Ter’vona leaned down, stroking her fingers through the pile of ash where the fire had been. She could tell that it hadn’t been more than 24 hours since the last embers were smothered and the companions had moved on from this clearing and that the mage must have joined them when they made their escape. She also noted the heavy hoof prints of a Tauren and a third Sin’Dorei approaching from the east before continuing on to the west. She could also ascertain from the frost damage to the grass and undergrowth that there was a magical fight at some point. However, her prey had managed to get away, so it couldn’t have been devastating. She sighed and stretched, allowing her muscles to each tense then relax as her mind digested this new bit of information.
It had been several days since she had left the Alliance camp while it still burned and struck out to find the priest and his three friends. Leaving behind a simple note letting Ignat know that she had gone off to find them, within an hour of their escape she had been on the path to the northern Howling Fjord, hoping to cross paths with them somewhere around there. After determining that the quickest route for them would be to come out of the Dragonblight, she had spent a full day stalking north along the edge of the chasm separating the two regions. When she came across the remains of the ancient span that had collapsed, she knew they were involved and had double backed, moving quickly.
Once she had found the trail leading from out of the Northern Sea onto the small island separating the two regions, it had been child’s play to track them to the camp site that they had left behind. Now she was close, and could feel that familiar thrilling surge as her prey blundered on in front of her, unaware of the danger at their backs. Let Ignat follow them with the magical tracking device he had snuck into the boots of the paladin, she’ll take the old ways any time of the day. She smiled as she thought of the towering rage he surely must have been in when he discovered her, his prisoners and his prized magical bag all gone after their supplies had gone up in flames. Yes, she was sure it had been the most amusing of sights.
Her ear twitched as the sound of approaching footsteps came to her, but she quickly identified them as belonging to her saber toothed companion. Slow and unhurried, the large cat stalked into the clearing and padded right up to Ter’vona, looking up at her quizzically for a moment before collapsing onto his back and rolling over, reaching out with a paw and making a rumbling, growling grunt. Ter’vona frowned severely and gave his rump a small kick, “You big, dumb animal, we only ate two hours ago! Reign in your stomach and stop your begging, there’s work to be done.”
The cat grunted again and rolled over, giving Ter’vona a disgruntled glance as it began to move around the clearing, sniffing at the undergrowth and peering intently through the trees. She smiled at her companions antics once she was sure he was occupied, not willing to let him see her amusement. For as long as Ter’vona had been scouting the forests of Teldrassil, the cat had always been there with her. Simply appearing one day out of the brush, she remembers being awed at the majestic young animal that had stalked in and sat beside her at the fire, looking inquisitively from the crisping fish she had been cooking and back to her again. She had given in and since that night the beast had been following her ever since, his ever hungry stomach feeling like a third companion.
She had never bothered to find a name for the animal, for it wasn’t her place to put identification to him. He was simply her friend and that felt right for her as she tapped him on the shoulder and set off on the path of the three adventurers from the Horde. She was determined to find them, to prove herself better than this curious elf who claimed kinship with her peoples. So pale and the ears so bewildering tall, how the wind must whistle through the space between them! Still, she thought, I will find them and bring them back to Ignat, if only to see him sputter when I return.
* * * * *
Ignat sputtered in consternation as he looked out over the steep edge of the cliff that him and Finnegal stood at and back at the map they had ripped from the priest’s mind. The path clearly indicated that they needed to cross the ravine yawning before them, but no way of how to do so, causing Ignat to fly into another one of his more and more frequent tantrums as the whole endeavor had spiraled south. Finnegal, the shadows ever licking around his legs and seeming to deepen into every crease of his robes and every wrinkle or crevice upon his face, simply shrugged as he tried to judge the distance to the other side.
“You should have let me kill him, Ig,” he stated simply, “then we wouldn’t have to chase down this oracle and recover your bag while constantly looking over our shoulders all at the same time. Hell, we should have smothered the paladin and that vile troll as soon as we captured them. We knew that the priest would be more susceptible to the mind control due to his dabbling in shadow magic as part of his training. Honestly, I sho-“
“That’s enough, Finnegal!” The red faced gnome turned from the edge, his slightly greened silver hair disheveled from having his hands running through it so often lately. “The Alliance does not murder our prisoners. Besides, you know about the supply shortage we’re feeling here on the frontier, those three would have provided a heavy ransom of supplies. I’m warning you, Finnegal, your impetuous attitude is going to cost you dearly one day.”
The gnome turned back to the edge, tugging at his small beard as his mind worked until he finally let out a small sigh, “Well, nothing for it then. I suppose we’ll have to go around. According to the map, there’s a small Horde fort about 10 miles to the east of here, so the ravine must end before then. We’ll simply sneak by it if we have to.”
“Fantastic,” came the shadow priest’s response as the two turned and began to make their way along the edge.
Ever since the fire in the encampment, the two had been on the move, trying to find the prophet first in order to bring it into the Alliance fold. Ignat had also been obsessed with recovering the magical bag that had been stolen from him during the distraction. Unsure if the prisoners or that wretched Ter’vona had been the one to take it, he was fairly sure that finding one would turn up the other. He was also glad for the small magical device he had had sewn into the paladins boots. It was a poor attempt at being able to track him once he had been returned to the Horde, allowing him to gather intelligence on the other faction. Usually prisoners were screened when returned for such cheap tricks.
But since they had made their escape, Ignat had been able to regularly scry successfully for the device, knowing that the paladin at least was making steady progress back into the mountains of the northern fjord. As they had made their way further and further into the foothills themselves, the mage had become more and more furious at the situation, feeling the drawbacks of his small stature and frame beginning to take their toll in the hard hiking. Finnegal had sat through at all quietly, allowing the gnome to vent his fury while simply nodding or taking in the scenery. However, within his anger seethed with hatred at the elf who had dared to attack him. Anger at himself for allowing this transgressor to live, in spite of Ignat showing up at the wrong moment.
This was a mistake he intended to correct the next time he met up with the blood elf filth.
* * * * *
Spiders flitted among the shadows as the long dead thing placed the large sapphire within the metal lattice work half enclosing the perfect sphere of gold that floated in a dark corner of it’s laboratory. Nodding as it noted the magical thread that seemed to spring along the filigreed decoration from the precious gem, the lich floated over to the animal cages hiding the western wall of his private dominion, grabbing a kicking rabbit by the scruff and returning to the device. With a thought, he felt the tips of fingers growing into long, razor sharp claws before he suddenly flicked up and ran the tip from the animal’s collar down to it’s groin, relishing in the screams of pain emitted from the small creature as it struggled in it’s death throes.
Blood welled from the mortal wound and dripped onto the sapphire, thickening almost instantly then disappearing as it was sucked into the azure gem. The lich smiled as he saw the metal surrounding the precious stone began to grow ruddy then turn a deep crimson in response to the life essence flowing through it. The rabbit kicked feebly as it finally gave up the ghost and lich tossed the body aside, leaning forward and whispering words of power to ball of gold in the middle of the metal working, watching carefully as a thin ribbon of power flowed from the sapphire into the sphere, which suddenly turned a deep black color before beginning to resolve into a picture.
The lich’s eyes burned with cold hatred as Dueg, Reyk, Scrat and Noxt all came into view within the blacked metal. Using magical scrying methods it quickly noted their location in the realm and saw that they were traveling much lighter than they should have been for such a long and dangerous mission. After a few minutes, the picture wavered and slowly dissipated, the life essence of the rabbit too small to keep the magic working for very long. The thing had all the information it needed for the moment though, vowing to find a more worthy sacrifice to feed the sapphire next time. After all, it was going to take a lot of power cast a killing spell through the ball itself.