A certain, stereotypically white-haired night elf has gone missing, and it's up to Mecaeth to solve the mystery of her disappearance. Enjoy, but mind - there may be foul language here and there.
Chapter 1: Stuck, With No GM To Help
While adventurers and beasts alike lay at rest in other parts of the Hellfire Peninsula, a strange buzz dominated the chatter of the arakkoa. Their excitement resounded all the way to the entrance of the Den of Haal’esh, where passing explorers might have heard the commotion and wondered – briefly – what could have gotten a bunch of hyper-intelligent birdmen so worked up. They scrambled from here to there, beaks clacking, feathers flying, heads turned to a smaller nook within the Den, where a rickety cage sat newly occupied by a night elven prisoner.
She was small by anyone’s standards, about the size of an average human. Her long, white hair had obviously seen better days, as it draped about her shoulders in a tangled mess, twigs and other various portions of nature occasionally daring to peek from the strands. Dirt smudged her pale cheeks, and her eyes rested at half-mast, though whether she was exhausted or just horrendously bored could not easily be determined.
Escape was a plan she’d given up on hours ago. Now, she sat cross-legged on the dusty earth, one hand propping up her chin while the other played with the wooden bars of her confine. Several arakkoa gathered near her, their beady eyes constantly flicking in her direction to ensure she was behaving to their satisfaction.
After a time, she raised her eyes and fixed one of them with a dull stare. “I dunno’ ‘bout you,” she drawled, “but I’m real excited right ‘bout now. I mean, this’s gotta’ be the high point in m’recent life. Sittin’ in a cage with you fellers, yeah, now this’s entertainment. Boy oh boy.”
They regarded her in confusion and, much like their avian cousins, cocked their heads to the side at an angle that would make most humanoids cringe.
Despite this, the elf continued on. “M’Slelis Dendrath, by the way, but you can call me D, Three Words Dead, Jackass, Rat, Slick... take your pick. Not like it matters up here though, yeah? Jes’ sittin’ ‘round in a cage all day. Fanfuckin’tastic.”
The largest of the arakkoa – whom she’d politely dubbed Sweetheart and determined was a male - snapped his beak and shook his staff at her in protest.
“Oh, I see how it is,” she snapped, “can’t even talk now, can I? Some treatment y’got up here. First I come down lookin’ to meet with somebody, mindin’ my own bus’ness, an’ you drag me from the spot like I done somethin’ wrong. Next you bat me ‘round a lil, poke at me, shove me in a cage, an’ now I can’t even talk? Great service.”
With an incensed screech, Sweetheart raised his staff and slammed it against the cage, narrowly missing Slelis’s hands. She yelped and scrambled away from the bars, until her back was pressed to the opposite wall.
“Well, THANKS!” she snarled. “If you wanted me to shut up that badly, you could a jes’ said so!”
A frown creased her lips as she pulled her knees to her chest and folded her arms around them. The situation seemed entirely hopeless: she was alone, deep within the heart of an arakkoan outpost, and surrounded by guards. They’d managed to remove all but her most hidden weapons, but the constant presence of her captors made it impossible for her to do anything with what remained on her person.
She buried a hand in her greasy hair and muttered in Darnassian, “I lived through the bloody Third War, and this is what happens? Need a damn miracle to get out of this one, D.”
A sigh escaped her lips as she lowered her head onto her other arm and shut her eyes. Even when she was fast asleep, her guards remained ever watchful, no doubt unwilling to give up their prize without a fight – which was exactly what they’d get.
Chapter 2: The Interrogation
The tower behind Falcon Watch cast a shadow as tall as the valley beyond it was long and shrouded the crouched form of a large, robed elf in darkness. He ran his fingers cautiously in the orange dust before him, his fingers hesitating in a footprint left in the dirt. For a moment, he sat with his brows drawn in thought, then scooped up the soil from inside the impression and sniffed at it. Almost immediately, the tension in his forehead vanished, his frustrated visage eased into a look of deliberation.
From behind him, a wiry-framed human stepped into view, his hands playing with a silver coin. “Find something?” he asked.
The elf rose to his feet, straightened the neck of his robe, and replied, “The woman you’re looking for, why was she out here in the Outlands?”
“Business. We had a deal.”
“Mr… Rodigue, was it?”
“Just call me Rodie, Mecaeth.”
The elf smiled and turned, his eyes resting a few inches above Rodigue’s black-topped head. “Yes, well, as I was saying… I’m an inspector for the Cenarion Circle. I understand the need for you to maintain some sense of privacy in this, but you did file the missing persons report yourself, and the more information you give me, the easier it’ll be to find this girl.”
Rodigue sighed and flipped the coin in the air, caught it in his opposite palm, and stowed it in a pouch at his waist. “How much you need to know?”
“Whatever you can afford me.”
“That’s not very much. I took a vow of silence when I joined up with the Guard, I can’t paint the whole picture for you.”
Mecaeth adjusted his hold on his walking staff and grunted dismissively. “Any bit helps. I just hope you can find the time to tell me now. This isn’t the only case that’s popped up since that abominable portal opened. People have been vanishing left and right… I haven’t been home for a good month, haven’t been to the Grove in longer. So, summarily – please hurry and tell me what you can. I don’t have all day.”
“To the point,” said Rodigue, as his lips bloomed into a sly grin, “Always a good trait, that is.”
He received a forced smile from Mecaeth, and decided against stalling any longer.
“Right, the information. It’s all very complicated, you see, so I won’t be able to explain all of it here, but she was coming out to receive a mission located near this area. I was going to meet her a little ways from here and give her the files, but… She was gone.”
“Did you see or hear anything?”
“Nothing out of the ordinary. The arakkoa were making a fuss, but when aren’t they?”
Mecaeth rapped his fingers upon the head of his staff and asked, “What did this job entail?”
“Just another military mission. It’s… private, but she’s been working with the Stormwind militia for about a year now, and they hired her to take care of a dilemma out here.”
“I believe that’s what I said, yes.”
Grimroot took a step closer to Rodigue. “Did this dilemma happen to have a specific name?”
“Erm is a very foreign title to me,” remarked the druid.
Mecaeth hesitated, then huffed angrily, muttered a few choice words about military officials, and said, “Very well. Let me repeat this back to you… You and this woman, a Ms. Dendrath, were to meet behind Falcon Watch and discuss a newly acquired mission, likely a hit for the armed forces, as it sounds. You showed up at the proper time and place, but she – for reasons unknown – failed to make an appearance.”
“That about sums it up!” chirped Rodigue.
The two exchanged a moment of thick, awkward silence, worse than the sort that tends to rear its ugly head on bad first dates.
At long last, Mecaeth said, “You do realize you are my number one suspect in this case?”
The human stared at him with a look of shock that the druid interrogating him failed to notice. “Me?” he squeaked.
Mecaeth nodded quipped, “I believe that’s what I said, yes?”
“But I didn’t do anything!”
“You were alone, and so was she. You’re the last person who could have seen her. Her footprints are here, and I’m certain there are others nearby, too, possibly showing signs of an altercation. I gathered from the report I received that you’ve worked with her before on similar espionage missions, which means there’s plenty of opportunity for you two to have had a spat, a disagreement… Something that would give you reason to begrudge her.”
“Mr. Grimroot,” Rodigue protested, “I’m a man of the law. I work for Stormwind, for Uther’s sake. If I ever kill a living creature, I do it for the alliance – not to satisfy my personal vendettas.”
“Plenty of Stormwind’s forces have experienced corruption at some point or other. Who’s to say you haven’t?”
“Not a very compelling witness,” Mecaeth retorted.
“Why would I want to hurt her?”
“That’s what I was hoping you would tell me. But if you’re so intent on withholding information, I can raise the issue with my brothers in the Circle, and we can handle it from there… Elune knows your men must have their hands full if they’ve stooped to calling on a kaldorei such as myself to solve their mysteries for them.”
Rodigue drew himself up in anger and piped, “You’re a very well-known investigator. By the Light, you’ve solved cases that have been closed for years, the sort most people look at and declare, ‘It must have been an accident,’ just because there’s no other answer in sight.”
“I appreciate the sentiments, but flattery isn’t gaining you anything, here.” Mecaeth turned towards the Watch and continued, “If that’s all you have to say to me, I’m going to go back to the Watch and write to my fellow druids. No doubt they’ll want to hear what I’ve discovered.”
As the druid tapped his staff on the ground and began to make his way back to the base of the outpost, the finest of ears could have detected him muttering to himself, “One, two, three, four…”
He smiled brilliantly and whispered, “five,” then turned towards the sound of Rodigue’s voice and inquired in a stronger tone, “Yes? I assumed we were finished.”
“I heard someone screaming from the Den of Haal’esh earlier,” the human confessed, “I assumed it was just another stupid adventurer, but… You may want to look into it.”
Mecaeth bowed his head and said, “Thank you for the information, Mr. Rodigue. No doubt you’ve spewed it only to save your own hide, but I will investigate any and all leads you give to me. I just hope this isn’t some attempt to get rid of me before I can file my report, hmm?”
“As I said,” Rodigue spat, “I’m a man of the law.”
Mecaeth laughed and commented as he changed course towards the Den, “That’s exactly what I’m afraid of.”
As he walked away, Mecaeth couldn't help but grin: despite the fact that he'd been blind ever since waking from the Emerald Dream, the threat to file a report never failed.
Chapter 3: Into the Birdhouse
Sweetheart was tired.
He cawed to the other guards and shuffled away from the cage, fully prepared for a long and well-deserved break. Through the flocks of shambling, feathery bodies he moved, pausing occasionally to greet one of the prized owls his people bred. He was as proud of them as the rest of his neighbors, but on that night he hadn’t the time to coo and fuss over their gorgeous feathers; getting some fresh air was much higher on his list of priorities.
Eventually, he meandered out of the Den and found a nice, broadsided rock near its entrance. He ruffled his feathers and ambled up to it, but never got the chance to sit down. Without so much as a war cry to warn him, an assembly of thorny roots sprung from the earth and wrapped about his legs. When he tried to call out to his comrades, a single length of vine twined itself about his beak and clamped it shut, silencing any and all of his protests.
From behind the rock, a robed figure emerged. It stood before the screeching arakkoan for a few moments, then smiled, bowed its head apologetically, and pulled back its hood, revealing two pointy ears and a head full of long, teal hair beneath.
Sweetheart’s muffled squawk positively brimmed with bewilderment.
“Terribly sorry,” Mecaeth began, “but I’m here on behalf of the Circle, and I’m afraid I can’t afford to have you interrupting my investigation. I promise you the binds will remove themselves after an appropriate length of time.” He started to shuffle towards the Den, but in the midst of his step he raised a finger thoughtfully to the sky, swiveled on his heel, and added, “If you find my behavior inappropriate, feel free to report your complaints to the nearest outpost. Feedback is always appreciated.”
His duty done, Mecaeth slid into a crop of shadows and felt his hand along the rocky wall leading in to the Den. He took several steps foreword and paused: not too far off, he could hear the racket of the arakkoans as they went about their business, and by the sounds of things, there were far too many for a druid of his stature to handle.
This investigation needed a little more than brains to complete: it required stealth.
“By Cenarius,” he grumbled, “I hate cat form.”
With a flurry of cloth, a few disturbing cracks and pops, and a low growl, Mecaeth’s proud elven form transformed into that of a scraggly-haired panther. Briefly he paused in his hiding place as his body adjusted to the changes; after all, going from two to four legged mammal was no small task, but it was especially made difficult when the only bestial form Mecaeth was used to maintaining was that of an ursine. When he felt he’d gotten a grip on his hairy situation*, he nudged his forgotten staff to the side and prowled into the heart of the Den.
- Totally unintended, in the most intentional of inadvertent ways one could unintentionally intend.
… Don’t kill me.