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Finnaeus closed his eyes in concentration, focusing all of his mental will on the nearby farm. The land seemed to resist him, pushing back his attempts to make it healthier, more apt to grow. The land was kissed by the Sha’s deadly touch. He considered himself a formidable druid, but perhaps this was beyond his skill. He hadn’t seen such damage since he took a tour of the Plaguelands, but even that land seemed to teeter towards recovery. This land however, seemed burned to its core by the Sha. Wispy strands of black energy rose from the ground, almost like smoke. Finn could feel the land struggling, its pain, but he also felt a more sinister presence, almost mocking his efforts. It only spurred him on further.
It had been quite some time since Finnaeus worked himself into the populace in the Valley of the Four Winds. While he did relish that using his druidic skills would help the local Pandaren, he embedded himself in their cultures for more martial reasons. The Horde and the Alliance hit at each other hard in the Jade Forest, and the best way to gain intelligence on both the land and the enemy was to make sure there were as many ears available for information. For Finn the war against the Horde reached its apex of intensity when they stormed his homeland in Gilneas, but he noticed the shift in attitude for the Alliance proper once Theramore was bombed. He mused, not without regret, that the fall of Gilneas should have been enough, but the Gilnean people had removed themselves from the Alliance prior to the Alliance’s desperate time of need against the Scourge. That they even helped recover the Gilnean survivors said enough of the Alliance’s goodwill.
His own status as a refugee from a fallen land kept him the more fervent that Pandaria not fall to the Horde. Garrosh Hellscream’s Horde claimed enough lives and kingdoms. Finnaeus swore he would do his part to prevent them from claiming another. But he also kept to the Presidium code, to help others less fortunate. And so, with his ears alert, he also dedicated himself to helping restore the land from its Sha corruption. It was slow work, with hardly any signs of progress, but he did not let frustration overwhelm him. He used that frustration to fuel him further. After all, patience was a virtue he always recommended.
But the land would not yield to his touch. He chanted, pouring more of his energy into the task. The Sha were powerful, their taint pernicious. It was not like demonic corruption – this Sha energy was more alive, more insidious. Perhaps the Cenarion Circle would have to dispatch more druids to combat the corruption. But that would probably be after the war. It wouldn’t be long, Finnaeus mused, until the full might of the Alliance and Horde crashed upon the land. The Alliance rescue mission was evolving, at a rapid pace, into a full on mission to defend Pandaria from Horde rule. Invasion was the next logical step for both factions.
Though his eyes were closed, Finnaeus sensed a presence nearby. It was confirmed when the large Pandaren spoke in a bemused voice.
“You have been at this for quite awhile,” Liu Bo said, a piece of bamboo jutting from his mouth.
“With no progress to show for it,” Finn responded, sighing. He stopped chanting. Today, the Sha had bested him. “This Sha energy is strong.”
“It was best when it was buried,” Liu said, nodding. “But what is done is done.”
Liu was Finnaeus’s primary contact. His family stayed local in the Valley, but he frequented Halfhill and many travelers passed through, with stories and, subsequently, intelligence. For his part Finnaeus helped tend to Liu’s farm. The two had formed a bond that bordered just before friendship. Finn knew that Liu had a family – a wife and two young daughters – but he never met them. Finn wanted to embed, but he did not want to attach. At any point he could up and depart, restaking his claim elsewhere in Pandaria as his needs for intelligence changed. The Golden Lotus in the Vale, for example, could use help against the press of both the Mantid and the Mogu, and the Horde had a significant presence there that Finn could monitor. But he reminded himself not to take on too much – that’s how he got into trouble – and as soon as he returned to the Eastern Kingdoms he would meet with the Silent Guard and dispatch them to hotspots that they needed to monitor.
“My wife is making a nice stew, should you need to eat,” Liu said. He put his hands on his generous belly. “It promises to be delicious.”
“Some other time, perhaps,” Finn said with a tired smile. “I have to be getting back to the Shrine. I’ll need to report back to my organization’s leaders with my initial report of Pandaria. There’s much work to be done.”
“You’re always in such a rush,” Liu said. “Always have something to do.”
“It’s been that way for quite some time,” Finnaeus said.
“Too long, I bet,” the Pandaren said with a wan smile. “But at least you can visit your family.”
It was odd, upon hearing the word family, for Finn’s brain to immediately jump to Erelyn and Kordrion, Gentyl and his comrades in the Presidium, rather than his long deceased wife and daughter. It was a sign that he was healing, in a meaningful way. His days of brooding over his wife and daughter, of Gilneas, of his worgen curse, had come to a close.
“It will be good to see them again,” Finnaeus said. “I’ve been submerged for awhile now. It’ll be nice to come up for some air.”
“You will visit my home before you go, won’t you?” Liu asked. “It would be a shame to not meet my family after you’ve done so much for some of our farmland.”
“I’ll see if I can make some time,” Finn said, his tone warm. He felt a twinge of regret, but he didn’t want to make any false promises.
“Good. Because I’d like you to check some tracks that I’ve seen outside of my home,” Liu said. “They are very unlike the local wildlife. I have never seen vermin tracks like these. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.”
“Do you want me to check now?” Finn asked, raising an eyebrow.
“Always so urgent,” Liu said, chuckling. “I have not yet fallen into peril due to odd tracks. It is a mystery, sure, but the answer will show itself in its own time.”
Finn smiled back, nodding. “Are you headed into Halfhill tomorrow?”
“Oh yes. I have a lovely batch of cabbage to sell, and word is that a group of orcs will be coming through. And yesterday I met a group of trolls. These are fascinating times we live in.”
“You will keep your ears open?” Finn asked. He kept his tone polite, but Liu got the message.
“Our arrangement is, as ever, intact. Though I have to admit, sometimes your interest in them puzzles me. Many seem very martial, but they have not been monstrous.”
“As individuals, perhaps not,” Finnaeus replied. “I would be lying if I said there were not those who could be considered monsters within the Alliance. But the Horde, as a whole – its mission is monstrous. And many who carry out that mission revel in the destruction. It is best to treat them with caution.”
“Understood,” Liu said, nodding.
“Take care Liu,” Finn said, turning on his foot and twisting into his crow form. With a slight wind at his back, he made his way towards the Shrine of the Seven Stars.
Finn sat at a table in the Shrine, scratching his notes on Pandaria. He had pulled together a great deal of information – maps of the land, marked with Horde movements and encampments. He kept detailed notes of dangerous hotspots, marking of Yaungol, Mantid, and Mogu presences. Most important, in Finn’s view, were areas that could use humanitarian assistance. Parts of the Jade Forest could use help, both in restoring the land and repairing the damage caused by Alliance-Horde battles. Humanitarian aid would be vital in swaying the locals to support the Alliance in the war. But it was also the right thing to do – it was not lost on Finnaeus that the Pandaren people suffered due to a conflict that was not of their making. The war was inevitable at this point, but that did not absolve both sides from trying to repair the damage they caused. Even if more hostility and destruction was on the horizon.
There was so much work to be done, but he missed being at home in Hearthglen. He missed his perch atop Mardenholde Keep, watching the goings on of Hearthglen and the Pia. There was much that he missed – his visits to the Aerie with Kordrion, Erelyn, Lahkin, the rest of the Terra Incognita. The visits to Stoneheardt residence in Lakeshire, even in troubled times. Suni’s warm applie pies and warmer disposition. Gentyl taking care of the horses. As much as he wanted to fully dedicate himself to his Pandaren mission, he longed more for a little slice of home. Perhaps he would push up his return. It wouldn’t hurt, and –
The small stone resting atop the table hummed to life. It was an enchanted stone, attuned to others of the same frequency, much like hearthstones but more private, magically protected from outside interference. With some effort, he formed new stones, but only Kordrion and Liu had them. He had a fresh one in his bag for Erelyn, but he hadn’t had the chance yet to visit her and give her one. He grasped the stone, waiting, and then he heard Liu’s voice come through.
“Finn…please…to the farm….help…”
“Liu?” Finn spoke into the stone. He waited for a response, but the humming came to a stop. Someone on the other end must have broken the stone. Finn rose from the table, leaving behind his belongings, and swept out of the shrine. He flew off into the night sky, speeding towards the Valley.
The house was empty, and the front door was ajar. Inside it looked as if a storm had blown through. The furniture was ravaged. Pieces of the wall were missing. Finnaeus stepped lightly through the detritus, looking for a sign or clue. None were apparent. He remembered the tracks that Liu spoke of earlier, and exited the house. He searched the ground, but the only trail of prints he could find were the faint impressions of a Pandaren who had trampled through the grass. Finnaeus narrowed his eyes, and then contorted into his worgen form. He sniffed the air, gaining Liu’s scent. He could only smell Liu, which seemed strange to him, but it was the only lead he had. He crouched on all fours and then raced off.
The trail led him through the Valley. He moved briskly and effortlessly, weaving through a herd of Mushan and spooking a small group of deer. The scent led to the very edge of the Valley itself, to the rope climb that allowed for the descent into the murky wilds of Krasarang. Finnaeus hesitated at the cliff’s edge, looking down into the inky blackness of the wilderness. Whatever had taken Liu had taken him all the way down the sheer cliffs and into the jungle, which meant it was incredibly powerful. And it seemed to want Liu rather desperately. Assuredly the mysterious tracks Liu mentioned earlier were left by whatever took Liu. It was hunting him. But what was it?
Finn twisted into his crow form and descended the cliff. The air changed quickly, dense with thick moisture and oppressive heat. He reached the jungle floor and quickly assumed his cat form. He embraced the darkness, stealthing along the cliffside, keeping Liu’s scent. It was muddled by the pungent odors of the Saurok that lived nearby, but thankfully he did not see many in the area. He prowled through, the air getting heavier as he moved, until the trail came to an abrupt end at the face of the cliff wall.
Finn growled, frustrated – it made no sense – but then he picked up on an entirely different trail. He sensed magic. It was a sense he only developed while training in Moonglade, learning the more arcane side of druidism. The cliffside hinted at some sort of magic, and when he approached the face of the rock he saw the cliffside flicker. An illusion.
He passed through it.
He quickly glanced at himself, making sure his stealth was intact. His padded feet hit the dusty floor, and he realized that he was leaving tracks. In the next moment, he saw Pandaren tracks leading into the cave. He followed them, his eyes alert and his senses engaged. Everything about this was suspicious – why did Liu come down here, and what escorted him that did not leave a trail? Whatever took him was adept at keeping its trail cold. The cave tunnel went deeper, deeper than he expected. The darkness was oppressive, even to his feline eyes. But the dusty rock came to an end, and he realized he was now treading on floors of stone.
The chamber was big. Not so big to be cavernous, but much larger than a simple cave should have led to. Terra Cotta statues lined the walls, and in the middle was a pile of bones. Strewn across the floor haphazardly were dead bodies, in various stages of decomposition. Finn passed the skeleton of a Tauren, mostly likely a Sunwalker judging by the dusty armor that surrounded the bones. The headless body of a Night Elf Sentinel lay nearby. He stepped over a Troll who must have died very recently, even as early as a few hours ago. Two human bodies next to the pile of bones, laid side by side in preparation for something. Everything was wrong about this scene, everything. His heart hammered in his chest. How had these others gotten down here and died so violently, when the cave was hidden? A pressing sense of mortal danger came over him. He turned to leave and saw Liu standing at the cave front, looking sad.
“I knew you would be a great tracker,” Liu said. Finn stayed stealthed – instinct told him that to show himself would be a terrible mistake. He had miscalculated gravely, and he could not compound that mistake with an even greater blunder. “I wish you weren’t.”
Finn did not move. His eyes darted around, gauging the situation, looking for escape routes. If he had to, he knew he could overpower Liu. He was probably trained for combat, living so close to the wall, but Finn remained confident in his own skills.
The Pandaren stayed at the tunnel entrance. “I am sorry for leading you here, but I had to. He made me, you see. He has my family, and until my work is done he will not return them to me.”
There was movement behind Finnaeus. He turned, and from the shadows stepped a rather large Mogu. Finn had only a few combat experiences against the Mogu, and he was never alone, and never trapped in a chamber such as this. He was very much in the wrong place, fighting on ground that he was very unfamiliar with. The Mogu looked imperiously down at the Pandaren.
“Let us see what you have brought for me this time,” the Mogu boomed. He waved his hand, and purple torches lit ablaze along the wall. The light was magic, and it removed Finn from his stealth. His one advantage removed, he twisted into his human form, glancing between the Mogu and the Pandaren.
“I am sorry, my friend,” Liu said, his voice filled with regret. “He has my family.”
“You should be sorry,” the Mogu boomed. “You have already brought me two of these pink-skinned worms. They were unsuitable for my needs. I tasked you with bringing champions of these strangers, and you bring me the same pitiful whelps. All useless. Weak.”
“He..he is not like the others,” Liu croaked, pleading. Despite his predicament Finn almost felt sorry for the Pandaren.
“We shall see,” the Mogu boomed, turning his cruel gaze back on Finnaeus. “I am Shan’Daon, sorcerer of great reknown. You should at least know the name of the one that is to claim your soul.”
“My soul is my own,” Finnaeus responded. “Better than you have tried to claim it and failed.”
“That I doubt,” Shan’Daon responded coldly. “Look about you. See how I have bested the champions of your pitiful factions. The troll at your feet not hours before you arrived. The defective Yaungol in the gold armor days before. The purple skinned elf, the pink-skinned worms. All of them rushing to save this pitiful creature, this easily manipulated waste of flesh.”
Liu lowered his head, no doubt filled with shame. Finnaeus could not look at him, his own emotions wavering between anger at the betrayal and pity that Pandaren farmer was put in such a position. But Finn did not let his emotions overcome him. Emotions could come later – first came survival.
“Let him go,” Finnaeus said. “If I am the one you want, then let him go.”
“He is mine to do with as I please,” Shan’Daon snapped. “And you will not command me. I am Mogu, and you are a nothing but dust at my feet. Let us see if you are worthy of the title champion, worthy of joining my collection.”
He waved his hands, his fingers glowing with a malevolent energy. The statues along the wall sprung to life. Finnaeus twisted, assuming his bear form, and without delay he charged at the first advancing statue. His massive body smashed into the stone warrior, shattering its form and sending pieces of jagged rock flying in every direction. In the next second he swiped out with his claws, ripping through the legs of two nearby warriors and sending their torsos crashing to the ground. He turned, sensing enemies behind him. The nearest statue swung a polearm, the blade catching Finnaeus on his backside. The blade crashed against his magically thickened hide, but the blade also cut flesh, sending hot blood into the air and fresh pain through his body. He roared, lashing out and taking the arm off of the statue, the blade falling uselessly into the ground. With only his mind he cast a rejuvenation spell on himself, attempting to mend the flesh wound. He turned to face the next statue, but his ursine body was too slow, and he caught a blow to the side from a stone mace. The blow knocked the wind out of him. He twisted into his cat form, dodged the next blow, and then swiped out, catching a statue by the ankles. He pulled, the statue losing its balance, and it fell crashing to the floor. He sprang up, dodging another blade, and then pounced onto the nearest statue. With a ferocious bite he crunched the head of one of the statues off of its neck, and then jumped with agility to the ground. Several statues were down, but many more were advancing.
His body ached from the mace blow, and his claws and teeth were sore from striking stone. This was not a fight he was going to win physically, not with tooth and claw against magically enchanted stone. He twisted into his worgen form, and then began to chant.
“You only delay the inevitable,” he heard Shan’Daon mutter, but the sorcerer was content to let Finnaeus battle the statues. He twirled his worgen claws, glowing with white, arcane energy. Beams of searing energy struck the statues. They faltered, and then Finnaeus reached into the air, channeling all of his energy into the spell. Stars of brilliant white light fell from the sky, striking the stone soldiers and rending the bodies apart. A fierce wind flew through the air, accompanied by violent slashes of forked bolts of arcane energy, viciously lashing and blasting the stone soldiers. Shards of shattered stone filled the air. He poured more energy into the spell, the lights and winds intensifying in a cacophony of thunder and crumbling stone. After a few moments he stopped, and saw that the soldiers had crumbled completely, all destroyed. Winded, he turned towards the sorcerer.
“Your army is destroyed,” Finn said, narrowing his eyes.
“Hardly impressive,” Shan’Daon muttered. “But you are capable, and proven fit for my use. Your soul and its energy will be the perfect additions to my own already incredible powers.”
Finnaeus glared up at the Mogu, his fingers glowing with arcane energy.
“Come take it from me then,” Finnaeus snarled.
“Hardly necessary,” the Mogu cracked. With incredible speed the Mogu cast a bolt of purple energy that struck Finnaeus directly in the chest. He felt his body seize and then float into the air. “You can best my stone army, but you are no match for my magic. I have grown my power over thousands of years. I claim your soul much like I claimed thousands before, and when I show the Thunder King my successes, he will raise me higher in the pantheon than the other warlords. He shall know my value, and I will rain such destruction upon our enemies that he will have no choice but to reward me.”
Finn saw Liu vanish down the cave tunnels, tears in the Pandaren’s eyes. He saw the Mogu take out a purple crystal. And then he felt the strange sensation of something pulling in his chest. He resisted, with all of his might. He uttered chants in his mind, hoping to break free from the spell.
“Do not resist, or this can be incredibly painful for you,” the Mogu sneered. But Finnaeus would not yield. Chants and incantations ran through his mind, fighting against Shan’Daon’s spell.
“Very well then.”
The Mogu waved his hand, and Finn felt his right leg snap in three places. A violent pain wracked his body, and if he could have moved his mouth Finnaeus would have screamed. The pulling in his chest grew stronger, but still he resisted.
“You are strong of will,” Shan’Daon said. “But you cannot resist.”
Another horrible crack wrent the air – this time it was every bone in his left hand. The pain flared like fire, his mind locked in a silent scream. The pulling intensified, and at one point he thought he could see his body from the outside, free of pain, before plunging back in, and into the torment. He could not relent, he couldn’t – this could not be how his story was to end, to be lost inside of a purple crystal forever, to be harnessed by a warlord in a strange place. Visions of Erelyn and Claire, Kordrion and Lydia, Gentyl and Suni, all flashed through his mind. Was this how he was to die?
No, he thought savagely. He fought against the pain, fought against the urge to give up. He could feel his grip on his body grow stronger, resisting the sorcerer’s spell. The pain was only temporary, only a distraction. If he could just focus, he could break the spell, and –
The Mogu sorcerer waved his hand, and Finn felt his spine break in two. That pain nearly drove him out of his mind. His broken body lay limp in the air. His mind resisted the pull, but the dawning realization came to him that he was losing the battle. Even if he could break free from the spell, he was irreparably broken. In the next instant, he could feel several of his ribs shatter. The taste of blood filled his mouth. He was dying.
“Let go,” Shan’Daon said, as if he were commanding a dog. “I have defeated you. You are broken. You have nothing to hold onto.”
Not like this, Finn pleaded with himself. There was plenty to hold onto. Dimly he could feel the weight of his family locket hanging from his neck. To die here and never see his comrades again was simply unacceptable. He could still feel his arms, as broken as he was, and he pushed with all of his might to fight the spell. Inexplicably he raised his right arm, the only piece of him he felt that he could even move.
“No,” Shan’Daon said, raising the crystal and sending a fresh bolt of purple energy at his body. At the same time, Finnaeus uttered a spell in his mind. The purple bolt hit him, and the strangest sensation came over him. He floated out of his own body, free of pain – everything went grey, colorless, and he could see his broken body hovering in the air. He was speeding away from it, towards the purple crystal. But then he saw a white flash of light strike Shan’Daon – Finnaeus’s last ditch effort moonfire – and he saw in a grey, hazy vision the spell crack the purple stone in his hand. Something went wrong with the stone’s spell – Finnaeus’s spirit was not absorbed. Instead it was refracted from the broken gem, and then a few moments later he could feel his body again. His eyes darted around, but then –
It was all wrong. He saw his broken, worgen body slumped on the ground, his legs and fingers bent at odd, unnatural angles. It was lifeless. And it was also several feet away.
How could he have a body, but his own body was on the floor feet away? He had no time to answer the question – Shan’Daon raised his hand again, his face filled with malice. Instinctively, knowing what was coming this time, Finnaeus raised his hands and called down a beam of sunlight, blinding the Mogu and preventing him from casting. It was then that he realized with horror that his hands did not have five fingers, were not the clawed hands of a worgen, but the green fingers of a troll.
It was as if discovering his predicament ushered in waves of realizations, each one more disturbing than the last. His entire body felt heavy in the wrong places, lanky in others. He could feel tusks protruding from his mouth. The taste, the smell, the feel, his eyesight – everything was completely and utterly different, and decidedly not his. An itch, more spiritual than physical, broke out over him. It was if mind, body, and soul knew that they were not supposed to be together and clashed violently to separate. But he did not have time to reconcile his situation, not when the diversion would not last long against Shan’Daon. Praying that he still retained all of his druidic skill, he twisted and thankfully resumed the form of a cat. More comfortable now before, but still reeling, he dashed through the chamber and into the tunnel. The roar behind him told him that the Mogu was chasing him.
Faster he ran through the tunnel, hearing blasts of magic behind him. He saw the darkness of the jungle ahead – he was almost there – but then a blast from underneath him sent him flying out of the tunnel. The concussion from the blast rocked his feline body, and he slammed hard into the ground. He struggled off to stand, his legs weak from underneath him. He saw Shan’Daon emerge from the tunnel. Finnaeus assumed stealth, disappearing into the shadows. The sorcerer roared in rage.
“SAUROK!” he screamed. From the darkness he saw at least a dozen of the reptilian creatures emerge from the darkness at his command. They all had a purple glow in their eyes, and Finnaeus could tell they were under his sway. “You know who you are looking for. Find him. Kill him.”
Finnaeus saw the Saurok sniffing the air, and he knew he had no more time. Weak, exhausted, his body growing more ill with each passing second, he dashed off into the jungle, the Saurok hissing and racing at his heels.
Finnaeus had fled for his life several times before. But this was the only time he felt in his bones that he would not make it through.
His paws dug into the damp mud of the Krasarang Wilds. He twisted and turned in the darkness, weaving through the trees in the hopes of losing his Saurok pursuers. But they knew the terrain, had his scent, and were not as wounded and injured as he was. Harder he pushed himself, spurred by the snarls and snapping jaws of the reptilian marauders. They would not tire, and he was nothing short of exhausted.
He took a sharp turn, suddenly a horrible scream wrent the air, and a Saurok was on him. Claws sank into his back. Finnaeus roared, twisting – he lashed out with a clawed hand and swiped the jaw off of his attacker. The blood splashed onto his face, covering the ground in dark crimson. The Saurok let out a gurgling moan, thrashing on the ground, clutching its face. Finn had no time to relish his temporary victory. His back seared from the flesh wound, and he could hear more Saurok catching up. He turned, trying to put together another spurt of energy. The sounds behind him got closer, his pursuers more relentless.
And then it hit him. A flare of intense pain erupted inside of him. It was as if coils of fiery snakes awoke in the pits of his stomach and chest. Only sheer force of will kept him running, but something was terribly wrong. He did not know if the Saurok had poisoned talons, but something was eating him away at the inside. Passing through a thick bush of undergrowth, he saw a pair of Tauren patrolling a camp. He turned to avoid them – he could not run into the Horde now – and then passed a troll so closely that he could hear the troll yell. He pushed onward, digging deep to keep running. The Horde encampment fell behind him. He could not hear the Saurok. For a second he thought he might have escaped. Coming upon the crumbled stone of old Mogu ruins, Finnaeus leapt over a broken down wall. He could stealth here, disappearing into the jungle night, when –
The pain flared inside of him again, and he felt his body seize. He crashed mightily into the stone wall, kicking up dust. He could no longer maintain his cat form, and he melded back into that of a troll. Curling, his insides contracting viciously and his body shivering, he knew he could no longer flee. A feeble attempt at standing gave him only the energy to vomit blood onto the ground. Everything spun, and when he looked up he saw the hazy vision of a Saurok leaping onto the stone wall, pointing.
“Here!” the voice hissed. Finnaeus reached up to utter a spell, but felt his arm spasm, contracting back. There was nothing left.
I’m close, Claire, Finnaeus thought to himself, the image of his long deceased wife flashing in front of him. He saw the Saurok get closer, his razor sharp talons raised. It would take one strike, he was that weak.
Edited by Finnaeus on 11/26/2012 9:55 PM PST
“Do not touch the troll,” a dark voice said.
The Saurok froze. Finnaeus looked up and saw the troll he passed earlier. Through the haze he saw him garbed in silver metal, with images of wolves on his spaulders. His silver robes looked bright, electric, as if forged from lightning itself.
“And what businessss isss it of yoursss, troll,” the Saurok said. More Saurok appeared from the darkness. The troll did nothing but smile.
“Dat be a troll. And you not be touchin’ him again so long as I stand,” the troll responded.
“And who are you to make ssssuch claimsss?” the Saurok hissed.
“It be of no importance to ya,” the troll said.
“The Massster willsss you to tell me your name!”
“Why bother mon,” the troll said. “Ya won’t live to use it.”
In the next moment, the troll raised his hand, and a vicious bolt of lightning struck the Saurok. The body thundered to the ground. Steam hissed from his charred corpse, the smell of burnt flesh filling the air. The Saurok descended on the troll. He waved his hand again, and another vicious bolt of lightning struck the nearest Saurok and bounced to the next. Horrid screams filled the night. Six more charged at him. He threw down a totem, jutting out of the ground.
“Come taste the voodoo,” the troll said, beckoning them. The Saurok approached, and the totem erupted into a searing flame. The totem engulfed them in flames, sending them scrambling into the jungle. Some collapsed instantly, their scales crackling and popping from the heat. The last Saurok stood on the wall, pointing.
“You have displeasssed the Massster,” the Saurok said.
“I got a message for ya boss, now,” the troll said. “So listen closely. Tell ya Master that when I come find him, he be cooked like the rest of his pets. Tell him the next lightnin’ bolt be comin’ his way, courtesy of Turango, the Stormcaller.” The Saurok screamed, taking one last, desperate attempt at taking out the troll. But Turango merely pushed his hands forward, a blast of molten lava completely covering the lizard. Death came quickly, and only ash fell to the earth.
Finnaeus lowered his head to the ground, white spots filling his vision. Consciousness was leaving him, perhaps for good. The last image he saw was Turango, standing over him. He could see the emblem of the Horde engraved in one of the weapons at his side. Before any emotion could register, Finnaeus’s eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he passed out.
Edited by Finnaeus on 11/26/2012 9:56 PM PST
“Open your eyes, brudda.”
Finnaeus woke, his head pounding. His eyes recoiled from the thin bands of light coming through the jungle canopy. Crouching above him was a troll, the same troll that had inexplicably come to his rescue against the Saurok. He couldn’t remember the name. A lot of the details were hazy, but then –
“The name is Turango,” the troll said, nodding as if he recognized the question without Finn even asking it. “Ya in the Horde camp in Krasarang. You been out cold for three days.”
Finn’s heart clenched. Three days in a Horde encampment? He turned his head, and he saw a group of Tauren Sunstriders guarding the perimeter. An ill-tempered orc was shouting at a goblin, who was content picking grime from his fingernails with a blade. If he could move he would have bolted then, but his body practically sank him into the ground.
“They be leavin’ you alone, for now,” Turango said, following Finn’s gaze. “But they have questions that need answerin’.”
Finnaeus tried to move, but he didn’t have it in him. Turango smirked, his teeth showing. Finn could not tell if it was a friendly or menacing gesture. The troll used one of his green fingers and tapped a small totem that was planted next to Finn’s body.
“This be a spirit totem. I used it to commune wit the spirits while you slept. And the spirits be sayin’ some things about you that make me wonder.” Turango reached to his side, pulling out a dagger. He made special emphasis to pass the razor sharp blade through the narrow band of sunlight, ensuring Finnaeus caught a good look at the light passing over the edge of the knife. “So it be best that we have a little chat first, brudda. Make sure ya answers be fit for mixed company.”
A sick feeling of came over Finn that had nothing to do with what ailed his body. The troll clearly had some knowledge of what happened to him, and that his spirit currently resided in a troll body did nothing to change that he was – is – a staunch supporter of the Alliance, and had, as a result, killed his fair share of Horde. Many of whom were trolls. Thoughts and panic mixed in his sluggish mind, desperate for a way out but knowing he was utterly trapped.
“It be interestin’, mon,” Turango said, keeping an eye on his Horde compatriots. “The spirits be keepin’ some things from me. I be thinking that they want me to trust ya. But trust can be tricky.” Turango leaned in, the knife still in his hands. His tusks were inches from Finn’s face. He could feel Turango’s hot breath on his face, feel the piercing gaze in his eyes.
“I know you’re not a troll,” Turango whispered, his voice low and yet still full of menace. “So don’t be lyin’ to me now, mon.”
Not breaking eye contact, Turango waved a three-fingered hand over the totem. A warmth spread over Finn’s body – the troll’s body, rather – and he stirred a bit.
“Not too much,” Turango warned. “I don’t want to be interrupted. This totem be keepin’ ya spirit in ya body. That’s why ya body is in so much pain. Ya be wantin’ out of the body, and the body be wantin’ ya out. Until ya find the balance, you’ll be needin’ this.”
Finn made no response at first. He did not want to find any balance with being in a troll body. He just wanted to be back looking for Shan’Daon and correcting his predicament. But that was on the distant horizon now. He had to escape the Horde first.
“Understood,” Finn said. The voice that came out was completely alien to him. It was surreal, moving his mouth to speak and finding that it was all unfamiliar. The way the tusks jutted out, the tenor of his voice much, much deeper and raspy than his own.
“Good. What’s ya name, brudda?”
Edited by Finnaeus on 11/26/2012 9:56 PM PST
“Finn.” He thought it best to avoid lying where he could. There was no knowing what the troll had already gleaned from his spell.
“Finn,” Turango said, testing the sound. “That not be a troll name. But like the spirits say, you’re not a troll. So the question is, what are ya?”
Finnaeus looked up at Turango, hoping that the question was rhetorical but knowing it was anything but. The silence dragged, the sounds of the encampment fading under the intense pressure Finn could feel developing between the two.
“No answer, eh?” Turango said, lowering the knife to Finn’s throat. “Don’t be thinking that I would have a problem cutting ya throat.”
“I’m aware,” Finn choked out, meeting Turango’s gaze.
“How be it that you come into this body?”
“A Mogu,” Finnaeus said, barely keeping his voice just before sounding defiant. “Named Shan’Daon.”
“A Mogu,” Turango repeated. “And he put you in the body of a troll for the pleasure of it?”
“No,” Finn said, keeping eye contact. “He tried to steal my soul. The spell didn’t work and I landed in this body.”
“How unfortunate for you,” Turango said, narrowing his eyes. “To have confronted a Mogu with such power. Lucky ya be a druid then. Shifty folks, ya are. Escape comes naturally.”
Finn did not react to the question. He could only see with clear eyes the inevitable tract that Turango’s questions would take, and steeled himself by not showing any reaction. To reveal emotion would betray the precarious nature of his situation.
“But if the spirits say ya not a troll, then ya must be a tauren,” Turango said. “Not a lot of folks can claim to be a druid. But that makes me wonder, brudda. If ya were a tauren, why didn’t ya make for the encampment when those lizards chased after ya. That be the smarter thing to do, no?”
Turango lowered his face further. The two were less than inches apart.
“So I wonder, maybe this druid isn’t a tauren. Maybe this druid is a worgen. Or an elfie. And that raises some serious questions. Maybe this imposter is a spy for the Alliance. Maybe he wanted to infiltrate the camp, and ran afoul of the Saurok and there Master. Who’s to say but you?”
“I didn’t switch bodies to spy on the Horde,” Finnaeus said. The knife pressed into his skin, drawing blood. “A Mogu did this to me. I swear it to be true,” Finn said, gasping as Turango dragged the knife ever so slightly to the right, drawing more blood.
“Ya swear it,” Turango said. “Ya words mean nothing to me.”
“Then kill me and get it over with,” Finn spat.
Turango narrowed his eyes, torn between slashing Finn’s throat or relenting. Finn thought he saw sparks in Turango’s eyes, a storm of indecision that caused him to waver. Another moment passed, and he lowered the knife.
“There be no words to acquit yaself now, brudda. The spirits tell me many things about ya, Finn, but not enough. The best answers seem to come from my own two eyes. So the path is clear to me now. Ya’ be takin’ me to this Mogu, where this spell occurred. That way I can find out for sure what spirit be lurkin’ in this troll body. Or maybe we find out you’re a liar, that you are a spy, and I cut ya throat.”
“I’m not lying,” Finn said. “This was not something done to me willingly.”
“We’ll find out,” Turango said. He took the totem out of the earth and placed it in Finn’s hands. “Keep this on ya at all times. It’ll keep ya from floatin’ out of that body, and let ya function. Ya even think of escapin’, I’ll kill ya. No questions. Ya with me?”
“Got it,” Finn said, his mind racing. Out of the frying pan, into the fire, only this time he was stuck in a body that only a totem kept from completely betraying him.
Turango got up from his crouch and ambled over to a nearby Tauren. Finn raised a hand to his throat, and whispered some words of healing. The skin melded together, halting the bleeding. He looked down and saw that his hands only had three fingers, and he looked away in disgust, listening in to Turango’s conversation.
“I be takin’ this one out into the wild. He be sayin’ that a Mogu sorcerer be practicin’ the voodoo close by. He be sayin’ the Mogu wants to take this camp and enslave the lot of us.” Finn wondered why the troll bothered adding that bit to the lie, but he was too concerned about his own safety to wonder too much. Instead he bent his mind towards figuring out a way to escape.
“I want to hear this for myself,” the raging orc said, cutting into the conversation before the Tauren could respond.
“The troll be under may care, Tazgrem. We both be goin’, and we’ll report back when we find out.”
“And I’m supposed to trust a pair of stinking trolls?” Tazgrem asked, scoffing. “There’s something off about that one. I want to question him myself.”
“Ya get the chance when we get back,” Turango said. “But not before we search out dis Mogu.”
“You better come back with him,” Tazgrem snarled. “Or it’ll be your head on a pike.”
“He’ll either be with me when we return, or dead by my own hand,” Turango said. Finn closed his eyes, trying to calm himself. Turango came back over, reaching out a hand. Finn took it and together they got Finn to his feet. It felt weird standing, but his balance came quickly.
“Ya remember the way, brudda?”
“Yes,” Finn said, nodding.
“Then we go,” Turango said, waving his hand towards the jungle. Finn took a deep breath, and they left the camp, descending into the dark wilderness of Krasarang.
((My Spriggel waits in fear and hope for your safe return home. My Gath'jin, he be welcomin' ya to da tribes; he be figgerin' dat eider ya be one of us or ya be dead, and dat all be good. Me, I'm am thoroughly enjoying your story and can't wait for what comes next.))
The two walked through the dense jungle, the oppression of the darkness second only to the heavy humidity. There was no noise, not even the buzzing of insects or the rustling of wildlife. It was an unnatural stillness, and it set Finn’s nerves on edge. There was no way a jungle should be absent of any activity. He felt vulnerable, shambling through the jungle in this trollish form. His arms and legs felt gangly, disproportionate. And the tusks, jutting from his mouth, irritated him. There was no way of telling how he would react to combat, except the worry that his clumsy control over his new body would get him killed. He cast a wary eye towards Turango.
“It would be easier if I could shift into my cat form,” Finnaeus said, his skin grating at the sound of his own, trollish voice.
“There be no shiftin’ for ya,” Turango said, without looking at him. “We be fine.”
“For now,” Finnaeus said.
They passed by the charred corpse of a Saurok, one of Turango’s victims from when the troll saved Finnaeus.
“They learned the lesson I taught ‘em,” Turango said. “They be leaving us in peace.” He looked at Finnaeus, a cruel grin forming around his tusks. “For now.”
“This way then,” Finnaeus replied.
Finn cast his gaze towards the horizon. They were getting close to the cliffside, close to where the mogu Shan’Daon ambushed him and nearly stole his soul. He didn’t have a plan on how to restore his soul back into his body, or how to repair his broken body enough for it to be usable. But the idea that they were getting closer to removing him from this troll gave him a palpable thrill. That he had to approach this impending confrontation with Turango gave him pause, but the last time Finnaeus attempted to combat the mogu, he was utterly broken. It would not hurt to have a powerful shaman on his side, even if he was Horde.
When they reached the cave, Finnaeus stopped. It was not covered by illusion as it was before – it lay open for anyone who walked by.
“This is it,” Finnaeus said, nodding to the cave.
“There be a lot of voodoo in the air here,” Turango muttered, almost growling. “Lot of magic.”
“He is a powerful sorcerer,” Finnaeus said. “We should proceed with caution.”
Turango looked at Finn, picking up on his implication.
“You be right, brudda. If this Mogu is real as you say, and this be his magic in the air…we best be usin’ caution.”
“I’ll need to shift.”
The statement hung in the air between them. Turango paused for a moment, and then nodded.
Finnaeus turned to his cat form, assuming stealth has he melded into the darkness of the cave. Next to him Turango shifted into a form of a ghost wolf. He was not nearly as concealed as Finn, but the darkness gave him some measure of stealth. Together they crept down the tunnel. Finn made note of the blast marks of where Shan’Daon chased him three days previously, the magical scars in the land still glowing where the spells made their impact. The scent of magic remained thick in the air.
They reached the secret chamber. The purple fires that once blazed in the torches on the walls were now just a dim glow. Finnaeus stepped forward cautiously, peering into the darkness. The pile of skeletons was gone. As were the bodies of the Sunwalker, the Night Elf warrior, the humans, and –
“The bodies are gone,” Finnaeus said, his voice jerking out of him. His head whipped back and forth, scanning for them, but they were nowhere to be found.
Turango assumed his troll form, sniffing the air.
“He cleaned up, this mogu,” Turango said. “Luckily for us, the earth has a long memory, and the air has the breath to give voice to the stories. We be findin’ out what happened here, and learn the truth.”
Turango set down two totems, one for the air and one for the earth. He waved his hands over them, chanting something under his breath.
“Let’s see what tales the spirits have to share,” Turango said, stepping away from the totems.
The stone floor underneath their feet vibrated. The dust kicked up into the air, hovering like a shroud of fog. In the next moment a warm gust of wind blew around them, lifting the dust further and spinning it. Finnaeus squinted, and he could see shapes forming in the dust. Another moment passed, and he could see it clearly – the dust formed into the large image of a Mogu, looming over that of a Pandaren.
“Nice trick,” Finnaeus said.
“Quiet now,” Turango said. He looked at Finnaeus. “I be communing with the spirits now. It will take some concentration.” The shaman placed a totem at the tunnel entrance – he waved hand over it and it glowed with fire. “In case you be thinkin’ of runnin’.”
“Understood,” Finnaeus said, his tone measured and even. His heart pounded in his chest – it wouldn’t take long before Turango learned that Finnaeus was truly Alliance. But as Finnaeus did not watch the dust shapes move around Turango, acting out images and scenes from the past. He instead took the time to investigate the surroundings. Whether or not it came to blows between the two of them once the truth was out would be something he discovered in time. For now, he had to learn as much as he could.
Shan’Daon had done an excellent job cleaning up. All of the stone shards from the terra cotta soldiers were gone. The pile of bones, the bodies – everything missing. Finnaeus’s true body was among the missing, which led to the first natural question. Did the Mogu destroy everything? Or did he take it somewhere else? Whether it was hope or logic Finnaeus didn’t know, but his mind settled on the latter. The sorcerer was up to something, some scheme – if the bodies were unnecessary then they never would have stayed as long as they did. He didn’t have a lot to go on, but Finnaeus suspected Shan’Daon did not do anything unnecessary. It would be beneath him. But he left nothing behind, nothing except –
In the center of the room stood a wooden spike. Wedged atop of it was the head of a Pandaren. Liu.
Finnaeus’s stomach recoiled. Despite Liu’s treachery, Finn couldn’t help but feel sorry for the Pandaren. The simple farmer was trying to save his family, an instinct anyone could understand. Shan’Daon must have finally reached his patience. Finnaeus looked closely at the head and noticed that all of the vital parts of the skull were removed. The eyes were gone, leaving chasms of darkness that seemed, impossibly, to be alive. The tongue was absent as well. Finnaeus had seen many horrors in his day, but this set him on edge. Everything about this was staged, deliberate, but for what purpose Finnaeus had no clue. He turned his head away from the Pandaren, and his heart stopped.
His communication stone, the one he linked to Kordrion’s, was on the ground. He could not believe his luck. He cast a look over his shoulder at Turango – the dust shapes of the Mogu and the Pandaren were still moving. The troll was deep in meditation. Finnaeus turned back, picked up the stone. He held it in his troll fingers, muttering, hoping and praying that it worked. It hummed to life, and his heart leapt to his throat. He pressed it as close as possible to his lips.
“Kordrion, it’s Finnaeus,” he whispered. He waited for a response, casting a nervous glance over his shoulder. The troll was barely visible in the darkness, the dust shapes forming an army of terra cotta soldiers. He did not have much time. “If you can hear this, I’m in Pandaria. I’m stuck in a -”
A flash of light blinded him, followed by searing heat. He felt the stone ripped out of his hand, and when his vision returned he saw the shards of the communication stone on the ground. The flesh from his hand was singed from the lightning. He turned his head and saw Turango leering at him, electricity crackling around his hands and in his eyes.
“Ya were honest,” Turango said. “A mogu did this to ya, that’s true. But ya weren’t exactly open about everything, were ya brudda?”
“I never lied to you,” Finnaeus said, taking in his surrounds. He stood behind the pike with Liu’s head, keeping distance between him and Turango.
“I knew ya were Alliance, knew it as soon as the spirits said ya weren’t a troll,” Turango said, his fingers weaving, the lightning dancing between them. “Ya be a spy, and ya be hopin’ to use that body to get in close. Strike from the shadows.”
“That’s not true,” Finnaeus said, steeling himself. Any moment now that lightning would come, and he had to be ready for it. “I just want to get back to my old body.”
“A worgen,” Turango said, leering. “A worgen who has Horde blood on his hands.”
“Let’s not play games,” Finnaeus said, his own temper rising. “You’re going to lecture me on death and bloodshed? Take a look at Theramore, and what your people did.”
“Not all the Horde loves Garrosh and his war,” Turango snapped. “But ya don’t care a thing about that, do ya? Ya Alliance are all the same. Hidin’ behind your morals but inside ya have a hate deep down. A hate that burns.”
“Your people have done nothing but earn that hate,” Finnaeus snarled. Where once he saw a troll that saved his life, he saw nothing but a monster now. This troll would fry him simply for being Alliance. He should kill Turango, let him die alone in this cavern. That would show him.
“And what be your plan now? Escape? Use that troll’s body to kill my kin? Spy on us? Somethin’ worthy of the Alliance, no doubt. Ya be nothing but a menace.”
Finnaeus stepped from behind Liu’s head, gazing through a mist that had formed between them.
“I’m going to find Shan’Daon and get my body back.”
“Ya not leavin’ this cavern, mon,” Turango said, his voice laced with malevolence. “Ya not be leavin’ here to kill my kin.”
“I’ll kill you if I have to,” Finnaeus said, a simple statement rather than a fact. The troll snarled, and the bolt of lightning came. Finnaeus spun, the air charged from the blast. The lightning missed, but as soon as Finnaeus settled another bolt came at him. He threw his hands up, his skin becoming bark, just as the bolt of lightning crashed into his chest and threw him violently backwards. He slammed into the wall, the air rushing out of his body. He lived, that was more important, and he threw his hands forward. A beam of arcane energy flashed in the darkness, searing the shaman’s flesh.
“Gonna take more than that, brudda,” Turango snarled. He threw down a totem just as Finnaeus shifted into his cat form and stealthed into the shadows. Finnaeus moved quickly, padding towards his target, when the totem sent out a wave of fire. He dodged, but too late – the flames seared him and gave away his position.
“There ya are,” Turango snarled, and he sent another blast of lightning in Finn’s direction. Finn dodged the lightning bolt, hearing it thunder into the wall behind him. The mist in the cavern grew denser, made it harder to see, but his seething hatred for the troll kept him locked and focused. The troll needed to die, and brutally, for his betrayal.
Finnaeus crouched and then leapt, charging at the troll. The force of the collision sent them tumbling. He had the troll, he lowered his jaw to clench down on his throat, but electricity surged through his body and sent him flying backwards. The smell of burnt flesh filled the air. He staggered to his feet, his fur singed and his body aching. Through the mist he saw Turango also struggling to get up. Finnaeus had no room in his mind to take in the fog, or the black energy that snaked through the ground. All he had room for was the troll in his sights, and the strong urge to kill him.
With a roar Finnaeus charged. He leapt again, landing on the troll’s chest and pinning him to the ground. The troll punched him in instinct, snapping his head to the left. He saw a quick vision of black tendrils snaking out of the eyes and mouth of the Pandaren’s head piked in the middle of the room. In the next, he turned his gaze back to the troll, and raised his paw to strike. One lash and he could take the troll’s head clean off.
“Do it, ya coward,” Turango hissed.
Finnaeus wanted so much to do it. So much to rip the head off of his prey’s shoulder and bathe in his blood. But that didn’t sound like him, wasn’t who he was. He hadn’t felt such rage since had first became worgen, before he learned his balance. This wasn’t who he was.
See things as they are.
His constant reminder to Erelyn to never be confused by the noise. He looked down at the troll, hopped off, and then looked at Liu’s head. The eyes were alive with dark energy, tentacles of black mist pouring out of the eyes and the mouth. He assumed his troll form, pushed a hand towards the head, and then let loose a burst of energy. The head was blasted off of the pike, hitting the ground with a thud. The mist rushed towards the head as if it sucked it in, and then a shambling, black creature crawled out of Liu’s mouth. It hissed, a weird cackle filling the air, and then it disappeared into the shadows.
Finn turned back to Turango. He did not know how the troll would react. The shaman looked bewildered at the shadow creature that just disappeared, and then looked at Finnaeus.
“The head was a trap,” Turango said, staring at the now lifeless head.
“Maybe,” Finnaeus said. “I don’t know. But that was definitely the Sha.”
The troll nodded, and then his eyes met Finn’s.
“Ya didn’t kill me,” he said.
“No,” Finn replied. “I didn’t.”
The shaman struggled to his feet, a hand to his head.
"Why didn't ya?"
Finn thought a moment, considering.
"Maybe because you saved my life. Maybe because I don't like being manipulated, Sha or otherwise," Finn said. "Or it could just be that I don't kill out of hate."
“Either way, ya fight fierce,” Turango said. “For an Alliance.”
“You’re not bad yourself,” Finnaeus said, suddenly tired. It seemed he was out of immediate danger, but that left him with the enormity of the task at hand. He had to find Shan’Daon, wherever he was, and get his body back. But where to start? And how to do it?
“I know what ya be thinkin’,” Turango said. “Ya be wantin’ to hunt down this mogu.”
“I need to get my body back,” Finnaeus replied. “And we need to stop whatever Shan’Daon’s doing.”
“True,” Turango said. “But we have a more pressin’ concern.”
“Ya spared my life, and we even the scales between us,” Turango said. “But ya were in my camp for three days. We have an orc with a nasty temper lookin’ for answers. I can’t return without ya.”
“Tell them I gave you the slip,” Finnaeus said.
Turango laughed, cold and without pity.
“Ya got a lot to learn if ya be in a troll body for some time,” Turango said. “This ain’t the Alliance, brudda. I return without ya and I get killed.”
“Tell them you killed me then,” Finnaeus said.
“Without a trophy it means nothin’,” Turango said, shaking his head. “The two of us, we be in a predicament. I can’t let you go. Ya saw how Tazgrem acted when I took ya out to this cave.”
Finnaeus’s mind raced. He wanted nothing more to do with the Horde, and only burned to get back to his comrades and help restore his body.
“I can’t go back there,” Finnaeus said.
“Where will ya go? Ya’re a troll. And I don’t know if ya noticed, but when ya spoke into ya stone there, ya weren’t speakin’ Common.”
Finnaeus felt cold all of a sudden.
“Ya were speakin’ troll. Ya friends won’t understand a word of what ya said. Ya got nowhere to go.”
Finnaeus’s mind raced. It somehow never occurred to him that he couldn’t simply go to his friends in the Alliance. Turango looked at him, a mixture of sympathy and grim humor on his face.
“Ya got to come with me now,” Turango said. “Answer the orc’s questions, maybe save our skins. Then maybe we can figure out how you survive the next part. At least until ya get ya body back.”
“What’s the next part,” Finnaeus asked, thunderstruck. But though he asked the question, but he already knew the answer.
“Surviving the Horde,” Turango said.
Edited by Finnaeus on 12/11/2012 12:33 PM PST
For the longest time the stone had been silent, not that it worried Kord overly much as it was an emergency means of contact. What DID worry him was when the stone suddenly sparked to life with a troll voice stirring him from his bed. Grimacing at the feedback generated when the other stone was destroyed the rogue slipped out of bed pausing only to murmur a soft reassurance to Ket and pull on a pair of pants. Within a few moments he found himself in front of a hidden vault carefully disarming the traps before pulling the door open, once inside he picked up a locket frowning softly at the familiar weight.
For a moment everything was quiet and then a with a soft glow the old spirit formed into a near perfect reflection of Kord though the differences were obvious in the glowing eyes and sandstone Skin. "You called?"
Kord paused and stared a moment "When...that's...nevermind." Shaking his head he held the locket out to the drake. "Something happened to Finn, can you use the connection through this to find him and protect him?"
Getting a thoughtful look the spirit stretched a hand out carefully touching the locket despite passing slightly through it and then started tracing lines visible only to him. After a long moment of silence he nodded slightly. "I can, yes. Your friend is very far away and magics muddle the connection but I believe I can." He turned to frown slightly at the young man. "Your friend has found magic older then I am, you would be wise to mind your own and let his people handle it."
The rogue stared at the spirit "For someone who's been sharing my head-space for nearly a year now you seem to ignore a lot about me. Like I told the gnome, I know damn well I'm not wise...and in that spirit I'm going to find out what's going on and then we'll go from there."
Snorting in amusement the old dragon shook his head. "Ignore? No. Hope you had grown out of it...? Very much so. Very well then, I will find your druid and lead you to him, what happens between points A and B though is up to you to untangle so you get there. I don't think I need to remind you that you aren't at liberty to run off on a whim anymore."
Kord grimaced. He had been hoping the dragon wouldn't remind him of that so he could claim concern as his reason for dashing off. Now that it was brought up he was reminded of his obligations to his order and the rest of his family. Unfortunately that meant he would have at the very least a day's delay in order to settle things in case something happened.
Shaking his head he pulled himself back out of his reverie. "Go find him, I will settle things here and head out to meet up with you as soon as I am done. And for light's sake be careful, that place does odd things to spirits and as much as I want to throttle you at times I think I might miss you telling me how I've done things wrong and how you would do them.
Giving the rogue an odd look the spirit apparently decided not to respond to this bit of sentiment, instead he faded from view following the strands linking Finn to the locket.
Watching him go Kord sighed quietly and set out to find a shirt then set to making preparations, for him at least sleep was through for the night.
Edited by Kordrion on 12/13/2012 9:54 AM PST
Finn often disappeared for long periods of time, but this time was different. Gentyl could feel it deep inside. He had not communicated, but she felt nothing but disquiet when she thought about him. After years of being a Sepha, something had changed inside her. She often could touch an object belonging to one of her people or think about them in the quiet times and sense their condition. She had reached out to Finn a few times, at first he was simply on a mission, striving to finish something. After that she felt the danger, but it had ended. That also was not unusual. Now the feeling about him was weaker, but she still sensed disquiet and a different kind of danger. Not like he was fighting, but rather as if he was cloaked in it.
She remained on the ramparts where he often paced or slept. The owl he had tried to make friends with watched her. The great yellow eyes seemed to condemn her. Perhaps it was her own conscience. She gave Finn free rein of what he did because she trusted him implicitly as she needed to with a leader of the Silent Guard. She didn't meddle in his business any more than she had to, but the time to meddle was here.
She strode down the steps to the main floor of the tower and asked one of the servants to get her coffee. Normally, she hated having people do things for her, but some of Disco's kitchen bots had escaped her wrath, or he had made more, and she still triggered screeching sirens every time she entered the kitchen.
The servant returned with a cup of coffee, a pot she placed in the rack over the glowing coals in the great room fireplace, and some biscuits and ham. The biscuits were fresh out of the oven, in preparation for the large breakfast about to be laid for the Presidium.
She thanked the girl, and turned her thoughts back to Finn. It was time to find him. Her mind cast out again, but she could feel nothing aside from a vague uneasiness. She was still holding the half empty, completely cold cup of coffee when Des bounded into the room. Gods, he always had so much energy. She wished she could bottle it.
Des, I need to talk to you.
He disappeared into the kitchen as if he hadn't heard her, returned with a heaping platter of scrambled eggs, ham and biscuits and a cup of coffee. Perhaps that was his secret. He ate like a small army. "Aye, Sepha?"
"Finn is missing. He should have been back by now. I need you to take control of the Silent Guard and we need to track him down."
He stopped eating for a moment as if processing the information and acknowledged it with a simple nod before finishing the platter of food.
Edited by Gentyl on 12/13/2012 5:34 PM PST
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