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The Secret Investigation: Part 1 - The Search for Shade

Theolidus's picture

 

(Lycandria Marilyn Ravenholdt)

Spires shooting into the sky, daring to touch the stars. The soaring towers of Dalaran, the now floating city of Northrend. The Kirin Tor had a beautiful place to operate out of, and the mages had alot of resources. My hope was to find the resource I had come for, Shade. Whether they knew of him or not was completely unknown to me. It was time to find out for myself, while quietly hoping for answers he might provide.

Hopping from my gryphon at the flight master, I thank the keeper and pass a few coins into his hand for my return. I look around in awe, taking in the sights once more. I'd been here before, but it was easy to forget the majestic environment and culture. The feeling swells within you as if the walls could talk, surely with such rich history and stories to tell.

With my hood fixed in place, I proceed into the main streets of Dalaran. Scouring for clues or any signs that might point me into the right direction. I did however keep in mind what mother said about being discreet. The underbelly would be a great place to start. I take a deep breath, gazing at the darkened opening that led below.

Silently slipping down the pathway, hearing the roar of the streets above begin to mellow and fade. The sound was soon replaced with ominous drips from the water draining from above. The trough ran alongside the path, eventually leading to an opening and falling to the Crystalsong Forest below. I pass from corridor to corridor, seeking anything that stood out. An organization of any substantial size can't possibly hide everything.

I finally come to a central opening that seemed to span to each side of the city. Three large circles were marked and lined. A sign of something organized at least, but I couldn't place anyone around of importance. Any stranger I did see was seemingly quite casual... or no less than a beggar. Perhaps they were innocent, or it was intended for disguise. I notice an opening across the way. I had to investigate further.

The next room seemed as a giant water reserve, with a carefully designed tavern of some sort. Wooden decks and platforms, bridging and connecting to each other, hovering over the water. As I drew closer, I notice a few guests with drinks at the tables, scattered out in what seemed a very open-styled tavern. The keeper stood behind a counter, discussing with a goblin. There was obviously a price discrepancy about a drink. Goblins often did look to cut any corners they could when it came to gold.

I continue to gaze around at the tables, anything they could be wearing that was similar to another. Whoever these people were, if the organization was even here, they had a good plan in action for concealing their identities. I notice the goblin finally walk away with a grumble, and I decided to poke for any information I could gather from the keeper.

The keeper was a man, seemingly in his thirties... perhaps upper thirties as I studied closer. Brown hair, green eyes, thick trimmed beard. He looks up at me, wiping out a mug with a rag. "Can I help you?"

I hesitate a moment and look around, pulling the bottom part of my mask down and lowering my voice. "Perhaps you can..." I turn with an unflinching and piercing look I'd been taught at the manor. Grandfather said I had a gift for it, just like mother.

He slightly smiles, setting the mug down. "Be on with it then..."

I nod. "I'm looking for a man... goes by the name, 'Shade'... You happen to know anyone by that name?"

He puts the mug away and reaches for another, wiping it without missing a beat in response. "I'm afraid not, ma'am. I'm not sure anyone goes by a name quite like that... Can I fetch you a drink?"

I shake my head, holding up my hand just off the counter. "No thank you. I'm afraid just business for me... but I appreciate your time. If you happen to hear a word..."

He nods before I finish. "Don't worry, I'll keep my eyes open for ya. I do wish you luck in your search, ma'am."

I nod and provide a slight smile, before pulling my mask back up to cover my face from the nose down. I turn from the counter and give one last look through the guests at the tables. A select few returning their attention to me. One table of men began to laugh at a joke, slamming cards and fists on the table. Coins rattle and bounce from the table onto the deck at their feet.

I return back the way I came, looking to search other areas of the city. However, something about this didn't seem right. Everyone seemed too nice... too easy. I glance back at the tavern and notice the keeper was talking with one of the men from the tables. Perhaps for a drink, or perhaps because I was asking questions. I kept my hands close to my daggers for comfort as I proceeded back into the room with sparring circles.

All seemed as it was before, making my way across to the other side. My eyes dart from side to side with caution, proceeding up the pathway that would eventually take me back to the streets. Just before I made it out of the grand-sized sparring room, I noticed two figures in dark clothing step forward from around the corner, blocking my path to continue. I glance to my sides and hear footsteps behind me. I knew I was surrounded, loosely grabbing the handles of my daggers in preparation.

I then hear a voice slithering up to me. A man who seemed in charge of the others. "You are a long way from home, little girl... No one comes down here asking questions, and should expect to just leave..."

I stand silent, slightly looking down for a moment before he continues. "You will be coming with us..."

I then wait, carefully calculating my next move. I take a deep concealed breath, as they draw their blades around me. I suddenly feel a hand grab me and respond with a quick turnaround and swift kick to his chest, knocking the man back into the room off the stairs. The others begin to move towards me, as I draw my daggers.

One from my left moves to strike as I parry. Another moves in as they seek to overwhelm me. I duck under and avoid a few slicing attempts, only to meet a boot that led me to join the man below on the ground. I land and roll, getting back to my feet quickly. They all jump down and pause as they surround me. I could see all of them had a game plan in place for these situations.

Two from opposite sides of me come at once, now within one of the sparring circles. I parry both of their blades with my daggers, and spin below to try to trip one with my extended leg. They both hop and look to strike at me again, from either side. I parry and spin from one, pinning their arm to their back and shoving them at the other attacker. They both collide and fall together, as two more jump into the frey.

One of them was the man I'd kicked the first time... the one that grabbed me and called me a little girl. It was then I noticed him and his stature. I could tell he had alot of experience, and looked quite strong. He waited as the other made his move first. After I dropped his partner, he made his approach.

He swings and I parry, quickly overwhelmed by the strength and speed of his strikes. My daggers come loose; something that wasn't easy to do. They drop to the ground and he extends his leg in a kick. I hunch back, catching his leg and spin, driving him to the ground. He quickly gets to his feet as do I.

He comes at me again, as I duck and avoid his blades. Throwing another series of attacks my way, I catch his wrists and turn them, pulling his arm into a hold and causing him to drop his blades. He shoves me forward, and kicks my back. I stumble to the floor and roll to the side.

Ignoring his chance to retrieve his weapons, he moves to pin me into a headlock after ripping my hood off. As I get to my feet, I can feel his large swelling arms cutting off the air to my head. I quickly thrust my elbows back into him, hoping to break his hold. I could feel his grip tighten, so I grip him however I could at the time, preparing for my next move.

I drive a direct elbow back into his side and drop with all my weigh. I could feel his center of gravity change, and quickly counter as I use everything I have to flip him over my head, given the momentum provided. He lands on the floor with a thud, and I hold my throat for a moment, taking in air.

The others finally jump in and draw their blades to my throat. I sigh and slump to the floor, looking at them. They could all see my face at this point. From my blind side, the man I'd flipped over caught me on the cheek with a fist. My head turns and I can taste blood as I turn back to him, glaring.

I then hear a voice from afar, calling out toward all of us. "Darrik, that is enough... Bring her to me."

I glance into the direction of the voice. A figure on a balcony at the far side of the room. It was clearly a man, but I couldn't make out any details. They all grab me and stand me up, with my hands behind my back. I make sure to get one last glare at "Darrik", as he smirks in satisfaction. They haul me off toward the side of this structure, leading up to the man on the balcony.