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April 22, 2011 / Bika

Fiction Friday: The Right of All Horde IV

What exactly are you planning, Verdus?

Verdus..?

* * *

Like the plans of so many others throughout history, Verdus’s vengeance was delayed by factors beyond his control. Upon leaving Desolace, he returned directly home to Thunder Bluff to make his preparations. He told nobody of what he’d learned, not even Fenniel, largely isolating himself in the city’s workshops. If any of his friends or loved ones were concerned about his new silent obsession, none of them said anything.

His first setback came when the Grimtotem seized Thunder Bluff immediately after Cairne’s death. They struck in the middle of the night and he was forced to flee the city after three assassins nearly killed him in his sleep. Many others among the city’s warriors and elders weren’t so lucky. After the city had been reclaimed and Verdus thought he could finally resume his preparations, the Shattering happened. Devastation rocked the entirety of Azeroth, followed with assaults by the Black Dragonflight and the Twilight’s Hammer cult. With the entire world under immediate threat, he had no choice but to place his personal retribution on hold until the immediate crisis had been stabilized. As much as it stung, vengeance against Cersei Dusksinger for the death of his friend would just have to wait.

Months passed.

The worst of the damage from the disaster had been contained. Rebuilding was proceeding, albeit more slowly than anyone would like. The Horde and Alliance had both launched counter-offensives against the black dragons and insane cultists. And slowly, quietly, for a scant handful of minutes every night before the fatigue of the day’s battles overtook him, Verdus rebuilt his plans. The place and manner of the warlock’s death had been decided. The time of confrontation was limited by a few outside factors, but was flexible overall. Plans for the necessary devices had been drafted and construction was almost complete.

Two key holes in his Verdus’s plan remained unfilled, however, and resolving them was beyond what he was capable of doing on his own. He needed help, and that was a problem. Thus far, the druid had managed to conduct his preparations in absolute secrecy. He knew that Cersei was well-connected into the political bodies of Silvermoon City, and for his plan to succeed he would need complete surprise. There was only one person that he knew of that had the magical expertise he needed and that he could completely trust, but getting a hold of her had been difficult since the Shattering.

Verdus returned one evening to the Valley of Wisdom in Orgrimmar, the place that had been his home away from home since the Shattering. Once the site of the Warchief’s hold, the true Warchief as far as Verdus was concerned, most simply considered it “the Tauren district” now that Garrosh had ordered the citadel rebuilt in the Valley of Strength instead. It certainly looked the part, having been filled with traditional Shu’halo tents and totems. The space was left largely open, where people could sit around the communal fire under the open sky, listening to the water wheels do their work and conversing with friends and clan. It was a good place, a peaceful and pleasant reminder of home.

Approaching the bonfire to relax before the evening’s tasks, he found two seats already occupied. The first was currently hosting Fenniel, who had also been making his home in the Valley of Wisdom of late. Verdus suspected that it was largely so that he could continue to feel a connection with his murdered wife, but he hadn’t had the nerve to ask. In truth, he’d had difficulty making himself spend time with his friend lately. The decision not to tell Fenniel what he knew was eating at Verdus. More than once he’d considered telling the Farstrider the truth, but was deathly afraid that the poor elf wouldn’t be able to take it. While he’d significantly recovered from his initial despondency at his wife’s loss, it was clear that the bereavement was still weighing heavily on him. Knowing who it was that had taken Libby from him could very well break him. Even if it didn’t, what Verdus planned to do to the vile woman would very likely end their friendship if Fenniel found out. And so he took the coward’s way out, falling back to the words that Fenniel had spoken to him before that fateful trip to Desolace: “If you find anything, don’t tell me. I’m not sure I want to know.”

Putting on his most convincing smile and coming around to sit next to him, Verdus finally saw the face of Fenniel’s companion, whose back had previously been to the druid. Much to his surprise, it was precisely the woman that he’d been trying to contact for weeks: the mage Corspilla. The Forsaken woman was dressed in her usual witch’s robe and hat, a look that suited her very well, and drinking prodigiously from one of several alcohol-smelling bottles sitting next to her. Verdus’s relationship with the arcanist had been somewhat strained to begin with. She took a perverse delight in polymorphing people (temporarily) into sheep, but since Verdus’s shapeshifting abilities largely neutralized the hobby she’d instead made a habit of setting him on fire at every opportunity. There was never any permanent damage of course, since Verdus was able to heal the injuries, so it became a sort of game for the two of them. Over time she and Verdus had become fast friends, and the flamestrikes had long since been replaced by mutual gifts of booze.

Verdus gently placed his hand on Fenniel’s shoulder to get his attention, and said, “Hey there, you two. I’m sorry to interrupt, but could I talk to Pill for a few minutes? Privately?”

Fenniel looked up and over at him and smiled when he saw the druid. “Oh, hi mister Verdus. Sure, I don’t mind.” Corspilla simply smiled her usual manic-looking smile and nodded once, getting up from her seat at the fire and leaving the bottle behind with its siblings.

“Thanks,” Verdus said with a gentle smile, “I don’t think it’ll take too long.” Gesturing over to the side of the main tent, he turned his attention to the mage and said, “Let’s talk over there, Pill.” As the two of them walked over to the secluded spot, Verdus looked back over his shoulder to where Fenniel was sitting with his back to them. He felt a fresh wave of guilt wash over him, both about what he was planning as well as leaving him alone like that. There was nothing to be done about it though, he thought grimly. When he was satisfied that nobody would overhear the two of them, Verdus stopped and turned to Corspilla with a dour look on his face. Judging by her reaction, she quickly realized that something serious was afoot.

Dropping his voice to a whisper, Verdus said to her, “Pill, I need you to promise me that you’ll never tell anyone what we’re about to talk about. Nobody, especially Fenniel. Please. This is serious.”

Corspilla’s face turned thoughtful as she carefully considered her friend and what he was asking of her. She fiddled with her robe in contemplation, taking her hat on and off a few times. Finally, she nodded in assent.

Verdus’s face eased slightly. He hadn’t expected her to reject his request, but he was very relieved to see that she was taking this seriously. “Thank you, Pill,” he said. “This could get me into a lot of trouble if anyone finds out. It’s about Libby, Pill.”

Corspilla gasped at that, quickly putting two and two together, and loudly exclaimed, “OH!” As Verdus’s eyes widened and he quickly made some frantic shushing motions at her, she clapped her hands over her mouth. After a moment, she took them away again and quietly whispered, “Oh.”

For a moment as Verdus was about to continue, he almost panicked. No matter how little he told her, he was asking her to become part of a conspiracy to commit murder. What if she didn’t understand why he was doing this? What if she and Libby hadn’t been as close friends as he remembered? What if she felt the risk was too great or, worse, told somebody? The plan would be ruined and justice might never be granted. “I… Ugh, stars and stones. I barely know how to say this. I know who killed her, Pill. I need to set things right. She was my friend, and so is Fenniel.”

After a moment that seemed to stretch on for ages, Verdus was relieved to see her pull out a dog-eared notebook and pencil. Baring her teeth in a snarl, Corspilla whispered in all but a hiss, “WHO?! We light them up and listen to them scream!”

With the fear banished, Verdus felt a cold, mirthless smile spread across his face. This could actually work, he thought. “I appreciate the offer, Pill,” he continued quietly, “but that won’t cut it. Too quick, for one thing. Plus, I may need her to answer a question for me before the end.” Verdus chastised himself briefly for letting the killer’s gender slip. He’d hoped to limit the information that he gave to the volatile witch, but that didn’t seem to be going as well as he’d planned. If things went badly, the last thing that he wanted was for anyone else to get caught in the backlash.

“BAH!” Corspilla exclaimed, as she often did when she didn’t get what she wanted.

The fire for vengeance was stronger in her than Verdus had dared to hope. Perhaps even too strong. He didn’t want her to go off and act on her own. A simple death by flame simply wouldn’t do, not for Cersei. “I have a plan,” Verdus whispered in an attempt to placate the mage, “and I need you to trust me to follow through. But I can only make it work with one, and only with two things that I can’t get myself.”

Corspilla looked around, seemingly aimlessly, muttering under her breath about “making her pay”. After a moment, though, she settled down somewhat and nodded in understanding.

Relieved that the conversation was getting back on track, Verdus smiled coldly and continued. “Trust me, she’ll pay. And she’ll pay for quite some time before it’s over. But this person has friends. Friends who likely have access to scrying magic. I need a way to block it. Can you give me anything to protect me, preferably something that I can wear?”

A ponderous look came over Corspilla’s face as she began scribbling something in her notebook. Presumably they were notes on how to make such an item, but even if Verdus could see what she was writing he knew there was no way that he could decipher a mage’s arcane sigils. After several moments she stopped writing, read back over her notes, and nodded. “I can,” she whispered. “It will take a little bit and I have to do it quietly. Davien won’t like it.”

Verdus twinged a little at the mention of Davien Stonemantle, Corspilla’s superior in the guild Noxilite as well as friend to both of them and a powerful mage in her own right. Corspilla seemed to have a lot of respect for the Forsaken woman, and it had never even occurred to Verdus that was he was asking could come between the two of them. “Davien doesn’t have to know,” he whispered. “I’m certainly not going to tell her.”

“I don’t like lying to Davien. But… I will for you.”

Verdus felt more than a little guilty about the flush of warmth that brought to his heart. She was a good friend, and he was asking her to help him do something terrible. Something she seemed to agree with, but terrible nonetheless. Glancing over at Fenniel, still sitting alone by the fire, he reminded himself that it was for a good cause. “Thank you,” he whispered. “I’m sorry to have to ask this of you. The other thing I need is slightly more exotic.”

Corspilla didn’t seem particularly concerned at that. “What is it?” she asked quietly.

“I need a water source. It doesn’t have to make much, but the water must be pure and it has to produce for at least three weeks. A month to be safe.”

A wild grin quickly formed on the mages face as she made a few gestures and spoke a few incomprehensible arcane words. From out of the earth next to her geysered a creature of pure water, in the rough shape of an incredibly broad-shouldered person. Or at least it would if you only considered that person from the waist up. It was a bound water elemental, the kind that often accompanied mages specializing in frost magics. “Bubbles!” she proudly exclaimed.

Verdus took that to mean the name that she’d given to the elemental. Most mages didn’t bother to give names to their bound elemental servants, but then again Corspilla wasn’t most mages. Whispering in an attempt to bring the volume of the conversation back down, he said, “No, Bubbles is too big. The water source that I need has to be small. About the size of a sugar cube would be ideal, but I can work with a little bigger.” He held out his fingers to illustrate his point.

“BAH!” she exclaimed in answer. She muttered under her breath for a moment about nothing being easy, then continued in a whisper, “That’ll be hard. Yva was better at this than me.”

“Hmm…”, he muttered. That could be a problem. The scrying protection was a personal safeguard, but the plan could go forward without it. The water source was a key component of one of his devices, though. If she couldn’t get it for him, the plan would need to be reworked, causing even more delays. Verdus wasn’t sure who this Yva was, but if Corspilla couldn’t get it and Yva was someone she trusted, then maybe…

“NO!” she exclaimed, startling Verdus out of his thoughts. “I can do it! No asking Yva.”

There was stern resolution on her face, leaving Verdus very glad that he hadn’t voiced his previous thoughts. It sounded like this Yva person might not have been a friend after all. But Corspilla seemed convinced that she could do it, which was good enough. “Thank you, Pill,” he whispered in answer. “Is there anything in the way of materials you’ll need? Other supplies?”

Corspilla simply shook her head. “Gotta go back to Hammerfall. Quiet space there.”

“Okay, good. I’ll be here in Orgrimmar. Send me word when you’ve got them and I’ll come to you to get them.”

She nodded in understanding, then darted in to embrace him in a hug. Before Verdus could return it, she released him and dashed off towards the elevator leading up to the Orgrimmar Skyway.

“Thank you, Pill,” Verdus whispered to himself. As she ran further away, he remembered the fire in her expression when he told her what this was about. Doubt gnawed at him. He’d known that she had a temper, but this was something else entirely. He couldn’t shake the feeling that he’d woken something inside her, a side that he hadn’t seen before. Had he made a mistake in coming to her?

From the corner of his eye, he could see Fenniel watching her run off as well, still alone by the fire. Damn, Verdus thought, I didn’t mean to leave him stranded like that. Walking back over to the fire, Verdus sat down with his friend. He wasn’t sure, but the Farstrider looked a little hurt that she’d run off without saying goodbye. Work on the devices could wait, Verdus thought as a fresh wave of guilt hit him. Right then, his friend needed a friend.

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