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[Rhiswyn] The Argent Puzzle

Lirriel's picture

“What business needs to pull every record?” The Hearthglen clerk frowned, trying not to let his eyes wander when Rhiswyn leaned forward, straining her low-cut shirt.

“I let the brass worry about business, dear,” Rhiswyn said, sliding over the box she carried. Inside the open-topped cardboard were new pens, ink from Pandaria, paperclips, page tabs, folders, fresh notepads of high-quality paper, and other sundry, sought-after office supplies. The clerk’s eyes bulged a little, Rhiswyn’s ample cleavage momentarily forgotten.

“Right, yes. Officers do have their orders. I hope you know this is going to be quite an undertaking…” He pulled the box closer, and it vanished beneath the counter.

“I’m aware, dear. I have a partial list of what unit records to check. That should lead us to more records. It’ll be like a puzzle.” She smiled at the man as she stepped past the counter.

Rhiswyn’s list had them starting with the 23rd Regiment, based on the quavering testimony the half-elf had carefully drawn out of one of the girls she’d interviewed the day before.

The three girls she had found information on—checking what records she knew, rumors heard from that time in Northrend, and whispered hearsay in the mess hall—had been timid about revealing their experiences. Mugs of hot cocoa, encouraging smiles and phrases, signed promises of anonymity, an older sister’s confidence—over the course of two days, everything Rhiswyn knew about caring for the injured went into learning what these girls had to say.

And they were definitely injured.

Rhiswyn paused as she felt the Shadows drawing closer when she found yet another report in the 14th’s files, following that from the 12th’s which had come out of her search into the 33rd. She took a few deep breaths, murmuring a meditation on the Light. The clerk was pulling another file and didn’t notice.

Lanterns and her own Light burned long into the night, searching through the stacks, many still in disarray from the trip from Northrend and the war itself. She hadn’t been exaggerating when she had called it a puzzle. Every file discovered told a heartbreakingly similar story.

I am going to bury this man.

***
The next evening, Rhiswyn drank her third cup of coffee waiting for the various officers to arrive. She’d prepared the brew as approximately to Dolraan’s method as she could mimic. She kept her fortitude and renewal spells rolling as well; there had been no time for sleep.

The couriers were well away; one heading for Stormwind with a package marked for Venner. The other she’d sent by an unofficial courier to Ravenholdt with a few other instructions, just in case. Overstepping her bounds? Perhaps. If it was an issue, well, her Prince would take her to task for it. His displeasure would be worth it.

She could tell herself that, anyway.

Captain Ableguard crossed the room to where Rhiswyn lounged. “While we all certainly appreciate the sampling of Pandaren fare—and a chance to gaze on your lovely face once again, Rhis—I’m rather curious about the…assortment of officers you invited this evening.”

Rhiswyn unfolded herself from her chair, smiling as she took the captain’s offered hand up. “Oh, I always have a purpose, Jonny dear, though it is lovely to see you again. Perhaps later we can discuss that in more detail, hrm?”

She stepped to the center of the room, glowing just enough to catch attention. Conversation dimmed as all eyes turned to her. Normally, she adored that. “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you so much for gathering on such short notice. I do appreciate your diligence, but as I said, this is a working dinner party, and we have quite a lot of work ahead. A matter of record keeping, in fact. I’m afraid a gross oversight has gone uncorrected for far too long.”

It went how she thought it would. Marcel Paxton had many friends, and several believed that a mere misunderstanding with a naïve young woman was the only issue—until it became obvious that each officer in the room recalled a similar incident between Paxton and a young woman, usually from another squad or platoon or company. A few, she saw, could believe the accusations once gathered. Others still struggled.

“I thought—well, maybe he could be at fault. Just…got carried away, you know? It was just after that darkfallen ambush that slaughtered so many in the fields, and everyone was so…” Captain Darrow’s voice faded and he shook his head. “It was one time…I thought…”

“I cannae believe he managed t’ cover up this much,” Major Breakaxe huffed. “How could no one ha’e noticed?” Breakaxe, Rhiswyn recalled, was a regular card gaming friend of Paxton’s.

“Tricky file keeping. Moving units often to ‘avoid issues’ after each almost-scandal. And of course, coercion and threats to the girls themselves.” Rhiswyn used all of her discipline training to keep her voice steady. She turned to the only other non-officer in the room. “I asked Anchorite Tisheno here to verify my suspicion that at least one of the girls showed signs of mental tampering, consistent with priest abilities. She is here with the results of that report.” Rhiswyn paused, looking at the dark-skinned draenei. “I haven’t heard the results yet myself.” Light, let me not be wrong.

Tisheno stepped forward, drawing out her holocrystal to project the results on a blank wall while she explained them.

The uproar in the conference room startled the sentries down the hall.

***
The morning’s light pierced the room, waking Rhiswyn much earlier than she would have preferred. She sat up, running a hand through her tangled brown hair.

“Morning, sleepyhead,” Ableguard teased from his desk. “I tried not to wake you. Looked like you needed the rest.”

Rhiswyn yawned and nodded. “Not your fault, dear. I do need to get ready to leave. Things are about to get messy in Stormwind.”

“I imagine.” Ableguard frowned a little. “I understand keeping the other girls’ involvement minimal, but I’ve spent some time looking over those records you dug up.” He gestured to the stack on his desktop. “Lachlan’s name isn’t in here. She never filed any kind of complaint?”

“Nothing I can find,” Rhiswyn said. “That doesn’t matter. There should be enough evidence of Paxton’s dealings to discredit his case.”

“He found allies here, among the Crusade—fools who kept his secrets for him, even unwittingly. In Stormwind, though? You realize he’s probably leaning on the judge. He’s that kind of man.”

“He’s not the only one who can lean,” she said as she gathered her strewn clothing.

“You didn’t exactly keep your investigations secret.”

“I have nothing to fear. If Paxton tries anything…” She trailed off, smiling as sweetly as a shark. She blew Ableguard a kiss before stepping into the washroom.

He shuddered.

Ableguard’s eyes dropped to the file on top of the stack. The one he had signed off, almost four years ago. The one he had dismissed. The soldier he had failed.

He didn’t feel sorry for Paxton at all.

Comments

Llane Venner's picture

(( Oh, he's in for it now...

(( Oh, he's in for it now... ))

"I travel, I write, I kill things."

Seler's picture

(( Just when I thought I

(( Just when I thought I couldn't hate Marcel any more. But I absolutely love seeing the business side of Rhis.))

Drogar's picture

(( Drogar is likely to

(( Drogar is likely to rescind his desire to have Paxton live after seeing this information, and instead find a way to let everyone who wants it get a shot at him. Probably with an elaborate death trap where everyone gets to participate. ))

Lirriel's picture

((Rhis is returning to SW

((Rhis is returning to SW with a holocrystal and a fierce need to speak with Drogar and Gilly. >_> ))

Llane Venner's picture

(( Yeah...Venner is going to

(( Yeah...Venner is going to "publish and be damned" the second he gets Rhiswyn's package, without consulting Drogar first. And then the real fun starts... ))

"I travel, I write, I kill things."

Lirriel's picture

((Just keep in mind, she did

((Just keep in mind, she did NOT send the proof of mental tampering along, because she didn't get that right away. The possibility of it exists in her initial package, which will probably be enough in public opinion on top of everything else.

It's mainly presented as the tragic story of how troop abuses can fall through the cracks thanks not only to bureaucratic muddling, but also wartime situations. She would suggest to Venner to present it that way as a human interest story; even the most altruistic organizations are not immune, etc.

She's also quite willing to have her name attached to the investigations and reports.))

Darlain's picture

((I think this particular

((I think this particular storyline works fantastically as we have a lot of real world experiences and stories to work off of. We've all read about a man like Paxton in the paper, or consoled a friend who's been met with suspicion when challenging a popular person's character. This blog is particularly common, sadly, in how bureaucratic processes can ensure that things can fall through the cracks and fail the people who need help the most.

Also, I really love that rhiswyn greased the wheels with office supplies :p.))

Lirriel's picture

((Can't be easy to get

((Can't be easy to get quality supplies in enough quantity all the way in Hearthglen with everything else going on! And I know how office nerds work.

She also plied the officers with Pandaren food. Cuz man. When's the last time they had such exotic, interesting cuisine?))

Rhianon's picture

((Rhis and I were fighting

((Rhis and I were fighting the urge to post this earlier XD Everyone was chomping at the bit and we knew this would sorta be a huge tipping point for the whole plot.

As always, lovely stuff and you really captured exactly what I was going for. :-D

Lirriel's picture

((I think partly because

((I think partly because kinda like what Darlain said: we can really draw from real life, and it makes it easy to build character responses from that.

We all know of crazy ex's who abuse, cause legal issues, manipulate, lie, and otherwise make life hell for the people they're involved with (see my brother's psycho ex). When kids are invovled, it gets even worse.

We also hear constantly about issues in the military with reporting sexual assault and other abuses of authority, or male-female issues.

Azeroth's gender politics are a bit more advanced than the real world's in some ways, but people like Marcel are still going to exist; it's about power and control for them.

On Haven I linked to the wiki definition of Gaslighting; the description you gave me of how he treated Gilly, and the glimpses we've seen in his PoV blogs, really fits, just with the added involvement of magic.

And yeah, it was really really hard to sit on this after talking it over, writing it, and getting it GM-approved! XD ))

Rhianon's picture

((Gaslighting exactly, except

((Gaslighting exactly, except with the use of magic in addition to verbal/situational manipulation.