Pook's Tale, Part 1Edit
If there was one thing that Pook hated, despised with all of her being, just one, so she couldn't count things like people who made her take baths and the way that the Forge in Ironforge stank of sulphur so badly that she couldn't hardly sense anything else and when people let perfectly good food go to waste, it was Heroes.
People who threw their lives away for a cause, Pook viewed it as the ultimate form of selfishness. There had been entirely too many Heroes lately, heedlessly putting themselves on the line with terrible consequences for themselves and others. Erunamo, Tiktok, Chiseta, Cromwell - all of them had paid in one way or another, in a couple of cases with their lives, misguidedly thinking that they were "saving" others when really all their efforts had come to naught. Even Tybilt had been willing to throw himself, and possibly others, into mortal danger to acquire a treatment for her double Prrow that may have only proven to be a temporary measure...
Pook's stomach clenched anxiously as she thought of Tybilt. Discovering his mother's lost and wandering soul in Tirisfal Glades, he'd pointed something out to her that had seemed so simple, so plain, that she was dumbfounded that she hadn't noticed it about the spirit before. Pook had feared being alone for decades, possibly for centuries after the brief, bright flame of Tybilt's Human lifespan had burned out...but it turned out, they had time. Time they could spend together, enough time for several Human lifetimes.
Provided she could find a way to save him from this Plague that was inflicted on him while he was away trying to save Prrow, trying to be a hero. The others had taken measures to slow the disease's progress, to halt it for a short time - but time was running out. And she had as well...She'd been a creature of brute force and strength all her life, training her body in the form of a Cat, of a Bear to be agile, strong and deadly. In her effort to help she had given up a lot of her strength, a lot more than she was willing to admit, to focus on the Healing arts which had always come slowly to her. But despite all that, Cromwell said he had at the most a month or so before the terrible, modified form of the Plague of the Scourge that had been forced on Tybilt took his life.
Cromwell, who now stood before her, gazing at a painting in the gallery at Stormwind Keep steadily. A landscape of Tirisfal Glades...so much of Pook's life lately revolved around Tirisfal Glades, it seemed...Pook shook her head, blinking, to wave away thought of her dreams, dreams that grew more and more vivid over time. A castle...a crow...a crypt...a cloaked Human man who was not just a man, and Tirisfal...
"I was offered a deal," Cromwell said to her simply, his voice cutting through her reverie. "To cure Tybilt."
Pook gasped, rising from where she had been kneeling behind him. "You werre??"
Cromwell didn't turn around, but he did grow very still. "I refused it. The price was too high."
Pook's expression shifted, from disbelief to anger. "What? How can you say...what was morrre prrecious than saving yourr son's life!?"
Cromwell looked down, grimacing. "She wanted you, Pook."
Pook's eyes went wide. "...me? Why?"
Cromwell lifted his hands in a gesture of confusion, helplessness. "I...I don't know. She said she wanted to study you, that you were unique in some way. Perhaps because you were the first true success of the Ritual. For one week, only one week, and then you would be returned. She knew...that we would not give her to you so blithely for the rest of your days, allow you to be destroyed, not even for Tybilt's life."
"One...week?" Pook asked, her mind spinning.
"It doesn't matter. You will not be handed over to her for her to experiment on, like a toy, like an animal." Cromwell gazed at the painting steadily. "Cyrille is a monster, and while she is a monster of her word and would return you...what would you be, then? She is made of Poison, she would find a way to turn you somehow..."
"Cyrrrille..." Pook said, pondering. Cromwell had mentioned her before, said she was the one who had infected Tybilt personally, the architect and creator of the disease the wracked him. The few times she'd seen Tybilt speak of what little he had remembered of her he had been quiet, filled with fear. "My Lorrd! Does it matterrr? Only one week! Such a shorrrt time? I can endurre anything I have to if it means she will currre Tybilt..."
Cromwell clenched his fists. "NO. I have failed all of you enough. I failed Tybilt, I failed Erunamo, I am failing Corvissia...I cannot lose you too." He turned and started to stride away.
"CRROMWELL," Pook snarled, following him. "You have indeed been a failurrre, especially to Tybilt. The things that you've done to him, MADE him do..."
Cromwell hung his head, unwilling to look at her.
"And yet, despite all that, he forrrgives you. You arre his fatherr. It may take some time, but he would forrgive you anything..." Pook said, her eyes flashing.
"Not this," Cromwell said, shaking his head. "He would not forgive this, handing the woman he loves over to Cyrille, even if it was the only way to save his life."
"He would, in time," Pook said firmly. "I howeverr am a differrrent matterrr..."
There was a movement at the edges of her vision and Corvissia approached them, frowning, tusks starting to sprout from her mouth of the half-Troll girl as they re-grew, slurring her speech. Pook glared at her briefly, still livid at the information she'd nearly forced out of Tybilt, but keeping her word she said nothing of it to her. She didn't look at her and tried to put her out of her mind entirely.
"Forr what you've done to Tybilt, all of it, the entirrrety of the life that you've forrced on him with yourr twisted naturre and choices, all I ask that you do forr me is allow this to happen. Contact Cyrrrille and tell herr that the deal is made."
Something flickered across Cromwell's face briefly and Corvissia looked at him with alarm. "No..." he said, somewhat less resolutely than before.
Watching him, her mind raced. She knew what she said was a lie - if Cromwell did this, that would be the end of any hope for reconciliation with Tybilt. Could she do that...? Could she be the one responsible for driving the last wedge between the father and son? It wouldn't take much with all the revalations of the past weeks to send Tybilt over into a murderous rage at Cromwell, and she didn't think she could forgive herself for being the cause of that. Perhaps there was another way...
Pook's eyes narrowed and she kneeled swiftly. "You have convinced me, My Lorrd. Therre is still time, we will find anotherr way to currre him."
Cromwell watched her with pained eyes. "Pook...don't do anything foolish..."
She turned swiftly, running, her face anguished. "Don't worrry...you know how much I hate Herrroes..."
Mere moments later, she was at her destination. The Westbrook Garrison, once her home. It had only been so for a brief time, but already she felt uneasy coming back, as if she was visiting an old Den taken over by another Saber. Biting her lip, she stepped inside, the only thing she could coherently think was "Please, please don't let it be Guzzler..."
Much to her relief she saw a tall and lithe Elven shape move across a doorway, and then step back and regard her with a surprised but wry smile.
"Hello...what are you doing here?" Erunamo said, grinning darkly.
Pook looked down at her hands. "You rrecently told me that the Darrk Masterrs had been in touch with you, sending you thoughts in yourrr head...if you consult them now you'll find I'm being looked forr. Help me find Cyrrrille. Tell herr that I agrree to herr terrms."
Erunamo arched an eyebrow at her. "I haven't heard anything about this."
"Well perrrhaps they don't tell you everrything...only what they want you to hearr," Pook frowned at him. "A barrgain has been made. Just one week of my life, forr the rrest of Tybilt's."
Erunamo regarded her carefully. "And what will happen to you in that time?"
Pook blinked, shrugged, the reality and terror of the situation starting to creep over her. "It doesn't matterrr. It's just one week. I can stand anything, forr one week."
"You know, there was a time when the thought of that would have made me very happy," Erunamo said with a smirk. "But this...If you're to be captured and tortured and who even knows what else, I'd really rather that it was me that got to do it..."
Pook regarded the floor intently, her witty rejoinders gone, and Erunamo's expression shifted.
"Pook...I've saved you from these things before, tried to shoulder the burden myself, but this...I don't see a way to take this on in your place. I can't rescue you this time."
"Good. I hate big stupid herrroes..." Pook said weakly, her eyes starting to fill with tears, and Erunamo held her wordlessly.
"It is done," a voice said from the doorway, tired, resigned. Pook and Erunamo looked up, shocked to see Cromwell standing there. "It will be the end of us, Tybilt and I, but you're right. It's the least I can do, to try to make amends."
"No!" Pook shouted. "I can do this myself, you don't have to be involved..."
Cromwell shook his head sadly. "The deal could only be struck with me. I have already contacted her. It has already been decided. You will depart--"
"Wait!" Pook said, holding up a hand. "Tomorrrow. I want...I want the chance to say goodbye..."
Cromwell met her eyes, the pain in them deep. "I'm sure she'll be amenable."
Pook's Tale, Part 2Edit
The next day, Pook sat by the mailbox in Stormwind, composing a letter. Speaking itself was new to her, reading even more so, and writing...it came slowly, with effort. She carefully traced out each symbol and curl with the careful concentration of a child. She asked Tybilt to forgive her, to understand. She frowned as the letter came to a close.
"I love you more than the stars, the moon, the sky," she wrote, and bit back tears. What she had done, what she was going to do, terrified her to the core of her being. But she had spent the whole last night trying to burn Tybilt into her memory, to hold him in her mind and heart no matter what happened to her, to remind her of why she was doing this. She took a red rose from her bags, one that he'd given her just the day before, and wrapped the letter around it, dropping it in the mailbox.
And now it was time.
Pook's feet carried her out of the city, out to the Garrison. Her eyes down she slowly made her way upstairs, unable to even contemplate what waited for her there.
And so, it came as a complete surprise to her to see Tybilt, laid out across Cromwell's main table where he received visitors and calculated his plans, unconscious and blood trickling from his mouth. She whirled to see a woman...pale, white-haired, with an aura of horrifying menace about her. She knew who it must be.
"NO! This was NOT the deal! What have you done to him??" She growled.
"Nothing at all...yet..." Cyrille said simply, with an appalling grin.
Tybilt coughed violently, blood spraying, and then started to come to..."Pook...?" he said blearily, and then as his eyes focused a look of unadulterated terror came across his face. "You...YOU! STAY AWAY!" He scrambled off the table, losing his footing, turning over chairs as he recoiled from Cyrille. Pook watched his reaction with amazement and fright...she'd hardly ever seen Tybilt ruffled, much less like this...
"Tybilt...have you been enjoying my...gift?" Cyrille said, advancing on him, holding out a hand.
"STOP." Pook said. "Leave him alone. This was not the deal..."
Tybilt's eyes focused on her, realization dawning on his face. "DEAL??" He exploded and Pook winced, looking down, unable to meet his eyes.
"Oh dear, you mean she didn't tell him? Tsk tsk..." Erunamo said from the doorway, smirking, arms crossed. "My Lady, I've prepared the Bats for riding."
"Erunamo, you're such a treasure," Cyrille oozed at him. "And you, Pook...so beautiful, so precious. Cromwell has excellent tastes..." She approached her and ran a finger down the side of Pook's face. Pook shuddered in fear and revulsion.
"Get away from her!!" Tybilt shouted, finding his courage at Pook being threatened. He grabbed Pook's arm and forced her to look at him. "What have you DONE??"
Pook squeezed her eyes shut against her tears. "It's...only a week...one week, and then I will be rrreturrned...and you will be currred..."
"No," Cyrille said simply. "That was not the bargain."
"What?" Pook gasped, looking at her.
"I will simply provide Cromwell with the knowledge he needs, the information of how to cure Tybilt. What he does with that information, how he uses it...that is up to him." Cyrille said, shrugging with indifference.
"Tybilt...please...I would do anything, endurrre anything, forr you..." She looked into his eyes, trying to smile bravely. "One week...and then we have the rrest of ourr lives togetherr..."
There was a commotion downstairs. "Would you LOOK at these guys? Guards everywhere, and all this terrible stuff happens here and they do NOTHING!" Aden's voice rang out. Shortly several people burst into the room. Aden, Jamie Redshaw, the both of them looking as though they expected to rush in and save the day, and...
Pook steeled herself, preparing herself to be berated, yelled at, mocked. It was nearly all that Jinx did these days. Not that she didn't give as well as she got in return. But rather to her surprise Jinx honed in instead on Cyrille.
"What's going on here?" She shouted, demanding.
"Aaah yes...Jinx, was it? I've heard so much about you. Another one of Cromwell's failed experiments with the Ritual...and who is Redux, pray tell?" Cyrille said with mock civility.
"I don't have the time or inclination to deal with your idiocy, lady," Jinx sneered. "What are you doing here?"
"I'm simply here to collect what was promised to us," she said, gesturing behind her at Pook. "We're going to find out what makes her...tick...isn't that a wonderful sound, Jinx? Tick...tock...Tiktok..."
"No," Jinx said with a glare. "You won't take her. I will not allow it."
Cyrille shrugged. "It's not your choice. The deal has been reached. Poor little Jinx...has another one of your pets escaped your control? Is that why you're here?"
"I'm here..." Jinx's expression flickered. "I'm here because I protect my friends. I'm here because mothers protect their children. And I've been cross with Pook...but she is my responsibility."
Pook blinked and gazed at Jinx.
"Is that so..." Cyrille said, leaning towards Jinx. Almost instinctively, surprising probably even himself, Jamie Redshaw jumped forward and held a blade to Cyrille's neck.
"Don' yeh touch her!" He shouted.
"Jamie! Don't cut her...she is...corrupted..." Jinx said, frowning as she peered at Cyrille.
"No! If she dies, Tybilt will die too!" Pook cried out, nearly at the same time.
Cyrille's eyes flickered over Jamie's features with a terrible smile. "Jamie, yes? So very lonely, so many women and yet none of them will accept your heart...would you like to see what a real woman is like?" She took his hand and gently kissed the back of it. He recoiled, looking as though she had bit him.
Pook's eyes went wide...of everyone in the room, she knew what Cyrille's kiss meant...
"Jamie...oh Jamie, I'm so sorrry..." she said to him quietly. "We'll...I'll find the currre, forr you too."
Tybilt pulled at Pook's hands insistently, looking into her eyes, pain etched on his face. "Pook...is this what you want? Is this what your heart desires?"
Pook met his gaze. "What my hearrt desirres is you. It's not so long...a week...and then I'll be back, and we'll be togetherrr again..."
Tybilt looked at her, tears rolling down his cheeks. "Then...go..."
"WHAT?" Jinx exploded. "Tybilt! You can't just let her--"
"This is what she wants to do, Jinx! We can't..." he faltered, holding Pook's hands tight. He drew her close and kissed her passionately, his tears falling into her hair. "You are my stars, my moon, my sky," he said to her quietly, and then stumbled back.
"Go...GO!" He shouted at her and then fled himself, his footsteps heavy and hurried down the stairs.
Pook bit her lip, the fear and sadness welling up in her, and fell into step behind Cyrille, who was smiling mockingly. They walked towards the roof where the bats were waiting to take her away.
"Pook...POOK! Who is she??" Jinx pleaded, trailing behind them.
Pook's step hesitated, but she didn't turn back. "She is Cyrille...the architect of the Plague."
Jinx gasped and fell backwards, her hand flying to her mouth. "No..."
Pook continued on, each step an effort not to give in to terror and panic, to stay on her feet. She had no idea what laid in wait for her...but she would endure. She filled her mind with thoughts of Tybilt, of their night together in Moonglade at the Moonwell, lying in one another's arms, surrounded by dancing lights. Even when they were apart, they were together. He would get her through this.
Erunamo lent her a hand and helped her onto the large riding Bat, the style used by the Horde. She gave his hand a small squeeze, hoping that everything she had never said to him, never thanked him for, could be communicated in just one gesture. There were more words, more arguing. She could hardly make sense of any of it.
"Jinx..." she said. "While I'm gone...look afterr Tybilt. Make surre he doesn't do anything...stupid..."
Too soon, Cyrille whispered in the bat's ear and it launched itself into the air, sending Pook to her fate. Clutching its fur Pook sobbed. "Stupid...like a big dumb herrro..."
Jamie Redshaw's Tale, Part 1Edit
Jamie, Aden, Jinx, and Wakaba stood together in front of the Westbrook Garrison. Before them, frail yet strong, stood the Lady Cyrille. Beautiful and deadly.
Pushing past Aden and Jinx, the vixen made her way to Jamie. He was frozen to the spot. Running her hand through his hair, he shivered at her icecold touch. It was as soothing as it was revolting. Untying his hair in the back, allowing it flow free and unhindered she leaned, bringing her white lips to Jamie's, drawing him in like a fly. With the kiss, she stole something from Jamie. His normally bright, multicolored eyes dulled and he felt all his life drain from him. And in its place, a cold dark filled the recesses of his soul. He suddenly felt as if he'd never be happy again. The world turned black and he was about to be swallowed up. But as he was about to be consumed, the Lady Cyrille stepped back, breaking the kiss, smirking slyly.
Jamie looked about ready to pass out. His face was pale and gazed ahead blankly. The others watched in silence. However, the quiet moment was soon broken. His eyes widened as a sweet, venomous voice broke through his darkneing mind.
The voice was dark and seductive, as if attempting to tempt him into something he dared not do. It overpowered Jamie, drawing him towards the invisible speaker.
"Who are ye?", he said aloud. The others looked at him confusedly.
The woman you dream of, the voice replied, giggling slightly.
"Wha' do ye wan'?!"
I want you...
Jinx peered questionably between Jamie and Cyrille, shortly before hugging tightly to his body.
"Leave him be!"
Aden, unsure of what else to do, drew his blades.
Jamie, come to me...
Jamie fell to his knees, tearing at his undone hair, attempting to resistthe overpowering force in his head.
Poor Jamie...all alone..., the voice continued. The scent of many a woman is about you. YOu go through lovers like dwarves through a mine. And yet, at the end of each day, is is you who is still...without love.
Jamie glared up at Cyrille, screaming.
"No! You don' know me!"
The voice giggled once again. You're wrong, Jamie. I do. I know you better than any woman ever could. I'll love you, Jamie. I won't die on you. I won't leave you for a "better" man...not like they did.
Mental images of Crimm and Arialla flashed through Jamie's mind. He stood up furiously.
"You don' KNOW ME!!!"
Jinx clinged to him even tighter and Aden moved forward, blades readied. Without breaking eye contact with Cyrille even once, he pushed off from Jinx, and put a hand on Aden's shoulder.
As Jamie turned to leavem the enticing voice broke out once more.
Ah ha. I see. There is a woman, not to my surprise. And one that is very dear to you, it seems. And you appear to be under the illusion that she feels the same. How quaint...
He turned back toward Cyrille vengefully, hate burning through his dulled eyes. However, before any action could be made, Jinx slapped him, snapping him out of his trance.
"Jamie, run! Get out! Get away!"
Without a second thought, Jamie turned, pushed passed his fellows, and tore down the road. As he did the voice returned with one last lingering message.
You will seek me out...
Tybilt's Tale, Part 1Edit
A few rocks knocked loose by Tybilt's climbing plummeted into the abyss below as he continued to scale the cliffs of Azshara. How many poor, helpless pebbles have you sent to their fate? Tybilt recalled Pooks playful question and his unconscious knack for tossing small rocks into a chasm with a long sigh. It was fitting that he was here - now - at the end of the beginning. This time he was alone. His clothes reeked of sulfur and ash, his hands and face blackened with soot from Blackrock Depths. Muscles aching, he finally reached his destination: a small quiet outcropping overlooking the ruined temples, the shore, the sea, the sky, and the stars.
The warm salt air was relaxing and quietly ran through his hair....much like Pook's fingers did just a couple nights ago. Tybit's brow furrowed as he picked up a small rock and heaved it will all his might off the cliff into the emptiness below.
.....The night in the Park had started difficult. Erunamo showed up and was being menacing - Cromwell and Corvissia stood there trying to stammer out an apology. Looking at his father fumble for answers and whine apologetically was more than pathetic. A once proud and great leader reduced to groveling for forgiveness for his failures.
It was later that night that Tybilt learned the truth about his own mother. He learned of Cromwell's sinister motives and vile deeds, the horrible torment in life and the years of agonizing undeath that his mother was suffering because of Cromwell. He flew into a rage, knocking the old man to the ground. Through clenched teeth, Tybilt spat out words dripping with fury.
"You have failed. You failed me as a father, and you failed Erunamo as a guide." Tybilt's tone was harsh and his blades were now drawn.
"I...I'm sorry..." Cromwell stammered and Corvissia positioned herself between them. She was clearly angry at Tybilt and pleaded with him to understand... to forgive. Tybilt shook his head and spit in Cromwell's direction. "Look at him! He's not sorry for what he did! He's just sorry that he got caught!"
Later that night, Cromwell would attempt to take his own life. Tybilt was there to help him through it. He would not, could not, let Cromwell run away that easliy. Somewhere despite all the horrible, despicable things Cromwell had done, the love of a son for a father still stirred in Tybilt's soul.....
....Another rock rolled around in Tybilt's hands. There were flecks of some mineral that sparkled, reflecting the soft moonlight. He smiled at the simple beauty and sidearm tossed the pebble into the depths below.....
.....He asked Pook to take him to where is mother still roamed the land; where she haunted the Tirisfal Glades in a never-ending agonizing undeath. After they arrived and Pook pointed her out, Tybilt walked forward to talk.
The ghostly apparition was beautiful in an eerie sense, the tatters of her dress and tangled hair were once catching the eye of every man and elf in the northern lands. Tybilt started to speak... he didn't know where to begin. As the words came out, the apparition continued to float mindlessly over the grass. Tybilt moved closer as the emotion overtook him.
The spirit's head whipped around and it snarled. It's eyes glowing and with slashing hands, it closed on Tybilt. The weak attacks of his mother may have proven dangerous for a neophyte, but Tybilt had fought dragons. Occasionally dodging or blocking an attack, Tybilt merely let his mother's spirit slash at his armor - quite ineffectively - as he continued to speak to her.
He said his last goodbye to her. He prayed to no particular god that some sliver of her soul heard him. Tybilt walked back from the small vale where his mother roamed, Pook waited for him on a short hill with open arms. He started to talk about it, but tears overcame him. As if the earth and heavens shared in his pain - a great rainstorm fell upon them. The cold rain seemed to wash away his tears and his agony. Tybilt finally said goodbye to a mother he never knew....
....The flat stone was smooth and rounded from years of salt-spray winds and costal rains. It was surprisingly heavy and spun in an oddly appealing way as Tybilt flung it over the edge to the beach hundreds of leagues below.....
....Tybilt playfully dunked Pook underwater then swam quickly to avoid her revenge. She shifted form in the water and was upon him quicker than he realized. Under the moonlight they swam, splashed, and played in their own private little cove in the far southern shores of Tanaris. The warm ocean and the warm breezes were soothing as they fell asleep under the moonlight. He would give anything for the world to stay this way - just the two of them in paradise. For one night, everything was right in the world....
....Tybilt grimaced as the small but sharp rock poked him through his gloves. He looked at the moon, and taking aim, heaved the rock into the abyss. For a moment, the pebble's silhouette could be seen against the moon - until it plummeted into the chasm below.....
.....She told him, begged him not to be a hero. "No more heroes, no more self-sacrifice. There has been far too much of that." now those words hung uneasily in Tybilt's mind as he held Pook in front of dancing lights of the Moonwell. The night was magical and intense and incredible, and yet something in the back of Tybilt's head was screaming that something was very, very wrong. Pook's movements seemed to have a subtle sadness about them. He ignored the warnings and instead of hounding Pook with questions, Tybilt smiled and held her as they drifted off to sleep.....
.....He examined the small jagged piece of junk. Long ago, this could have been a coin or a button or some sort of bauble. Now it was nothing more than a decayed relic. It fell apart in Tybilt's hands, accumulating a small pile of dust and debris in his palm. All this time she was with him. They shared so much. They were truly two halves of the same soul. Tybilt grimaced as the last of the relic crumbled to dust.
Tossing the dust in the general direction of the cliff, it hung in the air like a small cloud. The ocean breeze began to slowly pull it apart and carry it away.....
......Shock and betrayal slapped him in the face. Tybilt could not beleive what he was hearing. Pook was leaving, going away with Cyrille and her vile companions for a week. She was part of a deal made by Cromwell. Tybilt tried to argue with her, to convince her, but it was clear that her mind was made up. (and he never had much luck arguing with her before anyway). He kissed her goodbye. It was a deep hard kiss - as if he was trying to pour his own soul into her through their lips.
Tybilt sprinted out of the Brigade before he changed his mind and did something stupid. He ran all the way back to Stormwind City. The night air seemed to press in on him from all sides. His head throbbed in pain and confusion.
This night would not be lost in the bottom of the bottle. No matter how much he drank, he did not feel drunk. He felt nothing. Empty. Alone.....
.....Tybilt looked at the empty dirt in front of him, littered with the occasional patch of grass. There were no more rocks left. Again, he was alone.
Tybilt's Tale, Part 2Edit
Tybilt shifted uncomfortably in the chair as he finished writing on the paper in front of him. Normally, his correspondence was a very private and personal nature and he would only conduct such affairs in seclusion, away from prying eyes. He no longer cared about such things; And even if anyone did read the single word written on the page they would have no idea what it meant. That was reserved for Tybilt, the recipient of the message, and one other.
The bottom of another mug of Darkmoon reserve was now staring at him. Tybilt sighed and sunk into the chair even further. For months, a tempest raged inside him. It started long ago and had taken such a long strange journey that even Tybilt was amazed at where he now stood.
She had removed all that. She was his anchor, his moon, his star, his sky. The doubt and uncertainty that caused him so much grief, so much anxiety, so much pain, was simply gone in her presence. Evaporated like the remnants of a morning rain on a hot summer day. Now, however, she was gone. She was gone and the storm once again was brewing inside him.
A very different storm than before.
Cromwell was being weak. How could his father not see it? In days of old, he would have drawn up a meticulous strategy and executed it to perfection. No deals, no negotiations, no bargains. A plan that worked. Now he was running away and cutting deals that most certainly would not be honored. Cutting them using Pook as collateral. Tybilt sighed again and rubbed his red and sore eyes. The pressure felt good, even if only temporarily.
Corvissia was following Cromwell with fanatical devotion. She was letting her tusks re-grow and would likely soon be banished...or worse. Her pride blinding her - lying to her - about the very reality of a troll half-breed's way of life in Stormwind. Corvissia's support and understanding was another albatross around Cromwell's neck. He was unable - no - he was unwilling to swim. So he was sinking, and her along with him.
Jamie and Aden. Tybilt laughed thinking of how clueless Jamie and Aden were at times. They meant well, but Jamie tended to eagerly jump in where angels fear to tread, while Aden planned too much and didn't take action when necessary. They were constantly running, chasing after things like a man who is perpetually late for an appointment.
Flamebeard and Saraich. They no doubt loved each other. Tybilt didn't really know Saraich, but he could tell from the old dwarf's eyes that the love was real. Taking out his new dagger, acquired in a bloodbath deep in the Blackrock Depths, he whittled some of the wood from the chair's armrest. Flamebeard knew the reality of the world around him. He understood the risks of the wedding, the risks of supporting a family on a bouncer's humble salary, the risks of the foolish choices of his friends and contemporaries....and yet love would win the day.
Tybilt sighed, the spiraling blackness of sleep starting to overtake him.
"So ideal. So hopeful. In their own good intentions, they do not see the dangers, the evils, that were in front of them." Tybilt sighed and continued his thoughts. "Jinx knows. But even she is sometimes blinded by the idealism that she wants the world to be, and not what the world is capable of becoming."
Oddly enough, most of these people started out hating Tybilt. Some of them probably still did. It didn't matter anymore. Without Pook, he had to become stronger. He had to face his loneliness and overcome it. And now all those around him, were starting to fall prey to their own blindness, their own idealisms, their own little white lies.
Tybilt stopped whittling the chair and stared at the dagger for a little while. With blinding speed, he wrapped his hand around the blade and deliberately sliced his own hand. Blood pooled in the gash and started to stream out and drip on the table.
At least he felt something now. The pain was welcome.
It takes strength to inflict pain. More so when you can do it to yourself.
Each lie would build up. Each deception would continue to pool until it claimed all those around him
Not this time. For Pook, for him, for the both of them together.
Taking out a bandage Tybilt wrapped his hand and wiped up the small pool of blood from the table. He stood up and flipped a small bag of coins to the innkeeper. Walking to the mailbox, he deposited the letter, and strode off to get some welcome sleep.
Cromwell's Tale, Part 1Edit
Cromwell hurled a pile of books across the room. His rage was undeniable. He had let her get the better of him. She had made him doubt himself, question his abilities, become that which he hated most, and all with a few words. He knew Cyrille's skill in poisons and plagues was unquestioned, but it was her ability to poison and disease a mind, a soul, or a heart that truly was exceptional. With just a few words she had made him helpless, and if he hated anything he hated being helpless.
Sebastian paced back and forth; the rug in the library beneath the cathedral was worn with his constant foot steps. He had been played like a fiddle, Cyrille knew him too well, and she knew how to push his buttons. His mind drifted back to when he had first met Cyrille. It was over 45 years ago, a lifetime for some, which the beautiful yet frail waif had first entered his life. She rode with them when he first joined, and it was she who he had first been apprenticed too. She taught him the power of words, how they could be weapons that left scars deeper than any blade. He thought of their first "Duet" as she called it.
They had been ordered to secure an artifact from a church in Silver Pine Forest; however the villagers in the surrounding hamlet where not inclined to simply allow their sacred item to just be taken away by the dark riders. They entered the town as pilgrims, melted into the population without any trouble. Then just like a spider, Cyrille began to spin her web. Over five days she started with the women, listening to their gossip, hearing their jealousy, learning their hearts. Thus armed she then used the knowledge to turn the men on their wives, jealousy reigned and soon people started to die, mysteriously at first, then blatantly obvious toward the end. With simple words Cyrille decimated the town, the villager's rage and jealousy where fueled by her machinations. Eventually they just walked into the Church unmolested as the villagers killed each other in the streets, even the priest, who was too busy strangling his altar boy, offered any resistance when they took the item from the altar. Thus he had learned his first lesson. He had learned that words where the most powerful weapon in an arsenal, he had learned that words could kill.
Cromwell continued to pace as his thoughts drifted toward his recent problems. He was overcompensating, he was trying to hard, and he was denying his true nature. He thought how Cyrille seemed to know when he was at his weakest. She sprung her trap when he was most vulnerable. With such humiliating thoughts rushing into his mind the rage could not be denied. He turned and split a table in half with his closed fist.
NO MORE!! He yelled aloud.
No more would he play her game, no more would he be helpless. Flamebeard and Corvissia where right, he was trying too hard, he had been attempting to make amends for a lifetime of wickedness. His quest for sympathy and forgiveness had made him a helpless fool. He had been denying one side of soul in an attempt to placate the other; he had done exactly what he had preached against for so long. If he was to win this battle against Cyrille he would have to find the balance between his split souls. He would have to not only trust the ones he loved but he would have to use the dark skills he had learned from his past, and even those he learned from Cyrille herself. He would not compromise his new found humanity, nor would he hide from his inner darkness, he would find a balance.
It was like a great weight lifted from his soul as he thought of what Tybilt had said to Corvissia.
"Look at him! He's not sorry for what he did! He's just sorry that he got caught!"
His son had been right about one thing. He was sorry, he did seek forgiveness, but he was done asking for it. He had made his apologies and accepted the responsibility for his actions. If Tybilt could not move past this then he would do it for him. Cromwell had felt betrayed, abandoned, and unappreciated. He had felt sorry for himself, that pity wrapped itself around his heart and sank him deeper into depression. Corvissia had told him to let it go, that he had made a promise that he needed to keep. Now it was time to keep that promise.
With conviction he turned and began to tear through his books. Pook was in trouble, Tybilt was dying, and now Jaime and Aden had been caught in her web. Cromwell knew why she was playing her game. She had read his journals and knew what he had discovered about the ritual. Now she was trying to learn more, she was studying that mysterious component that finally made the ritual work. She was using them all as lab rats in her vile studies. With all of them he could see the pattern. Her web was apparent as he scanned the notes he had taken over the past few days. All of it connected except for one thing. Why such an over whelming interest in Pook? What was it about her in particular that generated such attention from The Spider? Why was she so important to Cyrille's plans? His mind raced across all the possibilities, somewhere in this mess of intrigue was the answer. If he was to stop Cyrille's predations he would have to solve the puzzle. His family needed him and he would not fail them again.
Throwing the letter down on the small table, the old dwarf stormed to her feet.
She had gathered what bits and pieces she could from her old friends, though most had refused to help, of course; the war was long over, they said, and it was time to get on with what life they had left.
Sometimes, the war never ends. The thought drifted across her mind, and was quickly pushed aside as she moved to the bookshelf and threw a large tome open onto the table.
This woman, this Spider, as some of her old allies had named her, was not someone to be underestimated, but perhaps she could be out-run somehow...
After a few silent minutes of reading, Old Mae was forced to concede that the solution to this particular problem was not to be found in her cramped writings.
Reaching for a piece of parchment and a charcoal stick, she began to compose a letter to the last person that anyone would ever expect....
Pook's Tale, Part 3Edit
Pook had no idea where she was.
The flight by Bat had been a blur of tears, she hadn't even wanted to look up to see where she was being carried off to. Now the uncomfortably close stone walls around her were starting to become familiar, the scents of chemicals and the acrid sting of old fear, old pain and old death, the sounds of bubbling and mad cackling.
She was working very hard to keep it from becoming familiar. She hung limply against one wall, chained at the neck, arms and legs. She could have probably shifted form to get her hands and feet free, but the resulting change in the shape of her throat would have suffocated her instantly. It didn't matter. She wasn't going to try to escape or fight back, although at times it certainly seemed like what they wanted. She had promised to come here, to do this, and she would keep her word.
She tried to fill her mind only with thoughts of him during the day, when Guzzler would come in with increasingly more complicated and horrifying instruments to perform "tests". She tried to do the same at night, when Cyrille would drop by to check on the goings-on, to whisper in her ear, trying to reshape her mind.
In her mind, instead of watching what was happening to her body, thinking about the questions that Guzzler pelted her with..."What did this do to you? Tell me. And remember, this is for posterity so be honest. How do you feel?"...she tried her best to picture herself on the cliffs of Azshara, bashfully confessing her feelings for the first time, tried to remember Tybilt's openly astonished face as a smile played at the edges of his mouth. She tried to remember him bringing her to the Wisps and Spirits, proudly displaying her on his arm, laughing and drinking with her for all the world to see. She held on to the memory of long, gentle kisses by the waterfall near the Garrison, her sorrow, fear, awkwardness and nervousness melting into perfect joy and fierce, determined love the night before he'd left for the Plaguelands. She tried to remember his grin as the surf had tickled at their toes on the beach in Tanaris...even the memories of fighting by his side in Un'Goro, in Blackrock Mountain, his blades and her claws creating a beautiful dance of destruction. She desperately tried to hold their last night at the Moonwell in her mind, tried to see dancing lights instead of the walls around her...
Voices swirled around her. She tried to return to a time when words were just sounds, tried to block it out, but that kind of thing was dangerous. It would be easy...so easy...to become like an animal again, not caring what happened, forgetting all the progress she'd made. To let rational thought slide from her head, live simply moment to moment again with no thought to the past or the future.
"...like a tuning fork. Experimentation with crystal harmonics and amplification have proved especially interesting, although most of the vessels end up shattering. I have to see if I can find some stronger alloys...She also doesn't seem to show any reaction to extremes in heat or cold, short of the point of actual tissue damage, to which her body also shows a relatively high tolerance. Other than that, though, she seems to be physiologically normal..." Guzzler's voice trailed over to her, excited, manic, as he consulted his notes.
Cyrille smirked in Pook's general direction, her eyes regarding her with interest. "And her other reactions?"
"Exactly as you predicted!" Guzzler crowed. "These findings...they must truly be the key. I think it's what they've been looking for..."
"Poor, poor dear..." Cyrille said, stroking Pook's hair gently. Pook flinched involuntarily under her touch. "Are you thinking of him, I wonder? Is that why you haven't broken yet? Remembering his hands on your body, his breath on your neck?"
Pook's face burned and she jerked her head away, glaring at the floor. "That's all right, dear. You've already been enormously helpful to us, but we still have much to learn from you...it would hinder our work at this point to not be able to get informative feedback from you..." Cyrille grinned at her.
It took everything Pook had to the core of her being to not spit in Cyrille's face. Instead she closed her eyes, sensing her connection to Tybilt, knowing that he was with her even though they were apart.
Cyrille's eyes narrowed and her smile widened. "Perfect..."
Pook's Tale, Part 4Edit
Pook laid against the stone wall, half-conscious, her gaze blank. She was literally covered in marks, bruises, small strangely-shaped sores. Inside her mind, she was far, far away, on the cliffs...
Cyrille drifted over to her and she startled, getting to her feet, shying away from the anticipation of her touch.
"There there, dear..." Cyrille purred at her. "You know I've only come to talk to you..."
Pook turned away from her, shivering.
"Isn't it funny? I thought surely the cavalry by now would have showed up to claim you back...Tybilt was only gone for what, a few days? And only in our grasp for one? By the time the lot of you came charging down to the Plaguelands to take him back," Cyrille smirked at her.
"...I did this myself. They know not to come forr me..." Pook muttered almost inaudibly, drawing her knees to her chin.
"Hmm? I don't remember it being so much different...many of you threw yourself at a situation to fix it, rather heroically I might add--"
Pook winced at the word.
"--despite the dangers. And yet some are deserving of overblown rescue missions, while you are not? I wonder why that is?" Cyrille asked her.
"They knew they couldn't change my mind..." Pook whispered, her eyes pained.
"I know that if I had a friend, someone I loved like a daughter, someone I thought of as the other half of my soul..." She paused and waited for Pook to react to this as well, "...I would not just hand them over to the likes of someone like myself and dear, dear Guzzler. I would find another way. And yet no other way was attempted, was it?"
Pook looked up at her. "Crromwell told me not to come. I did this myself. He didn't hand me overr..."
Cyrille laughed incredulously, the brittle sound bouncing off the stone walls. "Oh...oh my poor naieve dear, is that REALLY what you think? That Cromwell called you to him just to tell you specifically and with exacting detail what he DIDN'T want you to do?"
Pook's eyes darted around the floor as she took this in. "No...he wouldn't..."
"He would and he has. You know what kind of manipulative creature he is, and he certainly knows how stubborn and headstrong you are. He had to have known that if he asked you to go you would have found a different solution yourself. But tell you not to, FORBID you not to make this deal..." Cyrille leaned in close, her voice in Pook's ear, "...he might as well put a pretty pink ribbon on you and wrapped you up for us."
Cyrille's lips turned up in a grin. "I imagine delivering you personally has gained him back a lot of his lost reputation with the Dark Masters..."
"NO!" Pook lashed out, whirling, her fingers hooking through the air like claws. Cyrille laughed and easily withdrew from her reach. She half-closed her eyes and tested the air...no, that wasn't it...
"Pook...Pook...you deserve so much more than the pathetic scraps of affection and loyalty you receive from all those around you right now. You have power...TRUE power...and you have the ability to use it, if you only try," Cyrille said, thumbing through Guzzler's pages and pages of scribbled notes. She at last came to a page with a simple diagram, showing energy radiating off one object, rebounding off another and coming back to the original even more strongly. There were arrows with question marks and other cryptic markings in the space between the two objects.
"We could help you. Help you rearrange the world to your own image of how it should be. Not as a servant, a lackey. Not as a Cromwell or a Guzzler. Help make you a God against which even other Gods are insects." Cyrille drew close and took Pook's chin in her hand, tilting her tear-filled eyes up to meet hers. "We wouldn't abandon you to your fate. We would help you shape it."
Pook frowned slightly, gazing at Cyrille. And then there...THERE...
If she hadn't been trying so hard to find it, she might never have noticed it. Power...her own power...started to gain, in small degrees. Small degrees over time that would add up enormously. She felt more confident, more sure of herself than ever before, the gray areas of her soul being nudged over the rest of the way into darkness. There was definitely something about this girl...enhancing, empowering, intoxicating...
"Soon they'll all bow before you," Cyrille said, her face blissful. "Cromwell, Jinx, Jaina, Sylvanas, Thrall, Tybilt--"
And like that, the feeling was gone. A wall slammed down behind Pook's eyes and her lips curled into a snarl.
"No," Pook shook her head free. "I would neverr want that. Not him."
Cyrille sighed. "It really is sad to see how he's played you for a fool, you know. Do you truly believe that he no longer has feelings for that Human girl? That when he looks at you, he's not seeing a second-rate replacement for her? Someone who's just there to pass the time with until someone more interesting comes along?"
"I know that he doesn't, because that's what he told me," Pook said resolutely.
"Oh...my DEAR...really now! You can't possibly be that stupid! Men LIE!" Cyrille chuckled condescendingly.
It took everything Pook had to not laugh in her face, in amazment over letting Cyrille get such a grip on her thoughts. There might be something to the other things she said, but this...this she knew as a game. Because Tybilt, even when what she really wanted, what was despertately needed by the situation at hand was a diplomatic, reassuring or evasive answer...Tybilt did not. Ever. Lie.
Tybilt's Tale, Part 3Edit
The candle was burning down to a stub. Tybilt stared at it, through it, quietly meditating on Pook. The candle he lit seven days ago was almost out. His waiting almost done. Pook would return before the sun set tomorrow. The thought of it sent shivers of anticipation up his spine, and filled him with a sense of anticipatory dread.
It would be paradise to see her again, to hold her, to hear her laugh, to see her blush, to feel her.... But Tybilt knew that nobody comes back from Cyrille's web without plenty of scars - and not all of them on the outside. It didn't matter.... she would be coming home.... and he would help her heal.
Tybilt smiled in a sad way.
He took the small candle he stole from the Wisps and Spirits at Flamebeard's wedding reception and held the wick into the flame from the once-large candle. He smiled as he noticed that even a dying candle loses none of it's flame when it shares it with another. Tyblit reflected on how he spent the week, mostly fighting in Blackrock Depths - hip deep in blood and fire. The constant fighting was welcome in ways. Each Dark Iron dwarf that met a grizzly fate on the business end of his blades was Cyrille, Guzzler, and sometimes even Corvissia. Once, after the first night, he imagined Cromwell's face on a dying dwarf.
Tybilt shook his head.
Clearing his thoughts of that vile image. Even as upset as he was with the old man... he couldn't do that to his own father. The old man helped Tybilt out of many a bad situation, starting with the orphanage. It was time to help the old man.
The day was long and he was quite tired. Rubbing his eyes hard felt so good and so relaxing after such a long day. Tybilt thought of the argument with Corvissia. He not only didn't trust her to have the old man's best interests in her hear, but he also now doubted if Corvissia ever *did* love Cromwell.
Tybilt closed his eyes.
He stretched out on the bed. He needed to get some sleep. Tonight wasn't over, and for what he was about to do... he knew he would need to be at the top of his game. He had to meet Jamie to break Cromwell out of the Stockades in a few hours. As the sweet black oblivion of sleep washed over him, Tybilt's thoughts were solely on Pook.
Tybilt smiled in a most happy way.
A full tavern of laughing people, friends. A new attraction, alcohol.
Corvissia giggled as she began to down the dark moon reserve with amazing speed she had meant to tell Tybilt something important, but she wasnt sure what
"I remember! Tybby!! Come dance with me!" she yelled from the base floor up to the upper levels of the tavern as she walked unsteadily up the stairs.
He of course refused her but she wouldnt give up eventually he promised to dance with her later. But Corvissia wasnt done with this dancing nonsense. She ran outside and got Crix and Erunamo to come in and dance. Crix rather foolishly decided to give Corvissia Cherry Grog and Junglevine wine, in large quantities. She gave some out to Erunamo but drank little her self at first.
Staggering outside to get some air she came upon, Ursa.
"I remember you! Youre the one that inshulted my armor!! And shomething else I dont remember right now!" So they argued, he tried to play down the situation while she escalated it. Eventually he succeed in calming her down.
"You wanna come dance with me?"
"Comeon! Come dance with me, lets go inside."
"No I have a bad leg." He turned into a bear, she only took this as stubbornness.
"Okay then we can dance outside!" Corvissia began to dancing and Ursa quickly headed towards the tavern, Corvissia following after a few moments.
Once inside the tavern she quickly forgot about dancing with him and danced with Erunamo instead. She had by this time completely depleted all the stock Crix had given her. Slowly she came to her senses and stopped dancing, A fleeting moment.
Dashis came and grabbed poor Aques chest and they all ran outside to watch Dashis get the snot kicked out of him. Even Ursa.
"What a cute bear, Im going to tame you!" Corvissia exclaimed as she began to attempt casting Tame Beast on poor Ursa who had never left his bear form. Some other elf proclaimed that it was his bear but of course she didnt listen.
"Sho what phould I call you new Teddy?"
Seeming quite amused with Corvissias current state the people around her all played along shouting out names, Someone shouted out, Tatanka among all the other names shouted.
"Thats it! Tatty!!" Corvissia hugged onto the bear. "My Tatty" Tybilt walked by stopping only a moment to look at the scene, Saraich and Flamebeard did too but they seemed quite a bit more amused by the situation than Tybilt had. Not paying much attention to on lookers, Corvissia slowly slumped over Tatty and fell asleep on him, snoring loudly.
Of course once again this state only lasted for a short time.
Much of the earlier Corvissia didnt remember and likely wouldnt know of except for what anyone decided to tell her, a thick haze over everything after the wedding aside from knowing that she needs to talk to Tybilt... about what though?
Shifting, eyes squinting She rolled over and vomited almost immediately after Ursa, or Tatty had moved.
"Wha? Where... Who are you?" She looked at Ursa.
"You slept with him" Erunamo pointed out, standing behind her.
Ursa changed back into his elven form. "I think she is taking that completely wrong...You slept ON me"
"ugh...Ill deal with this phome other time" She staggered to her feet, wobbling greatly as she made her way for the canal to clean herself up.
After washing in the canal everything seemed okay, excluding her splitting headache.
She walked slowly into the trade center,unintentionaly meeting with Tybilt.
Deciding they should talk, he led her to the cathedral. Civil speaking, ended abruptly as he began to choke her over what happened at the tavern while she was drunk, accusing her of never loving Sebastian, and not letting go no matter how she flailed. Eventually after what seemed like an eternity he let her go.
Gasping for air, her mind was made up she was done with this betraying bastard. She began to spit out riddles which answers were lies, just to mess with him and see what would come of it.
After the awful meeting with Tybilt she ran back to the tavern to try and rest and see if anyone could tell her what she didnt remember. She ended up speaking through her hearthstone to those she shouldnt and arranging a terrible meeting.
She quickly made her way towards the stockades to meet with Sebastian. She was attempting to take the book from him so that she could use it towards gaining a 'better the situation'. But Tybilt quickly entered the conversation with the same accusations as before and the situation only worsened when Guzzler jumped down on them.
They all argued for awhile until Sebastian got up and walked back to his cell, leaving Corvissia crying fat tears, Tybilt hurling insults her way and Guzzler screaming about failure.
She got up nearly stumbling and walked for the door, Tybilt following. She turned around and handed him four vials.
"Hopefully one will Cure him"... or kill him depending on which order and how long apart he took them, she didnt care anymore...She smiled sweetly to hide a twisted smile that lay beneath it as she walked off.
Mounting a gryphon swiftly she headed for Booty bay and quickly exiting the large shark head that was the main gate, Monty, the animal companion who she had been training with the most recently trailing behind her.
Taking a turn off the road after a bit, towards the naga island, a panther leapt forth from the shadows at her, Monty went to join in and save his alpha female, Corvissia. But quickly turned tail and ran behind a large exotic plant.
Whimpering Monty watched as the enraged Corvissia grabbed the panthers neck and snapped it. Not skinning it, not taking anything for use, just falling to the ground with the limp form digging her nails further into its flesh around the neck, more tears hitting the beasts pelt.
"How dare he ruin everything, How dare Tybilt accuse me?! That bastard"
Monty slowly crept back to her and sat down beside her and howled. Jerking back to her senses Corvissia released the feline corpse and stared at it as she sat up beside it.
"Im sorry for scaring you Monty I get very angry sometimesAnd now Cromwell will likely not give me a second chance"
Monty pushed his muzzle into her hand, licking her palm. His alpha female was in pain but he saw no wound or blood. He rarely understood everything she did, but he understood that the elder grey-haired man was no longer the male alpha of this pack, but he had thought she would be done mourning, he thought he had been replaced a few days ago. But it greatly pained the female alpha to have lost this old alpha male. But this still confused him because he smelt the male he had seen a few times before, the man he considered as the male more recently, for a few days now he had suspected this was the new alpha male. Everything was too confusing. All that was certain was there could only be one alpha male.
Jamie Redshaw's Tale, Part 2Edit
Jamie slid off the griffon warily upon reaching Stormwind, Sunday afternoon. Paying the griffon master his fare, he slumped off to the Gilded Rose, planning to spend the remainder of the day regaining his strength. He had travelled throughout the Alteracs, from far West tip of the Plague Lands to the East, and even through the dense jungles of Feralahs, Kalimdor up through Desolace and the Charred Vale.
Cyrille was nowhere to be found. And yet her echoing voice still rang clearly through Jamie's mind. Beckoning him, cooing to him, attracting him like a moth to a flame.
Aden apparenty had not been troubled since the first night they met Cyrille. Lucky him.
As he made his way up the steps to what he expected to be a welcoming bed, he came across Crix. They stood looking eachother in an awkward silence, before she finally broke it.
"Er, um, 'ey there. Wha's happenin'?"
"Nothing much. You?"
"...Then why weren't you at the wedding?"
". . ."
Pook's Tale, Part 5Edit
Pook laid her head on the hard wood of the bar at the Wisps and Spirits, trying to shut out all the noises, all the voices surrounding her. Just a short time earlier she'd been "released" by Cyrille and sent back to the Westbrook Garrison. As she left, Cyrille whispered something in her ear...
A hand moved over her hair. Pook whimpered and cringed from the touch. Someone had come to her at the Garrison, picked her up, carried her into the city to the tavern. She didn't open her eyes. She was out of energy, out of will, the experiences of the last week leaving scars on her body as well as her heart and mind. Her wrists, ankles and throat ached from the pressure of the restraints that had been placed on her.
There were more sounds, more voices. Some soothing, some angry, some filled with pain. They were trying to bring Pook back, trying to make her understand, trying to express sympathy and worry, making demands for information. Pook rejected all of it. She curled in on herself, willing them all to go away.
A bucket of icy water was tossed in her face. With a gasp she fell off the bar, scurrying to her feet she scrambled until her back was against a wall, her eyes darting around, terrified. But the cold and the wet...it started to bring things into focus again.
"...was th' first thing Crix did, when ah go' back...it was th' only way ta bring 'er aroun'..." Flamebeard said, looking uncharacteristically grim and sad, holding a bucket in one hand and rubbing his wrist contemplatively with the other.
She was surrounded by so many faces, so many voices. Swimming into view, striding, glaring at her fiercely, was Cromwell.
"Tell me!" Cromwell shouted at her, and Pook blinked at him, puzzled.
"Leave her alone, let her rest," A voice by her side said sternly. "She's been through enough."
"Wh--" She said, trying to form words, to make sense of them, only to have them slip away again. A chill of panic ran down her spine. Someone tried to take her hand...she jerked it away in alarm.
"NO. This is what we did this for. TELL ME. It cannot wait!" Cromwell shouted, drawing closer to her face, menacing.
"WE?!" The voice said incredulosly, angrily.
Another voice came out. Small and scared. Barely there. "Hearrts..."
All the eyes in the room focused on Pook. She wondered why, until she realised that the voice was her own.
"To currre Tybilt, you need thrrree hearrts...the submission of a conflicted hearrt..." Her voice went on, unbidden.
Near the bar, Jamie Redshaw, his face full of rage, made a small sound.
"The betrrayal of a trrue hearrt..." Under her feet, the petal of a white flower was pressed to the ground.
"And the hearrt of a young girrl..." Her eyes flickered to a squat, round shape on the counter.
Cromwell's eyes hardened and he whirled on her. "Is that all?!"
Cringing, gasping, Pook fled through the crowd of people, trying to find someplace safe, someplace away...she came to a stop under the stairwell, squeezing herself into the corner.
Cromwell followed her, grabbed her by the arm, pulled her to her feet again. "I SAID IS THAT ALL?!"
"STOP." The voice said again. It sounded so familiar...Pook nodded, squeezing her eyes shut, shrinking away. There were murmurs, gasps, other words of warning from the gathered people.
"Then it will be done..." Cromwell snarled, letting go of her. She fell back against the wall trembling. Her eyes searched the room. So many faces...and yet, where had they been for the last week while she was suffering?
"She...she said that nobody carrred that I was gone...and she was rright. Therre werre no marrches, no brrave rrescue missions, not forr me..." She hissed with self pity and loathing.
"I...you weren't in Scholomance, nobody knew where you were..." the voice near her said weakly.
In her reeling mind, she started to actually process what she had said before...three hearts...
Her eyes went wide as understanding dawned on her. "No...NO!"
"It will be done..." Cromwell said again, fiercely, resigned, and strode out of the room. The crowd of people parted before him, staring.
He couldn't...he WOULDN'T even if it was to save...
She felt a soothing hand in her hair. She turned, and for the first time she truly saw the face beside her, stained with tears, looking more sad and pained than ever.
"Tybilt...you'rre herre..." she said.
"Anywhere you are, I'm always there," he said simply, and with a sob she fell into his arms, all the clouds and the daze clearing from her mind.
"Ach, tha's a good sign," Flamebeard said, nodding. "You'll need ta take 'er someplace safe, someplace private, an' after wha' she's been through th' last thing she's gonna want ta see is stone walls..." He grimaced and rubbed his wrist again. "...ah've go' a house in Cutthroat Alley ye can use..."
"When she's ready to go we'll go, and not before," Tybilt said, holding her close, his own tears falling into her hair.
"I can't be herrre!" Pook said suddenly, pulling away, feeling the press of the walls around her. She stumbled outside, out into the air, drawing it into her lungs like she'd never breathed before. Overhead the stars looked down, the sky looming and reassuringly large.
Tybilt came to her side again, looking worried and helpless. Pook started to reach out to him, stopped, and wrapped her arms around herself instead.
"Tybilt...why didn't you stop me? Why didn't you come forr me?"
Tybilt blinked, grimaced, faltered. "You said it was the calling of your heart..."
"It was all a trrick, a rruse to furrther play with Crromwell's mind, to study me and experriment on me like an animal...what she asked, yourr *cure*," She spat the word, "is nothing but a way to continue doing that. You have no idea what she's asking...you don't underrstand..."
Tybilt hung his head. "I'm sorry...I'm so sorry..."
She looked up at the stars, and after a time she got to her feet. Tybilt kept pace with her, only a step behind. "I don't know wherre I'm going..." She said, pondering the trees and the walls of the Park in Stormwind. "I just...haven't walked much in a while..."
Tybilt nodded. "Then let's bring this full circle. Let's go back to where it all started."
Pook tilted her head to one side. "Wherre?"
Tybilt met her gaze. "You know where."
Pook closed her eyes and nodded wordlessly. Leaving the city she felt the wind whip through her hair on gryphon-back, at the harbor she felt the salt air on her face. As they landed at last she changed forms a few times, like flexing muscles gone stiff from disuse, until she settled into her swiftest shape. The two of them ran, her on her own four paws and him on horseback, across the rocky hills, the ruins, the primitive camps of the furlbogs. They finally came to a distant cliff, overlooking the ocean and the ruins.
"Do you remember this place?" He asked her as she shrugged back into her Elven shape.
She picked up a small rock and tossed it towards the water, watching it bounce down the cliff. "Of courrrse." She sat, a hint of a smile playing at the edge of her mouth. "When I came to you herre, did you have any idea why?"
Tybilt grinned thoughtfully. "I thought maybe you were trying to attack me, like a lot of your friends were doing at the time..."
Pook gazed out at the ruins. "I like this place...it's peaceful..."
"It's a good place to hear the song..." Tybilt said, nodding.
Pook bit her lip. "I don't hearr the song...not anymorre..."
"Then we'll stay here, until you do...Pook?" He said, looking at her.
"Have I told you today how beautiful you are? How much I love you?"
Pook sobbed, clinging to him and shaking, finally letting loose all of the fear and anger, pity and sadness she'd been holding back for the past week, so that THEY didn't see it, weren't gratified by it. He held her for a long time, the winds of Azshara whipping over the cliffs and passing over them.
After a while they laid back against the rock and Pook rested her head on Tybilt's chest, listening to his heartbeat under her ear. Tybilt pulled his cloak over them, and Pook slowly drifted off to a restless and troubled sleep.
Tybilt laid awake the whole night, running his hand over her hair and holding her close, singing to her softly. Under the stars, and the moon, and the sky.
<Xanotos sat on the roof of the abbey, just outside one of the tower's windows. He'd let Tia sleep, as she had been training all day. He smiled as he gazed up at the night of sky of Azeroth. He was no Druid and could not read nature's signs like they could, but something told him, deep down, that things were getting better. It was slow, like the burning of a candle's wick, but it was there.
He smiled, hoping that his friends were hanging on as well as they could. He would be there to help, should anyone falter. He'd grow more arms if he had to, to keep them from falling into whatever it was that was looming before them. He chuckled at the thought of himself with eight or more arms.
He shook his head and pulled out his flute. He wanted to play, but what? Nothing too sprightly, nor too slow; not too happy, but not rife melancholy, either. Then he nodded. He put the instrument to his lips and began to play, closing his eyes. It was an old song, taught to him by one of the old campaigners that had passed through Bethria when he was but a lad. It was a song that began slow, almost sad, but slowly gained strength and vigor. He'd heard a full orchestra play it once. And sometimes, when he played alone like this, he could still hear it.
Tonight, though, it was merely a lone Warrior's flute as he played for his friends.>
Cromwell's Tale, Part 2Edit
Nigel Gearshift Oil Guzzler of the Court of Gnomergan in Exile entered the stockades. The air of superiority seemed to ooze from his pores. He carried in his hand an order of execution for the hated Sebastian Cromwell. He would at last be rid of the meddling old man. Guzzler suddenly realized his feet where no longer touching the ground. He began to squirm as he felt a hand on his cloak lift him into the air. The hand suddenly turned him and brought the little gnome face to face with its owner.
"Merrick??" Guzzler asked as soon as he recognized the man.
"What is the meaning of this??" Guzzler asked as he began to consider escape routes if this suddenly went bad.
"There has been a change of plans." Merrick hissed as he stared Guzzler down.
"My mother wants him alive for now. She says that once she is done you can do what you want with him as was promised." Merrick slowly lowered Guzzler to the floor.
"She needs his insight into a matter before he leaves this world. Tell him that his precious daughter has been returned as promised. He can find her at the Garrison, and tell him she knows what he needs to do." Merrick slowly turned and began to walk away, leaving Guzzler alone with his rage.
With a flurry of his little hands Guzzler enacted his revenge on the piece of paper and tore it to shreds screaming like a denied child the whole time. He turned and continued his journey to the Stockades.
The warden turned and looked at Guzzler as he approached. The man began to tremble at the sight of the wicked little Gnome. He swallowed hard and allowed the Gnome entrance. He handed him the keys as he passed and knew better then to ask any questions. Guzzler walked down the stairs and toward an all too familiar cell. With the turn of a key he opened the door and stared at the old man.
Sebastian was chained to a wall with only rags to cover his body. He had been beaten and tortured by Guzzlers guards and his fellow prisoners. The room was littered with the many implements that had taken a bite of the old mans flesh. Cromwell slowly looked up at Guzzler as he heard the creak of the door. He smirked and looked at the Gnome.
"Amateur." He said as he began a hacking cough. Guzzlers eyes lit up with rage, he grabbed the nearest implement and ran screaming toward Cromwell. He stopped suddenly as his logical mind reasserted it self.
"No. No she wants you alive and I wont disappoint her." Guzzler said as he walked forward and unlocked the shackles.
"Pook has been returned as promised. She is at the Garrison now, and she knows what you must do to save your son." Guzzler finished unlocking the chains and motioned to the door. Cromwell felt the desire to choke Guzzler to death right there but he knew he needed to get to Pook. She would be hurt, maybe worse. He slowly dragged himself to his feet and shambled out the door. Guzzler smiled as the old man left, knowing that his world would be changed forever. Cyrille had seen to that.
Cromwell slowly walked toward the Garrison trying to keep himself from falling over. Despite what he told Guzzler, the guards had done a number on him and his stamina was not what it once was. He was old and feeling it more every day.
He shook his head as if to banish such thoughts as he climbed the stairs to the roof, there he found Pooks huddled form lying on the ground. He tried to wake her but it was in vain. She needed help, but not his. He picked her up in his arms and began to walk down the stairs.
Suddenly he stopped. He felt something, something strange. Like something washing over him. Cromwell began to wonder, was his wounded mind playing tricks on him?? Or was it something else. Sebastian shook his head to clear his thoughts. He needed to get her help at any cost. The pair continued down the stairs.
Cromwell carried Pook into the Wisp and Spirits, with a large contingent of concerned friends. Jaime had met them at the Garrison and Tybilt and Eru had found them on the way in. Cromwell could not remember when the showed up or what they said, he was focused. He couldnt delay. She had been through all of this so that Tybilt would have a chance, and now he needed to make sure that her suffering was not in vain. He slowly moved through the crowd and placed her on the bar. She was shivering and cold to the touch. Her body was covered in sores, wounds, bruises, and all manner of cuts. Cyrille had been methodical as he recognized the work of Guzzler on her lithe frame.
Cromwell backed up as all of Pooks friends gathered around her in an attempt to wake her. He stood in the background silently staring at her for any sign of life. Suddenly Draeg came from the kitchen and threw a bucket of cold water on Pook. With such a rude awakening Pook jumped up and ran for the nearest corner. Cromwell pushed through the men and looked down at Pook.
Something inside his head said that he should hold her, comfort her, after all he loved her like a daughter, but there was something else, something familiar that told him what to do next.
"Tell me." He asked coldly. Pooks eyes looked up at him seeking some sympathy but she found none in his cold eyes.
"Leave her alone, let her rest," Tybilt said sternly. "She's been through enough."
"NO. This is what we did this for. TELL ME. It cannot wait!" Cromwell shouted, drawing closer to her face, menacing.
"WE?!" Tybilt said angrily.
The gathered crowd stared in amazement at what was unfolding. Cromwell continued to bear down on Pook. His presence alone was terrifying. Something inside warned him, shouted his name, but he would hear none of it. His focus was on his objective. Pook looked up through her tear filled eyes and seemed to enter a trance as she spoke.
"To currre Tybilt, you need thrrree hearrts...the submission of a conflicted hearrt...The betrrayal of a trrue hearrt..And the hearrt of a young girrl..."."" Pook suddenly stopped.
"Is that all??" He shouted. With that she ran past the men and into another corner. Cromwell followed like a man possessed. The others seemed to stunned or afraid to move. Cromwell reached Pook and grabbed her arm violently.
"I said is that all??" He shouted.
"STOP!!" Tybilt shouted. Pook slowly nodded her response. With a violent shove Cromwell hurled Pook against the wall. She slammed into it and crumpled to the floor. The spectators gasped in horror. Tybilt jumped between Pook and Cromwell. His eyes filled with indecision and dread.
"Then it will be done." He snarled.
"All of this is not worth it!!" Tybilt shouted at the old man.
"Yes it is.All of this is necessary." He said as he turned and began to leave, without a word Sebastian calmly walked out the door of the Wisp and Spirits Tavern.
Cromwell crossed the park and headed toward the Cathedral. Corvissa suddenly ran up behind him, she had followed him out the Tavern. She tried shouting his name but he would not listen.
She saw him drop something to the ground as he walked. A small golden compass clattered on the stone walkway. Corvissia looked at it in horror, she knew what it meant. She tried shouting at him again but he still would not listen. She finally jumped in front of him and forced him to look her in the eyes. His face was different, it was cold, menacing, filled with contempt.
"What do you want Corvissia??" He hissed as he stared her down.
"I never betrayed you!" She shouted at him, remembering the night before when Guzzler and Tybilt had ambushed them at the Stockade, where they both shouted at the old man telling him of Corvissia's supposed betrayals and lies. She remembered how the very life seemed to drain out of him with every biting accusation.
"You expect me to believe that??" he retorted with a smirk. His eyes seemed cold and uncaring.
"I wasn't myself. It just happened. I make you weak." She said almost whimpering.
"I was a chink in your armor. I was a weakness." She spoke softly trying to explain.
"A chink in my armor????....You were my armor!!!" He shouted at her. Rage filled his voice.
"I told you what would happen and yet you still did this. You were my compass, my conscience, my guide, and now I am alone." He said with a sigh.
Corvissia looked at him as he turned to leave.
"Do you remember when I asked you if a man is born evil??" He asked. Corvissias eyes welled up with tears.
"Now I know the answer." He said as he began to walk away. He had a meeting with Redshaw that he could not miss.