Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Wilting Away (Part 10)

At some point in the last decade, the sight of a dungeon had stopped bothering him. Of course among the living the sight was generally one of complete terror. Dungeons were practically built to evoke such emotions. All of the cells with their bars and low light created a sense of hopelessness, spaces that were inescapable without an outside force. That was further built upon by all of the stone, something that would take someone a good chunk of their life to burrow through, a task that was made next to impossible by how obvious any attempt at it would have been. With their long halls patrolled by guards who held the keys to everything. To freedom, to food, to safety.

All of it reminded him of Acherus. The floating fortress itself probably had some sort of dungeon, not that he had bothered to check, or bother remembering if he had done so in the past, but the existence of such a place within it wouldn't have surprised him. But beyond any sort of holding area, Acherus itself held most of the motifs of a dungeon. Its bowels were narrow hallways of confined spaces, all built off of filthy stone. The ghastly assortment of ghouls and ghosts that roamed the halls were likely any prisoners worse idea of a warden. Not to mention the fact that, if given a choice, he would probably most compare his office to a prison cell. One he rarely, if ever, liked to remain in, even if it was he who held the key to leaving.

So in that way, entering deeper and deeper into the dungeon didn't particularly bother him. The most foreign aspect of it were the designs and style of the stone that lined the wall, and the fact that the guards were alive. The largest issue he had at the moment was that they had no idea where they were going. Nor entirely where they had come from. So even if they wanted to retreat, at present they were almost guaranteed to get lost, unless Simmons or the elf had been paying attention to their path.

And Simmons had made it quite clear that he had been paying no mind to whatever corridors they had been winding down. Red could certainly sympathize with the man's rabid search. He wanted to find Wiltmend just as much as he did. Well. Perhaps to a slightly lesser degree. The pair of them had pretty much been attached since they had left their posts among the Blade, due in no small part to how much trouble she would have gotten in without supervision. But at present Simmons was just wasting all of their times. 

Namely because it certainly wasn't going to be hard to find Wiltmend. Every other cell they had passed had contained someone who was alive. Finding someone who wasn't couldn't be that hard, so long as their only method of searching remained wandering down hallways. Which thus far it appeared they were going to be keeping with. The only thing that deterred them from doing so was whenever a pair of guards stopped them on their little patrol and questioned where they were headed, to which a quick grunt of 'containment' was enough to set most of them at ease.

The next pair of guards passed them in much the same manner. The one in charged, some proud looking woman with a good amount of well-combed white hair, gave a gruff question of where they were going, and Xanthe responded in kind. For a moment, that seemed to be where their little meeting was going to end. Each group had even begun to go their separate ways, before the group of actual guards turned, calling out to stop the group of faux guards. 

"Hold!" 

Even though the real elf among them understood the word, it was enough to stop all three of them in their tracks. The pair of guards soon reappeared in front of them, the one in charge bringing a hand up to prod at the worgen's muzzle. It took every single inch of willpower he had to not snap at her, or spout some smart remark and drop his entire act. 

"This one shall come with us," the woman declared, though only Xanthe understood it. "We shall put him in his pen with his sister abomination of nature."

Simmons just nodded along, a gesture that worried Red with whatever he happened to be agreeing with. When Xanthe began nodding along too, he couldn't tell if he should feel better, or worse. When she began undoing the rope that attached her to the worgen, and offered it out to the other elf, the answer became clear. 

Under her breath she did a rough translation, which only prompted Simmons to nod harder and undo his length of rope as well. As soon as the worgen was properly handed over, Simmons gave him a hard look. An expression of trust. And a threat of murder should Red fail to live up to it. A short grunt escaped him as the pair of elves turned him away, and started marching off.

Once Red was far out of sight, Xanthe turned, heading off in another direction. Blinking, Simmons followed suit, trailing her down the hall. "Where the hell do you think you're going?" he hissed under his breath, lest the Common words he was speaking get overheard.

"Your quarry is in good hands, mister Simmons," she muttered back, focus obviously elsewhere, "But mine is not yet secure."

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Performances

"And making her way to the center of the ring next! You may know her for her world-famous campfire kit, sold in a store near you! Or perhaps you've heard of the deadly "Westfall Fires", of which it was said she burnt down an entire farm with a single match! All we know is, the woman has a way with flames! Penny the Pyro!"

Her eye twitched. It did that a lot lately, she had noticed. Bringing her hand forward, she let loose the dagger she had readied, watching it fly through the air and bury itself into a knot in a far off tree. Her lips tugged back into a sick smirk. Twitching eyes apparently didn't mess with her aim. Pulling another dagger from her belt she repeated the feat, again and again, until there were no more daggers to toss.

Skulking off deeper into the thicket of trees she felt the constant motion of her eye lessen. At this point she swore it was proximity to the big top that caused it. Which made it unavoidable. Letting out a gravely sigh, she pried the knives out of the tree, one by one slotting them back into their appropriate spot. There was at least twenty minutes. No. Thirty minutes. Penny would get an encore, because Penny always got an encore, especially at this late night shows.

Unsurprisingly, people loved seeing things catch fire. Lighting up the night was Penny's talent, made all the better by the good showmanship that the director had come up with for her. Most of it was just natural ideas. Cut all of the lights for the arena when she was performing to emphasize her little tricks. Add in some sparklers, some flare. Some actual flares helped too. It was nothing that a skilled fire mage couldn't do, but it was still a good watch.

Fewer people were craving for more of her little show. Tossing knives into a wooden target, no matter the distance, and no matter how much flair she gave it, never seemed to keep the audiences' attention. There had been a time when she had gotten a few calls back to the stage, but when her assistant started getting concerned about how close she was tossing her blades that all went out the window. No one else signed up after that.

With the final blade tucked away, her gaze began straying back to the tent. A small flicker caught it before it could fully return to the brightly covered tarp though. Leaning to her left she peered beyond the tree, eyes narrowing as she found the source of the flickering. Off and away from her target practice tree was a small fire, and beyond that, a log with two individuals housed on it. Her lips curled into a cruel grin as she started making her way through the trees, pressing herself close to keep in their shadows.

Pausing behind a thicker tree, she forced herself to wait a few moments before craning her head out to stare. She couldn't help but assume that her beady yellow eyes stood out in stark contrast to the dark forest, but even if that were the case the pair on the log didn't take note of her. That was due in no small part to the fact that they were far more concerned with each other, with their lips locked. Elves. Of the blood variety, with their pale skin and thin features. If they had their eyes open, she was sure that they would hold the usual green glow too. They looked young, as much as an elf could look young. Maybe it was their movements, the sense of inexperience that they had. Even still, they were probably a good few decades older than her. Her eyes rolled at the idea, kids who were old enough to be her grandparents.

A terrible thought crossed through her mind. One she couldn't pass up following. She gave them a moment to cease with their little escapade, before crawling out ever so slightly from behind the tree. Not enough to be seen, but enough to have a proper shot. She palmed one of her blades, slowly turned it until her fingers were resting on the blade instead of the hilt. With a small flick of the wrist, she tossed the thing, and watched it dig its way into the log with a satisfying 'thud'.

It took a few seconds for the noise to fully register. Once it had she had to fight off laughing, to keep her position a secret. The girl's eyes were wide as they could be, little green spots looking everywhere for the source of the noise. His eyes were narrower, searching for an attacker. He brought her closer to him, and she certainly didn't seem to oppose having a defender. Maybe she was being helpful after all.

Switching to the other side of the tree she repeated the process, slinging another dagger into the log, this time on his side. He seemed to catch on much quicker than she had, eyes shooting down to the new found addition to their seat. Her eyes soon followed his, and soon enough she was in a complete and utter panic. Increased breathing, small shrieks of terror, inconsistent gibberish. The whole deal. When she found the first dagger, still sticking out of her side of the log, she went positively ballistic. Her arms flailed about, she scratched at him in a panic, and not long after she ran off, blue dress flying in the breeze as she made her way back to the main fairgrounds.

The remaining kid stood his ground, dropping into a fighting stance and circling the campfire. Despite looking tough, she could tell he was anything but. His stance said he was ready to fight, but his hands claimed that he was in the middle of an earthquake with how much they were shaking. Even his voice couldn't keep steady with all of his shivering.

"W-Wh-Who's out there!?"

With all of the screaming she was starting to get worried that one of the other staff members might find their way out here and put an end to her little bit of fun. But thus far no one had come, which meant that she got to keep playing.

She dropped into a crouch, and slowly re-positioned herself behind another tree. Now sitting off to his right, she raised her voice just enough for it to bounce around, but not so much that it could be placed.

"Just a few monsters creeping about the woods."

He swiveled about again, trying to pin her down to no avail. His eyes shot around for something, and soon enough he had picked up a stick from the ground, holding it like one would a sword. Someone very inexperienced with a sword. Drawing another knife, she made sure to hold her shot off until his hands were at a proper angle. Letting it loose, she watched with glee as the thing sliced right through his stick, splitting it into two much shorter pieces.

Now disarmed, there was nothing even resembling calm about his demeanor. His circling became much faster, and his gaze shot every which way in an attempt to place the 'monsters'. A perfect time for an entrance.

She waited until his back was turned towards her before tiptoeing away from her previous hiding spot. With how much he was moving, she was forced to circle right along with him. The moment he was within her reach, she brought a single finger up to tap him on the shoulder, muttering a soft, gravely "Boo."

A loud scream filled the woods as he stumbled forward, and skittered across the ground. Eventually he hit the log head first and dropped right down into the dirt. For a moment she swore that he was dead. So much so that she was already planning on how she was going to bury the body. But he did begin moving again, and flipped over onto his back to stare at her, eyes bugging out again once he recalled his situation.

Making her way around the campfire, she started pulling the knives from their resting places. She could feel his eyes burrowing into the back of her head, but he didn't move. After putting everything back in its place, she turned, looking down on him, smirk hidden behind her hood.

"What do you want?"

It was the most obvious question, she supposed. Probably the one she would be asking. Pointing from him back to the fairgrounds, she let out a short hiss, "Not allowed out here. Especially not this late at night. It's a liability, and we don't want the bad press even if ya signed the waiver."

That was probably a lie. She had never read the waiver, so it was entirely possible that somewhere in it was a section pertaining to the woods. That was assuming that people still even had to sign the waiver. Or if the waiver had ever existed. She just knew that at some point she had heard about a waiver, and that it was probably fairly hard to make sure to have copies in both Common and Orcish, on top of getting each guest to sign one.

His eyes narrowed, "Are you joking? You attempt to kill people who break the rules?"

She grinned even wider, nodding, "Well see it this way." She crouched close to him, hands resting on her knees, "Have you ever met anybody who broke the Fair's rules?"

That prompted a long thinking session. She could imagine him going through each encounter with someone that involved the fair. Either at the fair, or that mentioned the fair. Then it would be a case of recalling whether or not those he had spoken with talked about breaking rules. The conclusion he came to must not have been overly positive, "No."

Her left hand came up to point a lone finger at him, "Exactly."

He stared at her finger, probably half tempted to shove it away. But he didn't. Instead he scooted even back further. Any further looks were those of a defeated child. Soon enough he was out of sight, probably off to find wherever his date was probably crying. She took his previous seat, positively beaming at her success.

"Having fun?"

All of the laughter that she had been building up was allowed to slip for a moment. She chuckled and nodded as her head spun towards the new voice. She stopped the moment she met eyes with the assistants. His attire was more 'usual' compared to the rest of them. A tailored suit that he kept crisp, in spite of the constant dirt that was kicked up around the fairgrounds.

Despite the sudden chill she felt, she couldn't help but grin, "Shoulda seen the look on his face."

"I did see it," the human muttered, tucking his hands into his pockets, "And I was hoping that we weren't going to have this problem again."

She tossed a hand at him, "Oh please Tucker. Let a girl have her fun."

His eyes rolled back into his head. Reaching into his breast pocket he produced a sheet of paper, and offered it out to her. She stared at it, waiting to take it until she was certain that there was no other option. He waited a few moments, probably hoping that she would actually read the damned thing while he was present, but she refused to give him the benefit.

Sighing, he reached into his pocket once more to pull out a lighter and a cigar. Tucking the latter between his lips, he brought the lighter in close, flicking it a few times before he could take a pull. When she still refused to read it, he shook his head, turned on his heel, and began making his way toward the tents.

"You're on in five."

"I know," she lied.

Glancing at the paper, she frowned. When she was finished with it, she crumpled the thing up and tossed it into the fire. She knew this was coming. It was just that type of season. At the very least she wasn't getting suspended again. Not that that made getting laid off any easier.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Ghosts (Part 14)

If Nadia could use the Force, the first thing she would have done was convince the Dathomirian to keep her mouth shut about everything that had just happened. Then she would have made herself forget everything about it, and the entire matter would have never been spoken of again. But she did have access to the same 'magic' that the witch did, so as they both sat there in the ship's cockpit, all she could do was stare straight at one of the consoles and hope nothing too terrible was aired.

But the entire time she had sat there, the witch had done much the same. Andrews had asked them what had changed in their schedule, and Nadia had managed to mutter something about convincing one of the guards to alter the launch patterns. That story proved to hold true when they weren't stopped by a turret on their way off-world. Now he was sitting there, looking between them as the ship made its way through hyperspace. Waiting.

Waiting for one of them to slip with what had really just happened. But she wasn't going to do that. Imperial training would have helped her withstand weeks of interrogation. This was no matter in the slightest. She could sit here for days without breaking. The witch, on the other hand, was far more likely to spill any proverbial beans.

Except she didn't. Even after they had been sitting there for something like an hour, the witch had never taken her gaze off of her. What exactly the woman was trying to discern with those yellow eyes, she couldn't say. All she could say was that all of the possibilities terrified her.

There was the possibility that she was just going to say something right here, right now. That meant that everything got aired now, which wasn't terrible. Most people in the Rebellion weren't exactly aware of her background, but at present it didn't feel like enough to sink her reputation too much. She had never hidden her accent, and thus most people had managed to guess her roots. Another thing that could happen was that the witch waited, and opted to kill her or worse when the time proved right. The latter was obviously much more terrifying.

Letting out a cough, Andrews broke the silence, "Anyone want to say anything?"

"No," Gwynara said flatly, leaning back in her chair with her arms crossing, "Not to you."

The man sighed, turning to look at Nadia, who just shook her head. Tossing his hands in the air, the man stood, making for the door, "Air whatever the hell you two need to air then. 'Fore we all suffocate under how thick the stinkin' air is." With that, the door opened, he walked through it, and shut behind it.

Those remaining the cockpit shared a glance, before settling into an odd silence. Neither appeared to be the one who wanted to say the first though, though she had come to expect as much from the woman. The witch wasn't one for words. Why would that change now?

With a sigh of her own, Nadia leaned forward, "I did not intend for that to go as it did."

Gwynara's head shifted to the side, her short bangs falling in that direction, "Did you know he was on this world?"

She bit her tongue. Of course she had known. She was meant to have a firm understanding of the Imperial situation on those worlds where the Rebellion operated out here, so of course she knew who was in charge. The fact that that was so obvious convinced her that there was no point in lying on the matter, "Yes."

"Yet you came here regardless."

"I did," Nadia said, almost to herself. She had. She had known, and still she was here.

"Was it for your own revenge?"

That stopped her current train of thought. Of all the reasons she had allowed herself to be carted about throughout the galaxy, revenge hadn't necessarily been the top of her mental checklist. Spite, perhaps, but not vengeance. She hadn't left home to get even, she had left home because she could no longer stomach her work.

"No," she finally said, "It wasn't."

It was the truth. Or at least the truth as far as she could see it. No piece of her that she could think of wanted to bring harm to her sibling, not that that had prevented her from making sure that she had done just that. At this point it was collateral damage. Acceptable according to her own parameters. Which on its own was somewhat mortifying.

"Does it bother you?" Gwynara murmured, leaning forward to focus on the other woman's face. Nadia half expected the mental probing she had read Force users were capable of, but felt nothing of the sort. For the time being, they were just talking, as anyone else did.

"It does."

She took in a breath. The pale woman sat there, staring her over. Like her eyes could see past anything she tried to throughout that might be false. After a moment, she nodded approvingly, awkwardly resting a hand on Nadia's knee, "It is hard to face family. That you fight against them even still is honorable."

Nadia frowned, but before she could probe into the statement, the Dathomirian stood, and made her own way out the door. Letting out a long sigh, Nadia slumped back in the chair, staring up at the ceiling. She wasn't wrong. These things were hard. And she had the feeling that monitoring Imperial channels was only going to be harder for the next few weeks, depending on how harshly Gideon was punished.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Wilting Away (Part 9)

Regardless of the time that Florence Starseer had spent with her most recent subject, she could never entirely grasp a single thing about them. Her assistant was much the same. They had made numerous visits to this particular cell, and had never really left knowing much more than they had coming in. It didn't matter how much they poked or prodded, they got nothing in regards to the elf's orders, her loyalties, or where she even came from. Perhaps worst of all, they had yet to even determine what the elf was.

Because, obvious a statement as it might be, the elf wasn't at all normal. It wasn't just the yammer, and the chattering she did with herself. That was the least of their concerns. It was the fact that nothing ever seemed to phase her. The glow in her eye. The fact that nothing they did to her ever seemed to stick. The woman never seemed to need to sleep, or eat, or drink. Any wounds were soon healed, but it was obvious that this woman was no druid, and she had no connection to the Light.

Whatever she was felt unholy, and Florence was here to confirm those suspicions on such matters. Except now she was having the problem of someone being too cooperative. Today the elf had feel like talking, and it unsettled her. Everything about their little session so far had unsettled her.

Their guest was composed, at least by the standards of what they had come to expect. She sat straight up, green hair appearing to have been straightened out. Her hands were clasped together, and the look on her face was one of someone serious about whatever they were meant to be talking about. It was as if they were talking to someone else entirely.

"Shall we go through the usual questions," Florence said smoothly, pressing the tip of the dagger she had brought today into the table, spinning the hilt with the tip of her finger.

"Elena Wiltmend, no affiliated, no orders," the elf said.

Florence blinked, leaning forward somewhat, "Name, order, and commands, then."

"Yes," Elena muttered, before proceeding to repeat herself under her breath. Florence's eyes narrowed. That madness was still there, just hiding under the surface.

Giving a short look to her assistant, Florence turned back to Elena, "Well if you've no orders, than what brings you here?"

"I want to be here," came the next set of muttering, "I need to be here."

Bringing her fingers to massage her forehead, Florence sighed, "And why do you need to be here."

"I'm seeking something," Elena said, leaning forward, "Something outside. I need it."

Setting the dagger on the table, hands resting on top of it, Florence leaned back, a bland expression on her face, "What a wonderful explanation. Perhaps let's skip this nonsense and go a bit further to what we're here to establish, miss...'Wiltmend'."

"You want to know what I am."

"That we do," she murmured, canting a brow, "We would much like to know that."

The other elf brought her hands up to rub together, poking and prodding at herself until she seemed to get a good grasp of 'what' she was. With that established those glowing blue eyes settled on the other two, "I'm like you. Dying. Burning."

The two shared a look, "Last I checked, we're neither mortally wounded, nor on fire."

"Except you're both burning up. You have to keep adding fuel to it, but it keeps disappearing and you need more. Don't do it, and you'll lose it all."

Florence's assistant finally picked a moment to butt in, stepping forward, "Are you some type of withered?"

Elena was swift to rebuke the possibility, "No. No I am not withering, I am. I don't know."

"Wilting?" Florence offered just as blandly as before, "Perhaps try mending it."

"Doesn't work. Never works."

"Too bad," Florence muttered, standing. With a swift motion of her hand her assistant made her way around to Wiltmend's chair, placing her hands on the elf's shoulders. "We're just going to skip the rest of this nonsense. Take what we need to figure a few things out for ourselves without you, thanks."

The other elf barely moved a muscle. Instead she left her hands laid bare flat against the table, staring up at Florence, "I know."

Eyes narrowing, Florence circled the table, dagger in hand. She brought the weapon up, waiting for the elf to do anything. Flinch. Attack. Withdraw her hands. Anything that showed she was worried. But there was nothing. When she didn't get anything, the Nightborne brought the blade down for a reason other than what she intended. It had been brought along to take the elf's hand for the sake of science. That was still what it was accomplishing, but now, it was more out of spite. Once they piece was detached, she motioned for it to be scooped up, and made to leave the room, not even bothering to turn around. She knew what was behind her. A damned elf who never did a damned thing about anything.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Wilting Away (Part 8)

Unhappy worgen weren't exactly the most appealing thing to look at. The creatures weren't exactly appealing as it was, much less so when they were trying to express displeasure. Watching their toothed appearance bend downward and their eyes narrow, and their ears fall somewhere between slicked back and perked up. Nothing about it was pleasant to see.

It was even worse when such an expression was directed at you.

Simmons couldn't help but feel that, given the proper opportunity, Redamous might do a few unpleasant things to him at present. After intense debate, much of which had consisted of Simmons and the elf proposing different ideas followed by Redamous swiftly ruling that they were nonsensical, the trio had finally managed to come to a conclusion that didn't completely make the worgen wish to murder the other two.

When it became apparent that he wasn't going to allow a collar around his neck, nor a muzzle on his face, they did the next best thing they could come up with. They tied a rope to each of their belts, so that the two of them were tied to the worgen, and he to them. At the very least it might give the impression that they had captured some wild beast, for long enough that should anyone attempt to consider it, they wouldn't realize how stupid their method of containment was until the three were far gone.

The other two had of course used the glamours Xanthe had brought to take on the appearance of the guards they had recently relieved of consciousness, and were looking properly elven in turn. Xanthe seemed almost perturbed by the change, not that Red could blame her. Going from one near withering to at least appearing healthy probably wasn't the most pleasing change, especially knowing it was all an illusion.

Simmons was taking the difference a bit better. He stood at one of the windows, having cleared off some of the dust, and was slowly making faces. The palm of Red's hand hadn't left his face for at least a solid minute. Apparently Simmons caught on to the fact that the attention in the room was on him, and finally turned, motioning to himself, "How do I look?"

Redamous finally pried his hand from his face, "Like a damned prick. Can we get this over with now."

The other man frowned, letting out a sigh. Bringing a hand up, he pointed to the worgens hat, "After you take that off." Shooting his eyes up at the thing, the worgen just canted a brow. Simmons crossed his arms, "You're supposed to be some feral animal. Feral animals don't tend to do hats."

With no small amount of grumbling, the worgen reached up, pulling that hat off and leaving his head bare. Once the thing was tucked firmly in his belt, he motioned towards the door, "Go."

Appearing at least somewhat smug, Simmons made for the door, Xanthe following close behind, the worgen getting tugged along. Hitting the streets, Red couldn't help but feel the numerous gazes people were giving him. Every now and then he shot a glance at the crowds to make sure that no one was prepared to make a fuss, only to find looks of sheer horror peering back at him. He couldn't help but snort. These people had demons running around their city. Like hell if he should upset them.

Eventually he determined that despite the odd sight, no one appeared to be overly concerned with their proceeding down the roads. A few of the guards gave them queer looks, but the moment one of the other two muttered the word "Menagerie" they shut their gobs and kept going. Soon enough they had crossed a number of city blocks, and managed to keep going, stopping only when Xanthe needed to determine which way they should be going. The deeper into the city they drew, Red couldn't help but wonder if she even knew where the hell they were supposed to be going anyway.

It wasn't until they stopped in front of a barred door, having tucked into another set of dark alleys, that he regained a bit of that lost faith. Another set of guards stood in front of it, both of them raising their weapons when they came closer. Simmons raised a hand, hoping it would set them at ease. Red's jaw clenched when he realized the man was probably prepared to open his mouth and spew out something on Common, letting out a sigh of relief when Xanthe beat him to the punch.

He couldn't understand a lick of what the woman said, but she appeared to say it well enough. The guards gave the worgen an odd look, but one eventually produced a large ring of keys. As he turned to unlock the door, Xanthe turned to the worgen, muttering a short request under her breath.

The second guard had barely raised his head to note the worgen approach them. Within a moment the beast had grabbed them both by the throat, with the guard who had been unlocking the door facing in the opposite direction, and slammed their heads against the wall, releasing them to allow their limp bodies to fall to the ground. Smirking, Red reached up, turning the key in the lock and pulling the door open. It took a bit of shoving to get it to open enough for them to walk through, given the unconscious elves pressed against it. Closing it behind them and locking it once more, they began their descent once more into the bowels of the city.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Wilting Away (Part 7)

He was trying to come up with something that was worse than walking through sewers. Thus far his attempts hadn't been too successful. Even with a solid twenty minutes of thinking behind the little project, he had produced little for the effort. Most of his list consisted of the lesser duties that kept the Ebon Hold running. Dealing with and cleaning up after ghouls. Making sure that rotting individuals were preserved in a timely manner. That sort of thing.

He wasn't entirely convinced that those were worse than walking through a sewer.

The other two didn't seem to mind. Or rather, Simmons didn't seem to mind. The elf seemed like someone who at one point did mind, but had probably wandered down these winding paths enough to not be bothered any longer. At the very least, neither of them seemed to be as offended by the space as he was. Where they had started off from wasn't anything terrible, mind. But he could tell it was going to get worse the moment they had started moving. It was like knowing an enemy was around a corner. He could practically sense the stench.

Light knew he wanted to think about something else at this particular moment. But nothing was presenting itself. Conversation starting had never been Redamous's strong suit, and wandering through a bunch of samey stone passages that occasionally ran by a long stretch of darkened waters wasn't exactly prime pickings in terms of topic selection. A sigh managed to escape him as they turned a corner, only to be met by stairs. Stairs that were likely to bring them up to the streets above them.

Which they thankfully did. Emerging back into the light of day was a delightful sight, even with the fact that they were deep in enemy territory. The stairs had spit them through an archway, and they stopped alongside a far cleaner canal than they had previously seen. Off in the distance he could see gondolas making their way up and down the stream, though if anyone happened to actually be rowing he couldn't tell. Knowing this particular breed of elves, he could only assume that there was a high chance that they were driven by magic over anything else.

It was at here where their vague set of ideas resembling a plan started running out of steam, just as expected. Once they were in the city, the specifics all fell off the wagon. The biggest idea they had come up with was to find a few guards to knock out, given that the elf believed that in doing so they could potentially garner some marks to use via glamours. Should she be unable to get the little baubles, they were a bit worse off. Simmons could probably pass himself off in something resembling a believable way, so long as no one saw his face, and assumed he was a rather short elf with no ears. The worgen, not so much, though part of the reason for that was because he refused to toss out the idea of giving up his wolfish shape for something a bit more human-like.

The death knights remained back, waiting for the elf to stare up at the buildings above them long enough that she seemed to recognize where they were. When she had decided on their path, they set off again, winding around the canal until it brought them to a ramp which lead them to the busier streets above. From there, they dropped into darker alleys until they were most certainly out of sight of most of the elves going about their day. Regardless of the chance of running into a few sympathizers to the Nightborne cause, and thus people less likely to report them to the guard, it was hardly worth the chance.

Red tilted his head up to look around where they were passing through now. Going off of the various banners and now abandoned wooden stalls, he could only assume the more open space of the back alley had once been a market of sorts. How long it had sat without any vendors or customers, who was to say. That was not to say that it lacked entirely in any sort of life. Based on the slight flickers of light he saw in a few upper windows, a couple of individuals might be using the now empty shops that peppered the area to squat in.

Just as they were about to turn a corner, they were forced to double back due to the light of an approaching torch. Soon enough they found themselves met by another, similar light, whose owner raised his voice to shout, likely at the owner of the first torch. Whatever it was he said was in some elven tongue, and the worgen could barely make out a word of it. Something about finding something, maybe.

A response from a woman was shouted soon after, a voice that grew closer with each word spoken. Soon enough they were sandwiched between the two, with no further places to go, save an old wooden door whose lock had long since rusted. Simmons gave the door's knob a turn, letting out a sigh of relief when it allowed them to enter, which they did, ducking in before they were overcome by the guard.

Inside the dimly lit remains of whatever business was housed beyond the door, they idly wandered about, a sense of irritation and concern filling the room. They had been forced deep inside, due to the guards being right outside the door, torches in full view from the windows. Red let out a grunt as he pressed himself against a wall, doing his best to not stick out like the sore thumb he was, while the other two did similarly.

Off to the Worgen's left was a long shelf filled with old merchandise. Chains, collars, leashes, and harnesses lined it, with various price tags having long since covered over in dust to the point where he couldn't even decipher them. Across the way Simmons was poking at a few bags whose labels were no longer present. He glanced up at Redamous, whispering, "I think this must have been a pet shop or something."

The worgen just shook his head, deadpanning, "Sure as hell hope it was."

To his right he could hear the elf preparing to make some remark, probably a smart one at that as most would be wont to do, but she silenced herself at the sound of the shop's door opening. Torch light filtered in directly after as the guards meandered their way about, moving up and down the various shelves and counters, apparently looking for something. Whether they were just checking for squatters or looking for a more particular individual, none of them could say. All the worgen knew was that they were getting closer, and weren't likely to miss at least two of them. Due in no small part to the fact that their bloody eyes were glowing.

The pair passed by the elf with little notice, worming their way down the two sections of the shop. The one on the far side of the show was bound to walk right past Simmons, and the other was set on a course that walked right past him. Sharing a short look, the two death knights offered each other short nods. Simmons slowly unsheathed his blade, preparing to swing straight at the elf that approached him. Red just clinched a fist, bringing and readied a swing.

Redamous's elf passed first, with his helmet slowly coming into view as he peered about the store. The lock on his face turned from a rather bored expression to one of shock as he turned to find the lumbering worgen standing half a foot above him. It twisted in pain as said worgen's fist came down to slam straight into his helmet, saronite armor meeting whatever metal the elf's own protection happened to be made of. Whatever it was, it made a satisfying clang as it rebounded, sending the elf skittering across the room.

The elf's companion soon rushed forward, looking to help her companion at the sudden attack, only to meet a rune-filled blade, which slashed her across the chest. She too crumpled to the floor. Red turned, noting that the elf he had struck was stirring. Not that he was given the chance to fully do so. The worgen walked on over, bending down to grasp the elf's helmet and pull it up, only to slam it straight back down to the floor. Simmons gave an approving nod as he noticed the male elf's eyes flutter shut.

His approval didn't last too long, as taking the time to check that one elf was down, he failed to keep track of his own target. She soon rose behind him, drawing her own sword and slicing it across the human's back. Red blinked, dropping a foot back to strike at the woman, but he didn't get the chance. Their own elven ally struck first, bringing one of her spindly arms around the woman's neck, throttling her. As the woman's sword dropped to the ground, landing right next to where Simmons had dropped after the blow, she brought her armored gloves up to try and pry the woman from her back. When that proved to be harder than anticipated, she began slamming the other elf up against the walls in an attempt to free herself from her tormentor.

It was a vain attempt. By the time she had managed to free herself, she was forced to her knees, gasping in air like there wasn't going to be enough of it in the world to sate her. Her desperate attempt to take in oxygen was just enough of a distraction for the worgen to swing in and kick the woman straight in the head. The elf's head dropped with a thud, armor meeting wood.

Bringing himself to his feet, Simmons dusted off his armor. Looking at Red, he gave a quick mutter of "I meant to do that."

Xanthe rose from where she had been tossed aside, giving a nod of approval, "And now we have a set of disguises."

"Well," Simmons muttered, looking down at the unconscious elves, "We got two of three. Don't know what we're gonna do about him." He brought a hand up to point at Redamous.

The worgen canted a brow, frowning, "Who the hell says you ain't gonna be the one to go without?"

"Me. I call dibs," Simmons said flatly, crossing his arms.

The elf sighed, "Well if he is to go without, we will have to figure out a way for him to at least trail along without drawing too much suspicion. He looks like a beast that belongs in the menagerie."

Simmons blinked, looking past the worgen at one of the shelves, "Menagerie like. Something full of animals, right?"

Redamous frowned, turning his head to stare at the very shelf he had been peering at earlier, before turning to look back at Simmons. Opening his mouth a few times, only to close it since he hadn't properly come up with a thought, the worgen just stared at the other knight. Eventually he managed to determine just exactly what he wanted to say to the idea Simmons was potentially proposing.

"Try to put one a those collars on me, and I'm gonna strangle both of ya with 'em."

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Wilting Away (Part 6)

On most occasions, the pair of them would have agreed that guard duty wasn't a particularly interesting prospect. Sure, at first it was something different, something horrifying. Staring into the proverbial abyss, what with all the screaming and pain. But eventually, much like most things, one became numb to it.

Such was the case for them. Staring straight ahead at the thick wooden door they were meant to guard, the pair were as stoic as was expected of them. The only times they moved was when they were relieved, or when they were set to escort a prisoner from one place to the other. For years the latter had been a rare occurrence. On account of how few prisoners ever got to leave any of the cells of Suramar City.

In more recent weeks, things had changed. People were brought and people left. New people, old people. People who were of species they could never begin to classify. Elves like themselves, of varying heights and skin pigments, were sometimes captured and brought here, as was the case with their current prisoner assignment. Others were things they couldn't begin to describe. Small green things, large blue ones. Wolf men and beings that looked like a cross between goats and something dredged up out of the ocean's depths.

Granted, most of that was heresay. Outside of the variation of elf, the pair had not been witness to any so exotic as that. Few people had, apparently. Mostly because few of them seemed to ever get captured. In fact, far as they had ever heard via a few grapevines, their current guest had practically turned herself in.

Which was only the start of the strangeness of their elven prisoner. Her aloof ways were obvious whenever they tried tossing in a meager meal, which they had given up on doing. By the third day they had discovered that all that they had given her had been piled up in the corner, and was already molding. The mold itself had seemed odd, given that while the dungeon was poorly lit and rather damp, it had only been a day or two.

Other oddities included the smell. Most of the time, the cell housing the elf was completely neutral in its odor. At other points, it reeked of rot as though a pile of corpses sat inside. On several separate occasions though, it had smelled specifically of some sort of flower. Likely a variation that they hadn't been exposed to for thousands of years.

Their current speculation was that it was linked to the woman's muttering. Muttering that never seemed to cease. At all hours of the day she would mutter to herself, incomprehensible phrases in several languages, none of which made sense, even when they could understand the words being said. There would be moments where she was almost reasonable. But as soon as it would leave, madness would creep back into her cell, and they might as well have bid farewell to their more sane guest.

For the first few days the pair of guards had suspected that she was trying to toy with them. Her short mutterings had loud outbursts which would prompt them to charge in to calm her down, yet by the time they arrived she had already switched so far down in tone that such outbursts seemed almost impossible to have ever occurred. On a few evening watches, they had caught her staring at them through the small barred window at the top of the door, blue eyes the only thing visible on her face due to the void of blackness that was her hood. Occasionally they heard whispering that when traced, seemed to originate from the cell, but never seemed verifiable in its source. The words would echo about the hall as though they could have come from any particular direction, but there was no other source for them.

Worst of all still was the effect the woman had on their superiors. The two ladies who continued to attend to the prisoner for regular bouts of interrogation and the rare bit of torture were certainly hitting their own set of walls and mysteries. They did their best to keep their conversations on the topic light when entering and departing the cell, and the guards knew full well that any particular investigation into this matter was the women's alone, yet that didn't stop them from catching snippets.

Details they could produce included things like how the woman seemed to be immune to most forms of pain. How any slices they made at her failed to really phase her. How the scars from such wounds would have disappeared by the time they returned the next day, seemingly healed. Yet the woman was obviously no priest. She was no wielder of any sort of the Light. So they could only assume that she had access to a more sinister power, and had yet to place just what the source was. Today's session had ended in much a similar way. With nothing more produced than frustration and anger.

It was this that the two discussed idly as they were relieved by their colleagues. As the other pair settled in their old spots, the two mused on the possibilities of what was bound to happen to the elf, whose mutterings they could still hear halfway down the hall. Given enough push, their two superiors were just as likely to simply kill the poor woman. But if she could barely be kept injured, what's to say she would die so easily?