Written by | Posted December 13, 2016 – 5:45 pm Security Clearance

**A note on dates. Dates are pretty important, but we have no idea how Silvermoon reckons time, so I’ve used the WoWWiki Unofficial Timeline dates for most of it. As such, all years are measured with the beginning of the First War as “Year 0” even though that makes fuckall sense for Blood Elves. You […]

Security Clearance
comment Comment Written by on December 13, 2016 – 5:45 pm

**A note on dates. Dates are pretty important, but we have no idea how Silvermoon reckons time, so I’ve used the WoWWiki Unofficial Timeline dates for most of it. As such, all years are measured with the beginning of the First War as “Year 0” even though that makes fuckall sense for Blood Elves. You do what you can with the lore that you have, right?**

Alanth’s thirty-six hour respite from whatever horrors he’d dug up in Suramar was entirely too short, but Tilly wasn’t going to argue when she’d gotten a full day with him – a luxury thus far denied her. They’d spent the evening snuggled up on the couch, talking about each other and their lives, getting to know each other better, and just enjoying being together in the quiet of her cozy studio. When he left the next morning, however, she went immediately to the archives to find her boss, her curiosity finally getting the better of her. Isaac was an older elf, black hair gone grey at the temples. He was one of the only other Libriomancers Tilly knew, and she didn’t shy away from things with him like she might with other coworkers.

“I need to go back to Silvermoon, Isaac. Can you get along without me for a day?” Tilly asked, her face intentionally impassive.

He looked at her curiously. “You’ve not been back home in almost a month. Everything alright with your family?”

“Oh very much so, I just… I need to look into something – several somethings – and I need to be in Silvermoon to do it, if you catch my drift.”

“Ah. Yes. Well, if you don’t mind, I’ve got a stack of reports that need to go to Amalya, so if you can deliver those in person, I won’t ask questions about the questionable gentleman you’re seeing or why his associates came in here and grilled poor Riand about you the other day. I assume that’s why you’re going to Silvermoon.”

“Is it that obvious then?”

He laughed. “Not really, I just pay attention, and I’ve seen what books you’ve been working with when you’re not in the Sunreaver archives. Enjoy your day, and tell Amalya that I send my best regards and that I hope she’s forgiven you for the whole fire-spider incident.”

Tilly turned bright red, but snatched the stack of reports from his desk. “I am so not bringing that up.”

She tucked the stack neatly into a large messenger bag, alongside her lunch, a pair of fingerless gloves, a shawl, two of her own books that needed to be returned to Silvermoon, and a large notebook. Swinging the bag over her shoulder, she walked to the portals in … Windrunner Sanctuary (she mentally corrected herself), thanked the gods for mages and permanent teleportation devices, and stepped through the one that had the Sunfury Spire glimmering on the other side.

Reports delivered to Amalya, Isaac’s counterpart at the Spire’s archives and Tilly’s distant cousin, Tilly walked herself from the usual part of the building where she worked over to the government wing. She flashed a smile at the reedy looking elf at the door. “Morning Salnis. I need to get into the Intelligence wing today. Probably will be there most of the day, actually, depending on how hard I have to look.”

He nodded. “Alright, Archivist Stardusk. Let me look through your bag?”

Tilly dropped the bag on his desk, opening it for him to examine the contents, which he did perfunctorily and then waved her back.

“Thanks Salnis. See you later.” She signed her name in the register on his desk, produced a badge that she clipped to her sweater, and offered her thumbprint to the arcane reader that sat above the lock on the door. It chirped merrily, and she let herself inside.

*****

The interior of the Military part of the Spire’s archives looked, for all intents and purposes, like the recordkeeping wing of every other library in existence. Record books, printed volumes, journals – all bound in the same proud Sunfury Burgundy leather – sat on shelves much less colorful and exciting looking than the rare books she usually dealt with. But she knew better than to mistake a boring book for boring contents. What she wasn’t entirely sure of was where to start.

Start with Alanth himself, you can trace backwards from there.

So she started with the agent records. Walking the long shelf until she got to “N”, she pulled a volume and paged through it until she found what she was looking for.

N’otelyle, Alanth
October 29
5’11” 175lbs; auburn hair
1 Sanderstil – Loft B, Murder Row, Silvermoon City
Retired
Silvermoon Intelligence, Section 9 – Specialist; Transferred.
Security Clearance Q9.738

A sketch of him accompanied the entry, confirming she’d found the right elf – he really hadn’t been in long, or he hadn’t aged a day since he’d been sketched. His handsome face was clearly recognizable even if he wasn’t smiling, though he was missing a scar.

Tilly frowned at the entry in the book.

Transferred to where? And where’s his reactivation? He’s not retired anymore…

She wrote the whole entry, short as it was, into her notebook and shoved the book back on the shelf, noting that his birthday was this week – the rascal hadn’t said anything, but now she was going to surprise him. With a long pause, she thought about where she could look. Section 9 obviously, since that was where he had once worked.

On a hunch, however, she pulled the book back out, flipping over to Alanth’s entry again. Sure enough, the next entry was another N’otelyle.

Tilly added this second entry to her notebook as well, casually realizing that Alanth must be the spitting image of his mother, as he didn’t look too much like his dad. Silathian N’otelyle. September 13. Missing, presumed deceased. Silvermoon Military, Section 17 – Diplomat. Security Clearance Q7.795

So you weren’t lying about your parents going missing. We’ll see how much I can find about that too…

Reshelving the book for real this time, she walked through the stacks of records until she got to Section 9… and there wasn’t a single thing there. She knew what he did was classified, and she had a least two more levels of security clearance, but she wasn’t expecting his entire history to be kept that far out of reach. A quick run through Section 17 confirmed that it too was not in this part of the library, except for a few slimmer volumes on negotiations and diplomatic events that honestly, she figured anyone with half a brain could have figured out without needing a library book to tell them about, let alone a security clearance to get access to.

With a sigh, she pressed her thumb to another arcane doorway scanner, listened for the happy little chirp, and let herself into a smaller section of the Intelligence wing.

*****

Section 9 proved to be behind yet a third level of security, but Tilly did eventually find the specialist record books. These were organized by date and mission, and she had to do a bit of finger math to place when, exactly, Alanth would have joined up with the Intelligence wing to have ended up in Northrend just after Arthas had been killed in his icy wasteland. Thankfully most of this area of the archives had ledgers that she could browse looking for campaign names and other things, with the actual details in the larger bound books, so it didn’t take long to locate the work he’d done in Northrend.

Or at least, she thought it hadn’t taken long, until she finally got the book down to look at it, and all it said was:

Operation Frostfire
Northrend, War Against the Lich King, year 36-38
Daybinder, Calae – deceased
N’otelyle, Alanth
Bloodblade, Yari – missing, presumed deceased
Kreiel, Jenthaen – deceased
Flamesorrow, Inetilen – deceased
Mirlas, Aeleril
Firestrider, Talira – missing, presumed deceased
Darkvale, Lynice – deceased
Leaflight, Parron – missing, presumed deceased
Ember, Laetlanis – missing, presumed deceased
Lor’thul, Vyaleron – deceased
Sunshard, Normae – missing, presumed deceased
Roseblood, Meri – deceased
Dayspell, Azerise – deceased
Lightsorrow, Caerin – deceased
Wel’dras, Auerlius
Brightfrost, Cayvea – deceased
Morningstar, Amine – missing, presumed deceased
Sunwhisper, Norith – deceased
Sunwing, Quith – missing, presumed deceased
Flamegazer, Lahaen – deceased

There was also a list of targets and locations, but they had all been at least partially blacked out with a redaction device that no magic Tilly possessed could make legible again – and she definitely tried five or six tricks before giving up.

Alanth hadn’t been kidding when he said nearly nobody had survived from that work, but seeing just how many agents Silvermoon had lost in that campaign made Tilly shiver, and not from the cold in the room. No wonder he didn’t want to talk about Northrend. She looked back at the long row of books, wondering how many campaigns like this she would find, with him barely surviving to tell the tale.

Then she blinked at herself.

You idiot. You’re a libriomancer. Why are you doing this the hard way?

She decided to give herself a break, considering where she was, who she was looking for, and how she felt about him, and called Alanth’s name into her fingertips, beginning to scan over the rest of the books, spine by spine, starting with the one that contained Operation Frostfire. No fewer than six other books flashed in recognition to her magic, and the smug little smile on her face showed that she’d more than forgiven herself for overlooking that she was a Libriomancer, dammit, and this was what she did for a living.

She pulled all six books, but the information they contained was meager at best. Operation Frostfire was joined by Operations Breaking Point, Blue Garden, Eversong Sunset, Windstorm, and something called Operation Epilogue that she didn’t think would probably tell her anything at all, given the name, even if it was in two different books. None of them were particularly explanatory, containing just lists of agents and occasionally unredacted target information and locations, though some had interesting tidbits about how the missions had gone, and nearly all of them involved losing agents – clearly his threats that one day he might just not come back at all weren’t idle ones. Especially given that whatever he was doing now wasn’t even in these books. All of the missions he was registered as having lived through spanned years 36 through 40 since the First War. After year 40 – Tilly figured that was just before the discovery of the Isle of Pandaria – Alanth simply didn’t exist in Section 9 anymore.

What do you actually DO, whirlwind? This isn’t nearly a career’s worth of information, and you disappeared several years ago…

Knowing that her clearance wouldn’t get her past another round of locked doors and arcane scanners, Tilly decided to change tactics, spending a frustrating half hour looking through what she could find of the Diplomat records in Section 17. There was a little more here, mostly containing reports of negotiations that had gone well (or poorly) and the people involved. A good bit of it involved Lordaeron, and then the other human kingdoms. Silathian’s name was only actually in one book though, and it contained almost no information other than a memo that he and his wife had been set to go to the southern part of the Eastern Kingdoms but had never checked in that they’d arrived, and all attempts at communication had failed after that.

The whole exercise was more infuriating than she wanted to admit. Normally she could find out what she needed to find out, and if she wanted it Amalya could likely get her in past at least two more levels of security, but she wasn’t really willing to out herself so easily to someone who was in regular contact with her sisters. This wasn’t her usual line of work recently, and Amalya was the type to ask questions. A lot of them.

Tilly sat down at a table and looked through the notes she’d taken, realizing quickly that she had more questions than she did when she started. Alanth was curious, yes, and he’d piqued her curiosity from the start, but this was something else altogether. Knowing that the information she wanted was likely further in there – and that she couldn’t get to it – was maddening.

She took a break to eat her lunch, thinking through all of the things he’d told her, wracking her memory for clues of things she could look up or find out while she was here. Eventually she decided to go down one more track. He’d mentioned time spent at the Silvermoon Orphanage. It was a bit of a long shot, but she went back into the section of the records that kept notes on all of the people involved with and close to the agents in the Intelligence forces.

Here again things were organized alphabetically. She went to the N’s, and fairly quickly found Alanth’s slim record book. It was, as he’d suggested, sparse. His deceased parents – no information there. A couple of deceased or estranged lovers from years ago, most of them with listed security clearances of their own, and short paragraphs about their relationships, mostly redacted. Times where his personal life and professional life had gotten entangled, she supposed.. And then she found what she was looking for.

Stilldawn, Theresa
July 3
5’8” 155 lbs, silver hair
Matron, Silvermoon Orphanage
Deceased

And then another big string of redacted text that no amount of prodding would illuminate. Tilly nearly slammed the book closed in frustration, forcing herself to turn the page, just to see if there was – perhaps – something more hidden one turn away. What she did find stopped her in her tracks, the color draining from her face. There was one more entry in Alanth’s little file – newly entered, by the look of the ink.

Stardusk, Anthilyen Emmeline – “Tilly”
March 15
5’2” 150lbs, brown hair
Archivist – Sunfury Spire, Dalaran Archives
Libriomancer
61-D Clear Hickory, Commerce Exchange, Dalaran
1624 Silver Rise #3, The Royal Exchange, Silvermoon City
Security Clearance Q3.655 

First, Finest, Last (Anryl)
comment Comments Off on First, Finest, Last (Anryl) Written by on June 3, 2016 – 11:21 am

She was barely fifty years old* when she took her first – a contract handed out in Everlook, though how she’d ended up in that godsforsaken ice-sheet she couldn’t be sure. It was a simple thing to kill the woman listed on the paper she had signed. Anryl had no idea what Telwae Lightsorrow had done to end up on a goblin hit-list, and she knew better than to ask. She set up her stakeout, waited, and pulled the trigger. Except the woman didn’t die right away, and Anryl had vomited up her lunch as she waited the sickening minutes for her to bleed out in the snow. It wasn’t professional. It wasn’t well done. And it certainly made a giant mess. But she’d gotten her price for the work and could afford to eat for a few weeks, and wasn’t that what mattered?

Running was supposed to be punishment, at first. Punishment for her body – the body that she couldn’t spend a day at work without hearing about. Flat chested and wiry, she didn’t look like the kind of elf that worked in a bar in a mercenary outpost, and nobody wanted to let her forget that. So one morning after a particularly terrible shift, she decided to try running. It was awful – she barely made it to the edge of town before she was sucking wind and lead footed. But she didn’t give up, and after a few months, it started to take the edge off – pushing her body let her clear her mind, and she discovered she loved it.

Her first was a sweet affair just before the war had come to Silvermoon – they were both young, but puppy love had gotten the best of them, and stolen kisses behind the pet shop where she worked would only last so long. It was a first for both of them, and they’d been a bit clumsy about it, but all told it was the kind of thing she could look back on fondly. They’d bedded each other a few times before they got caught by her grandmother, and the repercussions were so bad that she’d lost her job at the pet shop and wasn’t allowed out of the house for several months. His name was Erineas, and she never did find out what happened to him after Silvermoon fell.

*****

Solenath Dusksworn provided her with her finest – a contract not to kill, but to protect. He was an elf of means, with a huge estate in Stranglethorn for himself, his human wife, their children, and an odd assortment of adopted and related people who had nowhere else to go. He’d given her a job with regular pay, all the food she could eat, and reliable days off. Mostly she patrolled the grounds, with the occasional shot goblin trying to break in and steal things. It was unlike anything she’d ever done before, and if she could have made it work she would have been happy there forever. But the job got political, and she got bored, and so she left. He said he would provide her with references – Anryl had no idea if Iselian had checked them or not – and he still asked her to come back for odd jobs or days when he needed extra security. But it was never quite the same.

Her finest was in Desolace, on what – to anyone else – would have been a simple delivery message from Shadowprey Village to the Cenarion outpost, in the wildlands that had sprung up in the middle of what had previously been a barren ash wasteland. Anyone else would have taken a wyvern, but she decided to do it on foot. It took her three days to get there, but the triumph she felt when she collapsed in a heap in the soft grass was something she’d never felt before. She had conquered – her body was a tool, and she could use it to do phenomenal things. To push her limits meant she had control, and that was a type of power she’d never had before.

There was no finest. The best she could say about the last handful of men and women she’d fucked was that they were utterly unremarkable. Drunken rutting in seedy bars or mercenary camps, stolen from each other without even an utterance of names, merely a fulfillment of some baser needs. She’d learned a few tricks, of course, and kept herself safe, but otherwise it was entirely without emotion, and she wasn’t even sure she’d recognize them if they walked up to her in the street. She figured that probably made her a horrible person, but given her string of jobs, maybe it fit right in.

*****

Pang Thunderfoot was her last, and there wasn’t even really a contract. She would muck out the barns and haul animal feed (and really whatever else needed doing), and in exchange she could sleep in the barn, get two square meals a day, and have plenty of free time to think. Anryl wasn’t entirely sure what to think about all of the thinking. So she filled at least some of her spare time with *drinking* instead, which seemed to make Thunderfoot laugh as she worked her way through his finest beers. Pandaria was a different sort of place, and she had no intention of bringing her reputation as a hired gun to bear in a place where there was such beauty. Sure maybe she’d kill a few saurok sometime, but the Pandaren didn’t seem to value that kind of skill the same way the rest of Azeroth did, and so she’d settled for day labor over brute force. She still kept her rifles in top shape though.

She hadn’t run in awhile. Her last had been a 4am adventure when she’d woken up and couldn’t stop her racing thoughts. So she and Ammo had taken off from Halfhill in the direction of New Cifera, to sit by the waterfall and see what she could make of things. Except about halfway there she’d caught her boot on a stone in the road, ripped it nearly in two, and gone down hard on her other ankle. It wasn’t broken, but the sprain was bad enough that she couldn’t walk, and so she’d sat on the side of the road for two hours waiting for a merchant with a cart to come through to carry her back to Halfhill like a sack of potatoes. It was mostly better now – Oranin had been angry that she hadn’t had it looked at, and said that not caring for it was why it was taking weeks to heal – but it still hurt when she ran more than a short distance, so she was trying to take the resting in stride.

Her last … now wasn’t that an interesting question, considering she hadn’t actually bedded him. Not that she didn’t want to, but Oranin was different – he cared. And she cared back. And that was fucking scary, and so she had hardly done more than lock lips with him a few times, regardless of the need in her gut. It was frustrating, but she figured it was worth it to not end up with just another mindless fuck. If she was going to learn to love someone – and maybe that’s what this was, learning how to love – she was going to do it right, and let him soothe the terror she felt every time she thought about what would happen if this all went wrong. It would be easier if she’d just gotten laid and gotten over it, but something about this made her think it was worth it to squelch the bravado and allow herself to be vulnerable, as uncomfortable as that was. She was pretty sure it would be worth it.

*According to the stats, this makes her not yet a legal adult when she left home, which was about 10-12 years ago. http://wowwiki.wikia.com/wiki/Roleplaying_stats

Descent and Ascent
comment Comments Off on Descent and Ascent Written by on September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – was Gromnor dead? Was he really in the northern part of the Eastern Kingdoms, somewhere in probably old Lordaeron? Was he really poisoned? Confirming information meant entering the spirit world, and the easiest place to do that was in the Isles, where she knew she would be watched properly, in case something went wrong in the otherworld.

Handler Marnlek greeted her at the flightpoint. “‘Allo, miss. You be stayin’ here tonight?”

“Yes, and probably tomorrow as well. Is Mishiki around?”

“Ya, she’s over by the fire. Bom’bay blew sometin’ up yesterday, so she’s been watchin’ him.”

“Thank you, Marnlek. Be well.”

He nodded, turning back to the wyvern she had flown in on and finding it a spot in the stable. Ankona walked over to where the herbalist was sitting, next to a huge cauldron and with her little jars of herbs strewn about her. The novice witchdoctor near her had scorch marks across half his face, and he was dejectedly milling some herbs together with a mortar and pestle.

“Oh! Ankona! ‘Allo! How you being?” Mishiki got up and hugged the druid warmly. “You been away too long. Come back to teach again?”

Ankona shook her head. “I’m just here for a day or two. I need the help of Zen’tabra, and your help, to make a journey, and I felt safest doing so from here.”

Mishiki nodded. “Alright. Well, you just say how I can help, and I’ll get you situated.”

“I need … well. I need adder’s tongue and ghost mushroom. I have everything else.”

“Oooh. Big stuff. You got a big journey to do then? What’s wrong?” The herbalist began sorting through jars, looking for the tiny white mushrooms and the wispy green ferns.

“A… new friend has been kidnapped, and we need to know if he’s still alive, and where he is. So I’m going to see if I can find him – or traces of him – in the otherworld. We scryed for him, but don’t know if the arcane pathways are being manipulated.”

Mishiki handed over two small envelopes of dried herbs. “Well, good luck to you. You know how to use these. Tell Zen’tabra I send my best. She hasn’t been over here in a month of Sundays.”

*** *** ***

As night fell over the Echo Isles, Ankona secured the door to a little hut near the central fire in the village. The late summer night was warm, but she built a fire in the fireplace anyway, heating a kettle of water and carefully preparing the herbs from Mishiki. The ghost mushrooms she sliced into tiny discs, as thin as she could get them. The adder’s tongue she shredded until it resembled fine grass. Three dried purple lotus sat waiting – they would steep whole. Once the kettle boiled, she placed all three herbs into a large bowl and covered them with boiling water.

She lit her pipe, filling the room with the sweet smells of apple and pipe tobacco. Shapes formed and disappeared in the smoke as it reflected in the firelight, and she began to chant, shaking her bone and shell rattle, calling on Bwonsamdi. As the herbs steeped, an intoxicating aroma began to creep into the edges of the room, and after awhile, Ankona put down her rattle.

Bwonsamdi, take this gift of chant, and half of these herbs, that I may walk in your realm unharmed.

She poured out half the thick herbal liquor, letting it soak into the soft dirt on the floor.

Stocking the fire up with a few extra logs, she settled herself down on the little cot. Before she lay down she took three small sips of the herbal brew, and then lay in the flickering firelight, waiting for the otherworld to come for her.

*** *** ***

Like a feather, floating from a great height, she descended into the ground. Beneath the sand. Beneath the waves. Beneath the foundations of the earth. Deep into the timeless darkness she descended, floating lightly as though her spirit weighed nothing at all.

For an eternity she floated.

And then she reached the bottom. In the inky blackness, an illuminated skull grinned at her. It floated off, and she followed it. Step by step, through the darkness. Eventually she came upon a parliament of skulls.

Greetings, beloved dead. I come to you seeking answers. I come seeking an orc named Gromnor. Has he come to join you?

No, No, he is not here. Their laughter rang out in the emptiness, childlike and singsong.

Then I must seek for him elsewhere. Blessings upon your heads and houses, beloved dead.

Stay, Stay, stay here with us. The skulls began to dance around her, faster and faster. Stay, stay, stay here with us! With all her might, she jumped, and they clattered into one another, falling into a pile, and she was rising.

*** *** ***

Soon the darkness began to lighten, and shadows appeared, and flickered, and she passed by them all, ever rising upward toward the flickering stars. She broke through the ground, through the waves, through the sand, through the trees, until she was flying high in the air, her spirit soaring over the waters as she flew to the east. The sea fell away beneath her as she darted through the sky, eternity falling away like the ocean waves beneath her, until far in the flickering distance she saw the land she was looking for. With effort, she conjured up Ellasa’s words – he had been through Brill. The rogue had drugged him. She brought up Gromnor’s face, and the scent of the rogue – nagrand cherries and leather boots.

Focus.

She flew over the ruined town of Southshore – no restless spirits there anymore. Over Lordamere Lake. Past Fenris Isle and Silverpine Forest. In the darkness, they all passed by beneath her, the scent of cherries leading her forward. She came to Brill. Yes, they had been here.

Then the edges of her vision clouded over, and the town beneath her faded away into nothingness.

*** *** ***

When she awoke in the tiny hut on the Echo Isles, she couldn’t tell if her eyes were open or closed. Inside the hut it was cold and pitch black – the fire had long died. She sat up and her head swam and her stomach threatened to reject its contents. Ankona stumbled her way to the door, fumbling at the lock, and then gasped in deep breaths of the pre-dawn sea air.

Zen’tabra sat guard outside. “Ya be wakeful then. It has been many hours.”

The words swam in her head like visions. Many hours. Many hours. Many hours. In the east, the first flickers of golden light appeared. The other druid handed her a waterskin, and she drank thirstily. “Did ya find him?”

Ankona shook her head. “No, but he is not dead. I need rest. You may go now, thank you for sitting with me.”

“Anytime, Ani – ya know that. Walk lightly.”

As the Zen’tabra walked toward the training grounds, Ankona reached out with her mind to the blue crystal she now carried with her. “‘Tia? Are you there? I have news.”

The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe
comment Comments Off on The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe Written by on August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm

An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!

It really was a pretty thing, now that she got a good look at it. The polished blonde wood and glinting enamel was cleverly made, and shone with a soft reflectiveness that suggested – once it was properly installed – that it might even have the look of being wet, like a real eye. It fitted together without a seam – she’d been sure of that, nothing to catch on soft tissue or eyelashes.

Ankona had spent the better part of three days preparing to turn it from some wooden bits and various herbal components into as close as she could come to a functioning eye. Verdus was recovering well after his treatment at the lake, and his subsequent cleansing by Ambika, and she hoped to have his eye done in short order.

She looked at her pipe. She’d need to be smoking soon – this kind of work didn’t respond the same without the sacrifice of pipe leaf. The Elf would gripe at her, but eventually she was going to have to smoke around Verdus too. She’d open the windows, but there was no getting around it. For now, though, she was away from the recovering Tauren, and probably better for it too. The fewer questions he asked, the fewer interruptions she would have. This was going to be a tricky bit of work.

Lighting several large taper candles, she settled down to work at the table in the little inn she was staying in. She had paid good money to not be interrupted tonight. Set out in front of her was the now much smaller, leathery looking, salt-and-heat cured eye, which thankfully was only unpleasant looking and not unpleasant smelling any longer. Next to it sat a small candle, barely wider than her little finger, several vials of oil, pouches of herbs, a mortar and pestle, pen, ink, and parchment, a tiny stone with a hole drilled through it, strands of red and green thread, a needle, and an awl. Her bone and shell rattle sat nearby, as did her raven wing fan.

She lit a little disc of charcoal and piled it with resin, stocked her pipe and lit that too, and settled in to work her magic.

Thick smoke filled the room, filled her lungs, and she found her trance. Taking up pen and ink, she slowly, painstakingly, created a sigil on one side of a tiny piece of parchment. Within the sigil, no bigger than an egg, was a bear, a lion, a stag, a sleek orca, a large bird, an owlbear, and a tree. The figures danced within and about each other in a dizzying pattern that seemed to shift around the edges of the parchment. On the other side, she wrote Verdus’s name in Shu’halo characters, so many times as it took to fill the paper.

With the needle, she wrote his name into the waxy flesh of the little candle, spiraling around and around, until the whole surface was covered. She counted out herbs and woods into her mortar and pestle, pounding them into a fine dust. Kingsblood, Terocone, Icethorn, Peacebloom, Lotus all went into the mix. Then the dust went onto a piece of black silk cloth, spread on the table. She uncorked the vials of oil, dressing the candle with each one in turn, and then rolled the candle in the herb dust until it was fully coated with oil and herbs.

With a flick, she lit the dressed candle and dripped some of the wax on the parchment, before standing the candle in it to burn down while she did the rest of her work. This was the easy part.

She relit her pipe, and began a soft chant under her breath, making it up as she went along, about Verdus seeing the truth of things, and seeing through things, and seeing colorful things, and seeing everything. Taking up the needle and red thread, she carefully stitched the little stone over the pupil of the leathery, preserved eye, so it appeared to be looking through the hole. As she worked, leaves began to appear in her hair, blue to match the mohawk at first, and then turning to green and gold. The chant turned into a soft song.

With green thread, she stitched the sigil onto the back of the eye, tiny painstaking stitch after tiny painstaking stitch, careful never to prick her fingers with the little curved needle. Once the symbol was clear, she rolled the entire eye in the herbs on the cloth, careful now not to touch it with her fingers, only with the cloth.

The candles burned lower in the room – the small one she had so carefully dressed was little more than a smudge of wax now, completely covering the parchment sigil.

In the cavity of the newly constructed wooden eye, she lay the wax-soaked parchment, sigil side down. On top of that she lay the decorated eye, as though its pupil was looking through the pupil of the wooden eye. She relit her pipe, the room now thick with choking pipe smoke and resinous incense.

Taking up the rattle, she began to sing in earnest, her skin taking on the appearance of bark, twigs sprouting from her shoulders and hair, full leaved and vibrant. With each pass of the rattle, Ankona grew less, and the Tree grew more.

After some time, with hands stiffened into bark and wood, she set down the rattle. Using the herb covered cloth, she snapped the two sides of the eye together. With a soft click, they joined as one piece – and with a wave of her raven fan, the seam melted into nothing.

The eye glinted in the candlelight. After getting rid of the remaining herb dust, She wrapped the eye, carefully, in the black silk cloth, passed it three times through the incense smoke, and then blew a lungful of pipe smoke into it, as though to give it life of its own.

Ankona set down her pipe, song fading, and her skin slowly regained its supple blue hue. The wrapped, enchanted eye now only needed to be bound to its new owner – and that would mean going back to Verdus.

Security Clearance

December 13, 2016 – 5:45 pm

**A note on dates. Dates are pretty important, but we have no idea how Silvermoon reckons time, so I’ve used the WoWWiki Unofficial Timeline dates for most of it. As such, all years are measured with the beginning of the

First, Finest, Last (Anryl)

June 3, 2016 – 11:21 am

She was barely fifty years old* when she took her first – a contract handed out in Everlook, though how she’d ended up in that godsforsaken ice-sheet she couldn’t be sure. It was a simple thing to kill the woman …

Descent and Ascent

September 8, 2015 – 9:51 pm

It didn’t take long to get from Thunder Bluff to the Echo Isles – Ankona took advantage of a wyvern so she could think and plan before getting to her destination. She had information to confirm with the spirits – …

The Stink Eye, Part II: You remind me of the babe

August 4, 2015 – 12:22 pm

An old story, reposted here as I’m shaking the mothballs off Ankona and needed an easy way to show people a little bit about the (batshit) things she gets up to. Enjoy, and don’t be too creeped out!

It really …

Very First Impressions

November 14, 2014 – 7:32 am

So I haven’t finished the intro quests yet (the server queues from the reduced server capacity due to the DDOS attacks meant I only got about an hour to play yesterday), but I’m finding that Draenor is pretty cool so …

A Girl and her Dog

November 13, 2014 – 12:30 pm

The morning of the all hands summon to the Blasted Lands, Aely went for a walk. The late fall air was clear and cool, and leaves crunched under their feet in the less-traveled parts of the streets. She and Roger …

Counting down to Warlords

November 11, 2014 – 3:09 pm

What a long strange trip it’s been. I’ll be the first to admit that, at the beginning, I wasn’t sure Pandaria was going to be for me. I’ve made clear my dislike of daily quests, and that seemed to be …

Elevation

October 24, 2014 – 12:01 pm

Squire Benjamin William Sullivan stood in the middle of Light’s Hope Chapel in his underpants.

Actually, it was white linen pants and a shift, but the effect was approximately the same. The little chapel was warm, on the edge of …

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