((Closed)) Trapped in Lies

World’s End Tavern: Role-play and Fan Fiction
Posted by Quixos

Tahirus and his colleagues were handed off to a Sentinel who guided them through the camp. The elf gave them a brief tour that did not include a full sight-seeing, but did explain the details of Raynewood Retreat.

"...we're still in the process of getting everything in working order, so most of what you see is either temporary or soon to be established. With everything that's been happening, it's a surprise we've managed all that's been done so far."

"You have done a fine job," commented Tahirus, though he was watching a satyr in Sentinel armor that stood a few yards away.

"Would you like food or drink?" asked the Sentinel.

Tahirus shook his head. "We are fine."

The Sentinel left them in a vacant ground overlooking the rest of the retreat. Before long, a pair of elves approached. The first was a Sentinel and the second was a heavily tattooed elf with an unmistakably druidic aura.

"This is them," said the Sentinel, who had turned to Sundar when she spoke. She turned back to the three of them and said, "Sundar Stormchaser," with an introductory wave of her hand.

Tahirus nodded first to the Sentinel, then to the tattooed elf. "My name is Tahirus. This is my associate, Camron Vicks, and this is my colleague Verel Hemlit, a magister of Stormwind."

"We're following up on the investigations of a pair of magisters who arrived before us, Tirahos Fathoms and Yermich Haldston," explains Verel, almost before Tahirus finished. "They have not reported and we'd like to know why."

Tahirus cleared his throat and appraised Verel with a knowing look before turning back to Sundar. "The magister is anxious. If you know where Tirahos and Yermich are, we will take our questions to them and stay out of your way. We understand the situation in Raynewood and are eager to cooperate."

---

Orium didn't immediately understand the elf's seemingly casual tone until he recognized him from the inn.

"I am not involved with the Fires. Whatever I may seem to you does not matter."

He stood up from the marginally comfortable seat of grain. He thought about explaining everything to the elf, then chuckled.

"And even if I told you why I am here, you would not believe me."

He put his closed fists on his hips.

"But if you still want to hear it, you'll get me a healer. And then you'll bring the elf, Izdazi, to me. Until then, you get nothing."
Posted by Niashado

Like the dreams in the days before, this one began the same.

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"

The unidentifiable crowds pressed around Jaou and Niashado and continued hurling epithets. Through the commotion she registered the alien feel of a sword being pressed into her hand. She wasn’t sure who gave it to her, but in heart, she knew what was expected and it angered her.

“He has done nothing to wrong! He is innocent!” Niashado screamed, raising the sword defensively. Though she’d rarely handled such a weapon, the lessons she was taught through her past adventures quickly flashed in her mind.

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"


She wasn’t going to betray him. Not again. Not like the times before. Like the dreams before. Jaou wasn’t man’ari and they needed to understand that.

A claw suddenly wrapped around her neck and her breathes were reduced to strained rasps. She sputtered into a coughing fit as a putrid stench wafted into her nose.

“Man’;ari…” a single low voice drawled unnervingly close to her ear. Her mind registered the familiar voice and her heart began racing in terror.

Not him. Not him. Not him. Not him. Not him. Not him.

The shamaness cried out as her neck was wrenched about. Only an inch from her face was the demonic and manic visage of Morvai. Fetid spittle sprayed from his mouth as he slurred her name.

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"


Niashado’s eyes were wide and her body grew paralyzed in fear. Somehow, Jaou was on the ground, under Morvai’s hoof. He appeared unconscious, although she couldn’t discern why.

“You reek of that pathetic excuse for a demon,” Morvai sputtered as he roughly sniffed her hair. His rancid breath caused her vision to turn. She almost dropped her sword.

Her sword.

Gathering what courage she could, the shamaness tried to thrust the blade at the demon, but Morvai effortlessly grabbed her wrist with little effort.

“The little mouse has grown some teeth,” he snickered, repeating a phrase he’d told her only a few days ago. His claws clamped down on her sword hand and he began twisting her arm around. With another cry, Niashado realized he was bringing her sword toward Jaou’s chest. Her white glowing eyes widened as she struggled to wrench her arm from his grip.
"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"[/b]

"Look at him, blueskin. Look at the twisted form that is your friend. Look at his face. Look at his claws. He has changed, and he will never change back." Morvai bared his teeth in a putrid grin. "The change affects his mind as well, cretiness. He will cease to be the pathetic ranger that means so much to you. He will never be the same."

Her tail whipped around and her body shook as she tried to push him off. Sweat beaded on her forehead and she clenched her eyes tightly. But he had little trouble holding her. His claws sank deeper into her arm.

Morvai shoved her towards the prone form of the former kal'dorei. Niashado moaned and struggled more as his grin widened. Spittle flowed freely from his fangs. "He is no elf. He is a demon, girl. He has become the very thing that you have been taught to despise..." The satyr snarled, and smirked at the terror in the draenei's eyes. "...and fear."

“He… he is my friend!” the shamaness desperately sputtered.

Morvai laughed and his nails sunk deeper into the flesh in her arm. Her eyes were under incredible pressure and she felt the tip of the sword touch Jaou’s chest. Tears fell across her face as the draenei made on last desperate attempt to separate from his grip. Around them, the chants grew faster in tempo and volume.

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"


“He will never be accepted anywhere, blue blood. His kind, are an abomination. Just. Like. Me,” Morvai continued, pressing her eyes harder with each word. Flashes of blue filled her vision and Niashado sputtered as she tried to yank him free. She felt his hot breath on her ear. “His days will be that of an outcast. No one will love him. Even now you can hear their hatred.”

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"


“He will be hunted and spat upon. He will be feared and hated by those he once protected. You know how that is, but it will be many times worse for him. Why protect him, when this is what he has to live for? And despite your assurances, they are right to fear him,” Morvai rambled, oblivious to Niashado’s weakening struggles and cries.

Her hand trembled as she desperately fought against his hold on her sword wielding hand. The crimson satyr leaned forth and clamped his fangs pierce her ear. She felt revulsion at his tongue lapping the blood from the wound.
"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"

The blood-red satyr grinned with manic glee. "You can protect him in you wish, blueskin, but you will only succeed up until the point where he tears your still-beating heart from your chest, and swallows it before your eyes." Morvai smacked his lips, savouring the image of his words. "You cannot save him, girl. You cannot even save yourself. You will die. The last thing you see will be your ranger's fanged grin, and the last thing you will hear will be my laughter, ringing in your bloodied ears."

"Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari! Man'ari!"

“Th-this is a-a d-dream!” the shamaness sputtered defiantly. “I-I am in Exodar. You are n-not here!”

With a growl, he grabbed her forehead tightly. His claws began sinking into her eyes, which she clenched tightly. Her mind exploded in a flash of blue lightning. She lost her concentration on her arm and with a sickening thud, felt the sword slide through Jaou’s chest and onto the hard floor below.

The ranger satyr’s eyes exploded open and he gasped, but that muffled by Morvai’s laugh and her screams. The crimson satyr roughly pushed her onto Jaou’s prone body. When she turned, Morvai was gone.

Tears streaking across her face, Niashado turned to Jaou. She tried to think of a way to heal the wound, but her mind was blank and her voice was gone. All she could concentrate on was the look of sadness in Jaou’s face.

"I am sorry. I-I am sorry," Niashado cried out, caressing his face as the life slowly faded from his eyes. The crowd stopped chanting and cheered wildly. "It is for the best, Jaou," she heard herself say to no one in particular.

Jaou’s lifeless and confused visage looked back at her.

Something warm touched her hand and she glanced down. Jaou's blood was running up the blade, over the hilt and onto her hand. From there it ran up her arm, covering her dark blue skin in a crimson sheen.

Niashado gasped as the blood traveled to her neck and seemed to begin to start strangling her.

Morvai cackled, yellowed fangs suddenly filled her vision. "That is, if I do not kill you myself."


*- *- *

Niashado cried out and bolted upright. Her hands moved to her neck, intent on removing the nonexistent satyr’s claws. But there was nothing there. It had been just a dream.

Lowering her hands, the draenei finally remember where she was. Niashado realized that she had fallen asleep on the bed. The warm bed sheet that had covered her had fallen to her lap when she had sat up.

There was motion on the bed and she looked to the side to see Jaou leaning upright. She must have awakened him. The shamaness turned away quickly to keep him from seeing her tear streaked eyes. The glow crystals set throughout the room were dimmed for the night, making it difficult to see little more then a silhouette. Still, she could tell he was looking at her in concern.

Taking a deep breath, the shamaness cleared her throat silently. “I did not mean to wake you.”

Jaou shook his head, and put a hand on her shoulder, looking at her sincerely. "No, it's fine. I just want to make sure you're alright."

The ranger tilted his head slightly, as a cat would in curiosity. "Is everything okay?"

The shamaness shook her head and sighed. “It is just… just a bad dream,” she said. But in her mind, Morvai’s words continued to pierce her heart. She was about to say more, but there was suddenly a sharp knock at the door.

The shamaness jumped to her hooves just as the door slid opened. A half dozen armored vindicators streamed into the apartment suite and toward the room. In the lead was Ren’tat and Markal.

Jaou also stood up.
“<What are you doing here?>” Markal demanded, storming towards her.

The shamaness opened her mouth to reply, but words wouldn’t form. He was looking at her disheveled hair and the spot on the bed where she had laid earlier. Markal’s eyes moved toward Jaou and a sneer appeared in his face.

“<What are you doing here?>” he again demanded, taking another threatening step towards her.

“<I-I-I was just talking with Jaou about the upcoming meeting, Markal,>” she replied in panic. Her tail swished in anguish. “<We were only t-tal…>”

Markal’s hand lashed out across her face and she staggered back with brief cry. Her eyes stared widely in fear at the vindicator as she covered her face.

There was a blur of violet and a second later Jaou stood between her and Markal. She could hear him growling dangerously and for a moment her mind flashed to what the vision of Morvai had said.

Markal stared back at the growling satyr stoically, as if daring him to strike. His fingers wrapped tightly around the mace hanging from his belt. In a flash, Markal’s hand was thrust toward the satyr’s chest. Just as Niashado screamed for him to stop, his palm froze. A bright golden glow radiated from his hand. He held his palm there, threatening to injure the satyr with a holy spell. Then, the magic faded away and he pulled his hand away.

“J-Jaou,” Niashado managed, stepping behind him and putting a trembling hand on his back. “It… it is ok.” Her spoken words were far from how she felt, but she couldn’t afford for things to become worse for him.

“Ren’;tat,” Markal began, speaking in Common so that the ranger could understand. “Escort Ranger Stormchaser to the Council chambers, now.”

The other vindicator nodded and gestured for Jaou to follow him out.

“<You will remain here. There is someone who wished to speak with you,>” Markal barked. His eyes bore into hers balefully. “<And pray for forgiveness for what you have done.>”

“<We only spoke, Markal,>” the shamaness called back as the vindicators escorted Jaou away. Still rubbing away the stinging feeling in her face, she watched helplessly as her friend was led away.
Sundar was led through the crowds by the Sentinel towards a draenei and two humans. The druid offered a nod to them in greeting and the draenei went on to introduce them; the draenei Tahirus, one of the humans Camron, and another magister, Verel. Apparently they were more agents from Stormwind, following up on where Magister Tahiros and Yermich were to which Verel voiced his adamant concern to.

This might not be good, Sundar inwardly sighed.

"The magister is anxious," Tahirus explained. "If you know where Tirahos and Yermich are, we will take our questions to them and stay out of your way. We understand the situation in Raynewood and are eager to cooperate."

Sundar let out a hiss of a breath. "I can see your concern," he said, regarding the draenei. "But I am sorry to say that the magisters are no longer with the living."

"They are dead?" asked Verel.

The kaldorei looked back to where the agents were being held for a moment before turning back to the visitors. "I haven't seen it for myself. After they arrived they went on their own through the crowds." Throwing a hand towards the hustle and bustle around them. "The Sentinels reported that Magister Fathoms was found on the outskirts of Siverwind. They further report that his injuries appear to be from a source of ice... and arcane.

"As for Haldston, his body was found in one of the tents that held an injured suspect who claims he hadn't anything to do with his death. How he died," Sundar merely shrugged. "I'm not sure. We're to perform autopsies on them soon."

The trio before him exchanged glances with each other, though Thairus was the one that spoke.

"What were they doing before they were found dead?"

"I'm not sure," the druid replied. "They mingled on their own through the crowds though it seemed like they were looking for someone."

"Now, they never told me why they came here, but it doesn't happen to have something to do with a strangely short she-draenei now does it?" Sundar asked, looking at the trio with purpose in his eyes.

Tahirus' glance was directed at Verel.

"Tirahos and Yermich responded to a communication by a Stormwind colleague that was attending these meetings," the magister answered. "He did show an interest in a Draenei, one Jezroyel Naherab. What do you know about her?"

"Jezroyel came t the summit as a representative of the Exodar," said the druid as he rested a hand upon his waist. She was an odd one, though I didn't talk with her much. I did try to keep an eye on her, where I could." Sundar let out a sigh and shook his head. "One of the few times I wasn't able to, she had disappeared. One of our friends was with the suspect I mentioned before. She told me that it was Jezroyel that had killed sir Fathoms. No trace of her could be found, save for her blue blood around the area where Fathoms met his end."

"I think it would be best if we could see where the Draenei was last seen," Tahirus suggested to the others.

"And we want to be present at the autopsies," Verel added.

Sundar regarded them for a moment, trying to refrain from looking doubtful look on his visage from the three before him. It would be troublesome to go back to Silverwind without anyone else to help oversee the operations in Raynewood.

This is pretty troublesome without big brother around here, Sundar mused to himself, sighing.

"I would show you where," Sundar started. "But--"

"The prisoner has escaped!" cried one of the local guards in a sudden panic.

Sundar immediately looked to where the cry came from. The medical tents are there. The elf's brow furrowed. Having one of the prisoners slip away would have just compound their troubles as is. The list of things to look after was getting longer and longer for the druid.

"Well then, it seems we have a bit of trouble here," Sundar huffed.

The trio of humans and draenei looked at each other in a bit of curiosity.

"What prisoner?" Tahirus inquired.

"Most likely one of the ones that had attacked the caravan, or one of the troublemakers found here." Sundar pointed to the medical tents before rushing off. "It came from there. Follow me if you wish."

We shouldn't be caught off-guard like this!
~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Ravenstar let a smirk slip over his lips. The human was enterprising in bargaining with him. The elf admired that, though he was apprehensive about letting the huntress out to talk with the human. On the other hand, he had little choice, and time was a precious commodity in their current situation.

The Kaldorei had to concede to Orium's demands. There was much they needed to know.

"It seems you have me in a tight spot," Ravenstar commented. "I'll go fetch the huntress."

He turned about and left the stores. Retrieving the she-elf would not be difficult, though he would need to borrow some Sentinels to escort her back to the barracks. The request Orium had made was little to Ravenstar's liking, but if it would bring him some answers, then it shall be done.

Ravenstar approached the guards before the entrance of their make-shift hold.

"I require one of the prisoners to be escorted to the barracks," he said to the Sentinel pair. "The kaldorei huntress."

I'm sorry sir, she was moved to the medical tent after falling ill," the Sentinel replied, shaking her head. "But she is under guard, sir."

The elder elf held in an irritated huff, looking towards the direction of the tent with narrowed eyes. The Sentinels could almost sense his ire, dreading what reply he would give to him. Then came a sigh of relief.

"Just get me a couple of able bodies," Ravenstar said, turning about, and waving back at them nonchalantly. "I'm going ahead."

Ravenstar strode up the hill pondering how she would have gotten sick. He also hoped that there was sufficient surveillance on the huntress. While there were sentries making regular rounds of the retreat, any window of opportunity to escape that appeared would be taken.

Though I wonder if they're bold enough to if that did happen.

"The prisoner has escaped!" he heard someone cry in the distance, stopping him in his tracks.

The elf directed his gaze ahead. That was from the medical tents.

Immediately he ran to the tents ahead. Sentinels were gathered around the tents and more were on alert, moving to and fro. Ravenstar approached one of the guards, a satyr.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Sir!" the sentry responded. "It looks like one of the suspects we were holding has escaped from here. But..." He opened p the flap to the tent. "Not without taking down one of the Sentinels and injuring the priestess here."

So the huntress has fled.

Ravenstar walked into the ten and looked at the victims. The deceased Sentinel was one of the kaldorei satyrs he had met before. The cut present on her throat would have been a fatal wound. The priestess was new to the elf. As far as he knew she was not of Raynewood, but he could see that she was still breathing.

We'll need to question her when she comes around.

"Take care of the Sentinel and priestess," Ravenstar instructed to the sentry. "But make sure the priestess doesn't go anywhere. I'll return here, and I want to ask here what she saw."

He knelt down to the ground. If he were to find the she-elf, he needed a trail to follow. Nothing could be seen upon the grassy ground. Ravenstar stood up again and looked outside.

If I were escaping a place I shouldn't be in, I would go in the direction with the least resistance.

"Also," he said to the sentry. "I'll need a hawk."

Let the hunt begin.
~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

The ranger moved rapidly when Niashado was struck. He had no idea what had gone on between her and the vindicator before them, but he would not allow him to hurt her again. Jaou adamantly stood between Markal and the shamaness. A low growl escaped from his throat as he stared at the draenei.

The vindicator was not phased by the satyr, nor was he pleased in any stretch of the imagination. Markal held out an open hand. Jaou had a feeling what he would be doing, but it did not deter him. He would not move from that spot.

The only thing that stopped Markal was Niashado suddenly crying out. There was a moment of hesitation; the vindicator's hand started to glow with a golden light. Ultimately, he allowed the spell to dissipate.

“J-Jaou,” he heard the shamaness say in a soft tone. “It… it is ok.”

He felt her hand upon his back. There was an uncertainty, almost, in her that he could feel when she said it was alright. Jaou looked back to her, and his features softened. Before he could console her, Markal was already giving out his orders.

“Ren’;tat,” the draenei vindicator said in common. “Escort Ranger Stormchaser to the Council chambers, now.”

There was a pointed slur in how Markal said the word 'ranger,' but Jaou did not pursue it. Tensions were running high enough and given the circumstances, it would be best not to make things any worse.

Ren'tat motioned to Jaou to follow. The ranger let out a sigh masked behind an exhale and nodded. He turned about to gather his halberd and equipment. Jaou threw a concerned glance at Niashado before he stepped out of the apartment where he was promptly led away by Ren'tat and the rest of the vindicators.

They proceeded quietly down the stairwell and out of the building with little to be said. Jaou still had his mind on Niashado, and Markal. Once they were some distance away did Ren'tat break the silence.

"I am sorry you had to see that," Ren'tat said to Jaou. "That was not on a level of professionalism that we have been trained to show.Though I'm sure you can guess as to why we would be shocked."

"Nothing happened," Jaou plainly said. The next part was said in a whisper. "She's not to blame for anything."

Ren'tat looked inquisitively at the satyr for a moment before turning his attention ahead. There was a moment of complete silence, save for the clattering of hooves upon the crystal floor, and the slight ringing of the armour the vindicators were wearing.

"About Markal..." Jaou suddenly asked, though hesitantly. "How is he related to Nia?"

The vindicator looked somewhat confused at his question. Shortly after a small realization came to him.

"Not too long ago, the two were engaged," Ren'tat stated. "Though that is no more. I don't know the details, but Markal is with someone else."

"... I see." Jaou had a feeling he was prying into something that he should not be asking about, but the vindicator continued.

"As far as I know, it wasn't long before the shaman had gone from the Exodar for the first time," he said. "Now, may I ask you a question?

"I don't see why not," Jaou replied, looking back at the draenei.

"What is the shaman to you?"

The question caught the ranger off guard. He was not sure of the vindicator was just curious, or was asking for another reason. It was true he had strong affections for Niashado, but in the current situation, it might not be a good idea to say anything explicit.

"She," Jaou began. "She is one that I would protect with all of my strength ability if harm were to come to her."

Ren'tat nodded. "She means much to you then?"

Jaou only nodded slightly, though barely noticeable and looked ahead to where he was being taken. They were in the Crystal Hall, though no one else was around. The holographic exhibit of various demonic life-forms were still active. It brought back a number of memories to the ranger of the last time he was in the Exodar.
Under better circumstances...

They had gone past the exhibit, closer to the balcony where Velen would be found when speaking to the public. The vindicators went elsewhere though; there was a large corridor on the bottom level of the wing on the very back wall. At the end were a set of doors. The hallway was well-lit, though their shadows were cast like spectres on the walls.

"We cannot allow weapons inside the chambers," Ren'tat stated. "We'll have to hold them for you I'm afraid. We can take your equipment for your comfort if you wish."

Jaou nodded. He remembered that being the case during his last visit. He covertly slit his thumb on his own claw as he held the halberd and infused it with a ward. While he was sure no one would use it, it was better to be on the safe side.

"I trust you'll take good care of this." Jaou handed his halberd and his armour to the vindicator, though he was still wary about it.

"Of course, sir ranger." Ren'tat gestured to the door. "Just wait inside there. They only wanted you here so early so no one would see you around the city."

"When is this supposed to start?"

"In about an hour and a half."

"I suppose it's time for me to go."

"Good luck, Stormchaser."

The other vindicators opened up the doors and Jaou stepped inside. The room was dimly lit, and completely empty. The the very back were elevated crystal tables, and there were seats all on the perimeter of the room. At the centre of the room on the floor was a series of glyphs.

He let out a sigh and decided to take a seat on the floor, leaning up against the wall.

Playing the waiting game is sometimes worse than meeting your own fate.
Posted by Izdazi

She ran like any escapee would run; with all her might. The sounds of activity coming from the Retreat had long since faded away. Now, it was just the whisper of the wind and the snapping sounds of the vegetation as she rushed by.

It was a sloppy way to run, but she needed to put as much distance as she could from Raynewood. Among the ideas and tactics that swirled in her mind, was her mortification at becoming a prey. Izdazi hated losing control of a situation. She was better then this.

Every plan she had created should have been successful. She had given Orium enough time to kill Jaou. With the exception of Alarde, her diversionary attack had resulted in no one being injured.

In the end, it was all for nothing.

She ran on, knowing full well that only a blind tracker would have difficulty following her trail. It was part of the plan that she prayed would be more successful then the last.

The she elf stopped in small clearing and dropped some of the supplies she had hastily procured. Among them was a long rope, which she began tying into a loop. The hood was withdrawn from her head in favor of keeping an ear out for anyone approaching. When they arrived, she’d be ready for them.

* * *

The trap was laid, prepared and hidden. It was simple in design, but sometimes the simple ideas are the most effective. In fact, she was beginning to think that perhaps her problem was in overcomplicating things. This wouldn’t have been a problem if Alio had been here.

Izdazi scolded herself for bringing up her long deceased hunting companion. The trusted panther was gone. It was just her and her people who were making things overly complicated.

Of course, if things weren’t complicated, then all the kal’dorei would be removing the threat of the satyrs once and for all as a unified force. Not coddling them.

Her escape from Raynewood Retreat had been clumsy, but that had been her intention. She wanted someone to follow her here. In fact, she had made a point of continuing to run a few yards beyond the clearing, before making a more careful and stealthy return in a another direction.

With the sentinel’s bow steady in her hands, the huntress remained perched on a branch near the clearing.

Once she got the information about Orium’s wellbeing, she would restructure her plans and resume the mission.
~~~~


Councilor Lorren checked himself in the crystalline mirror. With his hand, he smoothed the fabric over the symbol of Argus on the white sash he wore. Next to him, two of his aids were busying themselves setting up the reports that would soon be cast in the light. The evidence was clear, even if their source was a little too convenient.

“I still have reservations about this,” another Counselor whispered. He turned to see Niceen scowling at him. “This is a slippery slope you are preparing to send us on. We have no jurisdiction in this matter.”

“Actually, we do,” he replied snidely. “Jaou has been corrupted by demons and knows detailed information about our defenses. And, there’s other details involved in my choice to bring this up.”

The female brushed back her white hair and he could see that the disapproval in her gaze still hadn’t faded as she noted the forms he was being provided with. “We do not know much about this information you have been… provided with.”

With a triumphant smirk, he turned his back to her and gathered the notebooks. The aids were shooed away and soon it was only the Councilors in the room. Many of them were involved in their own conversations and wondering what would be brought to the light with this inquiry.

“Councilor,” Lorren began, speaking in a low tone. “You will witness the evidence soon enough. Then, you will realize why we must act on this threat with haste.”

He could his fellow Councilor didn’t look convinced, but a chime alerted them that the meeting was to begin. With an exaggerate bow, Lorren gestured for her and the other Councilors to proceed to the Chambers.

* * *

The guards had already directed Jaou to the center of the chambers by the time Councilors entered. The half dozen Councilors took their seats around a semicircle in the far corner of the round room. Flanked by the six seats of the Councilors was a slightly larger middle one that wasn’t occupied. It was for the leader of the draenei, Velen, when he was present. However, they had been told that the Prophet was attending a meeting in Theramore and wouldn’t be present. The meeting would go on with his blessing.

Councilor Lorren gave the ranger satyr a minute glance as he took his seat. The demon was just as he’d been described, fur color and all. The harness he wore was a pitiful attempt to look civilized. Lorren had seen satyrs before. Most were either caged or had been killed and brought to study in Exodar.

Even though the wards Jaou stood upon would stop him from doing anything rash against them, Lorren was slightly unnerved by the lack of restraints on the demon. The sooner this was over, the better.

As always, there was audience members invited to witness the proceedings. Because of the nature of this meeting, the invitations were few and very select. They were seated in several benches between the satyr and the main doors.

Among them was Anchorite Fallat, who was one of the head priests in the city. Also, several Vindicators were present. Notably, one of them was Vindicator Kuros, a triumvirate of the Hand of Argus.

With some reservation, he also noted that Nobundo was also present. Lorren always felt unclean near the presence of a krokul and wondered which of the Councilors had invited him.

Wiping a hand over his bald head, the Councilor stepped up to the crystalline podium and started leafing through the reports again.

“I want to thank you all for attending this Council meeting. As a reminder, what is discussed within these walls remain within these walls,” he announced, keeping his gaze set upon the audience in the back. When he felt he could no longer avoid it, he looked directly at Jaou. “I also want to thank you for volunteering to clarify our understanding of exactly what is going on Ashenvale and what repercussions this could have for us here, Ranger Jaou Stormchaser of the Cenarion Circle.”

Despite a half-hearted effort to keep a level voice, sarcasm dripped from his words.

“As you may, or may not be aware of, however, there have been some allegations stemming from a visit you made to Bloodmyst Isle a few years ago that we would also like to have clarified,” he continued, again sparing only minute glances at the demon. “Is there anything you would like to say before we begin?”
~~~~

Markal had waited before they were alone before closing the door. He turned and saw her watching cautiously. However, despite her fearful demeanor he could see the defiance in her eyes.

“He… seems very protective of you,” the vindicator began as he slowly approached her. Niashado took a step back, but drew herself up.

“He is a friend, Markal. We have been through much together,” she replied.

“So, answer me this. Do you love him?” He watched her face soften slightly and appear distant.

“I… I do not know. It is complicated,” she confessed. “Like I said, we have been through a great deal together. Such ordeals can breed strong friendships. I sympathize with his transformation. Within the satyr body is an honorable kal’dorei.”

Markal saw her step closer to him and stare intently into his eyes. Her next words turned his blood to ice.

“Maybe in another time, Jaou and I could become more.”

Markal had told her the same thing when he severed their engagement. He knew Niashado had taken the breakup badly. It hadn’t been his intention to hurt her, but he had to consider his career and the protection of his people over someone as fickle as Niashado.

“You do know that satyrs are a creation of the Legion.”

“Of course I do,” Niashado replied in a matter-of-fact tone.

“And yet, you still love him? Knowing what his origins are from? Knowing that he is a construct of the Enemy of the Light?” Markal berated.

“Jaou is not a demon,” she hissed back. By this point he could see almost no fear in her eyes. She was as passionate about defending him as Jaou had been of her.

“Do you not see what he looks like? Do you not know where he comes from?” he snapped, barrelling forward and grabbing her shoulder. He pushed her against the wall and brought his face only inches from hers. “Are you that stupid? There is nothing honorable about what that creature is.”

For a brief moment he saw the fear and shock return and she attempted to twist out his grip. When Niashado couldn’t, she finally looked up at him.

“When I joined the Hand of Argus, I was told that a soldier of the Hand is obedient, brave, intelligent, and above all, honorable. When you struck me, who show the most honor? Who stepped up to defend me?”

Markal balked a moment, and released his shoulder, but he still blocked her escape as he thought to what she had just said.

“If you still believe Jaou is a demon, then today, before your very eyes, he was more honorable then you!” Niashado snapped.

Markal felt a sudden surge of anger at her words, but before he could react the door chime rang. He turned around, sparing her one last scathing glance before opening the door. A pair of Vindicators, wearing ceremonial armor, entered.

“You are relieved, Vindicator Markal,” one of them announced. Markal could scarcely believe what he was seeing. Such armor was only worn by a very select group of paladins.

Despite his curiosity, however, he snapped off a quick salute and quickly exited the apartment. But his thoughts remained fixed on what the purpose of those guards were.

In a dark corner of his mind, he also replayed the last thing Niashado had said.
Posted by Darkalarde

"The prisoner has escaped!" This was the general cry that sounded in the area as some of the sentinels ran about. Alarde was a bit confused as to why they would be holding anyone captive here, and then he remembered who they had encountered on the way here. I wonder which one escaped then... The warrior wandered about until he found a sentinel who appeared to be giving orders to the others, and waited until there was a quick break.

"Which one escaped?" Alarde decided not to waste any time with a conversation, and the sentinel seemed to have the same feelings.

"The elf with blue hair; she escaped from the medical tent." The elf then confronted another who had asked for orders, and Alarde began to make his way over to the medical tent, muttering to himself the whole way.

"This is why I leave prisoners in the state they were captured in... Then again, Gadgetzan does have different policies than here." For a few brief moments, Alarde actually considered riding out to look for the elf, remembering that she had shot him in the leg earlier. But then he remembered that Kaiten was still injured and was in no condition for a long, and potentially dangerous ride.

And the fact that he really was not very good at finding people was apparent. It was usually someone else's job to find a certain individual, and then a contract with the location was given to Alarde. Whether to kill or to capture was entirely up to whoever was hiring him. Also, there was no real reward being offered it seemed; if there was gold involved, he may have actually went out after her.
Posted by Quixos

Minutes passed since the elf had promised to return with Izdazi. Orium was waiting patiently until a Sentinel dashing past the doorway caught his attention. Another elf rushed past, and when the third came, his guard caught the Sentinel by the arm.

"What's going on?" asked the guard.

"Escapee. That elf," explained the Sentinel. Her eyes darted to Orium, and then she didn't speak further. The guard nodded and let the Sentinel go.

What are the chances there's another elf being held prisoner, thought Orium. He looked around the room, then at the guard. "Ravenstar's not coming back, is he?"

The guard cocked her head to the side but did not turn to face him. "Wait and see."

Orium turned toward the wall behind him and bent over the piles of grain sacks. "I don't think I can. The wound's reopened."

"What?"

He heard the guard shift, but no footsteps. "I'm bleeding." He shuffled, but didn't turn around.

The guard stepped into the room and approached Orium. Her hand fell on his shoulder and tugged him. He spun around and whipped the sack of grain at her. The blow hit her full on the side of her head and knocked her over. The guard fell on a pile of stores and didn't move. Orium dropped the sack and grabbed the rain cover the guard has rolled up at her waist. He wrapped it around himself and stepped into the corridor.

A Sentinel turned the corner just as did. They both looked at each other in mild surprise. Orium acted first. He threw his hands on her arms and squeezed.

"Hurry! In there," he said, jabbing his finger around the corner. "We've got an injured! Get a medic!"

The Sentinel didn't immediately respond, but after recovering from the surprise of seeing a human, nodded and ran off. So did Orium, but he ran in the other direction. Two Sentinels were standing at the armory's entrance. They turned to look at him with the same surprised look. He waved his hand frantically toward them.

"One of the Sentinels lost it, started throwing punches! Give them some help!"

They must have bought the act, because they ran into the armory without asking where, or why a human was wearing a Sentinel rain cover.

---

Jezroyel sat cross-legged on the bed. She had traded her town attire for loose, vacant robes and removed most of her jewelry. Her breaths were long and deep. The parchment, quill, and ink bottle were sitting on the nightstand next to her. She opened her eyes and looked around the room, but didn't move her head. She remained absolutely still and settled her gaze at an invisible point on the far wall. A rendition of an Argus mountain range against a night sky backdrop stared back. She settled on the moon emerging over a peak, then wandered away. Her breathing remained constant.

I don't have much time, she thought to herself. The trial might not conclude by the time he gets here.

She exhaled prematurely.

Will my statement be enough? If my presence isn't needed, I could get a head start.

She focused her breathing and settled on the rug covering the floor. The patterns were pleasing.

I have to be sure. The sentence has to be carried out. I can't risk it. I have to stay.

A breath of air caught in her throat momentarily.

But I can't let him find me. Not when we are so close.
Jaou could already get a sense that he would not like the councillor that was presently speaking before the whole assembly. It may have just been the way he spoke, but here was a sense of snideness that came from his words directed towards the ranger and he could not ignore it. The audience might not have noticed it, but he did. He felt that he was being looked down upon, as if he were an inferior being.

But most of the people here are probably looking at me like that.

He could feel their eyes boring into the back of his head, from the rest of the audience. Any other time where he felt remotely close to as how self conscious he was then was a distant memory. Even if those present did not want to acknowledge him, they were all looking at him.

“I also want to thank you for volunteering to clarify our understanding of exactly what is going on Ashenvale and what repercussions this could have for us here," the councilor continued. "Ranger Jaou Stormchaser of the Cenarion Circle.

“As you may, or may not be aware of, however, there have been some allegations stemming from a visit you made to Bloodmyst Isle a few years ago that we would also like to have clarified. Is there anything you would like to say before we begin?”

"Is there anything I can say?" Jaou asked with a feeling of futility. "I've not been told much of the details about this, other than what you've said already."

There was almost a sneer that the satyr saw on the councilor's lips, though it was only there for a fleeting moment. "Allow me to explain to you then. You were here on a mission with the Cenarion Circle to Bloodmyst Isle to help our cartographers map the land and draw out the changes in the land from your people's documents, yes?"

"That's correct," the ranger plainly answered.

"Well now, as you may have remembered, there were satyrs present there. And there still are." The draenei's gaze almost became a glare as he looked at Jaou. "They've been proving rather troublesome as of late, attacking those that would wander into their so-called territory, but something interesting had come from one such attack. The danger has been escalating for the past months."

The councilor gave a nod to one of the guards who gestured for the vindicators waiting by the side against the wall. One of the vindicators brought over what looked like two letters to the councilor's table and stepped back to her position.

"This missive before me is something that had been brought to us by the Hand of Argus," the draenei continued, picking up one of the letters. "A letter from the Nazzivius to the Axxarien satyrs. It was in demonic, but we were able to translate it. Do you know what it says?"

"No, I don't."

And why would I? The ranger was puzzled at the question. What did the letter have to do with him?

"This communication talks about an agreement between the two sects, to further antagonize our population. That isn't the only thing we have found though." He held up the other letter, unfolding it and facing the writing to the satyr. The letter was written in a language he could not understand.

I know the writing though, but why is he showing me?

"This one here is related to the previous letter, but the contents of it are rather curious. They talk about an operative they had recruited some time ago now working on mainland Kalimdor."

The way councilor eyed the ranger was disconcerting. Jaou could feel an intense pressure from him. What he was talking about though was even more worrying. Was what he was saying true, that an ally of the Bloomyst satyrs was working in Kalimdor? Was it a possibility that the draenei of the Exodar would be accusing them of unknowingly housing that agent?

But all of this seems excessive for such a scenario... Yet, somehow, I'm hoping it's just that. The other alternative would be...

His troubled thoughts were stopped short with the councilor still continuing. "A name was mentioned in that missive, when they were referring to the agent. You may find it quite interesting, satyr." He threw an accusing finger at Jaou. "It was your name that was given as their mainland agent!"

"What?!" Jaou exclaimed, almost staggering back from the shock.

I'm being accused of conspiracy... This can't be... How did this happen?!

"No, this can't be right..." Jaou said, barely audible in the crystalline hall. His eyes hardened as he looked at the councilor. "This isn't right! I would never conspire with demons! I would never..."

"We have suspects and evidence against you, ranger," the draenei remarked, interrupting the satyr. "If you can prove that you're not involved with the Bloodmyst satyrs, then the accusation will just be a past memory. So shall we get on with the review of the evidence?"

Jaou clenched his jaw, looking at the ground. "Have I any choice in this?"

The councilor snickered. "Well then, let us start."
~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Ravenstar followed along a faint trail away from Raynewood Retreat. There was a tracing of footfalls along the foliage that hinted at where the huntress had escaped to. The path was rather direct, without much meandering. The elf was cautious in his chase; it would make more sense for prey to take more elaborate routes on their escape. There was a sense of haste.

They're being pressured.

He threw a slight glance to the canopy and through the gaps. As if shadowing his own form, a hawk flew above searching for the same quarry s the roguish kaldorei. A smirk played on his masked visage. The excitement of the chase was coursing through his veins. The exhilaration of a hunt was always thrilling, and he would hope the huntress would answer back.

But of course the job comes first, doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.

Ravenstar pushed his focus back to the search. The trail was still going rigidly, straightforward. It was almost too easy to track. He thought that by now the trail would at least take some turns. Ravenstar had a strange feeling about the trail, a hunter should know the tactics of successful prey.

His avian companion soaring above gave no indication of strange activity activity ahead. In theory everything was normal, though that could change in mere moments. The elf pressed on though now he was playing out different scenarios in his mind. The escaped huntress was either under a lot of pressure to escape, or had a plan in mind.

There was only one way to find out and it was to continue on with the chase. Ravenstar flitted to the side of the path, running parallel to the tracks. His eyes followed the trail ahead. It was leading to an empty space in the forest. The elf changed his pace and lightened his steps. He was careful now more than before to make as little noise as he tread upon the forest ground.

He arrived near the clearing and scanned the area thoroughly for anything that might have been out of place. Ravenstar circled the small grove, still eying the tracks. They went through past the clearing and he followed them carefully. Silently he unsheathed a glaive and parted the vegetation before him as he proceeded onward.

This is looking normal... but oh what's this?

The trail had ended. The roguish elf raised an eyebrow at the finding. He looked around and inspected the trees nearby. Nothing spoke of any disturbance around the trunks or branches that he could discern. He looked closely at how the print was made. There was no stress that suggested any jumping.

A diversion? If the trail ended here without any leaps to the surrounding then that means she would have gone back somewhere.

He circled back to the other side, looking towards the sky. The hawk was arcing in a circular motion over the clearing. It was a clue to work on, and one he took. He hooked to the side of the clearing, staying at its outskirts. The kaldorei contemplated where the huntress would be. It would be a high risk move to say in the brush. For her the most likely alternative would be up in the trees.

You have to be somewhere around here, let's see if some luck will draw you out.

Ravenstar sheathed his glaive and instead reached for two throwing knives. He ducked to one side and threw the knives straight to the tree top that was across from where he was. The elf rolled away to another position, feinting where he was. He recovered from the roll and settled back to a secure position. Someone would have to make a move.

~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~*~~

Sundar had reached the medical tents. Many Sentinels had scattered in search of the escapee. It seemed that she may have been gone for some time now. The level of activity had depleted in the retreat. He cursed under his breath for coming late but there was nothing he could change about that.

I'll need to pick up the trail, perhaps the plants can tell something.

He then spied Alarde to one side. Any help garnered at this time would be very welcome.

"Alarde!" he called out to the one-eyed elf. "Have you seen anything that happened here? We need to find this huntress before she slips from out grasp."
Posted by Izdazi

A rail thin draenei male wearing a formal robes slowly approached Jaou and nodded. Though the robes were made of fine threads, they had been tailored poorly and were tight in some areas, while hanging loosely in other. His hair disheveled and the satchel he carried was in disrepair.

“Jaou Stormchaser?” he asked warily. “I am Melrez. I will be your helary for this hearing. I-I will be defending you. I want to assure that I have read your file and feel confident in our case. Follow me.”

He led Jaou from the center of the room to a dais on the right side. They were still in the lower part of the room.

“Helary Melrez. Do you need a few more moments to consult with your defendant,” a Councilor called out from the raised podium circle. The draenei looked at the Councilors, then to Jaou and finally returned to the Councilors. His hands trembled as he withdrew a stylus and parchment.

“We are ready, Councilors.”

Councilor Lorren stepped away from his crystalline podium and nodded to the Hand of Argus guards at the doorway. “Bring in the first witness,” he called out.

The double doors opened and four humanoids entered. There was a collective gasps from the Councilors and those in the audience as they stepped forward. Three of them were fully armored draenei vindicators. The creature in the middle was a satyr. His fur was a mix of gray and teal and his dark eyes darted around the room as he was drawn in. A gold necklace was wrapped around his neck and in the magenta crystals inset in the metal glowed faintly.

A rod was attacked by heavy chain to the chocker. The other end of the rod was held by the satyr behind him. The other two vindicators held the rods that were attached to the locked bracers around his wrist.

When they reached the center of the hearing room, the satyr with the rod attached to his neck forced the unwilling satyr to nod before the Councilor. Lorren smirked slightly and straightened his sash before stepping closer to them.

“This demon is from the Nazzivus Sect in Bloodmyst. His kind is responsible for the deaths of nearly forty of our valiant vindicators who have fought hard to eradicate the island of their influences.

“Our influences?” the satyr sneered. He started laughing and looked around the room. “If only our influences were as powerful as yours, draenei.” He again burst in laughter. “Our efforts pale in comparison to the damage your kind did the island.”

Frowning, Lorren nodded at one of the vindicators, who pointed his palm at the chest of demon can called forth a prayer. There was a burst of golden light and the satyrs laughter dissolved into cries of pain.

“Do I not speak the truth, draenei? Is that not why I was brought here?” he remarked while he recovered from the sudden burns.

“You will answer only when asked a question, demon!” Lorren snapped. The demon responded with a snort.

“I answer not to you, blueblood,” he snarled. There was another burst of light and the satyr fell on one knee gasping. Smoke rose from his chest and the smell of burning fur filled the room. Yet, when he looked up, his only response was to bare his fangs at the Councilor. There was another flash and another shortly there after, until the satyr was on his knees gasping. Only the vindicators holding the rod kept him from falling face down.

The expressions of the audience and Councilors ranged from appearing uncomfortable to neutral. A very few looked somewhat pleased at the torment brought on the demon, however.

“Tell me what you want!” the satyr finally shouted, sounding out of breath. “Tell me what you want!”

“Do you recognize this person?” Lorren demanded, pointed toward Jaou. The nazzivus slowly turned and studied Jaou for a moment before nodding.

“Yes… yes I remember him. But he should be in Ashenvale, with our kin there,” the satyr sputtered.

“When was here to speak to you?” Lorren asked.
“Here? Never that I know of,” the demon stated. Lorren snapped his head toward one of the vindicators. There was a loud snap in the air as more holy magic was unleashed on the satyr. His screams echoed across the chamber walls.

“He was never here! We communicated through talismans! That is how I know what he looks like!” the satyr screamed through the magical assault. The vindicator ceased the holy magic assault and returned his attention to keeping the satyr restrained.

“And what did you discuss?”

“Water. Moonwell waters,” the demon replied. His breaths were ragged and voice had grown hoarse. But his eyes suddenly turned darker and bore into the draenei Councilor. “We were alone and content in our ways, but then your kind came. You were more powerful and an affront to our creator. We had to stop you, but we lacked the strength and power. Even the demons we summoned were not enough. Then, we heard word that our kin in Ashenvale had developed a weapon. A powerful weapon. An effective weapon.

“So, we found a way to reach out to them, and they told us of the corrupted moonwells. This one,” the satyr continued, pointing a sharp claw Jaou’s way. “Said he’d find a way to bring it to us. The power, to destroy your kind into something easier to manage. Did he not tell you about the test? Oh they tested it and showed us what it could do to you. He showed us how it turned your kind into something degenerate and weak. Something like… like that!” He pointed at a Broken who was sitting among the audience. Gasps were heard through out the people and continued until Lorren raised a hand.

“He says his name was Jaou Stormchaser. Once a ranger, whose eyes were opened to the true power of the Legion and shadow when he was turned,” the demon explained. He looked up weakly at the Councilor. “That is all I know. Do not burn me again.”

Councilor Lorren smirked before walking back to his podium. He looked toward Jaou and Melrez. “Do you have anything you want to ask of the demon?”

“N-no, Councilor,” Melrez answered, without looking at Jaou.

“Very well. Get it out of here and call forth the next witness.”

The next witness turned out to be a demon of the Axxarien sect. The interview followed the same line of questions along with the same amount of ‘encouragement.’ The answers were also similar. Again, Jaou’s helary neglected to perform a cross-examination.

* * *

“We will now recess for fifteen minutes,” another councilor announced. “Please have the next witness ready in that time.”

While those in the dais were not permitted to leave during the trial, the audience did take the opportunity to find refreshment or check on other things that may have been going on during the trial.

“Well, this is not looking good. I wonder who they will get for the last witness,” Melrez muttered, looking down at the parchment where he had written some notes.

Far behind them, the double doors were opened and a lone vindicator escorted in Niashado. The soldier’s held her upper arm tightly and they moved to the opposite end of the room. The shamaness kept her eyes downcast and seemed to be trembling slightly as they waited for the trial to resume.


~~~~


He’s good. Izdazi decided as she watched the kal’dorei tracker follow her path. It wasn’t difficult to tell from his posture that he was being cautious. An inexperienced tracker would be grateful for the easy trail she had blazed. But not this guy. He was taking it slowly.

And then, the huntress recognized him and cursed. She’d seen him before in Raynewood. He was with Orium earlier. And now he knows to look for her.

I simply don’t get to have it easier, do I Elune? She grumbled in her mind while looking up at the sky, which was mostly obscured by the tree canopy.

He’ll soon realize that the trail was a farce and then he’ll start really looking for her. She didn’t have much time to arrange things.
* * *

As she predicted, it didn’t take long for her mysterious tracker to return and this time he was even more alert then before. The huntress noted the large glaive in his hand and made a note not to attempt to engage him in close range. Know your strengths.

What irritated her more, however, was the falcon that was circling over the clearing. There was little doubt that the bird had seen her and even now alerting him to her location. Izdazi cursed, while simultaneously feeling jealously for him having that kind of animal companionship. She missed her saber.

With a slight growl, she refocused her attention on the ranger. From her height in the trees, it would be difficult for him to see her, especially if she remained still.

The huntress risked glancing past the tree. She saw him moving to one corner quickly and was about to bring her bow to aim when there was a sudden glint of something in midair. She pulled herself behind the tree just as a knife buried itself near where her head at been.

I’m so tired of people throwing knives at me! She silently screamed. Despite the healing, the injury Alarde had inflicted with his throwing knives still throbbed in her thigh.

With an arrow notched and ready, she jumped to another branch and let loose three arrows in rapid succession where he’d been seen going. But even as the arrows flew, Izdazi realized her folly. He had feinted. The arrows struck the ground harmlessly.

The falcon continued crying out overhead.

Wordlessly cursing, she pulled the throwing knife from the tree and tossed it at the bird. The end of the hilt hit the bird under its wing. It’s crying ceased and it fell to the ground silently. Izdazi was fairly certain it was only stunned and that there were no permanent injuries. Elune knew she didn’t want to needlessly injure anyone’s companion if it could be avoided.

Without pause, she jumped to another branch and raced a nearby tree where she could see more of the field. The huntress began letting loose her arrows to herd him to a particular area of the field. She had to give credit to the tracker for being agile, even though it worked more so in her favor.

As soon as he arrived at the spot she desired, Izdazi grabbed a rope that was tied to the tree and jumped down. Simultaneously, the rope loop under Ravenstar suddenly tightened around his ankles. He fell face down on the ground and suddenly, through the momentum of her fall; he was lifted into the air, upside down by his legs.

Izdazi landed without a sound near him and wasted little time tying the rope to a nearby branch. She rushed up to the tracker. His head was about level with hers. Without pause, she slammed her fist against his face.

“I am so tired of having knives thrown at me!” she yelled, before punching him in the face again. Her eyes were wild with anger.

Not waiting, for him to respond, she took several steps away from his reach and pulled an arrow back against the bow in her hands.

“I just need to ask you one question. Are you here to help defend Ashenvale from the demons or are you an ally of the Stormchasers?” The strain on her bow could be heard as she pulled the arrow back tighter. “Answer me!”
Posted by Quixos

The witness examinations had already began when Jezroyel entered the audience booth. She did not recognize anyone from Ashenvale; they were likely Exodar natives or tied parties. She took an open seat between two draenei. One, a male, was a military official in semi-formal garb. The other, a female, shared the same cultural blend Jezroyel adopted as a result of her involvement in Alliance politics. Her garb was devoid of colors, which suggested she represented a private party. They exchanged conservative nods and turned their attention to the trial.

The satyr witness statements were working in favor of Jezroyel's agenda, as was the incompetence of Jaou's helary. Every mark against the Stormchaser was uncontested. Jezroyel anticipated a number of rebukes eventually, but the longer they remained unmolested, the easier it would be to incriminate the Stormchaser. She propped one leg over the other in a passing moment of satisfaction. When a recess was called, the female draenei next to Jezroyel turned to her and spoke.

"The humans aren't going to like this," said the draenei, in Common.

"Do you work out of Stormwind?" guessed Jezroyel.

The draenei nodded. "I work with the trades. We're anticipating a negative fall out between the Kal'dorei and the humans. I was blessed with doing the dirty work. It is a good break from dealing with the merchants, though. My name is Kailar."

"Jezroyel," she replied. "I work with the humans, too. The Royal Court."

Kailar laughed quietly. "Having worked with human merchants, I can only imagine the human nobles."

"They are as bad as you imagine," confirmed Jezroyel. "But they are not impossible."

"I have a feeling they're going to come close enough to it when this is over," reckoned Kailar. "This is trouble for everyone."

Jezroyel noticed the doors opening and Niashado entering under the escort of a vindicator. "More for some than for others," she added.

---

Orium eventually traded the Sentinel cloak for a set of brown robes that concealed his wounded state and covered the features of his face. There were enough humans in Raynewood to make his nondescript appearance invisible to the guards for a time. Orium was counting on it being enough for him to retrieve his weapon and get out of Raynewood.

He had been making circuits around the armory for several minutes. Patrols were still minimal and the armory hadn't seen any foot traffic for several minutes. Orium made his move, edging near the doorway on his next pass and glancing around the interior to make sure no one else was there. The lone elf came out of the back with a pair of splintered wooden shafts and dropped them onto the long counter separating the service area. Orium doubled back and stopped in the doorway. He spoke without looking at the elf, looking instead at an imaginary guard that was out of line of sight of the keeper.

"He's asking for his weapon," he said, turning and waving.

"What?" was the elf's response.

Orium glanced in momentarily with a look of agitation. "The prisoner, he's bargaining. Ravenstar wants the sword."

The elf's response came after a moment, when Orium had turned away to nod apologetically at the imaginary guard. "Ravenstar cleared this?"

"You understand Common," started Orium, stepping inside with a final apologetic wave of his hand, then turning his attention to the elf. "He wants to bargain with the sword."

Orium was across the counter from the elf. He might have been more convincing if he was a Sentinel. The elf's expression had gone from confused to wary. Orium glanced down at the splintered wood on the counter and saw that the elf had closed his hand over one of them. Orium quickly seized the other, but instead of using it as a bludgeon he slammed it down on the elf's hand, preventing the elf from using his own makeshift weapon. The elf began to recoil as Orium lunged over the table, grabbing at the elf's neck and shoving him harder backward. He battered the elf's head against the flat of an axe blade twice, and as the elf reeled, slammed him against the counter top. Orium quickly climbed over the counter and began heaving the unconscious elf toward the back room. He sat him up in a stool against the wall with his back to the armory front. Then, Orium hastily began searching the racks for his sword.

After retrieving it he returned to the front and threw the fallen shafts in the back and tucked the sword in the folds of his robes. He departed into the throng and made his way to the nearest edge of the Retreat.

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