Ancient stone fairly glowed as dawn broke through the sheltering branches of Elwynn Forest and struck the mighty wall of Stormwind City. The early morning hush was heavy and still. Guards that normally were casual and greeting familiar shop keepers instead stared and searched every shadow and nook. The energy in the mist stretching up from the harbor along the road carried a malignant energy. A dark foreboding.
The walls themselves almost trembled as they caged a growing spirit of unease, panic, fear. Every now and then a faint rumble could be felt, and dust shook from those mighty stones. It seemed, when that happened, every breath by the unusual crowds filling the City were held.
Arokaryn, the solitary mercenary often hired by those of power and influence, and even those without power or influence but gold to spend, stalked gracefully, if tiredly, along the roadway through the shadows behind the wall, her destination never the totality of her focus. Liquid silver eyes cataloged deeper shadows, and long ears that escaped the covering of her cloak’s hood twitched, catching sounds that came at a furious pace. She grimaced at the crowds, the sheer overwhelming numbers that her senses relayed. This city was not as it was last time she visited. Guards that passed by eyed her dark and dirty armor and boots askance, and made to approach her until the next step she took caused the heavy leather cloak to slip and reveal a tabard of silver thread that nearly glowed through the gloom.
As the guards paused, then moved on, a slight smirk twisted her lips. How she loved avoiding the complications that seemed to sprout every step she took. At a doorway in the Mage Quarter, she lightly leapt up steps and paused at a firmly shut door. Within seconds, it was cracked open to reveal a blinding light, with sound and energy unheard of on the mortal plane echoing up from the depths below the entry room. As she slipped inside, only the faintest movement of her fingertips as she disappeared betrayed a message to the silent watchers without.
Magic swirled so heavily within the city, especially this quarter, much could be overlooked. But the powers that ruled through wars and uncounted sufferings weren’t fools. Or they’d never have remained in power. And those calloused fingers had traced a warning sigil in the air before she disappeared within.
Whiskers twitched slightly as coiled muscles quivered and ached to move, to pounce, to stretch claws and rip through flesh and blood and guts. The cat remained still, though. Far beyond what a beast, regardless of cunning intelligence, could be expected to maintain. Guards continued to walk past, mages deep in discussion carried on their tasks and duties. But she waited, her body lying on the ground but tense and always ready, waiting, for that door to move again. In the shadows, practicing a bit of native magic bred into her very bones that let her disappear from sight and senses, the druid named Lheaf kept guard silently. She was hungry and thirsty, but the outcome of this meeting meant needed intelligence not just for the King of Stormwind City and the Alliance, but could foretell the fate of the world.
Every tremble of earth that sent dust up and brought instant quiet to the mass of humans and others within the walls of the City sent screams of disturbance through the natural world as raging energies from elsewhere forced their will upon Azeroth. The screams echoed deep within the druid’s nerves, ran along every extra sense she possessed. They violated not just her attunement with the world, didn’t only shred her link to the ancient land of Kalimdor and the heart of the Night Elf people, but required a will honed through countless battles against undead monsters and evil born into flesh to leash the chaos of the beast who’s form she used normally so effortlessly. While humans cowered from what they could see, smell, hear and feel, her senses were a thousand times stronger, and she also had the extra senses gained from her link to the life force of the world.
Lheaf carefully drew shallow breaths and focused her will ever more tightly. A hum approached the closed door she hadn’t removed here yes from, and as the magical energies became more apparent, she crouched, ready to spring if necessary.
Insects droned as Wynsmea walked won the ramp from the training tower where primary portals stood and other research took place. Her ice blue eyes were unfocused as she stared at her feet, heedless of the bound water elemental trailing her footsteps behind her. Only the calming sound of water, constantly moving, constantly carrying energy in a never ending cycle within the binding spell and the powers of the elemental forces caged so carefully, centered her awareness in a blinding flash of insight. With a pause, Wynsmea turned only her blonde head to look down and across the park like area at a door opening in a row of similar doors. They led to private studies, private purposes and intents. But something felt wrong.
Where Lheaf waited, her fur stood on end as she drew upon the limited natural energies within reach, attempting to buffer herself against the malign sense of wrongness that filled the air like a heavy draft of ill air from the ocean.
Arokaryn slid out the door facing the park, her hood pulled back to reveal a long white braid hanging over her shoulder. Her eyes were empty, and her movements stiff.
Wynsmea’s eyes narrowed, and without a word spoken, the mighty water elemental that had been so passive shifted its weight and gathered energy.
The glow behind the night elf rogue seemed to increase, and the druid moved before the sound from the depths of the study could rise above a whisper. She flowed across the ground, approaching as silent as death. With the door remaining open, her senses relayed only one human smell, and no others. Whether there were other doors inside that hid reinforcements, she didn’t know. But the summoner had to die before he finished his ritual. Death, purging the taint, the grip of insanity ripping through the world. Lheaf almost betrayed a growl as she paused at the base of the steps, watching Arokaryn’s body for a betraying movement that meant she’d have to die, too.
Arokaryn’s hands moved, sliding to the weapons at her hips under her cloak, but they lacked grace and finesse. But a sudden shift in energies snapped into place with a crack of lightning. A graceful orb of water that embodied life and health plunged into the elf’s chest before pulling out and spinning around her body in a dazzling shower. With the first plunge, Lheaf shifted her focus seamlessly to the real danger. A foreign tongue spoken with a musical rhyme increased the sudden return of power balance to the elemental energies of the park, so sudden the previous imbalance became all the more obvious. Standing silently amidst totems planted firmly in the earth and humming with power, Indulgence was calm and collected, though her hands betrayed the focus on the water element cleansing Arokaryn of the toxin impeding her natural resistances.
Wynsmea’s focus moved past the elf and the elemental launched a bolt of focused frozen power through the gap of the door’s opening. A human yell of surprise was cut off, while the sound of crackling ice echoed from the now silent building where Arokaryn had kept her morning appointment.
“Never good to be careless with the elements.” Wynsmea’s soft accents trilled as she continued her walk, only this time heading for the open door and the frozen figure within.
Lheaf had long since disappeared inside, checking the remains of the building’s basement and the summoning spell, seeking other identities and further information to present to the King’s counsel, and the Priestess’s court. While she eased just as stealthily out of the building and away from the now crowded scene. Around the corner, she paused to take the familiar form of a Night Elf woman in worn armor of feral design and coloring. With a careless stride and charming smile, she headed off to report inconspicuously on the results of the meeting.
Arokaryn held her head and sat on the steps, trying to avoid the probing questions of Mages, guards, a Knight and the intent stare of an interfering priestess.
She’d have to have a word with those that assigned her these missions, she thought.