Pook's Tale, Part 1Edit
Pook entered the Westbrook Garrison looking for her Master, Lord Cromwell. She'd had many questions building about their situation there in the Brigade, how everything had gotten started, how things had gotten so contentious with the Wisps and Spirits Tavern in Stormwind, the details of the Ritual...there was so much to know.
She found him downstairs, in the spare cellar that was used for the Ritual, where the dead were literally brought back to life split into two halves, two bodies. He was looking around with an odd expression, apparently waiting for her.
"Pook," he said, "My daughter. When you first came here, how did you feel?"
Pook pondered this for a minute. "Angrrry. Anxious. Afrrraid..."
"Well then, we're off to a good start," a familiar voice said from the stairwell. "Well well, what have we here?"
Sauntering down the stairway was Guzzler, one of the other high-ranking members of the Brigade. The Gnome had deeply unsettled Pook from the day she first met him. He was always fiddling around in his Laboratory, there was always a stink of nature gone horribly awry about him. He had a way of looking at the others, especially at the girls, that made her squirm like a bug under glass. And now...he had an expression of such glee on his face she found herself backing away until she ran into Cromwell. He put a reassuring hand on her shoulder and stepped in front of her.
"I have a message to you, from the Stormwind nobles," Guzzler said with a wicked smirk. He handed a paper to Cromwell, who took and read it without expression. "Apparently you bunch haven't been up to their standards. These cows are getting in your way," he gestured to include Pook and Corvissa, who had just arrived herself. Cromwell and Corvissa crossed to one another protectively.
Guzzler's eyes gleamed. "I'm in charge now."
"What?" Pook exploded. "My loyalty is to Crrromwell! I'd neverr follow you! And neither would Tybilt!" Cromwell put out a staying arm to keep her from lunging at him.
"Ah, but you know what? He's bound to me by blood and honor. I have the paperwork to prove it," Guzzler sneered. "And besides...you wouldn't want anything to happen to him on his little expedition, would you? I hear the Plaguelands are a dangerous place..."
Pook shrank back under the ferocious glee of his gaze.
"Sebastian would never follow you either," Corvissa said simply, calmly.
"Well, as far as that goes, he's got a bit less choice in the matter..." The Gnome reached into one pocket and pulled out a Wispy Cloak. Cromwell's normally confident face started to fall. "With this, the cloak used on him in his own Ritual, I can make him do anything. Now 'Sebastian'...give me the Book."
Corvissa gasped and Cromwell frowned, pained, while Pook blinked. Book?
Guzzler chanted over the cloak and Cromwell suddenly straighened, fighting back but clearly not under his own control. He pulled an ancient tome out of his robes...
Corvissa snatched it. "You'll not take this. I'm not afraid of you, Guzzler."
Guzzler smirked. "Take it from her," he said to Cromwell. Struggling against each step, he started to move towards her.
"RUN!" He pleaded with her, and with a frown she did. Pook meanwhile couldn't take her eyes off the cloak...she had seen one just like it before, d#@!&d over her own head...
"Well. Hmm. I suppose, then, that I'll have to take her cloak as well," Guzzler said, and with a gesture of the one he already had Cromwell took and held out the one that Pook knew to the pit of her soul was her own, the one that he could use to control her.
"Guzzler, you coward, leave them alone," Cromwell said, starting to regain some of his composure.
"Oh, now see, now I'm going to have to make an example of you," Guzzler said with mock sadness and power blasted out of his hands, knocking the already-weakened Cromwell to the ground. Pook watched in horror as he laid on the ground, his chest barely moving if at all.
There was a noise at the stairs...Corvissa was back, why hadn't she run!? But now she was wearing her armor, carrying a weapon.
"You don't frighten me, Guzzler, you pathetic worm," she snarled. "If you want the Book, you'll have to take it from me."
"Oh, but I won't," he said with a terrible smile. "Pook? Go ahead."
Pook's eyes widened. "I...I can't...I've been trrying so harrrd..."
"My goodness, well, it will certainly be a shame when I have to contact my associates in the Plaguelands to cut Tybilt down like a dog. With one whisper I can make it happen," Guzzler leered.
"He can't do it if he's dead, Pook," Corvissa said. "Attack him instead!"
Guzzler held up the cloak with a flourish. "Oh, she'll do no such thing. As long as I have this, she can't touch me."
Pook gazed down at her fingers, hooked like claws. "I'm...I'm sorrry...I'm not a monsterrr...but I'm sorrry....Corrrvissa."
It was over in just a moment, Corvissa was lying on the ground and her blood was splashed on Pook's hands and face. She backed against the wall, sinking down, feeling sick.
"Pook...listen to me..." Cromwell said from the ground where he was starting to stir. "Hurry...take Corvissa and RUN!"
Pook glanced around frantically. If she did, she would pay a high price, she knew that. And even more likely, it wouldn't be her at all but Tybilt who did. But at the same time...
She had to make a choice. Sooner or later, she was going to have to truly dedicate herself to becoming a better person, to actively fight the darkness inside of her. And she knew what Tybilt would say to her, if he was there.
Take her and run.
Without taking the time to think about it further she grabbed Corvissa up and dragged her outside. She was surprisingly light. She had to get her to the Tavern, to warn the others what was happening. They had been afraid of Cromwell, but Guzzler was far, far worse. He had no anchor like Corvissa to center him, ground him, temper him. For the last few weeks it had all been an act, a charade anyway. They had picked fights with the people of Stormwind, the innocent Dwarves who worked at the tavern, to keep up appearances, to prevent this very kind of takeover from happening. But Guzzler...there would be no act. He wouldn't need to.
Halfway to the city, though, Corvissa had struggled out of her arms. "Sebastian! I can't leave him there!" She shouted.
"Don't be an idiot! THINK!" Pook had yelled at her. "Guzzler contrrrols him...soon he'll contrrol me too! But the Rrritual holds no powerrr over you anymorrre! Go and warrrn them..."
"No," Corvissa had said resolutely, sadly. "I've made my choice. My fate lies with him. You go and tell them..."
Pook watched her back helplessly as she went back to the Garrison. "While I still can..." She said, a stab of pure panic running through her. Her feet shifted to paws and she raced as quickly as she could to the Wisps and Spirits. She staggered in the door, gasping, expecting to be tossed out, disbelieved.
But apparently the people at the tavern had overheard much in the last few days and had already formed suspicions about what was really happening.
"Therrre's no time..." she told them. "He'll contrrol me soon...I'm going to trrry to contact Tybilt, to prray that my message gets to him firrrst. I'll send him herrre...please...prrrotect him..."
She had scribbled a quick note and stuffed it in the mail, and then ran to go stand by Lord Cromwell again. She owed him everything she had, and like Tybilt, she was prepared to live her life in his debt to repay him. A debt of honor. To her surprise, though, Corvissa and Cromwell were already inside the city walls.
"He went, left somewhere...probably to arrange to finish Tybilt," Cromwell said, his eyes pained. He staggered and kneeled, coughs wracking his body, spitting blood.
"We have to go. Find him. Stop him," Pook said, clenching her fists.
"The Plaguelands...it is a dangerous place. But there is a chance...if I know Tybilt, he'll be able to evade Guzzler for a few days. In that time, we must get there. The flights are not safe, though...there isn't a Flight Master that cannot be bought for the right price. We'll have to walk..."
"Sebastian...you're in no condition for such a journey!" Corvissa said, bracing him.
"I don't have a choice, my love," Cromwell had said sadly. "I abandoned my son once. I cannot do it again."
"I'm going," Pook said resolutely and turned, only to find most of the staff of the Wisps and Spirits behind her.
"Well yer no' goin' withou' help," Flamebeard told her levelly.
"This isn't yourrr concerrrn," Pook told him, frowning. He was flanked by Jamie, Romero, Callence and others.
"No..." Cromwell held out an arm to her. "We need the help...and they are also in danger if they stay. One of the first things he does will be to round up the Wisps and Spirits. None of them is safe."
"Why don't we all go talk about this..." Jamie said, but Pook looked up in alarm as a hand was run over the cloak that Guzzler had. He was near.
"Therrre's no time. We have to go. Now."
And so they did, the large band of adventurers in a strange mix of people following the paths of light and dark, and somewhere in between. All depending on one another for help with the journey. They made a slow and winding path through Dun Morogh, Loch Modan and the Wetlands, occasionally stopping to pick up some object Cromwell needed for some unspecified purpose. Pook hoped to the depths of her soul that he had a plan, because all she felt right now was helpless and afraid.
It was agreed on that they couldn't risk entering the cities, and Jamie was sent to sneak in and send cryptic letters to the remaining staff to find a way to meet up with them, or at least flee the city. Word came through Hearthstones that there were already notices being posted around Stormwind and Ironforge calling for the capture or death of the members of the Westbrook Light Brigade who were now running. Along the way they were joined by others until their band was some fifteen people and growing from all walks of life and backgrounds, now bound to a common cause.
They camped for the night at the Thandol Span, the bridge crossing the great chasm between the Wetlands and the Arathi Highlands. It was agreed on that they would try to travel only by night, to help avoid detection.
By the light of the stars, curled on a high rock, Pook took out a piece of paper that was becoming worn at the edges from so much handling. She smoothed it against the rock with one hand and read it again and again. Tybilt's poem. She was coming to find him...
She just hoped that Guzzler didn't find her first.
After the encounter that had happened at the Westbrook Garrison, Guzzler teleported to Stormwind City to enact the plans that he had set in motion months ago. He knew it was just a matter of time that Cromwell would slip up with the Dark Masters. As Guzzler walked into Stormwind keep, confident from the Promotion to High Commander of the Westbrook Light Brigade, he walked right up to the Nobles of Stormwind to report the heresy and betrayal of several memebers of the Guild. Showing them months of reports of the inconsistancies and scrupples of Sebastian Cromwell, it was no problem for the Nobles to enact certain protocols to arrest Cromwell and his band of Traitors.
With glee, Guzzler teleported to Ironforge to cull a few favors with certain high ranking senators. Within minutes, Guzzler had audience with the King of Ironforge, himself. After reporting the treacherous behaviors of Cromwell, the king decreed that Cromwell and anyone who harbors him would be put to death if they set foot in Ironforge.
Smuggly, Guzzler knew that almost all the peices were together. He knew exactly where Cromwell and his elven !@!#&s were headed to. He had to stop them, before they crossed Dun Morgh.
As Guzzler waited to confront his enemies at the crossroads of the Wetlands, he was surprised to see that Cromwell had enlisted an army on this endeavor to free Tybilt. Only a slight setback. After warning the band of renegades, Guzzler decided a little demonstration would be in order. Taking out the Wispy Cloak of Cromwell, Guzzler proceeded to stab at the cloak and shred bits of it. Cromwell fell on the ground in agony, as Guzzler laughed menacingly. After a few more stabs, fire sprotted in Guzzler's hands. The fire lightly licked the Wispy cloak and the fear in Cromwell's eyes only fed into the fire of Guzzler's soul.
Pook's transformation into a primal bear had no effect on the twisted mage. All the was needed was the Dwarf, Ironbeard to join him and wipe out this group of misfits. Everything was in place for this one moment, knowing that Ironbeard's pledge of loyalty to the Guild was all that was needed to destroy Cromwell. The Paladin stood confidently, as Guzzler started to ignite the cloak. Within seconds, the God-fearing dwarf and his beast had laid the power-hungry gnome on his back. BETRAYAL!
"You dare betray your oath!!?" Guzzler sneered.
"My loyalty is with Cromwell, the real leader of the Westbrook Garrison." The steadfast dwarf replied.
With this, the party advanced on the crestfallen gnome. As he fumbled for his stone of teleportation, he yelped in a defeated voice, "You will regret this! I will make sure that all of you will be put to death! If you set foot in Ironforge and Stormwind, you will be executed!" With a poof of smoke, just before Pook disembowled the tiny mage, he was gone.
Within minutes, the grounds of Stormwind were silent, except for the howl of rage that was evoked by Guzzler. The halls of SI:7 were cleared as the new Commander of the westbrook Garrison and a few nobles charged to the commander.
"I want these people found! I want them arrested at all cost! I want these names and pictures posted in all settlements, towns, ports, and inns. Cromwell is public enemy number one! I want Corvissia, Pook, Ironbeard, and Tybilt arrested on site. No one is to give them refuge. Anyone seen harboring them will have thier lands and children taken from them. I WANT MY BOOK BACK! I know where they are heading!" In one breath, this was reported to the Commander of SI:7.
The commander sighed in sadness, seeing some of the reknowned names of Stormwind. "By your Command."
It was just a matter of time before this brigade would come across some of the trials that Guzzler had set up for this journey through the Plaguelands.
After the rest of the camp had gone to sleep, Draeg Flamebeard was awake and pacing, his eyes contantly darting from the Thandol span to the road leading south. He was fighting a loosing battle with his own mind to supress all the worst case scanarios that came bubbling to the surface of his thoughts. he tried desperately to avpid thinking about what terrible things might be happening to his bride to be.
What if they found her? What if they've killed her? Can she make the journey alone? Should I have even left Stormwind without her?
He reached into his pocket and pulled out his hearthstone. He knew that with no more than a word he could be back in stormwind in no time at all. Of course he also knew that once he was in, the chances of getting back out alive were nil. But if Saraich was going to die, then he would be there to enter the Twisting Nether at her side.
Before he could activate the hearthstone, however, something came into his peripheral vision, It was Janx comming from the southern road, and following behind him, the cloaked figure of Saraich Spearhewer.
"Sara!" he called out as he ran to her. The two of them colided into a tight embrace. "Thank tha Light, yer safe."
Sara gave Draeg a kiss. "Ach, ah've been worried sick abou' ye, Flamey. Stormwind's no' safe anymore. Theres notices posted all over town tha' tha Brigade is wanted, an' more guards than usual are patrollin' tha streets."
"Ye sure yer no' bein' followed?" Flamebeard asked, concern in his voice.
Saraich nodded. "Fortunatly, we dwarves kin be easily enough ignored. Ah go' Prrow ta a place in Ironforge wi' a family we kin trust. ah knmew she couldnae make tha trip."
"Good," Draeg nodded. "Jamie's sent letters to the others. It willnae be long 'fore we're all on wanted posters too."
The two of them walked back to camp as Draeg updated Sara on what had happened. He told he knew now that everything they had heard in the tavern last night was true, and that the harrasment they had been receiving from Cromwell's crew was only meant to keep up appearances, and, in fact to protect their wedding from the very real threat of Guzzler.
"Ye know," Sara mused as she looked out across the bridge. "This bridge looks awful familiar."
"It's tha Thandol Span, love," Flamebeard explained.
"Bu' Flamey, isnae this.."
Draeg nodded. "Tha las' restin' place of Draelig Flamebeard. Dad, used ta love this bridge. Said it was tha first big step in uniting tha dwarves of Ironforge with tha Wildhammers."
The two dwarves sat down on an outcrop of rock, where they could see the bridge, the dangers that lie ahead of them seemingly swept away be each others presence. They talked sleepily as they stared up at the starts for what seemed like hours, before falling asleep in each others arms.
The road ahead was long, but now, at least they'd face it together.
Cromwell's Tale, Part 1Edit
The small fires illuminated the walls of Thandol span, as the shadows licked the sides of the stones. It had been some time since the walls had seen such activity. The campfires of some fifteen or more people lit the night sky. Cromwell sat close to a fire with his cloak wrapped around Corvissia and her head on his shoulder. He looked around the camp at the people gathered. Only days before some had been at each others throats, willing to kill or be killed to protect their ideals. Now they stood together, under one banner to save a man who some of them hated. Hated because of the things he had made Tybilt do. Love works in mysterious ways, how something between two people can be motivating enough to make enemies into friends and cowards become heroes. He understood why they came. They came for Pook. She was their friend, they had finally accepted that she had grown, matured, and decided her own fate. Despite all these changes, she was still Pook, and they still loved her. Sebastians eyes moved to some of the faces in the camp
Erunamo and Pook sat close together, still trying to find a common ground. Cromwell asked her to speak with him. She wasnt happy about it but she did it. He knew that anything left unsaid could prove to be a problem on a quest such as this. They had issues, issues that arise between people who care for one another. Eru loved her and she loved Tybilt. He may not admit it but Cromwell somehow knew.
Romero, whom had seemed so arrogant when he had first met, was now lending his blade to a cause he knew little about. He was a friend of the Wisps and had sought to protect them from Cromwell, now he rode out with the same man who had put them all in danger. Cromwell silently thanked Romero; his loyalty to his friends would now help them all.
Jaime Redshaw sat close to Romero sharpening his blades; it had only been about a week since Cromwell found him bleeding to death in Cathedral Square. Sebastian always wondered if Jaime asked why he had been saved. He could never tell Jaime that it was he who saved him. By betraying Corvissia to Cromwell, he set in motion a series of events that led to Sebastians change of heart. It was he who was owed a life debt, it was he who played such a simple unassuming role in the grand scheme of things, and it was he who saved Cromwells soul.
Flamebeard stoked the fire with a stick; Cromwell thought to himself that he wanted to apologize to him and to Sara. They had been tormented and made to suffer, but as in all things such as this, the innocent are made to suffer the most. Cromwell would make amends to them, he would do everything in his power, what little remained, to see their union made real.
Ironbeard sat far from the others feeding Midnight, tonight he had broken an oath taken in front of Magni Bronzebeard himself to save his friend. Now he sat without a care, he knew what he had done was right and he knew that fate would take its course no matter what. He had always been a loner, but he would never leave The Old Man, he would never betray the friendship they had. Even in the darkest times Ironbeard stood beside him and helped him walk whatever path he chose.
Callence tended her wounds from the battle with Dalin, Cromwell thought how strange it was to feel concern when he turned and saw her ambushed. If he had not felt something was wrong she would have been left for dead outside the path from Loch Modan. It was a strange emotion when he reached her and helped tend her wounds; she had come to him and heard him out. She had let him say his peace and found no malice in his voice or thoughts; she said that she did not see him as an enemy. For that Cromwell owed her a great deal more then she knew.
Dalin sat near the edge of the cliff, like his life, it teetered near oblivion. The change had affected him differently, something was wrong with him before, now it was made worse. He was unstable, he was an unknown factor in this quest, but somehow Cromwell knew he had a part to play.
Corvissia sat beside him and tried her best to hide her pain and concern. He was sick and could not tell her how bad. He could not let her know this may be his last trip, and that he might have to leave her to face the world alone. Somehow she sensed his pain and he knew it would only be a matter of time before she sensed his weakness, she was a hunter, and it was in her nature to sense things. He only hoped that is wasnt for sometime. He loved her but could not bring himself to tell her he was dying.
Sweet Pook blessed Pook. It was she who trusted him. She looked to him for guidance and hope. It was she whos absolute faith helped ground him and his thirst for power. He had a family to care for now, they all were his family. He remembered what he had said on the bridge as they left. Im putting our family back together. Im getting my son back. Those words seemed to give him the strength he needed to carry on.
These where the faces he knew best, the others had joined for their own reasons. By the end of it all they would know everything about each other. They would survive it whole or die together.
The path that now lay before them was the darkest yet traveled; they would walk within sight of the ruins of Lordearon, through the very heart of the lands of The Forsaken. However that was the least of their worries. Sebastian still needed some things, things that would protect them and help them along the way, and the Plaguelands loomed before them, its memory always in his nightmares. Some had never seen the desecrated landscape, and when they did it would live forever in their nightmares as well.
Xanotos's Tale, Part 1Edit
<Xanotos was fishing along the coast north of Menethil. He was taking a minor break from his training and so long as he avoided the roving Murlocs, he was fine.
Then, for the second time in his life (which he figured was destined to be short, at the rate he was going) he felt an unearthly chill creep down his spine and flow through his veins. He shivered involuntarily. >
The last time that happened was that whole fracas with the Light Brigade...Oh hells!
<Xanotos's hand flew to his Hearthstone and he was already running when he hit the floor of the Gilded Rose startling a few patrons and narrowly avoiding the Innkeeper's attempt to box his ears. He ran full tilt for the Park, his apprehension growing, like a cold fist clamped around his chest. As he crossed under the archway he sprinted for the Tavern. There was something on the door, but he disregarded it, tearing for the kitchen. >
<Her nest by the hearth was empty and looked like it hadn't been slept in for a day or so. He fought back a wave of panic and remembered seeing notices on the doorframe. He went back and as he read them the color left his face. >
The bloody hell-? TREASON?!
<Xano hopped the ramp and checked his mail. All that was there was a letter from Jamie that made absolutely no sense. He frowned and read slower, picking the letter apart. He was no Rogue or master of cryptography, but the letter was worded so that the people the REAL message was meant for would get it. He frowned and stuffed the note in his pocket. He idly toyed at the Buzzbox on his hip, and then shook his head. >
Too many eyes and ears...Probably luck that my Tabard is stowed away as it is. I'm sure people are looking for us, too...
NOW what, genius? They're in hiding. Do you go looking or do you wait...?
<He shook his head. Waiting had never been his strong point, as the remaining member of his old family could tell you. A quick stop at the Bank for some supplies and he was off. He managed to get out of the City without any undue attention, but he really wasnt being looked for, so far as he knew. Once he was far enough in the woods, he'd try raising someone on the Buzzbox. HOPEFULLY it wouldn't blow up in his ear. He chuckled ruefully. >
I swear, ya leave th' Tavern for a few days...
The mooon shone down on the Thandol Span as Cristopher turned restlessly, unable to sleep. His thoughts whirled, but above them all hovered the question, "What am I doing here?"
Something about these people kept him coming back to the Park District, night after night. The soon-to-be-married dwarves, Cromwell and his elf companion, that rogue who always seemed to see him... even the crazy dwarf and those two gnomes (treacherous little things, those two were). Even when he left the Park, left the tavern, he kept seeing them, hearing them talk about things that seemed so... so... big. Too big for someone like him to be involved in. He should just stay away.
But when he saw them in the Dwarven District (so many of them; it was like an army!), marching towards him, he didn't run like he should have. Instead, Cristopher slipped into th shadows and wathced them pass. There was the frightening man and his huntress at the front. Behind them walked -
Draeg and the rogue?! Why were they with the man that caused them so much trouble?
There were other, too. Elves, humans, and dwarves. Some looked somewhat familiar; others were completely new to him. Cristopher tried to listen, hoping for some clue as to what they were doing together, but all too soon they had passed him. Slipping from his hiding place, the young rogue followed.
And followed. And followed.
To a cave by Loch Modan, where that Sebastian Cromwell man found some stone. Down into the Algaz Gauntlet for some other task that Cristopher could not see from his vantage point in the high foliage. On into the swamps by Menethil Harbor, to a dig site infested by raptors. These places were all new and frightening to the young man, and he made more and more mistakes. More than once, members of the party caught sight of him. Yet he didn't run, though he knew he should. Even when they came across the mad dwarf, who had almost caught him before, in Lakeshire, he stayed by them. When the cruel gnome they called Guzzler attacked Cromwell with some strange sort of magic, he even drew his blades and circled around, ready to sink them into the little mage's back. Fortunately, the dwarf that the gnome called on for aid turned on him, and the treacherous creature was forced to retreat.
Finally, they had arrived and set up camp for the night. Cristopher hovered just outside the circle of light the fires provided, wishing he could join them, wishing he could talk to them, wishing he could feel the warmth of the flames on his face... But even after both the rogue - Jamie Redshaw; Cristopher had finally heard the name on the long journey - and Draeg Flamebeard came to talk to him, to let him know he was welcome, Cristopher couldn't bring himself to come over. He wasn't allowed to sit with people, and they would hurt him if he broke the rules.
Even if that part of his life was over. Maybe it was just a trick, maybe they just wanted to see if he knew the rules.
He sighed and stared up at the stars. From the nearby camp, he heard the sounds of sleep, and from the rock above him, the sounds of paper rustling as the Pook read a letter yet again as she had all night. He listened to them, and he wondered again why he was here.
But whatever the reason, he would follow them until he could follow no more.
Pook's Tale, Part 2Edit
Just after sunset, the motley band picking out their slow path to the Plaguelands got underway again. Swinging north into Arathi, they stopped by Stromgarde. Cromwell directed them to clear the Orcs out of the castle near the tower and they did so, only to meet face to face with Guzzler on the way out. He screamed at them furiously and commanded the Orcs to attack, but when it became clear that the group still had the upper hand he fled.
Further down the road they saw a lone Tauren running up to them. Not thinking much of it they pressed on...only to see the Tauren shout and attack Cromwell again and again. Squig, previous visitor to the Wisps and Spirits, had sent his adopted Gnomish daughter for reconnisance on Cromwell and the Wisps for the past few months. Apparently whatever he had discovered had met with his displeasure. Even when he was finally brought down by the stronger members of the group he continued to chase after them and attack.
Another surprise addition to their journey was a visit from Alleycat, an Undead rogue in human disguise. Pook smiled amiably upon seeing him, having met him before...but then scented something else about him, something familiar, herby. It was the smell in her room on the night the guards at the Garrison were all slaughtered.
"It was you..." she said with a snarl, and he immediately seemed to know what she was talking about.
"You don't understand..." He said, producing a packet. "Here, the herbalists, what they prepared for me was more than I asked for. This will counter the side effects you're having..."
"You killed them ALL and they did NOTHING!" Pook roared.
"No! That's why I'm here! I've been investigating the Brigade and the Wisps and Spirits for some time, but I also need help! That part of me that did that...it is something that I was before I became Undead. I need help to separate it out, block it from taking over..." He explained hurriedly.
Cromwell sighed. "That which you seek to hide, to deny, will still be a part of you even after the Ritual."
"An entirrrely separrate perrrson," Pook said with a glare. "Only underrr no controls, no checks. Is that what you trrruly wish to unleash upon the worrrld?"
Soon the band of travellers reached the Ruins of Alterac and blazed a trail through the Ogres, to the church.
"I would speak with Pook alone for a moment," he told them.
"Me?" Pook asked, blinking.
Once inside Cromwell walked the room sadly, slowly, taking in the dust and the ruined pews of the once lovely church. "This is where I met her," he told Pook, his voice heavy.
"Tybilt's mother. She was lovely, and innocent...and I took advantage of that." He clutched his chest, wracked by another violent fit of coughing that had plagued him for some time now. "Pook...do you know where the Wispy Cloaks came from? The ones used in the ritual?"
Pook shook her head, wordlessly, putting one hand to his back to support him.
"Ask Corvissia," he told her. "And I have something to ask of you."
"Anything, my Lorrrd," Pook said, descending to one knee.
"When this is done...when what needs to be done has been accomplished, my family will need to be taken care of. Those people out there will need someone to lead them home. My daughter...I want it to be you," He said, tilting her chin for her to rise and kissing her on the forehead.
Pook regarded him, confused. "I will prrrotect Tybilt to the end of my days, even if he no longerr wants me. But...when this is finished, you will lead us home."
Cromwell grimaced. "Promise me."
Pook set her jaw. "IF such a thing is rrrequirred...then I will do it," she relented.
Exiting the church, Cromwell made an announcement..."We travel to Lordaeron."
Amongst the gasps and whispers, Callence's voice came across clearly..."We fought through all that just so they could go in there and decide where we're headed next??"
There was a small detour through Fenris Isle, to the lair of the dark mage Thule Ravenclaw. Confronting him and besting him easily, Cromwell commanded that his body be taken out front and hung from the gatepost as a warning. Putting in another appearance was none other than Guzzler again however, but like the last time he was easily run off once the supplies of Gnoll troops were exhausted.
On the road through Silverpine afterwards, the complaints started to grow louder. "Where are we going? Why are we going there? Why do we keep stopping? Aren't we going South? I thought Lordaeron was North..." Callence kept up. There started to be murmurs of agreement from the others.
"I grrrow tirrred of yourr impatience," Pook growled. "If you'd like to rrreturrn to Storrrmwind and be capturred and interrrogated by Guzzler and his minions, please, be my guest."
They arrived at a small manor with an attached farm, and Cromwell headed inside. He ran his hand along the fence in a familiar way, first looking in the house and then coming to a stop outside the barn.
"All right, this is enough. I'm not one to follow blindly, and we deserve answers," Callence said, finally unable to take it anymore. "What are we doing here?"
Pook started to approach her with a growl, but Cromwell held out a hand to stay her. "No, she's right. This journey...is about more than just a single path. I am revisting the sites of my sins, my past, because when this is done I will have to pay for them all. This house, here," He gestured towards the small manor. "I had the family inside killed in front of their father for revenge. I go to face my demons and rescue my son, but if I do not do this, if I am left wanting, I will fail."
With a strange quietness the group moved on. Pook, lost in her own thoughts was startled out of them by another of Cromwell's coughing fits, and was surprised to see that Corvissia wasn't near him. Scenting the air she found trace of her heading away from the path, into the lake.
Her body shifting to a form better suited to swimming and tracking in the water, she finally caught up with her. "Corvissia...wherrre arre you going?"
"Away," she said, not looking at her. "He's going to do the one thing I said I'd never forgive, and that's to die - to sacrifice himself."
"Yes...that's the imprrression that I get too, what I think his plan is...but we can't let him! You can't just go and allow him to do it!" Pook said, treading water.
"No, Pook, he's made up his mind, there's nothing we can do to stop him at this point. And I won't be a part of it." Corvissia swam away again.
"Wait! Crrromwell told me to ask you...wherrre do the Wispy Cloaks come frrrom? He said something about Tybilt's motherrr?"
Corvissia looked taken aback. "I'll...take you there."
They traveled through Tirisfal Glades, up north into the foothills around Aggamand Mills. There they approached a ghostly figure, a Lost Soul. "That is her. That is where the cloaks are gotten," Corvissia said.
Pook regarded the spirit sadly. "That's herrr, then...Tybilt's motherrr. Who did this?"
"Cromwell and the others, the Masters..." Corvissia said with a sad frown, and then turned to go.
"Corrrvissia...come back with me. We can think of anotherr way togetherrr, stop Crrromwell frrrom doing what he's thinking about doing..." Pook pleaded with her.
"No. I can't. I've had enough," Corvissia said, tears starting to gather in her eyes.
"Fine," Pook growled. "But one of us has to go back and take carrre of him in his weakened condition, and trrry to figurrre a way out of this...I just thought you werrre strronger than this."
Arriving back at the campsite where the others had set up for the night, she saw Cromwell starting out from the camp. She followed him and told him of what she'd discovered.
"What happened to herrr, My Lorrd?" She asked quietly, not sure she wanted to know the answer.
"We...the Masters and I...we knew that a Lost Soul had to be found for the reagent for the Ritual. So we set out to...create one." He stayed faced away from her, speaking grimly in nearly a monotone. "I found her, harvested her like a seed. I used my charms on her, made her fall in love with me, gave her promises of a family and a home. After a time I was called away for many months to do more research into the dark Ritual...when I returned she was brought to them, defiled, tortured. When it was done, I revealed myself to her. It was done, everything that was needed to create a Lost Soul..."
Pook found her knees buckling, covering her face with her hands, she hardly wanted him to go on but knew she had to hear...
"I returned to the house we shared after it was done...and found Tybilt there, a baby born of our cursed union. If they knew of him they would have demanded that he be destroyed, but looking into his face, seeing myself there...I could not. I truly cared about something for the first time in my life. He does not know this, Pook...when what has to be done is done, you must tell him."
"No. NO! You will tell him!" Pook said, her voice breaking. "I won't let you do this! Therrre has to be anotherrr way!"
"No. I am a sick old man, full of sin and darkness, and for once I'm going to do something right," Cromwell said, resigned.
"So many people still need you!" Pook cried, but he shook his head.
"They need you, Pook. You will lead them out of here, home, when this is done."
"Me??" Pook said incredulously. "I'm one step frrrom being an animal! I'm a Night Elf that was misplaced, a Nightsaberrr with a wrrrong-shaped body! I can fight, but I can't LEAD!"
"You are not an animal!" Cromwell snapped. "There is so much more within you, so much strength that you're still discovering. They need you."
"They need YOU," Pook said stubbornly, resolutely. "I will not give up until it's done. Therrre will be anotherrr way. I know it."
Cromwell continued to argue with the members of the band once his plan started to become known - Corvissia returned and they talked in low, dire tones for a long time, and Erunamo too took Cromwell aside. Corvissia and Pook watched them from a distance.
"You know, in a way we set ourselves up for this, you and I," Corvissia said sadly. "Falling in love with Human men...how short their lives are compared to ours. They'll probably have been dead a hundred times over by the time we go..."
"Therrre's no knowing how long we'll live now that we'rre not immorrrtal anymorrre," Pook insisted, the entire concept of immortality still being fairly new to her. "Forr all we know we'll grrrow old rrright alongside them."
Corvissia bit her lip. "Perhaps we were only meant to be with Night Elf men. Then we wouldn't be burdened with this pain again and again..."
Pook watched Erunamo and Cromwell continue to confront one another. "That is not the choice I made."
They drew closer, and their words drifted to them. "Then if that is your choice I will go too, and if I need to, I will die by your side," Erunamo told Cromwell.
"No no no NO NO!" Pook snarled at him. "This is NOT yourrr concerrrn!"
Erunamo sighed at her. "Just last night you were thanking me for coming along! Now you don't want me to help?"
"Last night I thought we werrre going on a RRRESCUE mission! Not this...this...SUICIDE!" Pook shouted.
Their argument was briefly delayed when Cromwell collapsed to the ground. Carrying him by the fire, Pook gently pulled away Erunamo and Flamebeard. "This might be theirrr last night togetherrr...let's leave them alone..."
The previous argument was picked up almost where it had left off, though, and the two of them argued each other around in circles until Pook finally stormed off in exaspiration, unable to express herself in terms other than wildly flailing hand gestures and noises of frustration.
"Sooo...what're ye wearin' to meh weddin'?" Flamebeard asked her as she continued to fume.
"Wearing...huh? What? Oh...I think...my blue drrress? Orr maybe the grrreen one? But..." She blinked, perplexed.
"Meh da' said, sometimes the best thing ye can do is change th' subject," Draeg said with a wry smile.
"I suppose you'rre rrright," Pook said with a sigh. "At any rrrate, we should all rrrest, I think...tomorrrow, we prrrobably enterr the Plaguelands."
Xanotos's Tale, Part 2Edit
<Sunrise found Xanotos Delkai wide awake and ready for another day of trekking cross-country. He had gone earlier to the memorial he had erected nearly a year ago, marked by his father's sword. Once he had said a few words to whatever spirits might listen, he set off.
When he reached Dun Morogh, a few guards asked if he had seen anyone matching descriptionson the posters that had been posted. Xano gave a shrug and his best look of bewilderment.>
Sorry, boss. I'm just here for the ale.
<The guard laughed and headed off on his rounds. Xano sighed and once he was sure he was stocked for long trip, he was off again. He spoke with some of the Mountaineers he knew fairly well and got more information. And he didn't like the gist of where it was headed.>
Why are they headed North? Where could they be headed?
<The answers that came to mind were far too disturbing to think about right now, so he left and continued North. He decided to try the Hearthstone again.>
Draeg Flamebeard, I swear on my Father's grave if you don't answer me somehow I will dye your beard pink while you're asleep!
<Hopefully that would get a response.>
Callence's Tale, Part 1Edit
Callence was restless. She barely got any sleep that night, there were too many worries. Cromwell was leading them towards danger, she had a feeling. She never trusted Cromwell, and she still didn't, but she had no choice. For the sake of all her friends, for her OWN sake, she had to follow him. The explanation he gave her at the barn further south was sufficient for the time being, but she still didn't have all the answers. For all she knew, Cromwell could be leading them all into oblivion. She thought endlessly, follow Cromwell into unknown fate? Or return to Stormwind and get arrested by Guzzler and his lackes? Most likey worse...
Her thoughts drifted to other things, her friends, the tavern, Shythira. Where was Shythira?
Sleep's warm grasp caught her, and she drifted off.
Late at night, after most of Stormwind was asleep, the lithe rogue cat-stepped her way through the streets. She stuck close to the shadows, keeping out of sight, just to be on the safe side. She mused to herself, "I don't think anyone is after me ... at least right now ... but I can't risk anything happening that will keep me from being there for Trisa, Durn, or the baby ..." Making her way to the Park District, she glided over the grass with feline grace and silence.
She moved to the tavern, but came to an abrupt halt as she saw the parchment bill posted there. Conflicting emotions danced in her head as she perused it. As was her habit recently, anytime she read she had a half-smile lighting her full lips, as she mused on how much easier this was for her now ... ever since she pushed herself to learn more than the rudiments ... pushed herself to be better .. all because of his encouragement. Her smile did not bloom fully, though, because the words quickly sank into her head, followed by the softly whispered words, "Cromwell and others from the Garrison outlawed? Why is this posted here on the Wisps' door?"
The dark-haired girl moved quickly into the tavern, not bothering to silence her steps. A quick glance of her violet eyes showed the main floor to be empty. Her small feet took her at a run upstairs, then into the kitchen, and finally to the cellar. No one. No message. Her unease grew by leaps and bounds. This wasn't good. She knew in her gut that they were somehow tied to what was happening to Cromwell ... most likely through Cor ...
The rogue wrung her small hands together in a fit of angst, wanting to chase down leads, wanting to call in favors to find out what was going on, but knowing doing so would help neither her sister, nor likely the Wisps right now. She stamped a small boot on the stones of the cellar floor in frustration. A low growl escaped the back of her throat as she moved up and out of the tavern. It was time to return to Northshire. In spite of her fears for her friends, she knew she must return to Trisa and Durn. To help her weakened sister in anyway she could, as she fought to lose neither her own life or that of the child growing inside her ...
Jamie Redshaw's Tale, Part 1Edit
Jamie Redshaw flew the griffon into Stormwind City. Immediately he he payed off the griffon master, walked into the Gilded Rose, and collapsed onto a bed. He grumbled slightly. Ever since he'd met the Wisps and Spirits he'd started to gorw soft. He used to go weeks at a time without sleeping in an actual bad...and now going for 3 days had reduced him to this?!
Sighing, Jamie turned onto his back to stare up at the ceiling as he replayed the evenings events over in his mind. Cromwell saved. Tybilt recovered...but dying. Tybilt's mother revealed. Pook and Callence fighting...
Jamie pressed a palm to his forhead. Gah. It was all just too confusing. Too much to take in at once. At least his job was simple. Gathering information; a chore right up his alley. Tybilt's mother was to be found...
Rassy was thankful for the familiar hiding place, as the rain fell down from the sky.
She'd been looking for Shythira for days now, and after searching Ashenvale on a failed hunch she found herself exploring places that she clearly wasn't welcome in. Chased in the Barrens by a group of orcs, nursing her wounds after getting too close to Sun Rock Retreat. She eventualy found herself visiting her sister Drosh in Ratchet...
She was in Ratchet when she received the cryptic letter from Jamie, talk of visiting her sister...
"Drosh, have any of the Wisps and Spirits people been around?"
Her sister shook her head, slowly, "Drosh no see any Wispies, 'cept Rah Seh."
"Drosh been busy, working with needles behind inn, so Drosh might not see. But Drosh not see."
"It's okay. If you do see them, and only them, tell them I've gone to Lordaeron."
After the boat ride, it was another long walk to get back there, and she spent a day searching around the area. She didn't come across anyone she knew; she couldn't even find Lucency. She cursed not getting her Hearthstone replaced, as she walked back to Brill in the cold rain.
Rassy knew that she certainly couldn't go inside the inn, but it was warm on the outside, and no one ever bothered her there before. There was a little space that she could just fit into between the inn and a shed, and there were bushes right in front of it. It wasn't comortable, but it was dry, and she was beginning to grow fond of it, for a dirty, smelly hole.
They were all out there somewhere. Maybe tomorrow would be better day.
Measha rolled over drowsly to a thumping on her inn room door. "Go away," she muttered before managing to turn and see if he was still there. The space beside her was empty. She sighed murmuring, "where are you love..."
Another knock on the door. "Mail for Miss Measha!"
"Fine, fine," she slipped on a robe shuffling over, "hold your sabers, I'm coming!"
She opened the door and looked out....nothing. A small cough and she peered down at a goblin. He held out the letter to her than extended his hand as if expecting something. She tossed a few silver in it before shooing him away.
It was from Jamie.
We all went on a picnic to visit Rassy's sister, in the North, with our good friends at the Garrison. We hope you will join us as soon as you are able to. Please hurry!
She blinked. Odd letter, it nearly dripped with sarcasim in the first bits. What was he trying to tell her? She wrote a quick reply about how she really had nothing to do with those in the Garrison. That he should watch out as now, all over Stormwind she'd seen wanted poster from Cromwell and those that worked with him. Rewards even for bringing them in.
However, after she sent the letter there was no peace. She chewed on her lip, one hand going around her belly in what was now a familiar motion.
You know you should help them. All he did was try to take my family from me. People change, you of anyone know that. It's just another trick. You don't believe that. And after all, you've sheltered those before...that were worse than Cromwell. That was different. Your family needs you..
Her shoulders fell and her conscience seemed satisfied. "I will try to find out more..."
Pook's Tale, Part 3Edit
The band of unusual allies gathered for the final night of their journey. Grimly, without much of the laughing and joking that had gone on before, now that their plan of action was known. Give Cromwell up to the Dark Masters, in exchange for Tybilt. Pook seethed. It was ridiculous! There HAD to be another way! Corvissia also was unwiling to watch her love walk into an open trap.
Watched by curious Undead onlookers from nearby Brill, apparently concerned that they would ride the other way and attack the Undercity, the group got ready to ride out...with the addition of a few of surprising new additions...
"I'm only here to observe, to see what your business is in the Plaguelands," The Frowney Girl who Pook now knew was named Reidra said. One of Pook's oldest friends, she had never realized how dark and secretive she was before.
"Hel-LO," Jamie Redshaw had said to her, introducing himself with a sweeping bow and a kiss to her hand. Pook smirked as Nilly, the Gnomish O'Malley sister ran around mocking Reidra for this.
"Nice work, KRASTINOV," Nilly teased.
"I swear to you if you use that name again I will CUT YOU DOWN where you STAND," Reidra hissed at her.
Also finding her way to them was Chiseta Hibiki, a Paladin who Pook had observed before acting quite oddly...at times she spoke with another voice, took on another scent entirely...she was clearly not glad about helping Cromwell, but claimed she was drawn to them for a reason. When she said this, one of her eyes glowed a fierce green.
And then the last addition to their band...Guzzler himself had arrived.
"This is part of the deal," Cromwell had said in a tired, resigned voice as Guzzler mocked and jeered at them along the way.
"We go to the gates of Scholomance," Guzzler said, grinning wickedly.
"A'righ'...stay n'tha MIDDLE of'th ROAD!" Dalin shouted to the group, swinging his gun. "Pook, ye cl'r t' th' LEF', ah'll ge'ta th' RIGH'! Up ahead we go' FELSTONE FIELD, on yer righ' there's ANDORHAL, an' there's lions, tigers'n bears! Oh my! So'f ye value yer LIFE, stay onna ROAD!"
In a short amount of time, agonizingly slowly and all too quickly at the same time, the adventurers made their way into the ruined Scholomance academy and into an empty room...
Empty save for Tybilt, lying on the ground and barely breathing.
"TYBILT!" Pook shouted with alarm, going to him. She gathered his head into her lap, panicked, and he barely stirred. "What did you DO to him??"
"It is time, old man!" Guzzler crowed at Cromwell. "Let's go! You may bring one witness to your downfall..."
Erunamo stepped up and nodded. Still frantically wiping at Tybilt's brow and trying to raise some response from him, Pook didn't even notice. Corvissia was having none of it, though.
"My fate lies with yours, no matter what it is. You can't keep me away," She had said firmly, listening to no argument.
"Please...Corvissia...this is hard enough...I cannot do this with you there," Cromwell had said just as decidedly, sadly. "Pook...my last request of you...stop her from doing this."
As if from a great distance the words filtered through Pook's panic. She gently lowered Tybilt's head to the floor, leaving him with the group of healers who were trying to figure out something to do with him, and went to Corvissia.
"Please..." she'd growled, taking Corvissia's arm firmly. "I don't want to hurrt you...but I will, if you make me."
"I'm not going anywhere," Corvissia stubbornly, refusing to budge. "You're the one who said we had to stop him!"
"He's made his choice..." Pook said, looking up in alarm as she heard a terrible wet coughing from where Tybilt was lying. Chiseta was working with him furiously, her whole head nearly lit up with a green aura as she fiercely tried to fight back whatever disease was trying to claim him. Pook's voice took on an edge of panic. "CORRVISSIA. I can't go back to him until you come with me!"
"I will go with him," Erunamo said, resigned. "I will make sure everything is all right..." His eyes took on an odd edge.
Corvissia finally relented. "If you are lying to me...I will never forgive you, Sebastian."
Cromwell had merely nodded and moved on down the hallway, Erunamo shadowing him at his side, trailed by the giggling Guzzler.
Pook raced back to Tybilt. He was starting to open his eyes, and his breathing was growing more labored. "...Pook?..."
"Tybilt, please, save yourrr strrength...rrest..." she said to him, smoothing his hair and drawing him close, tears running down her face.
"I did it...scourgestones...enough for...Prrow..." he gasped determinedly. "And...found this...beauty...in darkness..."
He fumbled in his packs until he produced a single red rose. Pook gazed at it, feeling like her heart was splitting into a million pieces. She accepted it, breaking down into sobs.
Distantly, there was shouting. A commotion. Someone entered the room again and collapsed. People were shouting, gasping in disbelief, angry words stung through the air. Pook noticed none of it. All she could see was the blood pooling at the corner of Tybilt's mouth, his eyes fixed on her, his strength waning. She couldn't lose him, not now.
Finally something that was being said came to her attention, made sense. "Why would we want a decrepit old man or his broken son? Erunamo is healthy, strong, and his soul is deliciously corrupted. He will make an excellent servant for the Dark Masters...you can take these ruined toys away now," Guzzler said, flipping his hand dismissively at Cromwell and Tybilt where they both laid on the floor.
A shock ran through Pook. She turned to see Erunamo, his wry smirk transformed into something much more sinister. "What have you done..." she said, her voice barely a whisper.
Under the determined efforts of Chiseta and Melisse, Tybilt gathered enough strength to drag himself to where Cromwell laid, hardly moving, Corvissia holding his hand, eyes wide with fear. There was much discussion, confusion buzzing through the air. Pook felt something come over her. Something from the bottom of her soul, a calmness, a sureness she'd never had before.
"Irrronbearrd. Flamebearrd," she'd commanded. Her voice cut through the air, silencing the others. "Take Crrromwell, Tybilt. Get them out of herrre. I'll catch up."
Nodding, the Dwarves did as they were commanded and the rest of the people left with the exception of her facing Erunamo, Corvissia talking to Guzzler.
"WHAT HAVE YOU DONE??" Pook shouted at Erunamo, his gaze meeting hers darkly. An unpleasant grin played at the corner of his lips.
"I made a choice," he said simply. Pook gasped, stung, her own words used against her.
"No...NO!" She whirled on Guzzler. "Wouldn't you like to take someone else instead? Someone strrrongerrr? Take me!"
Guzzler laughed at her openly. "Ha! You must be joking! You couldn't begin to compare to the corruption in his soul..."
"What has been done cannot be undone," Erunamo said. "You were always telling me to find my own way. I have done so."
Pook backed away, eyes wide. "I WILL NEVERR FORRGIVE YOU FOR WHAT YOU'VE DONE!" She screamed at Erunamo, her voice hoarse with rage and pain, and she sprinted out the door - as much to escape the burden that was once again on her head as to rejoin the others.
Pook's Tale, Part 4Edit
After a grim march to Aerie Peak, a soft place for Tybilt to lie down was found in the straw of the Gryphon pens. He was reaching out, still trying to talk.
"Shhh...please..." Pook begged him, almost glad in a sickly way to have something that so completely took her attention off what had happened. "Watch him forrr me..." she'd told Chiseta, who had winked at her with a glinting green eye.
Outside she found Cromwell, standing against the edge of the fortress, looking down over the Hinterlands. For the first time since she'd met him his confidence was gone, for the first time he truly looked his age.
"I cannot believe I didn't see...they played us for fools..." Cromwell whispered in disbelief.
"You mean you didn't see this coming??" Callence asked in disbelief, standing next to him.
"No...I knew there would be lies, trickery...but I thought it was me they wanted...All of it, all of it a trick to get him to give himself willingly..." Cromwell gripped the railing.
"My Lorrrd," Pook said, interrupting Callence's peppered questions. "What is wrrrong with Tybilt??"
Cromwell looked out into the air grimly. "He has been 'Kissed'..."
Callence sighed. "More riddles, Cromwell?"
Pook growled in warning at Callence, but found herself turning to Cromwell. "I do not have infinite patience, even forrr you, My Lorrrd. I am a simple crreaturre and rrrequire a simple explination. Tell me!"
"Long ago...she and I worked together, developing this plague that infects him now. She was the master of disease, more spider than woman...Cyrilla..." His face grew pained.
"So YOU did this, then?" Callence asked, and at last Pook had had enough.
"CALLENCE. Forrr the love of all that is holy I will thrrrow you off this par#@!&t if you don't SHUT UP." She snarled.
Callence's eyes glinted and she set her shoulders. "I have every right to ask these questions."
Pook roared in rage and the roar grew deeper, hoarser as her body shifted. Claws sprang out, teeth snapped. "You wouldn't dare attack me..." Callence told her.
Pook was on her in an instant. Slashing, rending. All she could see was red haze, all she could feel was fury. She loaded all her pain, all her frustration, all her panic into the heavy swipes of her paws. Callence held her off, backing down the stairs, but her strength was waning...
"Pook! Tybilt's callin' fer ye..." Flamebeard said, emerging from the Gryphon den.
Hesitating for only a moment to shift back Pook ran back to Tybilt's side, her anger melting away as she hastily wiped Callence's blood from her mouth. She could hear conversation, planning going on outside. Chiseta and Ironbeard, being sent somewhere. Pook didn't know or care what they were up to. Tybilt was holding Corvissia's hand, looking up at her blearily. "Pook...?"
He coughed violently and blood sprayed from his mouth. Pook grimly unhooked her cloak and drew it over him, using it to clean him up.
"Tybilt..." Pook ran her hand down the side of his face and he focused on her, smiling weakly.
"Have I told you today...so beautiful..." he whispered, his eyes rolling back in his head as he finally drifted to sleep.
Jamie Redshaw hovered nearby, looking as though he needed some way to help. "Jamie...go find out frrrom Crrromwell. Therrre is a woman who did this to Tybilt. If she did it, she can UNdo it. Find out who she is, wherrre she is, so that I can find herrr."
Jamie nodded with a militaristic salute that seemed to surprise them both and went to go do so. After a time Cromwell came back in, still being followed, questioned by Callence. Chiseta and Ironbeard arrived from wherever they had gone, carring a rather ordinary-looking bag.
"This will help him, for a time," Cromwell said, gesturing to the bag.
"How can you know that?" Callence asked him. "How do we know that--"
"CALLENCE. GO. HOME." Pook snarled at her, her face contorting with fury. "This is none of yourrr concerrrn anymorrre. Go home to yourrr taverrrn, serrrve yourrr drrrinks, put this behind you. Go now...while you still can."
Once she had exited the room, Pook turned to Flamebeard. "Make surrre she leaves, because I swearr by all that I hold dearr if she sets one morrre foot in herrre, if I hearrr one morre WORD frrom her LIPS, I will kill herrr."
There was a stirring behind her. Chiseta fell to the ground, surrounded by a green aura, and Tybilt blinked and sat up. The bag that Ironbeard had carried was open, a dark mist seeping from it, and Tybilt was chewing something thoughtfully.
"I...where am I? Crom-- Father? Pook?" He said, glancing around himself, confused. Pook gasped and ran to his side.
"This will make you well for a time, my son," Cromwell said. "What do you remember?"
Tybilt blinked, rubbing his head muzzily. "I...huh. I'm not sure...I was in the Plaguelands, and then Guzzler gave me something to eat, something that knocked me out...I was lying on stone. There was a woman, old, thin..." he touched his forehead lightly. "She kissed me? There was chanting..."
Cromwell nodded grimly. Tybilt gathered himself and stood, already the grayish cast to his skin starting to look better, his wounds no longer seeping horrible ichors. Pook whispered urgently to Cromwell.
"How long will this last?"
"A month, maybe two..." Cromwell frowned. "We still need to find the true cure..."
Pook nearly laughed with relief. "I thought you would say a day! I can do it in that time."
Cromwell looked uncertain, but said nothing. "We will return to Ironforge...we are no longer welcome at the Garrison, obviously, word has come that Guzzler and Erunamo have already taken it over. Ironbeard has contacts that will help keep us safe there."
"Pook," Tybilt said, taking her hands. "I got the Scourgestones. They will sustain Prrow, enough that you won't need to draw your strength from her."
"Tybilt!" Pook said, her eyes filling with tears, finally allowing the intense relief and joy of having him back to wash over her, hardly hearing his words over the thundering of her own heart. She jumped at him, wrapping her arms around his neck, forgetting about his injuries and knocking him off balance.
"Oh! Oh damn...I'm sorrry!" She said as he caught her and struggled to regain his footing.
"Ooof! Ha...I suppose it's payback for the incident with the Devilsaurs..." He grinned, holding his side.
They caught one another up on everything that had happened to them while they were apart as the others drifted out. They drew close to one another, and Pook covered Tybilt's face in kisses. He started to kiss her as well but she blinked, holding out an arm. She went over to the shadows on a nearby wall.
"I can smell you therrre, Rrrogue..." she said with a smirk.
"I...I'm still so confused! What's happening?" Cristopher, the rogue who had been shadowing the movements of the Wisps and Spirits tavern and the Westbrook Light Brigade said plaintively.
"I don't think any of us still knows yet!" Pook said with a laugh. "Not me orrr Tybilt orrr Crrromwell or Eru--" She stopped, her face falling.
Cristopher stepped from the shadows. "That surprised me, what he did..."
"Wait, what happened to Erunamo?" Tybilt asked. Pook looked at him, contemplating whether she should tell him or not. It would be best if he didn't have to worry about it...but he had to know.
"He has given himself to the Darrrk Lorrds," she said. "In Crrromwell's place. In exchange forrr yourrr life."
"For...mine? But why would he do that for me..." Tybilt said, frowning.
Pook looked down, unable to meet his eyes. "No. Not forrr you..." Behind them, Cristopher quietly exited, knowing a cue to leave when he heard one.
Realisation dawned on Tybilt's face. "Pook..." he said, taking her hands, holding her close.
"This is all my fault. AGAIN!" Pook sobbed, finally giving in to the tears that had been building. "If it wasn't forr me, you neverr would have gone to the Plaguelands! If it wasn't forrr me, Errrunamo wouldn't have gotten involved in all this in the firrst place! I am not worrrth all of this!"
Tybilt grabbed her arm firmly, harshly. "NEVER say that again. Pook, you have to accept that people care about you. All of us, your friends at the tavern, the people of Brigade, I especially would do anything I had to do for you. I would give my life for you, to give you what your heart desires--"
"No! Don't you see? What my hearrrt desirres is YOU!" Pook cried. "I'd soonerr go back to what I was, I'd follow you like a pet, like an animal forrr the rrest of my days beforre I saw you hurrt..."
Tybilt smiled gently. "That's the hard part about true love. Any fool can throw away their life for a cause. It takes true courage, true love, to live for one."
Pook frowned, pondering. "Tybilt...the scourrrgestones...how do you know they'll work?"
"I...went to the Masters..." Tybilt said uneasily. "They gave me the knowledge and assistance, for a price..."
Pook's eyes flashed. "What prrrice...?"
"The first part...was my sickness. I was no longer under the protection of the Argent Dawn in the Plaguelands. And the second...they said they would take someone back into their power, of the person's own will..."
Pook took an involuntary step backwards. "You...knew? Errrunamo..."
"No...no! I didn't know who it would be, and it wasn't something that I consented to...they said I had no choice, that it was already done. I thought it was Guzzler they were talking about..." Tybilt said hastily.
Pook blinked, trying to clear her head of dark thoughts, doubts. To give oneself up to save someone was one thing...but to willingly sacrifice another...
"There...was something else. Something I didn't want to tell anyone about. Something I'm not sure I'm ready to tell you about yet, even..." Tybilt said, looking distant, pained.
Pook pushed aside her worries and doubts. "When you arrre...I am herrre to listen. Tybilt...you'rre feeling betterrr, but you still need to rrrest...arrre you feeling well enough to fly back?"
Tybilt smiled at her. "As long as you hold me, I think I can."
Pook smiled back. "I think that can be arrranged."
Jamie Redshaw's Tale, Part 2Edit
Jamie frowned, standing alone in the Dwarven District of Stormwind. This woman was proving far more elusive than he'd hoped it would be. Then again, Cromwell had warned him it wouldn't be easy. He'd been given his orders and he'd accepted them thinking it would be a cakewalk.
That was a flaw found consistently in Jamie, and he knew it: biting off more than one can chew. But that was how he lived and he wasn't about to change it. No, he'd simply have to rise to the challenge and pray for the best.
It seemed that absolutely nobody, neither Stormwind nor Ironforge, knew anything about that woman. Not even Shaw of SI:7.
No, he'd have to go back to Cromwell for more info. A name was not enough to go off on. At least, not with this target. Also, he couldn't help but feel that Cromwell was hiding something from him. He wouldn't be surprised, in any case.
Jamie's frown deepened as his thoughts turned to Cromwell. A week previous, Pantheouss had mortally wounded Jamie and left him to die in the Cathedral courtyard of all places. Jamie couldn't quite remember what happened. He remembered passing out and then, later, coming to in the Cathedral, priests and handmaidens surrounding him.
Of course, he simply assumed one of the priests had noticed him. He only lay at the steps of the Cathedral, bleeding copiously...but for whatever reason, Cromwell's name appeared in his head whenever he thought back on the experience.
Shaking his head to rid it of the thought, he made his way to the Griffon Master. He had to return to Aerie Peak. He had to find Cromwell. And he had to find out more about this "she-devil". This...Cyrille.
Callence's Tale, Part 2Edit
After Callence's bout with Pook, she stormed off to the Wildhammer keep.
"Foolish old man..." She said to no one in particular. She was talking about Cromwell. "I should have known. He was stuped enough to make a deal with the enemy..."
"Ye think 'e donno that?" Flamebeard approached her. "Ye don' need ter rub salt in tha 'wound!"
Callence muddled the words around in her head "But we didn't even do anything against Guzzler or his 'dark masters'. All we did was heap more trouble on ourselves!"
"Aye, bu' there's no sense blamin' others for things alreadah done."
He had a point, maybe she had been to hard on Cromwell. She went back up to where they were tending to Tybilt.
"Ach, I think I'm goin' soft.." Flamebeard said
Callence laughed a bit "Well, Saraich is tough, you two are perfect!"
Pook was immediatly in her face. "You think this is a time for jokes! Tybilt is dying here!"
"But I was just..."
"GO HOME CALLENCE! GO SERVE YOUR DRINKS!"
"Maybe you'd like to kick my son while we lies on the ground?" Cromwell asked scornfully, "Go on"
Callence clenched a fist, "I would, but it would be terribly rude" she stormed out, followed by Flamebeard.
"That Cromwell...it was my mistake in following him, I'll be sure never to trust him again." Callence mused.
"Aye, though does 'e real'y deserve yer scorn?" Flamebeard replied sensibly
"...I'll get some sleep, and return to Stormwind tomorrow."
Xanotos's Tale, Part 3Edit
<Xano growled in frustration and punched the ground, ignoring the shock of pain from hitting old stonework. He was back in the ruin of the Laughing Dragon. He'd tried to head out several times, but each time he had gotten turned around or lost and found his way back here.>
If I'd only gone with Rhaegar for tracking lessons, instead of running off with Tianha to go swimming... <He sighed then chcukled slightly at the memory.>
Prob'ly laughin' yer beard off, eh ya salty old fella... <He leaned his head back against the remains of the wall and sighed again. His feelings of unease had grown over the past several days and had given rise to a sense of urgency. However, his attempts at heading north kept leading him back here. He glared at his Hearthstone. Then, for the hell of it, he yanked the Buzzbox from his hip, flicked it on and shouted.>
If anyone can hear me WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON?! <He flipped the device back to standby and nodded.>
I'll apologize later, if necessary, but that felt good. <He shook his head and sat down to fix something to eat.> Might as well head home tomorrow...hopefully there'll be some word...
Cromwell's Tale, Part 2Edit
Cromwell sat in the simple chair on the balcony of the church. His eyes stared out over Stormwind City. His body was at The Cathedral, but his mind was not. His thoughts drifted to the past few days. The emotional weight seemed to crush him under its enormous pressure. His hand moved to his neck, the bandage there was soaked with dried blood. He couldnt even succeed at that he thought. He remembered his last words to Corvissia. "There is only one thing to do with a monster."
His thoughts drifted farther back. It seemed everything he touched turned to dust. How he cursed everyone he met with his presence. How he had lived a life of such wickedness. How could he have been so stupid? Did he really think that he could redeem a lifetime of evil with a single self sacrificing act to save his son? Was he really stupid enough to believe that fate would let him off that easy? He remembered what Flamebeard had said. "Yer arrogance will be yer downfall Crom."
He had been forced to confront his past. Like a sickness he stormed into countless lives and destroyed them. Ever since he had come to Stormwind he had tainted everything around him, all who had met him had been changed, and it was almost always for the worse. He coughed and winced in pain as the stitches on his throat tore. It was his fault all of the misery had come to these people. Jinx, Measha, Pook, Corvissia, Tybilt, Crix, Jaime, Flamebeard, Saraich, Erunamo, Tekaan, Callence, Ironbeard, even that fool Pantheouss and the countless others, their images floated in his mind. He thought of how he had hurt each and ever one of them in some way. He thought of what he said to Pook and Corvissia just the past night. "My Failure is now complete."
He remembered looking at Erunamo and Tybilt, realizing that he was a failure as a father and a teacher. Eru had come to him for guidance and he had failed him. He left him alone, without help in the darkest time of Erus life. He remembered how he had to finally tell Tybilt that he had killed his mother. Not just killed but forever bound her in eternal torment so that he could gain more power. His eyes closed as he thought of Tybilt standing over him and looking down. "You Bastard!!!!"
He had made a promise just four nights ago. He swore to Pook and Corvissia that he would bring their family back together, a promise that he continued to break each day. He had lost Eru, lost Tybilt, and now was losing himself. Again his thoughts drifted to the past. He remembered just the night before standing in the tombs beneath the Cathedral as he drew his own blade. He remembered saying a silent prayer as he slide the blade across his own throat. Then there was darkness, nothing but voices, Tybilts voice yelling for him to stop running, Pook screaming his name, and Corvissia softly asking him not to leave her. "You do this and you break your promise old man."
The cool breeze of the dawn air caused him to tighten the blanket around him. His mind sought solace in his oldest memories. Those of his mother and father, a tear slide down his eye and onto the blanket. He would never be the man his father was. He would never be the father he could have been. His life was a failure; his legacy was pain and suffering, treachery and hatred. How could he not have seen this? Flamebeard was right his arrogance had been his downfall, and now he had fallen lower then he had ever fallen before. He was sick in body, heart, and now soul. Tybilt was right to have taken his weapons. For if he hadnt he would have used them again right then.
The sudden appearance of a man in the periphery caused Cromwell to jump. The shadow moved from the darkness to reveal itself.
"Mother sends her greetings." The man said with a smile.
"Merrik?" Cromwell asked with a garbled voice, clutching his wounded throat.
"Yes. The man responded soaking in the moment as Cromwells eyes opened in fearful recognition.
"She wants you to know something. She wants you to understand that you will not be allowed to escape so easily." He hissed eyeing the blood soaked rag about Sebastians throat.
"Your suffering will be legendary. They will destroy everything you care for, slowly and painfully so that you may watch and enjoy." The man slowly moved toward Cromwell and playfully sauntered behind him and whispered in his ear.
"You cannot simply just walk away." He whispered into Sebastian's ear.
"She also wants to know why you lied to the little snoop..Jaime was that his name??....She believes that you are deliberately misleading the boy to protect him. Mother is most displeased, and she will not be denied her enjoyment." He snapped as he stepped back and circled around to face the old man.
"You can end all of this. Just take Eru's offer from our Masters. Join us again. Ride with Cyrille and I once more into the darkest of nights. Your son needs you Sebastian." He taunted.
Cromwell's eyes flashed with rage as the thoughts of Erunamo serving Cyrille entered his mind. Sebastian jumped from the chair but was knocked to the floor by Merrik. The young man stood over the weak unconscious body of Cromwell. He pulled a small dagger from his side and moved in for the kill.
"No!!" A tiny voice said from deep within the shadow. Guzzler emerged and looked at Merrik.
"Your mother will not be pleased. Leave him. We are not finished yet." Guzzler growled, as the pair disappeared into the shadows.