II – Defeat

The Forsaken in the brown woolen robe sat in her quarters, a dusty room dominated by a pine desk.

“Well,” she thought.

Cool light filtered into room as the sun rose somewhere beyond the layer of clouds over Brill.

“That was stupid.”
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I – A Transaction

It started innocently enough. But rum was pointless. Then she ended up in the plaguelands trading rare spider venom to a guy for a few chunks of processed poppy sap.

“It’s all dreams wrapped in pretty ribbon.” The guy was human. He wasn’t afraid of her, which made Verthilde scared. Humans who ran from her were annoying enough, and those who tried to kill her worse. This was something new.

Silly Season (pre-cataclysm)

“Monsters are coming for us! Earthen and mechagnomes from inside hollow Azeroth! We have strayed from the Titans’ will!”

The human’s clothes were layers of ruined garments, one covering up the failure of the last. On the top layer remnants of Hallow’s End costumes could be discerned, bright bits of color over the muddy sameness of the unwashed rags below.

Tripsy paused in the Trade District, watching the crowd watching the tatterdemalion prophet. It was more crowded than ever, and her eyes traveled to the tall masonry buildings as another tremor shook the ground, another ripple of fear excited the crowd.

It seemed the absolute worst place to be if those tremors got much worse. Though no one was certain they -would- get worse, she was certain that being crushed by even a small fraction of Stormwind’s building materials would be unpleasant.

She made a note to keep her dimension-folding transporter fully charged.

Spelunking

It had started to dry and flake off, but that didn’t change the fact that Tripsibet Teavalve was once again covered with mud.

She was not as vexed by the grime as she was that she hadn’t managed to finish the remote part of her magic-sensor bot. But the call had come in (not so much a call as a shutter on a certain building left at a certain angle) from her contacts at SI:7 and here she was. In another pit, not finding what they thought she’d find.

In truth, the paucity of evidence to support the idea that magic was behind the tremors suggested that such a sensor would probably not be too helpful. (Though she still thought it was a Neat Idea and would probably be useful Sometime.) And if magic weren’t involved, then the world was probably not going to be split apart like Draenor, and things would probably settle down after a bit of quaking. SI:7 would be sure to find something else that needed her attention.

She wriggled as deeply into a crevice as she could. Where the mud scraped off, her leathers showed dull green. She hammered a steel spike into the ground, then fixed the seismometer to it. After giving it an experimental tap for QA, she began the climb back to the surface.

Bon Voyage

Muxileth was trying not to laugh. The elf seemed determined to make her laugh, though, by becoming ever angrier.

It had started simply enough. She’d asked the elf where her sandals had come from. Well, before that the elf had been staring at her. She looked nice enough; who’d have thought someone in such a nice color scheme (light grey, mossy green, some amber) would react in such a hostile manner? Who knew she’d seen Muxileth dismiss the felhunter before boarding?

“Don’t try to be friendly with me, warlock. I saw you with that thing.”

“Well, it seems we’ve gotten off on the wrong foot, what with the name-calling and all. How about we try again? It’s going to be a long trip, so–” she spun about, then curtsied with a flourish of her staff. “Muxileth Sixtysix. Researcher, antiquarian. At your service.”

“No one needs the services of your kind.”

“You wound me, darling. But your sandals are adorable. Perfect for hot days like this. Are they from Darkshore somewhere?”

“I’ll be watching you, gnome. Use your foul magics and the crew will hear all about it.”

“As much as I’d love to entertain the crew, you fascinate me more. And since we’re going to be such bosom companions, I promise not to use any magic.”

The elf looked at her, eyes narrowed. She continued, “…unless we’re set upon by pirates. Or sea monsters. Or–”

“Spare me your deceptions.”

“…or I get bored. Or it gets dark, for that matter. I’m glad we’re setting boundaries like this. It’s a good start to our friendship.”

The elf snorted.

It was going to be a lovely trip.

Map

Tripsibet sat for a minute in the pool, eyes closed, taking in to the stink of sulfur and the heat of the water. Water lapped against rock. A curious jay scolded from the branches of a struggling pine nearby.

She leaned back against the rock and opened her eyes. Clouds slid across the sky, shapeshifting from cat to micrometer to a diagram of a vaguely familiar hyperbolic function.

Even at the height of summer, the snows of the Dun Morogh peaks never fully melted. She stretched her arms, chilling in the crisp mountain air, and rested them on the rock. Were the jay inclined to the same fanciful pattern-finding, it could have found seeds, berries and hawks in the multicolored bruises that decorated her skin.

Field Trip

Filinie muttered as she packed for the field trip.

Dear gods, don’t let there be scorpions.

She rolled her brushes up in a sheet of canvas, tucked it in by her boots.

Or snakes.

She shuddered and began gathering up her paints. Cad orange. Lots of it. Ochres. So boring. The smell of turpentine calmed her somewhat but she was still peeved.

Why can’t we go somewhere civilized? Or at least different? A beach would do.

But the professor dragged them all to Thousand Needles every term to make another boring orange painting, to get sunburnt and dusty and uncomfortable. At least the paintings sold well.

The valise slowly filled.

Trying to make up for lost time, Filinie raced through the city streets to the gryphon master. She was last to arrive, but the professor didn’t even notice her; he was busy glaring at the gryphon master. It seemed he was a gryphon short.

“…Academy pays you an usurious sum to reserve–”

“Out of my hands, sir. I said we had none for hire, but Alliance offic– Oi! There!”

Filinie looked where he pointed and saw a dark speck grow closer. The gnome on the gryphon was wearing leathers covered in grime, pink hair the only spot of color on her. As Filinie watched the gryphon approach to land, the gnome leaped off from an improbable height, waved to the gryphon master, then ran for the harbor.

Filinie groaned. With her luck she’d be sitting in that filthy saddle in a few minutes time.