Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

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Chrystenise
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Re: Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:55 pm

Screams.

Roars.

Explosions.


The dream images played kaleidoscope behind Ilarra's sleeping eyes. They were blurry, far away; hard to make out. Hard to tell specifics.

Clashing blades, ice and flame.

"This isn't over."

Whoosh.

"Game."


The priestess groaned and opened her eyes, losing details. She stared at the ceiling, seeing nothing but Genise's shocked, staring face. Frozen. Maybe dead, maybe... maybe...

"Game."

"Game."

"Game."


Maybe...

"Game."

"Game."

"...Dammit Gen."

The damn pillow was still too soft, too.
--

Later:

"They're coming closer now - I have to go. Ilarra, my partner in business, keep the Feather going, I suppose it's yours now. If this is the last you all hear of my voice, please know that I love every one of you, and that never changed, no matter how outcast I felt. I love you..."

A sudden explosion erupted from the recording, and an all-too-familiar, mousey battlecry sounded from the throat of the young sorceress, followed by hissing and screaming.

*click*

They stared at the now silent crystal. Ilarra clutched Genise's glasses close to her chest, stood, and left.

"Ila...?"

"Leave me alone, damn you!"


She stepped from the well-lit front entrance of the Pig to the dark of the street, and heard crying. It wasn't hers. She sighed, bowed her head, and slipped Genise's glasses into a pocket.

"Come on out, would you Iss?"

For awhile there was no response. Finally Isi stepped forward from the shadows. She was hunched over, obviously in pain, protectively clutching the mangled arm to her side. Her face remained hidden from the world behind crimson locks.

"You look a mess, darlin."

"I..I can't feel it... My arm..."

"Wanna go to the Feather, we'll get you taken care of and talk for a bit?"

Isi nodded quickly, stepped close and looked up to the vastly-taller elf with a pleading gaze. "Please? I can't fix it..."

"Go on ahead and meet me there? Can you make it that far? I've got something I've gotta do first, or I'd go with you." Ilarra fumbled with trembling fingers to light a cigarette. "I won't be long, promise."

"I'll see you there," Isi quietly responded, and took a few steps back. "I'll go now."

Ilarra kept her eyes on her cigarette; shrugged and nodded. "Ask for a fella named Rusan. Go on, now."

Isi nodded, hesitated, then left, limping. Ilarra continued staring at her cigarette.

It wouldn't light. Why wouldn't it light?

"Needs matches, darlin."

She looked up. The shadow offered her a match, held delicately between its transparent fingers.

"Thanks."

"How come you sent Isi off alone?"

Ilarra shrugged as she touched the tip of the match to the end of the cigarette. Nothing happened.

"Didn't want her to see me crying, that's all."

"Mm. Gotta light the match first, you know."

"Oh."

The shadow giggled. "Losing your mind now?"

"You know it."

The match flared and started to burn.

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Chrystenise
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Re: Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:56 pm

Northrend was only a hop and a skip... And a frozen, machine-destroying crash... For Isi Underhill.

Finding Genise Crownsilver, however, was a failure of a quest from the beginning.

Two weeks of searching had led her only to find the few trinkets left behind after Genise's abduction, and one very pissed off frost drake that nearly took the tiny woman's arm with her, though, the set-in frostbite may have claimed it anyways.

She had since returned to inform the Riders of Genise's fate. (See: Post #2) The blood in the area, the charred remains - there was no mistake that Genise was there, and very unlikely that the blood near her surroundings belonged to something other than her.

-

She sat in a chair within the main 'office' of the Silver Feather, covered now in a sleeveless gown. Her blackened, twisted arm outstretched, and her eyes locked on the form of Rusan; one-third of Genise's Triplet servicers within the Feather. Rusan, despite appearing as the 'ignorant musclehead" of the three, holds an extensive knowledge of medicines as opposed to his feminine brother and shamanistic sister.

Which, of course, is why Larra picked him to doctor up the young rogue. Nothing to do with the muscles and all that distraction from pain nonsense - nope!

The door opened at the far end of the darkened, candle-lit chambers. Isi and Rusan both spared a glance, and then nothing, the large man returning to his job as mender and eye candy, and Isi to her job of being in massive amounts of pain.

The door then silently closed with no reaction from the two. Isi jumped slightly as Rusan began to spread a thick, ivory paste over her arm, and whispered quietly. "We'll have your arm back to normal in no time, ma'am."

Genise's empty leather chair creaked and moved behind her big desk, rolling out slightly. It leaned itself back, gave a heavier creak, and settled lower to the floor. A pair of high heels formed out of the room's shadows and thunked atop the desk.

"So, what, the door randomly opens and closes with no cause, and you two just keep on with what you're doin'?" said Ilarra.

"I know how you love to watch," Rusan calmly replied, eyes still on his charges arm as he spread the salve over evenly. Isi said nothing herself, short of the faint, saddened smile she offered Ilarra - followed by a pained cringe.

The priestess sighed. "You really got yourself beat up up there, didn't you, kid?"

"Ayuh.." she sighed herself, eyeing the arm. "Let m'self get distracted when I found Geny's stuff; fucker snuck up on me." She glanced between her arm and Ilarra, and frowned. "Rusan says it should heal alright."

"It had better." Ilarra turned a sweet smile on Rusan.

"Being a well-paid toy isn't my only skill, Madame Stormrunner." Rusan flashed a light grin at Ilarra, and continued. "I'm an excellent free toy as well."

"Just fix the girl." Ilarra's eyes moved back to Isi. "You gonna be okay, darlin? Aside from the arm?"

"Dunno..." Her gaze turned back to her arm, and then to the floor as she swallowed. "Kinda liked Geny, ya know? Don't really let m'self get close to folk since Lordaeron happened, didn't think it'd be so rough to deal with - but it is."

Ilarra's face went blank. She stared at her feet on the desk. "Yeh, it sucks. I asked about you though."

Rusan spared a glance to Ilarra, before he quickly returned to work on the arm. Isi sighed, and nodded. "I'll be fine. Just needa stay outta sight til' this heals. Be hell to pay if Xan found out."

"'Cept you asked me to make you tell him anyway, after you came back." Ilarra took her glasses off and started cleaning them on her sleeve.

"Ayuh, I did.." She cringed at just the thought of it. 'Hey, Xan, I'm not really an engineer mechanic, I'm also a notorious cat burgular who you've probably been ordered to kill on sight!" She frowned past her mocking words. "Promise youll not let 'em kill us too - without killin' him?" She smirked.

"Well, yeah, I can do that. Although I really dunno if I oughta be there for it."

"Good point..."

"I knew a Xander once." Rusan added in, briefly. "Roguish, dark-haired man down south, known for his womanizing." And then grinned. "Watch Rusanni kick him across Last Stop Port when he grabbed her backside."

"Funny, she's never done that to me," smirked Ilarra. "How's the arm coming, there? Need any priestess-type help?"

"She likes you." Rusan grinned. "But then again, I think Rusana is in love. Hmm, and now that you mention it, any healing you can spare would help. Frostbite is too much of a gamble, especially when magickally induced."

"What hit you, anyway, chicky?" Ilarra got up from behind the desk and swayed to lean over Rusan's shoulder, eyeing the injured arm.

"Some sorta dragonish thingy..." She glanced up at Ilarra, and then back down to the arm. "Was gatherin' up Geny's stuff, and it came right around the boulder like it was some thief in the night."

"Damn sneaky lizards. Big bony one, or just generic dragonish?" The shadow priestess faded back to opaque as she pressed gentle hands over what was left of Isi's arm; she made a face. "Eugh, this is a mess, darlin. You're gonna want a druid for this one, or a squiddie-type shaman maybe. Still, here." She frowned. Fitful silver lights twinkled around her hands, passing briefly into the ruined arm before winking out. She sighed. "...Not much of a healer lately myself, I'm afraid..."

"Don't suppose this fella has a quadruplet druid for me to stare at, hmm?" Isi smirked, and Rusan grinned, flashing a wink at the young woman.

"Thank you, ma'am." He spoke softly, and watched Ilarra's movements carefully.

"I don't think it did much though." She pursed her lips. "I could try messy style if ya want, Iss."

Isi perked a brow and gave a faint shake of her head. "Nah, I'll go dig up on of the Rider druids, or that crazy Caile broad to do some tree-hugger magicks on it." She eyed Ilarra thoughtfully. "Why's your magickin' messin' up?"

"'Cause I'm depressed." The elf turned back to Genise's chair, fading abruptly to transparent again, and changed the subject. "Would you answer my question about the lizard, woman?"

"Yeh..." She sighed lightly, and turned her gaze away from Larra and back to the blackened arm. "Generic one, wasn't a deader or anything like that. M'guessin' it was hungry, an' I looked good enough to eat."

"Well you are pretty tasty." Ilarra flopped in the leather chair. "That's a mercy, anyway. Been dreaming about bony ones, lately. Also, if it'd been a bony one you'd prolly have the Plague."

Isi laughed softly, "Heard that one down in the Bay before." And the laughs stopped abruptly. "...Do you think she's really gone?"

"Don't ask me that question."

"Right, sorry."

She and Rusan exchanged a brief glance as all went silent. Isi curled her feet up beneath herself in the chair and tried to settle in comfortably as Rusan worked to bandage the arm.

"...You didn't find her body?" asked Ilarra.

She shook her head, responding. "Only some dried blood an' her stuff. Was definitely a hell of a fight, whatever it was."

"Mm." The priestess closed her eyes and resumed sulking.

Rusan found this a good a place as any to intervene. He finished with the bandage, and glanced between the two, speaking softly. "You both look wore out - perhaps a good night's rest is in order?"

Ilarra's eyes stayed closed. "I just woke up."

"Very well. Shall I have Rusanni come see you? She must be tired of telling the fortunes of all Raya's friends tonight."

"Sure, whatever." The shadows sitting in the chair got slightly deeper.

Rusan nodded, and without another word, gave Isi a gentle pat on the thigh, and made his way from the room. Isi sighed, a concerned glance shifted in Ilarra's direction. "Talk to me, 'Larra..."

The shadows deepened further, silent and sulky. Isi nodded, and slipped to her feet, gaze turned back to the floor.

"Right then, suppose I should find somewhere to pass out then - ain't slept in days..."

Ilarra sighed and opened the silhouettes of her eyes. "Sorry, Iss. It... it's just, yeah. Uh. ..D'y'wanna come back to my place, or anything? We can find you a bed here, too, if you'd like that better."

"Zangar might be best. high up an' well protected - an' I'm pretty useless right now m'self, heh."

"C'mon, then." The priestess stood and moved to Isi, putting her arm around her protectively. "Let's get you safe."

"Larra?" She paused as soon as they had began to walk, tears had flash-flooded and streaked her cheeks. "I..I'm sorry..."

"Stop, stop that." Shadowy fingers caressed Isi's cheek, then ran through her hair. "Stop it, sorry for what?"

She shook her head, wiped at her eyes, and sucked in a deep breath. "I..I wasn't able to find her - I couldn't finish the job."

"Hey, shh." Ilarra leaned down and kissed Isi's forehead. "I mean, no body could be a good sign, doll."

"Could... Yeh..." She sighed, just before she buried her face in Ilarra's robes.

"That, or she's a walking, flesh-eating zombie now. Either way, not your fault. Now come on, let's get you to bed..."

"....Waaaaaaaugh!"

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Chrystenise
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Re: Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:57 pm

She woke to the sound of water dripping somewhere.

A cell of some kind--not as filthy as most, though, and unusually spacious, with a very large door, as if it were built for larger occupants than she. A thin pallet on the cold marble floor was serving as her 'bed'. Automatically, Genise Crownsilver went for her glasses, kept in their usual pocket, but found not only no pocket, but her robes gone--she had been dressed in a featureless linen shift. Inspecting herself, she found that someone had taken the time to clean her and dress her wounds, wrapping her burns and scrapes with white bandages.

Her wounds! The Dragonblight. Northrend. It came back to her in a sudden flood, memories of what had happened in the fight with that Death Knight mingling with confusion as to why she'd have been tended so carefully, followed quickly by a sudden wrenching of her stomach and a cold sweat, and a distressing awareness of her own pulse.

The hunger was back, and she had nothing to show for her quest to rid herself of it but a prison cell somewhere in...who could tell, really? It was cold. She put her arms around herself with a shudder, only to wrench them back--the chill wasn't so much from the cell as from the metal bands wrapped around her wrists and, she felt with her fingertips, her neck. Heavy and black, their touch was consistently chilly, and the sensation that her own body heat did nothing to warm them like ordinary metal was disconcerting.

The feeling in her stomach tightened even worse when she realized what they were.

Almost in a panic, she flung herself into the gestures of a common fire conjuration. Nothing. Alright. No panic--she forced herself still. Breathe in. Out. In again. With an exhale, she stood, stretching sore muscles, eyes closed. In. She thrust a hand forward with another exhale, towards the iron-wrought cell door. A warmth filled her, and then it was suddenly gone. No fire spewed forth.

It was like the feeling one gets when you have a powerful sneeze brewing, only for it to suddenly and without warning cease to exist the moment before it passes through the nose.

That Death Knight shackled my magic.

With an incoherent, high-pitched scream, she pounded the door of the cell.

* * * * *

Maraviglia Norvallen, Death Knight of the Scourge, pressed a finger to her forehead, and closed her eyes.

The Darkfallen, a pallid, gaunt figure with empty white eyes and a hollow visage, oblivious to the gesture of irritation, continued to pace back and forth across the marble of one of the few rooms still intact in the old titan fort. "Furthermore," the vampiric elf was saying, "though your reports on the activities of Valiance Landing have been nothing short of comprehensive, too much remains vague about exactly what we're dealing with. And we still know nothing," the vampire whirled to face the knight, "about Dalaran."

"Stop haranguing about it, Barthus." Norvallen sat up in her chair, meeting the elf's eyes glare-for-glare, "His Royal Malevolence is placing his worries in the wrong place, but if there's anything to be learned of Dalaran's activities, we can pull them from our guest."

"How do you know she's even from Dalaran?"

"Intuition." The response was bland.

Barthus gave her a withering look, and folded his arms. "Let me question her myself."

"No." Mary's look was flat. "I'm afraid that your own perverse little tastes aren't called for in this situation, vampire."

"...I'm not going to beg."

"Isn't that a shame." The woman took a sip from her mug. A high-pitched shriek resounded through the keep. She swallowed, a serene expression on her face.

"Ambiance?" Barthus deadpanned.

"No. Seems the princess has awoken. Now stay out of sight."

* * * * *

Image

Genise raised her fist to pound on the cell door once again, only to lurch forward as it suddenly swung open. A carrion reek assailed her nostrils. Standing in the wide hallway was a ghoul, looking at her with a pair of empty eye sockets, a large key clutched in one taloned fist. The mage recoiled as the ghoul thrust a hand towards her, but stopped short of her face, pointed, then deliberately pointed again in a direction down the hall.

A chill ran down her spine. She took a step back into the cell, shaking her head, scowling and folding her arms. "I'm not taking orders from a ghoul," she growled, "if you want me somewhere, send that...that harridan of a Death Knight that probably orders you around!"

She gave an involuntary shriek as the ghoul staggered into the cell. The creature stopped before barreling into her, but the reek was almost overpowering. The ghoul one again raised a hand and pointed at her, then, slowly pointed out the cell door, but then, made a sort of jerk of it's torso that may or may not have been a shrug, pointed at her once again, then pointed at it's own grotesquely enlarged maw, followed by another shrug.

"Oh." Genise sneered past the momentary onset of panic, "I've got options. That's nice of you. Now get out of my way."

Dressed in a featureless shift and magic-dampening shackles as she was, and still feeling as if her innards were painstakingly turning themselves inside-out one at a time, she managed a passable angry stomp as she hurried down the hall, her expression stormy. She stopped at the end, confronted by a huge, engraved door, and wrapped her hands around the high handle, pulling. As if on cue, the door jerked away from her, opening the opposite direction, with such sudden force as to nearly dislocate her arms. Every door in this place hates me, she managed to think to herself as she staggered into the room beyond.

The breadth of the chamber was at odds with the size of the occupants as well as that of the furniture. There was only one small wooden table throughout the entire high-vaulted room, with a few bits of scattered debris, and worn-away frescoes on the walls hinting at long-since-decayed opulence. The only light came from a few braziers near the table, as well as a sizable hole knocked in the ceiling near one corner. A breeze came forth from the hole, disturbing the few shreds of what have must once been banners hanging from the ceiling.

It was, needless to say, freezing, and Genise was the only person in sight that seemed at all cognizant of that. None of the dozen or so ghouls that stood still as statues about the room were at all responsive. At the small table sat a lone living figure, legs crossed and dressed comfortably in fleece under a black tabard, sipping from a steaming mug, the Death Knight. Mary, she had called herself. As Genise stepped into the room, shivering, the woman gestured at the empty seat across from her. A ghoul, on cue, pulled it out for her.

Genise looked at the chair, looked at Mary, looked at the ghoul, then back at the chair. Then, she looked around the room. There were several other doors leading out of it, none an obvious exit. There were about a dozen ghouls--and more could be hiding behind various piles of debris or hanging cloth. She could try to bolt, but there simply wasn't anything that seemed like a viable plan, and she was still without her magic. With a defeated sigh, she moved to the chair. It was only then that she noticed that what in actuality had looked like a pile of skins draped across the back of it, her vision blurred as it was without her glasses, was actually a thick winter coat. She stared at it suspiciously.

"It's not going to eat you, you know," said Mary.

Genise looked at the woman, and glared. Not taking her eyes off her, with a huff, she sat down, the jacket untouched. The Death Knight simply raised a narrow brow, then gestured at the full, steaming mug in place in front of the mage. "Surely you at least want something warm to drink."

"It's poisoned, isn't it!?" Genise's voice was shrill.

"Oh, yes, of course," Mary rolled her eyes, "I dragged you here and cleaned your wounds, only to diabolically assassinate you with my death jacket and," she sneered, "my malevolent murder mug."

"...probably!"

Mary sighed.

In truth, even if the coffee was perfectly mundane, Genise didn't dare risk it. Her stomach already felt like it was devouring itself, empty as it was.

The jacket, however, she had to concede to. She huddled in on herself as she wrapped the thick, padded leather around her, mumbling something.

"I'm sorry," Mary said, watching her expressionlessly, "I didn't quite catch that."

"I said this better not be made of, like, human skin!!"

Mary bit back her retort, taking a long sip from her own mug, before setting it down. Genise simply glared back, taking in the other woman's appearance as best she could without her glasses. She almost seemed normal, the same as the harried dockworker she'd met back at the port, though she wore her lank, ash-blonde hair down now, spilling lifelessly over her shoulders. She had rounded features that would have seemed pleasant on anyone else, but for what seemed like a permanently sardonic knit of her brow, a faint scowl, and that tell-tale frigid cast to her eyes that almost seemed to make them glow, hinting at a sizable infusion of necrotic power. In a single concession to vanity, her lips were painted a deep red. Genise blinked. There was a cast to her face that seemed unusually familiar, but she couldn't place it. The all-around blurriness made it difficult to tell.

"So," said the Death Knight, "you're probably wondering why anyone bothered to drag you out here. Needless to say, your chances of making a real escape are improbable," she gestured towards the mage's wrists and neck. "I wouldn't recommend testing the limits of those, by the way."

"Wouldn't dream of it," Genise snarled through clenched teeth.

"Smart girl. We're going to start with a basic question, then: Where's Dalaran?"

"What?" Genise blinked.

"Where is Dalaran? It's gone. Where is it?" Mary's tone was mild.

"I don't know!" Genise shouted.

"Girl, you're a mage. Mages are, by default, associated in some way with that conclave. You know something, and you're not saying."

"Look," Genise said, "you even mentioned that at...at the dock where you tricked me--"

Mary interrupted, "I didn't trick you."

"Yes you did!!"

"You didn't ask if I was a servant of the Scourge, nor did I say I wasn't."

"But you are."

"I believe we've established that, genius." The Death Knight rolled her eyes.

Genise snarled, "What were you doing there, then?"

Mary's brow perked, "Are we asking the questions now?"

"Yes," Genise's tone was livid, "We are. What are you going to do to make me not?"

"My, you're terrifying." A faint, humorless smile crossed Mary's lips. "If you must know, what I was doing at the docks in Valiance was exactly what you saw me doing. Nothing more, and nothing less."

Genise opened her mouth to retort, then hesitated. "Wait..."

"You're getting close to it, there," Mary took a sip from her mug, "Keep grinding those gears. It's coming to you."

"You were spying." Genise said finally.

"Once again," sighed the Death Knight, rolling her eyes again, "we reestablish the sordid truth for what it is."

"No." Genise frowned, "Now I don't get it. What could you possibly," she fought to control the level of her voice, "want out of me that you couldn't pick up just mingling with the people there? This is pointless!"

"I think you're standing on it now," nodded Mary, "just ask yourself, dear girl, 'what am I?'"

"Me? I'm a...a mage. What has that got to do with anything--" Mary opened her mouth to speak, but it was Genise's turn to interrupt, "Don't ask me about Dalaran! I DON'T KNOW!" her shrill declaration echoed through the empty chamber.

After a moment's silence, Mary retorted, "That's plainly obvious, fool."

"That p--" Genise sputtered, "Okay, look, I don't have to sit here and take your insults."

"Actually," Mary's tone was pleasant, "You do, but let's look past that for a moment, and return to our question--what are you?"

Genise sighed at length, before finally bringing herself to answer, drawing herself up as best she could, "I am Madame Genise Astera Crownsilver, The Sorceress of Elwynn, proprietress of the Silver Feather, and a renowned Archmagess of Outland."

"Hm. I didn't know that 'Archmagess' was a real word," mused Mary, tapping her painted lips, "but that's exactly what I wanted to hear."

Genise was confused. "What?" she managed.

"Your adventures in Outland," said the Death Knight, her tone not unlike that of a therapist discussing some trauma with a patient, "Tell me about them."

"They were, uh..." Genise stammered, "They were a long story, is what they were." Mary tilted her head inquisitively, as the mage's scowl returned, "What do you want to know about them?"

"Let's start with your companions," Mary said, "The Outlands campaign was, reportedly, a smashing success by all accounts. I want to know what sort of people you fought alongside."

"You're not going to get anything out of me," Genise glared flatly, "you're not going to--you're not going to see what's coming." The mage managed to part her lips in the semblance of a grin, though no humor was evident.

Mary's expression, however, turned quite suddenly from pleasant to flat. She stared unblinkingly across the table at the mage, the icy light in her eyes literally seeming to glow, and spoke; "I will, girl. I am going to know exactly what will land on Northrend's shores."

"Oh, really?" Genise leaned forward, her voice cracking, "and how? Are you going to torture me? Have one of your ghouls chew off my fingers one at a time? Steal my voice so I'll never cast a spell again?" She stood, placing both hands on the table, "No, Mary, you're getting nothing from me. I'm not a turncoat..."

She leaned forward, "...not a backstabber..."

She met and matched the Death Knight's gaze, "...not a filthy, despicable TRAITOR!!"

Shrill as her final oath was, it echoed through the vaulted chamber, and Maraviglia Norvallen did not respond, her expression unblinking, and completely unreadable.

Finally, the Death Knight spoke, breaking the silence. "That's a shame," she said with a heavy sigh, reaching into a pocket on the inside of her tabard, "I suppose I took the trouble to find this for nothing." She held in hand a vial. Inside was a coarse, blue, fibrous powder, itself having a faint, soft luminescence.

Image

Genise's bleary, bloodshot eyes widened. As fast as she could, she made a grab for the vial. Mary snatched it back even more quickly, though, stuffing it right back into her tabard. The mage, both hands on the table, stammered, and collapsed back into her chair, putting a hand on her head. The dragonmoss. It was reputedly the one substance existing in Azeroth that could be used to remedy her dependence on, and withdrawal from, excessive use of magic. An end to the pain, the discomfort, the sleeplessness, the horrible dreams, and the infernal craving.

"But wait," Genise said, voice cracking shrilly, "something doesn't add up. I didn't tell you what I was here for. I didn't say anything to anyone. How could you have known?"

Mary simply shrugged. "We did our fieldwork, dear," she answered, her tone once again neutral, "You're a magic user, and you've a distinctly frayed look about you--is this not right? Precisely," she nodded, and continued, "it was easy enough to follow you into the Dragonblight, egging you along as we did, but there was a pattern to your search that you didn't even bother to conceal, divining and seeking out the location as best you could of dragon bones--they're everywhere, here--and not even stopping in between. Don't look so surprised," the Death Knight folded her arms, "There have been parties out of Quel'thalas searching ostensibly for the very same thing, so it was easy enough to pick up. It seems your little addiction is something of an epidemic."

Genise's expression fell.

"It's wonderful," the Death Knight smiled, "It's yet another weapon that the Scourge could conceivably use against all of you. And that's not even the best part of this whole affair," her smile turned malicious, "You missed this." She indicated the vial, "This came off a skeleton you'd already searched. Isn't it wonderful to know that, had you your wits about you, you would be perfectly alright now?"

"Shut up," the mage couldn't manage anything more, "Just...oh, dear Light. Just shut up."

"I'm afraid I can't do that, Madame Genise Astera Crownsilver." Mary's expression was once again placid. "Because you still haven't answered my question."

It was all Genise could do to suppress a sob. She didn't respond. Her head felt like it was full of lead, her eyes were blurry and unfocused, she felt an itch on her chest and face for no particular reason, bile filled her throat, and she was positive by now that her digestive tract had fully inverted itself. She sniffled. The air was freezing despite the coat she was wearing, and the black metal bindings on her wrists and neck were like ice. She was dimly aware of the Death Knight pulling a plain, white handkerchief from her pocket, and calmly placing it in front of the mage on the table.

She looked up that the small square of white cloth. With a feral glare at the serene Death Knight, she snatched it and blew her nose loudly. With a sharp inhalation, she slammed the sodden kerchief back to the table, and stood.

"You want to know about my companions?" she said, in a near-whisper, "You want to know about Outland?" Genise kept her voice as level as she could manage, "Fine. I'll tell you. Yeah. It was a success."

She began pacing, heedless of the reeking ghouls standing nearby, "All we knew at first was the portal had reopened, and the Legion was on the attack. That," she gesticulated, stopping, "that didn't last long." She began pacing again, "they pushed us, and we pushed back. Soon it was like...it was like the stories about the First War, but in reverse. It was us pouring through. Horde and Alliance. They didn't stand a chance at the Portal. They couldn't even begin to hold on to Hellfire. Us, me and my friends, the Riders, we were there the whole way."

Her voice strengthened, "we weren't with the vanguard past Hellfire, but we were there on the flanks, in the field, wherever, all throughout." A smile cracked her features, "we--we had men in the front in all sorts of places. Bricu became King of the Ogres," her tone swayed between harsh and reminiscent, "Tarquin took on Lady Vashj. Sonya..." Genise inhaled, interrupting her tirade, and turned to look the Death Knight in the eye.

"Honey...", she said, "I've...I've sat down for a drink with the one who took the Blades of Azzinoth off of Illidan Stormrage's bloody corpse after Maiev gave him his last rites." Genise's voice was clear now, her breathing level. "Is that what you wanted to hear?" She did not break her gaze. "Does that tell you how Outland went, about the kind of people I know?" Her pace quickened, "This is who we are," she declared, "this is who is coming for you!" Heedless of her pitch, her voice rose to a shout, almost a laugh, "Dear Light, do you have any remote idea of just what's in store for you and your shambling, frigid dead things!? Lady...Death Knight...whatever...we are going to obliterate you, and you can sit there and scheme and in the end..." her voice quieted suddenly, to a near-whisper once more, "there isn't a damn thing you can do about it."

Breathing heavily, Genise collapsed back into the chair. The aches and pains slowly returned as she caught her breath, but they seemed lessened somehow, after the outburst.

The Death Knight was silent. The mage thought she caught a flicker of genuine worry cross her otherwise frigid visage, gone as soon as it came, and fleeting in her own blurred sight, but there all the same. Finally, she spoke.

"Thank you," she said, seemingly forcing her tone to remain level, "That is exactly what I wanted to know."

Genise allowed herself to meet her gaze again, "So then--" she began, but Mary was not finished.

"Four days past, shipments of grain arrived in the ports of Booty Bay and Ratchet." She spoke softly, unblinking, looking the mage directly in the eye, "Commerce travels. Nobody was wise to the trick, just as good the second time around."

Genise's eyes widened, "Wait..."

"Yes," Mary continued, "within a day, settlements all over the Eastern Kingdoms and Kalimdor were flooded with a plague that rendered it's victims the walking dead. The reports," she said, "are that the streets of Stormwind are a scene out of a horror show, now. It is said that even the Outland refuge of Shattrath has been infected, possibly even overrun completely thanks to it's isolation, thanks to careless use of portals."

The mage was speechless.

"The reports," the Death Knight continued speaking in the same measured tone, "are grim for the Alliance overall. The Horde..." she now put a finger to her chin and narrowed her eyes, "Yes, if I recall correctly, the Horde was also hit, of course, and...well, I can't really say much, but, they're about to have some terrible regrets about so readily befriending the ones that call themselves 'The Forsaken'. Though, no one's fault," her tone was light, "evidently not even they could see what was coming."

Genise's face fell into a look of confusion, the entirety of what was being said beginning to take root.

"Finally," said Mary, "A veritable flotilla of flying necropoli departed Northrend just this morning. The weather forecast for Kalimdor and the Eastern Kingdoms looks..." she finished with a raised eyebrow. "Dire. Tell me," she once again looked Genise directly in the eye, "do you wonder how any friends, or allies of yours, or...family and children...could be faring now, for all the might of the Alliance and the Horde and their glorious victories in far distant Outland?"

Genise Crownsilver could not respond. It was all too much. She knew there was an invasion, she just didn't know who would strike first. Now, though, it became...it was real. All too real. There was near panic, and then a wave of absolute despair. Followed by a sudden, searing rage. She clenched her teeth, inhaled, and focused. Again, she felt the energy course through her. Again, she felt a disorienting sense of nothing whatsoever as the bindings absorbed it in full.

She collapsed, spent.

The Death Knight stood, and drained the last of her coffee, now somewhat chilly. As the unspeaking ghouls gathered up almost tenderly the crumpled form of the red-haired mage, she reached into her pocket again and pulled out the vial of luminescent blue dragonmoss, setting it on the table.

"It's here for when you need it, dear." She called after the unconscious woman.

ImageImage

* * * * *

A few moments after the mage was safely locked back in her cell, Mary looked up into the hole in the ceiling, the soft white light still illuminating it's corner of the room. "You can come out now, Barthus."

The Darkfallen elf stepped out from behind a layer of shredded banner hanging from the ceiling, it's former design long-faded. He had a worried expression on his gaunt face.

"You realize," he said, voice strained, "that the veterans of the Outland campaign took only about two days to organize, quarantine, and for all intents and purposes in one following night obliterate what of the zombie plague as managed to actually slip through the cracks?"

She looked at him, and cocked her head.

"Furthermore," the vampire's tone was testy, "the reports from the necropoli aren't good. The forces they're deploying are being annihilated practically before they're even out of the portal." He folded his arms, "That was a brilliant performance, Norvallen, but I'm not entirely positive why you bothered doing so for the sake of one apparently clueless prisoner."

"Barthus," she tucked a loose strand of ash-blonde hair behind her ear.

"What?"

"Please understand," she said in patronizing terms, "thanks to her, I've got everything I need to know."

"What the hell is that supposed to mean?"

"It means I've got a satisfying confirmation that the Scourge," she stifled a yawn, threaded her fingers together, stretched, and gestured towards the dessicated elf, "is rather doomed."

The Darkfallen did not respond. His vocal chords were full of ice. And ice, namely a solid jagged chunk thereof, could be said to have been full of him.

The Death Knight approached the frozen form, extracting her runeblade from it's base, as she'd done from the mage's own frozen prison, the night before. She did not take her eyes off the creature as she place her hand on the pommel of her sword, gripping it's ricasso with the other, and driving the blade, with a single-over-handed thrust, straight through his face. She intoned something under her breath, and in a wave of black, the ice, and the vampire, disintegrated completely.

Without another word, she propped the blade on the wall as she began her preparations. The saronite bindings on the mage would lose their potency in a day at most, and thanks to their exchange, there was likely to be a veritable firestorm to follow. Just as planned, of course, she's angry. She's terrified. She should be. They all should be.

Anger and fear were the greatest motivators imaginable, and possibly even as useful as good, honest hatred.

Maraviglia Norvallen was in a truly good mood for the first time in half a decade.

Image

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Chrystenise
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Re: Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:58 pm

Ilarra watched the clock tick over past midnight, and sighed, putting her face in her hands. She heard the whirr, the thump, and the swish as, driven by the clock, the mobile calendar on the edge of her desk shed one of its pages into the wastepaper basket strategically located below it. The new page read: October 30.

Genise’s birthday.

"A week, right? Promise?"

"A week, I promise... Maybe a week and a day!"


Nine weeks, two days. She used her fingernail to scratch another line into her wrist, wondering whether she ought to make it deeper for the birthday.

Nah.

Petulance be damned.

Genise Crownsilver was the heroine.

“Game.”


One month. That line had been deeper, so deep she’d bled.

She shoved her knuckles into her mouth to stifle a yawn, then looked at the clock again. Midnight. Right. The calendar. She ought to be wide awake at midnight; why was she so tired? Hadn’t she gotten any sleep? Less even than usual, maybe. Her eyes flickered to her bed. It looked warm, inviting. She hadn’t bothered to rearrange the blankets after exiting them, and they lay open for her, waiting, beguiling...

Fuck it. Dreams or not. Fuck.

The pillow was still too fucking soft...

Genise screamed at the top of her lungs, sobbing. Her nails broke and bled as she clawed at her wrists, at the shackles, at her throat and at the collar.

Ilarra frowned and opened her eyes. The dream didn’t seem right— she believed it, but it was blurry, drunkenly staggering from image to distorted image. It was probably bloody Northrend making the details wrong, leaving other details out, changing the script. Of course it was; it was Northrend. It screwed everything up, even magic.

Too tired. Her eyes went dim and drooped again.

Genise shrieked as the ghoul grabbed at her.

Her eyes lit up again.

“Come out.”

“Mmm, need your bed warmed, darlin?” asked the shadow. It swayed over and wrapped both its hands and a long leg around a bed post, leaning its chest in, rubbed the leg slowly up the metal as it gave Ilarra her own suggestive smile.

“No. Stop that. You aren’t fucking with it, are you? Tonight seems bad even for a Northrend dream.”

“Haven’t touched it.” The shadow stretched on its toes and arched its back, giggling echoingly.

“Can you make it clearer?”

“Why don’t you do it, babe? You’re the seeress.”

“You’re better at shadows than I am. Fix it.”

She gave the shadow a glare, then went to sleep again. The shadow smiled at her. It let go the bedpost and moved to Ilarra’s side, sitting down on the edge of the bed, touching her hair.

A few more nights, at most. Maybe a week, maybe a little bit longer. Maybe a whole lot less than that. More unrestful dreaming, more stress, more exhaustion, more pain, and it would all be as good as finished.

Inevitable, really.

The shadow kissed her body on the cheek, then on the lips, and made more nightmares.

“Are you going to torture me?”

“—perverse little tastes—”

“I am going to know
exactly what will land on Northrend's shores.”

Genise was screaming.

“You still haven't answered my question.”

Genise’s voice cracked shrilly.

"Thank you. That is exactly what I wanted to know."

The runeblade drove straight through the blurry figure in the ice.

“—Got everything I need to know."

--

In celebration of the birthday of the owner of the establishment, each of the Silver Feather’s customers that evening was given a slice from the giant cake. It was chocolate.

The manager stayed in the kitchen, still crying over the candles that had ultimately been left off. She hadn’t been able to remember how many should go on.

The tears wouldn’t stop.
--

“Find her,” said Ilarra. Ordered.

She glared up from her pillow. She was in her private room at the Silver Feather. They’d put her to bed again despite her protestations; the healer from the Cathedral, they said, was on his way. It was worrying how she’d collapsed like that, they said. Just tired, she had said, to which they had responsed: bullshit.

Fuck ‘em.

“Find her,” she repeated. The shadow laughed at her over a cigarette.

“Can’t.”

“Can.” She threw a spare pillow at the shadow, but missed. “That necklace we gave her.” She slumped into her own pillow– still too damn soft, damnit– and touched her fingers to her own copy of the necklace where it lay between her breasts. She hadn’t taken it off since the night Genise left.

“Can’t feel her anymore. They took it away from her, remember? No knowing where she is.” Technically true; the shadow knew exactly where to look for the shadow pearl moon pendant, and assumed that Genise would be nearby, but it couldn’t actually know.

It smirked and blew black smoke, then shrugged. Ilarra whimpered defeatedly, too tired to see through the halved truth.

The door handle turned. The shadow dispersed into the corners of the room, leaving nothing but black smoke from the cigarette, and Rusan stepped in. He bowed. His chest gleamed in the light from the single dim candle in the room.

“The priest from the Cathedral is here now, Madam Priestess.”

“Thanks, darlin.” She gave him a weak smile and blew a kiss. “Oh, ‘d you find out how old Genise is, yet?”

“Twenty-two, Madam.”

“Oh. Hells, bloody short-lived humans... go be a dear, put some candles on that cake for me, would ya?”

He bowed again, then frowned.

“Madam Priestess— you’re sure you won’t allow me to tend to you myself? I’m very competent, I assure you...”

“I know, babe. ‘S just I need a diffrent kind of healing right now, that’s all. Don’t you fret on it. Now go scram, would ya?”

“Yes, Madam.”

He left. She waited.

“You could just go and look for her yourself, y’know...” said the shadow. Ilarra snapped at it in response.

“Stop, damnit. We had this conversation.”

“Would you stop?”

“Evidently not.” She paused, blinked up blearily at the ceiling, then toward the door again. Her own vague silhouette looked back at her, leaning against the door's back and sucking deeply on a cigarette. “How come we wanted a priest, again...? Rusan’s a perfectly good healer, I trust him. Geni did. Does.”

“‘Cause Rusan is inexpendable,” said the shadow.

“Huh?”

“You’ll see. Hush now, quit talking to yourself or they’ll think you’ve gone crazy.”

The shadow hid behind the door as it creaked open again. Light from the next room outlined the shape of the priest. Ilarra couldn’t tell for certain, but it seemed to be that his robe fit quite snugly over sizeable muscles.

Brother Laszlo stopped and blinked in the sudden dark. He could barely make out Ilarra’s face in the light from the lonely candle, and nothing else. The door swung shut again as his hand left the handle, and the room darkened even further. He gulped.

“Priestess Stormrunner?”

“Hullo.” She watched him from her pillow. Silver night elf eyes saw him better in the dark; he did have muscles, and he was young, and blonde, and pretty.

Laszlo fumbled for something to say, and settled lamely on, “May I come in?”

“You’re already in, darlin. What’s your name?”

Laszlo felt on somewhat firmer ground here.

“Brother Laszlo. I’ve come from the Cathedral.”

“I know.”

“They told me you collapsed?”

“Yup.” She smiled at him warmly, and he felt a blush creeping under his collar. As his own, human eyes adjusted to the darkness, the priestess’s bare shoulders were making it apparent that she wasn’t wearing much under her covers. He had to fumble some more before he found his next part of the conversation.

“...What seems to be the trouble?”

“I’m just tired. Haven’t been sleeping. I tried telling ‘em that.” She shrugged. Her blankets fell a little further from her neck, and Brother Laszlo blushed hotter. With only limited success, he did his best to stay focused.

“Perhaps I ought to examine you, Priestess.”

Her eyes were fixed on his.

“Perhaps you’d better...”

He moved closer.

“I’ve heard stories about this place. About you.”

“The stories were true.”

She sat up, and her blankets fell to her waist. She ignored the priest’s protests and pulled him into a kiss.

The single candle went out, and Laszlo’s world went black.

“...All of them.”
--

Brother Laszlo is afflicted by Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Ilarra gains Ilarra's Shadow Weaving.
Brother Laszlo is afflicted by Ilarra's Vampiric Touch.
Ilarra gains Shadow Weaving (2).
Brother Laszlo is afflicted by Ilarra's Shadow Word: Pain.
Brother Laszlo is afflicted by Ilarra's Misery.
Ilarra gains Shadow Weaving (3).
Brother Laszlo is afflicted by Ilarra's Devouring Plague.
Brother Laszlo suffers 537 Shadow damage from Ilarra's Vampiric Touch
Ilarra gains 81 Health from Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Brother Laszlo suffers 647 Shadow damage from Ilarra's Shadow Word: Pain.
Ilarra gains 97 Health from Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Brother Laszlo suffers 412 Shadow damage from Ilarra's Devouring Plague.
Ilarra gains Shadow Weaving (4).
Ilarra gains 62 Health from Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Ilarra's Devouring Plague heals Ilarra for 61.
Ilarra's Mind Blast hits Brother Laszlo for 2173 Shadow.
Ilarra gains Shadow Word: Death.
Ilarra gains Shadow Weaving (5).
Ilarra gains 326 Health from Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Ilarra's Shadow Word: Death hits Brother Laszlo for 2307 Shadow. (1323 Overkill) (Critical)
Ilarra gains 148 Health from Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace.
Ilarra's Vampiric Touch dissipates from Brother Laszlo
Ilarra's Misery dissipated from Brother Laszlo.
Ilarra's Shadow Word: Pain dissipates from Brother Laszlo.
Ilarra's Devouring Plague dissipates from Brother Laszlo.
Ilarra's Vampiric Embrace dissipates from Brother Laszlo.
Brother Laszlo has died.
Ilarra gains Ilarra's Spirit Tap.
Ilarra gains 23 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 23 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 23 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 23 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 23 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra gains 24 Mana from Ilarra's Replenishment.
Ilarra's Shadow Weaving fades from Ilarra.
Ilarra's Spirit Tap fades from Ilarra.

--

Chin in palms, elbows on knees, Ilarra sat on top of her covers and stared at Laszlo's left shoe. It was all that was left. She frowned at it in confusion.

“...Why’d I do that?”

“You didn’t.”

“I didn’t...?”

“Mm, nope.” The shadow offered her a cigarette. She took it and took a drag, still frowning.

“You did it, then?”

“Mhm.”

“Why?”

“‘Cause you were tired. Don’cha feel better now?”

“Well, yeah.” She offered the shadow back its cigarette, then leaned back and cushioned her arms under her head. “Still gonna have to get some real sleep before too long, though. All this means is I’ll crash harder when it does come, means I’ll stay asleep better and have more and worser bad dreams.”

“More guilt about not going with Genise, too,” offered the shadow helpfully.

“That too.” She lifted her head to give it a Look. “‘S on purpose, that, innit? ‘Cause you want me to go to Northrend chasing after her.”

“Yup.” The shadow blew black smoke and passed the cigarette over again.

“You’re a damned bitch, darlin.”

“Yup.”
--

Ilarra Stormrunner left her room, fully dressed and brimming with energy. She carried the remains of a left shoe, but no one saw it, and no one saw her throw it into the fireplace in the Feather’s main entertainment room. Instead, shadows sweeping in her wake, touching minds and touching eyes and touching memories, everyone who saw her also saw Brother Laszlo. They saw her lead him to the front door. Twenty people saw her give him a grateful hug and a kiss before sending him on his way. Several dozen more would have vivid memories of passing him in Stormwind’s streets and on the bridges across the canals. Brother Kristoff saw him clearly as he ascended the front steps to the Cathedral, and Brother Sarno could easily recollect greeting him inside. Only afterward, when Brother Sarno had watched him pass under the arch to the Cathedral library and the shadows had recoiled back to their mistress, did Laszlo disappear forever.

Rusan hurried up to Ilarra before she could follow Brother Laszlo’s apparition out the door. He laid a hand on her arm and she looked back at him.

“Madam Priestess. You’re feeling better?”

“Sure am.” She smiled at him dazzlingly. “Turns out I had an allergic reaction to one of the preservation spells we had on those eggs that went into Genise’s cake. Thought it mighta been something like that, ‘s why I wanted someone who could do magical healing. You understand, right?”

“Of course, Madam. I’ll see to it this won’t happen again, as well.”

She gave him another smile and made another move to leave.

“Madam? May I ask where you’re going now?”

“Gonna go make some arrangements for the party tomorrow. Bye now!” She shut the door in Rusan’s face.

Half a mile away, as she was catching her breath in the shade of the tunnel on the corner of West Cathedral Street and Riverway, the shadow caught up to her. It offered a cigarette and she glared.

“S’where is it you’re actually going?”

“You know where.”

“I know,” said the shadow. It smiled pleasantly. “I like to hear you say it.”

Ilarra mumbled something.

“Sorry, I didn’t quite catch that.”

“I said, to the Harbor.”

“Oh? Checking boat shedules?”

“I’m just looking.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I’m just looking!”

“You keep on believing that, darlin.”

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Chrystenise
Posts: 743
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Re: Freezing (Moved From ProBoards)

Postby Chrystenise » Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:59 pm

Telredor:

"S'this is what, then, you decide you don't like me, so you're just gonna leave me behind?"

"It's not that I don't like you," said Ilarra. The shadow was speaking Common, but for once she responded in Darnassian. She didn't look up from packing her suitcase. "It's that I despise you. I loathe and am disgusted by every part of you."

"Oh, now, that's not-"

"Shut up. I wasn't finished." She threw the last of her warm shirts in-- there had been depressingly few of them-- and raised her eyes angrily. The shadow took a step back.

"Now hold on, we both know that this ain't how things-"

"I said shut up. I can accept what you make me, sort of. I've nearly come to terms with being an avatar of destruction instead of healing. I can almost handle knowing the unpleasant things I know how to do to people. But I cannot, will not tolerate you anymore."

"But-"

Ilarra's fist whiffed through the shadow and drove a hole in the wall behind it.

"Shut up! You mess with my friends. You hurt and kill innocent people. I get the guilt for it. You torment and manipulate and fuck me around, and if you think for one second I've forgotten what you're trying to do sending me to Northrend, then you're not only evil, you're fucking stupid." She stopped and withdrew her fist from the wall, cradling broken knuckles. The shadow blurred through her, backing away across the room, and she turned to follow it. "I know you've been fucking with my dreams. I know you've been doing things and keeping me from remembering them. I know that you kept me from noticing some of the clues Genise was giving before she left, just so I wouldn't stop her. I know that you see me as nothing but a sophisticated puppet, and a lot of the time, it's true, that's what I am. I can't stop you."

"So this's-"

"Shut. Up. I'm tired of you. I'm tired of your bullshit, I'm tired of having to fight with you, and I have no intention of giving you the advantage of Northrend's darkness. So yes." Light flashed across her hand. She flexed it, then wiped the blood off on her dress. "If you want to be cute, yes, I'm leaving you here because I don't like you."

The shadow eyed her up and down. She stared back, stiff-spined.

"S'this is it, then. The showdown."

"Yes."

"What're you gonna do to keep me from coming, then? Take a sewing needle and pin me to a wall, like a nursery story? You can't. Besides, you need me. You won't survive in Northrend without me."

"I can," said Ilarra. She reached up and pulled the shadow pearl moon pendant from her neck. "I can, and I'll manage. And we did this before, didn't we dear? Bound a part of you into Genise's half of this necklace, so I'd always be able to find her. Now it's the rest of you's turn."

"Oh no. You leave me alone, bitch, I don't really wanna to be stuck in a bit of rock. Thanks anyhow." The shadow was backing away again. Ilarra followed it, smiling.

"Why not? I was once. You should try it, you'll like it..."

It snarled and lunged at her. Silver moonlight novaed between them, and the shadow vanished with a wail. The crescent moon glowed shiny purple in Ilarra's palm.

"I imagine you expect me to have some sort of commentary, don't you dear? Like the dead woman in my dreams. 'Game.'"

She raised the pendant up to eye level. She had the distinct impression it was glaring at her.

"No response? Well, I didn't intend to give you the satisfaction of it anyway. I'm not even going to say goodbye."

She dropped the pendant to the floor. She stood staring down at it a moment, then spun on her heel and kicked it forcefully under her bed. As she moved to resume packing, her bedroom door was knocked on.

"Come in, Carystin."

The door popped open. Ilarra's protegé stuck her head in, then followed it with the rest of her under a pile of heavy clothing. "I found more warm things! Are you okay? I thought I heard arguing!"

"Everything's alright, Cary, we were just discussing something. It's settled now." Ilarra darted and caught the pile of clothing as Carystin started to teeter. "Oof. Thank you. I think I'm nearly ready to go now."

Carystin nodded. She shuffled her feet, watching as her mentor stuffed far more into the suitcase than it was meant to hold.

"Uhm..."

"I still can't take you with me, Cary. I'm sorry." Ilarra kept packing.

"You're precognating again."

"I'm in a good mood. ...Was I wrong?"

Carystin shook her head, pouting; sighed. "No... Why can't you take me?"

"I told you. I don't know what Northrend will do to me; I don't want to put you in danger, nor anyone else. I've been a shadow addict too long, and in a place as dark as that I just don't know if quitting cold turkey will be enough. Icecrown taints the whole continent."

"But I could help you! And we could go with the others, they're all leaving too in a few days, and it would all be fine!"

Cary cuted hopefully.

"No."

"Awww..."

Ilarra tossed the last pair of socks into her suitcase, then leaned on it to force the zipper. Slowly, carefully, she relaxed away from it. The suitcase bulged like a snake that had just eaten a kodo, but it would hold. She turned to Carystin.

"C'mere."

Carystin reluctantly c'mered, still pouting. Ilarra hugged her tightly and kissed her cheek.

"It'll be okay, Cary, I promise. I'll be home soon."

The younger priestess squirmed in the hug. "That's what Geni said!"

"Yeah. You trust me though, don't you?"

"Yeah..." Carystin moved on from her pout and entered a sulk.

"It'll all be okay, then. You'll see."

"Okay." Carystin switched back to pouting again; sulking seemed not to be working. "I still wish I could come with you."

"I know." Ilarra patted Carystin's hair. "Here, will you help me with my suitcase?"


In Stormwind Harbor, a new long-distance sailing ship, the Travesty, waited at anchor. It was low and slim and long in the hull, built for speed without precaution of stormy weather, and it wore black paint and blacker sails. Some elements of style just had to be. Its deed of ownership had recently changed hands at great expense, and it was currently registered to the name 'Liarra Dawnrunner.'

The dwarven captain was getting impatient. "Where is the damned lass? She said she'd be here a half hour ago."

His first mate shrugged, lighting his pipe. He also was a dwarf.

"Mayhaps she 'ad sommat to do, Captain. Yeh know how elves are fer flighty. She seemed a bad one, too."

The captain stroked his beard thoughtfully.

"She doesn't show up in five more minutes, we set sail without 'er."

"She's our only cargo, Captain."

"Be that as it may."

The first mate shrugged and smoked his pipe. The captain stroked his beard. Five minutes passed.

"Right, that's it," said the captain. He raised his voice across the deck. "Get moving, yeh lagabouts!"

As the crew scurried into action, the first mate tapped his captain on the shoulder and pointed down the dock. On cue, a scarred and spectacled night elf was hurrying up it with a heavy suitcase. The captain thumped his fist against the railing.

"Damn."


Ilarra set her suitcase down in her private cabin, then sat on the end of the bed. The sheets were fine black silk. So were the blankets. The pillows...

She gave them a long stare, then slid on her back to rest her head on one. She smiled. It was just right.

She felt the boat lurch into motion. The pillow was a sign, she knew it intuitively. Everything was going to be alright. Everything.

...No, really.


In Ilarra's room in Telredor, in a shadow deep under that bed, the shadow pearl moon pendant started glowing harder.

Well, damn.


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