Caveat Emptor

Storyline sheet

6-12 people
FROM: Knight-Lord Bloodvalor
TO: The Phoenix Guard, et all.

MISSION OBJECTIVES: Investigate disappearance of shipment bound for Silvermoon City.

Reliquary agents have been hard at work in Ashenvale and Azshara. Many priceless objects have been recovered. Due to their delicate nature and a demonstrated reactivity to the Arcane, it was determined that mundane shipping methods were the only safe manner to transport them to Silvermoon City for further study.

The shipment is one week overdue. Its last known location was the port of Rachet, Barrens. Our agent has not made contact in 10 days.

The Phoenix Guard is hereby ordered to mobilize and investigate with the ultimate goal of recovering the shipment if possible or destroying it if it cannot be reclaimed.

Anar'alah belore!

Knight-Lord Bloodvalor


Talaen's picture

OOC:  First I want to thank everyone who participated in this role play event.  It could not have happened without each and every one of you!  Although some names were removed for better flow in converting the logs to stories, I want to give credit where it is due.  The NPCs really helped make this role play event come alive and are listed below in alphabetical order.

Joikela - Mage Apprentice, Bruisers
[A] Korellis - Dock Worker/Worgen
Lubbles - Bruisers
Marxizz - Master Carver
Raxil - Dock Worker
Senua - Seamstress
Syx - Murdered Mage, Bruisers
Tarty - Pirate

I would also like to thank Illapa, Kuerani and Lacryma for being the player participants in this semi-scripted role play event.  They were handed a mystery and worked together to solve it through the clues provided.

Lastly, I want to credit Ted Zuvich, the author of the "Caveat Emptor" module from [i]Dungeon Magazine #58[/i] upon which this adventure was based.


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Talaen's picture

Talaen waited at the entrance to the Hall of Blood.  His horse stood there placidly as he gazed out across Farstrider’s Square where Rangers were winding down their work for the day.  Of course there would be a few who came and went in the night, those who were relegated to keeping a nocturnal schedule.  Sometimes Talaen himself took advantage of the pells in the small hours of the morning when there was nobody around to see.  At the very least, he knew it was a very slim chance that he would run afoul of Euphrates there.

Another mounted knight came charging out of the Hall of Blood from behind Talaen.  The fellow got about three lengths then suddenly reined in his mount and forced it to backstep until he came to a halt alongside the albino.  Face flushed with excitement and not a small bit of embarrassment, Kuerani greeted his mentor with a cheerful smile. “Master Wildthorn!”

Whatever feelings lurked behind those ruby eyes, they were kept carefully hidden as Talaen bowed in the saddle to his squire.  The boy wore new armor.  He was beginning to fill out a bit, no longer the almost painfully thin and delicate youth Talaen had first met.  Kuerani promised to develop into a fit and strong young knight as long as he maintained the rigorous training schedule set by Talaen.

The older Elf listened in silence as Kuerani told him about the new armor until a movement caught his attention.  He watched Captain Devanti approach at a stately pace, her hawkstrider almost strutting with the knowledge that it carried a noblewoman upon its back.  Following Talaen’s gaze, Kuerani straightened in his saddle and offered a sharp salute to Lacryma while the albino gave one of his customary bows from horseback.

The woman nodded regally as she joined the pair.  Talaen glanced between them and silently seethed with anger which brought the blood rushing to his face.  It was already past the appointed hour and it seemed this would be his only assistance.  How typical of Bloodvalor to send him haring off across the sea with only his squire and a Magistrix to aid in the mission.

“The three of us then, it would seem,” Talaen rasped, betraying nothing of his ire by neither his voice nor his expression which was set in its usual, aloof lines.  Let them make what they would of his blushing.  “The Magisters are unable to provide transport at this time.  We shall teleport to Undercity and board the zeppelin for Orgrimmar.  From there we shall fly to Rachet.”

Kuerani shifted in his saddle with a slight wince.  “Yes, sir,” he murmured.  It seemed like more riding than he cared for at the moment while he was still sore from his riding lessons.

“Wildthorn...” Lacryma drawled with a chuckle, earning a quizzical expression from the albino.  “Why should we bother walking through the reek and filth of Undercity? You have me and I can craft Portals.  Would you like me to open one to expedite our travels?”  She turned a grin upon Talaen, already knowing his response.

“That would expedite matters greatly, my lady,” he rasped, bowing his head to her.  Kuerani’s ears perked up but he refrained from interrupting.

Lacryma slipped off her mount. "Of course it would. Now then... lets see. Ley-Line conduits?  Check. Residual mana trace?  Check.  So now, unzip reality, like so! " She took her pinky and dragged it across the air, her fingernail cutting the area before them, cutting a hole in the fabric of reality through which they could see the faint glimmer of Dalaran.

Kuerani grinned, all bright eyed with enthusiasm.  “Neat!”

“Shall we?” Lacryma asked, looking to Talaen who swung off his horse and bowed to her.

The albino endured the disorientation of traveling through Portals and in short order the trio was assembled in Rachet.  Gulls wheeled and cried overhead.  The air was hot, damp and ripe with the smells of a busy port.  The sharp scent of tar was almost pleasant but the Elves could do without the pungent stink of dead fish.

“Ah, Master Wildthorn,” Illapa’s voice greeted them as the trio began making their way through the bustling town.  The white-haired priest raised his golden staff to gain their attention.

Talaen bowed to his liege and rasped, “My lord.  Permit me to introduce Lady Devanti and Initiate Sol'arian.”  Kuerani gave the noble a shy smile coupled with a quick but firm salute.  Lacryma’s face remained neutral but she smiled all the same and nodded at Lord Greybane.

The noble reluctantly stepped out from under the shade of a small cluster of palms.  He gave a shallow bow to Lacryma and a nod of the head to Kuerani.  Frowning slightly, he looked over the small party then asked, "Is the rest of your contingent behind you?"  Talaen could feel his face burning as he shook his head.  Lacryma raised her brow inquisitively at Illapa who made a knowing sound and flipped back his cowl.  "Perhaps you will accept my assistance in your mission, then."

Bowing his head to Illapa, Talaen spoke hoarsely, “The shipment was received here.  The last communique from the Reliquary agent stated it was due to ship out on the morning tide.  That was almost a fortnight past.”

Kuerani had been listening quietly, his hands folded behind his back.  But he couldn’t help his wandering eyes.  There was so much to see!  He was almost startled when Talaen glanced at him and asked, “How well do you speak Orcish?”

"Oh... Alright, I suppose. I can understand it better than I can speak it,” the Initiate was prompt to answer.

“Query.” interjected Lacryma, drawing a curious look from Talaen. “Nature of the goods?  Artifacts?”

“I was not given a bill of lading, my lady.  I was warned that they are archaeological artifacts of an arcane nature, some of which were too unstable to be transported via Portals.”  Illapa nodded to himself at Talaen’s words while Lacryma scowled.  It was scant information indeed.  Whatever the Reliquary was about, they were playing their cards very close.

“Perhaps of a nature to leave a lingering arcane signature?” Illapa suggested.

“It is possible, my lord,” replied Talaen.

“So you're telling me then that a stash of unstable, arcane artifacts were transported here, and now they are not accounted for at all...” Lacryma trailed off, staggered by this news.  "Heads will [i]roll[/i] if we don't recover these items!!"

Talaen merely nodded.  There was little else he could do at that point.  He wondered if Bloodvalor had sent them on a wild goose chase.  It would not be the first time that the Knight Lord had found some unpleasant duty for Talaen in the hopes that he would fail and prove his unworthiness to remain in the Order.  Doing so in front of Captain Devanti, Initiate Sol’arian and his liege was just a bit of extra sauce to the sour dish Talaen had been served.

Kuerani looked concerned, glancing between the nobles and his Master.  He was a bit out of his depth but trusted in his Master.  He was woefully unaware of Knight Lord Bloodvalor’s dislike of the albino and if the tasks he was assigned seemed unusually difficult, he attributed it to the influence of his family within the Order rather than a Knight Lord’s personal vendetta.

“Since Bloodvalor appointed you Wildthorn, you take point in this investigation,” Captain Devanti suggested, not wanting there to be any confusion regarding the current chain of command.

“Then we had best be about it,” Illapa drawled with his typical dry wit.  “Decapitation would ruin my good looks.”

Lacryma gave the noble a sly look, the hint of a smile playing about her lips.  “Well at least you have use of your senses. Rarity on this continent.”

“The heat vaporizes everything between the ears.  I am beginning to question my vocation as a Sun priest,” Illapa groused, looking to Talaen.

Talaen nodded curtly while Kuerani grinned at Illapa’s humor.  “Squire, ask about the inn for a Master Ciarnan.  He was described to me as average height, fair haired and slender.”

“Yes, sir.”  Kuerani licked his chapped lips nervously and slipped between the others.  Once he had put a few paces between them, he broke into a light jog.  His body ached from his recent riding lessons and training regimen, but he tried not to show it as he headed up the hill to the inn.

“Do you believe you could sense the artifacts, my lady? I have tried since we landed but it seems there is a strong background residue of Arcane energies here.”  It was a slim chance, but Talaen was willing to explore any avenue at this point.  His left hand itched and burned.  Opening his Arcane senses always heightened the phantom feeling of his missing fingers.  “And if you would be so kind as to inquire of the dockmaster, my lord?”

Lacryma let loose an exasperated sigh. "I'm going to give Bloodvalor a piece of my mind later I think. Fine, let’s see here..."

“I am at your disposal,” Illapa replied with a brusque nod before striding off.

The Magistrix concentrated.  Just as she started to pick up something, it popped and fizzled out, giving her a psychic shock which further soured her mood. Looking up again, Lacryma snarled, "Well I can't find them!  But I can ascertain at least that some corpse has interfered with my augury. Next course?"

Talaen pursed his lips, a slight frown creasing his brow. “A corpse, my lady?  Forsaken?”

Lacryma shook her head. "When I say corpse. I mean the poor bastard who decided to just now intrude on my probe. He's a corpse, he simply doesn't know it yet."

At that moment, Illapa returned with a handwritten copy of the wharf master's provided bill of lading.  Kuerani also jogged up, bending to rest his hands on his knees as he caught his breath. "Goblins... are greedy..." he panted.  The priest looked at Kuerani and visibly restrained himself from a pithy remark.

Talaen nodded at Captani Devanti then turned an inquisitive look upon Kuerani.  If Illapa was slighted by the albino making him wait, he showed no sign of it.  The Initiate swallowed thickly before reporting, "That man. He was killed in his room. The Goblin that ran the place told me I had to pay his bill..." He frowned slightly. "I don't have any money."

“The Order will take care of it,” Talaen reassured his squire before giving Illapa his attention.

Lord Greybane handed his copy of the bill of lading to Talaen and summarized. "Our shipment was received and shipped out on the Clear Skies for Booty Bay."

“It seems we have our next destination,” Talaen rasped.

“Shall we then?” Captain Devanti asked.

Talaen nodded reluctantly.  He did not look forward to an ocean voyage.  Regardless of the fact that magic would help make it far shorter than it might otherwise be, the albino was prone to violent seasickness.  Once they secured passage upon a ship and boarded, Talaen could not quite suppress a small sigh.  Illapa looked somewhat piqued.  Perhaps he was also susceptible to the rocking of the ship or it was the simple fact that Booty Bay was not a favorite destination of his.

The Elves kept to themselves during the passage across the Great Sea.  To Kuerani, it was one great adventure.  For Lacryma, Illapa and Talaen, it was a trial to be endured.  Luckily, Talaen had the privacy of his own berth in which he spent most of his time in misery, a pail always close at hand though he drank little and ate nothing from the time they left the dock.

Aching and still feeling wretched, the albino almost knelt down and kissed the dock when they made port at Booty Bay.  The others took note that he appeared more pale than usual and seemed to move with extra care while taking slow, even breaths.  Kuerani offered his Master a small, sympathetic smile but said nothing.

“Stinks of fish here,” Lacryma declared in a flat tone.  “My brother would be in heaven.”  Talaen merely grunted, not quite trusting himself to speak while still waiting for the churning in his belly to subside.  “Not to mention their sense of decor. What did they decide to go for the seaweed and kelp look? Place could do with a few tidal waves to clean it off.”

“I believe tidal waves did the decorating in the first place,” Illapa quipped.

“Hmm.”  Lacryma merely looked around, her delicate nose wrinkled a bit at both the sights and smells.  Goblins moved around the Elves, hard at work with unloading the ship they had come in upon.  What the stevedores could not carry on their backs was loaded onto carts to be pulled by harnessed teams of draught raptors.

Talaen eyed the various Goblins working nearby.  While the decor was a bit lacking and the smell was anything but pleasant, the Goblins moved with seamless efficiency.  Someone had to be directing the operations.  After several minutes of careful observation, the albino pointed out one Goblin who appeared to be giving the orders.  “He seems to be in charge here,” he rasped, his voice a bit more hoarse than usual from having spent most of their voyage retching into a bucket.

Weaving through the crowd on the dock, Talaen approached the Goblin.  Illapa followed, wanting to be at hand for any assistance in communicating.  The noble was well aware of Talaen’s difficulties.  With a grimace, Talaen questioned the Goblin in his heavily accented Orcish, “[i]Clear Skies[/i]?"

The shipping master glared up at the albino.  "Ain't seen 'er.  O’erdue.  Clear off!"

Talaen arched a brow at the abrupt dismissal.  Kuerani canted his head to the side, frowning a bit at the Goblin’s rude answer then scooting out of the way as a stevedore warned him to move.

Illapa stepped forward and smoothly asked, “What shipping company did the [i]Skies[/i] belong to?”

“Company?  Feh!  She ain’t got none!”


“None o’ that neither.  Cap’n was a damn fool wot shoulda knowed better!”

Nodding slowly, brows raised at the new information, Illapa switched back to his native Thalassian.  “She was an independent ship,” he explained to the others.  “No company.  No cartel.  That means no protection by force or payoff.  Easy pickings.”  Talaen did not question how Illapa knew the workings of shipping companies, after all, his liege was partnered with Captain Brightsea.

Brow furrowed  in thought, Talaen considered their options.  The planks groaned a bit beneath Kuerani’s feet as he shifted his weight.  He was still looking around like a tourist.  They already stood out simply for the fact that they were Sin’dorei in a town largely populated by Goblins with minority enclaves of Trolls, Tauren and even Humans.  It didn’t help that the Initiate was gazing about like a mooncalf, marking himself as an easy target to the local toughs.  Word of their arrival was sure to spread throughout the town.  Time was becoming ever more precious to them in their search for the missing artifacts.

“Seems a bit convenient,” Lacryma remarked.  “Are we sure that this Goblin knows nothing more?”

“And she has not made port yet,” Talaen rasped.  “The likelihood of piracy seems high.  Unsavory sorts seem to favor the Salty Sailor.”  It had been almost a year since Talaen last visited Booty Bay, but he suspected the Salty Sailor was still in business selling its swill to every lowlife in town.

“Whoever was cutting coppers at the Reliquary is going to regret his poor choice in transportation,” Illapa observed with a hint of grim promise in his voice.  Talaen simply replied with one of his customary grunts.

The Initiate kept quiet, paying attention to the dock workers as they spoke amongst themselves. He tried to pick up anything useful, but they seemed largely concerned about dinner, gambling and the next shipment coming in.  Illapa looked to Lacryma and Kuerani.  "My lady, squire, have you anything to add?"

Kuerani’s ears perked up. "No, sir. I'm afraid I'm of little help in this situation."

Lacryma looked thoughtful before answering.  “I think it would behoove us to go to the tavern and inquire. Maybe a few coins in the right place will turn up a new lead. Short of me opening this Goblin's mind up to ensure he isn't lying.”  She favored the shipping master with a chilling stare.  The cheeky creature winked at her and went right back to barking orders to the stevedores.  She turned away with a derisive sniff.

Illapa's face was a mask of neutrality as he looked to the shipping master.  The goblin knew more than he’d offered, the priest was certain.  "Forgive me, I have forgotten our docking [i]fee[/i],” he said smoothly, reaching for his coin purse.  “Wharfmaster, have any other ships not made it to port in the last fortnight?”

Gold was the surest way to a Goblin’s heart, no matter how small and black it might be.  Avarice loosened his tongue quite a bit.  He beckoned the noble closer and spoke quietly with him for a bit.  Illapa nodded curtly and handed over the promised fee while Talaen looked on, his pale features composed into an inscrutable mask.  The creature pocketed the money and gave  Illapa a broad grin before turning to yell at more dock workers.

Illapa had the good grace not to scowl until his back was turned.  The coin he’d parted with was a pittance by the standards of his purse, and the nobleman certainly greased a few palms as a matter of business as usual, but a part of him chafed at stooping to the greedy little creatures’ games.  Talaen gave him one of his usual looks with a raised brow.  “No other ships have missed their dates.  However, the [i]Moon of Dark Clouds[/i] did come in riding low since then, in the small hours of the night.  And hired independent help to unload.”

“Interesting...” Lacryma murmured.

“Shall we see if we can find any of her crew spending their legitimately gotten gains?” Illapa proposed.

Talaen nodded his assent and they began making their way across town to the seedy tavern favored by the locals.  Kuerani stayed close to his Master who followed behind Captain Devanti and Lord Greybane.  They weaved through the evening throng at the fish market and stevedores hard at work with loading and unloading the ships in port.  More than a few people stared at the group.  While Sin’dorei were not entirely unseen in Booty Bay, the foursome moved with a cloud of menace and purpose, drawing the eyes of both locals and tourists.

They had just stepped inside the squalid tavern when someone came racing in behind them and crashed into Lacryma.  “By the Sun!  It... It's horrible!!!  I just came from Syx's shop! I had an appointment!  There's blood everywhere!"

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Talaen's picture

“What... What?!” Lacryma sputtered in confusion while Talaen arched one pale brow at the panicked newcomer who also happened to be Sin’dorei.  “Light what is it?” she demanded.

“Please!  You gotta come!”  The stranger looked around desperately.  “I think she's dying!”  Illapa gave the Elf a calculating look while Kuerani frowned.  The normally outgoing youth bit his tongue, trusting in his elders to handle this new situation.  “Don't just stand there!” the Elf wailed, beckoning for them to follow as he headed out the door.

“I'll ask around here, why don't you three go and investigate the situation?” Captain Devanti suggested.  Illapa nodded at her while Talaen arched his brows before reluctantly nodding his agreement as well.  It was a reasonable division of their forces and if they were being led into a trap, better that Talaen have the backup of both his liege and his squire.

“My lady...” Kuerani trailed off uncertainly.  He felt they should stay together, but she was not only a noble, but a Captain of the Phoenix Guard as well.  Would it be too impertinent for him to ask her to come with them or volunteer to remain with her?  "I did hear a mention of a bit of gambling being done nearby."

“I’m sure I can handle a few drunks and gamblers here,” she replied crisply, waving them away before she turned to join the customers at the bar.  If answers were to be found in the Salty Sailor, it was as good a place to start as any.  Later she could visit the gaming tables upstairs.

The Elf poked his head back inside.  “Come on!”

Resisting the urge to roll his eyes, Illapa deftly removed his gloves.  "Lead."  He followed the Elf through the narrow, winding ways of the city built on piers.  Kuerani trailed behind the noble and Talaen again brought up the rear, keeping the stranger, his liege and his squire in view.  They could hear the water lapping at the wood beneath their feet and people walking along the docks overhead.  It was like walking through a dark tunnel which smelled of salt, seaweed and dead fish.  This older section of town was poorly lit and rarely patrolled, an attractive haven for cutpurses and whores.  

The stranger darted through the open door of what appeared to be a small business.  Illapa peered inside before crossing the threshold, trusting himself to handle any danger which might still be lurking inside.  Talaen frowned and edged in beside his lord.  The place looked like a hurricane had struck.  Papers and broken glass were scattered all over the place.  The one picture still hanging on a wall was askew while others had clearly been torn down and lay amidst their shattered frames on the floor.  Oddly enough, a mantle clock sat undisturbed at the end of the counter, its heartbeat ticking the only sound within the room.  But the most jarring sight was a pool of blood which was slowly seeping out from under the closed door opposite the one through which they had entered.

“So much blood,” the Elf moaned before dashing away to be sick over the edge of the pier.  

Illapa rolled his eyes to the sky at the sounds of the stranger’s retching.  “Master Wildthorn, would you please take point?”

Talaen nodded and moved farther into the room, drawing his sword.  He looked around carefully, trying not to step on the mess, but it was nearly impossible to avoid disturbing the papers, splintered furniture and broken glass littering the floor.  Illapa followed, also looking about carefully without touching anything.  Talaen opened his Arcane senses, trying to detect any unusual magic.  There was something but he couldn't quite place it.  Whatever it was, it felt almost dormant, like an Arcane engine waiting for the correct spell or action to set it into motion.

Kuerani pulled the corner of his lip between his teeth as he watched his Master.  The tension was palpable and the youth was uncertain as to what he should be doing.  The pool of blood didn’t make him sick, but it did give him cause to worry.  He jumped and nearly yelped when a sound came from behind the small door set beneath the stairs.  It was a shifting noise followed by sniffling and a muffled whimper.

Frowning deeply at the noise, Talaen motioned for Illapa to move back.  The noble gave him a long look but finally conceded and moved over to stand in front of Kuerani near the outside entrance.  Carefully, Talaen opened the door beneath the stairs and jerked back, narrowly avoiding a smack in the face from a broomstick.  Whatever was inside the closet let out a cry of fear and scuttled back farther.  Peering into the gloom, Talaen could just make out the figure of a young Gobliness huddling behind a box.  She appeared to be covered in blood, her eyes wide with fear as she trembled uncontrollably.

The albino grunted softly and nodded to Illapa and Kuerani.  The Initiate stepped over a shredded book then paused as Illapa moved forward with authority to look inside the closet.  “Peace, Goblin.  Your client fetched us to help.”  His words only served to frighten the Goblin more.  She babbled incoherently and grabbed at any nearby items in an attempt at hiding behind them.  Holding out his empty, ungloved hands, Illapa allowed them to fill with the Light.  The Goblin squeaked in terror and curled into a little ball.  Sighing, Illapa withdrew.  “I mislike being found with a dying Goblin in a room full of blood,” he groused.  “But at least we have a witness who can speak to the contrary.  Shall we check behind the other door?”

“Yes, sir,” replied Kuerani promptly.  His eyes seemed glued to the Priest, having been drawn like a moth to the flame by Illapa’s display of power.  But Talaen waved him back and so Kuerani waited, not wanting to get in the way.  Finally he opted to try coaxing the Goblin out from hiding.  He peeked into the closet and asked softly, “Hey, are... are you okay?”  She had tears running down her face, cutting little, semi-clean lines through the mask of blood smeared over her green skin.  Cowering in the back of the closet, she held a rag over her head as if it would save her.

Talaen grunted and stepped into the blood so he could listen at the other door.  Again he heard nothing but had that vague sense of some magic being present.  After this examination, he nodded at his liege and Illapa crossed to the closed door, first listening, then delicately probing with his Arcane senses.

Illapa nudged the door open with his staff and stepped within.  The hot copper scent of fresh blood and the outhouse stink of recent death filled the air.  The mangled body of a Goblin lay on the floor next to an unusual chair.  The room was filled with all manner of strange tools and devices.  They looked suitable for a jeweler... or a torturer.  Illapa scanned the ransacked room, sending forth a probe of Light to confirm that the Goblin on the floor was indeed dead.  Looking back into the outer office, his eyes fell upon the ticking clock which had somehow survived the destruction and shower of blood.  “She's dead.  We need to leave.  Maybe something, maybe nothing.  Sol'arian, take her if you can, but we need to leave now.”

Kuerani glanced over his shoulder, frowning. "Yes, sir." He looked back, offering the Goblin a smile. "Come with me. Hurry, now." He held out his hands, as if he's beckoning a child.  Just then they heard a commotion outside.  The Gobliness squeaked and hunkered back down into her dubious shelter.

Talaen heard the restrained urgency in Illapa’s voice and looked around warily as the noble tapped the butt of his staff on the floor, bringing a shimmering shield of Light into place about himself.  The Initiate’s soft coaxing had yet to bring the Goblin forth from her hiding place.  With an impatient sound, Illapa swept out of the office, leaving Talaen and Kuerani trailing in his wake.  The noble moved down the narrow alley and around the corner of another building before taking a moment to look over some of the papers he had recovered from the mess.

Kuerani looked at his feet, frowning. "She wouldn't come." He murmured quietly, ears drooping at his failure.

"Ack!  Woman!  Joo crazy!"  The accented words marked the speaker as a Troll.  The three Elves held still, tense and ready for an attack.  They heard a few stumbling steps along the dock then a solid thunk followed by the unmistakable sound of a body hitting the ground.    Peeking around the corner, they saw a Troll lying unconscious with what appeared to be a rather solid chamber pot rolling to a stop nearby.  He was clad only in a pair of ill fitting trousers which he had not even had time to button up before he fled the building.

Talaen gave the Troll a long look then glanced back at Illapa, arching one pale brow.  The noble sniffed and answered Talaen’s silent inquiry.  “I've been at odds with a crazed engineer for long enough to be wary of ticking surprises.  There was a clock, untouched.  It shouldn't have been.”  Talaen nodded, keeping his face immobile only through decades of rigid discipline.  Was Illapa’s concern about the clock a valid one or a bit of paranoia which might lead them into further danger.  Illapa tugged his gloves back on and scanned the papers he had gathered.

Just then they heard footsteps pounding from within the building the Troll had fled.  A slender Sin’dorei woman stormed out of the open door, throwing the clothing which apparently belonged to the Troll down ontop of him. "And take your worthless junk with you! How dare you even...UGH!!" The seamstress threw her arms over her head, turned and walked back inside with all the combined dignity of an insulted Elven woman.

Talaen glanced at Kuerani and Illapa before nodding toward the Troll passed out on the dock.  Again he raised one pale brow, silently questioning his liege as to whether or not they should investigate this newest disturbance.  Although he was technically in charge of the mission, he valued both of their opinions and did not want to bring the three of them into unnecessary danger.  While waiting for an answer, Talaen was able to see into the offices of the murdered Goblin.  The one which was hiding in the closet peeked out from her shelter, ducked back inside and slammed the door shut with an audible bang.  Somehow, that seemed to be the only normal thing happening thus far!

Kuerani glanced over his shoulder, surprised by the noise. "I guess I really shouldn't celebrate my birthday here, then." He mused, completely off topic and mostly to himself.

Lord Greybane made a shooing motion at Kuerani without looking up from his reading and shuffling.  "Question the neighbors."  He was brusque in his distraction, accustomed to being obeyed swiftly and without argument.  Talaen nodded at his Initiate, further reinforcing Illapa’s order.  “Light, she was a fel-damned dentist!”  Illapa muttered, piecing together the clues he found upon the bloody papers.

Kuerani perked up, quickly falling back into his proper posture. "Yes, sir," he responded, glancing toward the fallen Troll before gingerly making his way down the alley, stepping over the prone creature and peeking inside the open door.  The Elven woman was not in evidence but he could hear her pacing and muttering on the second floor.  Carefully, he slipped inside then crept up the stairs, ears drooping a bit with anxiety.  What else did she have up there to throw?  With a soft sigh, he peeked over the landing of the staircase, silently thanking whatever gods were watching over him when nothing came flying out of the gloom to hit him.  "Miss?" He called in Thalassian, grateful to find another Elf even if she did seem rather angry.

The woman turned around, looking to the stairway. "And what do you want? Here to berate me a bit more?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously. "Get the hell out before I throw this stove at you!" she hissed.

Kuerani perked his ears, eyes widening a bit. "No, don't do that, I just..." He ducked, as if the stove were already coming. When he found it wasn’t, he cracked open an eye and regarded the female shyly. "I just... Is everything alright, here?"

“Oh yes, things are just peachy! Now get the fel out!  Let me guess?  You want me to hem your seam as well?  You want to come tell me how to do my job?! Out!  Out!  Out!”  The woman’s voice rose in volume and pitch with each exclamation until she was shrieking at the bewildered Initiate.

"N-no, I don't need any hemming done."   Kuerani shrank back a bit down the stairs until only the tips of his ears could be seen over the landing. "I need to know if you heard anything next door. Someone was killed."

The seamstress snarled, turning around to pry open the box in front of her so she could snatch up various items inside of it. "Get out!" She raged, tossing hair brushes at him, hand mirrors, anything she could find at the man standing on the stairs.

A brush caught one one of his ears and, with a startled cry of pain and surprise, Kuerani tumbled right down the stairs.  Landing in a heap at the base of the stairs, he sat up to inventory his bruises with a grumpy, much put upon air.  "Now, see here," he said, a little louder now that he was out of sight from the angry woman. "This is more important than some hemming job. Answer!"

Another snarl escaped the Elven woman as she turned to the stove.  Kneeling down, and wilth very little effort, she grabbed the stove in its entireity and pulled it from the wall as if it weighed no more than a down pillow.  "Here is your answer!” she bellowed before throwing the stove down the stairs!

Kuerani looked upward at the sounds of splintering wood and shrieking metal, eyes and mouth wide with surprise. "Holy Light, gods above..." He stumbled out the door and slid down the opposite wall, hands at his cheeks.  

The stove rumbled down the steps like a boulder.  Thankfully, it was empty at that time of year and there was no danger of fire.  Kuerani could only stare and the heap of twisted metal seen through the open door.  He had narrowly escaped what would certainly have been severe injuries if not death itself!

It was hard to say what roused the Troll.  Between the noise and the Initiate scrambling over him in haste, the unconscious creature came to, took a quick, confused look around and groggily staggered to his feet to lurch away from the danger.  His belongings were left behind, an equitable loss if he managed to keep his life!  Kuerani watched the Troll scramble away to safety then carefully got to his feet, somewhat amazed that all he had suffered was a bruised ear.  Rejoining Talaen and Illapa, he informed them with no small amount of indignation, “She threw a stove at me!”

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Talaen's picture

“Mostly patient and exam histories.  More charity work than I would expect -- ah, she was using them to test a new filling material.”  Illapa poured over the blood spattered pages in his hands, voicing what he heard in the hope that Talaen might have something to add or some insight to share.  The albino spared a brief glance for his liege, arching a brow in silent inquiry.  “‘Somewhat unusual teeth’ - no description.  Nothing else stands out.  All patients took their replacements well, save the latest who complained of an ill feeling.”  The noble shrugged and asked rhetorically, “Who murders a dentist?”

“Perhaps it had something to do with her work, my lord?” Talaen rasped.

“Oh yes, the field of dentistry is simply cutthroat.”  Illapa leaned around the corner, raising an eyebrow at the argument they could hear from inside the building.  Talaen frowned, a bit of worry for his squire nagging at his conscience.  It was the boy’s first real mission outside of his training.  Had Talaen been a fool to bring Kuerani into this mess?  He should have known it would not be as simple as tracking down a bit of missing cargo.  

They watched Kuerani come stumbling out the door, nearly tripping over the prone Troll.  More shrieking came from within the building followed by a loud crashing sound.  The Troll came to his senses and scrambled away, not even taking notice of the Elves.  After a moment, Kuerani gathered himself and rejoined Lord Greybane and his Master.  “She threw a stove at me!”

The noble glanced at Talaen, trying to maintain a blase look of boredom but a hint of amusement glimmered in his eyes.  Talaen grunted, shrugging faintly at Illapa then looking back to Kuerani.  The boy seemed shaken, but not truly injured.  It was a good test for him.  Illapa abruptly handed Talaen the sheaf of papers, straightened his robes, and headed for the harridan.  Kuerani sputtered and wrapped one of his blond curls about his finger compulsively while Talaen shoved the papers unceremoniously into his pouch so he could chase after his careless liege who surely must have a death wish!

“Trolls are simply ghastly, aren't they?”  Illapa drawled in soothing tones as he stepped into the empty room.  It appeared to be used for storage and he could hear the woman upstairs still pacing and muttering.  Talaen followed Illapa, glowering at the noble’s back while Kuerani watched from the doorway, his eyes wide in amazement at their bravery.  

Illapa poked his head into the stairwell, the look of sympathy on his face almost turning to horror at the sight of the woman poised at the top of the landing.  She held a table in her hands, hoisted over her head as she glared down the staircase. "Who else!" she snarled, prepared to hurl the table down after the stove.

“Hey!  What’s goin’ on here!”  One of the local Bruisers pushed his way into the house.  Seeing the wreckage at the bottom of the stairs, he gave the Elves a suspicious look and went over to investigate.  Maintaining his poise, Illapa pressed a hand to his chest and bowed.  At that moment, Talaen grabbed the back of Illapa's belt and yanked the noble back a few paces.  It was none too soon for the woman threw the table where he had been, clipping the Goblin in the head and knocking him out.

Talaen glowered at Illapa as he stepped in front of the noble and could not quite suppress the sympathetic wince when the table came crashing down the stairs, laying out the Bruiser.  Illapa shot an unimpressed look at the albino and they heard a huffed sigh from the Elf upstairs followed by her footsteps across the wooden floor as she walked about, trying to find something else to throw.

Remaining out of line of sight, Illapa called up, "Simply glad to report that the good-for-nothing has been cleared off."

The seamstress eyed the kitchen sink speculatively.  Hearing Illapa’s voice, she went over to peer down the stairs, raising an eyebrow.  "You mean the troll?"

Illapa poked his head into the staircase and nodded solemnly.  "Also that whelp," he added, referring to the Initiate who had just been on the received end of her stove.

“That damned troll didn't like my hemline! Told me it needed to be lower! Can you believe him?  How dare he!”  she huffed in annoyance.

“I do a bit of tailoring, myself - amateur work, nothing compared to yours, but I still understand your... outrage,”  Illapa commiserated with the woman in placating tones.

“No, you cannot! My work is perfect -- no, superior to anyone else's!”  The woman paused with a soft sigh, trying to control her anger.  Illapa swiftly bowed his head in contrition which further served to mollify her.  Slowly, she made her way down the stairs, descending them like a grand lady at the most fashionable of balls.  Folding her arms over her chest, she glared at the gentlemen.  "And what do you all want?"

“The physician next door has been most brutally murdered.  We merely wished to implore you for information.  A few brief questions.”  Slipping away were the silky tones of a courtier -- Illapa was all business with the goal in sight.

“You have three minutes. Ask fast or I turn both of you into little piggies and treat myself to bacon tonight.”

Illapa bowed again, gritting his teeth at the pandering role he was playing before asking, “Did you know madame Syx in any personal or professional fashion?”

“I cannot say I do, I haven't been around much lately, had to go take care of a few personal things.”

“You have not gone to her for any dentistry?”

The seamstress raised an eyebrow, looking at Illapa. "I have was about a week and a half ago, on the thir-- wait, why are you asking?" Her eyes narrowed dangerously at the noble.  At that moment, Kuerani slowly made his way back inside as it seemed Lord Greybane had things well in hand.  Spotting the youth, the woman glared at him and raised her hands which began to glow with magic.  “You again!”

Kuerani threw up his hands in surrender. "I'm sorry!" He glanced between the two men. "I'll ...wait outside."  Thus said, the Initiate quickly withdrew.

“Her murderer might come for you as well, my lady,”  Talaen rasped, hoping to distract the woman from going after his squire.  “She kept notes of her patients.”

The seamstress looked at Talaen and tossed her head with a disdainful sniff.

“As I understand, madame Syx was experimenting with a novel material - her patient histories indicate that you may have received such treatment.  Did she describe to you the substance?” Illapa asked.

“Really?” the woman scoffed.  “She filled a few cavities and you are telling me that I'm going to be murdered?”  She laughed at them, which brought a blush to Talaen’s face.  It was more frustration than embarrassment which caused his blood to run hot at that moment.  The woman looked at Illapa and tapped her foot impatiently. “No she did not, she filled the cavities, I came back here, I am a busy woman. You have thirty seconds left.”

“Then if Master Wildthorn has nothing to add?”  Illapa glanced at Talaen who only shook his head, still blushing.

“Thank you for time, mistress.”  Illapa bowed and Talaen followed suit.  “We shall see ourselves out.”

“You're welcome. Now get out.”  With that, the seamstress stormed back upstairs.

Following Illapa outside into the alley, Talaen looked at Kuerani.  The youth pushed himself off the wall, where he had been leaning. He looked more curious than frightened.  It was a good sign and Talaen gave the boy a gruff nod.

Illapa looked over to the adjoining building.  It had not exploded, so his caution may have been unfounded.  Talaen eyed the noble then rasped, “Never a dull moment, my lord.”  

The albino’s gallows humor drew a smile from Kuerani.  "Yes, sir."

“Indeed,” Illapa murmured, hiding his surprise at Talaen’s words.  The Blood Knight spoke only when necessary.  That dry observation coming from Talaen was nearly the equivalent of a full stand up comedy routine.  Filing that away for later thought, Illapa added, “Though I feel as if we are straying from our task.  I want to see if she left any of this material in her workspace, and then we shall turn our minds back to the matter of the missing shipment.”

Talaen nodded at Illapa who slipped back into the dentist’s office.  The Blood Knight was about to follow when he heard some shouting.  Cocking his head, he tried to make out the words but he could only catch a bit of it.  Was this a typical night in Booty Bay or had the whole town gone mad?  “Perhaps you should see about that yelling, Squire.”

“Yes, sir,” Kuerani promptly replied before trotting off into more potential danger.

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Kuerani followed the shouting to a workshop overlooking a dry dock.  He poked his head into the shop with a puzzled frown. "Hello?" He called out, his Orcish accented heavily but understandable.

A teenaged Goblin cowered behind a table, looking to Kuerani for help while an older Goblin stormed around, rummaging through his tools as if searching for something.  "What happened?" Kuerani asked, moving inside. Immediately, a hammer struck the wall just above the Initiate’s head, causing the boy to duck for cover instinctively. What was with everyone throwing stuff at him tonight? It was a good thing the hammer missed him!  It had left a sizeable dent in the wallpaper!

"I don't know!" The teenager whispered, looking to the Initiate with wide eyes. "I’m his Apprentice.  I messed something up and he kicked me out a few days ago. When I came back, he was like this!"

The older Goblin slammed a chisel into the table and the youth stared at it with wide eyes.  Moving slowly, Kuerani stepped forward to place himself between the two Goblins.  The Initiate subtly crooked a finger behind his back, encouraging the young Goblin to flee.  With a grateful look, the Apprentice edged for the door.  “Just... get him to a healer or something!" He said, hurrying out the door.

The paladin turned his gaze back to the Master carver, who was holding other murderous objects in his hands. "I suggest you get out too!" the Master Carver yelled.   "Working all these years, no one appreciates me. Didn't use connections or dirt or nothin'."

Holding his hands up, Kuerani backed away toward the door.  Something clicked in his mind, and he asked politely, "If you'll just come with me?" But his plea fell upon deaf ears as the Goblin began babbling nonsense about a revolution and distribution of clothing.  When the Goblin’s eye fell upon the stove in the corner of the workshop, Kuerani beat a hasty retreat in search of Lord Greybane and Master Wildthorn.

Once Kuerani was gone, Illapa stepped into the dentist’s office.  The clock was still sitting at the end of the counter, quietly counting down the seconds.  Marching over to the device, Illapa snatched it up and threw it out the broken window for good measure, nodding in satisfaction when he heard it crunch to a halt outside on the dock.  Talaen merely raised an eyebrow at his liege then followed the noble into the examination room, grimacing at the charnel house reek of the place.

On the far side of the room, there was a heavy metal door.  Illapa gave it a look of consideration then began a methodical search of the exam room.  "Something was not quite right about her arcane signature.  The harridan, I mean."  He stopped at the metal door, drawn to the mystery of what might lie behind it.  He paused and looked to Talaen then magnanimously gestured to the door, knowing the Blood Knight would have an apoplexy should Illapa try it himself.

Talaen listened at the door then shrugged faintly at Illapa with a shake of his head.  He could hear nothing beyond the portal and his Arcane senses were prickling with multiple sources of power.  There was that pervading sense of wrongness, but nothing felt like an imminent attack.

“May as well,” Illapa said and Talaen nodded curtly before swinging the door open.  The noble tried to peer around the Blood Knight’s armored bulk but refrained from pushing past him.  Lately, Talaen had been rather proprietary toward Illapa and the noble did not fancy another dunk in a fountain or the conveniently nearby harbor.

Talaen cautiously stepped into the room which contained a large work table, several enchanted lanterns, a desk, many books, and shelves and shelves of strange materials, bottles and pieces of magical equipment.  It had the typical look of a mage’s inner sanctum and he examined it closely, searching for any magical traps.  Again sensing nothing that posed an immediate danger, Talaen nodded at Illapa and stepped aside to allow the noble to pass.

“Now that's a bit more interesting.  Do you think she was an apothecary as well?”  Illapa idly wandered around the room, scanning the titles of books, looking for ones left open, reading labels, and generally looking for any sort of obvious clues.  Talaen shrugged and made his own examination of the room, tilting his head to read the spines of the books on their shelves.

An accounting ledger lay open upon the desk.  Illapa glanced at it then took a second look, flipping a few pages back and scanning the dentist’s expenses and profits for the month.  He hummed in satisfaction and underlined a particular line in question with a fingertip.  “Business expense, 6/1, necklace of teeth - Salsbury.”  Talaen turned to give Illapa a questioning look then joined him at the desk, glancing down to where the noble was pointing out the entry. ”Salsbury - is that a person?  A place?  Odd name,” Illapa speculated.

“Master Wildthorn!” Kuerani called from the outer office.

Talaen looked about the office then glanced toward the gruesome scene in the examination room.  “Perhaps they're around here somewhere,” he rasped, answering Illapa’s previous question regarding the mysterious Salsbury before moving toward the outer office to give Kuerani a curious look.

The Initiate lingered in the doorway, knowing he shouldn't touch anything. "There is something... I mean, I have a feeling." He bit his lower lip. It really wasn't his place to suggest anything, but he wanted to be helpful.  Talaen continued to regard him with a raised brow which gave Kuerani courage to continue, "I spoke with another Goblin. I'm sure he was the one yelling. His Apprentice told me that he had changed in personality within the last few days." He swallowed, shifting his weight from foot to foot. "I was pretty sure he was going to stab me with one of his tools, so I didn't stick around long.  But I was thinking. I know it's a long leap, but what if he had also seen this dentist? What if something in those fillings is causing something to change a person's behavior?"

Talaen nodded slowly, his expression thoughtful.  “Did you hear, my lord?” he asked over his shoulder.

"What was this Goblin's name?" Illapa called out.

“I didn't manage to catch a name, sir!”  Kuerani stammered.

“Well go find one!” Illapa demanded.

“Yes, sir!”  The boy nearly saluted but caught himself and beat a hasty retreat.

“Apologies if I'm taking liberty of your apprentice,” Illapa offered to Talaen, some amusement in his voice at the boy’s hop-to attitude.

Shaking his head, the albino rasped, “We seem to be of one mind in the matter, my lord.”

Illapa gathered up a tagged necklace of teeth and a nearby bottle of a white, grainy substance.  “Salusbury,” he murmured.

Talaen grunted then rasped, “It sounds like dinner.”

Illapa huffed a quick laugh.  Had he been completely oblivious to Talaen’s dry humor in the past year or was the albino finally relaxing enough to allow his liege to see it?  In either event, it was both amusing and surprising to see this new facet of Talaen.

Kuerani leaned against the outer doorframe, panting a bit as he reported, "Marxizz Ironchip, sir."

Illapa consulted his sheaf of papers.  “He was indeed a patient.  6/15.”  Talaen grunted softly and Illapa tossed the necklace of teeth at the albino with a deft flick of his wrist.  

Snatching the necklace out of the air with his right hand,  Talaen scowled at it as he held it at arm's length between thumb and forefinger.  “It feels... wrong, my lord.”

Illapa nodded and reclaimed the necklace only to hand Talaen the jar of white 'sand'.  "And this?"

Talaen recoiled from the jar but forced himself to take it, holding it as delicately as a live bomb.  He gave Illapa a curt nod and offered it back to the noble.  There was definitely some sort of magic clinging to both the necklace and the contents of the jar.  It felt like a curse but somehow dormant.  He refrained from examining it too closely lest he trigger the magic.

Kuerani caught glimpse of his Master through the doorway and frowned.  He glanced at the jar of what appeared to be yellowish-white sand.  Was that the root cause of all their troubles?

“Powdered specimens, I assume, for filling.”  Illapa reclaimed the jar and replaced it where he found it, but kept the teeth, wrapping them carefully in a crimson handkerchief.

Talaen nodded and resisted the urge to wipe his hands on his tabard.  The sickly feeling was only a trick of the mind, the sensation of foul magic clinging to his skin.  He nodded at Illapa then glanced back at the body of the murdered Goblin.  “Perhaps we should alert the authorities, my lord.”

“Indeed.  We seem to be done here.”  Illapa swept from the building and took a deep breath of the salt air.  Compared to the bloody stink inside the dentist’s offices, the reek of fish and rotting kelp was a welcome change.

“My day they barely wore anything but string and a smile.  Now they got pants.  Pants!  What's the world coming to?”  A Goblin was hunched over at the end of the dock, muttering to himself.  “When the revolution comes we will not spare the pants.  Clothing will be distributed equally.  Based on need.  How much do they need?  None! Problem solved.  Where's my bottle?”

Kuerani looked nervously between Talaen and Illapa.  The noble sighed through his nose.  “Of course he is,” he grumbled, bracing himself for the next bit of insanity.  He thought about going to investigate this newest player on the field, then decisively turned and marched off in the opposite direction, leaving Kuerani and Talaen to follow or not as they would.

The hour was growing late, but the docks were still alive with activity as ships were loaded and unloaded.  Suddenly, a surprised shout went up and the Elves found themselves in the midst of what appeared to be a fight between two Humans.  One of them bared his teeth and snarled at the other who cowered in fright.  

“That one!” shouted a Goblin, pointing at the snarling man.  “The one without a shirt!”

“Gentlemen,” Illapa drawled.  “Who wants the pleasure?”

The man growled at the Elves and Talaen drew his sword.  Kuerani frowned, trying to decide what to do.  His instincts guided him to stand before his Master, but he knew the other Elf was far more capable of protecting himself. Kuerani would be of little help and likely a hindrance if he got in Talaen’s way.  

llapa advanced behind Talaen's guard.  When within range, he gestured with his staff at the Human and spoke a holy word of power, momentarily stunning the man with a flash of brilliant light.

“He went crazy!”  The Goblin informed them.  “Just started to yell and growl and stuff after someone ran past!”

Illapa glanced at the Goblin in exasperation.  “You're a Bruiser, aren't you?  So bruise!”

Kuerani slowly advanced, a dark frown on his face. He was well aware that Talaen and Illapa were capable of keeping things under control.  He took up a position at the rear with a nervous grip upon his spear.

Talaen grunted, neither advancing nor showing any sign of retreating.  He held his ground, a living shield before his liege.  The Bruiser advanced on the snarling Human, mace drawn.  The Blood Knight’s eyes widened in shock as the man twitched and shook, his bones seeming to move beneath his skin.  He was frothing at the mouth, eyes rolling about wildly.  Rather than calming the man, Illapa’s spell only seemed to have made him more angry.  “Sun's Light!”  Talaen swore in Thalassian.

“Speak Orcish, damned elf!” the Bruiser snarled.

The dock workers cowered back from the afflicted man who suddenly let out a blood curdling scream.  His spine arched and his skin rippled, suddenly sprouting fur.  Wet, sucking sounds came from the man’s body as he transformed into a Worgen!

Kuerani lowered his guard in surprise. He had never seen a Worgen before and he stared at the creature with his lips parted in shock.  Illapa merely gave Talaen a grim nod.  “After you, Master Wildthorn.”

The albino charged the Worgen with a silent snarl, shield leading the way as he tried to batter the creature off its feet despite its larger stature.  One of the dock workers broke and soon the rest were streaming away, leaving the Elves and a few Bruisers to confront the creature.  Kuerani was frozen in place, just watching the Worgen with wide eyes. It was his Master's movements which seemed to break the boy's shock, and he swallowed thickly, gathering his courage for whatever might come next.

Illapa followed the knight's charge with a blinding smite.  Another word of power spoken, and a column of pale fire descended from the sky like the fist of an angry god.  The Worgen let out a loud guttural howl as the Elves advanced upon him! His claws flexed and he slashed at them, eyes blazing with fury.

Talaen skidded to a stop then slid sideways, taking the blows on his shield and striking with the flat of his blade at the Worgen's flank.  Kuerani moved forward, hunkering down behind one of the nearby bollards and watching over the top of it. Things would only get worse if he was hurt during the scuffle, and his Master didn't need that on his hands as well.  Illapa spoke another ringing word, but there was nothing holy about it.  Just hearing it brought a cringe like the sound of nails upon slate.  For its intended victim, the pain was very, very real, and lingered in wracking spasms.

Howling in pain from Illapa’s initial assault, the Worgen slashed wildly at Talaen’s shield. Distracted by rage and pain, he didn’t have time to dodge the flank attack and took the blow in full. He had no time to recover before Lord Greybane’s next word worked its insidious magic upon him.  The Worgen’s ears flattened to his skull, muscles tensing as some unknown pain wracked his body.

One of the Bruisers leapt into the fray, swinging her mace with an almighty cry! Another Bruiser moved in, trying to jab at the Worgen with her sword and force him back.  Talaen focused upon the Worgen, taking care not to accidentally harm the Bruisers and dock workers who had gathered to help subdue the creature.  He swung again, aiming for that same spot, trying to bruise the Worgen enough to take the fight out of it.

Kuerani covered his ears and ducked his head as the word spoken by Illapa pulled through him.  The boy had very little experience with magic.  The raw power of Lord Greybane’s attacks were staggering and he squinted his eyes, trying to find some focus to distract him from the side effects of the noble’s assault.  Suddenly, he noticed that there was blood on the dock. Little pools of it.  No.  Footprints. He looked up and leaned forward, peering around the bollard. The trail led farther down the dock, past the immediate scuffle in progress.

Illapa circled to his right, his stance light and martial, staff held ready to guard as he advanced toward the Worgen's back.  The Worgen took blow after blow, recoiling away from the tiny creatures with sharp, pointy things! With a deep breath he howled loudly, spinning on his heels to lunge at Illapa!  One of the bruisers took her chance while the creature was distracted by the shiny priest, and leapt forward, swinging her mace at the back of the Worgen’s near leg, trying to hamstring it.  The other Bruiser smirked and jabbed low, striking at the Worgen’s heels.  A third Bruiser had arrived and she drove her sword at the Worgen’s other leg.

Illapa was oh so very shiny.  His pale robes almost seemed to glow in the night from the power he held gathered close.  Not to be outdone by his liege, Talaen summoned his own power.  Light exploded from his form and he made a sweeping motion with  his sword, calling down a  Judgement upon the Worgen.  Kuerani watched in awe.  In that moment  he realized he hadn't seen his Master wield the Light before. The Blood Knight’s name tumbled from the boy’s lips and he stood, ready to charge into the fray at his Master’s heels.

Illapa bared his teeth in lupine snarl fit to match the Worgen’s own deadly grin.  His staff whistled with force and speed as he brought it to bear.  Apparently, it was not just for show and spellcasting.  He caught the Worgen's lunge on its length, keeping those raking claws at bay.  He skidded backward a few inches from the Worgen's momentum, then stopped.  He also wore sensible shoes, contrary to certain stereotypes.

The Worgen's claws flailed and slashed at the elf, but the blows to his leg caused him to drop to one knee. His claws dug heavily into the wood planks in an effort to catch himself as he snarled again, spittle flying from his maw in rage.  One of the Bruisers let out a scream and leapt up onto the Worgen’s back.  She clung to his mane with one hand and tried bludgeon him into submission with her mace.  The second Bruiser quickly sheathed her sword and followed after the first.  She lunged at the Worgen and caught his arm, weighing it down and making the limb effectively useless.  A third Bruiser jumped up and grabbed the Worgen’s other shoulder, hanging on while flailing at the creature’s head with the heavy pommel of her sword.

Talaen shifted about to put himself between Illapa and the Worgen as the Bruisers piled on top of the beast, bearing it to the ground and finally clubbing it into submission.  The Goblins wasted no time in trussing up the Worgen so they could cart it off to the clink.  Talaen glanced over his shoulder at Illapa then across the dock at Kuerani.  Seeing them both unharmed, he nodded once and relaxed his defensive posture... a small bit.

Kuerani jogged forward now that the situation was contained, his eyes bright with admiration. "Master Wildthorn!" There wasn't time for how amazing the Initiate thought the man was, or how well he had performed and fought. Instead, he got right to the point. "There are footprints. They lead that way." He pointed, smiling with pride for his mentor.

Apparently Illapa was chopped liver as far as the Initiate was concerned and it stung his pride a bit.  Saying nothing, he followed the Initiate's pointing finger with his eyes.  

“Right! Let's get this Worgen somewhere safe!”  said one of the Bruisers, dusting off her hands with a malicious cackle at the bound Worgen.

“One moment please,”  Illapa interrupted before the Bruisers could haul the Worgen away. Assured that the man-beast was securely chained, he methodically raised his staff with both hands and brought the butt slamming down upon the Worgen's muzzle, efficiently breaking its jaw with an audible crack.

Kuerani jumped at the sound, ears pinned back in surprise and distress. He did not even dare himself to look down as the creature yelped and howled in pain.  The Worgen thrashed and shook, trying to get away from its tormentors.  Unable to examine the beast while it was moving,  Illapa just as clinically aimed for a spot on the Worgen's skull and knocked him senseless.  Talaen stared at his liege, a bit wide-eyed at the noble’s calculated brutality.  Using the butt of his staff to pry open the Worgen’s broken jaws, Illapa stooped down to peer intently at its teeth.  They were similar in shape to those on the necklace of teeth, but the ones on the necklace were older - and much, much larger.

Nervously twirling a strand of hair around his finger, Kuerani pointedly stared at something in the distance.  He was still young and naive and did not want to dwell upon Lord Greybane’s cruelty.  He glanced at Talaen, hoping for some guidance, but the Blood Knight seemed equally surprised.  Illapa finally straightened and nodded curtly at the Goblins.

“Ya done beatin' him up now?” a Bruiser demanded.  “Can we go shove him in a cage before he you know, comes to again?”

“By all means,” Illapa replied.

The Bruisers exchanged a glance and one of them nodded to the others before directing her compatriots to help drag the Worgen off to a cage for safe keeping.  Leaving the Bruisers to their work, Illapa looked mildly to the other two elves.  Talaen met his gaze evenly for a moment then nodded to the trail of blood along the dock.  As the Worgen was pulled away, Kuerani brought himself back to the present, lowering his hand from his hair with a sigh.  Since Kuerani was the one to spot the trail,  Illapa gestured magnanimously for the youth to lead the way.

Kuerani smiled, nodding once in reply. "Yes, sir." He looked for the little footprints dappled in red and followed them down the dock slowly.

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Talaen's picture

The bloody smears on the docks were difficult to follow in the dark, but with three sets of eyes looking for them, the trio of Elves soon found themselves at the end of a dock and on the outskirts of another fight.  A young Gobliness was cornered against a stack of crates by a trio of Bruisers and some stevedores, the latter trying to edge their way out of the conflict.  But there was something wrong with the Gobliness.  She twitched uncontrollably and one of her hands was unusually large, each finger ending in a long, sharp claw!  Using her transformed hand, the Gobliness knocked one of the Bruisers away with a swift blow.

Keeping the rear guard as was his habit, Talaen looked about warily as they approached.  The darkness was broken here and there by pools of light where people were hard at work.  “Surprise, surprise,” Illapa murmured, quite blase about coming upon the scene of yet another battle.

“Lemme go!”  the Gobliness snarled, glaring at the people surrounding her.

Kuerani frowned, his fingers balling into fists. "What on Azeroth is going on?" He whispered.  

One moment the Gobliness was shouting and the next she appeared entranced and disoriented.  She swayed on the balls of her feet, head tilting from one side to the other as if straining to catch a faint sound.  One of the Bruisers gave a signal and they closed in on the Gobliness, trying to push her back to the edge of the dock.  “You ain't goin' nowhere!” the Bruiser promised.

Illapa seemed content to watch and wait for the moment, hoping the Bruisers would be able to contain this newest problem.  The Gobliness paced from side to side, her clawed fist clenching and unclenching. She seemed oblivious to the Bruisers surrounding her until she suddenly roared and punched the nearest one in the chest, sending the Bruiser flying back several paces.  Another Bruiser launched herself forward, trying to grapple with the crazed Goblin.

“Gerroff me!” the Gobliness growled, seizing the Bruiser by the front of the shirt and tossing him aside like a rag doll.

Watching the fight unfold, Talaen edged in front of Illapa, keeping a careful eye upon the combatants and ready to shield the noble with his own body if need be.  “Oi!  There’s a reward fer her!”  muttered one of the stevedores.  “Wanted pirate she is!”

The Gobliness grabbed another Bruiser by the throat and used her as a shield to bull a way through the crowd.  “Get away or I'm tearin' out the broad's throat wiff my teeth!"

Scowling at the pirate, another Bruiser advanced.  Spotting the Elves standing head and shoulders above the Goblins who had gathered, she threw a black look at them.  “Oi!  Elfs!  Little ‘elp ‘ere!”

Kuerani glanced to his Master. He honestly knew little more than Lord Greybane’s name.  Who was this Elf that Talaen defended so vigilantly?  It must be someone important to the albino and thus it should be equally important to Kuerani. The youth edged back as the Goblins drew near, his ears perked at high alert as he did his best to help Talaen guard Illapa.

The pirate wheeled around and tossed her meat shield toward the Elves as if the Bruiser weighed little more than a kid glove.  Talaen backed up until he trod upon Illapa’s foot.  Glancing over his shoulder, he spotted a defensible position between a stack of crates and a bollard.  He tried to nudge Illapa in that direction as the crazed Goblin roared at them.  “Back!  Back you savages!”

One of the Bruisers did the exact opposite of that, a scowl on her face.  "You're gonna taste my mace, wench!"

“I'm gonna taste yer face, ya broad!  If you want me, come and get me!  I’ll chew your ears off and stuff ‘em down your throat!  Damn!  I feel great!” the pirate screamed back at the Bruiser.

Illapa obligingly sheltered himself in the space behind Talaen.  The darkness of the night around him deepened.  The lap of the water against the pilings below seemed to carry whispers, things barely heard yet disturbing all the same as he allowed the Shadow to fill him.  His fel eyes locked on the enraged Gobliness and he attempted to use that dark power to soothe her mind.

Crouched down behind a crate next to Illapa, Kuerani’s eyes grew wide as he felt the chill of Shadow magic.  The Bruisers scuffled with the crazed Goblin who suddenly screamed and barreled across the dock toward the Elves, colliding with Illapa and Talaen as if they were mere bowling pins, carrying them right over the edge into the water with her.  Spinning around, Kuerani leaned out over the edge, his eyes frantically searching the dark, churning water.  “Master Wildthorn!”

The warm water closed in over his head as the weight of his armor dragged the Blood Knight to the bottom of the harbor.  Was this how he would meet his end?  Drowning in Booty Bay after being shoved off the dock by an insane Goblin?  What an ignominious death!  There was someone else thrashing about in the water with him.  Was it Illapa?  Was his liege also drowning?  He could hear the muffled shouts of people on the dock, but they sounded so very far away.  His lungs were beginning to ache as he tried to swim for the surface.  

Illapa floundered about in his cloying robes, disentangling himself from Talaen.  Once he surfaced he concentrated on the sinking knight and imbued him with power.  “Don’t sink on me, Wildthorn,” he muttered, swimming for Talaen and looping an arm about him when the albino bobbed like a cork to the surface.  Talaen struggled for a moment, not quite sure if Illapa was trying to rescue him or cling to him.  At the noble’s words, he grunted softly and tried to keep as still as possible, the priest’s spell of levitation keeping him afloat despite his armor.

Kuerani leaned over the edge, still calling loudly. "Master Wildthorn? Sir, are you alright?" He wasn’t quite sure what to formally call the Priest, so ‘Sir’ would just have to do.  Hopping from one foot to the other, Kuerani stripped out of his mail, dropping a few pieces into the harbor, and dove into the water.  He burst from the waves and gasped for air, looking about wildly until he spotted the waterlogged Elves now perched on the trunk of a drowned palm.

Illapa gave the Initiate a thoughtful look.  He had the power to allow all three of them to float across the harbor rather than swimming the distance.  “Master Wildthorn, is the Initiate swimming for the folly of throwing his armor into the water?”  Even in the midst of a crisis the noble missed little.

Water streaming from his armor, Talaen grimaced.  It would take hours of conditioning to undo the damage the seawater had done in a moment.  He glanced at Kuerani who was paddling toward them and rasped, “He had best fetch up whatever sank.”

Kuerani swam back a bit, searching the sand below for whatever had fallen. "Yes, sir," he quickly responded before diving for what had been lost.

With a sigh, Talaen plucked a bit of kelp from his hair.  Illapa gave the albino an arch look, not quite able to suppress the smirk which lifted one corner of his mouth.  It was rather fitting that Talaen should get a dunk in the sea after he had thrown Illapa into a fountain several days prior to this little excursion.  The Blood Knight returned Illapa’s gaze evenly then nodded fractionally, acknowledging the irony of the situation.

Kuerani tossed his arms over the fallen log, his lost glove and boot in his hands. He sputtered a bit, shaking out his wet hair.  “Sir, that goblin..."

“Looked a little wolfish, didn't she?” Illapa concluded.

“Yes, sir,” Kuerani replied in time with Talaen’s grunt.

Illapa gazed off to where the Gobliness had swam away furiously into the night. “I, for one, am not following a crazed Goblin wench into the jungle at night.”

They had the necklace and whatever other clues they could find in the murdered dentist’s offices.  Surely Captain Devanti had been able to gather more information as well.  That left them to seek out an inn and enjoy the dubious comforts of Goblin hospitality before returning to Silvermoon City and report their findings.  Then again, the rooms at the inn might not be so bad.  Goblins did charge extra for fleas!

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