The Sentinel watched the scene from her perch on the roof above. The whole scene between the two was odd to say the least, but she was told to meet Iasea and she would do just that. Kneeling down, she watched until the Silverthorn Patriarch walked away. As he did, Iasea grabbed a rat and tore its head free. Both of Nueleth’s eyebrows shot up, completely surprised. “A strange pastime,” she called down.
Iasea looked up and scowled. “For fel’s sake, is everyone going to comment?”
Nueleth laughed lightly. “What would you say, if you saw someone slapping and tearing rats apart in an alley?”
“I would walk away and leave them to their business,” the pink haired woman replied.
“Yes,” Nueleth replied. “Well, as it happens, you are my business.”
“Do I know you?” Iasea crossed her arms in front of her, taking a ‘don’t give me any crap’ stance. Nueleth stood and leapt down, coming to a graceful landing on the cobblestones. She bowed before Iasea, a lock of her cyan hair falling in front of her face. Iasea arched an eyebrow at the woman, bowing slightly in return.
“Sentinel Nueleth Windblossom. I am the last daughter of the House of Windblossom, a client of the House of Longleaf.”
“Iasea Moonwhisper. But since you said I am your business, I suppose you know that.” Nueleth nodded. “I am the last of the Moonwhisper. Possibly a client of the same.”
The young Sentinel nodded. “Our Matriarch asked that I speak with you. Apparently she wants me to tell you a horror story.”
“Oh?” She looked thoughtful. “Are you the one who will tell me what happened to my family?”
Nueleth shrugged. “Sort of. I am going to tell you what I know about Kasuura.”
“Good. I am tired of being jerked around,” she grunted.
Nueleth smirked slightly. “You may change your mind. There’s a tavern outside this alley,” Nueleth frowned suddenly and looked at Iasea oddly before gesturing towards the walkway. “Let’s go, I am going to need a drink to talk about this.”
“As you wish,” she replied as she started toward the Main Street. They turned to the right and walked a few steps to the entrance of the Pig and Whistle. Nueleth pushed her hood back, allowing her eyes to adjust to the dimmer space. Iasea indicated a table on the upper floor. They climbed the stairs and the pink haired elf settled into her seat. “You seem nervous,” she noted.
Nueleth pulled the spear over her shoulder and leaned it against the wall. Dropping into her chair, she sighed. “Not the way you mean, no. I just don’t like talking about this.”
“Then why agree to do so?”
“My agreement was not requested,” she chuffed, pulling off her gloves. She laid them down on the table, “Selanii doesn’t ask.”
Iasea inclined her head in agreement. “I have noticed that. It seems to be a common theme among the Matriarchs.”
“Especially the old harpies like her.”
Chuckling ruefully, Iasea commented, “You are not making me feel that serving her House is a good choice.”
“They’re all the same, really,” she shrugged. “She is not as bad as some. In our world, people like us need Matronage.”
“Some of us more than others,” Iasea nodded. “So. What is it you have come to share with me?”
Nueleth sighed heavily. Nodding her thanks to young serving girl, she picked up her drink and took a long swallow. “Do you know anything about your mother’s death?” As she asked, as she loosened the straps to her pauldrons.
“I know she was murdered. And I know she wasn’t the only one.” She sat there quietly before adding, “And that whatever happened, no one wants to speak of it.”
Nueleth shrugged off her shoulder armor and set it on the floor. “That’s one way to put it. A bit over two years ago, I woke one morning to a summons.” Iasea listened intently. “Some folk on the east end of Darnassus had sent word that something strange had been happening the night before at the Moonwhisper estate. Loud noises and general domestic disturbances were nothing new for your old home, so the sent a couple of junior Sentinels to check it out.” Iasea grunted at that, though she was well aware of the things that could happen in that place. “The young ones panicked and cried for help, describing a horrible scene, so the daytime duty officer sent me in.”
“Green recruits, to Kasuura’s…”
The Sentinel nodded. “Off I went, figuring Kasuura had had another orgy or something and someone got sick.”
Iasea rolled her eyes, shaking her head. “Yes… she could be, well, yes.”
“How else ya gonna get four children, right?”
“I suppose one could say is that her method were…effective.”
“One could also say the bitch inhaled co…” Iasea held up a hand, wincing as she cut her off. Nueleth waved it off, laughing.
“Can you not bring the visuals back to my mind?”
“Yeah, yeah. Sorry for badmouthing your mother.”
“Just… go on.”
“Anyway,” she continued. “I went to the estate. There’s this young Sentinel sitting on the front steps, white-faced and grim. Tells me not to go in. At this point, I’m getting irritated. I didn’t enlist to clean up after people like your mother, so I marched in there to get to the bottom of it.” Iasea arched a long eyebrow. Nueleth’s face grew haunted. Her voice grew quiet, “First thing was the smell…” She paused a moment. “I’ve seen some battles, smelled death. This was worse. The smell was that metallic smell and animal fear. Overlaid with the sour rot smell of Fel.”
“Fear. And Fel.”
Nueleth nodded. “The house was empty, looked abandoned. The smell got stronger the further in I went, until I reached your mother’s private chambers.” Her voice grew hoarse as she took another large swallow of her drink. “There was blood everywhere. Floor, walls, ceiling.”
The death knight’s eyes widened. “That’s not…”
“This was not some assassination; not just some hit. Someone had spent a lot of time doing this. Most of the night it looked like.” Nueleth rubbed her face. Iasea’s eye flashed, a mix of anger and horror. The Sentinel shuddered. “Your mother,” she whispered. “What was left of her was… hung, suspended, from the ceiling. Something had dug hook into her flesh, and then strung her up with ropes, splayed out like…like…I don’t even have a word for it.”
“Are you saying they tortured her to death?” Iasea seethed, her ice blue eyes flaring.
“She’d been flayed, completely, and she was alive when it was done.”
“Who? I want to know who.”
Nueleth shook her head, sighing. “We don’t know. Nobody knows. I have been working on it ever since. I am out of leads. My superiors had started telling me to give up. Then the tree burned.”
“Along with any possibility of proof!” Iasea slammed her fists down on the table.
Nueleth nodded before adding, “One other thing. Her head was missing.”
Iasea’s head snapped around hard. “What,” she demanded incredulously.
“Whatever it was,” Nueleth stared vacantly, “it took her head.”
“For what purpose? What could one possible need her head for?” Nueleth shrugged. Iasea waved it off. “So what would happen if you were given information at this point? If I was able to find one of the old servants perhaps?”
“I don’t know. It would have to be pretty damned solid. And right now no one is much interested in looking into old news. She might have been a client of Whisperwind, but she was Mire’s, and Mire got herself killed too. And Tyrande doesn’t want that looked into either.”
“How did that happen?”
Nueleth shrugged. “I wasn’t in on that one. There was some incident in Val’shara. The old holy glade south of Lor’lethil was burned up. Mire’s remains were found there. Shal’dorei felsworn were supposedly involved.”
Iasea grunted, rolling her eyes. “They were not responsible for Mire’s death.”
“Sounds like you know something,” the cyan haired one responded.
“They were her pets.”
Nueleth leaned in. “Do tell.”
“They would show up at the estate from time to time. Spoke with my mother privately before leaving.” Nueleth’s jaw dropped slightly. Iasea continued, “Once we lost the Matronage, that stopped. Cannot be a coincidence.”
“Oh fel no. Now I know why Tyrande swept it under the rug. She couldn’t be seen to have those connections.” She lifted her mug and drained it, calling for another. “You have a theory who killed Mire?”
“I do. But I will keep it to myself for now.”
Nueleth blinked. “What the fel… you know something.”
“Suspicions. Nothing more. If something more solid presents itself, I will be most happy to share it.”
“Oh come on…Mire and Kasuura were connected. If you know something…”
Iasea looked around the tavern, eyeing each person carefully. “If I am wrong and the leader of the House finds out I have accused the members of that family…”
“What House,” she demanded.
Iasea sighed. “All I can tell you is old news.”
“Oh…” Nueleth chuckled. “That bastard you were talking to earlier in the street. You think it was his people.”
The pink haired elf’s eyebrows shot up. “You know who he is?”
“Oh yeah. Everyone knows who he is.” She chuffed. “Patriarch my ass.”
“You know who his wife is, right?”
Nueleth started to giggle. “Oh yeah. That’s a source of a lot of laughs in the Longleaf household.”
“Laughs,” Iasea asked, confused.
“Selanii Longleaf has wanted to bloody Tyrande’s nose for just about ever. And the House of Silverthorn comes back from the damn grave and steals one of their priestesses. Her own cousin.”
“Mire’s only daughter.”
Nueleth giggled again. “Right. Selanii ate it up.”
Iasea leaned in. “You wanted to know who would get into a fight with Mire, that’s who you should look at. Everything my House was tasked to do was to help get that girl back to Mire. You need to look at the Silverthorns.”
Nueleth sighed. “Oh, I looked at them. They were an obvious choice. But there was no evidence. And whatever got to your mother, well…it was not a person, it was a thing.”
“A…thing.” She furrowed her brow. “What do you mean?”
“I had mages come look at it. An uppity highborn who was about a million years old did some ritual in the room to see what happened.”
Iasea glanced at her, impressed. “So you saw who it was then.”
“No,” she shook her head. “The old man went crazy.” Iasea scowled at her. “He couldn’t speak afterwards. He was in a convalescence home until the tree burned.”
The death knight groaned. “There could not be anything that was done that was that bad. Gods below.” She threw her hands in the air, exasperated.
“On, it wasn’t was he saw that drove him crazy.” She winced. “The area had been magically warded, booby trapped, most likely to prevent such an investigation.”
“And now there is no chance of finding someone to lift that to try again.”
Nueleth shrugged. “Afraid not. Whatever it was, it was thorough.”
Pale pink hands slammed down onto the table, knocking the candlestick over. “Damn it,“ she growled.
“Hey. I’ve been living with this shit for two years.”
Iasea hung her head, frustrated, sad, unable to sort it all out. “I appreciate you telling me what you know.” A large brown rat, crawled up onto the table. The death knight’s hands flashed out and she snapped its back without remark. Tossing it over her shoulder, she cleared her throat and looked back at the Sentinel.
Nueleth arched a long cyan eyebrow. “I am going to call you Ratslayer, just so you know. Or maybe Ratbane.”
“If it makes you feel better,” she muttered.
Nueleth nodded to the server, dropping coins into her hand. She picked up her mug and took a long pull. “This,” she held up the mug,” is about the only thing that makes me feel better these days, girl.” She placed her hand over the top of her drink. “Two years of nightmares,” she whispered.
“You should see someone for that.”
The Sentinel shrugged. “I did. But you can’t erase something like that from your mind.”
“I suppose not. I am sorry that this has done that to you.”
“Not your fault. I am glad at least one of you got away.” Nueleth blinked suddenly. “How’d you do that anyway?”
Iasea lifted up the candlestick. She replaced the candle, looking sheepish. “ Fel if I know. I woke up on a boat one day. Turns out it was bound for Pandaria. By the time it arrived and I managed to get back, it was over a year and a half gone. I had nothing on me. Had to work as a hired hand for a while to earn passage.”
Nueleth sat there, stunned. She blinked a number of times before asking, “You don’t know how you gotten the boat?”
“No clue. The crew said I was left on board and that my ticket was paid for in advance. If I were to guess, they were paid for their silence.”
The cyan haired woman sat back, thoughtful. She steepled her fingers, tapping them in her lips a moment. “We found the servants of the House that had fled. They talked about finding others dead in odd places. Always with a look of terror on their faces. The same for your sisters, right?”
Iasea nodded. “And no signs of foul play anywhere.”
Nueleth’s face took on a kind of intensity. She whispered, “What was the name of the ship?”
She furrowed her brow, pink hair dropping into her face. “Fel. What was it?” She closed her eyes, trying to see the prow of the ship in her mind. “Cloud Runner? Yes. That was it. Cloud Runner.”
A small smile started to creep onto Nueleth’s face. “First god damn lead in a year. I think I might kiss you.”
Iasea blinked. “I-I don’t think that’s necessary.”
Nueleth pouted. “Ah well. Let me know if you change your mind.” She winked at her, smiling. Iasea blinked at her. Nueleth chuckled. “Oh, I see. You’re a shy one.”
“More like uninterested in things like that right now.”
“Yeah, yeah. Seriously though, thank you.” She finished off her drink. “I can find the ship, question the crew. Finding out how you got on board could be a lead.”
“Good luck. I tried everything I could think of to get that out of them.”
Nueleth grinned wide. “Leave that to me.” She stood and bowed. “I’ll let you know what I find out.” She gathered her things and strode towards the door, her shoulder armor slung over her arm.
Iasea watched, bemused. “Good luck, Nueleth.”