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The Sunwell. How he hated it.
Malthaes Shadowbough stood on a balcony in Silvermoon, staring over at the Magister’s Terrace. Different images flickered in his head. The image of a ruined prince Kael’thas, serving the burning Kil’Jaeden to fend off the addiction that ravaged his body. The fel crystals that once hung in the air like juicy, ripe apples waiting to be plucked. The legions of elves following their prince into their own destruction. Malthaes was once one of them, going with Kael’thas to Outlands to save their people. But unlike his comrades, who succumbed to the addiction of the Fel and became slaves to it, Malthaes wielded it without bending to its will. He served no demon lord.
He pursed his lips, thinking about those last days when Kil’Jaeden was forced back through the portal he tried to rip himself through. By that time Malthaes had rejoined his comrades in Silvermoon. It was an easy decision – it took unfathomable blindness to not foresee Kael’s decent into madness. And the Horde, the Horde assembled by the Orc leader Thrall, had become a considerable power. It was an easy decision. He turned his power against his former comrades, and in turn ensured his survival.
But what a sniveling mess of cowards we have become.
The thought repulsed him so much that his face twisted into a sneer. The High Elves of Quel’thalas once thought themselves powerful, above their neighbors and even their allies. How easy was it for Arthas and his Scourge to rip through their vaunted defenses and slaughter their people? How quick the Alliance discarded their once proud Elven allies because they became nothing but a pathetic band of survivors among the ruins? They had their pacifier of arcane power, the Sunwell, ripped from their mouths and they mewled and screamed like babies craving the teat. And now what? They let the Alliance, of all people, dictate that their Sunwell be filled with the Light, the same Light that abandoned people as it saw fit. The same, vaunted Light that provided no solace as reams of undead sacked their lands. Another pacifier, this new Sunwell. A gift from the Alliance. Their enemies.
Malthaes turned from the Terrace, unable to contemplate it anymore. His pulse raced with anger. The nation he thought he fought for was nothing but a pack of cowards. They raced from Sunwell after Sunwell, joining whatever party would keep them safe. The Alliance. The Burning Legion. Now the Horde. He saw how the other allies looked down on them – like children scampering at the heels of greater powers, demanding protection but yielding no support. It was all fine to let the Forsaken secure the borders of Quel’thalas, but when the request came for Blood Elf troops? Too stretched thin. Still recovering. Too weak.
And this gift from the enemy was supposed to save them. The Sunwell. How he hated it.
No longer. It was time for the Blood Elves to stand, strong and with considerable power, and declare itself a full partner in this new Horde. He did his part, enlisting himself with the Modas Il Torilar. Dreejin held a contempt for the elves, this he knew. But he would show the troll that the Blood Elves had the ability to grasp the power for themselves. Malthaes would show them. He would show them all. And if they would not relinquish their shiny new toy, he would drag them kicking and screaming from it.
He returned his gaze to the Magister’s Terrace. In his mind he could see the Sunwell, gleaming and swirling with Light.
Malthaes turned and left the balcony, his cloak sweeping behind him. He had to be careful – the path forward was treacherous. But he would find his footing. Because unlike his comrades, he had the initiative and drive. And he had the first piece of the puzzle. A member of the Pia Presidium in his grasp. And a paladin, no less.
“So much for the Light,” he said softly to himself.
He felt it then, rippling just beneath his skin, yearning to be unleashed. His own power. A power he took for himself, not given to him. A power he had no qualms of wielding against his enemies.
He reached the dungeon. The candles were not lit, but his green eyes blazed in the darkness. They settled on his prisoner, unconscious and slumped on the cold, stone floor. A prisoner so helpless, her own organization did not yet know she was missing.
“And so we begin. Let us see what strength this Light gives you.”
His lips curled into a smile, the power surging out of him now. The sweet release, the acrid taste of the Fel on his lips. How he savored it. True power. All his to bend to his will. A beam of shadow connected from his fingertips to his prisoner. Her eyes awoke with a shock. Only one thing was missing to make this more satisfying. But then, he had it.
His head leaned back, the power coursing through his body and into the beam of shadow, he listened to his favorite music – the sound of the girl screaming.
The order was simple. No member of the Pia Presidium was to travel alone.
The decree came directly from the Sepha. Capturing Meshqa and sacking Bilgewater in the process stirred up a hornets nest of trouble, including ghoul attacks on Hearthglen and a troll warlock seeking the hearts of the Holy Guard. To travel alone with so many enemies in motion would be foolhardy, and the Sepha did not want any of her Guard to fall as victims to this madness.
And yet one of the younger paladins, Harmyone, had gone missing. Privately Finnaeus marveled that the Sepha and the Pia leadership remembered her at all, because he didn't have the slightest idea of who she was. But the Sepha remembered every detail - her blond hair, blue eyes, the way she bounced excitedly when she spoke. It was more than just the logistics of keeping track of everyone - Gentyl cared deeply about those she recruited and worked with. And, apparently, this young paladin had gone missing. Despite the Sepha's will that they all keep very much accounted for. The lengths to which the Sepha cared and maintained the Pia never ceased to amaze Finn. It troubled and irritated him, then, to hear about a girl who obviously took that for granted.
It was foolish. And unnecessary. No one could account for the girl's whereabouts, which led Finnaeus to the obvious conclusion that she did not check in or keep company with her fellow Guard. She disobeyed orders - orders designed to keep her out of trouble and still breathing.
The next order from the Sepha was not so simple. Find her, and bring her back.
The sound of dripping water. Cold. Her skin shivered uncontrollably. Teeth chattering. Everything sounded like an echo, reverberating. She tried to lift her head, but everything weighed down. Her muscles ached. Everything hurt, but she couldn’t let out a moan. She opened her eyes and saw darkness. The first emotion that she experienced since waking – a sharp pang of despair.
Her mind moved sluggishly, as if it too were anchored to stones. Where was she? It hurt to think, if it was possible, and instead she closed her eyes again. It was less sleep and more unconsciousness, her mind unable to maintain being awake.
“You can’t go out there,” the Argent Guard said to her as she made her way to the gates of Hearthglen. Harmyone sat astride her mount, a young buck named Auror, and she smiled.
“I’m protected by the Light, good sir,” she said amiably. “I’ll be ok.”
“Sepha Gentyl insists that no one travel alone,” the guard said with stubborn determination.
“You are to travel accompanied or not at all.”
“The alarm bells are sounding for defense,” Harmyone responded. “Chillwind Camp is not far from here. Someone must defend our allies. I do not see any others available to defend.”
“Please do not make me report you,” the guard said, looking up at her. Harmyone sighed.
What would it take to convince the man that she could fend for herself? She needed to respond to the alarms. How else would she prove to the Sepha and the others that she belonged in the Presidium? That she was strong in combat and with the Light? Every book she read in her time in Hearthglen told of the adventurer who triumphed against the odds, proving the critics wrong. She could be the hero here – drive the Horde away from their settlement.
“Come with me then,” Harmyone said. “I will not be alone if you come with me. I do not wish to see any perish at Chillwind.”
“My station is here,” the guard said.
“As you insist, master guard,” Harmyone said, sighing once again. She trotted away from the gate. The guard looked satisfied with himself, and then stayed his post.
It didn’t take long to sneak behind him when he was on his rounds.
“Awake, little bird.”
The sound of the voice jolted her awake. The adrenaline, pumped and fueled by fear, gave her the strength to jolt up. She saw the green eyes, the satisfied smile, and a harsh rage filled her. Curling her hands, she welled up the strength to summon the Light. Just as soon as she could feel it in her, a sharp pain shocked through her skin, like electricity. She could taste something acrid in her mouth, like burning embers, and her stomach recoiled in nausea. Her mind flashed with horrible images, horrific nightmares of teeth and blood and snapping bones, and her body shuddered. Her strength sapped, and the Light dimmed. She slumped, her tired eyes glaring balefully at the blood elf, and the pain and images stopped.
“Let’s not be foolish,” the blood elf said to her. “You’ll do yourself more harm than not attempting to wield the Light with these shackles on you.”
Harmyone looked down and saw them – thin bands of metal around her wrists and ankles with green runes dancing along the rims. Her body sagged again, the energy waning in her. Her head slumped against the wall, cold and rough.
“Very good,” the blood elf said. He waved a hand, lighting candles along the walls. Green flames flickered though there was no wind in the dungeon. Small flames as they were, they blazed in Harmyone’s eyes like noon suns. She winced.
“It’s bright,” she croaked.
“A paladin averse to a bit of light?” the blood elf responded, laughter escaping his cold smile. “How delicious.” He held a goblet in his hand, gilded with green stones embedded in the handle. “You’ll need to drink this if you wish to regain your strength.”
He held the cup to her lips, but she did not open her mouth.
“No.” It was only word she could muster.
“You have no choice,” the elf responded, the words a matter of fact rather than a command. If he wasn’t so horrifically cruel to her he would have come across as polite.
“Your body has been taxed greatly. I’ve drained a great deal from you, and you have not fed or drank for quite some time. Soon you will not be able to wake. I’m sure your code of honor is preventing you from taking a gift from the likes of me. But as sure as you are cold and weak now, you will be dead by the morrow if you do not drink this.”
Harmyone looked at him, and oddly she knew he was telling the truth. But why did this monster want her alive? He pressed the cup to her lips again, and she took a small sip. It was thick, almost like milk, but horribly warm and tasted like blood. Her body retched, and when the cup came away from her body she threw up what little she had inside of her. Whatever he tried to give her was rancid, disgusting, and her body rejected it. She could hear a sigh of impatience as her body expunged, every heave exhausting her more. She lay on the ground, her eyes tearing up despite herself, everything shaking violently.
“Horrible,” she whispered, her mouth still coated in the vile substance.
“Up to you. I’ll give you one more chance before I cut my losses. I will leave this dungeon, enjoy a nice, juicy piece of roast with some lovely amber wine. Perhaps I will put on some music. But you, on the other hand, will be here. With strength or not. Likely you will expire overnight. And when I return your decayed body to your comrades in arms, I’ll make sure to pick up another paladin to suit my purposes. One not foolish enough to choose death over life.”
Harmyone closed her eyes, flickering between consciousness and unconsciousness.
Guilt bloomed in her like a spring rose as she rode Auror down the path towards Chillwind. She should not have snuck out, or defied the Sepha’s orders. But Chillwind needed defense, and Harmyone was confident that the Sepha would have rushed to defend the area. And who better to emulate than the Sepha? Maybe Gentyl would have travelled with fellow guards, but she always did, because she was the leader. Not because she needed them.
She rode with speed, cutting through the trees with nimble lightness. Chillwind was just ahead, but something seemed off. The usual members of the Alliance strode about the camp without urgency, almost a bit of laziness. It did not look like the scene of a battlefield, or of a camp under duress from the enemy forces. It was then that she felt herself unseated from Auror, some force hitting her squarely in the chest and knocking the wind out of her. She fell from the horse, feeling as if she –
She couldn’t catch her breath. Her sluggish mind tried to work it out. The goblet contained something horrific. Her instinct told her it was not natural, that it should not enter her body. But to deny to drink it meant surely dying. Harmyone knew this was true. It was as simple as breathing. She needed to live, because without living she could not find away to escape and alert the Presidium that this mad elf existed. But would it be better to die? What would the Sepha do? The horrible realization occurred to her, though, that Harmyone didn’t know that the Sepha would do. Didn’t she think that the Sepha would have raced off to Chillwind to stop the Horde? Her eyes closed again. No. Gentyl would not have done that. She would have known –
“It was foolish to come alone,” the blood elf said to her, standing over the Harmyone. His hands curled with shadow. “I expected a battle with some of your finest troops. I never expected that Hearthglen would have offered up a gift.”
“I am no gift,” Harmyone snarled, trying to get up. But the elf merely twirled his hands, and a beam of shadow struck her in the chest. Instantly her muscles seized.
“You may as well have come wrapped in a bow,” the elf snarled. “Do not-”
“-be foolish,” the elf said. Harmyone’s eyes flickered open again. No, she should not be foolish. She would have to drink from the cup. But it would be up to her to resist whatever horrible taint it tried to give her. She looked up at the elf, revulsion in her eyes, and she nodded.
“Very good,” he responded. He held the cup to her lips. The horrible liquid passed down her throat. Her body protested, but she fought. Her stomach heaved, but she kept it down. The cup was empty, she was not. It felt horribly warm, almost rotten inside of her. An overwhelming wave of nausea overcame her. She fought to maintain consciousness, but she knew she could not last. Harmyone looked up at her captor.
“I am going to kill you,” she said, hatred and weariness mixed together. The elf’s eyes alit with delight.
“I am counting on it,” he said, hissing the words with malevolent glee. He took the cup away from her mouth and turned, sweeping away from her. She watched him go, and then faded into darkness.
“Why am I still alive?”
The question provoked a smirk on Malthaes’s face. He did not look at the paladin chained to the floor. He gazed down at the goblet, which held a dark crimson liquid hissing with volatility. With a few muttered words the liquid turned a vivid shade of green, before settling back to crimson. He could smell the sulfur rising from the cup, and he knew it was ready.
“There is no time for such silly questions,” Malthaes said, turning. The paladin girl looked grey, her hair hanging loosely down her face. She lost a considerable amount of weight since he first took her, which made sense since he hadn’t fed her. The liquid in his hand gave her strength, but it did not provide nourishment. A concoction of his own creation – a bit of demon blood, infused with some exotic poisons, empowered by a mix of void and fel magics – and it gave her enough strength to survive him draining her. He approached her but she would not drink from the cup.
“I don’t want any more of it,” she said, her voice gravelly and tired. “Just kill me.”
“You need your strength,” he said. “You’ll want to be able to stand when I return you to Hearthglen.”
Her eyes, so tired and lifeless, showed a bit of spark. She looked up at him.
“Yes. I have no further use for you.”
She looked suspiciously at him, and then at the cup.
“It’s poison, isn’t it?”
“Quite right,” he said, laughing. “But it is the same poison that I’ve been giving you for quite some time.”
She looked hesitant, but then she drank from the cup. It was odd, watching her – her body accepted it far more readily than it did the first time he held the cup to her lips. She drank it all, some still on her lips. The effect was immediate – she was rejuvenated.
Malthaes stood, replaced the goblet on the table, and then waved his hand. The fel shackles that bound her unlatched and fell to the floor. She stood, amazement in her face, as if she couldn’t believe she was released.
“Your armor and weapon are along the wall there. Make sure you put them on.”
The paladin, dazed, walked over and fit her armor. Malthaes watched her, his heart hammering in his chest. Soon he would know, soon he would be able to tell if it all worked. She donned her armor, her hands lingering around the plate as if greeting an old friend. Her fingers curled around the hilt of her sword. With a bit of hesitance she lifted – Malthaes imagined that she didn’t know if she had the strength to wield it. After a few moments she stood before him, clad in armor, her sword and shield in her hands. Her eyes blazed.
“You have made a foolish mistake,” the paladin said.
The girl roared and charged forward, lifting her sword. With a deft quickness Malthaes spun, watching the sword crash through the desk and cleave it in two. He twirled his hands, sending a blast of shadow at her that sent her crashing to the floor. The potion in her blood now, she stood, strength coursing through her. Another snarl and she charged again. Malthaes withdrew his own sword, parrying the blow – she lifted her shield and slammed it into his side. He felt himself leave his feet and crash to the dungeon floor. The taste of blood touched his tongue, and he smiled again.
“Very strong indeed,” he said softly, getting up. She did not give him much time – she thrust forward with the sword. But she was too aggressive. He spun, the blade missing him, and he slashed upwards with his sword, splitting the side of her face and sending blood spraying to the floor. She gasped, surprised, and stepped back.
“Heal it,” he said, his voice full of malicious glee. “Let your Light heal your wound.”
She glared at him, curling her hands to summon the Light. But nothing happened.
“Go on, paladin of the Pia Presidium, student of Gentyl herself,” Malthaes taunted. “Heal your wounds.”
The girl tried, and tried, but the Light would not come to her. She looked up at him, malice and fury in her eyes, and he knew it worked. He twirled his hands, shadow erupting from them. It took two blasts to disarm her of her sword and shield. She tried to summon the Light again, but it was futile. Malthaes laughed as he advanced on her, chanting. Her armor came unclasped and fell to the ground, until finally Malthaes reached her. She fell to her knees, tears falling from her eyes.
“What have you done to me?” she wailed, sobbing. His green eyes blazed, empty of sympathy.
“No more tears, little bird,” he said, standing over her. “There will come a time where you can get your precious Light back.”
She looked up at him, her body shaking with grief and fury.
“I hate you,” she said.
“All well and good. But you’ll do as I say, or you can be as impotent as you are now,” he hissed. He crouched, his green eyes meeting hers. She shrank away, fear creeping into her expression. He smiled. “Now listen very carefully.”
Malthaes sat at his desk, a single candle lit with a green flame that flickered with life though the air was still. He stared at the piece of parchment in front of him, wondering what to write but not in any particular hurry. News of Lord Grymm’s capture had reached his ears, even in Silvermoon. Naturally the Modas wanted him back, but to do so would have meant sacrificing the positions of Lord Grymm’s assets. At that thought he looked up and saw his own asset, the paladin girl chained once again to the walls. The fel runes glimmered in the darkness, and the girl twitched in her sleep. Every a few moments she would utter a terrified moan. Each time she did brought a smile to Malthaes’s ears. The nightmares would be real to her, even in sleep. He itched to drain her, to taste her fear, but to drain her now would probably kill her. No – her life was too important.
He turned his attention back to the parchment. According to the whispers, Lord Grymm remained in the hands of the Ocheliad, an Alliance group known more for their methods than their morals. Malthaes mined for as much information as he could get on the Draenei, and he came to the conclusion that the death knight could not be entrusted to make a fair deal. Certainly Malthaes was not reluctant to let the paladin girl return to Alliance hands – that was, after all, his plan – but he did wish to ensure Grymm’s return. It was vital to the Modas.
The girl uttered a soft gasp of fear, and a shiver of pleasure raced up his spine. He dipped his pen in crimson, and began to write.
We have not yet had the pleasure of meeting, but rest assured I know all about you. I assume you value your time and attention as much as I do mine, and I will not idle with pleasantries. After all, the business we are to conduct is rather unpleasant.
I have recently come into possession of one of your paladin girls. I’m afraid I could not find it in me to learn her name, though I’ve seen many of her thoughts, and memories. A young girl, very enthusiastic about life and the Light. I will not lie – she has come unto severe harm – but she is still capable of being saved. And it is because of this that I write you.
The girl has served my purpose, and is now draining my resources in my attempts to keep her alive. I would have her die, but it also has reached me that you and your allies have come into possession of Lord Grymm, a comrade of mine. It would seem that a simple exchange of prisoners would be in order, and I wish for you to arrange the terms. After all, the Ocheliad that holds him are known to be duplicitous, and I am in no mood for shady dealings. You are bound by honor, and I can give to you a small modicum of trust.
Enclosed you’ll find some of the fine, golden hair that once sat atop our paladin’s head before I removed them. And if you’re very astute, you’ll have noticed that I have written this letter in the girl’s own blood. A very vivid red, is it not? I tell you this not to exaggerate the macabre or overstate the precarious position your student is in. These things are self-evident. But rest assured, if any treachery is involved in the negotiations for the release of these parties, the girl will die. And while you and yours shed your tears, I will not spare a single thought.
I look forward to hearing from you Gentyl – time is of the essence. I can keep your paladin safe for now, but time brings surprises, and Dreejin is hungry for a Presidium heart. You can send your response back with the imp that brought the letter. If you have slain him, simply utter the demonic phrase at the bottom of this message. It will summon him back – though I daresay if you’ve slain my imp then he will not be in pleasant spirits if you summon him again. Though I’m sure a champion of the Light such as yourself will have no problem taming him and giving him your response back? Keep him safe while you negotiate with the Ocheliad – and do not allow him near the livestock. Or small children. Both will be smoldering by the time you realize he is near.
Hope to hear from you soon, as does your paladin. She screams for you to save her when I drain her – do be a lamb and not disappoint her. I would hate delivering the crushing news that her Sepha could not do what was required.
((Demonic phrase of summoning))
Edited by Malthaes on 2/9/2012 8:42 PM PST
Malthaes reviewed the letter. In truth, Gentyl had no sway on the release of Lord Grymm – he was firmly in the hands of the Ocheliad. But this was a gamble that Malthaes was willing to make. He needed to protect his investment, and there were no assurances the Ocheliad could make that would allow him to trust them. Perhaps with Gentyl’s involvement, it would keep them on the straight and narrow. If it didn’t, then he could prove Gentyl a liar. A stain on her sure to be spotless honor.
An imp hopped onto the table, its small body wreathed with flickering fel flames. Malthaes looked at the imp.
“Piztal, ensure this is delivered to Gentyl D’Amond Turncutt of the Pia Presidium. Her organization is based in Hearthglen. They do not take well demonic visitors, and may slay you.”
Piztal snarled at the words, but Malthaes held up his hand.
“I have given them the words to resummon you should they do that. If they do not, then they will not be able to issue a response.”
Malthaes folded the letter and handed it to the imp. Piztal bowed, and then vanished in a flicker of flame. His eyes lingered on the spot where the imp once stood, but then they drifted to the girl. She twitched violently now, her eyes still closed, the nightmares torturing her. She whispered a name, her voice filled with terror and desperation.
“We shall see if she can save you,” Malthaes responded softly.
Malthaes waved his hand over the candle on his desk, and plunged the dungeon into darkness.
The dew still clung to the grass, squishing underneath Malthaes’s feet as he walked. The sun hadn’t yet risen over the horizon, though he could see streaks of orange and purple breaking through the dark of night. To his right he could see a local wildcat slinking through the grass. For a moment he felt it, that itch for release – what he wouldn’t do to wave his hand right now and strike the beast down. But he mastered the impulse. Release would come soon enough. He had to be patient.
The denizens of Azure Watch remained quiet, those that were awake anyhow. Draenei Vindicators patrolled the outskirts, but their routes were lax, without care. Barely anyone but the Draenei stirred in this area. The Exodar and its nearby communities remained untouched by the recent hostilities between the Horde and the Alliance. They looked, at the root of it, unafraid.
Malthaes smirked, his skin tingling. Soon.
Everything was moving quickly now. The paladin girl would be back with the Pia Presidium soon, where she’d be in position to enact the next step in his plan. The Modas would get Lord Grymm back from captivity. The thrill of seeing everything unfolded became too much. He did not want to lurk in the shadows any longer. It was time to make his entrance.
A shiver went up his spine as he crouched down. He muttered, the thrill in his voice apparent. He moved his fingers, his eyes closed. Green lines appeared where he pointed his finger – where the lines appeared the grass withered, died, and then dissolved. Malthaes moved deliberately, his smile twitching, the anticipation building in his chest. After a few moments he stood up straight. The demonic rune above him glowed with malevolence. Power radiated from the ground, surrounding him. He could taste the acrid burning of fel magic, and another, more powerful shudder went through his body. It was time to make some music.
Malthaes trained his eyes on one of a pair of Draenei vindicators reaching the outermost point of their patrol. They were only yards away. The sounds of their chatter filled Malthaes’s ears, and his heart pounded with malice. It wasn’t enough that these wretched beings joined the Alliance. That they in their arrogance rebirthed the Sunwell how they saw fit indicated only that these self-deifying beings thought they knew better. That they and their precious Naaru were the true makers of fate and power. Malthaes snarled, unable to control it any longer. He needed to send them a message. A strong one. There would be no peace for the Draenei, nor for the rest of the Alliance, so long as he stood.
With one word, a crack split the air, followed by the sounds of screaming. Fel flames enveloped the first vindicator, melting his armor and his skin. The sounds of his screaming and the smell of burning flesh merely spurred on Malthaes. The second vindicator turned, momentarily paralyzed by the suddenness with which their situation changed. She curled her hands, Light dancing between her fingers. But with frightening speed Malthaes enveloped her in flames. Her hands went dark, flailing in agony as the flames crackled and consumed her. With another word an the flames conflagrated, exploding from her and sending her body to the dirt. Sizzling blood stained the grass.
The vindicators’ screams, the opening chords to a great symphony. He could see more Draenei stirring from Azure Watch. But they would be instruments as well. With a smile he waved his hands. Balls of fire streaked from the sky, crashing into Azure Watch with frightening velocity. More of the denizens screamed, the sound sending waves of pleasure down Maltheas’s spine. He moved his hands, as if conducting an orchestra, sending balls of fel flame from the sky and into the camp. His imp, Piztal, chattered and hopped with excitement, sending firebolts into the fallen vindicators, their bodies unmoving save for the demonic fire wreathing their bodies. A well-placed fireball streaked from the sky and hit the nearby inn, crashing through the roof.
Malthaes’s senses became overloaded with delight. He watched as Draenei fled, flames licking at their heals. A few vindicators attempted to ward away the flames with the Light, only to find themselves overwhelmed. The thud and explosion from each fireball provided the perfect staccato, keeping the beat to the Draenei screams. Malthaes swayed. He spotted a group of Draenei coming towards him. With a few words a bolt of shadow embedded itself in the first Draenei. After a few moments shadow exploded out of him, blasting the group and sending them unconscious into the ground. He smiled, his eyes widened.
A sound piqued Malthaes’s ears, above all else. There, in the distance, Malthaes saw a draenei child crying, running for shelter. The sound caused him chills. A true crescendo in his first work of art.
Smoke billowed from Azure Watch. He wanted to burn it all, but he knew he didn’t have time before reinforcements came from the Exodar. Powerful as he was – he knew his limits.
“Perhaps a coda, a parting gift,” Malthaes whispered, his brain buzzing from the magic and destruction. He spoke in demonic, and a green rock smashed into the center of Azure Watch. It assembled, and with a roar the infernal reached down and struck a nearby Draenei with its fist. More screaming. The smells and sounds all blended together. He didn’t want to leave. He wanted to watch the Draenei vindicators battle the infernal. But he would have to go. Time, as it always did, marched forward.
“Come Piztal. We must depart for Orgrimmar. We’ll have business in Ratchet.”
With a sigh, content with pleasure, Malthaes spoke a few words, and then vanished. The green rune still blazed in the grass, a scar on the land while Azure Watch burned.
Edited by Malthaes on 2/13/2012 8:36 AM PST
((Didn't have this chatlogged, so I reconstructed it as best I could. Gentyl, if you see something that needs changing, let me know and I'll fix 'er up.))
Despite the persistent sun, the weather was pleasantly comfortable in Ratchet. Malthaes stood at the end of the dock, his felhunter Zhaatom nearby, leering at the goblins as if debating whether or not to snatch one up and start chewing. He took a deep, cleansing breath, a vain attempt to soothe his excited nerves. An impossible task, settling down just as the transport ship came into dock. There, atop her steed, was Gentyl Turncutt, the leader of the Pia Presidium. To his delight she wore her battle armor, and when she reached the end of the pier she looked down at him coldly, with fury. Malthaes smiled, genuinely delighting in her company, and he bowed.
“The legendary Gentyl D’amond Turncutt,” Malthaes said through his smile. “Such a pleasure to finally meet you.”
She shifted on her horse, her entire demeanor radiating a barely composed fury.
“You have one my guards.”
“Now, now, we must observe the pleasantries,” Malthaes said back to her. “After all, you don’t even know me.”
She adjusted herself atop her horse, leering at him.
“You wish to exchange small talk?” she asked, her disbelief mixing slightly with revulsion.
“Of course. It is only fair that you know me, since I know so very much about you. My name is Malthaes Shadowbough.” He offered another bow, meeting her eyes. If looks could kill, he would have died on the spot.
“Small talk,” she repeated. “Fine. Nice robes.”
“I’m sure they were perfect for when you were entertaining my guard,” she said pointedly.
“Ah, but Gentyl, she was the one entertaining me,” he said. The memories of draining her, the pleasure involved – he almost lost himself. “I’m afraid I don’t know the girl’s name.”
“That’s a shame,” Gentyl said. She shifted atop her steed again, growing impatient.
“Indeed it is,” Malthaes said, offering the words in a sad voice that belied the cruel smile on his face. “She was so young and fresh.”
Gentyl stared at him, the color draining from her face.
“Oh she’s quite alive,” Malthaes said. “Her ability to wield the Light, on the other hand, has been, ah…compromised.” At the horrified look on Gentyl’s face, Malthaes continued. “Unfortunate for an aspiring paladin. I’m afraid that when one dabbles in experimental magic, there are some consequences.”
Gentyl spit on the ground at Malthaes’s feet.
“You Modas should all be put down like dogs.”
“Gentyl, Gentyl,” Malthaes tutted, “but we were doing so well with the pleasantries and politic. Let’s not throw that away.”
“Where is my guard?” she demanded, her fury returning to her face.
“Very well then. To business. Come this way. And steer clear of the felhunter – he’s hungry and in a foul mood.”
Malthaes led the way to a small, rickety shack at the edge of Ratchet. A goblin stood at the door. Not for security – the demonic wards he placed on the structure would suffice to keep people out. He turned to the goblin and spoke in Orcish.
“Are her possessions all on her?” Malthaes asked.
“Yessir,” the goblin muttered. “I still haven’t gotten paid yet.”
“You’ll get your payment when our business is finished,” Malthaes said smoothly. “Unless you want to end up as food for a demon, I suggest you keep your mouth shut.”
Malthaes turned back to Gentyl, offering a polite smile.
“Very well. To our exchange. Where is Lord Grymmbror?”
“In Booty Bay, the tavern,” she responded back. Malthaes looked at the goblin, and he the goblin muttered and whispered into the hearthstone.
“Understood. When I have confirmation of his safety I’ll remove the demonic wards on the shack here. Then you can have your guard back.”
“I’m supposed to trust you? Trust is an awfully big request coming from the likes of you.”
“To be honest, Gentyl, she’s of no value to me in my possession anymore. Point of fact, she drains my resources and I’m unwilling to burden that cost. You’d be doing me a favor.”
“You know, the symbol on your tabard looks like a target,” she said pointedly.
“And yours, my dear Gentyl, looks like a gravestone.”
“So I’ve been told by better men than you,” she responded, her eyes looking dubiously at the shack. If he were to guess, he thought she was searching it over for signs of her guard.
“But I am no mere human,” Malthaes said back. “I am Sin’dorei. An elf.”
“I noticed by the ears and your frail frame,” Gentyl hissed.
The smile on Malthaes’s face twitched and faltered.
“You’ll get used to seeing frailty when you get the girl back,” he said back to her. “I drained her for days, you see. Grey, sick looking. I believe, if I’m not mistaken, that some of her hair is fallen out from the stress. Do take care and treat her more…gentle…than I did.”
Whether it was the pun on her name or just the implications of what he did to the girl, Malthaes did not know, but Gentyl seemed to have enough.
“I am going to kill you for what you’ve done,” she said simply.
“Not if I have the chance to kill you first,” Malthaes said. “Imagine your poor new husband crying over your grave. Tragic.”
“He would hunt you down so quickly you’d have no idea what happened,” Gentyl snapped back. “Regardless, you and your lot will be in your graves soon enough.”
“You’ll find that my kind do not rest well in the grave,” Malthaes said with a cold leer. “We have a habit of coming back. But all in due time. We’ll see who rests in the grave first.”
“I do not fear death,” Gentyl said. He knew she meant it – he could see it in her eyes.
“Afraid, unafraid – it doesn’t matter. The wolves are coming for you, and your guards. Maybe we’ll let you live so that you can watch the rest of your friends and family fall, one by one. You can mourn them for the rest of your miserable life.”
“We’re stronger than you think,” Gentyl said.
“Not strong enough to prevent one of your own paladins from slipping from your grasp. Or, more accurately, from letting me take her from you.”
Gentyl got closer, hovering over him on her brilliant steed. She seemed to glow, the sunlight reflecting off of her plate armor.
“Our grip is strong enough that we hold Grymmbror and held Tyrexus. It is by my will that we held them.”
“And it is by mine that you get your paladin girl back alive and not as a corpse.”
He glanced at the goblin, and he nodded. Grymmbror was secured.
“Very well,” Malthaes said, and he muttered a few words. After a few minutes the wards would dissipate. “We have secured Grymmbror. The wards will be deactive in a few moments. You’ll have your girl back.”
“I’m going to hunt you down, you know that,” Gentyl said. Malthaes turned his back on her, completely unafraid. He muttered and his dreadsteed appeared. He mounted the horse and looked at Gentyl.
“Idle threats,” Malthaes said. “But we’ll be seeing each other real soon. Perhaps you’ll make good on your word. In the mean time, tend to the girl. If I see her again, you’ll be getting her back in pieces.”
Gentyl had no more words for the elf – the disgust and anger on her face said all that she needed to say. He offered another mocking bow, and then turned his steed away from Ratchet. He galloped, flames following behind him, and he smiled.
Everything moved according to plan. And it was a beautiful day.
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