This post is brought to you by Kyraine (and Rhett and Gervas – same player).
Old Town had a certain tense silence in the small hours of the morning. It had always reminded Kyraine of the feeling just before an ambush was sprung, the small hairs standing up on the back of the neck, the waiting. She kept one hand on her sword hilt as she walked. The one difference between Old Town and an actual battlefield was the distinct unwillingness of most folk in the city to start a fight if their target looked even halfway prepared to finish it.
“There’s the reputation, sure,” Kyraine muttered to Blue. “But banners make lousy shields, most times.”
Blue tilted his head, before ignoring his owner and darting for the Pig. Visits to the Pig meant crackers, food dropped on the floor, and the soup bones that sometimes came his way. Kyraine grinned and followed the wolfdog up the stairs. “Anyone here?”
Reese glanced up briefly. “There was. They’ve all gone and I’m about ready to close up for the night. There’s still some roast downstairs if your dog doesn’t steal it first.”
“Hells, we ran late, but figured there’d still be folk here.” Kyraine looked around the empty seats, and then stared briefly at Reese. “Th’ fuck happened to everyone?”
“Talk to Aely.” The bartender went back to polishing glasses as he spoke. “I don’t get paid to pay attention to anything. You know that. But you should talk to her.”
“Right.” Kyraine heaved her chestplate over one shoulder and clattered her way downstairs. It could wait until morning, whatever the problem happened to be.
“Arrens is missing?” Kyraine downed the rest of her coffee, more curious than alarmed.
“Aye, fir a good bit too. An’ it looks like he got mixed up w’ sommat demonic. Th’ warlock crew wis here an’ translatin’ notes about a book he wis studyin’. Sarcanna… new lass – white hair, creepy as fuck, dinna ken ye’ve met her? Anyroad, she translated the lot, an’ it dinna look good.”
“Anything you need. Figure, if it’s some of that demonic shite…” Kyraine paused, studying Aely. The paladin didn’t show any outward sign of emotion, but Arrens was her husband.
“Right, I’ll help. What’re you thinking?”
“Ye said ye worked with some Draenei priestess once. Outland?”
“Aye, I did. A few years back, when the Portal opened, and I’ve not heard from her since. Could be dead for all I know, but we spent time in Outland.”
“So, one ay th’ places wha’ this book suggested would ha’ th’ necessary … energies?” She seemed to search for the word. “Yeh, energies, air sommat like that, fir doin’ this type ay summonin’ an’ demonic control work. One ay th’ places it suggested, wha’ Arrens took notes about, wis Outland, specifically Shadowmoon, an’ Auchindown.”
Kyraine leaned back in her chair. “Course. I’ll get Rhett, and see if this squid priest I know can go. I can’t tell magic unless it bites me in the arse, but they can.”
“Godsdamnit, I hate portals.”
“If you’re going to puke, don’t do it here.” Rhett glanced up at the Naaru A’dal, floating in the middle of the chamber. “I bet that thing would smite you.”
“For puking on the floor? I doubt it would, but do you want to place a bet on it?” Gervas asked, grinning mischievously at Kyraine.
“Fuck you, you’d probably ask it to smite me on purpose.”
“Would I cheat to win a bet?”
“Aye, you would, and you know it too.” Kyraine took a few deep breaths as the last of the disorientation faded. “Fucking portals!”
Rhett shifted her pack from one shoulder to the other. Plenty of people thought of Shattrath as some kind of refuge. To her, it looked just like every other half ruined city she had been in. The less time spent there, the better. “Kyr, what’re we looking for exactly?”
“Explain on the way.” Gervas looked at the pair of them, no longer smiling. “If this Arrens is doing what you think he is, there isn’t a lot of time.”
Kyraine nodded and led the way outside, glancing at Rhett. The best way to handle a warlock was the same way they had handled a necromancer or three in Northrend, with a clean shot from fifty yards out before the sorcerer even knew that anyone was there. Except that this warlock happened to be Aely’s husband.
“I can’t just shoot him,” Rhett muttered, unconsciously echoing Kyraine’s thoughts. “If we find him, it’s not going to be easy to convince him to come back with us.”
“You do realize if he came here, it isn’t likely to have a good outcome. He probably will not want to come back,” Gervas said quietly.
Kyraine shrugged. “Figured as much, but if there’s a chance for Aely to get him back in one piece, we’ll make damn sure she has it. You think DeRoux was right when she said Auchindoun or Shadowmoon?”
Gervas nodded. “There are many locations where the barriers between Draenor and other planes are weak. Shadowmoon and the Black Temple especially. But there are locations in Nagrand, Farahlon, Auchindoun, and Hellfire. Anywhere that the orc warlocks opened portals or conducted rituals that weakened the barriers between this world and other planes.”
“That’s a lot of ground to cover, with only three of us.” Rhett extracted a stack of maps from her pack. “They pretty much fucked over this entire place. It’s a candy store for warlocks.”
“I can eliminate some of the locations,” Gervas said. “This sounds like a major summoning. Telhamat will notice if anything that major happens in Hellfire. Alendar is still living there, and he will send word if his soldiers find something. They have patrols out. And Nagrand…”
“It’s not that corrupted, compared to the rest of this world. We’ll move that to the bottom of the list.” Rhett pulled the map of Shadowmoon from the bottom of the pile. “The most likely spots first. Hellfire’s being watched by the Temple, Nagrand doesn’t have enough power to draw on compared to the other spots, Auchindoun is more necromancy and less fel.”
“But the barriers are still thin there all the same. If Arrens decided to travel to a different plane to work with this book, there are parts of Auchindoun that would be easy to depart from. You can summon demons on the elemental planes as well,” Gervas pointed out.
Kyraine leaned over Rhett’s shoulder and looked at the map. “You lot think he’d want someplace more isolated? Auchindoun’s fair close to a couple of towns, and some of your lot was camped near it for a while, Gervas.”
“They are still there, yes.”
“Alright, so that leaves Shadowmoon, Netherstorm, and Auchindoun as the three most likely spots,” Rhett said.
“Aely said she’s got someone looking ‘round Netherstorm. Oi, Gervas, do you know anyone in Auchindoun what’s not batshite crazy? That’d make it a quick look.”
Gervas sighed. “They aren’t all crazy, it… never mind. Yes, I know someone and yes, I can ask.”
“Sounds a plan then. We’ll have a chat with your mates in Auchindoun, then where? Shadowmoon?” Kyraine looked at Rhett.
Rhett nodded in agreement. “There’s more demons there than anywhere else, according to the reports I got from Honor Hold and the Aldor. Plus an altar or two. You’d need some kind of a summoning circle to yank something big through.”
“Think the three of us can handle it if he did get sommat big?” Kyraine looked at Rhett and Gervas.
“It would depend on what,” Gervas said quietly. “Miri- a warlock I know, that is, was working on something in the Black Temple, and it was too much for her to contain. You have to remember that some of these demons have been around for millennia. They are not easy to fight, they are very patient, and they have had a long time to work with fel magic. If Arrens decides to pull something like an Eredar or a pit lord through, I would want more than three to deal with it.”
“Aye, I see that. Th’ hells would he want with a pit lord?” Kyraine drummed her fingers on her sword hilt. “So best bet, we find sommat and get back to Aely quick. He’s her damn husband, if he’ll listen to anyone it’ll be her. If he won’t listen to her, I’ll sic Threnn on him.”
Kyraine paused at the base of yet another ridge. They had camped in a sheltered cave the night before, a few hours after Mutiny had dropped them off and then left for some hunting in Nagrand. Kyraine couldn’t blame the drake at all for not wanting to hang around. A gust of hot, fetid air made her stomach roll. Beside her, Gervas grimaced and shook his head.
Rhett eased her way down to them. “Are you two coming?”
“Aye, just need a minute. Pity he wasn’t in Auchindoun.”
“You’re telling me.” Rhett pulled the map out again. They had already eliminated a few locations. “Alright, we’ve got about a half a mile to go till we get to the next altar. The Altar of Shadows, according to this. Then we’ll head east for the Black Temple.”
“Good luck finding him in there,” Kyraine said. “No bloody way the three of us are breaking in.”
“We shouldn’t need to.” Gervas looked towards the east. “Find me someone there, and I’ll ask.”
“Fucking spooky priests,” Kyraine said, grinning. “Knew I asked you to come along for a reason, but might be we’ll get lucky and find sommat here. Ari, you ready?”
“Sure.” Rhett rolled up the map and started off. With the priest there, she could leave the other two further back while she scouted out the altar. Having someone else look through your eyes was, as Kyraine said, fucking spooky. Still, that spell would buy the other two time to get away and report in if anything went wrong. Given that few things were noisier than Kyraine in full armor, it was probably for the best.
She stalked forward, moving slowly through tumbled rock. No plants or trees grew here, and the sickly green glow in the sky lit everything in an eerie permanent twilight. She pressed close to a tumbled stone wall, easing slowly around it.
“She found something.” Gervas spoke with his eyes closed, still focusing on what he saw through Rhett’s. “Nothing is alive. She says we should come look now.”
“Right, let’s move.”
Rhett emerged from her hiding spot and joined them. She hardly ever looked worried, but she did now. “It looks like a bomb went off down there. There isn’t a lot left, but I’d put solid coin on someone getting in over their head.”
One look at the altar told Kyraine that Rhett was right. Scorch and blast marks littered the ground around the Altar. She knelt by one and touched it. “Fresh, innit? Or at least more recent than the rest of this fucked up place.”
“Fel magic. I have no way of knowing who it was, though, just that there is nobody here right now,” Gervas said. He stood several feet away from the edge of the Altar, studying the charred remains of a summoning circle. “Whatever they tried to summon, they lost control of it. I hope before they managed to complete the spell. Is this what you were looking for, Kyraine?”
“Aye. Think it’s time to let Aely know about it. She’s got a couple of warlocks what’ll know more than we will about this.”
Kyraine hesitated before activating her hearthstone. “Hells, Aely. Thought we’d be bringing you some good news. Figure, I’ll make sure you’ve some whiskey before we tell you anything.”
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