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Chapter 3: Typical End of the World Drama

"…And I know that's how you feel as well, so I think it would be in our best interests to stop seeing each other and…broaden our horizons a little bit. Well, what do you say? I don't mean that this is permanent per se, just a little bit of breathing room to get to know other people, give each other a break, that sort of thing." On the fair side of pretty, and knowing it, Keyanomir Sunblade raised lovingly cared for bright blonde eyebrows in a suggestive manner at every passing female, while at the same time appearing to be serious and sincere to his current soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend.

The woman of his dubious attentions, a Blood Elf by the name of Jilanne (he never could remember her last name), kept tapping her foot with a sour expression on her face, as if waiting for a better reason then "we need to broaden our horizons" to break off their relationship. Seeing her less then enthusiastic look, Key fished around his brain, trying to come up with another plausible excuse while coyly eyeing the nearby patrons of the female variety.

Key never noticed the look of frustration and anger that passed over Jilanne's elfin features. Before he could open his mouth to state his cause further, she overrode him with a comment of her own, her first since he was able to corner here at the Inkfeather Inn ten minutes ago.

"That's perfectly alright by me. To be honest, I was looking for just such an excuse to get rid of you anyway. Since you've come up with a reason of your own, I see no reason to continue with this…relationship," she sneered at the word, "and I believe we may go our separate ways. And don't bother contacting me again. I wont be home, I assure you. I've had about enough of your loose ways, don't think I don't know about your affairs."

Key found his mouth was hanging open, and he furiously held aloft one finger that he shook under her upturned nose.

"Now wait just a moment. Are you implying you have a problem with me? That I am not good enough for you, is that it? You don't like me? Got someone better?"

Never mind that just moments ago he was eager to get rid of her, now he was feeling a blow to his manly pride. Jilanne gave a long suffering sigh, shoved his finger out of her face, and stormed off. Keyanomir sniffed loudly, wanting to give the impression that it was he that had had the last word, and wandered over to the serving maid at the counter. He gave her his best sexy smile, and leaned forward on one elbow.

"Hey darlin', how are you?" He waggled his eyebrows at her, and she rolled her eyes. "Why don't you go try that on someone else Key, I know your tricks already, you devil." She shoved his elbow off her counter and turned to address a customer that had approached the bar with an empty mug.

Being snubbed twice in a row might have deterred a normal being, but Keyanomir Sunblade was a Paladin of some fame and knew he was as gorgeous as any girl in Silvermoon. With high cheekbones, light skin that was just a shade paler than healthy, and long blonde hair as soft as feathers, he knew very well how handsome he was, and he knew that most women couldn't resist his good looks or famous charm.

Hoisting his red and gold helmet off the table where he'd been sitting while waiting for Jilanne, he nonchalantly strode out of the Inn, and glanced both ways down the street. The streets of Silvermoon City were usually pretty sedate, especially at this time of night, but you could never be too careful, or at least that's what his instructor had always drilled into his head before an aspiring naga had drilled a spear through his instructor's head.

Now involuntarily free of the service that all Paladins entered into upon gaining acceptance into the order due to the death of his instructor, Keyanomir freelanced his skills and abilities to whoever was willing to pay his fee; and provide pretty ladies of course. He gathered the reins of his war charger from the young boy watching the steed by the Inn's stables, and effortlessly swung into the saddle, starting off down the street toward where he kept his rooms.

Upon arriving at the small rented room near the Bazaar that he'd been living in for the past year, he saw a note tied to the handle. He glanced around automatically, even though he knew whoever left it was long gone by this point. After putting away his horse in its stall around back, he strode up to the door and snatched the neatly rolled scroll from the handle. He opened the door and entered his small home. It wasn't very large, and wasn't very well furnished, not finding a reason to collect things since he was rarely at home, but he liked it nevertheless.

He grabbed a bunch of grapes to snack on and sat down in his favorite divan chair to read the scroll. It went something like this:

"Keyanomir Sunblade,

We have read of your exploits and notoriety in combat on the field, and would be honored to

Acquire your services for the protection and future peace of Silvermoon City and Quel'Thalas.

Should you wish to accept this proposal, you will be outfitted in the weapons and armor you

Need, and will be given a dragonhawk to ride forthwith to the front of the battle in the Ghost-

Lands. We are of course, offering you a sum of 400 strong Thalassian gold for your efforts and

Risk on the city's behalf.

Halduron Brightwing, Ranger General of Silvermoon City"

Key frowned, reading the note over again carefully. To be employed by the city, he mused, could be very profitable, but also sounded dangerous. He knew the Ranger General by reputation only, the close military advisor to the Regent Lord, Lor'themar Theron. He knew the General was a powerful man with a lot of rank among the high nobility of the city. If Key did not accept the proposal (more like demand) to join in the war efforts to keep the Wretched and the various other enemies at bay, then the General had the authority to make his stay in the city very uncomfortable and it would be almost impossible to find work.

Oh he could leave for a couple of months of course, travel to Undercity or Orgrimmar. The Forsaken and Orcs were always willing to pay mercenaries to do their work for them. But there was the matter of having pride in his heritage, to fight for his people and all of those other noble sentiments that he outwardly brushed off but inwardly admired. And of course 400 Thalassian gold coins was quite a tidy reward. He'd have to do some careful thinking on this, weigh the pros and cons of joining in the war effort.

For quite a few years now he'd heard of the battles and skirmishes going on at the borders of Eversong Woods and the Ghostlands, that forbidding, tainted wood that lay beyond Eversong. Silvermoon City had once been a glorious shining empire, proud in bearing and beautiful to behold. With the human king Arthas came devastation, death, and chaos. Now the once shining city was falling to ruins. Half of the city was overwhelmed by the Wretched-Blood Elves who couldn't fight their endless addiction to magic and had mutated into something horrifying to help satisfy their needs.

The city was walled off from the its ruined left half, leaving the Wretched to roam in misery, accosting any passing elf who seemed an easy mark. Out in the woods, the very animals turned against them, becoming vicious and wild, reacting to the fel magic employed by the demons and filth that had attacked the city in that long past battle. The land still bore the scars of that battle, and forever would, rent and torn asunder by the blasphemy. The Armani Troll tribes, sensing the Blood Elves' weakness, had been relentless in their assault on the city, attacking outlying sanctums and towns.

The city was hard pressed to find able bodied men and women who could hold off the encroaching chaos. Key tended to listen into most rumors and gossip he could find, and what he heard about the Ghostlands boded ill for those striving to defend it. It seemed there was a powerful evil force stirring in the southern end of the lands, and every scouting party sent in to investigate the happenings disappeared.

So he could offer his services and help out in the Ghostlands as they so nicely suggested, or he could head out for Undercity and make do with staring at creepy Forsaken women. Forsaken women were not near as fascinating to look at as Blood Elf women.

Or as nice a catch. He grinned. Time to see about finding a quick ride to Ghostlands. He'd go check it out for a few days, kill a few Amani Trolls, and be back in time for the weekend dragonhawk races.

If he was lucky, a few of the elf girlies would be in awe of his battle prowess and he'd be able to make up for Jilanne's disappointment. After sending off short missives to his 'other' love interests (obviously with such skills as he had, there was plenty of him to share), explaining that he'd be away for a few days joining in the battle in Ghostlands, with added flourishes to describe the personal risk and danger he was going into just to keep the ladies at home safe, he damped down the magical lights in the room and went about getting ready for bed.

Getting ready for bed was a ritual of his that he took great pride in. After all, one did not look this good without putting some sort of effort into it. First, he carefully took off his magically-enchanted Paladin armor, enhanced and emboldened with his own special aura of Light so that only he could wear the ensemble. The armor had its own designated hook in a wardrobe that he kept clear of dust with meticulous care. The armor shone radiantly from where it hung, resplendent in golds and reds. His large one-handed sword was hung on two prongs above the armor, a beautifully crafted blade that had been passed down the Sunblade line for generations.

(Or so he told the ladies. In truth, he found it among the spoils of a dragon's hoard a couple of years ago while on a quest for a fair damsel. There was a sword that usually passed down through the generations in every Paladin line, but his father didn't find him responsible enough for the honor of wielding DuskBlood yet.) Never mind that, this blade served his purposes just as easily and looked a fair lot more exotic.

Next, he took out the hair tie that kept his soft hair in a top knot on the top of his head, then brushed it out thoroughly so there would be no crimps or split ends come morning. He so hated his hair to be out of place. It was a blonde so pale as to be almost white, and his complexion was almost as light, which in his opinion made him quite the dashing specimen.

After cleaning his nails, admiring himself in the mirror a few seconds more, and distributing the coins he had leftover from the day's expenses, he turned into bed, and was asleep in seconds.

Key awoke to persistent knocking at his door, the type of knocking that usually comes about from someone knowing it takes quite a lot of patience and determination to keep at it to get their target's attention. He sighed in aggravation, knowing who it was without even having to bother opening the door.

His cousin Kenral Morninglight was always harping on him about his loose views on women, and always seemed to find out one way or another as soon as Key had dumped his latest prize. Although he was still put out over Jilanne's sneering at him yester noon. Oh well, one couldn't help the jealousy of others. The handle on the door rattled a few times before the knocking again commenced.

"I'm coming, I'm coming! Blast it all Kenral, can't you at least wait till a decent hour to come harass me?" His curt demand was delivered as he yanked open the door, and the visitor, one Kenral Morninglight, poised mid knock, slowly lowered his arm and grinned in the annoying fashion early risers tend to do just to make their late night counterparts mad.

Key glared, feeling extremely irritated, and still half asleep. He didn't even bother trying to wake up, as he had every intention of going back to dreamland after his cousin was finished with his lecture. Not waiting for an invite, his cousin strolled into the room, looked around as if seeing it for the first time, and raised an eyebrow at Key. Sighing, Key slammed the door, hoping it woke the neighbors, who were always up late partying, and slumped into the only chair that wasn't piled high with his personal things.

He didn't bother being polite or offering anything to his cousin, he learned long ago that such gestures of hospitality usually just tempted his cousin to stay and avail himself on Key longer.

"I heard about what happened with Jilanne from Kenra. Apparently the poor girl was very distraught. What did you do to her? Light, Kenra was up almost half the night trying to console her." Kenral gave Key a hard penetrating scowl from where he took up residence by the table.

"Your sister would take any excuse to be part of some kind of drama Ken, so don't be whining to me if she kept you up with all her complaining and moaning over Jil. And besides, I tried to be as nice as I could about it. Jil and I were obviously not meant for each other and I thought it best that we get it out in the open as soon as possible before others started getting ideas about us. She's just not the girl for me. I like someone with spirit, who's brave and forward, and knows how to get what she wants. No offense to Jilanne she's really nice in-uh she's a great girl."

He shrugged, ran his hands through his long hair, then glanced scrumptiously in the mirror. Kenral was now tapping his foot.

"Yes yes, I know all about your desires for the 'perfect woman', me and half the female population, but only after your done with them. You need to learn that no one is perfect Key, not even you." He shook his head at Key in despair, as if saying 'why do I bother?', and then sighed loudly when Key was obviously not even paying attention.

"Oh by the way, look what I found on my door yesterday." Key threw the scroll at his cousin dismissively, then went back to smoothing down his hair. He waited for his cousin to read the scroll, all the while fiddling with his hair. When his cousin glanced up from the scroll and opened his mouth to say something, Key nodded cheerfully and said "Yep, old Keyanomir is going off to fight the big bad guys. Don't have to worry about these dastardly morning lectures about girls no more, dad. Shame really, I think I'll miss all the drama that goes on in this family."

Key sniffed and adopted an exaggerated tragic look. Then he brightened.

"On the other hand, I do love a good fight, and I'm getting paid to join in!" He laughed then stood up abruptly. "Ok, I need my beauty sleep, good night." With good byes dispensed, he promptly fell over into bed and went back to snoring.

Later on that day, after making inquiries about Ghostlands, learning what he could, and talking to a messenger of the Ranger General who had mysteriously shown up behind him while he was buying a new set of studs for his gauntlets, Key felt he was sufficiently prepared to face the terrors of the Scourge, Wretched, Trolls, and who knows what else. He purchased supplies that would last him a week just in case things went wrong and, Sunwell forbid, he had to stay longer than he had originally planned, sent a letter to his father stating where he'd be, and then gathered up all his armor and gear and traveling supplies from his house.

After surveying his room one last time to make sure he wasn't missing anything, (he always had this nagging feeling he was forgetting something every time he went traveling), Key found himself at the dragonhawk master in central Silvermoon. The dragonhawk master, who was in fact, a woman (one he knew very well in the past, in fact), gave him a shrewd look, as if questioning his motives with her fine blooded dragonhawks.

She glanced absently at his signed paper from the Ranger General that gave him permission to use the dragonhawks to fly back and forth from Ghostlands as needed, then nodded. Apparently she was trying to ignore him as much as was possible. His war charger he left behind in Silvermoon because transporting the large animal would have been too much of a pain and he got the impression that most of the Rangers there were on foot anyway. Wouldn't do to look too stylish.

Riding a dragonhawk is something one cannot even hope to explain properly. It was like gliding along the wind in as smooth and leisurely a pace as a cloud or a leaf. A dragonhawk was a strong, intelligent creature that the Blood Elves had been breeding for flight for generations.

They came in multitudes of colors, but the most common was a dark shell pink with silver edged wings. Many proud dragonhawk handlers worked in Silvermoon itself, and sold their brood around the world to other Blood Elves in other cities and towns at high prices. Key always preferred riding a dragonhawk to a bat any day. Bats were loud, smelly, ugly, and always had this habit of flapping their wings too quickly, as if afraid that if they stopped for even a second they'd fall out of the air. Maybe they would?

Key spent the somewhat long and boring flight from the city to Tranquillien, the elves' base in Ghostlands, pondering the mechanics of flight and dragonhawks.

Needless to say, it was a really boring ride. Upon landing in Tranquillien, he was immediately accosted by an elf, introduced as Advisor Valwyn, who wanted to know why he was here and what sort of use he was going to be to the Tranquillien defenders. After explaining his arrival and why he was there, and then re-explaining it to a Forsaken who had walked up, Key was then shown into the main domed building across from the small hastily erected Inn. Inside the building the lightening was just as dim as the atmosphere outside, seeing as how it was getting on toward dark.

A Blood Elf stood in the center of the building, hands on her hips with an irate expression, staring down her nose at a Forsaken in intricate black armor, who looked equally harassed and irritated.

"Uh, I'll just come back later then, shall I?" Key said to no one in particular, not wanting to get in the middle of what was either a lover's spat or some sort of long standing quarrel over some battle strategy. At this point, he wasn't sure which was the more valid. As soon as the words had no sooner left his mouth, both persons turned to him and glared. Key gulped, and put on his most winning smile.

"Hi, the Ranger General sent me here to help-"

He was cut off by the blood elf, who overrode him with "We haven't had recent communication with Silvermoon in a couple of days. We are continually under siege from all sides by the Scourge and those blasted Amani Trolls, and now I have rumors of Night Elves landing on our northern shores. How many of you are there, and how do you propose to help?" She gave him an expectant look, and the Forsaken also turned glowing yellow eyes in a decayed face onto him.

Key took a step backward on reflex before he could stop himself, and awkwardly shuffled his feet.

'Uh oh, this wasn't good. They obviously expected more soldiers than myself.'

"Ah, you see, I don't know about any armies or battalions of men…and women, being sent here ma'am, sir. I was only instructed to go myself, and offer my services to you, small as they are. I know I can be of help, but I'm afraid I wasn't privy to the knowledge of there being more sent." He licked his lips, then silently chastened himself, licking your lips was a nasty habit that made them chapped and was horrible to look at.

Both the elf and the Forsaken were now staring at him openly, as if not believing him of telling the truth and hoping that if they stared long enough he'd sprout about 100 able soldiers that would willingly fight to the death for them. After a few seconds of uncomfortable silence, the Forsaken recovered his shock, and went back to glaring at the elf.

"So this is all that your city can muster? One cocky elf boy who cares more of his own image than his people's lands? We need more men! We can't keep holding off the Scourge with supplies running low and morale just as low. What do you suggest we do now? And who knows what Dar'Khan is scheming up in his fortress." Key was feeling a bit affronted by the zombie's obvious dismissal of his many talents and strengths, but didn't want to interfere with the two's argument. The blood elf swung her head around to glare back at the Forsaken, long hair whipping around her neck.

"Are you implying something about my people Mavren? If so, I'd kindly ask you to say it outright, not pandering about with words. And I'd like to point out that this is hardly the conversation to be having in front of said 'cocky elf boy'". Her fel green eyes went right through Key, and he laughed nervously.

"Go offer what help you can to Deathstalker Maltendis, I know he's short on men and would welcome even a blood elf to help relieve the front. Be careful you don't get blood on your pretty armor." She sneered at him, and Key was silently furious but didn't say a word, knowing she was higher rank then him. He didn't relish the idea of it getting back to the General that he was sent packing for giving lip to the head commander in Tranquillien.

He nodded reluctantly, having planned on participating in a few controlled skirmishes to thin the ranks a bit, then heading back to the city. There were always plenty of aspiring heroes to lend aid when needed, and he didn't feel much like being one of them. But he was here now, might as well try to make the best of it. As he stepped out of the building, his long pointed ears caught the argument picking up where it had left off from within. Obviously things in Tranquillien were bad off.

All the elves and forsaken he could see had wary but exhausted expressions, as if they'd been on high alert for too long without any real rest. There was a small pile of broken, bloodied weapons to one side of the Inn, along with a few discarded pieces of armor. An Elvin man stood to one side, hovering over a large cauldron. The fire under the cauldron flickered weakly, licking the sides of the pot.

A couple of withered vegetables sat on the table beside the cauldron, and a large hunk of meat that Key couldn't even begin to recognize lay beside them. Not that he wanted to know what it was anyway. Some things were better off not knowing, especially if he had to be eating it at some point. A ranger sat on the first step of the Inn, a bow at her side and a gleaming dagger in one hand. In the other hand she held a sharpening stone, and was methodically running the dagger over the stone.

A lean looking white wolf sat beside her, tail lashing back and forth and bright yellow eyes observing its surroundings. If anyone walked too close to its mistress it would issue a threatening growl, and stiffen with tension. All in all, Key got the impression that these people had been fighting for a long time with no change or lull to give them time to recover. He tried telling himself not to look into it too deeply but couldn't help feeling…something, some urge to offer what aid he could, to make a difference.

He approached one of the Rangers standing by the road alertly scanning the nearby wilderness. When the Ranger's only acknowledgement of him was a flicker of her glowing green eyes in his direction, Key coughed and said, "Um, excuse me babe, where is Deathstalker Maltendis. I was ordered to report to him for combat duty?"

The Ranger finally turned to look at him, giving him the familiar sort of once over that he usually gave the Elvin women back in the city. He adopted a 'like what you see?' stance, and grinned. The Ranger grimaced and rolled her eyes, then turned and casually pointed to a fairly large tent staked out behind the Inn on a hill. Key followed her outstretched arm with eyes and eyed the tent with a raised eyebrow.

There seemed to be a lot of activity around the tent, both Forsaken and elves alike going to and fro from its entrance flaps. There stood two Forsaken guards on either side of the entrance, both carrying sharp and well used battle axes. Without a word, the Ranger went back to scouting the countryside along the road leading back to Eversong Woods, and Key's grin gradually fell off. "Ok, thanks, nice talking to you." He said sarcastically, and hitched his wrist guards higher on his arms before making for the tent on the hill.

As he approached, the two guards didn't so much as glance at him, but they instantly gave off the same impression that the Ranger's pet wolf displayed at passers by. Key held up both arms in a traditional non threatening move, and explained that the 'elf in the big building' sent him to talk to a Deathstalker Maltendis.

That was all he could say since neither the elf or the Forsaken had given him their names while he was talking to them. The two guards exchanged looks, and the one nodded. The other one abruptly disappeared inside the tent, while the one that had stayed behind casually leaned on his over large axe and went back to his watching, although Key had the distinct impression that the guard was keeping a close eye on him. Within minutes, the other guard was back in his position.

"You can go in now, the Deathstalker will see you." The guard gestured to the tent entrance, and then he too adopted the all encompassing watchfulness that the other was already practicing on nothing in particular. With a nod of thanks, Key nervously edged between the two guards and entered the tent.

This whole set up in Tranquillien was beginning to grate on his nerves. He was used to working alone, going in quickly and efficiently, not having to deal with members of authority, and not used to waiting for others to determine action. It was unsettling to say the least. But he kept reminding himself of that 400 gold, which then reminded him that he forgot to ask how and when he would be paid for this little foray. Inside the tent, the light noticeabley dimmed even further.

There was a fairly tall table situated in the exact center of the tent, not a corner was closer to one side of the tent canvas then the other. Key mused if they had a mage measure out the angles before placing the table. A small oil lantern sat on a corner of the table, and the rest was piled high with papers and scrolls and inkwells and pens. A Forsaken was sitting in a small chair behind the table, dead eyes staring at Key. Another Forsaken stood behind him talking in hushed tones to a male Blood Elf. Key thought with some smugness that the elf was not near as pretty as he himself was.

"Deathstalker Maltendis? Pleased to meet you sir"

Key took the initiative before someone else could say something, stepping up to the table.

"I was commissioned by the Ranger General to aid you in your battle against the Scourge and Wretched forces that's been troubling Tranquillien." He finished, then stood impatiently waiting for a response. The Deathstalker, or who he assumed was him, just sat there staring at him. He said not a word, didn't blink; in fact Key was sure he didn't breath. That last thought almost made him shiver in disgust. The undead had always bothered him in more ways than one. Finally the Forsaken man blinked, a long slow blink that revealed when he closed his "eyes" there appeared to be nothing but black holes in his face. Key hastily switched his gaze to the lantern on the table.

"Yes, I remember reading a recent message about the General sending some help to us. I had gotten the impression, however, that there would be more coming? Perhaps their a bit late?" The man's voice was low and hoarse, as if he'd worn out it out talking to much…or maybe it was just worn out.

Key shrugged, not knowing either way what the General had planned. He supposed it was more then likely that there were others sent other then himself. Then he frowned, wondering if that meant he would have to share his 400 gold. He better not have to.

"I see," said the Deathstalker. He looked Key up and down in a similar way to the Ranger, and this time Key felt a bit mortified and affronted.

"A Paladin I see. Initiated? You'd have to be to be sent out here, yet you don't look very old." The undead man thoughtfully stroked his chin as he mused, which made Key shudder. The sound the pale flesh made when it rubbed together was something altogether akin to hearing nails on a chalkboard.

"Go find some lodging at the Inn, and get some rest. Report directly to me tomorrow at sunrise, I may have a mission that would require someone of your…status." The Deathstalker waved his bony hand toward the tent entrance, then picked up a scroll written in Gutterspeak, the Undead's personal language. Key personally found it fitting that such creatures as the Undead would have a language aptly named Gutterspeak.

Keyanomir wandered over to the Inn, careful to avoid the Ranger who was still lounging on the steps. The wolf growled at him and he amused himself by imagining its fur keeping him warm at night. The Inn was spare and simple, obviously built with the intention of housing multiple persons at one time. There was a small dining area, with a few forsaken and elves crowded around the small round tables, deep in discussion.

A smiling Forsaken woman wiped her hands on her apron as he approached the main counter. When she told him he'd have to pay for a room, he was slightly irritated that he would have to pay for staying in this dangerous backwater village, but finally heaved a discontented sigh and forked over the precious gold.

Too late to back out now, he didn't want to risk being labeled a deserter. Once he had secured a small sleeping alcove to himself, and made sure his belongings were locked in his travel chest and safely stowed under the futon, he went in search of a good meal. Apparently what he saw being cooked up outside the Inn was also being served inside as well, and he learned that this was because their latest supply line had been ambushed half a days travel south along the road while coming through the pass from the eastern Plaguelands.

When the steaming bowl of questionable contents was finally placed in front of him, he was hesitant to taste it, but he was very hungry and the Innkeeper was giving a him a threatening stare, as if daring him to turn his nose up at her best served soup. He gulped down the first spoonful, and despite it being boiling hot, the soup actually wasn't that bad, which astonished him. It could do with a little mild spices to give it a sharp taste, but otherwise it was quite fulfilling. Before long, he was finished, and stared at his empty bowl in bemusement.

Finding he was still hungry, he ordered another bowl, and avoided the Innkeeper's telling look. Although he did refrain from asking what exactly the soup was made of, feeling it safer that he didn't know. After eating his fill, and having a tall glass of spiced mulberry wine, he nosed his way into a dice game that was going on at a neighboring table. The participants didn't seem to mind including him, and he spent the rest of the night playing a game of luck, which he won once and lost four times.

A comradeship developed between him and the dice players, as it always does among men of like minded interests, and soon they were all roaring with laughter, sipping their drinks, and talking about all manner of things. As it got later in the night, the men eventually drifted away to sleep or to their duties, and the ones staying at the Inn bid him good night before they too went on their way. Soon finding himself the last at the table, Key realized he had a slight headache, and foggily wondered how many drinks he had. He sniffed his cup, blinked upon realizing that he'd obviously changed to something a bit stronger then wine as the night wore on, and then staggered up the stairs to his sleeping alcove.

In his inebriated state he almost missed his quarters, and slumped against the wall before tumbling into the alcove. Still, he took his time doing his hair up for the night, although it took much longer then usual considering his inability to concentrate and his hand's strange wobbling. So far, he'd done a lot in just one day, and was rather proud of accomplishing most of his goal in this endeavor. Now he'd just finish up this task the Deathstalker set him to, kindly mention being needed elsewhere, and slip off back to Silvermoon to collect his 400 gold and find a nice pretty girl with curves in all the right places.

He had the strangest dream that there was a night elf with the head of a green dragon babbling to him in some foreign tongue, and trying to braid his hair. He kept swatting the elf away but she would giggle and then point behind her, where a large snow capped mountain loomed in the distance, surrounded by other smaller mountains, all glistening with new fallen snow. That dream faded out to be replaced by another where he sat in a circle with a Tauren, three blurry female figures, and a Forsaken, and all staring at a small hexagonal box sitting in the center.

While studying the box, the most horrible sense of dread and foreboding came over him that he jolted awake with a gasp.

Pale yellow sunlight danced in his eyes from the stained glass window that for some reason had to be situated at just such an angle as to shine directly into the eyes no matter your position. After he'd calmed down, his head started up such a pounding that all thoughts of dreams faded from his mind, along with their content, and he could only groan in agony.

'Holy Sunwell! What did I drink last night?' he wondered blearily.

After squeezing his eyes shut and rubbing his temples for a few moments seemed to relieve some of the ache, his head cleared enough to actually register that the sun was shining on him. He blinked, frowned, then darted out of bed so fast he fell on his face, blonde hair falling in disarray.

"Oh no! I'm late! I overslept, I can't believe I overslept. I was supposed to meet with Deathstalker Maltendis this morning"

He hurriedly pulled on his underclothes, his tunic and breeches, and then his armor, moving so quickly that his headache was forgotten, for a few moments at least. He caught his hair up into a fetching ponytail that hung between his ears and then snaked down his left shoulder in a shining waterfall.

He glanced in the mirror when finished, tucked an errant strand of hair behind an ear, then hurriedly tramped down the stairs and through the Inn's common room. The Innkeeper glanced up from washing tables, shrugged, and continued on with her morning opening duties.