((Closed)) Trapped in Lies

World’s End Tavern: Role-play and Fan Fiction
Ashenvale
Present


The huntress had no idea what had just happened. One second she had this mysterious elf on the defense. Then, in a blur, he had turned around on her. She felt a sharp stab of pain in her wrist and her sword dropped from her hand. It was then that Izdazi realized she was in deep trouble.

Her quarry pressed forward with his assault and lashed out with his left hand. She tried to avoid the assault, but he was faster and the jabs were immensely and unexpectedly painful. Each contact was met as if she'd been struck with a mace and each limb became to heavy to move afterwards. The she elf staggered back and all semblance of battle technique washed away as she sought to shield her body from his unyielding and rapid assault.

For a moment, Izdazi felt as if she were a young girl again, hiding from her mother's relentless, and often painful, pursuit to make her into a sentinel. Her body involuntarily doubled over when her stomach was jabbed. Then she felt another surge of pain between her shoulders and then to the back of her legs.

Izdazi fell to her knees and laid, slumped on the ground until her forehead was touching the ground. Her dreadlocks splayed around her head as she laid facedown. Her arms fell uselessly to her sides. For that matter, her whole body felt useless. The sharpness of the pain had dulled somewhat, but with every attempt to move the pain returned in immobilizing intensity.

Her sword lay within easy grasp and with much struggling and pain, she drew all of her reserve energy to reach out to it. Gasping and stifling cries for what felt like eternity, her fingers finally wrapped around the hilt. That's when her foe finally spoke.

"You're quite the creative fighter, but your technique is lacking," he remarked. The huntress stopped moving and dropped her head again on the ground as the silent tears came. She could hear her mother telling her how useless she was and to practice harder. The emotional memory grew too much and she felt her eyes surging in burning tears.

"Now do you want to continue on with this game or are you willing to have a nice chat about what you did for the Fires back at Raynewood?" he asked. For a long moment she simply laid slumped on the forest floor unmoving.

Izdazi hated feeling weak before anyone. She had fought hard after buying her freedom from the cartel to keep others from taking advantage of her by always appearing as if she were in charge. And until today, she had never doubted her ability to maintain control of her situations.

And in one night, one battle, all of that had been pushed into question. All her insecurities and concerns were thrown before her. If she had been stronger, like her mother had tried to make her, she wouldn't have lost to this man. Of course, if she had simply followed in her mother's footsteps, many things wouldn't have changed.

Slowly, as to not exasperate the pain in neck any further, she twisted her head to look at her attacker. The tears had stopped and instead, her eyes were cold and expressionless.

He was tall with deep green hair that was done in a topknot. Everything about the way he moved indicated a calculating fighter. And his eyes were silver, with what she swore was a tint of blue in them. There was a lot of intelligence in his stern visage. He didn't seem to take pleasure in seeing her groveling on the ground. Indeed, his concern seemed more about protecting his satyr friends.

The huntress turned and growled as she brought her arms closer to her body. She abandoned the sword, knowing well that at this point it would do her no good. Biting her lip to mask the pain, she pushed body upright with her hands. The points where he had jabbed her earlier, stabbed out with electrifying agony, but she pressed on. Moments later she was sitting on her haunches and looking at him coldly. A few of her dreads spilled over her cold eyes, but she made no effort to remove them.

"Swear to me, with your blood, that you don't believe Jaou and the other kal'dorei satyrs are a threat to us," she whispered, just loud enough for him to hear. "Make me believe that you completely trust them. If you can't, then just run me through, because I'll know that my fears are real."
Posted by Niashado

"We have reached a verdict," Councilor Niceen finally announced. "The allegations and the witnesses that have provided information for us have lead us to believe the defendant to be a serious threat to the safety of our people. He is however still under the jurisdiction of our allies, the night elves. For now we shall be keeping him in our custody. He shall be regarded as a potentially dangerous felon and proper precautions will be taken."

"No," Niashado mouthed, but as soon as she started forward to try to plead with the Councilors, the vindicator pulled her back. He twisted her arm slightly in a subtle signal to remain silent.

"Vindicators, take him away!" Lorren ordered with a near smug expression upon his face.

"This isn't right!" Jaou exclaimed, rearing up. More guards appeared to retrain him. He growled in response to being surrounded. His act of defiance caused some of the vindicators to hesitate for a moment.

"What are you waiting for? Get him!" Lorren ordered the soldiers.

"No wait!" Niashado cried out. She turned from the Councilors to Jaou. "Jaou! Wait!" But her voice was drowned out as the vindicators tackled the satyr ranger and began restraining him. She desperately wanted to rush to him but the vindicator behind her tightened his grip.

"I've done nothing!" Jaou insisted. The pain in his voice at being so falsely accused stabbed at the draenei's heart. "How were those testaments eve-"

"Keep him under control, don't let him struggle!" Lorren shouted.

"Councilor, make them stop!" Niashado pleeded, but she was ignored and then the room flared in golden light. The shamaness turned in time to see Jaou slump to the ground unconscious. Moments later, he was dragged out of the chambers and the door was again shut. A palpable silence fell over the room.

Niashado stood trembling at the sight she had witnessed. Nothing made sense anymore.

"Let the record show that the satyr fought his verdict. Innocent people don't fight," Lorren announced.

"Unless they are falsely accused," someone fired back. There were a few gasps among the audience and it took Niashado a few minutes to realize that the person who had said that was actually she.

Lorren turned to her contemptuously and started to move forward. His hooves echoed loudly within the chamber. "You yourself testified against him and you are far from innocent, Niashado. You have been tainted by that demon's words. Perhaps he put a charm on you. Or maybe…"

"He did no such thing!" Niashado’s eyes flashed angrily as she snapped at Lorren. "He is honest which is more then I can say about you!"

"Niashado. The verdict is given and judgment has been passed. Until we hear from kal'dorei government, the verdict stands," Councilor Niceen interrupted. "However, the question still lies in what we are to do about you. That, we will be deliberating soon. You are dismissed.”

The shamaness took a deep breath and steadied her temper. It wouldn’t help her case to deny the Councilors the respect their station deserves. They were, after all, appointed by Velen himself.

“I respectfully ask for permission to see Ranger Jaou Stormchaser.”
“Unacceptable! Absolutely not!” Councilor Lorren almost screamed, moving toward her dais. “Do you simply not understand? Your prolonged contact with the satyr has clouded your judgment! For your own good, you are forbidden from being anywhere near him! Stop being daft!”

“Calm yourself, Lorren,” Niceen admonished in a soft voice that contrasted sharply with her fellow Councilor. She turned to the shaman. “Niashado. He is right. While your fate is being decided, it would be best if you mentioned nothing of the satyr.”

“His name is Ranger Jaou Stormchaser,” Niashado almost growled.

“And sadly, his body and mind has been claimed by a demonic taint. He has been found to be conspiring against the draenei. Against your people,” the Councilor explained. A faint flicker of exasperation, like that of a parent after repeatedly explaining something to a child, could be heard in her voice. She brushed back her long silken platinum hair and descended the steps toward the shaman’s dais. “You have been fooled, young one. I am sorry.”

“He would do no such thing. I assure you! I-I do not…” Niashado started to say, but stopped when Niceen laid a delicate hand on her shoulder.

“You are dismissed. I suggest your remain in your apartment until we call for you. Under no circumstance should you leave the city. Do you understand?”

Niashado stared pleadingly at Niceen’s eyes, but could see that the Councilor's mind was made up. There would be no further discussion and no amount of beseeching will change her mind.

“I-I will go,” she said in resignation. At a nod from the Lorren, the vindicator took her arm and gently, but persuasively, pressured her to leave.

------

Vindicator Markal arrived at the door to the prison wing and paused momentarily. His chest rose with deep breaths as he replayed what he'd just witnessed in the Council chambers. These past few years have shown him many things he never expected to see, but even after all those times, there were still more surprises to behold.

Finally, he pressed the crystal in his gauntlet against the inset near the doorway. The steady droning of the arcane barrier that barred the cell door into receded and the emitters retracted into sides of the doorframe. His hoofsteps echoed loudly on the hard floor of the large prison cell. Once he passed the threshold, the emitters extended and the buzzing resumed. The doorway glowed with a faintly of magenta.

Sitting on the floor was the satyr. His dark purple fur glinted in the light from overhead crystals. The faint smell of burning fur filled the room.

“So, I suppose this means you and I have something in common demon?” he began. Jaou slowly looked up at him.

"I'm not sure what you're getting at,” he replied quietly. "You're standing here in front of me without restraints whilst I'm in shackles for something I didn't do."

“We’ve both been betrayed by the same woman,” the vindicator said. He continued pacing before Jaou with his armored arms folded behind his back. “Thank the Light, the Councilors were able to help her see beyond her delusions. They think you put a charm on her, or affected her judgment somehow. But you and I, demon; we know the truth.”

"Truth? What truth is there in this?" Jaou said, waving his hand to his surroundings. Markal glanced around the cell and shrugged.

“If I had it my way, demon, you’d be in a hole in the ground.” Markal resumed his pacing for a little longer before stopping and glaring angrily at the former kal'dorei. “You humiliated me before my men, satyr,” the draenei spat. “And for what? To defend a woman who ended up betraying you.”

"I'll with-hold my judgment, but what is it that you have against her?”

"She was to be my wife, satyr!" he snapped. "But then she became tainted. Started delving in heathen practices. Niashado was always weak. It’s little wonder that even though she’s one of us, a draenei, she was too weak-willed to not see the truth about you!”

Markal pushed a lever in the wall next to the door and the chains suddenly retracted. The pulled Jaou up to a standing position and pressed him against the wall until he secured and immobile.

Jaou let out a sharp growl as his head jerked back and his horns hit the wall behind him. "Tainted? And why do you call her weak without seeing the trials she had gone through in her time in Ashenvale?"
Markal's rage deafened him to the words Jaou was trying to say. He rushed forward and buried his fist in Jaou's midsection. Then, with his armored gloves, he began punching the satyrs face repeatedly.

"You would presume that I don't know when someone is tainted!" the vindicator growled. "And I know enough of what she's done in Ashenvale! She destroyed her career to be in Ashenvale. With you!" He emphasized the last word with another savage punch to the satyr's head.

"Destroyed her... Career?" Jaou coughed out the words with some difficulty. Markal stepped back as the satyr attempted to speak. "What are you talking about?"

"What? She didn't tell you? You have twisted her mind that much that she would not tell you all she's done?" Markal said with a guffaw. "She wasn't supposed to go to Ashenvale for the meeting with your people. She abandoned her duties to her people to go to you, demon!"

He walked back to the level and pulled it up. The chain slackened and Jaou dropped to the floor, panting from the battering he'd taken.

"I know not what the Council has decided for your fate, but whatever it is, I am certainly sure you deserve it. Perhaps, if we are lucky, Darnasus will disown you. Then our scientist can vivisect you and find out how you were turned," Markal sneered. But after a moment he shook his head. "No. Even we're too civilized to do that to anything that breathes. Even if that thing is a satyr."

"You seem... To have been blinded by your own thoughts," Jaou rasped. "I would do nothing... That would put Nia into harm."

Markal scoffed as he walked toward the locked threshold of the cell.

"I have known her for far longer then you have. I loved her and then she turned around and spat on our ways. I forgave her aimlessness and she only became more so. I tried to help her find her place and she falters and runs away when things get tough. She found something in that orc religion she practices and her mind got more twisted," Markal explained in a quiet voice. "You see, I know the truth, just as you do. I know she wasn't charmed and entranced by you. You wouldn't have to put that much effort into twisting her mind. She's fickle. Weak. When things get rough, she runs away. She always has and she always will. This time, she won't be able to avoid the punishment for her actions."

He turned his back to Jaou and pressed the crystal in his glove against the wall. The arcane barrier faded away. Just before he walked through, he paused and glanced over his shoulder. "Back in the Council Chamber, did you see it in her eyes? She sees you with doubt. They have already convinced her that she was wrong to trust you. You are a demon and whatever assurances she once had, like always, they've crumbled away. They have already brought her to reality."

He passed through the threshold and the barrier once again activated, leaving Jaou to his thoughts.




~~~~


The shaman was gently, but persistently, directed through the halls and lifts of Exodar. More then a few draenei turned their attention towards her and her vindicator escort. While news of the trial hadn't spread beyond the council halls, just the sight of a civilian being escorted by a vindicator was enough to incite a few murmurs. She felt her face become dark blue in embarrassment and kept her head downcast until they arrived in the upper wing of the city where most of the apartments were.

"If I were you, I would remain here. Until the Council decides what is to become of you, you are forbidden from leaving Exodar," the vindicator warned. "Should you leave the confines of the city, you will be considered a fugitive and be treated as such. Do you understand?"

"I do, vindicator," Niashado whispered. She was still dazed by how badly the trial had gone. She was so sure she'd be able to defend Jaou, but her plans had been twisted around and expertly used against them. It was like a whirlwind.

Once her door was closed, Niashado locked it and paced around her room. She twirled one of her tendrils around a finger as the events of the inquiry replayed in her mind. Her heart thrummed rapidly as her mind teetered on the edge of panic.

I promised Sundar I would keep you safe. I assured you that our people would be just. I… promised.

Ignoring the couch and meal nook, Niashado found an empty corner of her small domicile and slowly sank to the floor. For a moment, the draenei stared ahead vacantly.

Then, she buried her face in her hands and began sobbing.
((That should be all of the posts so far. I'll remake the sign-ups, though they won't have any character information.))
As far as Jezroyel could see, Jaou Stormchaser's trial was a success. The aftershocks of the council's decision would push tensions further, and Niashado's volatile display would catalyze a greater fear of infiltration. The latter part might prove to give Jezroyel more trouble, if that fear quickly mobilized into martial action. Jezroyel had to make sure the backlash fell on her later rather than sooner.

She hailed one of the vindicators on her way out of the chamber.

"<Vindicator,>" she greeted. "<Please pass a message on to the Councillors for me. I am Jezroyel Naherab, returned from the ambassadorial venture in Ashenvale. They should know that a terrorist group has been acting alongside the trouble in Ashenvale, and it's very possible they may be planning an attack on the Exodar. City patrol should be doubled and visiting parties should be heavily screened. I understand this is impromptu, so I will have a full debriefing prepared tomorrow. In the meantime please pass on the message.>"

She nodded for further affirmation and squeezed his arm before departing in a mock-hurry. At this point there wasn't a need to rush; anyone that had the ability to challenge her credibility was still far away in Ashenvale, and even if they did manage to make it to the Exodar, they would have to make it inside first, and Jezroyel would be gone by then.

There was one other risk, but the chances of him catching wind so quickly were next to none.

---

Tahirus hadn't navigated a proper forest in years. His assistant, Camron, probably hadn't ever tried. Now, together, they were lost. Tahirus stopped to catch his breath. He leaned on a nearby tree and pulled a leaf out from the cleft of his hoof. Seconds later, preceded by a heavy rustling of ferns, Camron came up behind him. The human dropped his hands to his knees and spat a wad of saliva into the undergrowth.

"Right behind you, boss," exhaled Camron.

Tahirus laughed. He turned to look at the tree, and realized they weren't completely lost; the bark was split where Camron had marked it earlier. "This is no use, we're no trailblazers."

"Shall we head back, then?"

"Which way?"

Camron spit silently in reply.

Tahirus gulped a deep breath down and stared up at the canopy. That's when he spotted the bird again. "Something dead is nearby, or we're close to them."

Camron followed Tahirus' gaze and nodded.

"We'll go slow, then. Listen for voices," decided Tahirus.

They started off again, attempting to head in the direction of the circling hawk. Tahirus stopped and raised a hand when the hawk suddenly dipped, and disappeared. Seconds later, there was a distant cry.

"That's pinpoint accuracy," commented Camron. "Sadly, it's fairly far from where we are."

"Let's pick up the pace here, then."

They continued at a light jog on the uneven terrain. After several hundred yards they slowed to a walk again. The foliage was muting sounds of combat in their vicinity. Camron unholstered his pistol and Tahirus unsheathed his channeling dagger. After padding two hundred yards, they spotted the skirmishers. They were both elves; the one on the ground was female, and presumably the "prisoner" the sentinels had referred to. The other was male, and must have been Ravenstar. Tahirus started forward and spoke loudly so they could hear him.

"No trouble," he said, showing his dagger non-aggressively in his raised hand. "My name is Tahirus. I would like to speak with Ravenstar--"

He stopped at the touch of cold metal on his neck. He stood still and turned slow to his left. A sword was poised across his jugular, held by an arm extending from a nearby shrub. A dark-skinned human rose out of the shrub and took a step into the open.

"I said 'no trouble,'" said Tahirus, slowly. The sound of a revolver hammer cocking told him Camron was making his move.

"Make sure you kill me with the first shot, because if you don't, he dies," warned the human. "Let her go."

Tahirus reasoned that the human was referring to the defeated elf, the prisoner. The human must have been her accomplice. "Ravenstar doesn't care whether I die or not. Actually, I'm the best leverage you have, provided I stay alive."

"Don't play word games with me," hisses the human.

Tahirus felt the blade move. "I believe I can help you and your friend. Before I can, I need you to lower your weapon."

The human's glare hadn't left Tahirus, and he hadn't taken his eyes away, either. "Tell your friend to put his gun down, first."

"Camron," signaled Tahirus. His assistant lowered his pistol and uncocked it.

The human's blade moved away, but his brow remained furrowed. There was a very good chance he would cut down Tahirus before he could move to subdue him. The draenei turned to the other two, imploring to Ravenstar. "Let's have a talk, then?"
"Vindicator! We need to speak," Ren'tat demanded as he caught up to Markal. The vindicator was entering the Trader's Tier. All around them, kiosks and stands sold everything from trade tools to finished gems and freshly grown fruits.

Ren'tat's tone gave Markal pause as he turned and waited for his former mentor to catch up. Through the wars in Outland and later, on their arrival to Azeroth, he had taught him, along with many willing and supplicant draenei warriors, the path to becoming a paladin. He owed much to the older draenei.

"Vindicator Ren'tat," the younger vindicator greeted with a quick salute. It wasn't until he saw the deep set frown in the Ren'tat's visage that he knew something was wrong.

"You need to explain actions. Follow me." Not waiting for whether Markal's response, he barged past him and into a vacant shop set against the south wall of the tier. Uncertain of what this was about, Markal followed and once inside, Ren'tat slammed the door shut.

"Explain what you were doing in the satyr's cell?" Ren'tat demanded.

"I was questioning the demon," he answered, while looked around the shop.

The older vindicator scoffed and began pacing. His heavy hoofsteps on the granite floor echoed loudly against the stone walls. With the exception of the shelves and tables, there was little left in the shop. The smell of recent construction hung heavily in the room.

"What you did to Ranger Stormchaser was not called for. Nor were the questions you asked."

"How… how did you know?" Markal asked in surprise. He thought that his time speaking to Jaou had been in private.

"Little happens within my area of responsibility that I am not aware of, Markal. Your actions were very unbecoming of a soldier of the Light."

"It is a demon! What should it matter how we treat it!" Markal bellowed.

"I… I have my doubts," Ren'tat confessed. Markal had never heard his former mentor sound so uncertain. "I met the ranger satyr in Ashenvale. I have dealt with demons many times in recent years, Markal. The satyr I spoke to Silverwind Refuge did not act like the demons I know."

"Vindicator. It is a demon. It has left you uncertain."

"Something else is going on, Markal. Night elves have been dealing with satyrs for the last ten millennia. Surely, they would know satyrs more then anyone. I saw Sentinels taking orders from him. I saw people affording Jaou respect," Ren'tat explained. "Even your friend saw something different in him."

"Do not bring Niashado into this," Markal snapped.

"Regardless, there is something uncertain about Jaou and about the way the Councilors handled this trial." Markal took a deep breath at Ren'tat's accusation.

"You would question the Council? They are the Prophet's appointed."

Ren'tat stopped pacing and snapped his head toward Markal.

"I am a soldier. I go where our leaders tell us to go. But I am also a warrior of the Light. When something tugs at my soul -my heart- I must know what it is." Ren'tat paused and resumed his pacing. "Why did not the Councilors summon me as a witness? Would they not care for an account of the satyr's reaction to their summons? Were you even at the trial?"

Markal shook his head. He was on duty elsewhere at the time.

"His helary did not even try to defend Ranger Stormchaser. Even our own laws allow for a helary being a friend chosen by the defendant. You would think Niashado would have served."

"But she could not, Ren'tat. A helary can not be a witness." Markal argued.

"Yes. But I was there, Markal. Her testimony was routed."

Markal considered his mentor's words for a long moment, but finally shook his head.

"She was swayed by a demon's words. You know she is weak minded. Now that she is home, she will see how the demon has confused her. She will get help here."


~~~~
~~~~


Ren'tat scoffed and stroked his goatee. Markal was being stubborn. That was always his weakness.

"You need to think with your heart, and less with your pride, Markal. That is what it means to a Vindicator. That has always been your weakness." He waited fro Markal to defend his words, but when he didn't Ren'tat shook his head and gestured at the door. "You are dismissed, Vindicator."

Ren'tat could see Markal struggling for the right words to say, but finally, with another salute, he left the shop.

"That did not go well," a feminine voice announced as a door to another room opened.

"No. It most assuredly did not, Councilor," Ren'tat replied as he turned to the slender female entering the common room. He offered he a respectful bow, as is due any member of the post she occupied.

A dark robe was draped over Niceen's shoulders and a heavy hood covered her face from those who would otherwise know who she was. Gone was the white silk sash that identified her as a Councilor. Her long white tresses were hidden behind the thick cloak. The secrecy was needed because of the sensitive nature of what they discussed.

"What happened in satyr's cell?"

"Markal vented his frustration with his former love. Apparently her friendship with Ranger Stormchaser is deeper then he likes," Ren'tat said, as he went on to describe in detail the altercation that had occurred.

"Demons thrive on dividing us, Ren'tat. Perhaps that is what is going on," Councilor Niceen explained. He could hear the doubt in her voice.

"Markal's pride does enough division without demonic interference. And you know as well as I, that Jaou is not the satyr we expected him to be."

"Councilor Lorren has seen to it that it does not matter what we think. Word is being sent to Darnasus of what has come of this trial," the Councilor explained. "Seeing as Jaou Stormchaser is a druid for the Cenarion Circle, the letter was directed to Archdruid Staghelm."

"Until instructions return, what are we to do?" Ren'tat asked. The Councilor merely shook her head.

"It is out of our hands. For now at least."

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