Jobs for immortals are seldom favorites. Things just seem to get complicated. It was so simple at the on set and something I'd enjoy doing anyway, snatch a decoder ring from a pocket? Child's play! Leave it to dragons to underestimate their opponents or to fail to understand the allegiances of their hirelings. Who knew my loyalties would so quickly come under question? Not by the individuals who originally hired me but by myself?
The cipher I was given to decode was of a type I had never seen before as a scribe, but that wasn't really a problem. One thing I had discovered over the years was to build contacts and the Ethereal's would do just about anything for the right price. Thankfully a group had recently set up shop near the canals in Stormwind, saving me the cost of a trip to Outland. I just needed to patiently await a translation, considering the condition of the sample wasn't the greatest. Not a surprise since dragons tend to roast first, ask questions later.
I admit I wasn't shocked to see Ravenholdt's name. The manor was once the home of a certain Lord Daval Prestor so ties with the Black Dragon flight were nothing new. The question was who had brokered this deal, my uncle Jorach? He had grown rather reclusive. Or was my cousin Fahrad finally stepping up and taking a more active role? It had been a long time since I had made a trip back to my birth place, and this certainly was not the way I expected to do it. What I found interesting was the fact that the Red Dragon flight seemed completely oblivious to the ties the Blacks have to humans...were they blind? However if they weren't asking I wasn't going to volunteer information.
My traveling companion did not help matters. Why employ me to do a job and then dictate how I do it? Even worse to stand there and insult your employee TO THEIR FACE! Thieves? Bandits? I am a professional Thank you very much! Your Allies could have told you that Ravenholdt was more than a simple motley band hiding in Hillsbrad if you'd lowered yourselves to ask. The very fact that they spirited away your precious egg should have displayed that to you. But no, rather than ASK anyone you bumble around make grand announcements about torching places. We petty "short lifers" know more about your precious egg than you realize.
What self respecting rogue enters from the FRONT? Even the Tauren Chieftains know we do everything "from behind"! My irritation was making it difficult to concentrate. If it had been left to me I would have entered the Manor via the narrow ravine between the Hinterlands and Hillsbrad rather than attempt to go in via the well guarded front tunnel. However Mostrasz made it clear he was "guiding" this show...what did he know about how to do my job? Nothing it would soon transpire.
As soon as I entered my former bedroom dormer it was clear things were not going to go as Mostrasz planed. The smell of sulfur permeated the air. Now while Zan's engineering projects occasionally backfired and caused smoke, he worked in the basement for a reason. To keep his smells contained. The only way for the entire manor to reek like it did was if one of two things had occurred: the egg either had been destroyed or hatched. Dragon eggs are not like bird eggs, when they hatch they explode, jettisoning fire every where. That would mean for safety sake the egg would have to have been housed in Zan's steel and stone workshop.
Slipping down the stairs revealed a quiet and orderly interior. Members of the household were still very much on guard which lead me to the conclusion there must be something they felt they had to protect. It was nothing to time a silent drop to the cellar stairs, Mostrasz mutters buzzing in my head, there my suspicions were confirmed. The egg remnants were scatters across the floor, it had indeed hatched, but where was its former occupant?
That question was quickly answered by Prince Wrathion himself, with a style is uniquely his. Yes, he certainly is a Black Dragon, yet he reminds me a little of the Tolvar. I was shocked to discover rather than a welpling he was closer to the size of Prince Anduin. The kid payed attention while in that egg of his. He knows what is at stake both for the world and for him personally but refuses to be nothing more than a dagger in another's hand. HE will control his fate, if he is to be his father's heir then he will take up the reins NOW. Rather a different approach than that of another Prince I know.
I admit I was rather pleased with Fahrad's dealing with Mostrasz...for a dragon he was arrogant and whiny...a strange combination. But then there are are not a great many dragons I have actually liked truth be told. Respected yes, as powerful beings, but actually LIKED on a personal level? Not so much. Prince Wrathion may end up one of the few. The kid has something...Guts for sure. He certainly has won over Fahrad, though I am sure the idea of being able to do something besides hanging around the manor keeping up the business for my Uncle doesn't hurt.
The problem with Dragons, Black dragons especially is that they can be so blasted CHARMING....and this one is a KID. It is like some kind of hard luck story come to life, certainly the type to grab a rogue's attention. Jobs like this make my fingers itch. An employer who offers you a job that is a true CHALLENGE? One that respects your skills enough to not dictate HOW you should achieve the goal only that you do? Oh yum...Even better when he rewards you with things you can actually USE, rather than junk. Sure he gave me a trigger happy baby sitter but hey, I can live with that.
Kaitou gave me a rather knowing look when I asked him if he had any updated maps of Gilneas. The two of us were soon talking routes with him favoring a land assault and I preferring heading in via the water. The information we had on Creed was sketchy at best. I could only hope Wrathion's man Zazzo had more updated reconnaissance.
Zazzo was about what I expected from a gnome mage. High strung, timid and not overly fond of rogues....however when he blithely informed me that I was the 12th assassin sent to take out Creed I was also sure that he has issues with counting, by this time I am sure the number is MUCH higher.
Gilneas was miserable. Overcast, rainy, with a pervading gloom. One would think I would love all the cover but this was a city of "dogs" and I don't mean the Worgen. Even before the curse the Gilnean's were know for their Mastiff hunters and I have seen how since the curse their sensitivity had become heightened. Slipping into this highly patrolled ruin would not be easy. After doing a little bit of scouting I decide on the water route, swimming in along the docks, then slipping up the stairs, jumping down into the canal, before making my way across the inner courtyard to a tower close to Creed. There I stopped to dry off, eat and observe my target.
The court yard where Creed was presiding still bore evidence of Gilneas' internal struggles. Stocks, guillotines, hitching posts as well as decaying corpses litter the area. In my mind's eye I made a mental map of each obstacle, each obstruction, it could mean the difference between failure and success. My preference is always for as quick a kill as possible.
Fighting immortals one on one is always a challenge. Partially because death is a foreign concept to them. Even as their last breath passes from their lips they can not conceive it is truly happening. For those of us to whom death is a constant companion, the dance for one more breath pushes us to focus, lest our short lives end even sooner. The advantage Immortals have is they have the opportunity to learn a great deal more than I could ever hope to in my short life span. The only true advantage I have is that most often they are so arrogant in their immortality they give me openings I could never dare. So it proved with Creed, while he might have been a dragon, he still fell to two good old fashion blades.
I had to laugh to myself at Fahrad's comment on my success. What rogue ANNOUNCES their attack? I might be married to a Paladin but I don't fight like one. Of course I took Creed unawares...that is what we DO. My guess is that Fahrad would have preferred to have been allowed to go after Creed himself, rather than staying locked down at the Manor protecting Wrathion. My poor cousin, your circumstances have little altered. Once more you must watch me ride away from a place that is no longer my home while you remain chained there by your own choices.
To be continued...
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