Sunday, March 7, 2010
Dalaran: Part 2
I spent the next day idling in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary, not feeling particularly inclined to explore more of Dalaran. In fact, I’d already seen most of what I could access. All that remained was the Alliance embassy of the Silver Enclave (off-limits to me, for obvious reasons), and the sewers of the Underbelly.
I was in the gardens late in the afternoon, watching the sun sink behind the city’s towers, when I noticed a middle-aged orc following the garden paths towards me, a scroll in hand. Introducing himself as Vard, he presented me with a fantastic opportunity.
“Do you know of the Dalaran Reconciliation Committee?” he asked.
“I am not familiar with it.”
“They’re a group of high-minded mages seeking to bring the Horde and the Alliance closer together. Naive, but admirable on some level. They convinced the Alliance authorities to allow some of us to attend a gala in the Silver Enclave.”
“That’s actually quite impressive,” I said.
“The committee’s good with words, if nothing else. We spoke to Eitrigg this morning, and he thinks you should go.”
“Eitrigg? Is he here?” Eitrigg is one of the Warchief’s senior advisors. I’d only met him once before, and he’d impressed me as wise and insightful.
“Yes, though he’s too busy working with Lord Sunreaver to attend. Would you be willing to go?”
“Yes. I’d be honored. When is this?”
“Tomorrow evening. You and thirteen other Horde citizens need simply go to the Silver Enclave and put on friendly faces. Eitrigg hopes to demonstrate the Horde’s goodwill.”
“Why not hold it in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary?”
Vard made a face.
“Lord Sunreaver thinks that humans and dwarves would scuff up his precious estate. Personally, I think it could use a bit of scuffing up!” he laughed.
Fourteen of us gathered at the gates of Sunreaver’s Sanctuary just before sunset the next day, dressed in our finest clothes. Well-aware of the tattered state of my normal outfits, I went ahead and purchased a new set at an affordable rate. Four of our party were orcs, including Vard and Hulla’tak, the shaman from the embassy. Besides that were four tauren, three blood elves, another Forsaken, and a troll.
Led by an honor guard of five elaborately armored blood elf warriors, we marched through the streets. Crowds watched us go by with mild interest before getting back to their own business.
Located on the opposite side of the city from Sunreaver’s Sanctuary, the Silver Enclave is a grand building marked by a round stained glass window, a golden lion’s head keeping a solemn watch from the surface. The entirety of the Silver Enclave is set aside for diplomatic ventures, unlike Sunreaver’s Sanctuary with its inaccessible personal spaces. Of course, much of diplomacy’s public face takes place in grandiose banquet halls.
High elf guards nodded in cold acknowledgement of their Sin’dorei brethren. Our own escorts stepped to the side of the street, where they would wait out the night, while a portly human in blue robes came out to greet us, grinning proudly.
“The Dalaran Reconciliation Committee is honored to have so many of the Horde’s finest as guests for this splendid occasion! My name is Sorrestan Valon, I’m heading this effort on the committee’s part. On behalf of the Alliance and of the city of Dalaran, I bid you welcome!” he announced, throwing his arms out to the side.
“The Horde is honored to recognize and accept your invitation,” said Toreg’dan, the senior orc shaman in our party.
“Please, follow me inside. We’re all friends here!”
We followed Sorrestan into a courtyard of white stone. Facing the gate is an impressive staircase that leads to a great stone hall. Within the hall is a heroic statue of Vereesa Windrunner, standing over a collection of disarmed steam tanks from the Third War.
“Please respect the Alliance’s request to stay out from that area,” said Adorean. “Besides, I think you’ll find the Hero’s Rest much more to your liking.”
What looked like the entire staff of the Silver Enclave was waiting for us in the Hero’s Rest, the embassy’s main recreation area. Among the Alliance notables were other blue-robed committee members, all of them human save for one gnomish woman. We came in on a sort of indoor balcony and went downstairs to a parlor where the hosts had set up a long table, its wine glasses and silver plates burnished in the magic light.
I tried to gauge the Alliance response to our visit, but they remained stubbornly inscrutable. I wondered what had actually motivated them to hold such an event, and suspected the Alliance was more interested in proving their own goodwill to Dalaran. The Dalaran Reconciliation Committee counts many of the most esteemed mages and scholars among its members, including a few Kirin Tor. Their influence is not to be disregarded.
Sorrestan hurried up the stairs as we took our places around the table, no one venturing to say a word. An uncomfortable silence stifled the Hero’s Rest, finally broken by an equally awkward greeting from Sorrestan, who stood beaming on the balcony.
He spent the next half-hour or so expounding on the shared virtues of the Horde and the Alliance before proposing a toast to Azeroth, “the world we all desire to protect.” We raised our glasses (filled with Kaldorei apricot wine) before starting dinner.
The combined Horde and Alliance armies at the Wrathgate proved a useful conversation topic. Whatever the differences between our factions, all but the most foolish acknowledged the Scourge as a greater threat.
“Fighting may have already begun. I’d prefer to be on the front lines, but an old cripple like me would hardly be of much use,” said an aged Lordaeronian named Tylus Irvanum. I knew of him as a hero of the Second War, and one of the handful of Lordaeronians who had advocated orcish extermination.
“A sadness felt by many old soldiers,” commiserated Vard.
The overall feeling was one of nervous boredom, the talk always going back to the Wrathgate. I tried to catch up on the news as best I could. People on both sides expressed a seemingly genuine optimism. The Scourge had been in retreat for the last several months, and the armies of the Free Peoples had adapted to their tactics. Despite this, no one expected the war to end anytime soon. Taking Wrathgate would only establish a foothold in Icecrown Glacier, where the Lich King keeps most of his forces.
“We also need to eliminate all possible contingencies,” pointed out Tylus. “There’s no way to know the number of minions he has waiting for us underground. And that might take years to do.”
“Is it still believed that killing the Lich King would wipe out the entirety of the Scourge?” I asked.
“Wipe out all of the undead, you mean? Regrettably, no. That bastard’s reduced his level of control. We kill him, and there’s still a standing army of shambling monsters. They’ll still be a danger.”
“Point taken,” I muttered.
We split up into smaller groups when dinner ended, members of the opposite factions only really conversing when joined by an overenthusiastic committee member.
“You’re Destron, right?”
I paused, the young blonde woman’s bright and aristocratic face teasingly familiar.
“Yes. You must be Alima Corwyn!” I said, finally recognizing her. We’d encountered each other in Booty Bay. She’d come down on vacation with her noble family, and had expressed her concern about Westfall’s state.
“That’s me!” she chirped.
“I hope you enjoyed the rest of your trip to Booty Bay.”
“Oh, I’d love to go again! I’ve been ever so busy, though. I work with my father at the Noble’s Council, and I’m trying to help the kingdom get back on its feet. Sailing past Westfall showed me how bad things were getting before my king’s return.”
“How do you intend to help Stormwind? Assuming you’re allowed to answer that question.”
“It’s no secret, we’re trying to rebuild some of the infrastructure and attract trade. You raise taxes to do the first, and lower it to do the second, so it gets kind of tricky,” she laughed. “I think we’re close to finding a balance though. Right now I’m up in Dalaran to do some trade business with the Kirin Tor.”
“Impressed? Heh, you’re not the first to be fooled by my flighty exterior, Destron. There’s a lot more to me than meets the eye.”
“That’s not what I meant—”
“I’m only teasing you. At any rate, I’m glad to see a Forsaken here.”
“You seem more enthusiastic about this than most of the other Alliance notables.”
“Oh, they want peace too, they just don’t want to look too eager.”
As infectious as Alima’s optimism was, I could not quite share her faith. However, I was happy to see that she appeared to be gaining prominence in Stormwind’s government.
I held a somewhat stranger conversation with a committee mage named Galone Morrust. Standing over six feet in height and with a bushy moustache and ready smile, he had a way of commanding a person’s attention. He walked with the easy confidence that comes from a life of strenuous leisure.
“I do think this must be a very exciting time to be in the Horde right now,” he said. We stood in the Silver Enclave’s library with a few other groups.
“What makes you say that?”
“Garrosh Hellscream. He seems like a dynamic and fiercely authentic figure for orcish politics, wouldn’t you say?”
“I suppose that depends how you define authentic.”
“Oh, well he’s free of demonic or human corruption,” he chortled. “I really think we humans did immeasurable harm to the orcs after the Second War. Interning them was a most regrettable mistake.”
“What would you have done with them?”
“I think it would have been better to give them land in Alterac, or for nations like Lordaeron to donate them unused sections on which to settle. The internment camps robbed them of their dignity!”
“To be sure, but I can hardly blame the humans for being reluctant to give up their land. I’d say that the orcs really lost their dignity when they succumbed to demonic corruption.”
“The demons did play a part. That’s why I’m so interested in this Garrosh fellow. He strikes me as a truly authentic voice for the race, every inch the noble savage. I know he’s very popular among the orcs, at least from what I’ve heard.”
“He’s popular in certain segments of society, namely some of the warriors. But not all warriors are necessarily followers of him, and the peons are generally apolitical,” I corrected.
“That is a problem, wouldn’t you say? Peon disinterest? They’re very disenfranchised by the current situation. By giving a more genuinely orcish voice to his society, I think that Garrosh could truly uplift the peon ranks.”
I paused for a moment, wondering if I’d heard him correctly.
“Garrosh is a proponent of orcish warrior culture. I do not think he particularly cares about the peons one way or another,” I said.
“Exactly! By strengthening this cultural renaissance, he’ll give the peons something to believe in. The peons need something to believe in, and—with all due respect—I don’t think the current situation is conducive to that.”
“Well... I would say that it’s more important for peons to find their own motivation. Would you rather Garrosh be Warchief?”
“No, I don’t mean anything like that. I deeply admire Thrall. I think Garrosh, however, is a dynamic figure who can do much for the orcs under Thrall’s leadership. I’m happy to see him rise so high in the ranks, and in a very short time. Certainly he’d be a good prospect for a future Warchief, wouldn’t you say?”
I paused, wondering how much to divulge.
“Some—not necessarily myself—are concerned by his aggression.”
“That can be explained in the proper cultural context,” argued Galone. “Orcs often take a more aggressive stance as a way of stressing the importance of an argument.”
“This is true, but sometimes the aggression is genuine.”
“I have more faith in Garrosh than that. I think Thrall will keep him in line, if such becomes necessary.”
I exchanged a few more pleasantries with Galone before he excused himself and drifted over to the lone troll of our group. Seeing Tylus seated at a nearby table, his eyes fixed with contempt, I realized he’d heard the entire conversation.
Something about Galone’s ignorance angered me on an almost primal level. He was the sort of person, educated but still foolish, who saw only what he wanted to see. Such people credulously accept any praise given to the target of their admiration. Were it fashionable to do so, I have no doubt he’d be lauding the Scourge.
At its core the Horde is a vision of redemption. Races grasping their way out of corruption and oblivion can find a new home under its aegis. And yet, there are still many who only see value in war and vengeance. Brave citizens struggle against these elements, alone or in groups: there are more than a few Forsaken who oppose the Apothecarium’s poisons, and many orcs troubled by the excesses of the Warsong Offensive.
Meanwhile, clueless Dalaranese cheer on the worst and most backwards elements of Horde society. If they enjoy it so much, I invite them to spend some time living in Orgrimmar. Not with the warrior elites, but with the oft-ignored peons. I imagine they will find it very educational.
I drifted back to the Hero’s Rest and got into a conversation with a Stormwinder mage named Harven. He offered his perspective on why Dalaran had left the Alliance.
“Two things helped us win the Second War: Horde disunity, and Dalaranese expertise. But Dalaran got very little say in international affairs after the war ended, at least according to the Kirin Tor. When the Alliance crumpled under the Scourge onslaught in the Third, they saw little reason to stay.”
Hulla’tak came to me soon after we’d started talking, obviously troubled. Sorrestan was with her, his face as white as a ghost’s. I paused, looking over to them.
“Destron, the Horde needs to leave the Silver Enclave, right away,” she said.
“Is something the matter?” asked Harven.
“There’s been an incident at the Wrathgate. News is spreading around the Silver Enclave.”
“What do you mean? Perhaps we should stay then, as a gesture of good faith—”
“The Enclave’s leaders already know about it. They want us gone.”
Hulla’tak herded me in with the other Horde visitors at the gate. I saw a dwarf yelling angrily at one of the tauren, his bearded face red with fury. Shouts and yells of dismay rang out from the Enclave’s buildings. A glass bottle shattered on the cobblestones, inches away from a blood elf, who shrank back towards his compatriots in alarm.
“Quiet!” bellowed Tylus, his mouth set in rage. The old soldier practically quivered in anger as he limped across the courtyard.
“The Horde is leaving the Silver Enclave. Everyone, go back to your rooms until further notice. If you want to kill orcs, join up with the army, don’t throw things at them here. As for you,” he snarled, gesturing at us, “get out of here and pray to whatever misbegotten gods you worship that we don’t kill every last Hordeling, man, woman, and child.”
I had a quick glimpse of Alima, her hands over her mouth in shock. I shrugged, trying to indicate that I had no idea what had happened, even as a sense of pending doom gripped my heart. Fear ruled the night as we hurried from the Silver Enclave. The rest of the city still slumbered, unaware of what had transpired.
“Hulla’tak, what’s this all about?” I demanded.
“The Forsaken—the Apothecarium. They attacked.”
“Our warriors were locked in battle against the Scourge, human and orc, dwarf and tauren, side by side. Then the Apothecarium launched their poisons, killing every soul on the field of battle,” she fumed, her voice inches away from sobs.
“They attacked too soon,” I groaned.
“Not too soon! They intended to kill us! Their leader stood on the ridge and promised death to every single thing! Scourge, Horde, Alliance, he cared not. This was no accident, it was a deliberate betrayal.”
“Did... did the Dark Lady—”
“Damn your Dark Lady! She did nothing to stop this! We knew... we knew the Apothecarium did dark deeds, but never like this. Thousands of the world’s best warriors lie dead in the snow, poison eating away at their bodies. No one knows where Sylvanas is, or if she was even aware of this. There are reports of a coup in Undercity, but we don’t know who’s doing it or why.”
I felt vertigo, as if Dalaran itself had dropped to the ground beneath my feet, leaving me suspended in the air. Sick with horror, I buried my face in my hands.
We waited in the cellar of Sunreaver’s Sanctuary as the world fell to pieces outside us. Slumped against the walls and crates, we hoped for a quick release. A polite Sin’dorei chamberlain came in twice a day to attend to our minimal needs and apologize for the discomfort.
“As my liege wishes to stress, this is only for your own protection.”
All nine of the Forsaken in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary at the time of the Wrathgate Massacre had been personally escorted into the cellar, past mobs of orcs and trolls venting their hate for all forms of the living dead. I’ve no doubt they would have killed us if permitted to do so. Some of the Forsaken resisted, thinking they were to be carted off to the slaughter, but the more level-headed persuaded them otherwise.
“And they wonder why we hate them so much,” hissed Corrold, a Forsaken with a burn victim’s black and peeling skin.
I glared at him, though he ignored me. Of our group, three besides myself expressed appropriate horror at the news. Three appeared indifferent, though eager to leave, and the last two stopped just short of sympathizing with the Apothecarium.
“They hate us now,” mourned Ildaleva, the thick black veil stitched onto her face moving as she spoke. “The orcs were our friends, don’t you see that Corrold? They appreciated us, how we would help them. We repay their friendship with disease and death.”
“You saw what they were like out there. Those ‘friends’ wanted our blood. Well I say, if they’re so eager to fight, let them. The Lich King isn’t the only one who’s wronged us.”
I said nothing, having already tried to calm them down in the past. I tried not to think about what might be happening in the rest of Azeroth, the terror of war erupting across every land.
When the chamberlain returned to us, Hulla’tak came with him, her expression grave.
“The Horde sees fit to release you,” she grunted, before turning around and leaving. The chamberlain stepped to the side, holding open the door.
“Please understand that Lord Sunreaver made every attempt to make your unwilling stay as comfortable as possible,” he reminded us.
Hulla’tak pulled me aside once I’d left the cellar. A few of the other Forsaken came to eavesdrop, but she snarled at them to leave.
“Hulla’tak, are we at war?”
“Not yet. Not totally. Follow me, I will explain what happened.”
We walked past scenes of chaos, frantic embassy staff shuffling through a library's worth of paperwork. Locked rooms hummed with the intensity of emergency meetings.
“The Apothecarium now holds Undercity. Sylvanas escaped, along with many of the common Forsaken.”
“Where are they now?”
“How did they get there so quickly?”
“Loyalist mages created a portal between continents, though several of them died in the process, their minds burnt to cinders by using so much energy all at once. Whether they sacrificed themselves, or were coerced into it, I do not know.”
“What’s the political situation?”
“King Varian’s calling for blood, and Garrosh is eager to oblige. All over Northrend the warriors of the Horde and Alliance prepare to slaughter each other, while the Lich King watches from his throne, ready to add our dead to his army. Some orcs are calling for the expulsion of the Forsaken from the Horde.”
“I suppose I can’t blame them,” I said. The nausea returned, and I wanted to flee from myself, to no longer be Forsaken.
“Undercity is, for all intents and purposes, in enemy hands. The Warchief plans to retake it by force, since there can be no forgiveness for the Apothecarium. Their new leader is a vile monster named Putress. Your Dark Lady’s pet dreadlord is in league with Putress, by the way. Another fine decision on her part.”
“Is the dreadlord Varimathras responsible?”
“Who knows? It would not surprise me if he aided Putress.”
“What about the Hand of Vengeance?”
“They maintain their loyalty to Sylvanas, though they’ve done nothing against the apothecaries in Northrend. We cannot rely on them.”
“What will we do to stop this?”
“What will we do? Destron, do I look like a warchief to you?” she growled. “This is out of our hands. Garrosh and his followers want war, and their word carries weight. Sylvanas’ stupidity made the Warchief look like a fool, and some of the generals are starting to question him. All this has given the human king even more reason to hate us.”
“Hulla’tak, I promise you that there are many Forsaken who will gladly fight and die in the name of the Warchief. We—”
“I know, Destron. No one here is blaming you. But Putress’ actions have destroyed the credibility of the Horde and everyone in it. I wanted so hard to prove that we orcs are not bloodthirsty savages, that we can be noble and civilized. In one day, just one day, Putress and his minions destroyed that hope, maybe forever.”
Hulla’tak sobbed freely, tears coursing down her aged cheeks.
“How could we let this happen?” she cried.
The very worst elements of the Forsaken had inflicted their evil on the world. I knew that Putress stood little chance against the Horde, but the damage had been done. His cowardice threatened to doom an entire generation to bleed and die without reason. It would not surprise me at all if Varimathas, a demon, had engineered the entire massacre. What better way to help the Burning Legion than to spark war between the Horde and the Alliance?
What of the Dark Lady? For all my dislike of Forsaken policy, I had always thought of her as above the worst. Mad, perhaps, but no fool. She, who’d returned to us the gift of free will, proved unable to hold her own nation. A Forsaken like so many others, too blinded by her need for vengeance to see the truth.
I was surprised to see Parag, the fearsome independent warrior I’d met on my arrival, walk towards me as I left the embassy building.
“Destron! Do you serve the Horde?”
“Of course,” I said, preparing myself for the worst.
“Do you hate Putress and the Apothecarium?”
Parag reached out and gripped my shoulder with his scarred right hand, smiling firmly.
“I knew it. Guard your honor, Destron, and don’t let any wretch call you a coward or a traitor. Putress will receive the death he deserves, him and that demon.”
“I... thank you, Parag. Thank you.”
I am not sure if it was Parag’s doing, but no one in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary said so much as a harsh word against me from then on. But their hateful looks spoke volumes.
Days passed by in a blur, news and rumor mixing together until no one could tell them apart. The Kirin Tor used their city’s leylines to create a temporary network of instant communication between all the major cities and throughout Northrend, keeping everyone informed of the unfolding catastrophe. Partisan violence flared up in Lake Wintergrasp, as angry dwarves drove Horde forces from an ancient Titan citadel. Stormwind’s citizens volunteered for military service in droves, eager to avenge loved ones lost at Wrathgate. Enraged orcs lynched a Forsaken refugee on the streets of Orgrimmar as the guards looked on.
I did learn that the victims of Putress’ poison were useless to the Lich King, even the bones rotted to toxic mush. His foul brew was effective, if nothing else. The few survivors reported that the Lich King fled as the clouds expanded, his army disintegrating around him.
Sometimes I wondered what Emette was thinking. Surely, I reasoned, she would know I had nothing to do with the Wrathgate Massacre. She knew me too well to think me capable of helping Putress.
Or did she? I had changed so much since she last saw me alive. She no longer saw me as the same person. Finally, in a sleepless daze, I wrote her a letter that expressed my anger towards Putress’ actions, and begging her not to think I had anything to do with it. I lost heart before sending it, too afraid of learning her reaction. Such a thing should not bother me, I told myself. But it did, and the fear would not leave my mind.
I stayed in Sunreaver’s Sanctuary for two days helping the embassy staff translate documents as worse news kept coming in. Vard came to me at the close of the fifth day, as I rested in the embassy cafe.
“How do you fare, Destron?”
“As badly as everyone else.”
“There are times when blood is shed without honor,” said Vard, reciting an orcish proverb. “Eitrigg left for Orgrimmar last night. He does not think that Putress and his apothecaries are the only ones with blood on their hands. Putress likely found aid in the vile criminal dens of Azeroth.”
“That wouldn’t surprise me. The black market would be a good way to gather rare ingredients.”
“It is imperative that the Horde finds out if there are other guilty parties here. The news has not reached all corners of the world, but the great cities are in an uproar. People curse the name of the Horde, and call out for vengeance. If others in the Horde were responsible, and the Alliance finds out about it first, we may never recover.”
I sighed, knowing this to be true.
“That’s a serious problem. But I can’t imagine that even the most warlike orc would aid Putress in this, at least not knowingly.”
“Whatever the case, we need to find out. Eitrigg told me how you infiltrated the Azuremyst Archipelago with your human disguise.”
“I suppose I did.”
“There is an Alliance informant in the Underbelly of Dalaran, a human named Prewitt Hartley. We think he may know some of Putress’ contacts in the criminal underworld. Destron, it is your honor to go there disguised as a human, and find out what Prewitt knows.”
“I see. I am not sure if I’m the best—”
“You’re the only one we have! Sunreaver has some Alliance double agents who found about Prewitt, but this is too sensitive to give to traitors or freelancers. Eitrigg believes you to have a warrior’s honor. If he trusts you, so do I.”
I only paused for a moment before nodding.
“Where in the Underbelly can I find Prewitt?”
“He lives in a shack near the Circle of Wills. Find out what he knows about this, and then return to us. He’s a vile man, entirely without honor, but he is loyal to the Alliance cause. You’ll never get to him as a Forsaken.”
Stone fish leap and twist in the air, suspended by unseen bonds. One unfortunate fish is skewered on the teeth of a triumphant sea lion, water flowing from its jaws to splash in the basin below. I do not put much stock into luck, but doubt moved me to toss a coin in the fountain for good fortune.
I stood near the Eventide Square, not far down the street from one of the main Underbelly entrances. Sunset slathered the sky with deep shades of red and purple. Around me, the Dalaranese tried to act as always, unable to conceal the fear that gripped every heart.
I wondered if I was really the man for the job. Vard had only picked me for a want of other options. It is difficult to pass oneself off as a criminal. I had only done so once before, in Lost Rigger Cove, and I'd had a guide for that.
The persona of Talus Corestiam is quite simple, as all I need to do is act like a Lordaeronian scholar, which I basically am. Claiming to be a lich is easy so long as the other person lacks familiarity with the Scourge. Pretending to be a merchant takes more effort, but is doable.
Yet to be a criminal is to plunge into a world of fear and mistrust. I knew I would not get far unless I had someone to vouch for me. Vard knew nothing more about Prewitt than his name and location. The entire job struck me as rushed, the Horde reacting blindly to stop a potential threat before it undid the entire organization.
So many warnings unheeded, I thought. Had Thrall truly believed the Apothecarium to be loyal? Perhaps the Warchief had intended to rein them in, but simply waited too long. Thrall’s integrity and wisdom has long been a rallying point for the Horde, and he has many admirers in the Alliance. Putress turned him into an object of hate and ridicule.
A part of me had long thought that the Apothecarium was at least loyal to Sylvanas. Some factions still are, but more than half turned to Putress. How much had our liberator known?
I removed my pack and opened it, taking a glance inside. The elements of my disguise were all ready; I only needed a place to make the switch. Who knew how much worse things could get if someone exposed me? Safer, perhaps, to abandon the mission entirely.
Dalaran continued its policy of tolerance to the Forsaken, though its citizens often cast me wary looks as I walked by. I do not blame them. The depth of the hatred in the Forsaken heart is a truth I found easy to forget living in Orgrimmar. The Forsaken expatriate community there consists of people like myself, disgusted and alienated by the excesses of the Apothecarium. Some part of me had wanted to believe them to be the norm, an illusion that not even Vengeance Landing or New Agamand had been able to dispel.
Why do the Forsaken persist on playing into the hands of their worst enemies? What self-destructive impulse moves them to such idiocy? Do we really hate our rotting forms so much that we seek death at the hands of others? Is insanity so rampant in Forsaken ranks? My recent visits to Undercity had been short ones, so it was hard for me to say.
A figure approached me, her face masked in shadow. Emette, I thought. Only when she got closer did I recognize Alima, the young Stormwinder noblewoman. She’d done up her blonde hair in a hurry, loose strands hanging next to an exhausted face.
“Hello, Destron,” she said.
I paused, wondering what to say next.
“Sorry that we had to rush you out like that. Things got a little tense.”
“I don’t blame you at all. What brings you here?”
“I was headed to the bank. I didn’t expect to find you here.”
“Alima, not all Forsaken are like Putress—”
“I know, Destron. But not a lot of people want to hear that right now. It’s strange, my brother is an officer in the 7th Legion in Dragonblight. He was slated to go up and fight at Wrathgate until he was called back at the last minute. He was so close...” she trailed off and shuddered.
“How likely is the Alliance to declare war?”
“Come on, Destron, I couldn’t tell you even if I knew. I never hated the Horde, and I still don’t, but my loyalties are with my people.”
“Of course. My apologies.”
“It’s all right. I know this must be difficult. Everything seemed so bright a few years ago. I really thought that it would never get worse than the mercenary fights up in Alterac Valley and Arathi Basin. Father kept saying how war was inevitable, and to get ready for it, but I never believed him. I guess he was right.”
“I wish it were otherwise,” I sighed. “I’d best be going. Be safe, Lady Corwyn.”
“Good luck, Destron.”
Would you wish me good luck, I wondered, if you knew I was trying to beat Alliance agents to the prize? I ducked into a disused alley, where I put on my disguise and changed my clothes. Once finished, I walked to the Underbelly entrance as sunset turned to dusk.