Elisia stared at the candle flame which steadily grew under her hungry gaze. The fire intensified, then burned low. She was eager to complete the work she had been given; eager to take her place at the right hand of her Master; eager to prove herself worthy of that which she sought. Convincing Cilandra had been easy, once she put her feminine wiles to good use. The bat of an eyelash here, whispered words of devotion there, and she had melted in her hands like so much candle wax.
It was lucky for her that Cilandra had been there, though, when her mad cousin had seized her. She would not work for the Lich King, no, she could not betray her Master. She had calmly accepted her death when Cilandra had come from seemingly nowhere to save her. A flicker of doubt at getting Cilandra mixed up in her business licked at her, but she forced it down. It was too late to change it � her own foolishness had gotten Cilandra involved in that mess. She vowed to herself that she would not be so naive again. Anger balled up, a rock in the pit of her stomach, a rock that fueled the flame and sent the candle toppling. The flame spilled over the wooden table, consuming the dry, rough-hewn furniture without thought. The others in the commons room jumped up in commotion, but she barely heard. She strode outside, unaware of the flames leaping up behind her, dancing in her wake.
She passed men with wooden buckets full of sloshing water as she made her way down the cobblestone streets. They spilled it as they ran, water splashing pavement and the hem of her soft grey robes lined with golden embroidery. Cloaked in the Shadow, she gave it little notice. She almost seemed to glide as she made her way to her horse, a roan stallion named Z�lah de Ru�alin, or �Firechaser.� Taking the leather reins in her gloved palms, she urged him forth in only a whisper.
The invitation came in a plain white envelope, the personal seal of Lady Prestor stamped to its back flap. The wax was a midnight black, and bore the impression of an eye with a slit for a pupil, not wholly unlike a reptilian eye. She opened it carefully with a jeweled-hilt dagger, withdrawing a folded notecard.
Lady Elisia La`Roche,
Please be my esteemed guest at the Royal Palace at seven tolls of the bell tomorrow eve.
Though she had been shocked to receive such an honor, she had attended the summons. Who could say no when the Lady Prestor requested one�s appearance?
The palace guards waved her in when she showed them the invitation. Her slippers made barely a sound against the cold, white marble floors. Diamond-shaped blue stones lined the middle of intricate designs in the floor. Beautiful and colorful tapestries lined the walls, depicting glorious battles of years past. When she came to the dais in the middle of several branching hallways, she bowed low before the boy-king, Anduinn Wrynn, and his two advisors: Lord Fordragon and Lady Prestor herself.
The Lady caught and held her gaze. Shoulder-length coal-black hair framed an angular face with haunting eyes that seemed at one moment to be a warm honey-color, and the next to be a piercing cat-like yellow that seemed to look through her. Her skin was a bright ivory, the palest of pale, and she wore an expensively-cut rose-and-violet colored dress. She regarded Elisia with the faintest of smirks.
�Lady Elisia La`Roche. It is a pleasure to finally meet you. Please, do follow me,� Prestor said in a voice that commanded obedience. It was feminine but dark, and spoke of hints to what lie beneath.
Elisia followed her down several twisting hallways until they came to a door that opened into a garden. Prestor let a finger touch a white blossom that curled out from a tree, and it immediately drooped, wilted and dying. Elisia pulled her eyes away from the Lady�s fingers and onto her face. Prestor only responded with the slight curl of her thin, blood-red lips.
�I have heard of your Gift� no, do not interrupt, Lady Elisia. It has come to the attention of the Master that you could prove quite useful. Your other magic abilities contain potential, though leave something to be desired. Though I suppose, for a mortal, you are above average. Complete this task, Elisia, and you will gain favor with the Master... so much so that He may reward you with that which you seek,� her voice was seductive and smooth. Elisia recognized something of herself in it, though each �s� seemed to be pronounced with the slightest of hisses.
�But what Master? What task?� Elisia let the questions tumble out before thinking. She chided herself silently for this indiscretion.
Prestor smiled a predatory grin. �My Lord Prestor, of course. He wishes you to retrieve an artifact from the Age of Titans. It will be used to command a portion of His children... His army.� She glanced around, and seeing no one, muttered something incoherent. Elisia gaped as she saw Lady Prestor grow, filling the garden, lengthening into a reptilian shape, with wings. A full-sized dragon... of the Black Flight. She blinked and the image was gone. She almost thought she�d imagined it.
�You will be pursued by Shadow promises, and from these you will learn where to begin your search. Do not succumb to the Shadow promises of the Lich King, for if you dare to do so, the Master will not hesitate to have you eliminated. You will be watched, La`Roche.� She turned and began to stalk away, back toward the palace entrance. Elisia opened her mouth as if to say something, but nothing came out.
�I�ll assume you will accept this task. To go against the wishes of the Lord Prestor is certain Death, whelpling. You must find the artifact. Go now. My servant will show you out,� with her last words, Prestor vanished inside the Palace, only to be replaced by a shy servant with a thick, long honey-blonde braid. She wore an all-white dress, with lace around her collar, cuffs, and hem.
�If it pleases the Lady, will you follow me out?� The servant spoke, bowing her head deeply and dropping to a formal curtsy.
Elisia nodded, following the servant mutely to yet another door. It led straight-away into the cobblestone streets, and clasped shut behind her. She had felt bewildered, to say the least.
She had heard them talk of an ancient relic when she had been captured within the Scholomance. She wondered if they were one and the same. She rode Z�lah into the forests of Elwynn, to a small shack buried deep within the shade of the trees and sheltered by scrub brush. Pulling Z�lah short, she slipped out of the saddle and arranged her skirts. A grizzled man leaned against the rickety doorway, corded, muscled arms bulging where they were folded over his massive chest. He spit a wad of something dark into the grass, narrowing black pebble eyes at her. His grease-coated black hair was slicked back into a ponytail, and he looked like he hadn�t shaved in three days. Tattoos covered his thick, hairy arms.
�You Lady Roche?� he growled, kicking the dirt with his boot. He never took those beady eyes from her.
�La`Roche. Yes,� she answered. She was not afraid of this highwayman and his rippling muscle. She corrected him with a note of disdain in her voice.
�Whatever. Rewok is waitin� inside fer ya,� he hitched a meaty thumb behind him as he talked, working the snuff around his lower lip. He spit again.
She hobbled her horse and edged around him into the shack. He grinned as she passed, seemingly taking pleasure in her disgust. She saw a large-headed goblin sitting at a table playing some game of cards with two other thugs. When she entered, he waved the thugs away. They all glared at her and stepped out, joining the man at the door.
�Rewok. RUUU-awwk,� he pronounced slowly, eyeing her up and down. He wore a toothy grin and his long ears twitched. �I were told ta give ya some directions.�
She looked down at the table for a note of some kind. He laughed, and it sounded grating. �No, girlie, they�s in my head. All up here.� He pointed to his hair-free green scalp. �That way, ain�t no one takin� �em from me, neither.�
She shrugged, clasping her hands in front of her, waiting for him to divulge this information patiently. After a moment of staring, his face fell slightly in disappointment. He had expected her to whine or beg or... something.
�Master says, pieces of seeds from before the One be broken and chunked around. Says Titans made it first, ter control them kind. There were little �uns made too, testers I guess. Says you find out more from yer pretty friend. Says you should go dig. Go dig.� Rewok shrugged, then waited a heartbeat. �Could maybe tell ya more fer a few gold... Lady.�
Elisia leveled a shrewd gaze on the goblin man. �Shall I tell Master that you have been trying to milk coin out of his operative, when, more likely than not, he�s already taken care of your payment?�
Rewok looked scandalized. �No, no, Lady La`Roche. You missunnerstood! I don�t know no more, I swears it.� He threw up his hands, regarding her fearfully.
A self-satisfied smile wended its way over her lips.