The old barracks building was quiet, save for the shuffling of papers on the table. Forosuul was sitting, his head propped up against his left hand. His index finger tapped his forehead as he read over the notes on the parchment in his other hand. Tindomiel stood in the doorway, watching him for a few minutes. His back was turned to her, tense, but not overly so. “Hey you,” she called softly.
He glanced over his shoulder. “Hello, my love.” He shifted in his chair to face her, smiling wryly. “Some day, huh?”
She sighed heavily. “That would be an understatement. You wanna tell me your side of it?”
“Let’s go over to the inn. I’m starving,” he replied. He set the papers down and tapped the table with his knuckle before rising from his chair. He crossed the space between them, stopping to kiss her lightly. Taking her hand, he led her out to the courtyard. He looked her over, a smile playing at the corners of his lips. She was wearing a simple dress of white and blue linen. The soft fabric swayed about her legs as she walked, her bare feet peeking out once an a while. “How is it you always have time to change?”
She laughed. “I don’t have complicated armor. Or,” she teased, “weapons that weigh more than I do.”
He chuckled, leading them up the steps and into the inn. They took the larger table in the corner, allowing for space to relax and spread out. Foro flopped down into a chair and pulled his warblades from his back. He set them on the far end of the table and shrugged off his shoulder guards. Tindomiel started to sit across from him, but thought better of it. She moved to his side and tugged at his gloves to remove them. Setting them neatly on the table, she swiftly unlaced his bracers and slipped them off as well. Foro flexed his hands and smiled up at her. “Better,” she asked, moving around the table to sit where she could face him.
A few members of the staff arrived shortly after with a tray with two small loaves of fresh bread, fruit, cheese, and roasted meats. Foro nodded and they left after placing a jug of water and two cups on the table. He picked up a loaf of bread and tore off a hunk.
“I spoke with Sellynna for a while,” she said as she made him a plate.
“That’s the girl that was with this Borænin, right,” he asked, taking a bite. “The one Doozy brought in.”
Sellynna sat on the edge of the bed, staring at her own fingers. She hadn’t seen him in almost two days. She had no idea if he was safe or…if she was. The room was, by any measure, quite nice. Comfortable bed, a table, chair, a small wardrobe stocked with a few things for her to wear as her uniform and weapons had been confiscated.
She was lost in thought when three soft raps on the door brought her back into the present. Glancing up, she called out softy, “Come in.” She slipped down from the bed and bowed without even looking up.
The door swung open to admit a pale Ren’dorei with sapphire hair. He bowed to her in return, a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. “Good evening. You are called Sellynna, correct?”
She straightened and looked upon his face, blinking. That face… “You…um…”
He arched a long eyebrow. “Hmm?”
She shook her head, taking a moment to clear her mind. “Forgive me, yes. I am Sellynna.”
He smiled faintly. “I am pleased to meet you. I am Gilræn.”
Sellynna took a couple of steps backward and bowed again, even lower. “An honor, My Lord.” Though she said it quietly, the punctuation on each word did not fail to catch his attention.
He shook his head. “I am not a lord, just call me Gilræn.”
“As you wish,” she replied, keeping her eyes lowered. “Forgive me for not being properly dressed. I was not expecting to meet you.” She tugged on the sleeves of the simple linen shirt she wore.
He furrowed his brow. “Why should you need to be properly dressed? And what is proper dress for meeting me anyway,” he asked, thoroughly confused.
Her cheeks filled with color. “The Lord Protector does not permit us to present ourselves in such a plain manner. It is unacceptable behavior and decorum. I should be properly dressed for Court.”
Gilræn blinked a few times, then laughed lightly. “I am not your Lord Protector. And this is not court. I am just Gilræn.” He leaned in closer, whispering conspiratorially, “You can even call me Gil.”
Sellynna’s mouth fell open. “That is…I…” she stammered, shaking her head. “I don’t think I can do that.” Call him Gil? That’s just…I couldn’t!
The man smiled. “As you wish. I would like to speak with you, if you are up to it.”
“As I am fairly certain that is the reason I am here, to be questioned by anyone who wishes, by all means.” She settled onto the edge of the bed, placing her hands in her lap and waited.
“Would you prefer to stay here in your quarters, or would you like to sit downstairs,” he asked gently. “Have you eaten?”
She shook her head. “No, Sir. I was waiting to…No, Sir.”
“Are you hungry,” he asked. A rather insistent rumble issued from her stomach before he could even open her mouth to respond, causing Gilræn to chuckle.
“I supposed there’s no point in denying it now…” she muttered, standing up.
“Let us go downstairs.” He stepped froward and offered her his arm. Watching carefully, he smiled as she looked down at it, surprised. She reached out tentatively and took it, her face full of confusion. He placed his other hand over hers and led her from the room. They moved down the stairs and into the inn proper. He gestured to a table off to the side and moved them in that direction. “Please, sit.” He chuckled inwardly as she chose the chair in the corner, allowing for the best view of the room with the most protection. “Ask for anything you wish. The staff will accommodate you,” he told her as the server approached the table.
Her eyes moved upward to the young man, studying him for a moment. “A slice of plain toast and a glass of milk, please.”
“You need to restrain yourself or be modest. You can have anything we have on hand.”
“All right,” she said softly. “Um… do you have some soup? I would like some of that as well.”
“I am certain that we do,” he answered, motioning for the server to fetch it.
The novice smiled faintly, trying her level best not to stare at him. “Thank you,” she said softly.
“You are most welcome,” he replied, smiling. “However, I cannot help but wonder what troubles you?”
“Forgive me,” she said, lowering her gaze to the table. “But for a few details, you look so very much like him.”
“Hmm,” he said softly. “I suppose I must. I assure you, I am not him. From what I have heard, I am nothing like him.”
She smiled lightly. “I do very much hope so. He…well, to be frank, he is horrible.”
Gilræn chuckled. “Your companion’s description matches yours.”
Her eyes snapped up to him, her entire body perking up. “Borænin? You have seen him? Is he well,” she asked, almost frantically.
Gilræn held his hands up, gesturing her to calm. “I spoke to him earlier. He is unharmed. Here with us, if you want to know. I imagine you will see him later.” He watched her reaction, pleased to see her sigh and relax a measure. He scratched his chin. “I had hoped you would be comfortable speaking with me. I am one of the few here that speaks your native tongue.”
She inclined her head in appreciation. “I admit, it is much better. Though I studied the Common tongue in case of mission needs, it’s a bit…uncomfortable.”
He nodded. “I understand.”
“Did you find it the same?”
“I still do,” he chuckled. “I have only been among the Alliance people’s for a short time. I am fairly adept at languages, but Common is nightmarish.”
“It plays at complexity, but that is a deception. It has faults that make it difficult for no damned good reason.”
He chuckled, pale blue eyes glittering. “An educated young lady, I see.”
“A part of my training, Sir.”
“In that case, I’d say you were trained well,” he replied softly. “I’ll tell you what. Obviously I am here to learn more about you. However, I don’t want this to feel like you are being interrogated. So, instead of me just firing off question after question, we’ll take turns. You ask me something, anything you wish to know.”
The server arrived and placed a cup of milk down, followed by a plate with fresh bread and a bowl of steaming soup. The smell of the herbs in the broth threatened to overtake Sellynna’s senses. With everything that had happened, it had been well over a day since she’d had a meal. Though she had tried to wait for Borænin, it seemed to her now it was impossible to hold off any longer. She inclined her head in thanks and reached for her coin purse.
Gilræn waved his hand before her, stopping her immediately. The server bowed quickly and stepped away. “No payment is necessary.”
“But the meal…”
“This may look like an inn, but it is not a commercial establishment,” Gilræn explained. “There is no charge.”
He smiled. “So, your turn first. Ask me anything.”
“All right, are you really Kalithil’s son?” She looked up at him, studying his face. See lifted a piece of bread and swirled it in her soup before taking a bite. Shadows below, this is good.
He smiled. “I am. If I may begin with a delicate inquiry…what is your relationship with Borænin?”
She dropped her eyes to the table, focusing on her meal. “I am his subordinate, Sir. He and I…have become friends of a kind. We…well, I told him that I followed him. His orders. That it was him, not the Lord Protector I served. And…he shared this really awful drink with me and we shared a night together.”
Gilræn blinked and stifled a smile behind a hand. “I am curious, what drink?”
Her nose wrinkled up, pulling her lips tight. “It was called bourbins? I think.”
“Ah, yes. A most potent spirit.” He watched as she picked up her glass and drank half of it down in a single go. He motioned to the server to bring her another and something for himself as well. “All right. I cheated and asked two questions. Your turn,” he said, returning his attention to her.
She chuckled lightly. “They dovetailed, so I shall forgive you.” Without any hesitation, she leaned in closer. “If you are Kalithil’s son, why are you not Kal’dorei?”
“Hmm.” His expression indicated he was surprised, and impressed, by the choice. “That is a very good one. In a manner of speaking, I am, at a deep level. A very long time ago, Kalithil and I had a falling out. I ended up going east with those who became the Quel’dorei. I took pains to alter myself over the years in order to fit in.”
She nodded, listening intently. Her hand came up and lifted her spoon to her lips, enjoying another bite. “A falling… oh, sorry,” she winced. “It’s your turn.”
He grinned, enjoying his little game. “Why is your loyalty given to Borænin rather than the Lord Protector?” The Ren’dorei nodded as the server delivered the second glass of milk and a glass of wine fro Gilræn. “Thank you, Thomas. You know me well.”
She sighed and set down her utensil. “The Lord Protector cares not for others. Unless they are of immediate use to him. And what he truly cares about is that use, not who is doing it,” she explained. Steepling her fingers, she pressed them to her lips, working out the best answer to his question. “The Hierarch,” she began, “he set the Order up, the training systems, everything, to give us the best shot at surviving.”
A long sapphire eyebrow crept up his brow. “I will have a follow up…your turn.”
“What was your falling out over?”
“Ages ago, I wished to study sorcery with the Highborn that served Azshara. Kalithil did not approve of them.” He picked up his glass and took a sip, savoring the wine before swallowing.
“It seems that many did not.”
He nodded. “You said that Borænin created the training and the Order to give you a chance of surviving. Surviving what?”
“The Lord Protector,” she answered simply. “How did you come to be a Ren’dorei? Or…more specifically, what led you to be with the group that became the Ren’dorei?”
“Hmm…I was approached by a man named Umbric,” he explained. “He was dabbling in the use of the void. I am a scholar and researcher, and he asked for my assistance. I was curious and it sounded interesting, so I consented. There was an unfortunate accident. That was how the Ren’dorei were created.” He was surprised to see her purse her lips and nod without a word. “Since it’s my turn, what was that expression for?”
“Borænin,” she sighed. “He makes it his mission to kill the Umbric of each Realm he visits. I don’t know much about his reasoning, I just know that he does.”
“I won’t lie to you.” He frowned deeply, his expression making her stomach tighten up into knots. “I find that troubling.”
She nodded, maintaining her appearance of calm despite the fear his displeasure set in her. “I don’t claim it to be a good cause, or a noble one. But there is something very, very personal about it for him.”
Gilræn nodded. “Your turn.”
Sellynna took a sip of the broth, running mantras through her mind to still Shade’s taunts. “What happened to the Greythorns,” she asked gently.
He smiled sadly, knowing the question would come eventually. “We were never one of the largest families. We had diminished over time due to various factors, and, well, the Scourge invasion did the rest.”
“Leaving only you and Lady Niquisse,” she said softly. She picked up her milk, finishing off the first glass. She set it down on the table with care, truly saddened to hear that the family was all but gone.
“I was away from Silvermoon when it happened,” he continued, not waiting for her to ask. “When I went back, I found everyone dead at our family estate. Only Niquisse survived, locked in a wardrobe by her father.” He looked up at her, a deep sadness in his eyes. “He did it to save her.”
“What that must have been like,” she whispered, horrified.
“Indeed,” he whispered in return.
“It’s no wonder she’s so jumpy.”
“There are a few reasons for that…” he started, but thought better of it. Clearing his throat, he refocused the conversation. “You obviously have a low opinion of the Lord Protector. Is your opinion shared by the population at large?”
The Novice pushed her bowl away, unable to even consider eating. She furrowed her brow, her fingers running over the table, tracing the grains in the wood. “That is a difficult thing to answer. This conversation we are having? This is treason and would mean my death if he ever finds out.” She wrung her hands a moment before lacing her fingers together and placing them on the tabletop. “When I told Borænin how I felt, I knew that if he told the Lord Protector, if I was wrong in my judgement, I would be dead by the next day. So, Sir, I cannot say. Because such conversation is not permitted.”
The man sat back, digesting this. After several minutes of silence, he gestured for her to go ahead.
“Is it true,” she asked, a hint of hopefulness in her tone. “That the Greythorns are known for their respectful nature and generosity?” There was a sadness in her eyes, or perhaps it was wishfulness, though it was hard to distinguish.
To that he smiled, inclining his head in appreciation. “I can happily report that is the case. My family was known for its civic mindedness and charity.” He sipped his wine, mulling over his options. “Has no one tried to overthrow him?” He did not expect her to laugh aloud, her reaction bringing him up short.
“If they have, they are dead. The history books have omitted them. It is as if they never existed at all. Between his guards, his precious Sulime and his own powers, on our Realm, no one stands a chance.
He furrowed his brow, a deep frown settling onto his face. “Did you say Sulime?”
“Yes. One of his Void Rangers and his personal pet. She would quite literally throw down her own life to protect him.”
“Hmm, I see. I’m afraid I overstepped again.”
“It’s all right Isn’t that how conversations go?” Reassure him. Be mindful to keep him on your side, her training rang in her ears. Though this wasn’t what it was intended for, it might just keep her alive longer. “One thing leads to another,” she said, smiling a little. “Things ebb and flow accordingly.”
“Nevertheless, it is your turn again.”
“You seemed to latch on to the name. Do you know the one here?”
“Clever girl,” he said with a smirk. “We recently encountered a Ren’dorei of that name, yes. She appears to be a lost member of my family.”
“I imagine that makes you happy.”
“It does indeed. Now, are you ready? This will be a big one.”
She sat up straighter in her chair, her eyes attentive, and waited. “Why now? Why did Borænin suddenly choose to act against the Lord Protector?”
“He was already considering it. We had talked, the night we got drunk,” she admitted sheepishly, “about watching for the Silverthorns and trying to see what kind of man Kalithil is. We had wanted to take our time and be careful. But…” She scratched her eyebrow with her nails, obviously not entirely comfortable with what she was about to say. “The Lord Protector said some things to Borænin that Borænin didn’t like. And he told me we needed to take the chance now.”
“It sounds like he had been looking for an opportunity.”
“An opportunity and assistance,” she clarified. “Why do you want to know?”
“We want to know as much as we can about you both. All of this is quite outside our experience, you see. We need to know what we are getting involved with.”
“That makes sense. Very practical.”
“What of you? Are you just following his lead?”
She sighed, dropping her guard for the briefest of moments. Her facade of composure was replaced almost as quickly as it fell. “Sir, I was likely not going to survive this mission. If I am honest, most don’t make it through their first. I never wanted to do the horrible things the Lord Protector demanded of us. But before Borænin… I never stood a chance of escaping it.” Gilræn furrowed his brow, and she continued. “I took a very big risk telling Borænin what I did. I placed my trust in him completely. I though, if I am reading him incorrectly, I am dead. But I am likely dead if I don’t. So I laid my head on the block to see if he would pull me up, or lower the axe.”
“When may I see him?”
“Oh, it won’t be long,” he said, smiling. “I am not simply putting you off,” he reassured her when she shifted in her seat. “I don’t have an exact time. At this moment, he is having a conversation much like this one.”
“I understand,” she murmured.
“Do not despair. I see no reason why you will not be reunited very soon. The Patriarch has shown unusual confidence in Borænin already.”
“He has?” She winced. “Sorry, it’s not my turn. Forgive me.”
He shrugged it off. “I lost track. Yes. He has. The House has suffered a number of threats in recent times. The Patriarch is, of necessity, suspicious. He has been far more accepting of you and Borænin than anyone would have expected.”
“I do wonder at that, but I am grateful all the same,” she admitted. “We needed to find you all and do what we could to prove ourselves. We’ve only two days left before the possibility of being caught resumed.”
Again his eyebrow raised. “And why do you only have two days?”
She sighed. “That is a somewhat long answer. I will do my best to summarize.” She took a deep breath and explained her arrival, the issues with her uniform, the Warrant Officer sending things through without approval, why she was chosen, why that choice angered the Lord Protector, the bourbon being laced to send back, and what Borænin had done with Sulime.
Gilræn listened to it all, looking bemused. “Your world is a nightmare.”
“Of proportions that far exceed what one would normally call epic.”
He chuckled. “Well, you may be safer here than you think.” A mischievous grin crept up onto his face. “Would you like to know a secret?”
“Always. That is my specialty, after all.”
“We are not in our Realm right now.”
Sellynna’s eye flashed open wide. “Wait,,,where are we? What is happening?”
Gilræn continued to grin at her. “Long story short. A few years ago, our Azeroth was invaded by the Draenor from another Realm. This fortress was originally a garrison for the Alliance forces fighting that invasion. After those forces were defeated, Kalithil took the fortress for his own. It is a safe haven for our House.”
“So we have left one Realm and moved to another. But that portal, it wasn’t a Void Rift. Can it be traced?”
“We have arcane anchors here. No void rifts were used.”
“But can it be traced,” she repeated, her voice taking on an edge of panic.
Gilræn sighed. “I suppose it is possible. We do tend to cover our tracks however.”
She raked her hands through her hair. “Borænin told me to stay in the Alliance cities. I didn’t. I followed that dwarf man. And gods…if the Lord Protector find me…” She trembled in her seat.
“He will not find you here,” he said gently. He reached over and placed a hand on hers, only for her to snap her hand away, looking intensely uncomfortable. He pulled his hand back, holding his palm towards her. “This fortress is heavily warded. And if he did show up here by some miracle, frankly, I would not like his chances.”
She smiled weakly. “Would you, and your family, protect me from him?”
“That is why you are here.”
“It is part of what we are seeking, yes.” After a number of slow breaths, her body relaxed, though her image of calm was gone entirely.
He chuckled. “No, I mean that is why we brought you here. For safety.”
“Oh…” she said softly. “Forgive me. I am not accustomed to a family like that.”
“You are a Greythorn.” His voice was tinged with a sense of pride. “You may be from another reality, but you are one of mine, and hence, one of Kalithil’s. We look after our own.”
“That is an entirely new situation for me.”
“Well,” he said, lowering his hand to the table. “I am delighted to surprise you then.”
She smiled at him, still confused, but oddly happy with where things were. “Do you have any more questions? I fear I took over there.”
“I am content for now. You have given me much to consider.” He gestured towards the stairs. “You may return to your room now, if you wish.”
“Thank you. I should like to lie down for a while.” She picked up the full glass of milk and drank a bit of it.
“I will tell the others that you are anxious to see Borænin.” He pointed to the glass. “You may take that with you if you like.”
She rose from her chair. “I appreciate it. I shall. He…would you please tell him which room I am in. He can find me if he wishes to.”
“I will,” he replied, standing as well. “It was a pleasure, Sellynna.” He bowed to her, and she returned it.
“This has been an interesting evening, Sir. Thank you.” She turned to the stairs and began to climb. Pausing on the third step, she glanced at him one more time. “Good night.”
“Good night, Sellynna.” He watched her ascend to the upper level before heading for the door, and his father’s tower. Much to consider indeed, he thought as he stepped out into the evening air.