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A Cold Meeting

Lirriel's picture

The north peak of Ironforge was cold, snowy, and isolated. Brewfest was miles down the mountain, and the airstrip was another few miles away in the other direction. Alynore flew Tenacity along the mountaintop, until they found a clump of rocks among the sparse trees, a cloaked figure standing by them, sheltered from the wind.

Tenacity landed, but did not dissipate or fly away as Nore dismounted. The charger pawed the ground and snorted, vapor blowing from her armored nose. Nore looked around and headed for the cloaked figure, weapons ready.

The cloaked person dropped a cigarette on the snow, grinding it out with the toe of a boot. “I wasn't sure if you would actually come alone the first time, Forrester.” The voice was somewhat raspy.

Nore frowned, remaining attentive to surroundings. “I was curious. What do you want, and don't waste my time.”

“For once we want the same thing, Forrester. Ben." It was definitely a feminine voice, although the deep hood of her cloak obscured her features. “You already know someone stole his soul. You want it back where it belongs, and so do I.”

“What's your stake in it?”

They say you can hear a smile; Nore doubted it was ever meant to be so creepy as the cloaked woman spoke again. “No one gets to break Ben except me.”

Nore eyerolled. She couldn’t conjure one as good as when she’d been a teenager, but this one came close. “Right. What, he sleep with you once and then you realized he wasn't gonna stick around more'n that?”

“Your mother was much wittier, little Alynore. You must take after your father. Whoever he was.”

The woman was trying to bait her. “Maybe. Seems to have been a decent guy. And Ma wasn't so much wittier as meaner. Temper ran hot, y'know. What do you want?”

“I told you. I want to help you get Ben's soul back to him. Is this too complicated for you?”

Nore shrugged. “All right. Fine. What's it gonna cost me for your help, as you called me here because you think you know something.”

“I need to know what you do. It could take a day for me to learn it though my sources and Ben may not have enough time to wait. It's much easier to gather information from the horse's... mouth.”

Tenacity snorted. Alynore considered. “So why should I help you, since you want to hurt him in the end anyway?”

“Because you're fond of the old man. And you don't have my resources.”

“Those resources help get us booted out of the army? Get him set up on a murder charge?” Her temperature was rising at the thought, and she tightened her grip on her mother’s old sword.

The cloaked woman laughed. “They've done a great many things for many years, little Alynore. Some of them helped us survive on Draenor. Others have kept the war with the Horde from getting out of hand. And even Ben once begged me to help him find you.” She sighed at the happy memory. “It was even more enjoyable when I told him I didn't know anything about it.”

“Harri doesn't beg.”

“He did for you and that other girl. What was her name...Cirrus? Cerwin?”

Nore tried not to grit her teeth. “You know her name if you know so damn much. Still not convinced this is worth it. I may not have resources, but we got friends. Think you're pretty short on that.” Nore half-turned--not entirely taking her eyes off the woman--to remount. Tenacity had her whole attention on the cloaked figure.

“You need all the help you can get. Time is running out for him. It's rather ironic, really.”

“That a fact?” Nore was ready to get back on her charger; the figure was definitely baiting now.

“Me, trying to save Ben's life, with the help of Elsbeth Forrester's orphan. I'm sure she would appreciate it.”

Nore gripped Tenacity's saddle. “Ma got nothin' to do with this. That's the problem with you folks from back home. Still stuck there, after twenty years cut off.”

“There is one other thing that may entice you to accept my offer.”

“Of course there is," Nore muttered as she mounted. “You better talk fast, then, Raspy, I got better things to do.”

“Did Ben ever tell you how your mother died? The real story?”

Nore grasped Tenacity's reins, making the charger toss her dark head. “Does it matter? She's still dead,” Nore said quietly.

“You wouldn't be trying to save him if he had.”

“Going to try to tell me Harri's the reason she died now?”

“She wouldn't be the only one, little Alynore. He's killed more friends than you realize. But the truth dies with him. Which may not be long unless we work together.  What do you have to lose?”

“Plenty. I can't exactly trust you, though.”

“I have no intention of harming the Silver Dragoons at this time. I could do that whenever I wish, so I have no reason to lie.”

It’s not like they had anything—and it would give Nore time to check on this figure. “There were gem fragments consistent with a soul trap, and probably a human male visitor. S'all we got.”

“A soul trap. Hmmmm...very expensive and very difficult to make. I'll be in touch.”

“I'm sure.”

“We'll have your father-figure back, little Alynore. Keep your blood. For now.”

“Spill theirs,” Nore answered automatically. “I'll regret this later.”

“I'm sure we both will.” The cloaked woman laughed and turned to walk behind the boulders.

Nore remained leaning on Tenacity's withers, watching. The scanner she had hooked to the saddle and left running during the conversation kept up its quiet work, until there was a bright flash on the monitor, and the woman was gone. She left behind only a few tracks, the cigarette butt, and a few interesting readings to analyze later.

Nore spoke into her commstone, to the Dragoons waiting just outside rifle range—as per the woman’s demands. This was already a lot more interesting than the Commander liked.