Bloodwen: Part VIII
Teake stumbled into Steamwheedle the next morning. He slept little during the night, metal hands curled under his chin as the pain stabbed through his alcohol-induced haze. The numbing properties wore off far too soon, leaving him a moaning mess. He tried to stifle his pain, his cousin asleep on the far bunk. Only the boar took notice, the little one curling close to lend him some comfort.
The morning brought some respite, the blinding white pain turning into dull throbs. They found neither hand worked properly, one refusing to unclench. Only three fingers of the other moved. His cousin assured him they would properly function given enough time, but Teake had seen enough of his failures to harbor some doubts. Still, three fingers were better than none.
The cocking caught his attention.
There stood Security Chief Bilgewhizzle, rifle resting on his shoulder as he sighted on the tauren’s head. Teake stopped short, lowering his hood so the short goblin could identify him. Guards paced the perimeter of the Port, eyes scouring the ocean horizon. Modeste, the kind tailor, sat with her face in her hands.
Something had happened.
He charged forth, not taking the time to notice if Bilgewhizzle had lowered the weapon or not. If any sought to greet him, he did not notice, tearing towards her little room. Mounting the steps, he threw open the curtains. Empty. A quick glance across the hall informed him of Falais’s absence.
He stepped into their “guide’s” room. The man had left in a hurry. His meal remained unfinished, sheets strewn haphazardly over the bed. As he bent close to the still hissing fire, he noticed the charred parchment.
His note to Sutera.
Teake snorted in dismay. She had not waited for him, convinced by Falais to leave. With no apparent explanation offered for Teake’s sudden departure, she had no reason to doubt his words.
“You need to leave, tauren,” Bilgewhizzle said from behind him.
The druid turned, brow raised.
“Some gods-forsaken naga showed up this morning. Did a number on Modeste.” The pointy-eared goblin shook his head. “I told her never to go down to the docks alone.”
Teake pointed to Sutera’s room.
“Left last night with your blood elf friend. To Gadgetzan. Good thing, too, ‘cause the naga were looking for you all.”
He shrugged, hoping the officer would understand.
“Where are the naga now? Off to your cousin’s, last I saw. Followed your tracks for a little bit, then took to the sea and swam up the coast. Thank your lucky stars you probably just missed them.” He took Teake’s arm, pulling him from the room. “We need to get you out of here, though. No telling what they’ll do if they come back and find you. Bless her heart, Modeste didn’t tell them anything.”
The boar stood on the little bluff, salty wind blowing through its tufts of hair. It stretched, offering a slight squeal as it yawned.
The tridents rose from the waves far below.
The boar peered at the metal protrusions, then gave a grunt as the nagas’ heads broke the surface. Their leader, some red and black armored creature, pointed up the hill. They could no doubt just see the tip of his master’s home over the dunes.
The animal turned and bounded through the sand, sometimes sliding as it took a turn too quickly. Little feet scrabbling, it shot towards the hut, squealing out a warning. Geargrinder, of course, did not hear anything. The boar slid to a halt in front of the door, rear wiggling as it pushed through the small opening.
The tauren shooed his pet away.
The boar would have none of it, circling until it stood in front of him. The tauren tried to ignore it, screwdriver poking into some mechanical creation.
It snorted again, this time dancing on its little feet as it glared at the window.
Now this was strange. The tauren rose, giving it a pat on the head before throwing wide the shutters.
The naga crested the hill.
Geargrinder let off a stream of Gnomish curses, hurrying to the contraption gathering dust in the rear of the building. It looked like a large, cylindrical cage. The blue circle upon its floor glowed as he pushed buttons and flipped levers. Nearby schematics revealed, even with a cursory glance, that the creation was far from complete.
The brave little boar pranced towards the front door as something hammered hard against it. The wood held. The creature gave a challenging squeal, stamping its feet as if it would charge.
The blue disk within the cage flared brilliantly. Geargrinder gave a silent prayer to whatever deity might be watching, then stepped into the light. Clapping his hands, he called for his companion. The animal gave one final snort to the naga outside, then turned and leapt into his arms.
As Shyv entered, trident at the ready, he watched the light explode in the center of the contraption.
All that was left of the tauren and his boar were tufts of hair and the tips of their tusks and horns.
The strange figure stood at the gates and watched her from afar. The hood pulled over his head did nothing to hide the horns protruding from his skull. He kept his hands hidden, tucked into the folds of his robes.
The blood elf paced near the bank, golden eyes drawing stares from many. So uncomfortable did it become that she made her way from the crowd, walking towards him. Others rode past on their raptors and kodos, giving neither of them a second glance. The brave and foolish waited just outside Orgrimmar, eager to test their skills against one another.
She walked past, oblivious to his attention. Falais had told her to stay within the central valley, but surely the entrance would do little harm. She leaned against the wall, a sputtering torch lighting her blonde tresses from behind. Those outside danced and parried, shouted and taunted. Swords clashed as magic tore the air asunder.
His rough hand grasped her arm, hauling her from the protected entry and into the searing heat. The stranger did not pause to introduce himself, steering her towards the tower to the left. Giant, floating ships waited to take passengers to Stranglethorn or Tirisfal.
The ship she wanted, the one Falais insisted they take to Northrend, hovered in the opposite direction.
Sutera struggled against her abductor’s iron grip. It was only when he turned his head that she recognized him. Teake offered a smile, raising a metal finger to his lips
Now she was torn. Falais insisted she wait for him. He swore Northrend would answer all her questions. He was firm, ordering her to stay in the central valley while he gathered supplies for their long journey.
With Teake, though, there was no explanation. There was no reason for her to follow him into the unknown, to trust he held the answers she sought. Yet, even as she thought this, she knew she had done it before.
She fell into step beside him, allowing him to draw her hood over her head. Whatever he meant to do, wherever they were meant to go, he wanted to make certain no one knew. They entered the tower, following the winding passage to the top. The waiting goblin gave them a wave and smile, but neither returned the gesture. The boat to Tirisfal was full, passengers crowded against each other.
They made their way to the railing, watching as Durotar slid beneath them.
No one could tell him anything.
Falais had searched the entirety of Orgrimmar, even delving into the Cleft of Shadow. Nothing. Only those that tarried by the bank remembered her golden eyes, yet none knew which direction she had departed. He asked the flight master, receiving only a baleful scowl in response. The duelists largely ignored him, too busy prancing and posturing to be of any help. Up one zeppelin tower he climbed, then the other. No information.
He cursed. He lost his temper. He threw their supplies against a wall, kicking them as they fell from the bags.
Sinking to the ground, he rummaged in his pouch. The curo, the gem holding her precious memories, glittered. He twisted it between his fingers, watching the light play off its faceted surface.
At least he had this.
He returned to Orgrimmar. The assassin crept into the hidden sections none knew of, whispering through the inky blackness until the purple fires came into view. So close to the Cleft, yet no citizens knew of this chamber.
The battle at Light’s Hope Chapel had given the Death Knights an opportunity. Hidden amongst those that wallowed in their guilt and shame were those that remained true to the Lich King. They knelt before the leaders of the Horde and Alliance, swearing fealty to those they were tasked to destroy. In their desperation, with the undead and Vrykul swarming towards their doorsteps, they foolishly put their trust in those that once served.
Now they plotted. They revealed secrets to the Lich King, gaining the trust of generals and kings, warriors and mages. Even the Kirin Tor were duped.
Some were special like Shadow. They could communicate with the Lich King anywhere, their minds joined by his will alone. These were his special agents, his reapers and spies. All information flowed through them.
The orc could not remember his former name. The only sure thing he did know was that he slaughtered his family upon his return. Their faces were wisps of white in his mind, accompanied by pale echoes of screams and pleading. His dedication remained true even through his apparent betrayal at the Chapel.
He returned to Orgrimmar neither shameful nor converted.
“What is it, Moonreaver?” he asked without turning. The purple fires from the torches played against his black armor.
“I have news for the Lich King. Sutera Bloodwen has disappeared, the druid with her.”
“He will be most displeased with your failure,” Shadow answered, glowing eyes holding fast to the blood elf’s as he turned. There was no telling what thoughts he shared with their master.
Falais held up the curo. “I have this. It was no small task to steal it from the dreadlord. It contains all her memories, everything we need.”
The orc was silent for several moments, eyes unwavering.
“Her absence is of little consequence…”
Shadow spoke. “The Lich King determines what is inconsequential, or do you forget he holds the prize you seek?”
“I have not forgotten.”
The Death Knight smiled. He turned away, lighting the candles nearest him with the purple fire. It was only then the blood elf saw the zombies standing in either corner, dead eyes boring into him. “The Lich King wants you to journey to Northrend and give him the news yourself.”