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Gentyl returned to Hearthglen still fuming. The idiot Regent had destroyed her bargaining chip to free the slaves she had promised Faithe would be freed. On top of all that, he had presented her with a bill for 23,000 gold for keeping the goblin. 23,000 gold! Maybe if he'd lay off a few of his "nieces" he wouldn't have to rob the Presidium.
She handed Valor's reins to Tobias who had raced out to meet them. "Can I ride him to the stable?"
"Of course." She lifted the orphan the Presidium had adopted up on her charger and handed him back the reins. "Trot only! Ask whoever's on duty to rub him down and then turn him out to graze."
"Delver's on duty," the boy replied.
"Ah, never mind then. I'll take care of him in a bit. Just tell him to put him in a stall." Last week she had walked into the stable and discovered rats, trained rats, cleaning the stalls with tiny little pitchforks and shovels Delver had carved for them. The week before his trained rats were seen skittering over the cart pony with tiny brushes, grooming him, or at least trying to. The pony had bucked across the yard and fled into the nearby woods. Valor would not react well to rats scurrying about him with cloths.
The tower was cool and inviting when she walked in. It truly was home now. She missed the old one, but she didn't miss Imperon's "watch" over her. With Mira's wedding over, security had been relaxed in the kitchen, but the security robots were still attuned to keep her out. One of them rolled to her, lights blinking madly. "I'm not in the mood for it," she snapped. "You sound that blasted alarms and I will crush you into pieces so small no one will have any idea what that pile of dust was."
The robot chirped something to the others who had rushed to sound the alarm also and then quickly rolled away behind a pantry door. She could still feel the little mechanical eyes watching her, but at least they were quiet.
She fixed a ham sandwich and poured a tall glass of milk. She was allowed to do these simple things. It was the cooking part of the kitchen that got her banned permanently from practicing the culinary arts anywhere in Stormwind, the Pia towers and various other locations.
Faithe wandered down the stairs and peered into the great hall. "Ah, Sepha. I thought I heard someone here. Did the trip go well?"
Gentyl inhaled deeply and took a long drink of the cold milk. How did she explain what had happened? "The idiot Tenwit destroyed the goblin's brain."
Faithe sank down in a chair near Gentyl. "Destroyed his brain?" How? Why?"
"He was performing an experiment on him to get him to reveal information. Meshqa now tells the truth unerringly, but he's a drooling idiot."
It was hard to read Faithe's expression. Relief? Disbelief? Maybe a touch of anger. "How will we trade him for the slaves?"
"We won't no one would trade anything for him. We'll return him to the horde after we've freed the slaves. The ghosts are verifying the information on the locations. We'll hit them, gather the slaves, and then drop Meshqa off where we found him." She took a bite of the sandwich. "I would strongly suggest you take an escort to the Tenth Tower and see Meshqa for yourself. It will set your mind at ease."
((As you can guess, Going Home is winding down. It went a little longer than I had planned, but it was originally intended to stir up world rp/pvp. It seems like a fitting way to close it out. There were a lot of twists and turns along the way. I still need to fill in some blanks. The participation of the server, as always, was greatly appreciated and I hope people will join in on both sides as we "free the slaves" and finish this story.
Salute to CC.))
((One of these days I'll have to go back and reread this in full. ^^; The segments I have read, though, have been outstanding, the plot's been intriguing, and the quality of the writing by all parties involved was excellent. Awesome work!))
((One of these days I'll have to go back and reread this in full. ^^; The segments I have read, though, have been outstanding, the plot's been intriguing, and the quality of the writing by all parties involved was excellent. Awesome work!))
((I'm trying to fill in the blanks now and complete this. Not that most people would want to sit down and read the whole thing, but just for the sake of completion. I do appreciate everyone who participated and is helping bring it to a close.))
Faithe looked across Hearthglen in the early morning gloaming. A razor thin red line traced the horizon. It would be dawn soon and she needed to be on the road before full light. She didn't want company and starting out in the darkness might confuse anyone trying to follow her.
It was nearly noon when she reached Westfall. The Tenth Legion's tower rose in the difference. A few guards stood at the entrance, but she was sure it was most protected with enchantments as was the Pia tower. She pulled Ember to a stop in front of them. "I have business with the Regent, is he in?"
The guard looked at the other one and laughed. "It's before midday, lady. I doubt he is awake yet."
"I shall wait." She dismounted and watered her horse, then sat down on a short wall near the entrance.
Shortly thereafter, a large Draenei sauntered out as Draenei's were wont to do even when they were not intending to do so. He looked at the guards and then at Faithe. "You have business with the Tenth?"
"My name is Faithe Devereaux. I have come to see Meshqa."
"My name is Marico. Follow me." He turned on his heel and went back through the massive, iron-bound oak doors.
"I don't want to disturb the Regent if he's still sleeping."
He waved his hand in dismissal. "People die in their sleep, though I doubt if he is sleeping anyway." He pulled on a velvet rope and sat down in a chair near an odd little door above three granite steps covered with rich, red wool carpet.
"Sit," he said, "motioning to a chair across the room."
Faithe sat, obediently, and folded her hands in her lap.
Some moments later a lithe elf in the sheerest, pale lavender silk gown glided down the steps and looked toward Marico expectantly.
"Tell the Regent he has company."
"He's occupied," she replied imperiously.
"Tell him to get unoccupied."
Time passed and yet no Regent appeared. Marico stepped outside and returned with a bucket of fresh horse manure. He set it innocently on the first step below the door and then sat down in his chair again.
Faithe turned her head as a slight rumbling sounded behind the door. There was a soft clang and then silence. Marico stood up, put his foot on the small handle at the bottom of the door and looked at Faithe with a slight smile. There was muffled cursing behind the door. Marico lifted his hoof and raised the door. "It must be stuck, Regent."
"Shut up, you damned fool. I can see it's--" He boiled out of the dumbwaiter and stepped directly in the bucket of manure, falling down the steps butt over...bucket.
"Oh, my apologies, Regent. I was working in the garden and forgot about setting that there."
The Regent stormed up the steps, with two scantily clad elves following him. He reappeared a few minutes later with freshly washed hair and beard and richly appointed, horse manure free clothes.
"My dear," he said, bowing deeply from the waist and kissing her hand. She withdrew it when he started nibbling on it. She turned a shocked look to Marico who shrugged his shoulders. The two, nearly naked elves giggled at her surprise. "I have longed to see you once more. My poor heart ached for your company. The merest smile to bring everlasting joy to me."
She glanced at the elves. "It seems you were not too lonely."
Tenwit looked at them and then her his features a study of amazement. "Who? Them? My nieces only, I assure you, my dear. My heart belongs solely to you."
The girls nodded, somewhat solemnly. "Nieces," one said.
"I'm here to see Meshqa," Faithe said, anxious to change the subject and possibly escape the presence of the nearly naked women.
The Regent tugged somewhat nervously at his carefully tied cravat. "Of course, my dear. Are you sure you wouldn't like something to eat first. You must be famished." He patted his rounded stomach. "I know I'm about to starve."
One of the elves giggled. "Yes, he always has such healthy appetites."
"Perhaps later," Faithe replied, ignoring the insinuation and the Regent's slightly lewd leer.
Tenwit sighed. "Of course, follow me, dear heart." He led her to set of gray granite stairs covered with a lush crimson carpet. Her soft elk skin boots sank into the dense pile as they descended. The air became a bit more dank toward the bottom, but the mustiness was mostly muted by a familiar musky scent. It was an incense she knew well and had, at one time, considered pleasant until it became firmly entrenched in her mind as the prelude to torture.
"Meshqa's incense," she whispered.
"Hmmm? Oh, that. Yes, he whined about it until I located some for him to keep him quiet. The Sepha should be receiving a bill in the mail for it in addition to the original bill for his keep and the medical procedure. I spent a great deal of time and money to find this incense for her prisoner. I certainly hope she appreciates how much I have expended on him. She has nearly bankrupted me between stealing my best men and now the expenses incurred on this goblin.
"She's welcome to the dotard, of course. It's been years since he was of any use to me. Truly I feared I would have to start buying diapers for him before long. Does he still live?"
He ranted about the Commander, Rinhold, Fallenrose and Wulfgrin at every opportunity. The Commander had married Sepha Gentyl and was an extraordinarily fit fighting man though Meshqa constantly insinuated he had one foot in the grave. Rinhold, though quite mad, was sane enough to recognize the Regent's erratic mood swings that often sent him into tirades against his men for no reason. The others had also fled his abusive behavior. Marico seemed to be the only one who could put up with him for any length of time and she suspected he did simply because he enjoyed tormenting the gnome, though there was also a deep-seated loyalty to him
"I did not charge for the turtle bowl." He seemed extraordinarily proud of this.
Faithe remained quiet, unwilling to be drawn into a debate about the Commander and the others who had sought refuge with Pia. She didn't comment on the turtle bowl because it was really too bizarre to ponder.
The chamber was a combination workshop, laboratory, medical facility and holding cell. It was brightly lit with odd, pale blue, glowing globes suspended from thin black chains attached to the ceiling. The room was built of the same deep gray granite as the rest of the keep, but in the ceiling there were small silver disks that reflected the light of the globes. They were carefully arranged to represent the stars in the night sky. She recognized many of the constellations immediately. It was a remarkably accurate star map.
"Do you like the sky, darling?" He beamed with pride.
"Very much so." Her neck had a crick from looking up, but she was too mesmerized to look away.
"I'm a devoted astronomer, as you may have guessed." He paused and took her hand. "I have another map of the winter sky in my bed chambers if you'd like to look."
She looked down at him and withdrew her hand from his. He twirled the end of his mustache with his other hand. "No, but thank you. I just want to see Meshqa."
Tenwit looked very disappointed, but quickly regained his smile and pointed to the holding cell. "There is your dear goblin in the corner with his guard who is...what the hell are you doing?" he screeched.
There, sitting just outside the cell, was a guard with his hands extended toward the goblin. On his outstretched hands yarn wound round and round while Meshqa carefully pulled it free and wrapped it around the ball of yarn in his hands. On his bed was, what appeared to be, the beginnings of a crocheted blanket.
Meshqa looked up at them and grinned then turned his focus back to his ball of yarn. The guard jumped. "Nothing, sir. Just helping him wind his yarn. He's crocheting me a blanket."
"How did that idiot learn how to crochet?"
Meshqa looked hurt and stopped winding long enough to wipe a tear from his eye.
"My mother comes down to bring me lunch and keep me company, sir. She usually brings her crocheting with her and Mr. Meshqa seemed interested so she taught him."
Tenwit fumed as he paced back and forth, uttering the most colorful and unkind curses Faithe had ever heard. "I'm surrounded by idiots! Put that frigging yarn down and open the cell so Miss Faithe can visit with him."
The guard slipped his hands out of the yarn carefully and set it on the ground then pulled a ring with a key from his belt.
Faithe stepped forward, studying the goblin closely. There was something different about him.
"He's perfectly safe," Tenwit assured her. "We just keep him locked up so he won't hurt himself.
Faithe entered the cell somewhat reluctantly and sat down on the cot next to the goblin who at last recognized her. He flopped sideways, planting his head in her lap and gazed up at her longingly.
"Dove! I knew you'd come for me. Love like ours can never die."
She shuddered. He was the goblin who had held her for months and tortured her and yet he wasn't. What was different? She traced a finger across the ridge on his forehead. "What happened to him?"
Tenwit adjusted his cravat again. "Oh, that? We had a small mishap when I was performing a very delicate surgical procedure on him. He needed to be trepanned in order to accomplish this. However, the result is that he cannot tell a lie. It's a fascinating medical breakthrough and I expect to be inducted into the society any day."
She nodded slowly. "All right, but what's this ridge?"
Tenwit waved his hand in dismissal. "Oh, that? A small mishap. The top of his skull got mislaid and I had to use a turtle shell to close up the brain. but, the important thing is he cannot tell a lie! Go ahead, ask him anything."
Faithe looked down at the goblin who was still staring up at her adoringly...and drooling. "What is my name?"
"I just told you. Dove. Did he operate on you, too?"
"Did you hold me as your prisoner?"
He nodded his head vigorously. "Yes, yes! It was the most exciting time of my life. I entertained my lady love for months."
She grimaced. "You tortured me."
He frowned. "Torture is such a misunderstood word. I prefer entertain. By the way, you're getting lines at your eyes. You should find some good creams. No one wants a wrinkled up old woman. I mean I love you, and I'd take you back, but it's because of my deep abiding love."
"I need to know about your slaves," she said, changing the subject.
He brightened. "I have many. Remember when you were my slave and I branded you? Can I see it?"
She unconsciously put her hand to her left breast. "No. I just need to know about your slaves. You have 183 slaves?"
He pondered this. "No, more than that I'm sure though my brain is fuzzy, I can't remember."
"We have seventeen locations where you keep slaves." She read of the list she had committed to memory.
"No, quite sure there are more than that. I like even numbers."
"Nope, more than that."
"I'm not sure but probably more."
"Can you tell me the locations?"
"I don't remember them. The ones you have on your list, of course. I remember those. I can't remember the others." He licked his lips and smiled. "Can I have a kiss now? Can we go home now? Would you like to have my babies? I like babies. I'll crochet them blankets."
She stood up so quickly he almost rolled off the cot. "Let me out of here."
The guard swung the door open and she rushed through. "You've ruined him," she spat at Tenwit. "He's of no use to anyone now. Do you think the horde will trade one slave for him ?"
Tenwit looked offended. "Of course they will. Think of what a novelty it would be to have a goblin who cannot tell a lie."
"Honest Gob. Yes, I'm sure they elect him warchief or something."
"Does this mean you don't want to see my bedchambers?" Tenwit asked plaintively.
Faithe wasn't exactly sure why the Sepha had wanted her to come see Meshqa. His mind was so addled he couldn't remember where his brothels were or how many slaves he had. He would certainly be of no use to his crime family. Indeed, they would probably execute him when he was returned unless they had some very strong reason for keeping him alive she couldn't think of.
Wait. Of course they would keep him alive. He was the only one who could retrieve untold treasure that was secured in who knew how many different places. Even if they just found part of it, it was would make someone unimaginably wealthy.
He had taken Faithe to one of his vaults to show her a throne he wished to give her. Meshqa stood in front of the vault and spoke some words and then placed his hand in various squares on the ornately carved, black door.
"Ingenious, isn't it?" he crowed. "A brilliant blood elf devised this for me. No one but me can open my vaults. The recognize my voice and my hand, but the squares need to be touched in a certain order."
Faithe was exhausted and in great pain. She couldn't care less about his treasure or his ingenious vaults. Meshqa had broken both her legs when she had refused to kneel to him. While he did allow his physician to set her legs, he had refused to pay for any magical healing that would speed the process. She simply had to learn good manners, as befitted the chosen of Meshqa.
The vault door glowed green, Meshqa's favorite color and glided open effortlessly.
"And what happens when your brilliant blood elf decides to sell your secret to someone else for a higher price?" Faithe asked.
"Well, there are voice replicators, though I have seen none that can fool these doors yet, but I believe my beloved Kel'Tar will be loyal unto death." Meshqa clapped his hands causing several pale gold globes to flicker to life one by one and light up the room.
Faithe looked about the room which was stacked with every imaginable treasure. Like Meshqa, it was impeccably organized. Stacks of gold coins rested in crates. Jewels were mounded high in several chests. An elegant floor mirror framed in intricately molded gold and encrusted with glittering gems stood near the door. Meshqa was admiring himself in the mirror while she looked around the room.
"I think I'll have thin mirror brought back to the palace," he said, smoothing down his coattails. "I'd forgotten how much I enjoy this mirror even if it once belonged to my much hated father."
He was still prattling on about his father when Faithe gasped as the last two globes came to life. There, on the back wall, was the desiccated corpse of a blood elf in rich scarlet robes. He had been attached to the wall with heavy iron spikes driven through his wrists, legs and shoulders. On his head was a heavy golden crown with diamonds the size of walnuts.
Meshqa looked around and giggled. "Oh yes, you've met Kael'Tar. He was so dedicated to me he decided to stay and keep watch over my treasure for all eternity. I wish you could have seen him when I gave him the crown as payment for his services. He was so excited his hands trembled. I had to help him put it on."
Faithe pulled her horrified gaze away from the elf and stared instead at the black marble walls with veins of gold running through it. The light awakened the glowing veins. She kept her attention riveted on them, trying to imagine patterns.
"Where was I? Oh, yes." Meshqa pointed to a small, but beautiful throne of gold with red velvet cushions. "Rark, put Dove in the throne. I want to see if it fits her."
Faithe shook her head, clearing the vault and the memory from her mind and then looked back at Meshqa and sighed. She despised what he had done to her and others, but she no longer feared him. Maybe that was the real reason she had been sent to see him.
Zizzikky yelped as the large club connected solidly with her shoulder. She knew it was easier in the long term if she just kept her mouth shut, but she felt something crack with that last blow. She bit her tongue so hard holding back the sobs threatening to escape that she wound up swallowing a small quantity of blood.
"How you like that, witch?" chuckled the orc standing over her, hefting his cudgel menacingly. She knew better than to respond. He'd only take it as his cue to start the beating again. The little Goblin woman just shut her eyes and steeled herself for whatever violence her captor had left in him...
Six months earlier
Zikky uttered a quiet plea to the Spirits that her plan wasn't completely insane, squared her shoulders, and located the specific dock-supervisor mentioned in the note. He was supposed to be on the slaver's payroll.
"Hey-oh, youse dere! I'm lookin' to see a man about some girls. Where's YOUR boss at?"
The brutish Goblin looked up slowly from his clipboard, replying to the much smaller woman with a derisive snort. "I'm da boss 'round here, sweetheart. Whatchu want?"
Zizzikky grinned, cooing back at him, "I gots some 'ladies' what work for me that your employer might be interested in acquiring. I'd like to meet with him to discuss sellin' him these 'ladies'."
The unnamed supervisor considered the idea a moment, beaming internally at the possibility of bringing Meshqa new girls. "Okay, I'll bite. How many and what kindsa girls we talkin' bout?"
"The best kinds, toots. Alliance girls. Humans. Elfies. Even one a dem Dranny girls. Already broken, too. I just needs to clear out some space at the brothel. Too many mouths to feed, an' these Alliace girls eat more than the others, what with being all curvy in the right spots an' whatnot." Zikky was pouring it on pretty thick, but the man seemed to be eating it up. He was grinning a snaggle-toothed grin from one enormous ear to the other.
Zizzikky woke up slowly, her vision blurry and her head throbbing. She knew she wasn't waking up from sleep. This feeling indicated she was regaining consciousness after a pretty brutal beating. Again.
She had no clue how long she had been out, but it was dark enough in her cell that it was most likely night shift for the guards. She sat up as quickly as her reeling head would allow and slunk into the corner of the cell, where the shadows were darkest, hoping the night guards didn't notice she was awake. Not that being asleep would prevent their depravities, but she found they were more apt to "visit her", as they leeringly referred to their activities in her cell, when she was awake and able to fully experience what they had in store for her.
As she heard footfalls from down the corridor she bit her lip hard enough to draw blood, trying to keep herself from sobbing audibly as she began tearing up in fearful anticipation of what was likely coming...
((More coming, just wanted to get this up while I'm working on the rest.))
Edited by Zizzikky on 9/6/2012 12:14 PM PDT
The small Goblin woman caught her breath, a difficult task through the sobbing. She hadn't been quite silent and invisible enough, and the Orcish guard had seen her in the corner, a leering smile growing on his face as he called out to his partner. She had come to expect long and brutal assaults out of her various attackers. This time had been brutal, but at least they were quick about it. She could still hear them laughing and congratulating each other down the hall as she snaked out her arm to retrieve her clothes. She examined the rags before she redressed, hoping no unrepairable damage had been done.
When she had calmed herself down and was dressed again she moved quietly to the cot in her cell, reaching underneath. She pulled out a cracked plate with various little tidbits on it; a half-gone candle, a handful of dirt, a small bowl of water, a sealed-yet-empty jar. Zikky quickly went about arranging the items in a makeshift ring in the middle of her cell. Once everything was in place to her liking, she sat down gingerly (her backside was still sore) in the middle of the circle and closed her eyes slowly, doing her best to hold back the tears.
Even if she had wanted to, Zizzikky's voice refused to come out in anything louder than a whisper. Her throat was too raw from screaming and crying. "Please. Hear me, Spirits. I don't know how much longer I can do this. I need some sort of help. Some sign. Tell me there is help coming. I cant--- Why won't you talk to me anymore? Why won't you answer me?? I'm scared..." Her prayer faded into more sobbing.
Edited by Zizzikky on 9/14/2012 8:30 PM PDT
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