Sellynna sat down on the edge of the bench, staring at the entrance to the shop she had watched for days. The Novice had walked the city, searching for the Lady Sulime’s counterpart, to no avail. The woman was either not in the city, or always hidden away somewhere. Try as she might, she was unable to locate her. She waited all night and Borænin did not return. It was now mid-morning and her terror was beginning to build. Please let me not be on my own, she thought.
Taking a steadying breath, she rose and adjusted her clothes. She brushed off the seat of her pants and strode to the shop. She pushed the door open, her long ears pricking at the sound of a bell tinkling announced her presence. Made to slow someone like me down, she thought with a chuckle.
She walked around the space, peering behind the counter and into the back. She did everything she could to calm the ever present butterflies in her stomach. It just felt…off. Not seeing anyone, she finally resigned herself to call out. “Hello?”
“Boo!” The word was spoken in hushed, but gruff tones. Sellynna dropped to the floor and drew the shadows around her obscuring her from sight. Her actions drew a soft chuckle that seemed to come from no where at all.
“Who’s there,” she asked. She slowly crept about the space, looking around for her unseen companion.
“Shop security, ye might say,” the unseen man said. Dwarf, by her guess, from the accent.
She blinked, somewhat taken aback by his answer. “Security? Perhaps you could help me then?” She rose to her feet, letting the shadows cascade down from her shoulder, dropping to the floor like a mist before dissipating.
She nodded, pacing slowly about the space to pinpoint the location of the voice’s owner. The only thing she could say for certain is he was not down on the floor. “I’m looking for the tailor woman. Lady Niquisse.”
“Ohh, are ye noo,” he asked. “An’ what do ye want with ‘er?”
“I am,” she answered. “She..” she began, but paused to restructure her response. “Well, my friend came here yesterday. And now I can’t find him. He said if he didn’t come find me, yo go talk to Niquisse.”
“Yes?” She hadn’t intended it to come out as a question, but the way he repeated it brought her up short.
“Purple fella. High talkin’,” he asked, giving only gestures of details.
“Purple,” she asked, confused for a moment. “Oh, well, yes. I suppose purple would be a good description. He is a Ren’dorei.”
A heavy sigh escaped her interrogator. “Eyes up top, girlie,” he called to her. She took a step back and looked up into the rafters. From within the shadows of the large beams, he leaned forward slightly. The light in the room revealed a middle aged dwarf with a thick red beard, plaited and bound in the fashion of his people. His face was not readily visible, save the large bulbous nose that peeked out from the heavy hood he wore over his head. Sellynna waved at him. The dwarf leveled a one-handed axe in her direction. Focusing on it, she discovered that what she had initially taken for the handle, was actually a pistol, targeted right between her eyes.
She raised both hands very slowly, bringing them above her head, hoping to indicate she had no intention of fighting. “I am just trying to find my friend,” she explained with a level and calm tone that spoke of experience at odds with her appearance.
“Yer friend made a bit o’ a spectical o’ hisself,” the man explained. “Talkin’ crazy, scared our little Niqi half out of ‘er ‘ead.”
Sellynna raised an eyebrow, but kept her hands visible. Shadows below, Borænin…
“An’ noo ‘ere ye are, askin’ after ‘im,” he said, his aim steady. “Ye c’n see me problem, aye?”
She nodded. “I can, sir. I apologize. I did warn him that she seemed a bit like she was scared of something. To be gentle.”
He furrowed his brow. “Yer awful polite for someone what wants to do us ill.”
“Do you ill?!” Her voice cracked slightly, so surprised was she. “No, sir! We are seeking help!”
“Hmm,” he muttered. He bounded over to the nearby shelves, then down to the floor, his gun never wavering. He waved the weapon towards a chair. “Sit.” Sellynna placed her hands on her head to keep them as non-threatening as possible. Crossing to the chair sideways, she settled into it with an easy grace. “Not personal, ye see? S’my job ta be suspicious.”
“Please, sir dwarf,” she pleaded softly. “I need to speak to one of the Silverthorns. It’s very important.”
“Yer speakin’ ta a Silverthorn retainer. That’ll have ta do ye fer noo.”
“You work for them?” A heavy, very relieved sigh escaped her lips.
“That I do.” He brought his other arm up, resting the pistol on it, but keeping his aim true. “They took yer friend in ta look ‘im over. Sent me and me boss ta suss out accomplices.”
“My name…” she scrunched up her face. “Damn, this is going to sound extremely wrong, given what you must know.” She took a deep breath and returned her focus to his face, looking past the weapon pointed at her. “My name is Sellynna Greythorn.”
“Hmm,” he sounded again. “Crazy friend said somethin’ similar, from what they tell me.”
“Borænin, my friend, and I come from another realm. We came through a rift in the Void, following the orders of a man who would harm the Silverthorns.” The hooded man listened, furrowing his thick brows. “But we are seeking to escape his service.”
“Ye keep yer story straight, I’ll give ye that,” he said sounding almost surprised.
“It’s not a story. This is our lives we are speaking for.” she said, “The words I speak now, if the Lord Protector finds me, will mean my death. Absolutely.”
He stared at her, chewing on his own mustache. After a moment he sighed. “Wot the blazes am I ta do with ye?”
“If you please, take me to Forosuul or Kalithil Silverthorn. Let me speak to them. I am begging for asylum and to offer what I know to help stop this madman.”
“The big boys are busy right noo,” he smirked.
“Then please…where can I go to wait for them?” She watched carefully as he stepped closer, peering at her with a piercing stare. She met his gaze evenly, keeping her calm.
“We c’n wait right here.”
“So they will come here?”
“Maybe. Depends on yer friend, most likely.”
“Please don’t hurt him…he…well, just please don’t hurt him.”
“That’ll be up to the Patriarch. Hope yer friend is persuasive.”
Sellynna sighed, staring at her hands for a moment. Chuckling mirthlessly, she shrugged. “He can be. But right now we are desperate. So if he went so far as to scare the Lady…”
The dwarf tipped his head to the side, furrowing his brow. “‘e scared her on purpose, ye say?” The hand on the axe grip tightened, causing the softest of creaks from the leather wrap.
“No,” she said calmly. “I don’t think he meant to. We don’t have much time. Days at the most.”
He sighed heavily and lowered the pistol, slipping it back into the loop on his belt. His thick fingers came up and scratched at the front edge of his hair. “Aw, bugger me…”
“I’m sorry,” she said, asking for clarification.
He pushed back the heavy leather hood, revealing hair that matched his beard, thick bushy eyebrows, and eyes clear as crystal. “I’d lay odds yer tellin’ me the truth.”
She smiled faintly. “May I put my hands down now?”
He waved the question off. “Yeah, yeah. No sudden moves though, aye?” His demeanor led her to think he was lost in thought, but still conscious of the room.
The Novice lowered her arms, rolling her shoulders a couple of times before placing her hands on her lap. “You aren’t Kal’dorei. How did you come to work for the House?”
“The Patriarch and I go way back,” he chuckled. Walking over, he scrambled up on the table, plopping down to gaze at her. His stubby fingers laced together as he seemed to study her face intently.
Sellynna shifted very slowly in the chair to face him properly. “This must all sound completely insane.”
“Oh no! I hear stuff like this every day o’the week.” He stared at her blankly for a moment as she blinked at him. He managed to keep his composure for about a minute before grinning at her.
Realizing she was being toyed with, she nodded, a slight smile playing at the sides of her mouth. “What do you need to know?”
“Well, so far, you an’ yer friend haven’t made much sense.”
“All right. Let me see if I can try to make it simpler,” she offered. He nodded and set his hands in his lap. She rubbed her temples with her fingers and took a breath. “We come from another Realm. Similar to this one in many ways, but different in others. One of the main differences is, our Realm is five hundred or so years further along than this one.”
“In our timeline. For you, the burning of the World Tree was recent. It is five hundred years in our past,” she explained.
“All righty, keep goin’.”
“In our world, the Lord Protector of Silvermoon is man by the name of..” she paused, taking a moment to steel herself. “Gilræn Greythorn. The Greythorns are the most powerful noble family there.”
He held up a hand, stopping her. “Hold up…Gilræn? Poncy fella. Never uses one word if he c’n use eight.”
She tipped her head back and forth. “Ehhh, not quite, no. Ours is more, Get to the point or I will simple eliminate you and find someone who will.”
The dwarf frowned. “Well, I think I like mine better then,” he muttered. Waving it off, he moved on. “Okay, so this fella is Lord Protector, whatever that is. He runs Silvermoon?”
“All of Quel’thalas and then some.”
“Hmmm. And what aboo my people? The Silverthorns, I mean.”
“Gone, long gone. The Lord Protector saw to it they were all, as he likes to put it, removed.” She watched his expression shift as he looked at her sidelong. “Including his father,” she added to punctuate the point.
“It sounds like yer tellin’ me that yer Gilræn is kinda a shithead, girlie.”
“You can forget the word kinda.” she said bitterly. “He tramples on anyone in his way. Or anyone who could prove he is not the founder of the bloodline.
He shook his head, chuckling without mirth. “Awright, so…why are you people ‘ere?”
“Not so very long ago, a rift appeared in our realm. Someone went through. The Lord Protector and his hunters sensed it and went in search of the location,” she explained. “They found it closed and reopened it to see where it led. This is not the first realm our people have visited. He will search every one of them for ways to profit and gain power.”
“Yer sayin’ he does this on the regular? What’s ’e do when ‘e finds new worlds?”
She sighed, closing her eyes. I hope Borænin is right about this… Taking a breath, she continued. “Well, first he finds any Greythorns he can. Recruits them to his side if possible. If not…” She frowned and he raised a bushy eyebrow. “If they won’t come to his side, they are eliminated and replaced with ours.”
“Ye mean murdered,” he said plainly.
“Yes, sir, I do. The next step is to find any Silverthorns.”
He frowned, looking down, clearly troubled. “What’s ‘e do with them?”
“Those he…well…” she trailed off, finding it difficult to actually say it yet again.
“Light’s sake,” he gasped out. “Why?”
“Because he is a man-child. One who’s ego cannot permit anyone knowing where he came from.” She looked up at him, her frustrated gaze meeting his astonished one. She recited phrases that in her childhood she had used more than once to promote their leader. To taunt those of lesser blood. Now, it rang hollow in her ears. “The Greythorns of my Realm are taught that he founded the bloodline. His magic made us pure and beautiful. His magic ensured we always bore the proper coloring. He was the oldest and most powerful sorcerer to still live.”
“Pffft. And you people believe that load?”
“There was no reason not to.”
“BAH!” He jumped off the table and started pacing, irritated.
“This is my first mission off-Realm. I was sent here by the Warrant Officer of the Order. He chose me because I refused his advances. He knows that the Lord Protector has no patience for green Novices.” She sighed, raking her fingers through her pewter hair. “The expectation was that I would be killed by now.”
“What fer,” he asked with a frown.
“For making a mistake.”
“That’s all it takes,” she shrugged. “For the Lord Protector, your record is impeccable, or you are removed from his services. Permanently.”
His jaw dropped and it took him the span of several breaths to speak again. When he did, his tone was incredulous. “Why in the bloody green felshit has no one tried to stop ‘im? And again, ye mean murdered.”
Sellynna laughed bitterly. “Stop him? No one dares try!”
“He’s one guy!” The dwarf’s voice had raised in pitch, clearly very disturbed but what he was hearing. “Ye sneak up behind and stick a knife in his ribcage, done deal.”
She shook her head. “It’s not that simple. He is an extremely powerful sorcerer. He created both what you here call the Ren’dorei and an entire sect in a similar fashion to demon hunters. Without the demon within.”
He ceased his pacing and turned to her, confused. “The Ren’dorei were done by accident. That Umbric fella got sloppy.”
“Not in our Realm. We were the second phase of his attempts to create a special order using the Shadows and the Void.”
He chewed on his lip. “Are ye all like that? Voidy?” He wiggled his fingers in her direction for effect. “The Greythorns, I mean.”
“No, not all. The Order is an elite group.”
She smiled, a touch of pride shining out from her pale violet eyes. “Where many follow the Light? We…are the other side of that.”
“Ye made yer own church?”
“Not quite, no,” she chuckled. “We use and shape the Void. We do not worship it.”
“An’ what’s yer place in it?”
“Borænin is the Hierarch, I am a Novice. I am,” she paused, for a moment a she looked almost embarrassed to admit it, but it was gone in the blink of an eye. “I am about the lowest of those who have taken their vows and completed the first stage of training.”
He wagged a finger at her. “That’s yer rank. What’s yer place? What is it ye do?”
“Ahhh..” She smiled faintly. “I am an intelligence specialist. My training is specifically tailored to assisting, well, in this case Borænin, gather all the information he needs to do his job.”
His smile mirrored hers. “Ok, so what the fell is a Hierarch?”
“Borænin is the head of the Order, sir.”
He blinked. “So ‘e’s like yer Archbishop.”
“I suppose so. And more. And he is very, very tired of doing horrible things at the behest of the Lord Protector. And I don’t want to start doing them. I would also like to live.”
With a deep frown, he sighed. “If that’s so, why’d ye join this Order?”
“Join?” She laughed aloud, and it seemed to be both in amusement, and bitter. “I was sold to the Order by my parents to have one less girl to feed.”
“Ye…” He gaped at her, taken completely aback. “Yer parents…sold…” His voice went soft, as he admitted, “I gotta tell ye, girlie, I don’t think too much o’this world ye come from.”
She shook her head. “Nor do I.”
“An’ no one does anythin’ aboo it.”
“As I said, no one dares to. But this world…this one is different than the others.”
A bushy eyebrow crept up his brow. “How?”
“Kalithil Silverthorn lives.”
“It’s never happened before.”
He blinked, then frowned. “Oh bloody ‘ell.” He wandered over to a chair and slumped into it.
“What is it? Have I said something wrong?”
“Ye don’t know ‘im,” he shrugged. “He’s a bit vain. And yer friend is gonna tell him he is unique in all the worlds. There’ll be no livin’ with ‘im noo?”
“Will that matter?”
He waved it away. “Not important.”
“Explains where the Lord Protector got it…” she muttered.
He chuckled. “Kalithil’s not especially murderous though.”
“And what if he was told, without a doubt, that this version of his son means to destroy them and if he cannot do that, he will destroy this entire Realm?”
“Oh, ‘e’ll step up. No doubt there,” he said confidently. “If yer friend can make them believe this story, ye’ll have yer help.”
“And if he can’t?” She put her head in her hands.
“Then it will be up ta whether the Patriarch thinks ye threaten the House. ‘e sees things, one way or the other.”
She sighed heavily. “That sounds very familiar,” she said softly.
“Wot’s that mean?”
She straightened and raised her voice to a more normal level. “That we will have his grace, or we will be dead,” she answered simply.
“Patriarch doesn’t kill out of hand,” he told her. “Only those he thinks threaten the family.”
“And if he thinks we are trying to do just that? That this is all a lie?”
“Well,” he said, nodding apologetically. “Yeah, in that case, I wouldn’ae wanna be you.”
“If you will forgive me, right now, I don’t want to be me.”
“But,” he said, hoping to be reassuring, “if he thinks it’s all crazy talk, but doesn’t think ye mean ‘is people ‘arm, he’ll just cut ye loose.”
“He would do better to kill me then,” she whispered. “The Lord Protector…made some comments to Borænin that he wanted to take me as his…” She stopped, cleared her throat and looked back up at him. “His plaything. If he thinks I have betrayed him, it will be very, very unpleasant before he kills me.” She regarded him with almost hollow eyes as he started to look physically ill. “I see you understand.”
He nodded slowly and sat back, pulling the corner of his mustache into his mouth. He chewed on it for a few minutes, thinking silently. Sellynna waited, resigning herself to the fates. He stood up suddenly, looking very much like he had made a decision. “Ye got better travelin’ clothes, lass?”
“You mean a kit?” She looked at him, surprised and a little confused. “Uh, yes, just a moment.” She stood and faded into the shadows, a deep purple haze hanging in the air.
The dwarf tapped his foot, a little impatiently, until she came back into view, standing in her uniform. He looked her over, somewhat surprised. “Fancy.”
She smoothed out her gloves, then her tabard. “Most of the uniform of the Order.”
He drew his weapons, checking their loads and inspecting them briefly before sheathing them once more. He reached back and drew the heavy hood up over his head once more. “I’m takin’ ye to the tower. Yer gonna talk to Sister Tindomiel.”
“Ye’ll see,” he said. “Not as bad as it sounds.”
“I am to be jailed.”
He shook his head. “S’not a jail. Just…a tower.”
He stepped out onto the street and looked around. “No one else lookin’ for ye, aye?”
Sellynna crouched down and placed her hand on the ground. Ripples of purple shadows crawled outward, extending a considerable distance from them. “Not here, no.” She rose and dusted off her hands.
He watched her curiously as she worked. “All right,” he said, nodding. “Let’s get to the stables and mount up. Follow me, stick close. It’s a bit of a ride.”