A/N: This is a side story to Impervious that happens sometime between the first few chapters, but doesn't fit in the main story.
Lady Nadrynne Dawnswhisper stalked through the dusty streets of Orgrimmar, pausing at every window and every crossroads to scan them, searching for him. He was a rather handsome elf, with long, flowing pale red hair and such a chiseled jaw. He'd been a magister, she'd thought, based on his robes. But then, none of the magisters had known him. A rogue mage, perhaps?
As she continued her search, her gaze swept over an open air diner of sorts, where a group of four Horde had taken a seat at the outermost table. Two warlocks, one forsaken and the other orcish, sat to one side, playing poker from the looks of it, and beside them was a sin'dorei paladin and a...high elf?
Lady Nadrynne looked away as all four of them turned to stare at her. Whatever. She was probably just tired. Besides, the high elf had been a woman, so it wasn't who she was looking for, anyway. And she had heard something about some 'high elf of the Horde'...
As the sin'dorei woman headed off, the quel'dorei, Liila Dragonlily, spoke in a soft monotone. "Enlyhn, isn't that—"
"Woman, I swear to the nether, I will hurt you," the orcish warlock hissed, instinctively sinking down in his chair as though to disappear beneath the table. Enlyhn Bloodfist frowned as a boney finger tapped the table in front of him and he saw his fellow 'lock, Timmons Burlaste, had a winning hand. Grudgingly, Enlyhn sat back up and tossed a few purple shards across the table to the forsaken.
Timmons grinned, his mouth and chin the only visible parts of his face, due to the hood that hung low over his head, obscuring most of his features. Both warlocks dressed rather plainly in simple black robes. Neither had any demons present.
The paladin of the group, Sethyl Sunblade, watched the elven woman disappear around a corner before turning to look over his guild mates, perplexed. His brown hair was spiked so that his ears just barely poked out above it—well, normally; recently, he'd been running low on hair gel and his spikes were starting to look a little haphazard and droopy...he really needed to go back to Silvermoon soon.
He nudged Liila with his elbow. The small woman—she was thin and short, even for an elf—let her blue gaze slide toward him, her face expressionless. Sethyl realized this was the only invitation she was going to give to speak and he motioned after the sin'dorei woman. "You know her?"
Immediately Enlyhn was muttering under his breath and Timmons was laughing. Liila merely shrugged in a blasé manner. "Our guild is in possession of some trinkets known as orbs of the sin'dorei. They allow the wearer to look like a blood elf and Enlyhn is probably the only person who's used them for anything."
Sethyl's expression remained blank.
As Timmons dealt he and his fellow warlock a new hand, he laughed a dry, evil cackle. "Enlyhn is a lady's man."
Sethyl paled. "You...you slept with...?" He couldn't quite wrap his head around the thought of an orc and an elf having sex. It seemed like it would be anatomically awkward, painful even, assuming the elf was the woman...though if he were under the influence of the trinket maybe—
He shuddered to try to force the thoughts from his head. Even as Timmons laughed at his reaction, Sethyl glared toward Enlyhn. "You shouldn't be deceiving people like that."
Enlyhn gave his guild mate a wide smile. "It's so cute how you chastise me like you think I have a conscience."
"What's going on?" Another blood elf dragged a chair up to the table, ignoring as both warlocks and Sethyl eyed him with suspicion. The elf, Wren Duskflame, was the guild's very own Farstrider. He looked from face to face, hopeful to be included in the conversation, though his eyes seemed to stay mostly on Liila and Sethyl.
Enlyhn shrugged as he eyed his hand, accepting Wren's presence as one might accept an addition to background noise. "Sethyl thinks he can make me into an upstanding citizen."
"Impossible," Wren said, without missing a beat. He arched one of his perfect, blonde eyebrows. "Warlocks are sociopaths. You can't fix them."
Both Enlyhn and Timmons abruptly paused in their game to give Wren wide smiles as Sethyl fought back his indignation. He hadn't been trying to... "Just because they're assholes doesn't mean they can't draw the line at certain things...like making women think they're a different species and then having sex with them."
It took a moment and a further explanation before Wren caught on to what had happened and he turned to eye Enlyhn. The warlocks had already resumed their game. "Are you the one who slept with Lady Sunbreeze? Some mysterious elven man she's quite taken with has been all she's been talking about lately at parties. And with her resources, if the elf exists, she would have found him by now."
"You're keeping up with Silvermoon gossip in Orgrimmar?" Timmons deflected.
"I have friends back home. They write to me," Wren frowned before looking back at Enlyhn. "Was that you?"
"A gentleman never tells," Enlyhn replied, grin back full force. He lay his hand on the table and motioned for Timmons to hand over the latest batch of soul shards. Faces twisted in torment flickered just below the surface of the glowing shards as they scraped across the table to him.
Sethyl seemed to be the only one bothered by this. He forced his attention away from the trapped souls and looked around. Weren't there supposed to be waiters or something? This was a restaurant, wasn't it? He glanced back to see a few other tables being waited on and frowned. When he brought his attention back to his group, he found that Wren was asking Liila a few questions about trading policies in Orgrimmar—apparently a guild mate had sent him to her when he'd started asking.
As Liila's voice droned on, never breaking its monotone, Sethyl abruptly felt like a fifth wheel. He eyed the warlocks for a long moment. Despite feeling his gaze on them, they ignored him.
"You know, just because warlocks deal with demons, doesn't automatically make them monsters." He'd been ready to go off into an explanation of what the warlocks did for Silvermoon when Wren scoffed.
Generally, the Farstrider was sort of quiet in his nature, so to see him so quickly rebuke something was rather odd, for all of his guild mates. Wren shook his head, not noticing their curiosity. "Sethyl, I'm sorry, but you don't know what you're talking about."
"My grandfather is the grand warlock of Silvermoon," Wren said, pointedly. "My mother and father are warlocks. My older brother is a warlock. Most everyone I grew up with were warlocks. Warlocks are sociopaths, no matter what you want to think. Some may seem nice, even friendly or loving, but all they are doing is playing off of the emotions that they think will be most likely to get them what they want."
As Sethyl eyed the Farstrider with a new understanding for his non-confrontational mannerisms, Enlyhn dealt another hand. "Sounds like you had a rough childhood."
"Some might say that," Wren muttered. His parents had been less than affectionate and had merely responded with amusement the few times a terrified, five-year-old Wren had come crying to them about his brother sending his demons after the poor boy. His mother had even said something about at least Wren would learn to move fast if he had to outrun an imp. There was no way he was going to mention this to either of the warlocks in his guild. He didn't need to wake up in the inn to find their imps sitting at the top of his hammock just to see if they could jostle free a few old memories.
"Must have been hard, being the only non-warlock in the family," Timmons added, sliding his cards off the table and inspecting them. Sethyl shivered. It was as though the warlocks were emphasizing Wren's point. While both had sounded like they cared, neither's face had shown even remote interest. Sethyl felt like he was watching a poorly planned puppet show.
Wren shook his head, ignoring the comment. "Seriously, though. You can't expect them to ever change their ways or to ever do something good just for the sake of doing something good."
"That's not true," Liila spoke and reminded the others that she was even there. How could a damn high elf become so invisible in a Horde city? Even if the forsaken had, for some inexplicable reason, dubbed her as one of their own? As Wren eyed her, easily ready to defend his point, she shrugged. "Let me tell you a story of a warlock with a heart."
Shortly after the forsaken were admitted into the Horde, myself and a few friends had flown to Kalimdor. We sought to explore this foreign continent, hoping to discover powerful secrets or allies who might help us with...well, that is another tale.
For now, you need only know that we sought to uncover the mysteries of Kalimdor. Since being rescued by the forsaken from the Scourge, Haa'aji and I had seen friends come and go. Our latest adventures had left us with only three of our guild mates, and even they turned their attentions elsewhere after a few mishaps in Gadgetzan left Mitchell permanently banned from the city.
Again, a story for another time.
While Haa'aji and I were not banned from the city, we were not exactly welcomed, seeing as we may have indirectly helped along the...incidents and explosions. Regardless of our guilt or innocence, we did not wish to further damage our new guild's standing with the goblins and thus headed off into the desert to see what fate might await us.
The desert was boring, so we followed rumors and headed into what is known as the Un'goro Crater. Again, this place was boring and we kept trekking west.
Haa'aji was angry when we reached Silithus, at first thinking we had gotten turned around while trapped beneath the heavy foliage of the crater. However, that was when we saw our first kal'dorei.
That was also when we saw our first kal'dorei get eaten by a giant spider. Needless to say, we were convinced that we were not in Tanaris. So we—
"Wait, wait, wait," Sethyl waved his hand in the air. "You're telling me you watched a man get eaten by a spider and your only response was 'Oh, I guess we didn't get lost'?"
Liila's gaze slid slowly toward him and she gave him an unreadable look for a long moment. At last, it was Wren who tapped the table in front of her. "We'll try not to interrupt your story again. Please continue."
"So, we made it to Cenarion Hold with little incident after the whole dragon thing—"
"Now you're skipping over something to do with dragons?" Sethyl crossed his arms.
"If you would pretend for maybe ten minutes that you aren't obsessed with the sound of your own voice, I'll tell you the parts that matter. If not, just say you don't want to hear my story."
Sethyl wanted to strangle the wench. Or just shove a few mana crystals down her throat. Instead, he tapped about five in rapid succession and smiled. "Forgive me for having questions. I'll hold them until the end."
We spent about a week performing menial tasks for the druids of Silithus before he showed up. A warlock seeking out the knowledge of the Twilight Cult. While neither Haa'aji nor I knew why he wanted this information, we didn't worry about it overly so. He was willing to help us hunt down the cultists and that was good enough.
We had teamed up with two feral druids who were in the vicinity, namely because Haa'aji had made some rather disparaging comments about the kal'dorei and we were seeking to keep from being thrown out into the deserts by befriending a few.
I swear to the light Sethyl, if you open your mouth...Yes, the druids were night elves. The male kal'dorei tanked for us and we were proving to be quite a team—we had no healer, alright? Elune herself was healing us. It's not important to the story. Just...
We were a good team. With the five of us, we easily tackled obstacles and it looked like we would have Silithus free from the cult and the silithid in a matter of days, until misfortune struck.
The lady elf and I were separated from the group by an explosion. We hadn't caused this one. She and I had fallen down into a small, ravine of sorts. Luckily, we'd been coming up from it, so the silithid that inhabited it were already dead.
Something triggered a second explosion and we were forced to retreat into one of the burrowed tunnels to escape the blast and consequential wave of sand. As we managed to find safety, we encountered a cultist, who had apparently been tailing us since our operations at the cult's last outpost. Even as he was enveloped and crushed by the sands spewing into the tunnels after us, he managed to cast a rather dire curse.
The world went black.
When I awoke, I found that I was partially buried in sand. At first, I couldn't figure out why it was so hard to move...I thought that perhaps the man had enchanted the sand and made it heavier or thicker or something. Unable to free myself, I looked around for my group mate. That was when I saw myself, sprawled out and half buried in the sand a few feet away.
Looking back down, I realized that the reason I was having such difficulty moving was because I was in the form of a large cat. We probably would have died there, in the amount of time that it would have taken me to figure out how to move four legs so that I could maneuver out of the trap, but fortunately, Haa'aji had seen where we'd taken refuge and he and the druid helped to dig us out.
It didn't take much convincing for them to believe that our souls had somehow been switched. I couldn't walk as a cat without tripping over my own feet and the kal'dorei woman...she was not pleased with our predicament.
We spent most of the rest of that day and night learning how to be one another, so to speak. I could not grasp the notions to switch her body back to its bipedal state, so the male kal'dorei spent some time with me, teaching me how to walk as best he could. He was a good teacher.
The woman had difficulty because she was not attuned with the light and so was left rather defenseless in a frail body. Further, the warlock suggested we should avoid trying to use our spells, seeing as it might make it more difficult to switch our souls back. Something to do with the bodies getting used to different magics.
By the next morning, I could walk, for the most part, though the body's tail was still somewhat of a mystery to me. I never did get to understand how to control it. The woman was in a fickle mood for the entirety of our adventure.
We made it back to Cenarion Hold and the men called upon the dragons from earlier to try to track down a way to fix us. In the meantime—
"I'm sorry," Sethyl lightly put a hand on Liila's though quickly lifted it away as her expression seemed to say, 'You are touching me, why are you touching me?' Sethyl brushed off her contempt. "But I think you should explain the dragons. They were just around to help? Why would they?"
For the first time since he'd met her, Liila took in a deep breath. She offered him a haphazard explanation as she exhaled. "We came across two black dragons being attacked by the cultists shortly after entering Silithus and saved them, so they promised to return the favor if need be."
"Black dragons, really?" Sethyl didn't wait for her to answer. "This whole story is bull shit, isn't it? I mean, why would black dragons just hang around a druid outpost just on the off chance their assistance was required? And honestly, why would black dragons help mortals at all?"
"They gave us small stones with which to communicate with them, if need be. All one had to do was tap the stone eight times to get their attention and they promised they would come to wherever the stone was."
Wren cocked his head, fishing out of his pocket the stone the guild had given him to communicate with the other members. "So...that was the inspiration for these?"
"Yes," Liila said.
"I'm not listening to any more of this," Sethyl shot to his feet and nearly toppled his chair. He didn't bother to push it back in. "I'm going back to Silvermoon. Call me if we make any progress in our raiding plans."
The other four watched him walk off before Wren shifted over to Sethyl's former seat and turned to face Liila. "So...this story gets to a point where your warlock traveling companion does some act of kindness, I take it?"
The druids came up with all sorts of jokes about my predicament, and their good humor about the whole thing seemed to only make it worse for the woman. She was angered further when I figured out how to run, but not how to stop...something about if I broke her body, she'd break me.
Whatever, though. It was just a wall.
Well, it was almost three days before the others returned with the dragons. Being creatures who spent their idle time mulling over how to fuck over others, it was with little surprise that we learned that the dragons knew a way to restore us. They'd probably taught the cultists the whole soul swapping trick themselves.
They flew us to a remote cave, though I did have trouble staying on the dragon's back and eventually he just carried me in his claws. Dragons can be surprisingly gentle creatures... considering that they can tear people apart with their claws and all. I didn't suffer a scratch. Or rather, the druid's body didn't. My body was safely perched on top of the dragon's back.
When we arrived, the dragons had some fun eating a few cultists who were present and then went about setting up the ritual to return our souls to the proper bodies. Everything was going smoothly until the silithid came.
To this day, I do not know how they knew where to find us, but the creatures attacked in such force... There were a few more explosions as the dragons completed their ritual and my world went black again.
I came to only seconds later and could barely move for all the pain my body was in. The kal'dorei woman did not seem to have trouble with such pains and she and the others were quickly evacuating the cave. However, I couldn't move.
That was when it happened.
The warlock we'd been traveling with was probably the smallest person there—aside from myself—and consequentially the most fragile, physically. He was ahead of the others, too.
However, when he saw that I wasn't going to make it out of the cave, he went back for me. There was no such reason for this. We had no bets going; I owed him no money. The druids could have healed the group if they had wanted to, so my services were not required. He had been safely out of harm's way, yet he still heroically returned to my side to save me from a hellish death.
Both of us were nearly crushed twice as he carried me out—I was still growing accustomed to the pain wracking my body and was quite useless. Even as one of the dragons was flung back into the cliff face beside the cave, the warlock carried me out across the sands, fireballing any silithid who came too close to us.
Then, in the midst of all that chaos, he set me down in the sands and asked if there was anything he could do to help ease my suffering.
"So you see," Liila shrugged again, bored. "There's at least one warlock with a heart."
A long moment of silence passed, interrupted only by the shuffle of cards and soul shards, before Wren finally furrowed his eyebrows. "What happened with the dragons and the silithid and the druids?"
"That was not the point of the story," Liila said, winding a lock of hair around one of her fingers as she watched the warlocks' game.
"So...did he help your suffering?" Wren prodded.
"No," Liila inspected her nails as she spoke. "There was nothing he could have done. It was the thought that counted."
While Wren considered pointing out that maybe the warlock had made a deal with one of their other group members instead of Liila, and that perhaps Haa'aji had ended up owing the damnable creature some favor, he decided against it. Liila was a priest after all. Perhaps she needed to think that no soul was beyond saving.
He nodded politely to her as he rose to his feet. "I'm going to swing by the guild hall and see if anything needs to be done...and follow up on some of those trading tips you gave me. Anyone want to come along?"
Enlyhn stood up as well, as he noticed the sin'dorei woman from earlier pathing back down the street. "I'll go with you."
The warlock knew that elves were able to recognize magic to a certain degree and he didn't want the woman to notice him on her way back. Imagine how awkward that might get...
It wasn't until the two were well out of sight that Timmons bothered to speak as he inspected the different souls he'd won. "Liila."
"You are never going to let that go, are you?"
"It is unlikely."
"If my reputation gets ruined because of one instant almost four years ago where I wasted time saving you, there will be fire and fel magic to contend with."
Liila shifted across a few seats to sit next to Timmons and rested her chin on one of his boney shoulders. She leaned her head against his as she watched him sweep his shards into a small pouch. "I think you like me too much to do that."
"You priests," Timmons scolded, though there was a hint of a smile on his face as he patted Liila's head. "Always pushing your luck..."