Not even the Kirin Tor’s magic could wash the stench away. Not for someone who had his sense of smell. Frank wrinkled his nose again, glad he was at least not in his other form just then. He sat a small table in a tavern set up in the sewers below Dalaran. It was probably the cleanest sewer you’d ever see, but it was still a sewer, and he could tell. Sighing heavily, he signaled the tavern girl for another ale. His contact was 20 minutes late. He was starting to wonder if he should leave.
One more ale, then I’m gone, he thought.
He nodded and tossed a coin as the tavern girl brought his mug. Before it flew half the distance, a blunt hand materialized and snatched it from the air. Attached to the hand was a dwarf. His features, other than his long red beard, were hidden by a cowl, but Frank could still sense the disapproving look. The dwarf turned to the tavern girl and set the coin in her hand, then turned back to Frank and in thickly accented common, said, “Put it in ‘er ‘and, lad. D’nae make ‘er dive fer it.”
“It was goin’ right to her, and she’s a good catch. And who the fel are you, away?”
Drawing himself up to his full four and a half feet, the dwarf stated, “Duzülf Stonetree, at yer service, lad. Sorry I’m late. Damn gryphons’re runnin’ slow today.”
“You’re my contact?”
“Aye, lad, the very same. You ready to meet the boss?”
“I guess so. I mean, that’s why I’m here, right?”
“Aye, aye, that ye are,” said the dwarf, chuckling lightly at a joke only he understood. “Let’s get movin’.”
They made their way to the upper city, only to immediately go back down into the catacombs of the Guardian’s Chamber. Without a word, the dwarf stepped over to what looked like a blank wall. Pressing on a slightly discolored stone, he revealed a doorway and a dark corridor. Frank looked at it dubiously.
The dwarf just said, “If I wanted to kill ye, I’d never ‘ave gone up to the street, lad.”
Shrugging, Frank said, “Yeah, all right.” He followed the dwarf down the corridor, his senses at high alert.
The passage was dimly lit, and lined with iron-banded doors. They walked past maybe five before the dwarf stopped and rapped on one to the left. Frank heard a muffled voice, and the door swung open. The dwarf motioned for him to step in.
Frank stepped into a comfortable room. A table and several high-backed, well-cushioned chairs filled most of the space. Three chairs were on the side facing the door, one on the side where he had entered. The dwarf stepped around and sat down in the only empty chair of the three. The other two seats contained a kal’dorei demon hunter with pale features and white hair, and a diminutive woman with short green hair – also kal’dorei – wearing simple leather armor and a grin.
The demon hunter spoke in a basso rasp. “Sit.” As Frank did so, he continued, “My name is Forosuul Silverthorn, this,” and he indicated the green-haired woman to his right, “is Eliân. You’ve already met Duzülf.”
The dwarf nodded his way, said, “Ye c’n call me Doozy.”
Frank, for his part, was trying hard not to react to the name of the central figure. This wasn’t just some agent of the House, it was the Patriarch. The head of a kal’dorei Great House. This was the closest thing night elves had to a Lord. While trying to sort that out in his head, he decided to focus on the other member of the trio, the woman. “Eliân,” he mused out loud, “Used to be an Eliân working for Ironforge, as I recall.” The woman just grinned at him. He added, “They called her ‘The Blade of Magni’.”
“They sure did,” she replied with another cheshire grin.
“Word was, at one time she pulled duty for SI:7 too.” She just kept smiling, so he turned back to the dwarf. “Think I saw a dossier that had a dwarf working that end too. Name of Stonetree. Fel of a coincidence.” The dwarf just shrugged. Frank turned to the demon hunter, said, “You’ve got a lot of former SI:7 working for you.”
Forosuul leaned back in his chair and chuckled lightly, said, “Well, I think you’d agree it’s easier to work with people you already know.”
Franked peered at him, then finally shook his head and replied, “Never heard of SI:7 having a demon hunter on the payroll.”
Grinning, Forosuul waved a hand in front of his face and said, “Well, that was a few years ago, before all this.”
Screwing up his face, Frank started to protest, “I used to be in the game. The only other kal’dorei Stormwind had was that crazy assassin named…” The name died on Franks lips as he suddenly recalled some of his Thalassian, and he internally translated ‘Forosuul’. “Son of a bitch,” he breathed, “Is SI:7 trying to take over a Great House or something?”
“If it were, we’re have to kill you now, wouldn’t we,” said the green-haired woman, cackling. Even the dwarf chuckled.
“Hey now,” Frank began, but Forosuul cut him off.
“No takeover here. We’re really all former SI:7, emphasis on former, and I can confidently say in my case, no interest in ever going back.”
“All right, all right. I guess there’s a story here, but I also guess I won’t be hearing it tonight.”
“Good guesses,” said Forosuul, “Why don’t you tell us why you asked Niquisse to set up this meeting.”
Shrugging, Frank said, “That’s easy, I need work. From what I hear your House is a pretty good assignment, all things considered.”
“You used to serve Gilneas, right?”
“On Greymane’s staff.”
“And why aren’t you still there?”
Frank ran his hands through his salt-and-pepper hair and sighed. “You know how it went down, right? You know how the curse roared over Gilneas, and then they found their ‘cure’.”
“Well, when they found that cure, I was long gone. Headed for the hills when the curse took hold. Spent years out in the wilderness, feral. Gilnean hunters found me a bit over a year ago, gave me the juice.”
“You missed a lot.”
“Yeah, that’s what I keep hearing.”
“So why come to me? Why not present yourself to Greymane and get your old job back?”
Making a sour face, Frank replied, “There’s no Gilnean Intelligence Service any more. Gilneas-in-exile is subject to the King of Stormwind, and that means working for SI:7.”
“And that’s a problem,” asked Eliân.
“You’re asking that? You left ‘em too.”
Eliân shot Forosuul a dark look and said, “My hand was forced.”
Forosuul shrugged at her, then resumed speaking to Frank. “I know why I quit SI:7. What’s your problem with them?”
Frank scratched his beard, then said, awkwardly, “There was bad blood between the G.I.S. and SI:7 way back in the day. I’m not goin’ to go in there and have and grudges hovering over me.”
“Understandable,” said the demon hunter.
“I guess that begs the question then. We goin’ to have that problem?”
“Depends on what you mean by bad blood.”
“You don’t know?”
Smiling thinly, Forosuul replied, “SI:7 never sent me up that way.”
Sighing heavily, Frank said, “All right, well, this was a little before my time, but back about 50 years ago, some tosser decided to try and stage a coup on Stormwind, using SI:7 as his way in the door.”
Forosuul interjected, in a tight voice, “Tolar Whalen.”
Frank blinked, then got a sly look and asked, “I thought you didn’t know about it.”
“I didn’t know about bad blood with G.I.S., but I know about Tolar.”
Giving Forosuul an appraising look, Frank said, “Yeah, all right. Well, This asshole used a little Gilnean town in Silverpine as his base of operations.”
“Pyrewood,” Forosuul said, again with an edge to his voice.
Eying him oddly again, Frank went on, “Yeah, that’s the one. SI:7 people hit the town when they found out he was there. Trashed the place. Some Gilneans died. Our boys thought it was an unprovoked attack. Your people…”
“Stormwind’s people, not mine,” interrupted Forosuul in a low tone.
“Ok, fair enough, Stormwind’s people thought Gilneas was involved with Whalen. Everyone got pissed off. Things were tense for a good long time,” Frank sat back and shrugged, looking oddly apologetic, “Not real sure it has died down.”
“Were you there?”
“No, Like I said, before my time,” Frank said, pulling at a gray hair on his head, “I may not be a young man any more, but I’m not quite that old. Heard some of the veterans talk about it though. It was a real mess.”
“That it was,” said Forosuul distantly.
Frowning at him, Frank asked, “Wait, were you there?”
Forosuul blinked, then fixed Frank with a hard stare and said, “In a manner of speaking.”
Frank frowned, then shrugged and said, “Ok, another story I won’t hear. Comes with the territory.”
“Oh, I like him a lot,” said the woman, laughing.
“Discretion is ‘ard to come by, boss,” said Doozy, agreeing, and added off-hand, “And I could use the ‘elp.”
Forosuul glanced at both of his companions and then gave Frank a slightly impressed look. “Well, you’ve got their vote.”
“What about yours?”
“Not sure yet. What is it you think can do for us?”
“How much time we have here? My story is a pretty long one.”
Giving him a toothy smile, Forosuul said, “I’ll have food and drink brought in.”
Grinning, Frank said, “All right, let’s settle in then.”