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An Unwelcome GuestEdit

A collaboritive story by Felscar, Kyanali, Talula, Kennia, Taijiang, Vonnacht, and Nerrok

Chapter OneEdit

By Felscar

The sun was already sinking below the buildings of Stormwind, and Tiberre took a moment to reflect on what a wretched place he now found himself in. Lord Felscar had ordered him to infiltrate the city, and fooling the lesser beings into thinking he was one of them had been disappointingly simple. Even now, they shuffled along, attending to their meaningless tasks, unaware that a god walked among them. Tiberre adjusted his hood, the illusion spell placed upon it ensuring that his face remained hidden. Beneath the midnight black of the cloak, his red and black armor clanked as he walked along the canals. In addition to his original task, Lord Felscar had instructed him to keep watch over the mercenaries that had been providing the orc with test subjects. Apparently, they had promised to gather information regarding one of their own. To Tiberre, this seemed a waste of time. It would be so much simpler to just experiment on the girl directly... but he dared not question the will of his Liege. The dark warrior rounded a corner, his hidden eyes settling on what he had been told was the main Stormwind office of these Gray Tigers. Crossing the distance to the building in a few steps, the massive man wasted no time in pounding on the front door. He might as well introduce himself to the lemmings...

Chapter TwoEdit

By Kyanali

Kya heard the heavy knock at the door and nearly skipped to the window upstairs to peer out. She saw below an unusually large black cloaked figure awaiting some response to his knock. She called out the hallway as she flew down the stairs, "Hey Ollie, you still here? Rob? Taluuuuuullla?" Surely someone was still here. She'd seen Garond and Von hunched over some kind of skill chart and debating the merits of study in each earlier. Bah! Somebody had to be near just in case this cloaked figure turned out to be trouble.

She approached the door and pressed the comm button, speaking into it clearly so the visitor could hear, "Stop! Who would cross the Door of Death must answer me these questions three, ere the other side he see!"

Chapter ThreeEdit

By Felscar

Tiberre clenched his fist in anger. A grating voice, undoubtedly female, spouting some nonsense about questions. If her aim was to dissolve what little patience Tiberre possessed, then she succeeded. He considered reducing the door to splinters and teaching whoever dared to mock him a little respect, but restrained himself. Lord Felscar, in his wisdom, believed that these humans still served some purpose. Tiberre would not risk his Lord's displeasure on one fool's account. Instead, he struck the door again, this time growling, "I have business within... open the door." For the girl's sake, he hoped she would obey. Even he had his limits...

Chapter FourEdit

By Kyanali

Kya heard the tense reply and became even more cautious. No way in Fel was she opening that door without back up. Did he think an organization like theirs was careless and stupid? Stalling for time and also out of office protocol, she said pleasantly and calmly through the comm device, "Question one: State your name, please."

Kya loped quickly down the hall, still within earshot of the door comm, looking urgently for anyone else around.

Chapter FiveEdit

By Felscar

Tiberre, through clenched teeth, replied, "I am Tiberre Darkfire, and I am expected. Now open the door, girl. This is no way to treat a customer..." Beneath the hood, his eyes flared dangerously. If this was how these people treated each other, then it was a wonder that Lord Felscar had left any of them alive. Tiberre wondered if his Lord would notice a human or two missing...

Chapter SixEdit

By Kyanali

Kya was taken aback on several accounts. First, she was stunned hearing the name. So this cloaked creature was the infamous Tiberre. Perhaps his master thought her empty headed and hot tempered; it had served her well to act the part of fluffy in the brain on many a mission and this one had been no exception so far. Secondly, she was amazed he had made it through the city undetected. She snorted, wishing for once the Hounds or Langley's people were still out there making some gesture of attempt at a safe city.

Kya knew without a shadow of a doubt if she kept this testy creature irritated, she would pay dearly. She glanced over her shoulder, then spoke into her company channel comm device. "You all in place now? Need to open the door - don't let me down, Tigers."

Taking a deep breath, she opened the door and stepped aside to wave him in. "Please forgive me, Sir Darkfire!" she spoke pleasantly.

"You obviously have a Quest here with us, so that takes care of number two." She then smiled her most hospitable smile and asked with impeccable manners, "Would you like to discuss the air speed velocity of sparrows with some tea in hand, or perhaps bourbon?"

His appearance was frightening, his size and hidden face were surely intimidating. Showing fear, though, was letting him gain the upper hand. Instead she treated him now like royalty. She watched him carefully behind her hostess demeanor, discretely looking his body up and down for any indication of weapons or tensed or preparing-to-pounce muscles, ready to press her panic button if necessary.

Chapter SevenEdit

By Talula

"Hey! Di' you call me Miff Kya? I wus in fa ki'chen making a samwich. Dis someone bring back eggs from the K&P? 'Cause Mr. Jackob said...."

Talula's voice trailed away and she swallowed the mouthful of sandwich with an audible gulp. Kya Nali was not alone and her guest looked about as friendly as hungry crocolisk. Her wide eyes started at his kneecaps and slowly trailed upward until she was bent backward looking up at the enormous figure clad in black.

"So sorry. I didn't realize you had company. I... I'll get tea."

The gnome turned quickly on her heel and retreated the way she came in. "I've really got to finish those early warning systems," she thought, irratated that she had been enjoying the company of her new companions and slacking off from her appointed tasks.

She slipped into the dimly lit kitchen and set a kettle over the fire. Then she pulled a small box from the lowest shelf in the pantry and placed it on the floor just inside the kitchen door. If there was a threat to Miss Kya and the Stormwind offices, Talula would be ready.

While the kettle continued to heat, the gnome faded into the shadows to listen for trouble.

Chapter EightEdit

By Felscar

Tiberre smiled. At last, the truth had dawned on the woman, and she had opened the door. He stepped inside, biting back a grunt of irritation as he stooped down to squeeze his nearly 10 foot tall frame through the doorway. Nothing these worms could do would harm him, but the enclosed space would make it difficult to draw his massive sword from its scabbard on his back. Of course, even without the blade, he was far from defenseless. Tiberre glared at the gnome inside, who went scurrying out of sight. Such cowardly, insignificant creatures... like rats, Tiberre thought. He turned his attention to the equally insignificant woman, who now smiled, as if that would disguise her fear of him. All who looked upon his countenance recoiled in terror, and this girl's false bravado only made her seem even more of a fool in the dark knight's eyes. Without removing his hood, he rumbled out, "I have come because my Lord ordered that I oversee your investigation. I think it would be best if this is finished as soon as possible. What progress have you made?" Though Lord Felscar had considered this task of equal importance to Tiberre's first command, the dark knight did not. Such a simple assingment was better suited for those of a lesser rank than he... but the orc's word was absolute, and so Tiberre would suffer these sniveling creatures... for now.

Chapter NineEdit

By Kyanali

Kya dropped her hospitable smile and squared her jaw, green eyes flashing first with comprehension and then with amusement. The water in their domain must be tainted with supplements designed to illicit chauvanistic and neanderthal behavior: like employer, like servant it appeared.

"I take it that means no tea or bourbon for you! So sad, too bad."

She held his glare with her own, thinking if stubborn were the name of the game she was surely in the ballpark of a homerun. She understood through this exchange that not only was this man a MAN, his first strike, he was also about as diplomatic as a hungry crokolisk. That was strike two and now, being overbearing and commanding on HER turf was simply nothing more than school yard bullying. Strike three did not bear well with Kya at all in spite of his being a client. Her previous tingling of fear now turned to disgust at his type. If he hoped to gain her cooperation he was going to have to change tactics.

She turned her back on him and walked over to casually sit in a chair. She smiled quite the facetious smile and said far too sweetly, "I suppose you can sit here and wait with me, then, because I am awaiting news on that investigation too." Never mind that none of their chairs would accomodate him. Kya turned her head, touching her ear, speaking loud enough into the company comm. for the immense creature to hear, "Anyone out there? I've got a nasty bedbug in the crib, ready to pop."

Kya then called out to Talula, "Hey Taluuuuula! Bring tea for you and me; our guest is not partaking and we may be here for a while!"

Chapter TenEdit

By Kennia

Kennia was at home yet again when she hear Kya over the Comm. She was close to the office, nuch closer then Tai. Grabbing her armor and slipping it on as well as her two blades she strides out the door. "Like Fel I will let them get hurt while I mope" Over the Comm Kennia spoke is a strong voice "I am on my way".

Chapter ElevenEdit

By Talula

Talula was amazed at the cavalier attitude that Miss Kya showed the dark guest. "He could snap us both in half with a sneeze!" she thought and marveled again at the bravery of humans.

Hearing Kya's summons, the gnome skittered about, assembling a plate of tea and biscuits for herself and the warrior. She was about ready to leave the kitchen when she heard Lady Kennia's strong voice over the comm.

Her first thought was relief that reinforcements were on the way, then she took a longer look at the cloaked figure standing near Miss Kya.

He oozed magic.

Setting the tray down, Talula steped to the back pantry and tried desperately to think of some code to warn Lady Kennia that this client was extra dangerous without giving away any of the Tong's secrets. "Lady Kennia," she whispered into the comm, "Be careful coming in. I left... some... sparklers... lying about."

She made a face at the lame attempt. "I hope she understands," she thought and returned to the tray to serve.

Chapter TwelveEdit

By Felscar

The audacity of the woman astounded Tiberre. That she would so casually dismiss him was either a credit to her bravery, or the ultimate expression of her ignorance. Tiberre reached up and grasped the chain tying his cloak together, and thumbed the latch open. The cloak slid down his shoulders, pulling his hood back. For the first time since he had entered the city, his face was exposed. Twin orbs of flame stared out from his eye sockets, and narrowed as they looked upon the woman. It would be so easy, to wrap his fingers around that all too delicate neck, to watch as the life drained from those arrogant little eyes.... surely Lord Felscar would not fault him for avenging his honor....

But even as these thoughts surfaced, another voice arose to challenge them. His Lord did not tolerate failure, and expected his orders to be fulfilled to the letter. Perhaps killing one human would make no difference, but the thought of the fate that awaited the dark knight should he return in defeat was more than enough to stay his hand. Still, this girl obviously underestimated him, a fallacy that he could not afford. Intent on correcting her mistake, he growled, "I have no time for games, human. Were it my choice, you and the rest of your pathetic race would be dead already. Now, either find your supervisor and give me an update, or sit there and drink tea while I hunt down the woman in question and deliver her to my Lord personally. It is your choice...." This time, Tiberre felt certain that Lord Felscar would agree with his words. Letting the humans misinterpret his altruistic gesture as a sign of weakness was something that the orc would never allow.

Chapter ThirteenEdit

By Kyanali

Kya watched as the creature unveiled himself. His ugliness in appearance paled in comparison to his ugliness in behavior. It gave her pause, but she did not revert back to fearing him. She was still enjoying the upper hand she had with him furious and herself nearly whistling. Sure, he could potentially snuff out her lights in a thousand ways; but if he did so, here in their office, he'd have the entire company sealing his fate before he could even attempt to get out the secure door. Obviously he was not used to women being Officers or anything other than objects to be "dissected". She was in the middle of cheerfully clearing a table for Talula to set the tea on when Kennia voice came over the comm.

"Oh CRAP!" Kya thought. She turned her face away from the ugly guy to make sure he did not see her reaction. "Think think THINK, Kya!" Kennia was walking right into this mess - the absolute LAST person who needed to be here right now! She had to act quickly.

Talula's message came across the comm hesitantly. Kya knew in Kennia's momentum, she'd not be listening to subtleties. With the lack of stability and perhaps the stress of the situation finally dawning on her, Kya whipped around hearing Talula approach. And as in all bad timing, felt herself lose her balance in that maddenly slow motion effect while trying not to topple over Talula or spill the tray she'd so carefully laid out. Falling to the ground, she caught Tiberre's deep and resonating laughter and her last coherant thought was, "He'll have to bully someone else!" Months later she would remember that. For the concussion she received after hitting her head on the edge of the very finely crafted thorium table was severe enough to leave her crumpled on the floor for quite some time.

Chapter FourteenEdit

By Taijiang

Tai was in the middle of fierce negotions with Reese over the price for the case of imported whiskey (a blend of ryes not common in the Eastern Kingdoms), when Kya's message had gotten his attention. Tai continued haggling but paused when Talula's message crackled in his inner ear. With Kennia's reply though, he stopped mid-sentence, all his internal alarms blaring.

Tai darted out of the Pig & Whistle and sprinted through the streets of Old Town. His arms pumping, he took every shortcut he knew, desperate to cut Kennia off. This was trouble, big trouble.

Running but controlling his breathing the way Kya had taught him during the training, Tai tapped his comm and barked short, urgent messages, "Kennia, don't go! Kya, Talula - stall!"

As he turned a corner, he saw Kennia in the street, a frown on her face. She clearly was debating whether or not to listen to what Tai had just demanded. He smiled, despite himself; she was not the type to shirk a confrontation. He ran up to her, putting a hand on her shoulder, gently urging her to not go closer to the office.

He tapped his comm, "Kya, Talula ...". He caught his breath and continued, "If that's who I think it is ... his boss said he was here to help us." Tai gulped hard, glancing at Kennia and catching her eyes before continuing, "If he wants to please his master, tell him that we traced Kennia's mother to Deadwind Pass. Maybe he'll have more luck than we have if he went looking there. Just get him out of the office ... and be careful."

It was a lie, but Tiberre's master, the warlock Felscar, was too close, too dangerous. They hadn't had any luck finding Aillwina yet. Damn it, he cursed under his breath; the noose was tightening. Tai tapped his comm, "Tigers in Stormwind - get to the office and give those two some back up - now!". Tai would have his hands full keeping Kennia out of this mix ...

Chapter FifteenEdit

By Talula Talula saw Kya start to fall toward her and squeezed her eyes shut waiting for the impact. She opened them again when she heard the sound of skull hitting thorium. She quickly set down the tray, all fear of the orc gone, and rushed over to check on the warrior.

The orc's mocking laughter was an ugly sound and Talula clenched her teeth in anger as she carefully looked at the gash freely bleeding on Miss Kya's head. "One day, it will be your blood spilling," Talula thought with uncharacteristic viciousness "and what a laugh we'll have then."

Tai Jiang's voice came over the comm. "Kya, Talula, stall! If he wants to please his master, tell him that we traced Kennia's mother to Deadwind Pass. Maybe he'll have more luck than we have if he went looking there. Just get him out of the office ... and be careful."

"Why on Azeroth would you tell a monster like this where to find Lady Kennia's mother?" the gnome thought incredulously. She had just found out about Lady Kennia a week before and to pass on information about the half-elf's condition seemed reckless. Still, orders were orders and Master Tai must have his reasons.

"I'm sorry my lord." Talula said in her most subservient of tones. She quickly pulled a bandage from a pocket and applied pressure to Kya's gash. "Our supervisors are not here right now."

Her mind raced, trying to find the right words to get him to leave the office. "I'll never understand why humans can't just say things plainly." Talula said, trying to make her voice sound as disgusted as possible. "I overheard a conversation earlier today. They have all gone to Deadwind Pass. They have found someone's mother there and are trying to get to her before someone else. I'm sorry that I am unable to assist you further, but they tell me little. Perhaps you could come back in a day or two? I am sure that Master Tai would want to meet with you himself."

Chapter SixteenEdit

By Vonnacht

Von was on his way to the Hinterlands when he heard Tai's voice over the comm. Fearing the worst, he used his hearthstone, and jumped on a Gryphon to Ironforge. Soon, he'd be on the Tram, and then at the office.

Chapter SeventeenEdit

By Felscar

Tiberre smiled. At last, results... if the gnome was correct, then these humans had already found what they were looking for, and were trying to get to her before his Liege. That would not do at all. Lord Felscar would need to be informed immediately.

"Thank you for the honesty, gnome. Your friend could learn from your example.... assuming she ever wakes up, of course." Tiberre laughed, the inhuman sound echoing into the night as he turned and departed. Let the humans tend to their wounded... not that it would matter in the end....

A short while later, Tiberre sat alone in a tiny room, in the seediest part of the city. The dank inn was of the kind that would accept the likes of him as a guest, no questions asked. The decrepit landlady had pocketed his gold and left him to his own devices, which was just as well. He had much work to do, and pleasurable activities would have to wait until his mission was complete. Carefully, he withdrew his hand from beneath his breast plate, holding the tiny pouch he kept there. Holding his breath in reverance, he loosened the string, and withdrew a bloodred stone, no bigger then a marble in his immense hands. His burning eyes drank in the splendor of the simple object, and he focused his thoughts through the stone. At once, he felt the will of his Lord, both beautiful and terrible at the same time.

Tiberre... I hope that you have news. His Lord seemed preoccupied, his thoughts barely focused on his servant. Tiberre sent his report quickly, so as not to waste the orc's time. There was a considerable pause, before he heard a response.

Deadwind? A most unusual place for a high elf... though an ideal location to hide. It could very well be a false lead, but I can spare a few to look into it. And as for you.... Tiberre could feel his muscles tense. Surely his Lord could not be displeased...

You are to be commended for your efforts, and for your successful infiltration of the city. In fact, I have seen fit to reinforce your original mission. I am sending you the girl.... make use of her in any way that you see fit....

Commander.

Tiberre smiled to himself. That one... how delightful. Together, they would build a new order, one that would change the fate of the entire world....

Closing the bag around the stone and tucking it away again, Tiberre strode out into the city. There was much to do....

Chapter EighteenEdit

By Talula

Talula held her breath as she waited for the orc's reaction.

"Thank you for the honesty, gnome. Your friend could learn from your example.... assuming she ever wakes up, of course." His smile looked more like the barred fangs of a terrible beast and his laughter sent chills down her spine. She shivered as he swept out the door, leaving it open to an unsuspecting Stormwind.

"I should notify the guards on him, the brute" she thought viciously but she knew that such actions would bring more deaths than they would save. If the orc could get this far into the city, he was even more dangerous than he looked. Besides, he was obviously an important client.

The gnome turned her attention back to the human on the floor. An angry welt had risen from Kya's forhead and despite the gnome's basic healing skill, blood continued to trickle from the wound. She fumbled for her communicator, her little voice squeeking with urgency. "He's left the house and gone after Lady Kennia's mother! Miss Kya is hurt! Send for the healers!"

Chapter NineteenEdit

By Kyanali

Sounds, muted and hollow echoing without meaning in slow motion are the first awareness Kya can even experience. A nervous titter coming from something close and small, wavering in and out of confusion as Kya’s blinking eyes try to focus on something, anything. Dim light has her squinting; nothing in her view could form a shape even remotely recognizable. The throbbing pain of her head, as a shaky hand moves to question, meeting with warm stickiness. Distant comprehension dances on the edge of consciousness, entirely elusive. Kya’s lips mutter unintelligible words which are meant to say, “what the Fel?” but come out garbled and slurred. She does not even know the slurred words are her own.

The blackness looms and settles again. Glimpses flash every so often and then fade: the sensation of running, lungs burning in effort… a pink silk handkerchief… a dwarf in a kilt, singing a robust song… a woman’s voice taunting about asking for directions… the smell of mouth-watering stew over a fire… intricate and amazing engineering plans of some gnomish design… nearly drowning and a hand dunking her back under… some very odd poetry… the intense desire to catch a large croaking frog… a fatherly hand on her shoulder forgiving her... swimming like a dolphin with speed and energy… the soothing sway of a hammock… an elfin voice firmly demanding she pay attention, somehow tugging at her in a way she knows should recognize. None of it makes any sense, at all.

Chapter TwentyEdit

By Vonnacht

The door flies off of its hinges, knocked open by the force of Von's boot. He sees Kya on the floor, with Talula next to her. Not caring for anything else, he shoves the gnome aside, and gently lifts Kya's head.

"Kya. Kya darling. Wake up! Who did this to you? Kya!"

Not getting any response, he looks to the Gnome, eyes glowing brighter than ever before.

"You! You saw who did this! Names, faces, NOW!"

Chapter Twenty-OneEdit

By Kennia

The Comm came to life in Kennia's ear and she heard something about her mother. Pulling out of Tai's grip she took off at a full run to the Office. She could hear in her mind a song.....no she could feel it. She could feel Tai behind her keeping pace. Kennia saw the door hanging off the hinges and without stopping she pulled Two swords out. One full of fire and the other a bright white light. Comming through the doorway on her guard all she could see was a Talulu big-eyed and Vonn who was kneeled over something. But yes.....there it was, the faint feel of shadow magic. It was here.

Chapter Twenty-TwoEdit

By Talula

There was silence on the comm for long, dreadful seconds. Talula placed the device down and returned her full attention toward her friend. "Come on Miss Kya! Wake up! Open your eyes... please!"

She never heard the silent footsteps of the night elf. There was a crash like the felling of an ancient tree. She whirled and groped blindly for the teapot, the tray, anything she could use to defend herself and the unconscious human at her feet.

Then she was flying through the air, the world an upside-down spinning blur. "How curious" she thought and then it all came to a sudden, sharp stop. It took a minute for her senses to refocus.

The shadowy blur that attacked her turned into a night elf. She blinked a few times and righted herself, preparing for the fight. His attention was on Kya. She heard his voice. It was low like distant thunder in the summer, soft as bird wings in the forest, and full of worry.

"Kya. Kya darling. Wake up! Who did this to you? Kya!"

Not an attacker. A Tiger. Talula sighed in relief knowing that reinforcements had finally arrived. She watched for a moment as the night elf gently tried to wake the human.

"You! You saw who did this! Names, faces, NOW!"

She jumped and took a step back from the elf. Rage burned in his strangely luminescent eyes and for a moment, she was reminded why she avoided the tall, powerful race.

"I don't know who he was" she blurted out, then the words became a flood.

"Miss Kya seemed to know him and they talked and she fell and I heard Master Tai say to tell him about Lady Kennia's mother and I did and he left and I tried to stop the bleeding, but she won't wake up and Lady Kennia shouldn't find him because he's all dark and magical and..."

She paused for a moment and looked toward the door as Kennia and Tai entered, weapons drawn. An understanding began to dawn on the gnome. She had seen the cloaked man's face, had realized what he was, but the impact hit her now as strong as the night elf had moments ago.

"He was... an orc!"

Chapter Twenty-ThreeEdit

By Vonnacht

"He was an orc!"

A deep snarl erupted from Von, echoing through the office. His hand dropped to his sword, his eyes beginning to glow red.

"Tai, Talula..." he growled, "Find him. Find him and keep him in place. I want to deal with him then."

The red mist had fully descended now, and he knew that once Kya was alright, there would be bloodshed. His demons would feast on the pain that he was about to unleash.

Without another word, he hefted the unconcious Kya, and carried her to the small room at the office, to attempt to see to her wounds.

Chapter Twenty-FourEdit

By Nerrok

Half a world away, seated against a great oak tree along one of the rugged mountainsides of the Northen Barrens, Nerrok casually unscrewed his flask and took a long, unhealthy pull from the Southsea rum which was inside. The large orc shivered visibley as the liqour burned its way down his gullet, eyes widening slightly at the sensation. "Hot diggity damn..."

He'd had the day off...His day job as a General in the Horde's military not granting him the luxury very often. Non of his Claws or Associates were active at the time, so he'd planned to waste away the day at one of his favorite fishing holes, while drowning himself in the stolen rum he was so thoroughly enjoying. The incessant chatter of his Alliance co-workers over his comm unit, however, made him begin to rethink his plans. He'd been sitting here for what seemed like hours, picking up bits and pieces of their conversations, the panic in their voices, slowly but surely beginning to piece things together.

From the sound of things, somebody had made their way into the Stormwind office and caused a fuss. Sounded like Kya had taken a few bumps, but she was gonna end up alright. He also kept hearing the word "Orc" over and over, at random intervals. The only orc he knew that the Tong had any business with was Felscar, so he put two and two together to figure out the rest. A silent snarl creased Nerrok's rugged features as he slowly stood, pulling the brim of the black cowboy hat perched atop his head a bit lower, casting a dark shadow over his countenance. Shouldering his rifle as he begins to head toward the trail leading down the mountain, he mutters to himself. "Knew messin' with that fella was gonna be trouble....So much for a day off, eh Ice...", he inquires, looking over his shoulder at the great white lion that seemed to emerge from nothingness, behind him. The cat simply looked at his master as if to say "No such thing...", as the two of them made their way.

Chapter Twenty-FiveEdit

By Talula

Talula watched wide-eyed as Von carried Kya away. She turned to look at Tai and Kennia, wondering if the night elf really meant for them to go after the intruder.

"Master Tai," she began "that orc left with unnatural speed after I told him about Lady Kennia's mother..." She paused for a moment to look at Kennia and accept any punishment that she might want to administer.

"He's got to be halfway to Deadwind Pass by now. We've got to find a way to warn Lady Kennia's mother before he gets there. I don't think griffons fly fast enough for us to reach her first."

Chapter Twenty-SixEdit

By Taijiang

Trying to keep up with Kennia had always been a challenge. When she was under full steam, worried about Tigers, well ... It was little wonder that Kennia made it to the door first, but Tai was right behind her.

As Tai came into the office, his gaze swept the room, like a skilled poker player counting cards. Kennia, distracted by ... something. Talula, big eyed and trying to help. Von, his rage ice cold. Kya, hurt ...

Those who only knew Tai in passing were well aware that he was all business. If he wasn't in the middle of a deal, he was busy trying to get three more going or put the finishing touches on one big one. It would be easy to see him as cold, calculating - a goblin, by nature, if not by complexion or stature.

The Tigers knew better. His approach to problems was just that - a method. No more, no less. So, as his mind ticked down the situations in the room, intuitively ranking them in order of need, it was out of concern and devotion to the family.

First, injury. And that was Kya. She was out cold. Tai moved past Kennia, putting a hand on Von's shoulder and kneeling. Without saying a word, Tai felt for Kya's pulse, looking for wounds and watching to see if her chest was rising and falling. Tai quietlly let out a breath he didn't know he was holding; she was alive. He glanced at Von and gently squeezed the man's shoulder, but did Von the courtesy of not looking at his eyes. Kya was in good hands.

Second, fear. It wasn't necessarily true that Talula looked frightened of the visitor but she certainly did look fearful for the consequences of what she'd told Tiberre. Still kneeling by Von, Tai looked over to Talula and spoke softly, comfortingly, "It was a deek, Talula. We needed time and I had you lie to him." Talula blinked at him and then nodded, understandingly. She was quick. "That means he'll be back - and even less friendly." Tai smiled wryly.

Third, concern. Kennia was looking around, almost like an animal catching a scent. He knew her - and knew that the effect the magick had on her left her uncertain and even scared. Fear was something she was used to conquering. What was harder for her was feeling that she'd brought this problem to the Tigers. He looked at her, swords drawn. She needed to be able to help. His voice urgent but soft, "Nia, can you check Talula? She looks like she took a fall."

Finally, after making sure everyone was alright (though it only took a matter of seconds), evening the score. Felscar had sent his minion and now a Tiger was hurt and he'd certainly come back, this time for Kennia, once he found the trail a dead end. The trick was not to react in anger or fear. Tai ran the problem over in his mind, having heard Von's demand. Running his tongue over the back of his teeth, his jaw set, he turned back to Von. As he spoke, he prepared for a fight, "As for going after him Von, no. Not alone. I won't keep throwing Tigers onto the rocks. We're going to find this Aillwina ..."

Chapter Twenty-SevenEdit

By Kennia

Kennia Nodded at Tai, her old training as a guard kicking in. She was on her guard but wet to Talula. Putting the swords away she knelt down her face stern but not cold. Talula, Dont worry about my mother, my mother is long gone if not dead." She puts a hand of support on Talula's shoulder but in her mind she can feel the tingle of that magic, and with it that song. She knew she had to know what the connection was but how. SHe watched Vonn take Kya outof the room for care and fought the urge to follow. "No, best theyare alone for now." she ran through her head.

Chapter Twenty-EightEdit

By Taijiang

The coins clinked in the young boy's hands. Seems being in the choir had its advantages after all. The older, dark skinned man had been particularly generous about any information he had about that night elf woman who visited the cathedral library. Maybe there was something to all this singing about the Light after all, he thought as he pocketed the coins ...

.....

Having heard from Krelle, Tai had planned to meet with Aillwina Shadowchaser. After the incident at the office, he was determined to. Finding out that she visited the library in the cathedral was a good start.

It was late but this couldn't wait, not any more. The diversion to Deadwind Pass hadn't taken as long as Tai had hoped. He cursed himself for a fool; not only was Tiberre back but he'd spotted Kennia in the city streets. Only quick thinking and a handy hearthstone had prevented yet another 'incident'. Tai winced at what might have been.

He and Kennia climbed the cathedral steps, Kennia edgy and alert. Despite the hour, several friars were up and about, casting curious glances in their direction. Tai ignored them and headed straight for the library. As promised, there she was: Aillwina Shadowchaser.

After exchanging greetings, Tai did his best, as he knew how. He offered to set up Tiberre and Felscar, to 'aid her' in her hunt. No dice. She had other matters to occupy her and, to Tai's dismay, was already all to aware that the Tigers needed them removed. She'd apologized for bringing the problem to the Tigers but insisted she wouldn't help. He offered payment, favors .... He tried cajoling. Fel, he even hinted at threats, at his wit's end, his frustration letting his anger show in flashes. None of it had worked. None! His mind was racing but ...

It was then that Aillwina had offered to, at least, 'disguise' Kennia's aura to those of the likes of Felscar and Tiberre. She claimed that, once the magick was performed, that Tiberre would not be able to see her. Tai had leapt at it, eager now for any means of protecting Kennia and the other Tigers.

When Kennia had set her jaw and squared her shoulders and in a clear voice rejected the offer ("I am a Silvercrane and I will not hide who I am."), Tai had felt the ground fall out from under his feet. "Are you certain of this?", Aillwina asked Kennia. Kennia, still proud and unrelenting, nodded and said, "I am." This once glimmer of aid .... and she was refusing it! His head pounding, his mind racing ... he truly couldn't believe the words he heard next.

Aillwina had paused before speaking, "In that case, I will help you. I will find and destroy this Tiberre ..." Tai blinked, dumbfounded, not hearing the rest as Aillwina somehow picked up the 'scent' of Tiberre from Kennia. Of all the approaches one could have taken, one that Tai would never have taken had been the one that worked. All his deals, strategems, offers ... and all it had taken was Kennia's fierce pride and determination. Tai shook his head, smiling a small smile at his own limitations.

Aillwina assured them both that she would take care of Tiberre. Tai had offered, knowing that Von would want to carve a piece out of him and feeling that the Tong should do its part. She had refused but emphasized that danger was still around. Tai nodded at this but stepped forward, his eyes on Aillwina, "I'm a fair man, Ms Shadowchaser. Do this and I'll owe you a favor - a favor you can call on any time." The elven woman had tried to wave it off, but Tai insisted.

Later, coming out into the cool night air of the street, Tai slipped his hands into Kennia's wordlessly. There were always lessons to be learned, it seemed.

Chapter Twenty-NineEdit

By Felscar

Tiberre clenched his fist. She had slipped away from him... he had been too careless, overconfident. It was a mistake, one that would get him killed if he allowed the situation to worsen. Lord Felscar was displeased....

Felscar, upon hearing Tiberre's report, had dispatched Rook Shadewhisper, and a trio of the man's best Netherwalkers... in less than 24 hours, the report had come back: Deadwind was inhabited by nothing more than a horde of ogres, and a few vengeful ghosts. No sign of any humans or high elves, nor any indication that they had ever been there. Felscar had not taken the news well, and Tiberre could not blame him. Unfortunately, this meant that it now fell into the dark knight's hands to capture the woman and send her to the orc. And after his initial failure... Tiberre shook his head. Such thoughts would not bring him any closer to completing either of his missions. He counted himself lucky that the girl would be arriving soon. Her aid would be most welcome... and Tiberre had to admit, he was looking forward to seeing her again. She possessed just the right sort of temperment for the mission at hand... Tiberre smiled. She would have no trouble in obtaining the halfling. He could only hope that she left a trail of bloody bodies in her wake.