“Good morning, ladies!”, the dwarf’s disembodied voice came seemingly from the wall.
“Good morning, Grimmy!”; the three women gathered in the common room of their abode didn’t seem to mind. If anything, they seemed amused.
“Ach! I asked you not to call me that!”
“Who was that? Flora, was that you? I bet it was!”
“You can prove nothing, dear Uncle!”, the warlock smirked at the wall.
The mage interrupted. “Uh, everybody, this Magic Mouth spell is hella expensive, so maybe we should …”
“Ach, just so, just so! To business, then!”
“I’ve arranged to chat with ya like this because there’s a matter of great concern to tha’ Alliance, and yer a lot closer to the action than I am up here in the Highlands. We’ve been offered a substantial sum o’ money to do a job. Not only that, but if we succeed, we’ll strike a heavy blow agin the Twilight’s Hammer cult, and I don’t think anyone would disagree that that’s a good thing.”
/nods of assent around the room.
“So there’s this artifact. When the Goblin homeland of Kezan blew up, the artifact came under the care of Baron Revilgaz in Booty Bay, who is apparently distantly related to Trade Prince Gallywix. We’re unclear on the specifics of what the artifact is, but we do know where it’s kept. SI:7 has also informed me that the Twilight’s Hammer believes that if it can get this item, it will gain an advantage over the Horde. While we have no desire to help th’ Horde, we have even less desire to see the Hammers gain any advantage – over anyone!
Revilgaz has been approached about this, but has rebuffed all offers, Alliance or Horde. So. We’re to go in, get the item, and return to Stormwind with it. And we need to do so before the Horde mounts a similar operation, if they haven’t already. This can’t fall into their hands, now that it’s in play!”
Flora scowled; “Then I assume we might bump into our Horde counterparts?”
“Aye, that’s a possibility. So dress appropriately – no identifying marks! You’re free agents, not working for SI:7."
“So what’s the plan?”
“There’s a hidden chamber behind Revilgaz’ headquarters, been there for years. It’s guarded by this fellow posing as a Rogue trainer. You have to get past the trainer, and open the secret door. SI:7 has been helpful enough to find where the catch to the door is, and to inform us that there is an additional guard behind the door. You have to get past them both without alerting the other guards, or leaving any hint that this is an Alliance operation.
The item is in a locked room just beyond. Illume will freeze the lock and Flora’s felguard will bash it open. The item is small enough for the Felguard to carry, so all you need to do is get to the room, neutralize the guards, get the item, and Illume ports you to Stormwind. Drop it off at SI:7 and collect a fat paycheck. Let them worry about it from there.”
The priest stirred; “What’s my role in this?”
“…", the voice of the dwarf conveyed unease. “I … uh … need ya to heal, in case anything goes south. Shields, frisbees, that sort of stuff.”
“HEAL?!", the priest practically exploded. “You know how I feel about that! I’ve been healing so long I’m getting crosseyed staring at the wall. Can’t you send bandages or something?”
“Jasra! You’re a priest! And I know you’ve had some rough patches, lass, but .. really, it’s time. You need to rez up your healing duds and give us a hand. And ya know I wouldna ask if it wasn’t a matter of importance. Yer too precious to us all to cause pain to. I can’t avoid it, though. Azeroth needs ya. You three are what we have, and I have all the confidence in the world in ye all.”
“*sigh*” "That’s a terrible thing to say."
“OK, they’re tellin’ me that the connection’s about ta be cut. See Master Shaw at SI:7 HQ on yer way there, he’ll have the particulars about the who, what, when, and where. I’ll see ya as soon as I can!”
There was a diminishment of presence in the room; the mage spoke first. “Connection lost. I hope he didn’t forget anything.”
Flora nodded. “OK, let’s suit up. I’ll let Fai know she has the watch while we’re out.”
As the others dispersed, the priest sighed, tossed back a final drink, and slogged off to her apartment.
* * * * * *
Even after getting a tsunami and a ship dropped on it, Booty Bay was a vibrant hive of scum and villainy. Fortunately, the warlock was a regular visitor, so she could move about with relative freedom. Her companions were another matter.
“You guys hang out here at the Blue Recluse. I’ll hook up with a couple of Milo’s people down there, we’ll summon you, and we’ll go on in. Sound like a plan?” The other two agreed. “I’m not sure I can ever fully trust Milo, but he didn’t seem too suspicious. Take this stone. If anything happens to me, it’ll disintegrate. You’ll have a moderate amount of time to get to me before it’s too late. Hopefully, we won’t need to worry about that. Good luck. I’ll see you there.” With that, she got up, turned, and left the tavern.
The priest and the mage looked after her. “I’m not getting a good vibe, Jas.”, the mage broke the silence first. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen her take precautions like this before.”
Illume considered for a moment. “How do we get word to her about that?”
“We don’t! If she’s walking into a trap, the last thing want is for her to inadvertently give us away.”
“And that’s not all … “ As she talked, Illume went from doubtful, to concerned, to grudgingly agreeable. But it was a close thing.
* * * * * *
“I didn’t even know this place had a basement.” The warlock moved cautiously. Repairs to the already ramshackle buildings had not reached these levels yet, and it showed. Frequently. Through the broken slats.
“Yeah, the boss has an agreement with the Baron – he doesn’t really make it easy to find, the boss pays premium for a nice out of the way hidey hole, everybody’s happy.” The goon that had met her in the tavern didn’t look capable of having a happy thought if you pummeled him with clowns. “Comes in handy for this sort of thing.”
“Yeah … okay, let’s get this done. I’m on a tight timeline here.”
“Sure thing, toots.” The other goon looked like a reject from extras casting in The Orc Detective, with an extra coat of sleaze applied for atmosphere.
I’m glad I won’t be working much longer with him, Flora thought. Milo hates it when I torch his cronies, and asks far too much in compensation.
Speaking Words, she called down a portal from the Nether. She and her companions placed hands on, and she extended her summons, first for one, then the other of her friends. There was a slight delay, and Illume appeared. Where’s Jasra? Something’s not right.
“Huh – thought you said two people.” The less offensive goon seemed almost on the brink of cognizance.
Trying to keep her face neutral, she turned back to the stone. “Okay, guys, we’re done here. We’ll be out of here in no time. Tell Milo I said thanks, and I’ll catch him up before too long, I’m sure.”
“Why don’t you tell me yourself, my dear?”
A chill shot up her spine at the words. Without turning, she knew what she sensed. Milo Oddcog – boss of the Stormwind underworld, who she did odd jobs for now and then – and at least two Felguards, were blocking the only exit in the room.
“You think you can go off and do work for someone else and not cut me in?” Milo didn’t sound too amused. “You’ve always been insolent, Floramel, but this is just too much! I will know who this other boss is. And if you talk nicely, I may think of a reason not to shard you and your friend – Illume, isn’t it? – permanently.”
This is bad.
She turned, and realized that not only Milo and his companions were blocking the door, but also a grinning Baron Revilgaz and a very angry looking Fleet Master Seahorn.
This is way worse than bad.
Jasra, where the Hells are you?
* * * * * *
As she felt the summons taking place, Jasra looked over at her companion and muttered, “Here goes nothing.” She *fwooshed* into shadow form, then nodded to Illume. “Let’s do this.” Illume did that little mental twist that accepted the summons, and rezzed into the room. Jasra wandered off towards where they thought Flora was at the moment, on foot.
I was right! she thought as she located, then approached the basement room. Nice and dark, the perfect place to do shady business. These people are predictable. Quietly, she faded back into the shadows. If you didn’t know to look in the right way, you wouldn’t even notice the glowing eyes in the corner. If this goes well, Flora won’t mind a little subterfuge. If it goes south, I don’t guess she’ll mind, either.
And then Milo sauntered past her, into the room.
Right. Plan "B", then.
* * * * * *
“While the basement is suitable for such things, I prefer the privacy of my little nook here for getting things done.”, Revilgaz seemed quite pleased with himself as he led them up the stairs and right into the secret cave that they were supposed to have broken in to. Apparently the cave held more than just treasure. Oh! Illume saw the irons and regretted being right. Stealing a glance behind her, she saw Jasra’s wispy form moving from shadow to shadow. Stay with us, sister! I have a feeling you’re all we have.
“Have a seat, dear Floramel.”, Milo was gloating as his goons fastened her into a wooden chair with iron cuffs on the arms. “I acquired this from the Kirin Tor. They deny it exists, of course, but it is an exquisite instrument, worthy of their skill. It can deliver pain on demand. Pure, undiluted, pain, until you decide to talk. And if we get tired, we’ll try your friend out and see how she likes it.”
“I’m familiar with it, Milo. It’s a lot of fun to use. Maybe I’ll show you sometime.”
The gnome scowled. “You really should be more respectful. We’re not too kind to turncoats, as you well know.”
The door opened and the “Rogue Trainer” Ian Strom wandered in. Revilgaz looked irritated.”What are you doing in here? You’re supposed to be guarding the door, simpleton!” The guard’s face was uncharacteristically blank. Flora puzzled over that for a moment before it dawned on her. Mind control! Jasra! Oooo, I’m gonna kill her. And then hug the stuffings out of her! Looking over at Illume, she saw a half-smile. “Show time”, the mage whispered.
And then all Hells broke loose.
— Strom produced a very stout club and started swinging like it was going out of style, starting with Milo’s henchmen.
— Illume’s shield went up and the room grew several degrees colder.
— Flora felt hands move along her wrists, undoing the catches. “Sorry too keep you in the dark, sister”, Jasra whispered in her ear. “I had a hunch”.
— Illume silenced Milo. Milo started to panic.
— Free of her bonds, Flora started the – seemingly impossibly long – summoning ritual for her Felguard.
— Milo’s goons sprang into action. One bounced off of Illume’s shield. She smiled, and sheeped him.
— The other goon attacked Strom, only to stop mid-swing as the ice storm hit.
— Revilgaz started to move …
— and it was over.
“Take your hands off your weapons, all of you, or Revilgaz gets hit so hard his soul shard will take three weeks to catch up to us.” Flora’s felguard unflinchingly held his axe to Revilgaz’ throat, and leered with anticipation. “What happened to your friends, little goblin?”
* * * * * *
As Revilgaz threw open the safe door, he muttered. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you. This thing is poison. The only reason I’m holding it is because I have family over there.” He beckoned towards a framed painting on the wall.
Flora paled. “Oh, my stars and garters. This can’t POSSIBLY have come from this dimension! Are you kidding me? This is it?!"
Revilgaz gleefully nodded. “Told ya”, He grinned. “You still want it? I have no problem with that. Cousin Gallywix will just have to come for it himself. I’ll be glad to be rid of the damned thing!”
Illume came into the room and flinched. “Ouch. Was this a punishment of some sort?” She looked over at Floramel, who was still slightly shaken. “Maybe we should just pretend we were never here and make up some story …”
Jasra pushed past them both, looked at the painting, and grinned. “Oh, Light, no. We take it, and turn it in as we were paid to do. I want to share the joy.”
Turning to Milo, Flora pondered her options. “What am I going to do with you, Milo? You don’t have exclusive rights to my contract, and you know it. You’re getting greedy, old gnome, and it’s liable to land you in hot water. Maybe I should just terminate the contract right now.” Her Felguard made happy noises.
“Oh, there’s no reason for that, dear, girl!” The damned gnome was incorrigible. “I have a strict forgive and forget policy. I’ll forgive this little incident, if you forget you were ever here!” Floramel grinned, but Jasra pushed past her. “As long as you don’t ‘forget’ that the next time you cross any of us, Flora’s felguard might not be around to stop me."
Milo grinned up at her. “Not at all, my dear! And if you ever need work, stop by! I could find plenty of uses for someone with your talents!”
Letting him go, Jasra pondered the full meaning of the crime lord’s admiration.
* * * * * *
“So they have no idea you were working for us?”
“No, Master Shaw. As far as they know, Flora was just working for a rival Boss. They’ll be hot to find out who, but for now it’s under control. I’m sure your organization can find ways to confound them.” Illume was all business when she wanted to be.
“Now, here’s the thing you wanted.” She handed over the painting, covered in cloth. Jasra grinned “I dare you to open it.”
Shaw gave her a puzzled glance, then threw off the cloth.
“By the Light! This is worse than I ever imagined! No wonder they kept it locked up!”
Floramel held out her hand. “I think that concludes our business. If you would, we want to put some distance between us and that piece of … work … as soon as possible.”
“Um, sure. Here. Alliance thanks you and relies upon your discretion. Don’t spend it all in one place.” Staring, Shaw was clearly not coping well.
His money was good, nevertheless.
* * * * * *
“I do appreciate you having a backup plan, but did you really have to keep me in the dark about it?”
"Well, we didn’t really think of it until you were gone, and it didn’t seem safe to try to get a letter to you in Booty Bay.” Illume had at least enough grace to look embarrassed.
Jasra was clearly amused, though. “It was totally worth it to see the look on your face. Both when Illume ported in alone, and later when I unfastened you from that chair. Worth every little bit of it.”
Flora tried to glare, but the amusement kept fighting past her eyes. “Oh, I really think Shadowform suits you, sister. You’ll be Milo’s favorite in no time, at the rate you’re going. I may well have to find a new patron.”
Truly smiling for the first time in a long time, Jasra raised her mug. "Well, I can’t have that on my conscience. I’ll find something else to occupy my time. To my sisters, the Alliance, new pursuits, and the look on Shaw’s face!”
Grinning like fiends, the three of them toasted their success, and set about the task of a good bender.