra, nothing too hazardous, and waited... and waited. Finally in a spare moment she dug out her hearthstone and angrily demanding his location from the available agents. There too, she was frustrated. No one would admit to knowing anything, vague answers were all she received. She began threatening to go into the Dream alone to find him, only half-serious at first, until someone she barely knew questiuoned what made her think she was able to handle it.
Able to handle it?
The tiny shred of control she had left on her temper evaporated entirely. She knew what people thought of her. She didn't express herself well, was socially awkward. but people had no respect. She'd spent well over a century fighting the Nightmare - now, just because she was just a little pregnant - barely even showing still - she was supposed to sit in the corner crying helplessly all day while her fool of a mate went off to get himself killed? she exploded, ready to cut to ribbons everyone who questioned her capabilities - and then, through the babble came Tyr's cool, businesslike voice. Calming her.
It wasn't much later Tyrianna showed up, much to Naeda's surprise. She understood - everything, it seemed. Understood just how badly Naeda was underestimated, how unfair it was that everyone's opinions of her sought to make her into a helpless child because of her pregnancy. Then, shockingly, she offered to go with her to find him.
Travel to Moonglade was much faster for Naeda. While she awaited Tyr's arrival, she spoke with Keeper Remulos. He seemed troubled by her request. He told her, truthfully, he had not seen Wulfe pass into the gates of the Dream. "I know he is there." Remulos shook his head sadly.
"This is a mistake, but we do not order, we are not tyrants. If you do this, it will go badly - but I will extend to you what protection I can."
When Tyr arrived, it was settled, and the mark of the circle shone briefly around them both for a moment as they sank down into an enchanted sleep.
Naeda slipped easily into a feline form, feeling lighter and more energetic than she had in months. The dream mists closed around her comfortably, like a well worn cloak. She was at home here. This was, in a way, where she belonged. Tyr appeared momentarily - nude. The human shrieked in surprise and dashed off for the cover of some nearby bushes, emerging dressed a short time later. "You could have warned me."
But Naeda had little time to pay attention to the human's strange taboos and whimsical behavior, for there before her was - her daughter, in dream form. A tiny panther kitten, a tiny copy of her mother. Naeda leaned her head forward, entranced, licking the tiny cub's head gently and smiling as she reached up with her little paws to pat her mother's nose. This was unexpected. If Naeda had been in her elven form her eyes would have been filled with tears of joy at this glimpse of her tiny daughter - as it was she simply purred and began grooming the child. Tyr seemed uncomfortable at the prospect. Naeda could have cared less. But a flickering shadow in the distance made hr raise her head and remember their mission.
**Come** she mentally told both the kitten and Tyr. They obediently followed, her daughter chasing dream butterflies now and again. Naeda felt unable to help herself when she soon came across a fat deer - crouching low, she sprang with an expert leap and ripped out it's throat, then, tearing its stomach, spilled out the entrails, revealing the tender inner meat and nudging the baby toward it. Tyr watched uncomfortably.
A sense of menace drew near. Naeda nudged her little daughter toward some cover, wary now. **hide here, little one. Do not move. Stay safe** She was greeted with a tiny, mewing, obedient response. To Tyr she said merely **we go south**.
They moved quickly through the landscape, drawing the shadows after them (and away form the tiny kitten). The lake seemed a good option. Upon reaching the waters, Naeda swiftly changed to her sea lion form, instructing Tyrianna to cling to her back.
It was slow going with the human, small as she was, attached to her, slower than Naeda would like. Still, they seemed to lose their pursuers.
A light glowed from the bottom of the lake. Red... Naeda approached cautiously. There was a vase... out of place here in the dream She'd not seen it before and said as much to her companion. Tyrianna examined it closely. "It doesn't seem dangerous."
**Still it should not be here.**
"I can take care of it." Naeda nodded, swimming about nervously, watching for signs of pursuit. A shock wave from Tyrianna's magic blasted them both a ways through the water. Soon, the feeling of flickering shadows grew stronger.
**They are alerted.**
Soon Naeda was swimming frantically for the opposite shore, Tyr clinging to her back again. Something was troubling Naeda beside. She could find no sign of Wulfe - no thoughts, no scent. It almost was if he were not there at all. She pushed away the growing doubts that told her this had all been a terrible idea. No time to think on that now - they were coming.
Tyr sent a huge blast of a brightly lit arcane magical spell across the lake. "To throw them off." Naeda nodded, knowing it was a good idea, but still not liking such magics used in Ysera's realm. It seemed wrong somehow - yet Ysera apparently permitted it. Nearby the dark entrance to the Barrows loomed. To Naeda, the barrows screamed safety. If there were a secure spot in the Dream, surely it would be the echo of where the Druids had been protected for eons of sleep.
But she was wrong. Deep within the cave, she sensed the pursuit continuing, their one escape now blocked. She led Tyr down, down, down, hoping the labyrinthine passages would confuse their pursuers. But finally they were walled off in a room with a disturbing number of bones lying on the floor. Backs to the wall, Tyrianna and Naedaelyne prepared to fight.
It went well at first. Between the two women's considerable skills in magic, tooth and claw, and the blessing of the Circle, they fended off the flickering Nightmare visions for some time, even driving them back. But their foes seemed to multiply, forming from the shadows effortlessly, an endless stream of dark and teeth and despair. **Little one. Stay hidden! Do not move, do not seek me** Naeda transmitted to her little daughter, now terrified of what would happen if the child came out of hiding. Behind her, her friend was grimly hurling every arcane trick she knew at their attackers. Naeda did her best to shield her, a glimmer of guilt now growing at having dragged her into this mess. She was vaguely aware now that blood was freely flowing from her shoulders and a cut on her forehead - her savage mood ensured she did not feel her injuries - yet.
As they made a desperate last stand, Naeda did what she could to shield Tyr as she opened an emergency magical portal. Valiantly Tyr continued with the spell even as bolts of shadow now slipped past Naeda to slam into her. In a blind, adrenaline fueled attack, Naeda threw herself at the Nightmare minions, trying to stop them, and was thrown back against Tyrianna, against the wall, resembling by now a mangled pile of fur. The spell then activated, transporting both women to their physical bodies - which were now, unexpectedly, resting in the Emerald Dragonshrine.
Unbeknownst to the two, the guardians of the circle, realizing something was wrong and finding the two women beyond their reach, had sent their sleeping forms through a gate to the Emerald Dragonshrine, resting them at the feet of Ysera, in hopes that the physical presence of the great dragon would protect them. Naeda and Tyr arose from the clear water of the pond, staggering. Tyr made it to the shore, but Naeda - back in elven form and dressed in a plain white robe - collapsed, the blood from her wounds turning the robe and the water surrounding her a bright pink. Struggling through a terrible headache, Tyrianna found her hearthstone and summoned help.
The other agents were quick to arrive, but little could be done. Before long Naeda was able to mentally contact both her cousin Vinklo, and Tyrianna, although her physical form remained unconscious. The separation from her child's soul in the dream, the injuries they'd taken, the sudden jolt back to the waking world, were all too much. The circle, alerted to the problem, surrounded Naeda in Dream, managing to reunite her with her child at one of the few safe havens, but they feared the injuries combined with the prematurely severed link between mother and child and the changing state of pregnancy were too much to risk simply sending them back. Naeda hung her head low as the sharp voiced warriors of the Dream ordered her to stay put in the tiny sanctuary they guarded. "Until your injuries here are healed and your child is physically born, and separate, it is too risky to send you both back. You will remain here. You have no choice." She tried to explain this to Vinklo, but he was overwhelmed by the memories of his own lost daughter and stalked off, ranting to one and all about how he would bring them both back from the Nightmare if it were the last thing he did.
Within the Emerald Dream, she began crying, upset by trying to function in both worlds at once. Finally, in a firm manner, although not entirely without compassion, the Dream warriors around her shut off her contact with the outside world. "Rest. Heal. Contemplate. When your mate finds you here, you may speak with him - for a short while, if it does not tire you. If you do not heal, you will not be able to return and neither you nor your daughter will live."
Sobbing, she sank to the ground, wincing at the pain, and blurred into the form of a cat, drawing the unharmed little kitten closer until they both were comforted.
Part VIII Edit
From sound sleep there was sudden light, achingly bright, accompanied by a reeling sense of movement, that winked out as suddenly as it had appeared. She was somehow being pulled, sucked, vacuumed through a rip, a hole of infinite void so dark she could not see her body, just a feeling of consciousness and fear. She tried to move, to brace herself against the sensation of flying, but found her invisible limbs trapped down. The fear was palpable, like icy fingers closing around her throat. Just when the edges of her vision turned into sparkling bits of fuzz-white spots, light exploded much as it had before she had been propelled by that mysterious force.
Her limbs were opaque mist, clouds of dappled color pulled together to create a form, an illusion of life. She focused and was able to freely swing and manipulate her coalescence, so she decided instead to focus on her location. Rather than for her to see it, it summoned itself from light as though she had bidden it forth. Crystalline trees sprouted from pink-violet grasses that were still and stark. The trees were sparkling like diamond veins.
I know where you are. I know who you are. I know what you aspire to be. You want to be an insignificant one, so I will show you how fleeting insignificance is.
The crystalline trees cracked and broke, bleeding thick, red blood, scent metallic and burning and all too vivid. The blood coated the blades of grass, now glittering metal and razor-sharp spikes. Rivers of blood snaked toward her, but she could not move for fear of slicing herself on the bladed once-grasses. The sun was black against a crisp white slash of sky and the black grew. It grew and devoured. It devoured the crystalline, bleeding trees with a horrid gnashing sound. It devoured the blades with the sound of metal crunching metal. It devoured the empty sky. And it would devour her just as certainly.
The disembodied voice laughed when the screams started -- the sound of pure terror, and then Nazumai realized those sounds, the screaming, it came from her.
She awoke bathed in sweat. Dream or vision? she thought frantically, but had no answer for it. She reached out to the empty spot beside her, and remembered finally that Lynissa was spending the night with the Silverleafs.
When the impending threat of Elisia's ignorance and what she so foolishly brought with her, Nazumai had been squirreled away into hiding. No place was home any longer; she was forever on the move. She felt that it was unsafe to have Lynissa at her side, and endlessly begged her to spend more of her time away from the danger Nazumai's mere presence would pose. She knew, now, that They - the enemies - They knew what she was. She knew now that they did not just want these artifacts, but her and all those agents in the world like her. Alexstrasza's gift was a curse on all who knew Nazumai - or what had once been Nazumai. They wanted to ferret out everything, and she would not bring undue danger to those around her.
Part IX Edit
The hunter paced in front of the door, ignoring inquiring glances from the patronage. Her fists balled up at her sides and her jaw steeled. Damn it, damn her, why didn't I jump a second sooner?
She only had a fraction of a second to leap aside. A man in full plate sped past her, shoulder connecting with the door and splintering it before she had time to recover herself. What the fel!?
He didn't stop when his golden shoulder burst through, his gauntlet-covered fists made the hole wider. Jasaeri stared after him, then jumped to her feet to follow. Before she had a chance to make her way through the man-shaped hole, a blast resounded that threw her back to the floor and upset tables and ales all around the bar. Through a foggy haze of smoke, the man retreated from the doorway at a full run, Elisia slung over one shoulder like a sack of flour. Behind them ran three men of odd proportion, shouting against the ringing in Jasaeri's ears from the explosion. The entire parade ran outside and there was another burst, but this time the shock wave was blinding bright and lay everyone flat out on their backs.
When Jasaeri roused herself and went to look outside, scrambling over dazed patrons, she found that the entire strange party had vanished.
Part X Edit
Nikajah sat curled around her twin toddlers, both of whom had finally fallen asleep, sticky-faced, against the warmth of her chest and lulled by the beating of her heart. They delighted in her feline form, cherubic faces nestled in her soft fur. Her ears twitched at the soft foot-falls of her sister-mate, the scent of herbal soap and something sweet and undefinable announcing her presence several moments before she appeared in the sitting room. Nikajah could sense the tension in Kyna, smell the fretting worry that chiseled itself into her otherwise-smooth, youthful features.
Slowly extricating herself from her young, Nikajah slowly pushed herself upright on all four paws. Her tail twitched behind her as she wordlessly led Kyna back out of the sitting room. With a natural grace, her figure rolled upward, transforming from feline to elf in a smooth, practiced way that left Kyna in adoration. She looked down at her bare toes peeking out from beneath her light, cotton dress, bowing her head reverently toward her Alpha Female. Nikajah smiled, completely nude and just as completely at ease, enfolding Kyna into strong, hard arms that - to her wonder - carried enough motherly softness to ease some of her tension.
"What is it that has you in so many knots, Sister?" Nikajah asked, her timbre low and yet so completely feminine. Kyna felt as though she wished she could melt away in the protection offered in the more experienced druid's arms.
"Naedaelyne and Tyrianna went into the Emerald Dream. Wulfe was supposed to notify Elodie, Katanya, and myself regarding the-- the object... but before we had a chance to meet, they went forth and were caught in the Nightmare. Tyrianna escaped... but I'm afraid Sister Naedaelyne is..." Kyna's breath caught. She could sense by the stiffening in Nikajah's embrace that she had gone cold with fear for the fellow druid.
"What happened?" Nikajah's voice sounded strangely hollow.
"We don't entirely know. All they will tell me is that she has somehow been injured and is unable to leave until she has healed."
"They will tell me more," Nikajah stated, certainty and motherly concern darkening her voice. She broke the embrace and darted upstairs with catlike agility. Kyna followed on her heels.
"Sister, wait, what of the children?" Kyna protested, interrupting her own question with breathless gasps.
Nikajah was already dressing, yanking a set of green robes on and pulling stockings on her feet, wasting no time. "You will stay here and fetch Aceriel to care for them. You and Katanya will await my call for you. Understood?"
Kyna bowed her head in submission to her Alpha. "Yes, Sister." She clasped her hands in order to trap them down and keep from wringing them in worry. "You are going to Moonglade then?" Her voice was soft, her inquiry meek.
Nikajah only nodded, grabbing her staff from where it rested against the wall. The feathers and beads that dangled from it spun and clicked together, much as the ones in her hair. The robe slowed her down little; she took the stairs two at a time on her way down. Kyna, again, followed at her heels.
"Nazumai is to stay hidden -- under no circumstances is she to know about this situation," Nikajah instructed, then suddenly grasped Kyna in a fierce hug. "Keep them safe, fetch Aceriel, I will call on you soon. Give my love to Ceridith." And with that, Nikajah left the manor, leaving Kyna feeling as though she'd been gathered and dumped by a whirlwind.
Part XI (by Naedaelyne) Edit
Naeda sat quietly in the small druidic encampment in the dark stretches of the Dream. Around her, a small number of Druids - less than ten, although the exact number was difficult to ascertain as the Dream mists obscured and blurred and the natural Kaldorei tendency to blend into shadows confused things - stood watch. This outpost had once been in a clear area - she remembered that much from her years of service, or she wouldn't have fled here - but Ysera's mind was increasingly becoming troubled by the Nightmare.
At her feet, the tiny kitten who'd somehow followed her - her daughter - lay sleeping, her baby mind unaware of anything beyond the needs of the moment and the presence of her mother. Naeda watched her intently. How had it happened? She hadn't thought the child's mind even awake yet, certainly not awake enough to wander on its own. A terrible error. No one but herself to blame. She frowned. Wulfe blamed Tyr, she knew - why? She shook her head. Hopefully he would get over it.
She glanced down at her arms. The slashes left by the minions of Nightmare were closed, but angry and swollen. Black lines were slowly creeping away from them under her flesh. She frowned. She knew in the waking world, her injuries had been healed. If she could just return to her body, she knew this problem was one they could fix in Moonglade...
She looked at the kitten and sighed. If they hadn't been separated... it was too risky, to go back and risk losing her daughter, or have her be born soulless, empty, disconnected entirely from the Dream - not until then could they safely and separately return to their own bodies. When they'd spoken to her and made the ramifications of the situation clear, she was horrified.
Well, Wulfe was right to be angry with her for risking their daughter. She wouldn't do it a second time, even if...
She looked at the black lines on her arm. They itched. Then back at the kitten.
"Please grow fast."
In the shrine, one of Ysera's keepers conferred with a druid sent from Moonglade. He looked more tree than elf, his green hair seamlessly fading to leaves, his fingers oddly twig-like. He shook his head. "We've never had to care for a pregnant dream wanderer before. It simply wasn't thought of, or considered. The few Druid females we had in the old days just - well normal relationships weren't a part of their lives, unless they went away for a while."
The verdant keeper nodded. "I've looked after the Sleepers before. I never saw one pregnant either. I do know the normal trance is very, very deep. We simply can't bring her that far down. It will only make matters worse, and we don't know what it would do to the child. But she needs to eat and..." She shrugged helplessly. "We do what we can."
The tree-elf looked over the apparently sleeping woman - and then, reluctantly, at her rounded belly. "She seems well enough for the moment. How long do you think it will be before it becomes a problem."
"A month? Two?"
"Is that long enough?"
"It will have to be, won't it?"
He straightened - bowed. "Elune Light your path, Sister. I return to Moonglade." As he traveled the mystical pathways that returned him home, he felt more than a little annoyance. The girl had been foolish or there wouldn't be all these problems. But...
"All life is precious," he murmured. "Especially now." Foolish as she'd been, they couldn't turn away - not with two Kaldorei lives in the balance. A flickering image of Hyjal seemed to pass by - then he was surrounded by the vibrant, rich greenery of the Glade. With a faint sigh, he went to make his report.
Part XII (by Wulfe) Edit
For maybe the second or third time since joining the Agency Wulfe knocked on a superior's door. However, when Elisia did not deign to answer he rather brazenly opened the door and entered anyway. Miracle of miracles it wasn't locked and he didn't get fried, frozen or chopped in half... but then he was betting on that to be true. He didn't notice Elisia immediately if she was in the room at all, but his sense of paranoia told him the room wasn't empty either. Regardless he dropped a sheaf of papers on her desk and made himself comfortable in an available chair. He'd wait, either for her to notice he was there or to come back from where ever she was.
Part XIII Edit
From the shadows where she stood sentry, she heard the lightest of footfalls outside her Mistress's office door. The knock came, but Eliria made no move to answer it. Muscles trained and honed a hundred times in this shell poised for a quick blow to the intruder. He entered despite the lack of invitation, but the assassin's sense had told her that would be the case. She immediately recognized the elf that served her Mistress, the elf with a biting tongue, who, failing to find her Mistress, made himself comfortable after dropping a stack of papers onto her desk.
Eliria decided to lie in wait, using the cloak of shadow that she knew he would be familiar with himself and falling in tight against the corner soundlessly. Her Mistress was only off on a quick errand and would return soon enough to find the intruder, her most mule-headed minion, awaiting an audience. He had bared no weapon and sat comfortably with his arms crossed and legs up, as though he were preparing to nap.
The scent announced Lady La`Roche's impending presence before Eliria even heard the soft padding of her finely-slippered feet. The door opened to reveal her shapely, hooded form. Pulling back her cowl, Eliria marveled at her sensuous beauty. Full, ruby lips curled upward in a smile with just a hint of a smirk playing over her expression for Wulfe. Ice-crystal eyes behind a fringe of smoky, long lashes took an immediate appraisal of the papers and his disposition, also noting Eliria's presence in the room and her loosened wards. Before she spoke a word, she reached up to pull an ornate comb from her coiled auburn tresses, letting them fall loosely about her shoulders in full curls. Wulfe seemed largely immune to her beauty, but Eliria knew that some part of it had to penetrate his defenses, some part of it had to inspire a modicum of admiration.
She eased herself into the plush chair behind her desk, lavish and luxurious as all her possessions tended to be, and crossed her legs slowly beneath expensive, exquisitely embroidered robes. Leveling her amused expression onto the elf, she leaned forward to steeple her fingers on her desk, pointedly ignoring the sheaf of papers. Her ruby serpent ring caught the light and sparkled briefly.
"What can I do for you today, Agent?" Her voice was soft and husky, yet completely feminine and seductive.
Part XIV (by Wulfe) Edit
As Elisia entered her office Wulfe straightened in the chair he'd taken a seat in, running his hand through his hair and down to straighten his cloak in an unassuming gesture that also served to check a good portion of the hardware he had concealed upon his person. His softly glowing golden eyes observed every sway and swing of his superior's movements that were designed to entice and entrap those around her in a web of lust. Despite his newfound appreciation for human women he had been playing the game long enough so as to not be swayed by such flashy tactics. "Yes, yes... you're beautiful. Gorgeous. A sight to make mens knees turn to jelly and kill for the mere chance at your favor..." he trailed off for a moment as he looked towards the corner he'd caught Elisia flicking a glance at as she sat down and winked, "And perhaps a few women too." The two women may have noticed that though his tone was filled with his usual sarcasm it was also tempered with sincerity this time.
Wulfe returned his gaze to Elisia then as he offered her his own sultry, if slightly smug, grin, "I'm just reporting in, Lady La'Roche. I think you'll find that despite what the other agents seem to think of me that I've been rather busy." He gestured towards the stack of papers, "Assassinations performed, bribes collected, threats dealt with. The usual. Just because the leadership of the Dagger has been in murky waters for months now doesn't mean I've stopped working."
He paused for a moment to give her the chance to look over the reports if she so chose, when she continued to ignore them he continued with a slightly amused expression, "Also... in your absence I've taken over control of finding the fragments. One is now safely hidden, by me of course, on an uncharted island somewhere between here and Northrend. Another I convinced Tsuinken and some others to recover. The Director and her immediate subordinates have control of that one. That leaves only the Dark Iron Dwarves and what they know of the last fragment."
Wulfe's expression became speculative and his well toned frame made his leather armor creak and groan as he sat up a little more and leaned towards Elisia, careful to keep his hands as far away from any visible weapons on him as possible to put Eliria at ease while at the same time stealing a rather obvious glance at the cleavage Elisia's steepled hands so cleverly pointed towards. "Those fragments carry a powerful evil in them Lady La 'Roche. I spent nearly a month on the run with one of them until I was able to find a hiding place thanks to your disappearence and that of the SIlverleafs. I was warned that if I continued to have contact with the fragment it very well might have driven me mad... or worse. I don't care how much we're being paid for finding them, this is one contract we should break and destroy those fragments."
He leaned back in his chair then as he let Elisia digest everything he'd just said. Tilting his head he idly he ran a finger along the length of his ear. Every gesture, every word spoken had been filled with confidence few men could muster without at least some bravado. If she was keen on playing games then he was going to play games, in part with the information included in that stack of reports he'd handed her and also by displaying his self assurance without flaunting it, too much, knowing that that was as attractive to a woman as a well kept body. Now it was Elisia's move and he waited to see how she would react.
Part XV Edit
Elisia paused for a long moment before speaking in response, crystalline eyes roaming over the elf's body and face in a measuring, calculating manner. A shrewd smile, followed by a soft exposing dart of pink tongue, parted her ruby lips. She caught the tip of her tongue between unnaturally white and even teeth and allowed a hiss of air to escape. She considered his words regarding the artifact carefully.
Now that the Blue Dragon Flight had been alerted to her leadership in finding the items, she had been reluctant to continue the search openly. She had had her suspicions that the Blacks had been using her as a pawn, but as long as it suited her desires, she'd been willing to play the part. For awhile now, she had possessed information that the artifacts were not what she had been told they were -- fragmented parts of the Demon Soul once used to exert control over the Red Flight in Grim Batol -- no, these were something else entirely. And if she could not discover its purpose quickly or command its power, it was best to destroy it before it found its way into the hands of those who might wield it ultimately on her. Allegiances were a tricky thing.
She would have to use the Agency to eliminate Thomas and the threat of the Blacks and Blues. Backing away from a forward-facing, aggressive threat was not a sign of weakness, but a sign of cleverness. She would thrust a dagger in their back when they turned, rather than stupidly face a full-frontal assault. She considered the elf in front of her -- not one to be underestimated, and perhaps one of the strongest amongst her contingent. She had been careful of him, suspecting that he could easily arrange to supercede her position with a well-placed dagger of his own. He was too clever to manipulate easily with charms or physical beauty; she had to offer him something or arrange for a compelling situation. However she would move him, it would take time to think through.
Her eyes darted to the thick stack of paperwork, meant to be thrust under her nose in scorn. She allowed him to believe she was considering it, while drifting her thoughts back to this fragmented artifact. Power so great was alluring but dangerous, like a poisoned flower glinting innocently under a golden sun-filled day. She doubted whether this piece in particular would be worth incurring the wrath of two Flights and who knew how many more, let alone cutting the tie Agency provided her. There would be other opportunities. There always were.
The important thing now was to thwart the enemy. She chose her words carefully. "Master Stargazer, you are quite the superior agent. I know that, out of respect for your superior in the Dagger, you have accomplished many things and continued with the work I began before I was... unavoidably detained." She offered a cocky smirk and shook her curls deliberately. "Unfortunately, there are two great enemies on the hunt for these artifacts. I concur with your assessment: the items must be found and destroyed and our enemies... somehow misdirected if unable to be defeated in their entirety."
Leaning back in her chair, she recrossed her legs and studied the strong line of the elf's jaw, the narrow nose and chiseled cheeks. She followed the cascade of hair to the long, hard lines of his muscled arms, slender and wiry agility evident even in repose. He oozed arrogance, which was something she could use providing she found the right chink to expose. Disarming him would indeed be a delightful challenge.
"These two great enemies have discovered my involvement in collecting the items. The Blue Dragon Flight wishes to acquire anything sufficiently magical in nature for their crusade against those steeped in the arcane; and the Black Flight prefers to to obtain it in order to exert dominance over the Blues and, quite possibly, all of the other Flights. Do you have suggestions for eliminating these threats?"
Part XVI (by Naedaelyne) Edit
Ever since the strange, sleepy green dragon female had come to help her, the corruption in her flesh seemed to have subsided. True, there were still the faintest traces of it in her flesh, but it no longer grew. The area she'd seared around the camp, too, seemed to give the Druids in the encampment an edge against the corrupted ones. Naeda had looked over the kitten carefully, barely able to breathe until she was done and found her to be untouched. She wrapped her own arms carefully now before picking her up. Within herself, she knew, she could fight off this poison should it awaken again - she didn't think her little daughter could.
She peeked outside the enclosure they'd taken refuge under now - no change outside. The air was still gloomy and no new growth appeared where the old had been seared away. As always, the dream warriors were on watch. As she sat, quiet and staring as she was wont to do for hours, she observed an interaction between the captain and the healer of the camp. After an apparently tense conversation, the two went to the side of a twitchy seeming young Druidess near the camp's gate. An argument broke out, and then the young woman turned on them. A fight broke out, Naeda stood protectively at the tent's door. The results were quick and brutal - the young woman lay on the ground, dead, her dream form wavering, then finally vanishing into a sickly green mist which blew away with a faint wailing sound. Naeda watched the others as they resumed their post. The healer caught her questioning eye and approached.
"It had to be done. She was corrupted, and it was too far gone. It was... kinder that way." He shook his head. "No one should become one of the Unwaking." He looked away quickly then, realizing what he'd said.
Naeda was silent a long moment. "Is that what you fear?" She asked finally. She received only a curt nod in response. She looked back in to the tent at the kitten, sleeping, undisturbed by it all - then back at her wrapped arms. She took a deep breath. "If it happens, I will not fight you."
They were interrupted by a rumble of thunder outside. Even the kitten woke now, and Naeda quickly scooped her up into her arms, holding her protectively. The skies roiled, the overcast becoming heavier, and a foul smelling wind blew. A palpable aura of fear settled over them all. Naeda frowned. She'd never seen anything like this in over a century of battle in the Dream. Glancing at the reactions of the captain and the others Druids there, she could see they had not either.
A distant laugh, sounding like triumph, rolled over the land. In the Emerald Dragonshrine, Ysera turned, muttering, in her sleep. Her attendants watched with worry. In Dalaran, the mortal rulers argued, coming to blows.
Naeda retreated into the flimsy, inadequate shelter of the tent, burying her face against the little one. Something evil had awakened - she could sense it. She shut her eyes tightly and reached out her mind to her mate.
Part XVII Edit
Jasaeri lurked in the shadow behind the closed office door, her long violet ears twitching sensitively to the sounds of conversation between Wulfe and Elisia within. She crouched low so that she would hear footfalls, resting a forearm over each bent knee. Her long midnight hair brushed against her thighs, creating a dark shroud around her hunched form.
She heard the warlock's words clearly, though her voice was husky behind the barrier of the door. "Master Stargazer, you are quite the superior agent. I know that, out of respect for your superior in the Dagger, you have accomplished many things and continued with the work I began before I was... unavoidably detained."
Jasaeri sneered. Unavoidably detained. The fool magician nearly got her fel self killed. Her ears twitched again as the woman continued, her voice layered like a spider's web, delicately and almost without notice, words shimmering over one another even as they laid their hidden traps.
"Unfortunately, there are two great enemies on the hunt for these artifacts. I concur with your assessment: the items must be found and destroyed and our enemies... somehow misdirected if unable to be defeated in their entirety."
It was a few moments before the conversation was picked up once more.
"These two great enemies have discovered my involvement in collecting the items. The Blue Dragon Flight wishes to acquire anything sufficiently magical in nature for their crusade against those steeped in the arcane; and the Black Flight prefers to to obtain it in order to exert dominance over the Blues and, quite possibly, all of the other Flights. Do you have suggestions for eliminating these threats?"
So that's who was after the fool magician, Jasaeri thought bitterly. She remembered the night at the tavern. Fel-licking, half-crazed Blue Dragons. What was she thinking!? Humans didn't think.
Part XVIII (by Wulfe) Edit
As the sultry warlock leaned back in her chair Wulfe leaned forward to rest folded arms against the opposite side of her desk. Conscious of Eliria's subtle uncomfortable shift at his movement. She knew better than to just allow the impudent elf to get within striking range of Elisia without there being obvious consequences. For his part Wulfe let a positively wicked grin split his lips, but that grin faded into an almost condescending smirk as he spoke. "Well there are several ways we can go about thwarting the black and blue flights, mistress La'Roche. The first is to allow Tyrianna to take the fragments to the Kirin'Tor to be destroyed. But that risks them being stolen by hidden agents within the mage community. Not to mention providing Tyr with the temptation of using the fragments herself. but perhaps a more satisfying suggestion would be to ask an agent for the Life-binder. Say the priestess Nazumai... to bring the fragments to the temple in the Dragonblight. Giving them directly to Alexstrasza while Nalice is forced to stand there and watch, completely impotent."
Wulfe paused for a moment as he leaned back in his chair once more, leather armor creaking as it stretched and bent over lean muscle once more. Elisia's reactions so far told him that there was more to this than just some self realization that it was just better all around for the fragments to be destroyed instead of given to whomever had hired them. He decided to test the waters a bit, "Of course you'll have to forgive me if I don't trust you immediately Elisia... having a curse cast on you that would result in your death by your superior tends to do that to you. So what's really your angle for this change of heart? You want revenge perhaps? One of the flights responsible for your... vacation?" He leaned forward a little then as his brows knitted giving his gaze an intensity it hadn't had before. "Things are starting to get serious around here, Elisia. Both in Northrend and in the company. Now, we both know I'm not a stupid man. With the Silverleaf's retired and my competition beginning to out stripe me within the rankings of the company I'm going to need a new edge. Give me a reason to trust you and I'll be one of the best allies you could ever hope to make."
Part XIX Edit
Elisia smiled shrewdly, steepling her fingers. How quickly he had brought them to this critical juncture! He would prove a wondrous challenge indeed.
"The curse was necessary for me to see not only who I could trust, but who could manage to foil it so utterly. Unquestioning... employees..." at this, her grin widened wickedly, "Well, those are important to have in your hand. But an efficient, effective leader also needs someone with brains, courage, contacts, and talent. A formidable weapon that one becomes when his principles guide him to your door. But, as you say, I must prove myself worthy."
Her iced eyes for but a moment melted into liquid pools of an almost-innocence that was both difficult to believe and equally difficult to resist. "The Black Flight hired me to get this artifact for them, promising me new cantrips and powers beyond any mortal's normal ability. It was a lucrative offer, you understand, for a wizard."
She shifted forward, holding his gaze levelly, her expression one of complete honesty. "They fabricated a tale of it being pieces of an artifact that was used to control Alexstrasza. Truly, I had moments of thinking what it must be like to exert control over a dragon, but it was a foolish, passing fancy, you understand. Idle daydreaming."
She paused. "I am loathe to deal with any of the creatures now, but your idea to return it to the hands of Alexstrasza is a comforting thought, especially in the presence of Nalice. However, Nazumai has gone missing and I feel it would be best to present it to her from the rightful finders, accepting the credit as is our due, wouldn't you agree, Stargazer?"
Only then did her smile widen once more, followed by a saccharine flutter of her lashes in mimicry of a typical damsel. "This artifact, whatever it is, is too bothersome to be of any further use, and carries with it too many risks. I need to rid myself of the Flights that have me marked so that I may turn my attention back to internal matters. What say you, Stargazer? Help me find the other piece and accompany me to Wyrmrest?"
Part XX (by Wulfe) Edit
Wulfe sat back in his seat once more as he considered what Elisia had just told him, his chiseled features taking on a brooding expression as he steepled his fingers in front of his face. He seemed to be lost in thought for a minute or two, taking a mental inventory of the almost too innocent and pleading look she was directing his way. He wanted to believe her. Fel! What choice did he have but to believe her?!
He rose suddenly and strode around the side of her desk, keeping his hands up and away from his body so Eliria would hopefully hesitate in attacking him. Crouching down beside Elisia he grabbed her hand and brought it up to feel two sizable lumps at either temple just below his hair line. They were still small enough to be hidden by his bangs, but noticeable by touch. His expression was at once trusting while also carrying a demand with it.
Wulfe spoke finally, his voice heavy with emotion. "I'm going to trust you, Elisia. But exposing myself to those damnable fragments, even for only a short period of time and being well shielded may carry certain consequences. I expect you to take responsibility for those consequences."
He gazed intently at Elisia, "Do we have an understanding?"
Part XXI Edit
As Elisia's painted talon-tipped fingers explored the slight protrusions under the guidance of the elf's strong, rough grip, she swallowed the urge to grin in utter glee. She kept her face blank, her twin iced eyes large, open, and round beneath their dark, full fringe of lashes, masking her surge of elation with true surprise at what her fingers told her, what the elf had willingly revealed to her. Weakness.
She nodded then, remembering that he had asked her a question following his revelation. Blinking a few times to remind herself of the task at hand, extricating herself from the threats that doggedly pursued her, she withdrew a scroll case from a shelf behind the magnificently-carved ebony desk. Matching shelving towered against all four walls from floor to ceiling, holding varied unguents, sealed jars, beakers, boxes, leather sacks, scroll cases, tomes, and other, stranger reagents yet. A jar filled with putrid-yellow fluid and packed full of eye-stalks blinked in unison at the elf, wriggling themselves all in a better position to view him.
The scroll case was rather plain, marked with one distinctive rune at the stopper at the end of the tube. She withdrew the stopper and scroll, unfurling the cracked parchment across the desk.
"The Dark Iron dwarves, a small contingent left since the fall of their fiery god, Ragnaros, are believed to have squirreled away this relic, hoping to use it to once again resurrect their deity from the Planes to whence he was banished. The relic is somewhere within Blackrock Mountain where the dwarves still dwell."
A crimson-painted talon traced a circle around the mountain on the map. Several runes were written below.
"The rest of the wording on this scroll is a ward against the dangers of the relic - a shield of sorts. It will not hold out everlasting, so your goal will be to retrieve it and quickly bring the relic to--"
She pulled out another scroll, this one tattered and not encased. Unfurling it over the previous, it appeared to be a map of Northrend.
"-- meet with me here."
Her long fingernail stabbed at a small clearing on the coast of Dragonblight, near the Kalu'ak village. "I will have a camp prepared for your arrival."
She drank in the sight of that chiseled jaw and strong features once more, giving him a hungry smile.
"I will have supplies prepared for your journey awaiting you in Ironforge. The gryphon-keeper will direct you to them when you tell him that the Lady Aisile Sartienne sent you."
The smile upturned at one point of remarkably full lips, iced eyes bearing an almost unnatural heat in them.
Part XXII (by Wulfe) Edit
Wulfe was not one to miss much and his glowing golden orbs narrowed briefly as her obvious distraction at the revelation of his "condition" made him wonder just what he'd given the slick, seductive warlock. Or even what she thought he'd given her. He was forced to set these musings aside though as he listened to the information she had on the location of the last fragment. He nodded and reached out, taking the first scroll with the map of blackrock along with the enchantment, rolling it up he placed it back in the case and sealed it again. When he regarded the almost-smiling lush lips and icy eyes overheated by some unknown lust again he had a feral smirk playing about his own lips.
"Have the supplies ready for me in two fortnights. I'll need some time to square away a few other things going on right now."
He paused and considered something, his smirk growing to a grin, "Oh and have a substantial amount of gold included in those supplies. If they're keeping the fragment where I think they are then I'm going to need bribe money for a few dwarves who like to frequent the Grim Guzzler."
"One other thing. You're going to have to give me another fortnight from the time I pick up those supplies in order to retrieve the first fragment from where I've hidden it. Think you can manage to get the one they're keeping in the vault here by then?"
He was taunting her with this last question and really didn't expect an answer. Slowly he began to rise from where he'd been crouching next to her desk and leaned in towards the beautiful but dangerous warlock, letting his eyes drift half closed as his lips nearly brushed hers when he whispered "Remember, I'm counting on you Elisia. Don't let me down and you'll have an even greater reward than you imagined." As he finished standing he cast a roguish wink down at her and padded on nearly silent feet to the door, pausing only briefly to smirk at Eliria.
Elune's own luck was on Jasaeri's side that Wulfe's broad shouldered frame blocked her eavesdropping form from view as he opened the office door. Wulfe froze and it was all he could do not to stiffen completely and give away his surprise at finding Jasaeri there. He scowled briefly at her and then thinking quickly affixed a grin to his lips as he turned his head to regard Elisia over his shoulder, "Just think, three fortnights from now you'll have the sweetest revenge you could hope for." He pulled the door closed behind him while pushing the young Silverleaf in front of him to keep her out of view.
Safely out in the hall he grabbed at Jasaeri's upper arm in a firm grip and practically dragged her down the hall a safe distance before releasing her. His golden eyes were like daggers as he stared her down and his voice filled with venom, "Explain. Fast." The last thing he wanted to do right now was have to choose between his loyalty to the silverleaf's and the business relationship he was forging with Elisia.
Part XXIII Edit
Jasaeri jerked her arm up and out of Wulfe's grasp just as he released her, scowling back at him as they trotted down the hallway into the common meeting area. She wondered by what she'd heard how much of what Wulfe had said to the warlock was bluff, and how much was accurate, but that was not for her to decide.
"My orders are none of your business," she snarled, shifting her midnight tresses over her shoulders with a flick of her head.
Her eyes narrowed into slits beneath the violet-rose tattooed slashes over marble-colored skin. She fingered the weapons at her belt: twin smooth scimitars with runes etched along their silver surface, the hilts wrapped tightly in black leather. The edges were wickedly sharp and cruelly curved, catching the light of the wall sconces. Across her back was a long, curved ash bow strung with sinew, and a quiver full of arrows. Upon the quiver itself was branded the symbol of the Kal`Dorei Sentinels. Her leathers clung to her like a second skin, well-oiled and well-used.
Embedding her teeth into her lower lip, she blew air and emitted a sharp whistle. From the shadows behind the pair emerged a panther where it seemed nothing was waiting but a moment before. Twin amber orbs appeared first, followed by a sleek body rippling with muscle. Long, pointed sabres flanked each side of its maw, a flash of white against the dark violet-black of its fur. Its ears rotated swiftly, awaiting commands from its companion.
Silently, Jasaeri cursed herself for not moving out of the line of the rogue's passage through the door. She had listened for his footfalls, only to hear the soft thrum of many magical objects within. She had not heard his approach, and that was yet another mistake for the veteran ranger. Her shock at his appearance had kept her rooted to her spot, rather than fleeing before he could land a finger upon her. Again she cursed herself and wondered if she wasn't past her prime.
Part XXIV (by Wulfe) Edit
The druid turned rogue turned druid again was in no mood for petty displays of power from the ranger, nor was he willing to get into a fight in the common room of headquarters. But since Jasaeri obviously wanted to play that game he had a few tricks of his own. Briefly his right hand glowed with a green light as he waved it slowly across the panther's head. The magnificent beast blinked it's amber eyes a time or two and it tried to roar in protest but the sound came out more as a coughing yawn as it fell into a deep sleep.
Meanwhile Wulfe had made another gesture with his other hand and the Ranger soon found herself lifted off the ground by a tightly controlled whirlwind focusing on her and her alone. While she was trapped in this cyclone the one time druid relieved her of those wicked looking silver scimitars with a swift unbuckling of her weapon belt followed by yet another unbuckling of the belt holding quiver and bow to her back.
He kicked these aside and as the cyclone died down and her feet were once again able to touch the ground he pressed his leather clad and well muscled frame against hers as he pinned her against the wall. Up close his features seemed ancient and yet youthful in their finely chiseled lines. For a moment his golden orbs bore into her silver hued eyes and then he brought his head even closer to whisper harshly near her ear, hot breath tickling her flesh teasingly.
"I am loyal to your family, little Silverleaf. But if you do anything to hinder or destroy my plans to put these vile artifacts beyond the reach of Elisia and hopefully put them in the hands of someone who can destroy them I will personally make you regret it for the rest of eternity."
Wulfe raised his head enough to gauge her responce then, not yet willing to reliquish his hold on her until he knew she wouldn't get in his way. Even if it was only for the moment.
Part XXV Edit
Humiliation and seething anger spit twin-poisoned daggers from her eyes as she sneered levelly at him. Who was he to man-handle her so? Little Silverleaf? Balled up fists aimed and punched at his ribs, her own well-muscled frame unyielding beneath his weight.
"By Elune's titties, you fel legion's ass!" She spat and swore, hissing between her lips in fury, "I report what my eyes see and my ears hear to my little brother and his Alpha Mate, nothing less and nothing more. Now you will hand me back my things proper-like." Fine lines spidered around her eyes, careworn creases that were the single sign of her great age other than her haunted eyes that seemed to have seen too much. An otherwise youthful visage, stony in its steeled-jaw stubbornness, met him glare for glare.
"We're allies then, if you're to be believed, you silver-tongued idiot." Proudly she shook her tresses out, and sudden clawing, ominous growling, and shrill shrieks could be heard raking at the entrance to Headquarters. "You may be right able to put Xi to slumber, but I'd like to see you do it to all of 'em. Allow me to report to my Kin-Sister?"
Part XXVI (by Wulfe) Edit
Wulfe grunted as Jasaeri's fists landed several good body blows. He wasn't about to admit it but at the very least she just bruised if not cracked a rib. He made a mental note not to underestimate this one's strength.
"My, my... what a tongue you have on you. Elune's titties indeed," he smirked rather roguishly and made a point of letting his softly glowing golden orbs drift down at her chest for a moment. Laughing then he glanced behind him at the sound of more growling and besial shrieks. Snapping his fingers three imposing treants materialized. "Oh, I think I can manage."
He signalled to one of the treants, the nature spirit made creaking and scraping sounds as it used it's root legs to shuffle over to her weapons, gathering them up for Wulfe. "So. Allies are we? You certainly have an odd way of treating your allies, threatening them one moment and pleading with them the next." Taking the weapon belt with her scimitars on it from the treant he reached around her and buckled it back in place. He made sure to tighten it to make her hips jiggle playfully.
"I tell you what Jasaeri... if you wait to report this to your brother until after I've gotten the pieces and am on my way to meet Elisia I'll make it worth your while." As he spoke Wulfe was buckling on her belt holding her bow and quiver. As he finished he reached up and helped pull her hair free of being caught by the belt, his nimble fingers lightly brushing against her neck in a subtle caress. "What do you say?"
Part XXVII Edit
The charming, crooked, roguish grin playing over his lips ignited a flame somewhere deep inside her, one she thought for certain none of his gender would ever be able to light. The mere acknowledgment of that fact angered her, even moreso when she could feel her body responding, against her will, to his touches as he strapped her back into her weaponry. This was not acceptable.
"P-pleading!?" she sputtered, the bite of his words cutting through the haze of her confusion, further stoking the burning coals of her anger. He continued as if he hadn't heard her protest, and she allowed him to finish buckling her scimitar belt. She hated the betrayal of her body, and it kept her tongue in knots.
Licking full, dusky lips, she tilted her head to the side to consider his proposal. Somehow she doubted he was in league with the warlock, despite what she'd heard. Fury fought with temptation bitterly, but she pressed both down and regarded him with a cooling gaze.
"You will tell me what is going on, and then I will decide whether or not to delay my report." This had not been what she had wanted to say. She had wanted to chew him up one side and down the other. She had wanted to make him pay for the feelings he inspired. And she had wanted to throw all those responses away just to feel the heat--
Her scowl furrowed her brow. "But not now," she continued lamely. "Not here." She had to get away from him! "I'll... be in touch."
She promptly turned on her heel and fled, hair whisked out behind her like a banner. She fled like a helpless doe being pursued by a dangerous predator. She did not stop once she left the building... she continued to run, trying to put distance between herself and him and those feelings, those ridiculous feelings. Her lungs burned and still she ran, Xi padding along beside her silently, even in her head she had heard not a word. She was embarrassed to have the link then for the first time, to have Xi in her mind, knowing what she felt and how much she loathed it. She almost wished Xi would say something, anything, to break the anticipation and dread, but Xi only ran as Jasaeri ran, all the way to the docks.
Calling the shadows around herself, Xi slipped silently onto the waiting vessel amongst its passengers. Jasaeri followed, easily side-stepping through the crowd. She sat at the prow of the ship, hauling herself up and drawing her knees close. She looked out over the white-capped sea as the ship shoved off into the open waters. She dare not look behind. She lost herself in the gentle sway of the ship and the salted ocean sprays, hair billowing behind her in the wind.
Part XXVIII Edit
Elisia stepped through the shadowy gateway she'd opened within her office, Eliria heeling her. In her hand she carried a palm-sized crystal orb that clearly showed Jasaeri fleeing Head Quarters.
Her heels clicked down the expansive marble hallway, echoing off the great walls with their bas reliefs and oil-painted scenery and portraits framed in gilt. Eliria padded along softly behind her, her personal shadow, watching the sway of her mistress's sloping hips with cold hunger. Elisia's fine crimson robes fluttered behind, silk catching the swirling eddies of air behind her.
Another click, much more rapid, announced the arrival of one of Elisia's many minions. A leathery whisper and the cease of the rapid clicking eclipsed the arrival of the succubus. She landed at her mistress's side with an echoing thwack of her cloven hooves, and continued at a trot to keep pace. Her ever-eager-to-please face encased in its flawless porcelain shrine of soft skin and twin pale blue orbs turned upwards to receive commands.
"Bring me a merlot, Syva. I'll take it in the library."
The succubus cringed briefly at her naming and bowed low, allowing soft falls of onyx hair to drift between her slenderly curved horns and drop over her face briefly. Her nude, impossibly full bosom bounced as she turned and fluttered her wings, propelling herself back in the opposing direction in great leaps. Her spined tail was a rudder, steering her through each bound until she disappeared around a corner.
Eliria side-stepped her mistress as they came upon the library doors, grasping the handle with a leather-gloved hand and pulling it open to allow Elisia admittance first. Elisia swept into the room, the rich rugs and tapestries dulling the click of her heels. She tucked herself into her favored winged-back velvet chair before a fireplace. Wordlessly, Eliria bent to start the flames.
The sorceress placed the orb, now curiously a violet-black and peppered with points of light like stars, onto a small, ornately-carved, three-toed stand at her side table. As Eliria returned, the fire roaring, she bent at a crouch to rest on the plush rug at her mistress's feet. Elisia absently stroked Eliria's bluntly-cut raven hair as one might lovingly stroke a cat. Her face was pensive, and Eliria knew better than to interrupt her Lady's thoughts.
Part XXIX (by Wulfe) Edit
There was a definite scent in the air that hadn't been there several days ago. It was musty and heavy and while it carried the scent of life it also seemed to be permeated with the smell of death and decay as well. The Sea Lion knew of only one such place that smelled that way, Northrend. Already he'd been able to feast on some adventurous penguins that hadn't been expecting to find a sea lion so far from land while they huddled on icebergs between their own ice flow hopping journey north. The water fowl made for a delightful change from fish he'd managed to catch from time to time during the rest of his own epic travels. And despite the sometimes stressful nature of the conversations he thanked Elune time and again that the other members of the Agency were so talkative because it helped him to keep his sanity in the vast empty expanse of the ocean.
At the moment his sanity was very precious to him because even with the wards provided by the scroll Elisia had given him he could feel the maddening taint of the fragments he possessed trying to insinuate their evil energies into his psyche. Idly he wondered if the bumps on his head had grown more but couldn't risk leaving his sea going form to find out without asking for death at the icy, unforgiving clutch of the ocean. What made things worse was that because he was in his sea lion form the fragments, along with all his other belongings, had been pushed into this place that was separate from himself and yet still a part of him. He knew a gnome who tried to come up with a theory about "where" a druids possessions went when they changed form but the explanation was so rambling and doubled back on itself so many times that he'd been lost after the first few minutes. More importantly though was the sickening feeling of how these fragments were somehow a "part" of him while in this form. It wasn't a comforting thing to think about, let alone experience for the better part of a month while he traveled.
He'd tried flying for a time, but a Storm Crow's wings simply weren't made for the days of gliding that say a seagull or albatross was capable of. And there was no way he could rest in his Storm Crow form on the surface of the water so he was forced to take his Sea Lion form from time to time to rest, after a while (and several unexpected squalls) he had given up on flying entirely and decided to just swim the rest of the way. If he had ever had even a sliver of thought that he might be getting slow or soft, this journey alone had tones both his body and his reflexes. Which was a good thing because with land so close now the threat of predators larger than himself hunting would become even greater. He had already tangled with one Orca that had taken some convincing to find easier prey and didn't doubt he'd run into more now, perhaps even a shark or two or three or four, especially around ice flows where penguins sought refuge from said predators.
Internal instincts, along with the soft feminine sounds of Lorrune waking up serenading him over the hearthstone alerted him to the fact that it was nearly dawn long before he came up to take a breath of air and see the sun cresting over the seemingly benign surface of the ocean to the east. Even this early he could tell that when it first rose the sun would be red as blood. He could only wonder at the portents that observation held as he began searching for a suitable ice flow to rest upon for the day. Thankfully it didn't take long to find one and after gaining a little momentum he thrust himself out of the water to slide across the slick surface of the ice, skidding to a halt somewhere near the center of the pack. Exactly where he wanted to be. A part of him was tempted to just continue on through the day but he didn't wish to strain himself so close to the goal. Besides if he was a day late and Elisia had to wait for him, all the better in his mind. After all the wench had just handed over the Dagger to him without so much as a thought whether he wanted the job or not. Ok, so he wanted the job. It just disturbed him to have been handed it so easily and couldn't help wondering what she was up to. For now he contented himself to being lulled to sleep by the soft sultry voice of Lorrune as she described a rather interesting dream she'd had the night before. Leaving him to drift off into sleep and have an interesting version of that dream himself. He wondered if Naeda was really there in his dream or just his imagination. He missed her enough that his heart ached despite the outpouring of affection and adoration he received from the other love of his life. Whether she was there or not his dreams were pleasant ones at least.
Part XXX (by Wulfe) Edit
Clouds that looked like fleece laden sheep scudded across the sky at a faster pace than sheep could ever dream of moving. Below this the sun sparkled off of icicles hanging off of skeletal tree branches and freshly fallen snow that had frozen during the night. Even the thin strand of beach and barren grey rocky cliffs beyond shimmered in places where the snow managed to cling on. On the beach itself waves rolled in and out in their tireless march between one tide and the next. There was barely a sound aside from the crash of waves the howling of the wind and the occasional cry of a hunting sea bird. Below the idealistic calm of the ocean though a shadow was swiftly moving towards shore. As it reached the shallows the form became more distinct and the Sea Lion soon leaped almost recklessly out of the water as if to fling itself onto the beach beyond. The beast did a somersault in the air and when it came out of the turn the sea lion was gone and a heavyset cheetah was in it's place. The cat's paws dug into the loose sand, lifting the grit up in a shower behind it as it ran up the beach towards a small path winding up the cliff side.
Hours later found a panther stalking up on a pre-prepared camp. He could tell that while the neatly stacked supplies were sufficiently hidden he didn't trust that those employed to set them up weren't still around feasting upon them. Another hour or so of stalking proved to him that everything was safe and he soon set up camp. Wulfe decided to doze near the fire while he waited for Elisia to show up. With luck she knew he was there and would meet him shortly. He wanted this business done with so he could get himself to Moonglade to be with his mate and their newborn daughter.
Part XXXI (by Wulfe) Edit
The Night Elf grew more and more frustrated as the day went by. After a time he couldn't even force himself to sleep because his nerves had him so on edge. He paced about the camp, exercised to try and tire himself out, set up a target to toss daggers at, anything at all to keep himself occupied. A part of him grew concerned, and even worried that Elisia had been taken captive again by whomever had done so before. If that were the case then he was in for some trouble, especially if she was taken hostage after removing the fragment she was responsible for from the vault. His mind then raced in a different direction entirely as he considered that she could have very well fallen to the seductive, corrupting force of the fragment itself. He was certain that his only saving grace was the warding spell he'd been given, and even now he could feel that beginning to weaken. When the sky darkened with the oncoming of night he sighed in exasperation and settled in for a very nervous night of keeping watch so that he would not be caught sleeping should any surprise visitors show up.
Thankfully for the Night Elf the evening hours passed quietly. However when dawn broke over the mountains far to the east there had been very little sign of trouble and no sign at all of Elisia or any possible cohorts. Wulfe was frustrated beyond belief and angry enough that it was probably good that Elisia and her Entourage didn't show up that next morning because at that point he wanted to kill Elisia slowly and force Eliria to sit helplessly and watch with a paralyzing poison he carried with him. He gave her until noon, when she didn't show he tore down the camp, burning everything down to cinders that he couldn't safely carry. Within an hour or two he was ready to go and taking a few running steps he lept into the air to transform into a storm crow. He had to take an odd path north as he didn't want to fly too close to either the shrine of the Blue's or the Horde citadel of Agmar's Hammer.
The worst of it though was when he actually got close to the temple of Wyrmrest. He was forced to doge both Blue attackers and Red defenders alike. And actually landing at the top of the temple nearly ended his life as several guardians charged him with their weapons swinging dangerously in his direction. It was only with a commanding shout from Alexstrasza's consort for them to halt that saved his life. Wulfe was asked to approach the representatives of the accord and he did so cautiously. The Life Binder's smile was both sultry and maternal at the same time as she addressed him after he knelt before them, "What do you bring before us Arch Druid Stargazer?" Wulfe brought out the fragments he carried with him and placed them on the ground in front of him. There was an audible gasp from off to his left and he couldn't help the smirk that briefly twisted his lips as Nalice betrayed her familiarity with the evil scraps. If the dragon queen noticed she was far better at keeping her feelings from showing than Wulfe was.
"The company I work for was contracted to recover the three fragmented pieces of an artifact that we were originally led to believe was the Demonsoul. We discovered it wasn't but still collected the pieces anyway. After one of our members was kidnapped for discovering who it was that contracted us to find the pieces and that the Blue Flight was also seeking the pieces we decided it would be best to destroy the artifact. Unfortunately we lack the knowledge to do so. We decided to bring the pieces to you, hoping that in your unimaginable power and wisdom that you would be able to do what we could not." Wulfe spoke calmly and smoothly, trying to keep his rapidly shifting emotions from tearing him apart at the seems. Alexstrasza listened to his story with that same small smile on her lips though it faded as her full lips pursed into a frown and she looked from one ambassador to the other, each of them showing the same look of concern, except Nalice, she appeared angry with the Night Elf kneeling before them. They spoke among themselves in Draconic for a moment and then Korialstrasz stepped forward and without any apparent fear of their evil power he took up the two fragments Wulfe carried. He looked back towards his queen and the pair shared a look of concern before she spoke, "There are only two fragments here young Night Elf. Where is the third?"
Wulfe sighed as his own lips pressed into a thin frown, "The co-worker I was supposed to meet that carried the third fragment never showed at our scheduled meeting place," he hesitated for a moment before continuing, "I... I would have waited longer for her to show but my mate gave birth while I've been traveling here from the Eastern Kingdoms. The days in this life are already far too uncertain and I no longer have eternity to get to know my children so I waited as long as I dared and then came here hoping that if at least two of the fragments were destroyed it would be enough." Alexstasza's smile returned and she took several swaying steps forward, bending at the knees she knelt to help Wulfe to his feet. She looked at him with that same sultry and yet maternal look and brushed a hand over his head to move his bangs away from his face, pausing at the feel of the two bumps hidden by his bangs she looked over at the Ambassador to the Emerald Flight who merely nodded. The queen of the dragons then leaned in and lightly kissed Wulfe's temple, "Thank you for bringing these evil pieces to us. We cannot tell you what they are but we will ensure of their safe disposal for you. Go now. See your mate. Let your mate know that she and your daughter have our blessings."
Wulfe didn't even bother to notice that the queen of the dragons had just told him to bless his daughter. He just smiled broadly and babbled a thank you, bowing several times as he stepped backwards. Happy to finally be free of those cursed artifacts he muttered the words to the teleportation spell that would bring him to Moonglade. The only things that troubled his mind as he was finally free of the evil whispers from the artifacts was the silence from Lorrune, how he was going to explain things to Naedaelyne once the time was right, and perhaps most importantly of all... What happened to Elisia and that third fragment.
Part XXXII Edit
The hooded figure sat turned away from her, facing an arc of other-worldly flames spewing from a hideous, spiked grate on the fireplace. The mantle was a granite exquisitely carved to represent lost, tortured souls screaming and twisting over one another in an effort to free themselves from eternal torment. She paused to admire the grim scene appreciatively, and with a pang of envy, when the icy, lucid voice emanated from the being.
"Give it to me and I will make your troubles with the Flights disappear, Magus." He drew out the last word with a biting sarcasm, curls of smoke escaping his silhouette.
The stench of taint was strong, coming off the figure in waves. She could feel something pulsing within her, as though to the great beat of some thing, some living essence that tried to bend and force her mind to its will. She resisted the pull, but recognized that the longer she remained here, the more intense the urge would become, until she could no longer stand against it.
"I prefer a will of my own," she responded as haughtily as she dared, recognizing the peril she was in. This was no representative of the Flights chasing her. This was something else entirely.
"What do you know of the Old Gods?" he spoke after a long, pregnant moment of silence, which allowed her to imagine his fury building. Instead, his voice was low and soft, the epitome of calm, the eye of a hurricane.
That simple question struck a chord of dread that no fury could have marked. She would not say the name, but icy fear, nearly foreign to the iron-willed sorceress, threatened to grip her thoughts and carry her away. She steeled against the verbal blow. Could it be that she had been noticed by Yogg-Saron? The amulet around her neck seemed to weigh thousands of times more heavily than before, the corruption within it ceaselessly prodding for a way through her wards.
They are coming for you...
Give in to your fear...
Kill them all... before they kill you...
They have turned against you... now, take your revenge...
Tell yourself again that these are not truly your friends...
There is no escape... not in this life... not in the next...
You are a pawn of forces unseen...
All that you know will fade.
You will be alone in the end. Trust is your weakness.
The figure continued on as if she had responded. "The Old Gods are superior beings of unfathomable power. They turned the inhabitants of this world to flesh, the very flesh that so amply covers your alluring body. And what would life have been without this gift of flesh?"
At that moment, the massive doors of the Vrykul great hall slammed open with a fierce blast. A raven-haired woman in robes of sorcery was flanked by two men in full, dark plate armor carrying wickedly sharp swords.
"It is MINE! It was promised to ME!" The woman hissed, her eyes glowing red against the swirls of snow that drifted in behind her grand entry. Elisia could only stare dully, whispers battling whispers in her mind.
The figure rose and turned, his height stretching up and up, massive shoulders heaving. Under the cowl, there was no face. Only an eyeless flesh and maw, surrounded by spidering tentacles.
"How DARE you interfere with the Master of All!" He roared in a voice that was terror itself.
With his cry, Elisia was released from the fighting whispers. She searched quickly for a means of escape while the Faceless One and the woman and her companions were occupied with each other. The men waved their swords threateningly, and the Faceless One leapt.
She did not bother to watch the rest of the battle. Elisia's sharp eyes picked up a smaller entry to the building toward the back, and she darted for it. She appeared to enter into a stable yard, where the protodrakes were kept. Before the stablehand could notice, she was upon one, severing the chain that held it down with a blast of fiery shadow so intense, it blew the stable master to his feet. And then she was up, feeling the blast of cold air in her face with each thrust of the massive, green wings, running for her life.
Part XXXIII Edit
"Foolish. Foolish to think you could escape my grasp." The voice was dripping in venom, rasping but female. A hand ran up the side of the sorceress's tawny, flawless cheek. Sharp talons etched deep lines of blood on the sudden swing, whipping Elisia's face sidelong to bang against the thick chains binding her hands spread apart over her head. The stench of molten rock lay heavy in her nostrils.
Elisia opened her eyes then, a defiant raging surge of blue, twin storms biding their time. The woman was slender, slight really, resembling a sun elf but with blood-red eyes in place of the fel-green of a Sin'dorei or the pale-blue of a Quel'dorei. She was far too small and too slight, with pale white skin and stark raven hair, to be Kal'dorei. Her black lips curled into a wicked smile, enjoying torturing this torturer. She would wipe the defiance off the face of this impudent mere mortal.
Elisia had suffered worse and, in fact, inflicted worse. She raised her head proudly, chin thrust upward.
The strange elf then produced something from within her thick, rich obsidian robes hemmed in violet embroidery. It was a polished black stone that Elisia immediately recognized. It was the fragment of the artifact of power, free of its protective casing. The elf-thing stroked it as if it were a purring feline, running a pointed tongue over hungry black lips.
"I will enjoy this."
A burst of mental energy seared through Elisia's mind. She found herself unable to tap into her magic, shielded somehow from summoning it forth. She had no defense, and bit through her lip in an effort to keep from screaming out in agony. She tasted blood, hot, running into her mouth, streaming down her chin. Her fingernails dug sharply into her palms as she made impossibly hard fists. It felt as though her body would buckle in upon itself, so strong was the energy.
Then it ceased as sudden as it began and Elisia hung loose, her eyes bleary. Her head dropped limp and her arms strained against their bindings as she sagged.
"The Faceless One killed my consorts. You are responsible."
Mental pain assaulted her again, making her back rigid against the stone, arched at a strange angle. Blood spilled again down her chin and over her chest, and her eyes rolled back into her head. She was unconscious again. Her torturer spit at her in disgust.
"Heal her. I won't have her gone so easily."
Two nude males sprang forth, all sinew and muscle, with eyes glowing the same strange blood-red as the elf's. They crushed reagents and black mist swirled about the broken figure, taking her from the brink of death into physical health, physical renewal, only to begin the assault again when their wicked mistress returned. In her absence, they both grinned toward one another and began to strip off the tatters of the warlock's garments. There was no reason they couldn't enjoy themselves, too, afterall.