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Zherron sat alone in his room, puffing on his pipe. He had seen Narnicka and Genevra back to their home, and decided to stay close - checking into a room at the nearby inn.
What a crazy couple of weeks it had been! Sending Amendera to help find a missing tauren, hunt for the kidnapped priestess...and now an assassination attempt on Genevra. She was fortunate she had been found when she was, and that he had been able to develop an antidote as quickly as he had. He breathed a silent thank you to Krennan Aranas, Greymane's personal alchemist, for pointing him towards a career in alchemy.
The search for Faithe had ended much as he had feared. The barbarian orcs had probably ripped the poor girl to shreds and feasted on her flesh. Or worse, they had fed her to that Forsaken he had heard about...he had seen plenty of instances of the Forsaken feeding on the corpses of those Gilneans and night elves they killed during their brutal invasion and occupation. By the Scythe, there had been blood EVERYWHERE. And then, upon his return to Stormwind, he hears that Genevra was found unconscious on the steps of the Cathedral of Light, and immediately rushed to her aid...
Genevra had gone to sleep at her home, recovering from the poison that had been purged out of her system by his serum. She would be weak, suffer from dizzy spells, and probably suffer momentary lapses in concentration and memory...but she would recover. But the fact that he had heard the name of her attempted assassin, a woman who claimed to have found her on the stairs of the Cathedral, a woman who claimed to trust her, be her friend...a woman who was very nearly her murderer...
It surprised him that he worried so much about someone he had met only recently, but there was something about her that made him think. Perhaps it was because she saw him as a man first and foremost, rather than as a monster...and she had been mere moments from death when he arrived on the scene.
Death. It stalked him. The death of his father to the blade of the man who became the Lich King...the deaths of his mother, his wife and his three daughters at the hands of the feral beast that had controlled his body...all those Gilneans who had died fighting for their homeland against the Forsaken invaders, and those brave minutemen who fought them at Andorhal...and now the death of Faithe. He had known nothing but killing, war and death for nearly thirty years. He was tired of it.
There is too much death here, he thought. This is not what I want. I've seen too damn much of it, fighting amongst ourselves, fighting the Forsaken, fighting the Horde... He sighed. Damn it all.
As the last embers of his pipe died out, he set it aside and walked outside, a ways away from the busy town. With a shaky breath, he went on one knee in the grass and murmured an old Gilnean prayer, commending Faithe's soul to a peaceful journey to the hereafter...
Jazzy sat in her room and contemplated, gazing at the ring she had yet to use. It would be risky beyond any semblance of reason....but something about the scene where they found the charred body did not make sense. The bones seemed different than she had expected, as if the body were placed. The silver hair....she pulled it from her pack again and examined it closely. It seemed coarse...aged...not the silver of a young woman with silver hair....
She stuffed the hair into a small pouch. Taking her time to clean her leathers and then to take a quick bath as the idea formed in her mind. This would not be easy, but she hoped she could convince the only warlock who seemed to be willing to fight this war to help her.
The horse farm at Eastvale was bustling with activity as she rode her sabercat up the road. She glanced around at the many buildings before she spotted the small manor house on the hill. An inconspicuous sign of gentility indicated this as the residence of Wallen Dovercliff. She sent the saber off to hunt murlocs, stepping inside the modest home and asking for Mr. Dovercliff. A servant bowed low and offered her refrshments. She politely declined and the servant went to fetch Wallen.
With the grace of a cat Jazzy sunk into the chair in the sitting room and waited. A rustle of silk caught her attention and Wallen Dovercliff appeared in the doorway, smiling. "AH..a vision of loveliness has graced us this day. How may I aid you my dear?" His silk suit and dashing cravat set off his brown eyes and reddish hair. Jazzy rose from the chair and took his hand. "I am Jaszmine Shadowstar." He bowed low and took her hand, brushing it with his lips, as his eyes took in her slim figure. Jazzy allowed his genteel manner and smiled at his courtliness.
"I am here to ask a couple of favors, the first being simple enough for an alchemist of your stature...the second hinging on the results of the first. I have some gold to cover your expenses." her violet eyes caught and held his as she stood calmly before him.
"My dear, your beautiful presence here is payment enough for whatever you ask....what is the first request?" his warm brown eyes melting into the depths of hers unflinching.
Jazzy took a deep breath and smiled, taking out the pouch of silver hair and handing it to him. "This is hair from a human, we found it in a cave in Splintertree Post, Ashenvale. We...that is the group I was with...were searching for the missing priestess Faithe. The body was burned badly, beyond recognition...though some of the hair was lying there next to the body. I picked it up...assuming we had found Faithe. I was shocked and dismayed at finding this atrocity...I simply did not search the area further...I reported it to the Commander Cray Auctin. We did not have time to do anything else but flee, the alarms were going out to bring more troops in...we had to be teleported out by mage." By the end of her discourse, Jazzy's eyes were tearing up again and her deep regret caused her voice to falter.
Wallens eyes were wide with intensity as Jazzy finished her tale. He took the pouch and examined the silver hair closely. "This is certainly a challenge...my dear...let us go to my lab and I will attempt to discern the origin of this hair." He rose and indicated a doorway in the back of the room. His confident stride to the doorway as he opened it and allowed her to enter first, was a sure sign of a gentleman.
The lab was small but efficient. Bunsen burners set upon tables and rows of vials and chemicals lined the shelves. It was neat and orderly, and the mark of a professional in its cleanliness. Wallen pulled out a few hairs and handed the pouch back to Jazzy. "I only need a few to run this test, keep the rest in case you need it for evidence." His eyes were calm and sure as he placed the hairs in a shallow dish and rummaged the shelves looking for the right vial of chemicals.
After several small tests and looking at the hair under a special scope, Wallen turned to Jazzy with a smile. "I think I can say with confidence this is the hair of a very old woman, not a young one...my professional opinion is this is not the hair of Faithe.." his warm smile and gentle manner convinced Jazzy of his sincerety.
Jazzy smiled and bowed low to Wallen, "I thank you for your words...it takes a huge burden of sadness from me...I must report this to Lady Gentyl. She may wish to speak with you on this, I am sure she will be very happy to hear this news. Though now the other favor must be asked....I have this ring..." and she outlined the task she needed Wallen the warlock to do for her.
Vanressa walked toward the mage tower when she rounded a corner on the canals and stopped dead in her tracks, somewhat startled. Arlston stood before her, looking every bit the socially maladjusted knife of the night that he had claimed to be.
"Arlston! Heavens, but with the recent business regarding Genevra you should hardly appear out of nowhere with an appearance worthy of arrest by the city watch."
"Sorry... ma'am. You look busy."
"Quite. Things have been happening abroad in Kalimdor, and the company of Gentyl has need of our assistance."
"You want me to watch again?"
"No. I need you to consider something a bit more in the realm of study and appraisal. Do not worry, it will be nothing as declasse as you would otherwise suspect."
Vanressa handed the rogue a small piece of paper that turned invisible as soon as it left her hands, and yet was clearly demonstrated to be in the grasp of Arlston as he managed to put it in his satch without much trouble. The two then vanished from the streets without a trace.
71 Dwarf Hunter
After returning to Stormwind City from the search for Faithe, Baridin, Jaszmin and Cray told Gentyl what the group had found. She took the news as well as anyone could expect. Baridin was mostly quite while they talked. He kept going over and over what they found in his head, something didn't feel right. At one point when they were talking he had an idea. "Faithe may not be dead." The little room they were in got quite, with all their eyes on Baridin. He then told them that the Orcs could have figured out that they were being followed and killed another human, burned her body and taken some of Faithe's hair and left it there to convince us to give up. After some discussion the small group went to tend to their equipment. Baridin went to maintain his rifle and copter, feed his pet and think. He started to look into a new rifle and scope. And some explosives. After some prep he took the first ship back to Kalimdor to do some searching.
Faithe was too emotionally drained to respond when the riders mounted up. She stepped up on Cinder, almost mechanically. The silk robes were more fitted than her old ones so the skirt lifted on her legs when she settled in the saddle. Another time she would have cared.
Maybe the goblin wanted her for healing. Would that be so bad? Even if it was horde, it was still healing.
If that was all he wanted, why had he looked at her teeth and felt of her body, nodding in approval? He'd even remarked he liked women with a little meat on their bones.
She put it out of her mind.
As much as she could.
Rua reached down and patted the young woman who was smitten with him. He handed her a small sack of coins and a beautiful necklace of turquoise stones set in silver. It wasn't a marriage bed, but she seemed happy. The small fortune would do her well and Faithe had no doubt being favored of Rua would make her all the more desirable to many men.
Once again they surrounded her when they left the camp. Rua had taken few chances of her escaping before. He was taking less now.
Cinder struggled to keep up with the powerful worgs, but the fast pace they had set and the missing shoe were taking their toll. Shortly after mid day Faithe had to drum her ribs to try and make her keep up. The little mare responded and gave Faithe what she had, but she was spent and lame. Faithe could ask no more or her and slowed her to a jog.
Rua looked around to see why the riders had slowed. "Make her keep up," he ordered sternly.
"She's lame," Faithe snapped. "You're killing her."
He wheeled his worg around and galloped back to her, sweeping her out of the saddle. "Kill her," he said to one of the warriors.
Faithe struggled in his arms. "No, just let her go. It isn't her fault."
"Better a quick death than the wolves hamstring her and eat her alive." He nodded to the warrior who jerked Faithe's bags from the back of the saddle. Cinder looked at Faithe as if questioning what was happening. Her front foot was cocked, taking the weight off it. Faithe could see the pain in her eyes, but she couldn't bear to let them kill her.
"Please, just let her go. Give her a chance."
Rua nodded to the orc who took out his knife. With one swift slash, Cinder's throat was open. Blood sprayed forward in an angry gush and then the mare fell to her side and thrashed for a few moments while she bled out.
Faithe screamed and beat on Rua in fury.
"She was a good horse," he grunted as Faithe pummeled him. "Give her respect and let her die quick." He tossed Faithe to the orc next to him as if she were child.
The warrior pushed her behind him. "Hold on. We ride hard."
The worg reached around to snap at her, but the warrior jerked the animals head up and hit his shoulder with a quirt.
They didn't slow down until they reached Orgrimmar. The city was still as forbidding as before. Her arms ached from gripping the warrior, but she held him tighter out of fear. Would the guards tear her apart when Rua's party rode in with her?
Rua was right. Better to make a quick end of it. She would shove herself away from the orc when they rode in the gates and the guards would kill her before Rua could stop them. She pushed herself back, lessening her grip. The shadows of the great gates covered them like a cloak. She heard the clamor of the great city. She smelled the cooking fires and the odd spices remembered from her childhood.
Rua shouted a greeting to the guards as they loped up. Just a little bit further and it would all be over. They passed two guards at the gate. There was a larger group just inside. With a sudden twist, she shoved against the warrior and launched herself off the back of the worg. The one just behind her jumped over her to avoid trampling her. She was on her hands and knees and looked around quickly to see where the guards were. One looked down and met her gaze, confusion rapidly replaced by surprise and then fury. He raised his axe and Faithe smiled.
Edited by Gentyl on 5/25/2011 11:12 PM PDT
It was like a whirlwind in Westfall. She'd been picked up, twirled violently around twisting her gut with emotion and then slamming her to earth.
Cray delivered the news. There was no way to sugar coat it or make it easier and so he had done what he does best and bluntly laid out the report. They had searched for clues and been attacked. Somehow in the confusion they found a mine with a body. There were strands of silver hair left but not much else.
Gentyl closed her eyes and leaned heavily on one arm. She tried to clear the dizziness, but it engulfed her and she felt herself fall forward. When she awoke, she was surrounded by concerned friends. Lady Vanressa stood in the doorway. Desmend guarded the other door. Jazzy, Cray and Baridin sat around her.
Jazzy took another sip of whiskey and passed the flask to Cray. Baridin finished drinking and wiped his beard, then passed it back to Jazzy.
"I can get word to Red Earth without involving couriers," Vanressa said.
Gentyl nodded. The Ishnu needed to know there was a good possibility Faithe was dead. In the back of her mind she didn't want to accept it, but it was the truth. She had known all along there was a very real chance Rua would kill her. He had a certain code he lived by. Part of it suffered no humans on horde lands.
"It could be someone else," Barirdin said. "I don't think it was her."
They talked a bit longer and then Gentyl stood and brushed herself off. She thanked Cray for leading the expedition to find Faithe. At some point, Gentyl would need to find out who all went so she could thank them. For now, she needed to be alone.
"Thank you again," she said, and walked out the door.
Traveler was grazing nearby. He raised his head when she walked out the door and nickered at her. She gathered up the reins and mounted. When they were out of the city she slid off the horse and melted to the ground. The tears flowed freely here. She beat her fist on the ground in frustration and cussed. For two minutes she let her guard down and cried and wailed and didn't worry about being strong. For two minutes she simply mourned her friend. For two minutes she was a woman, not the sepha.
Then she stood and remounted Traveler.
She had plans to make.
Edited by Gentyl on 5/25/2011 11:52 PM PDT
Jaszmin stood calm in the center of the working area of the warlock's den in Stormwind. The eerie patterns on the floor glowed softly as Wallen prepared for the incantation. His Felguard stood watch by the doorway, making snide remarks. The ring on her finger grew warm to the skin and Jazzy raised her hand in front of her face to stare at it curiously, "What will this do to me Wallen? Will I even remember who I am...with this enchantment?" She hesitated as she turned her gaze to his dark brown eyes.
"You should remember everything...however you know that for all intents and purposes....you must be who you appear to be..or you will die most horribly...I do not think any member of the Horde will take kindly to what they see as a traitor...are you sure you want to do this?" his voice calm and deadly serious. The darkness surrounding her and the seriousness of his voice made her think for but a moment. With a deep sigh...she nodded.
"I must do this...if I am to find Faithe and see if she is well. And to report her location so that others can rescue her. Even....if I am found out...if she lives and is returned home...I will suffer whatever consequences....if I can return to you to reverse this...all the better." with a confidence she felt from deep within, Jazzy nodded. "Do it now and remember to tell Gentyl for me...I do as I must and she should not send others until I can find Faithe and send a report. I will use the AAMS as couriers."
Wallen nodded and smiled at the beautiful elven woman before him. "I will remember to tell Gentyl, and I will make sure no one knows of it either, the fewer that know the better. I admire your spirit Jaszmin...Light be with you..." and he began the ritual.
The Felguard stood resolute by the doorway, watching to make sure they were not disturbed. Wallen called forth the darkness of the Shadow magic and began chanting a strange language Jazzy did not understand. The ring on her finger glowed brightly as she remembered to concentrate on the form she wished. The image of the dark haired mage flickered superimposed on the tall elven rogue and Jazzy felt her world reeling in confusion.
With a loud pop and the smell of incense and ozone heavy in the air the Night elf rogue found herself in the form of a Sindorei mage. Her long black locks fell past her shoulders, streaks of purple nether energies cascaded down her lithe and shapely form. She looked at the warlock standing in front of her and smiled. His gaze fixed on her in unabashed admiration. "You are stunningly beautiful, my dear...do you have a name to go with your new form?" he licked his lips and tried unsuccessfully to keep his eyes on her now brilliant turquoise orbs.
"I am now known as the Mage Alviira Silverhawk, and your eyes will fall out if you keep staring at me like that..." Alviira smiled and picked up the robe on the table and slipped it on. Her blue green eyes danced with amusement as she stepped closer to the warlock. "You did well Wallen...I like this new form..." she glanced in the mirror on the wall and smoothed the silken robe over her slim figure. With a smirk she stepped up to Wallen and planted a sweet kiss on his cheek. "Go now and find Gentyl, I must head to Orgrimmar..." and with her new powers of teleportation she left the room in a shining burst of arcane energy.
Wallen stood transfixed on the afterglow a moment as he touched the spot on his face where her sweet lips had met his flesh. With a deep sigh he shook his head to clear the non sensical notions and got his cape and staff. He had a mission now...hopefully Jazzy/Alviira would survive this nightmare and Faithe would be returned home safely.
((This here is a bit belated, but RL has made this cow a little too tired to concentrate on writing before now. Hope it catches folks up well enough on Red’s point of view.))
“We are going to fight now.”
Those are all the words Abominus had to say to compel Red Earth to leave, the cries of battle falling away behind her as the Grim Maw’s version of justice was dealt. You messed with one Grim Maw, you messed with them all. At times, tenfold. It was not surprising later to hear that they had taken their destructive vengeance all the way to Stormwind and the Blue Recluse where the false accusations implicating both Abominus and Red Earth seemed to have stemmed. Though it was the backstabbing attempts made by an Alliance rogue upon one of Grim Maw’s druids during the meeting at Booty Bay that had really set things in motion.
She had not come there to fight and so as soon as Abominus gave his warning, she mounted up quickly and flew off to avoid being forced to raise up arms in defense. She did not care what anyone thought of her running. They could call her coward for all she cared. She was intent on saving her focus now on something more important to her and turning to violence at such an unexpected meeting between Gentyl, Abominus and herself would do nothing to help.
Red Earth knew who she was and for her that was all that mattered. For the most part. She carried herself with honor, humility and honesty. Those who took a moment to know her learned that quickly. Those who called her otherwise were simply unwilling to see it for whatever reason and only time and the right moment would change that opinion if it ever did. Though it did not help make her life any easier, and at times even made it outright dangerous, she blamed none of them for misunderstandings.
But this meeting with Gentyl had left her with misgivings. Though that was putting it lightly. She was livid. And she knew if she did not leave, she may do something she might regret. She was already regretting taking the moment to step away from the meeting to angrily admonish the troll, Zularn, through the hearthstone for his curiosity filled antics in Stormwind which had mistakenly been seen as an attack. She knew her anger well enough and where it could lead. This level of animosity happened rarely enough that she recognized it right away. And if she did not direct it, there would be more unwanted consequences to deal with, and she had had enough of that already.
Because although Red Earth was willing to accept and deal with the mistaken assumptions created by the ignorant concerning her character, when someone created false accusations about her words and actions, it was no different than someone raising a weapon against her body. Worse, perhaps, as it was an attack upon her very soul. And this letter alleging that Red Earth had made a deal with Abominus to trade Faithe to him for a debt owed to the Grim Maw was just that, a deliberate stab upon her character.
This letter which Gentyl had asked to meet about to find out if it was true, it was riddled with nothing but lies. Full of words Red Earth would never use much less knew in the first place. And Red Earth would never hide her name or intent to anyone in letter or speech. She always gave her name in full. And to make a deal with Abominus and the Grim Maw? The Grim Maw and the Ishnu Por Ah had never had “business dealings” of any kind that they would owe them a debt of any sort. And there were more than enough people who knew just how much Red Earth tried not to have dealings with Abominus because of his insane infatuation with her, rebuffing any of his attempts to get close to her, even threatening his demise.
Whoever created this farce planned her harm. Why they had done so, who knew. But seeing as it was circulating mostly among the Alliance, it was safe to assume the intent was to feed the already angered minds among them against her, at the very least, if not the Horde and their allies in whole. Make her seem no different than the rest of the “savages” many of the Alliance already considered the people they could not understand.
There were now things to be done to try and eliminate these falsehoods. Finding Faithe would need to take more priority. If she was still alive and could be found, she could tell them all the truth of her whereabouts and that none among the Ishnu Por Ah harmed her or had anything to do with her disappearance. She prayed to Por Ah as she headed back to Mulgore that the girl was safe and alive.
She would also search for this other as well, the one who had created these lies about her. And if Red Earth were to ever discover who this person was, they, and they alone, once exposed would know what savagery truly lied within her.
Rulik’s attempts to seek out information among his Orc brethren were still coming up empty. Perhaps it was because of his known association now with the Ishnu Por Ah these days. Red Earth had caused a small scene in Orgrimmar when Faithe was first taken from them. Whatever the reason, Red Earth would have to delve further down other paths.
She had not delved deep enough into the story the Mulgore Protectors at the Great Wall had given her about Faithe’s abduction. And so she returned to them once more to ask them more questions and attain more detailed information.
And with the right questions she did indeed learn much more. The guards had not simply handed Faithe over to the orcs of the Horde just to maintain diplomacy as she had first concluded. Those who had come to take her came in overwhelming numbers and very well armed. A united group, but none that they recognized. They did not bear the armor of the Kor’kron or the standard Orgrimmar military. Yet they were definitely more organized than a simple troop of brigands or slave traders. From what they told her now, the Protectors had every right to think of their lives and believe the Orcs’ threats that they had no choice in the matter but to give up the girl.
Then one more fact was revealed that caught Red Earth’s attention immensely. They told her that the human had grown fearful when the orcs took her into custody. That she began to plead with them not to be taken away when she saw the leader of the band of orcs. She recognized him.
Hadn’t Gentyl mentioned to her that Faithe had been in the Barrens with her compliment of ill-chosen bodyguards because she feared being attacked and captured again by certain people?
Cray's sleep had grown even more restless even as his wounds healed. His anger had subsided, some, into worry -- a lot of worry.
He was concerned about the message Vanressa had sent to the Ishnu Por Ah. How would Red Earth react to the news of suspected treachery? Had the message even reached her? He'd heard no word of any reply yet.
He was more concerned, and wracked with guilt, over the... well... the omission he'd made to Meriste. He had left her believing the body was that of Faithe's, even though he no longer believed it was. He knew, however, that if there was a glimmer of hope, Meriste would charge back into the search. She was in no condition to do that -- but she would discover his deception eventually.
He'd spent a few days recuperating, although mostly awake, in Westbrook Garrison. He could not stand to be cooped up any longer -- he was going into Stormwind to put his mind at ease.
Flying high above Azshara, Jazzy guided her dark gryphon through the pass on the outskirts of Orgrrimar. The evening was warm and not much light shone from stars, the moon was down. The drums of war beat constantly in the orc fortress, every gate was guarded and wyverns flew overhead. Using the cover of shrubs and bushes Jazzy crept close to the gathering of Tauren, trolls and undead. There were few blood elves and several goblins as well. Her ring glowed softly and she took it off. Her disguise would do no good if she could not stealth through the alleys in search of any sign of Faithe.
She could not make out the words of those gathered, so she simply skirted the area and looked for cages or tied prisoners. The entire city was a mass of twisted paths, elevators took people from level to level. There seemed to be some segregation beween races, with trolls in one area and goblins in another. The tauren seemed to be gathered in one section as well. The Forsaken and the Orcs seemed to be everywhere.
Jazzy only covered half of the area before she had to leave. Morning was close and she feared being spotted by trackers with their hounds. With heavy heart she flew high into Azshara and the hills surrounding Orgrimmar and camped in a secluded spot to sleep.
As she settled into her bedroll she could not help but feel drawn to the honor and dignity of the tauren Redearth. There was no reason not to help her and restore the good name of the Ishnu Por Ah. She would be honest with Redearth and let the tauren know that not all Alliance were set on destroying the tauren homeland. If she gave her the truth...would she still accept the help of a Kaldorei in disguise? Jazzy drifted off into a restless sleep.
It was a warm, sluggish afternoon. Meriste sat with her back to a tree in the grass outside the Blue Recluse, watching a bird darting around in branches high above her. Shafts of the fading sunlight pierced through holes in the foliage and created warm spots of sun on the ground, one of which was occupied by a large black cat.
Taking a bite of an apple, Meriste turned to regard the animal. “You act like an oversized house cat sometimes. You know that?”
She’ahu slowly opened her eyes, lazily stared at the draenei for a moment, then turned away with a loud yawn.
Meriste watched the cat, taking another bite of her apple. Fearsome beast one moment, lazy pet the next. Cats and their personalities will never cease to amaze me.
Several days had passed since the return of the search party. Injuries had faded almost completely, and Meriste felt refreshed from a few days of well-deserved rest. Still, she couldn’t shake a lingering sadness; she felt that she had failed. A walk, a meal, and something to drink, she told herself, will do me some good. And so it was that she had found herself beneath the boughs of a tree in the warm summer sun.
Lost in her thoughts, she almost failed to notice that Cray had walked up beside her.
She looked up to her visitor. “Oh, hello, Cray.”
“How are you?”
“I feel okay. Much better, after a few days of rest and a good meal. And you?” He seemed distressed. “I’m afraid I haven’t had much of an appetite myself, lately.” Looking down at the ground, she nodded her head slowly, sadness in her eyes. “I understand.”
Cray hesitated for a moment, shifting restlessly. He seemed guilty about something. “I have a bit of a confession to make, and I hope you can forgive me…” The words trailed off into an uncomfortable silence.
Confused, Meriste looked up at Cray, her eyes focused intently on his expression. “Yes?”
“The, uhm…the body we found in the battle at Splintertree Post?”
“…yes? What about it…?”
“I don’t believe that it was Faithe’s.” He went on, explaining with words that spilled out quickly: “I would have told you, but you were in no condition to run back to Kalimdor after the battle, nor was I in any condition to stop you...please, forgive me for not telling you sooner.”
A wave of shock passed over Meriste, momentarily stunning her. “…w-what? You think she’s still alive?” She rose to her feet and stared at Cray directly.
“I think there is a good chance for it. I believe that more searching has been done. That is something you’d need to speak to Sepha Gentyl about.”
She stood for a moment in silence, attempting to compose her thoughts. “…it is a relief, but…” Her words abruptly stopped, seeming to linger in the warm, hazy air. I could’ve been searching...I have not failed, but by remaining here…no. My body needed this. My mind needed this. Meriste looked at Cray, not with anger but with appreciation. “…you were trying to keep me from harm.”
Cray’s gaze lowered to the ground. “I am sorry for this.”
“No, don’t be. I needed the rest. All that matters is that you came forward to tell me the truth. Thank you.” He nodded.
“But what makes you think the body isn’t Faithe?”
“We spoke with a shaman. Had it been Faithe, the hair should’ve burned with the body.”
Meriste quietly milled over the details in her head. The last lead before Splintertree was a horse - a horse with a missing shoe. A thought raced through her mind.
“What about Faithe’s horse? Has anyone looked for tracks of a horse with a missing shoe leading east into Azshara? Surely the orcs wouldn’t have needed to keep a lame horse if they had killed Faithe.” She could feel her confidence rising again. “If Faithe is still alive…”
“…then we still have to find her.”
Meriste raised a hand to touch her face. Frowning, she shook her head. “The trail, if it is still there, will not be fresh. This will make the search more difficult.”
“If others have been searching, there may be leads.”
She nodded, acknowledging Cray’s words. “I hope that there are new leads. But I still think that I should go back to Ashenvale and make my way to Azshara.”
“Please, speak with Sepha before you go.”
“Do you know where she is?”
“She said she was heading to the office.”
“Then I will look for her there.” Meriste turned to walk away. “Thank you for your understanding, Meriste.” She stopped, looking back at Cray. “I would have done the same. Thank you.”
She hesitated, thinking. “Cray…”
“If Sepha agrees that I should return to Ashenvale, would you accompany me? This is dangerous territory. I would be a fool to go alone after what happened last time.”
“Of course I will go with you.”
Meriste smiled. “Then I look forward to it," she said. "I must go find Sepha. Please excuse me.”
Edited by Meriste on 5/28/2011 8:51 PM PDT
When Meriste entered the offices of the barracks, she found Gentyl sitting at a table, reviewing a stack of papers. Although she didn’t want to interrupt the Sepha when she was busy, Meriste felt that her matter was urgent. She greeted the Sepha with a salute, sat down at the table, and immediately began to speak.
“Cray has told me that there is new evidence that Faithe may still be alive.”
Setting down her pen and looking up from the papers, the Sepha spoke. “A large war party was seen riding into Orgrimmar. A human woman was seen with them.”
Meriste considered the words. If Faithe had traveled into Orgrimmar with a war party, there would be evidence connecting Splintertree with Orgrimmar – she just had to find it. “I see. I was wondering if you believe that it would be helpful for me to return to Ashenvale to look for more information on the end of the old trail.”
Gentyl looked at Meriste, her expression kind but serious. “Anything would help, but I don’t want anyone in danger.”
“If I go, Cray has agreed to go with me. But before I do, I need to know the most recent findings. Have any scouts gone into Orgrimmar?”
“Yes, but no one has found Faithe.”
“I believe that a link needs to be found between old evidence and new evidence. You said that a party was seen riding into Orgrimmar with a human woman. Did your scout mention seeing Faithe’s horse?”
Gentyl shook her head. “No, the woman was riding a worg with an orc warrior.”
The front door opened and the sounds of the city rushed into the room. Cray entered the offices and shut the door behind him. “Hail, friends.”
“Hello, Cray.” He moved over to join the conversation, taking a seat at the table.
Meriste looked down at the table, staring intently at the wood grain. Completely lost in her thoughts, she considered the new report. Thoughts formed into words. “It’s strange that the horse was not with the party. How certain are we that this woman was Faithe?”
“We are not certain – all we know is that it was a human woman riding with a large war party.”
Cray nodded. “It sounds like Faithe’s situation.”
Meriste stood, placing her hands on the table. “I want to seek out more information, and to hopefully find Faithe’s horse. It may give us more certainty about the identity of the human woman seen entering Orgrimmar. I wish to prepare for the journey at once, Sepha. With your approval, I leave for Ashenvale first thing in the morning.”
The Sepha nodded. “I will agree to that.”
Cray rose from his seat. “I will go with Meriste, if Sepha approves.”
“Thank you, Sepha.” With a final salute, Meriste moved to the door. There were many things she needed to do before getting sleep for the night; a list was forming in her mind. “Good night, Sepha. Cray.”
“Good night, Meriste. Light keep you." Gentyl returned to her stack of papers.
“And you, my lady.” Meriste bowed graciously, then hurried out into the streets of Stormwind to prepare for the next day's journey.
Edited by Meriste on 5/28/2011 9:36 PM PDT
Flying high above the treetops in Azshara, Jazzy searched the roads blow, looking for some kind of sign of a large party passing through. Along one of the side paths she saw some buzzards circling a corpse.
The gryphon circled low and Jazzy pulled him up to stare at the grizzly scene. It was the remains of a horse. Pulling a rag over her face against the smell, Jazzy stepped off the gryphon to get a closer look.
From a few moments examination, Jazzy could tell the horse had been lame and its throat had been sliced. A humane way of disposing of a no longer useful mount. Better than being torn apart by wolves. Searching around for tracks, she found the same worg tracks they had followed into Ashenvale. One seemed to be carrying a heavier burden.
Jazzy knew that the words that Faithe had been found would bring out the many in Stormwind who would be willing to hit the fortress of Orgrimmar with full force. That would be suicidal...she needed to find a small group of stealthy individuals who could sneak in and snatch her out.
It was obvious that if they could find Faithe and get her to a safe enough spot, she could use a hearthstone or perhaps a mage portal to escape. Jazzy could think of only a few who would be brave enough to get close to Orgrimmar.
(A report to the Sepha regarding the events of Sunday, as told from Meriste’s perspective. It is placed on Gentyl’s desk. It appears to have been written carefully on neat pieces of paper, but the handwriting is an inelegant scribble.)
Late last night, I spoke with you about taking a journey with Cray to Ashenvale. Of concern to me was the location of Faithe’s horse. The orcs would have had no use for a lame horse had Faithe died at Splintertree, and so with the surfacing of all new evidence it is my firm belief that she did not die at that site. With this in mind, I consulted you about picking up the old trail. After our discussion, I went into town to gather supplies for the journey ahead.
Early this morning Cray and I traveled by boat to Rut’theran Village. From there we traveled southeast by gryphon into Darkshore, then south into Ashenvale. We made our way east, to the outskirts of Splintertree Post. We remained hidden by the road. Surveillance of Splintertree revealed that many tracks had passed through the camp since the battle a few days ago. Despite being obscured by fresh tracks, I was able to locate faint tracks made by a lame horse.
The tracks led east, bypassing Forest Song. We found evidence of a demon attack with what was left of a Horde caravan, but horse and worg tracks continued on. I do not believe that the party of our concern encountered demons; the destroyed caravan was of a separate party. The party traveled through Warsong Lumber Camp on their way to Azshara, perhaps stopping for supplies. A large number of tracks lead into and out of Warsong. An almost undetectable set of tracks belonging to Faithe’s horse was found leading east into Azshara.
Upon entering Azshara, Cray and I spoke to the sentinels at Talrendis Point. Most of them had only been recently assigned to the post, but one sentinel was able to confirm that a large party of orcs had recently passed through with a human female. The sentinel was unable to confirm the identity of the human.
As we were gathering information, Taelanas approached us, barely holding on to the back of his gryphon. He had been shot in the side with three arrows and blood was pouring profusely from the wounds. I used what first aid supplies I had brought with me to try to hold back the bleeding until more help arrived. Cray contacted you via communication glyph, and we moved Taelanas to safer territory in Forest Song to await your arrival. With your assistance, Taelanas was attended to until he was able to travel, and then transported to Stormwind via gryphon.
Cray and I returned to Talrendis to continue our search for Faithe’s horse. The soil in Azshara grew noticeably rougher, and the tracks of the lame horse began to lag behind those of the orcs. Spacing and depth of the tracks revealed that the horse was struggling to keep up on the difficult terrain. We followed the trail until we were very close to Orgrimmar. To the side of the road, we found the body of the horse. Its throat had been slit open. Blood stained the ground and there were flies everywhere. The death of the horse was fairly quick and painful, a regrettable but necessary alternative to abandonment. Human and orcish footprints in the rocky soil indicate that a brief scuffle occurred, but the party resumed its travel and there was no evidence of harm to Faithe. Seeking to avoid further desecration of the body, I asked Cray to help me burn the remains of Faithe's horse. Cray returned briefly to Forest Song to thank those who assisted us, and I traveled as quickly as I could to Stormwind.
Upon my arrival in Stormwind I was notified that two injured members of the Holy Guard were being tended to in the Cathedral. I made my way there to assist in any way I could. A large number of people were gathered around a man lying on a table. The man, apparently a victim of a Worgen attack in Duskwood, was in critical condition and required much attention. The man was treated to a transportable condition and moved to the barracks. We believe that he will become a victim of the Worgen curse and that he should be transported to Teldrassil immediately. Taelanas seemed drained from his wounds and exerted much effort in the healing of the man on the table, but with rest, he will recover.
My final notes are as follows: the discovery of Faithe’s horse so close to Orgrimmar leads me to believe quite firmly that it was Faithe seen riding into Orgrimmar with the party of orcs. Her exact location is currently unknown; reconnaissance will be needed to find her. Judging by the size of the war party, she is probably heavily guarded. Taelanas and the other man have been tended to but are in need of further medical care. As always, I am happy to provide my skills in the way you deem they are most needed.
May the Light smile upon us in these troubled times, giving us hope.
Edited by Meriste on 9/27/2011 10:02 AM PDT
Rua wheeled his worg around at the startled shout from the guards. The solder beside Faithe ducked when Rua jumped his mount over him and landed between Faithe and the guard who was about to take her head.
"She's mine," he growled at the guard who reluctantly lowered his weapon.
He pulled Faithe up on the worg in front of him. The worg reached around to nip at her leg, unaccustomed to the extra burden. She almost hoped he would take her leg off, but Rua jerked the beast's head around.
"Don't do again, Wintermoon," Rua said.
She slumped into him too spent to fight anymore. A half laugh escaped the borders of madness. "Wintermoon."
He nodded slightly and guided his mount back to the lead of his war party. "Yes, the women like you. Call you Wintermoon. A good name, I think. If Meshka not pay so much I let them keep you and teach you to be orc woman." He shrugged. "No matter. You like our land. Now you get to stay here till you die. You give Meshka problem that not be long, I think."
Curious crowds pressed out of the shops to stop and stare at them. A few women ran out to greet the men. Children ran up to her and patted her leg as if touching a human woman was some kind of war coup. They had probably not seen many humans alive.
They pushed through the ever-growing throng until they reached a gated compound. The guards at the gate recognized Rua, but they weren't going to let him in with his war party.
"Tell Meshka if he want woman to let me and my men in."
An orc ran up to the house and returned a few minutes later. "You and five men. No more."
Rua nodded to the ones he wanted with him and the guards opened the gates. They clanged shut behind them as soon as the sixth rider filed through. She heard the lock click on the chains.
No one would ever get her out of here.
Almost unconsciously, she reached down and touched the note of encouragement Wolfgaar had given her when he found her. He had whispered to her not to give up. Hope dangled by a thread so fine she could see through it, but it had not yet fled.
Rua pulled the worg to a stop in front of the massive stone house. It might have been a palace for a minor noble. Did goblins have nobility? He handed Faithe down to one of his guards, who took her firmly by the wrist while Rua dismounted.
A manservant in a finely tailored suit opened the door. He glanced at Faithe with utter disdain, as if his nostrils had been assaulted by a steaming pile of kodo manure.
They followed him through the halls to a bed chamber larger than the main hall at the abbey. Meshka sprawled across a red velvet divan with ornately embroidered pillows piled on each end. Two night elf women knelt on the floor, massaging his feet. His black satin dressing gown contrasted sharply with his bright green skin.
"Ah, Rua, my old friend. I see you arrived on time. Splendid. I hoped you wouldn't disappoint me. I wouldn't want to have to dock your pay."
"I said I bring her this day. I think you would like to claim I owe you money, Meshka. Maybe next time."
The goblin flashed a wide, feral grin at him. "Do keep me in mind if you find any more playthings I might have use of."
Rua nodded and stepped back. Faithe almost wanted to beg him to take her with him. What she had once feared more than anything was now a longed for refuge.
"Enjoy Orgirmmar, Wintermoon," Rua said and strode away.
The goblin snorted as soon as the orcs had gone out of earshot. "Wintermoon. What a ridiculous name. "What's your name, girl?"
Faithe pretended not to understand.
"I asked what you name is!"
Faithe frowned and shook her head.
Meshka nodded to a large guard nearest her. "Her ears seem to not be working. See if you can fix them."
The orc lifted his massive hand and hit her beside the head. She flew through the air and landed in a heap on a white bearskin. Her ears were still ringing when the orc jerked her up.
"Now," Meshka said. "I asked what your name was."
"An equally ridiculous name. Tell me Faithe? Do you have faith you will be rescued?" His tinny laugh echoed off the domed ceiling. Everyone in the room except Faithe joined in the laughter. "I think I'll call you Dove."
He nodded to two of the men beside the door. "Have some bath water brought up and some clean clothes. Something silk. And white. I like white. It's so pure and innocent." He turned his attention back to one of the girls massaging his feet. "Talk to Madam Garik. Tell her I want some dresses made of cloth of silver."
Before the girl had left the room, a large bathing tub arrived, followed by several boys with buckets of hot water. Once the tub was filled, a girl tossed flower petals in and poured in some oil. The room filled with the scent of rose attar.
Faithe looked at the crowd of people and then the goblin in horror. "You want me to bathe here?"
The goblin grinned. "Yes, dear. Bathe in the water or drink it. Your choice."
Edited by Faithe on 6/7/2011 2:02 AM PDT
((Awesome rp tonight, y'all. it turned out much better than I had dare hope. Thanks to everyone who came looking and the horde who joined in to try and save Faithe as well.))
The serving girls waited patiently while she disrobed. Once she stepped into the tub they motioned her to remain standing while they scrubbed her down with loofa sponges. Faithe closed her eyes to block the sight of the leering grins around the room. One of the girls tugged on her hand, motioning her to sit in the water to rinse the soap. They then lathered her hair twice and rinsed it repeatedly.
"Make sure you scrub her good. I don't want any damned lice, or gods know what else she has, crawling on me."
Faithe flushed again, this time with anger. How dare he-- He dared do whatever he pleased.
The girls dried her thoroughly and combed out her hair as Meshka sipped his wine and watched. When they were finished, they handed her a white silk robe.
Faithe put the robe on and repeated in her mind. I can survive.
She tugged at her old robe, trying to save the letter, but the girls jerked it away from her. Wolfgaar's letter fell out on the floor and she scrambled to get it. The guard walked over and forced her hand open. Meshka laughed when he read it, then forced himself to look sad.
"Oh, how sweet. Is he your love?"
"He is my guild master. I am an ambassador from the Pia Presidium."
"No matter." Meshka snapped his fingers and the letter burst into flames.
The thread of hope snapped at last.
"How long will it take to break her?" he said.
"I wanted two," one troll protested. "I'll take three."
"One," said the largest guard.
Meshka grinned. "The last one didn't last one night with you, Lrug."
He shrugged. "You said break her."
"Yes, but you cheated. You killed her."
"She was broke in many places. Not cheating."
Faithe raised her chin, determined not to show fear.
Meshka nodded. "Yes, well, we'll see how long that fire burns in your eyes, Dove. I'll wager not very long. Now come over here and kneel down before me. You might as well learn how to massage my feet."
"I kneel to no one," she said.
"Really?" He motioned to Lrug. "Dove needs a reminder. Don't hit her in the face."
Lrug spent his time tossing her around like a ragdoll. Bets were being taken. She'd lost track of how many times she hit the floor, but she shook her head no once again. He kicked her in the ribs and she rolled across the bearskin rug.
"Get her off that damned rug. I don't want her bleeding on it. Not yet anyway."
Lrug jerked her up by an arm and Faithe felt it snap. She was gasping for air, but it was so painful to breathe she could only pant. Broken ribs. Her arm hung at an awkward angle.
"F****** moron! How is she supposed to hold me tenderly with a broken arm? Go get the healer."
Faithe slumped to her knees.
"That's better, Dove. Now see, that wasn't so difficult, was it?"
A goblin woman scurried through the door several minutes later. "Want me to heal it all the way, boss?"
He tossed his hand. "Yeah, I want it healed all the way. I'm surrounded by morons. How much?"
"Three gold and not that crap you give those vendors. I want real gold."
The healer probed around on her arm and then whispered a cant, sending magic flowing through Faithe's arm. "Ribs are broke, too. Want me to heal them?"
"How much. You should give me a discount."
The healer cocked her head sideways. "Yeah, yeah. I'll do her ribs for two gold."
Meshka thought about it a moment. "Nah, just heal her arm. I don't care about her damned ribs."
The next morning, Faithe woke up to the buzzing of flies. She started to move her arm to brush them away, but Meshka was still asleep on it. She raised her other arm and flicked the flies away from the bite mark on her shoulder.
Meshka stirred, looked around as if getting his orientation, grinned at the guards sitting across the room and rolled off the bed.
He put on his dressing gown and pointed at her. "Well, don't just lay there. Go get cleaned up. You're disgusting."
"You told me not to move."
"That was last night. Gods. I don't know why anyone is attracted to humans. They're stupid and they're not even good. Give me a hot troll wench any day."
Faithe gasped and clutched at her ribs as she tried to sit up. "Yes, I'm sure they enjoy being screwed by a gnat," she said through gritted teeth.
"What did you say?" Meshka was positively foaming and jumping up and down in rage. "Lrug! Lrug! Teach that little !%#% some manners then chain her up in the cleft alley. Let's see how she likes a few days with the rats."
Edited by Faithe on 6/7/2011 2:03 AM PDT
Jazzy collapsed on the bed, her muscles aching and her head throbbing. What a night it had been! She had made a foray into Orgrimmar and with the help of a fellow rogue and her friend Zherron, she had managed to finally locate Faithe.
The poor girl had been chained up to a wall in a dark corner, it appeared she had been beaten as well, and no doubt food and water were not too plentiful. Frustrated that her skill at picking locks was twarted by the complicated mechanism, she resolved to ask Galahn if he knew of a way around it.
Before she drifted off to sleep she knelt and prayed for guidance. Should she go to her alternate disguise and talk to Redearth or allow the Alliance plan continue as they spoke. She knew the chances of getting out of there alive were slim, especially with the rucus that the Ochelliad was going to cause. Perhaps a bit of distractions while she tried to pick the lock would help.
Letter from Darnassus to Genevra Stoneheardt, Stormwind Cathedral
I have a confession to make. I have experienced something of a...change of faith. Or should I say, a change of Faithe, if you'll forgive the pun.
She's alive. I could not believe it if I tried. I thought for certain after Splintertree that she was dead, consumed by some lunatic orc or sadist Forsaken. Somehow, against all sense, with the greatest stroke of luck - or perhaps by the grace of the Light - we found her alive. In terrible danger, but alive. Now I'm concerned with the lengths Gentyl is willing to go to get her back. She says she needs an army...who else in the Alliance has an army that's not otherwise occupied fighting the Twilight's Hammer?
I admit that while it makes sense, I am not exactly enthusiastic...especially considering who is being sent to run things. I have a distinct impression that I will need to watch my back when we return for Faithe...
I will speak with you again when I return to Stormwind. I have recently come to Gentyl's aid with one of her wounded soldiers, which required a journey to Darnassus. I will explain more upon my arrival.
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