This series of short stories has been written in response to in-game occurrences. A new mercenary company with hot-shot spies has cropped up to threaten Division Eighty-Four as the sole intelligence arm of the Knights of Menethil.
. . . . . "Do you know how loud a heartbeat is in a place that never has one?"
. . . . . Grinning impudently, the petite woman in scuffed grey leathers dropped down off the stone ledge running about nine feet above the floor of the hallway in Acherus. Both her hands were clasped in front of her as she rocked back on her heels and bent at the waist like a schoolgirl with a secret. "Fiiiiine. I know I ent sneakin' up on you f'r nothin' anyway, boss." As inconspicuously as possible, she melted back into an alcove.
. . . . . The death knight whose walk she interrupted paused to press a shoulder to the wall as he adjusted the fit of his pauldron. "There's a reason I have you use the crows."
. . . . . "Aye, aye. But I didn't wanna be tellin' Norm this 'un an' he'd have t' write it up an' everything."
. . . . . "Out with it."
. . . . . "One o' y'r wolves came sniffin' about me earlier today. Saw me send that crow-gram this afternoon."
. . . . . "Did he now?" A gauntleted hand came up as the death knight inspected his armor for - and brushed free - a bit of dark explosive powder.
. . . . . "Knew my name, boss. My description. Now how'd a man o' th' grave be findin' that? You ent sellin' me out, are you, boss?" Instead of sounding threatening, she sounded scared. Small, fragile, and scared.
. . . . . The gauntlet produced a cupcake through some mystical feat of prestidigitation, and just as miraculously, a small hand covered in a fingerless grey leather glove made the cupcake disappear once more. "I assure you, if you cross me to that point, you will be aware of it." The chill in the response brought an audible gulp from the shadows which had nothing to do with the consumption of baked goods. "Have you considered that you gave your name and a description was taken when you signed on at SI:7, and that SI:7 was raided some months back? By now, those files are on the open circuit." Another fearful gulp. Unfazed, the death knight checked the hang of the spines writhing on his belt. "As a strictly undercover operative, your cover is getting thin."
. . . . . "I c'n change th' look up!" came a swift protest.
. . . . . "That is not the issue. I know you are more than capable of that." There was a pause as one of the hapless mooks stuck on foot patrol marched by, his expression speaking of tedium unshaken by the Brigadier standing in the hallway while he adjusted one of the straps on his chestplate. "Who was it that approached you?"
. . . . . Between bites of cupcake, she answered, "Looked li' -mmmf- you a bit, 'e did. Wot with th' -nomm- spines on 'is belt. Ebon -mmfle- tabard, hood up. Right 'bout six tall. -mmwah- Tips of 'is fingers were pale, an' he said 'is spines came from Northrend. Seemed t' imply he an' I shared a home, if you catch my meanin', but he ended up tellin' th' gal - roundaboutly, mind - that 'e was concerned with th' Knights 'Ebon or Menethil' which makes me think 'e's yours. A right wolf though - said it 'imself a few times. In th' business with a brother. I ent knowin' you had brother pairs."
. . . . . "What 'gal'?"
. . . . . She took a breath of still, fetid, chilly air and continued, "He was approached by a gal with a hood, gave a name of 'Esleca Desarc' an' claimed 'Crusade' an' 'Verdict.' She wanted unfettered access to Acherus from him in turn f'r givin' up info on some 'fel friend.' Mentioned problems with someone wot you lot ran into in th' Enclave. Had a fancy paper she said was from th' Highlord wot she gave 'im." There was another breath in the shadows.
. . . . . "Th' dead fella said he'd have an associate send a letter." Her tone was almost despondent, not a far cry from the earlier fear in her voice.
. . . . . "Send up a crow when it arrives."
. . . . . There was a sigh. "Can I 'ave another cuppy-cake?"
. . . . . As if by magic, a second one appeared. "Consider this report paid for."
. . . . . "Of course, boss!"
. . . . . Twilight painted the newly-reinforced walls of Light's Hope in pomegranate and wine, the red haze from the plagued lands to the west deepening the strained sunlight as it slouched on the horizon. Bone-tired and rattled, Ilva finally crawled into the small traveling tent nestled at the base of the southern wall.
. . . . . "Oy, budge over. I need room too, y'know," she groused at her companion, already in the tent. She crawled on hands and knees into the peak-roofed tent, her slim shoulders brushing one of the heavily slanted fabric sides as she tried to find space on the wool-packed sleeping mat she shared with Norm. For his part, he lay on his stomach, ignoring her in favor of some complex wiring diagram. She took care to put an elbow just above his kidneys as she flipped over onto her behind; he grunted and scooted over two inches.
. . . . . "What'cha readin'?" Wiggling and twisting, she began unwinding the mottled gray cloth and leather she used for shadow-work.
. . . . . "High-yield, shaped seaforium charge," Norm muttered absently.
. . . . . "Ooo, talk dirty to me, Badge," she joked, flopping onto her back and lifting her hips so she could peel her tight leather pants off. Something in her left pocket made a crunchy sound. There shouldn't be anything to make a sound like that... She stilled, a frown pulling her brows together as she worked a hand into her pocket and pulled out a crumpled note. "Wot...?" Propping herself on one elbow, she stared blankly at the squiggly lines. There were less of them than in the report she'd sent up by crowgram earlier in the day, and she knew she'd sent that paper up. What, then, was this? She smoothed it out on her thigh, then thrust the paper under Norm's nose, between his eyes and the wiring diagram. "Nooorm! Wot's this say?"
. . . . . With a gusty sigh which spoke tomes upon tomes about annoyance, Norm pulled the note out of her hand and held it farther from his eyes so he could read it. "'Don't take it personally, but I didn't have time to chat.' Chat? 'Meet me for a drink sometime, and I'll explain the particulars that my "knightly" brother hinted at.' A drink?! Signed, 'The Black Wolf.' Wot the-...?" A feral growl resonated from Norm's throat and Ilva stilled on instinct. "You been sniffin' around other men, Ginny?" Her back hit the wool sleeping pad as self-preservation took over and she exposed her belly and throat in submission. A heavy thigh slid over her legs, pinning her down, and a sword-calloused hand spanned her neck. Norm's breath was hot with rage as he bent his head and snarled in her ear, "You smell like cupcakes an' death, li'l Rabbit..."
. . . . . Swallowing hard pushed her throat against his hand, but she couldn't help gulping for air before trying to explain. "It weren't like that, Norm. Honest! There was this stiff - one o' bossman's men - asked a moment o' time. I just put my back to a tree an' heard 'im out." Twelve years of strict training over her body's responses was the only thing which kept her from stiffening in alarm as she realized that someone must have slipped that note into her pocket after she sent the crowgram. She'd not been bumped, felt a brush, or even a breeze. The tree didn't even rustle. No one was that light-fingered! "The stiff must've magicked it into my pocket, Norm. I swear I didn't do nuthin'. I ent into bangin' coffins. I swear it."
. . . . . The hand on her throat didn't move. "You been a doxie before."
. . . . . "I ent been one f'r years an' you know it, Norm." She whined pathetically as he set his teeth on her ear and tightened his hand just shy of enough to make her dizzy. "I wouldn't be givin' you lover's notes t' read me," she reasoned, "I ent stupid."
. . . . . There was more of the wolf in Norm's voice than the man as he growled in her ear, "You gonna meet this man for a drink?"
. . . . . "Ent particularly keen on it, no."
. . . . . "You said this stiff's one o' th' Baker's?"
. . . . . She tried to nod, but stopped when her chin bumped his hand.
. . . . . "I got a plan..." Norm mused.
. . . . . Ilva breathed a deep sigh of relief as the angry wolfish man released her and went back to his wiring diagram.