Quae hit level 58 at last! Got tired of running dungeons so she just did quests, with her personal bodyguard doing most of the work. >.>
Duoing is fun.
And Pitch is up to 70! I been busy, despite my cold.
I said before that I had a story ready to go for when she hit Outlands, so here it is. Enjoy!
The Temple of the Moon, located in the night elf capital Darnassus, was where Elune's priestesses- and now occasionally priests- were trained. Some elves considered it to be the most important- and beautiful- building there. Inside the priestesses held sway, guiding their people according to Elune's wishes. Acolytes of all ages and skill levels went here and there, carrying out the orders of their elders. Like good little sheep, Quae thought cynically, going where they are led and doing whatever they're told.
Gazing at the huge Temple now, she wondered how many of them saw it for what it really was- a prison, where you either conformed to popular belief or were cast out. Or sometimes... Quae dismissed that thought without completing it. She followed her escort up the ramp, the pair of Sentinels silent. Neither of them had said a word after the perfunctory "Come with us, please" when they found her, almost the moment she had stepped through the portal. Like they had been waiting for her. The thought gave her shivers.
Once inside she was brought before a handful of senior priestesses, ones she knew by face if not by name. The eldest motioned her to sit on a bench, then they all gathered around in front of her. "Junior Priestess Quae Stormbough," intoned the youngest of the group, placing the slightest emphasis on her rank. "You have been brought before this council because we received word that you have been consorting with a former member of the Scourge, an undead known as Barraccus." Quae blinked in surprise. Before she could do more than that, the priestess went on. "This behavior apparently has been going on for some time, and is unbecoming to a priestess of Elune as well as against our laws. You are here to receive judgment."
"Wait a moment," protested Quae. "That 'undead' is a night elf and a knight of the Ebon Blade. He hasn't been a member of the Scourge for almost a year, and has proven his allegiance to the Alliance many times over." "That is beside the point," interrupted another priestess. "It is against our principles, as you should well know. We won't stand for it." All of them stared at Quae hard.
This was bad, oh yes. Quae briefly wondered if one of these priestesses had seen her with Barraccus or if someone had ratted her out, then realized that it didn't matter. She swallowed hard as it hit her that they could have her quietly "disposed of" if they decided it was called for. Or... they could simply remake her, by invading her mind and removing or changing her memories. It had been done before, although not to anyone Quae had known personally. There was that junior priestess that assisted the librarian, though, who walked around every day with a vacant smile on her face; if you talked to her she seemed normal enough, but her responses were almost automatic, like a gnomish robot. She shivered inside again.
Some of her fear must have showed in her expression, because a few of the priestess' faces softened. Slightly. That actually made her worry more, rather than less. Finally the head priestess told her, "Look, girl, we've all been young before, and know how it feels. Perhaps he just came on to you, and you didn't know how to say no." She paused, giving Quae a chance to agree, to place all the blame on Barraccus, and maybe worm her way back into their good graces.
And maybe a pink elekk would fly up and tell her she was really the long-lost princess of Stormwind. Barraccus didn't deserve any of this, any more than she did. Her anger flared up, temporarily consuming her fear, and she stood. "I can't lie to you, priestesses," she stated, and a couple of them began smiling in triumph. Those smiles quickly turned to surprise, however, as she continued. "He did nothing of the sort. Truthfully, I wanted it at least as much as he did. You could probably say we seduced each other."
The other priestesses stood looking at her in shock. The eldest was the first to recover. Quae felt her bravado fade as a slow, not-at-all-pleasant smile spread across her face. "You just sealed it, girl," she hissed. "Did you think we were going to stand it much longer anyway? First you ran away when we refused, and rightly so, to teach you shadow magic. Then you returned and claimed that Elune herself said you were to be taught. I still don't know what witchery you did to make the High Priestess agree. Then you leave your poor parents to live with your filthy druid siblings, making everyone sick with worry for you. Now you think you can flaunt your... relationship... with a cursed undead, and we won't do anything about it? The High Priestess may have you under her wing, but she can't stop what she doesn't know about." With a satisfied smirk on her face, she snapped her fingers at the two Sentinels and motioned at Quae. "Take her to a penitentiary cell," she ordered. "We'll be back for her tonight. Make sure no one even knows she's there." With that, she and the other priestesses turned and walked away.
For a moment, Quae was frozen with fear. Then, as the guards came up and reached for her arms, she snapped back to herself and made to get away. One of the guards grabbed her, and Quae saw shadows start to flicker around the edges of her vision. The shadows nearby moved toward her and began slithering up her body and down her arms. The guard that had grabbed her let go in surprise and swore, "Elune-cursed priests!" Before Quae could do anything with her new-found freedom, the other guard stepped up with her sword drawn, and struck Quae across the temple with the hilt. The shadows fled as she fell down into darkness.
* * * * * *
Quae awoke in a dark, cramped cell. Raising her aching head carefully, she took in her surroundings. She was laying on a small cot, and there was a tiny desk and chair next to the bed. Across the room was the door, which was closed and, she was certain, locked and guarded. Everything else had been removed- the lamp and any books and writing materials were all gone. For a moment, fear and outrage battled for supremacy inside her, and she fought down the urge to go to the door and start screaming. Right now she wasn't sure if she would be screaming threats at those who held her prisoner, or begging to be allowed another chance. Finally her nerves settled down, and she began weighing her options. First, she supposed, she had better make certain the door was guarded.
Pitch had taken a great deal of pleasure in teaching her outdoor survival skills when they were both much younger. She put them to use now, as she crept silently to the door and listened. There was definitely a guard on the other side, but it sounded like only one. The other was probably either resting or posted further down the hall, where she couldn't hear. She sat back on the cot with a sigh, not even bothering to try the door handle.
Quae found herself thinking about the others, her friends and loved ones. Especially Barraccus. Would she ever see him again? Would she even recognize him if she did? Should she have said what she did, or should she have played along with them? She made herself stop right there; it was too late to change anything now. She honestly wasn't worried that they would kill her. She was pretty powerful in her own right, and they would want to keep her around; they would just make her more... malleable. She shuddered again.
Her thoughts wandered back to Barraccus. He was due to be home tonight, and would be wondering where she had gone. Her heart ached as she thought of how worried he'd be. She thought back over the last few months and asked herself, had it been worth it? She could see his face in her mind, as clear as if he was standing in front of her, and the look in his eyes each time he saw her, the way it felt when he held her... Yes, she thought. It had been worth it, a thousand times over.
She leaned back on the cot and lost herself in her memories, not caring when the tears started. She sat and remembered until at last the strain overcame her, and she dozed off and dreamed she was back at home.
* * * * * *
Quae sat bolt upright. She didn't know what had woken her, but she was suddenly afraid the priestesses had come back. Heart in her throat, she waited, staring at the door.
There was a soft scraping sound, as if something heavy was being dragged away from the door, then a faint clink she realized came from the keys. The door creaked open slowly, and her visitor stepped into view.
It was Alanon.
Quae just stared disbelievingly for several seconds, then with a choked-off cry she lunged forward, wrapping her arms around her brother. He held her for a moment, shushing her softly as she sobbed in relief, then gently pulled back. "Quae, we have to hurry. I don't know when they're coming back for you," he said, his voice low. "Yes, I know," she replied, quickly pulling herself back together. She wiped her face on her sleeve, then took a deep breath. "How did you know where I was?" she asked, as they stepped past the unconscious guard outside the door. Alanon grinned. "Arien. She happened to be in Darnassus and spotted you with those guards. She noticed you didn't look happy, so she followed you to the Temple, then called me over the buzzbox." "Do me a favor, big brother, and kiss her next time you see her," Quae said feelingly, and he chuckled. She never would have thought she'd be so happy to hear that sound.
She was all nerves as they made their way out of the Temple through the back passageways. Alanon led the way, stopping often to listen for sounds of pursuit, but it seemed her rescue hadn't been discovered yet. They finally made it outside, where Alanon allowed only a short pause before hurrying her away from the Temple and toward the portal to Rut'theran. He didn't risk the flight master, taking her to the boat instead. During the trip he gave her a short description of how he had sneaked into the Temple, staying in cat form to better follow her scent when he found it, then waiting til all was quiet before incapacitating the guards and unlocking her door. The boat ride was a short one, and he cut the story short as they docked at Auberdine. Before going out on deck he stopped Quae and handed her a cloak. "Should have had this sooner, but I wasn't exactly prepared to smuggle you out from under the priestesses' noses." Quae chuckled at his attempt at humor, a trace of hysteria audible just under the surface. He looked at her sharply. "Almost safe now, Quae," he reassured her. "Don't fall apart just yet."
He helped her off the boat and they hurried down the dock. Quae kept the cloak's hood pulled low over her face, leaving just enough uncovered to see where she was going. Alanon led her out into the Darkshore forest, and finally he stopped and let out a low whistle. Nearby the brush stirred, then came a voice Quae had feared she might never hear again. "Alanon? Did you get her?" Barraccus asked anxiously. "Yes, she's here," the druid replied as the death knight stepped out of the trees he was hiding in. His eyes met Quae's as she pushed the hood back. A second later she was in his arms, trying to hold back a sob as she wrapped her arms around his chest. "Oh Quae, Quae, I thought I lost you," he said softly as he held her tightly. "Are you alright, love?" She looked up at his face; he seemed to be fighting back tears as well. "Now I am," she replied.
Alanon soon had a small fire going. Quae sat next to Barraccus, leaning against him for reassurance. The stress of the last few hours and the resulting weariness were starting to make everything seem surreal to her. She wasn't even surprised when Pitch and Jahira came up, with Jahira bringing Riptik with her. Pitch had apparently been scouting, and he spoke with Alanon in whispers as Quae picked Rip up and held him close. The tiny wolvar seemed to understand that something serious had happened and didn't squirm like he usually did, instead sitting quietly in her lap and patting his "mother" on the arm. After a few minutes the two druids came over.
"Pitch says all is clear," Alanon told them. "Now we need to decide what to do next. Going home I think is out of the question; they probably already have guards sent there to bring you back." "What about Winterspring?" Barraccus asked. Alanon shook his head. "Quae's name may not be on the papers, but they know now that you two are together, and I'm sure that will be the next place they look." Barraccus frowned in frustration, his face dark. Alanon continued. "I don't think the Moonglade would be a good idea either. It's not a big place, and the druids won't stop the priestesses from doing anything there, so long as it doesn't disturb the Glade."
Quae looked at all of them, sitting around her trying to make sure of her safety, and felt a rush of warmth. "Well," she said finally. "I can think of a possible place. It's big enough to hide in for a long time, and the priestesses don't have any sway there." Alanon quirked an eyebrow at her, then suddenly grinned in approval as he caught on. The others looked at her in confusion, waiting for her to explain. She looked each one in the face, then allowed herself a small smile. "Outland, of course." Pitch started grinning widely, as the others all glanced at each other in relief. "All right, sounds perfect," said Barraccus. "But I'm coming with you, at least for the first few weeks." She smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "She'll be all right, brother," Pitch broke in. "I can watch over her too."
Alanon looked at them all, seeing agreement in all faces. "It's settled then. At first light we start for the Dark Portal."
* * * * * *
They reached the Portal before noon the next day, and gathered together in front of it. Quae looked at Alanon and Jahira, standing back a bit from the others, then stepped over and hugged them both. "Thank you for coming after me," she said quietly. "You know we would have," Alanon replied. "That's what families do, they watch out for each other." She smiled at him, then stepped back to Barraccus' side. The death knight shifted Rip in his arms so he could take her hand. "Ready?" She nodded, then glanced back to her brother and sister again and waved. They waved back as, with Barraccus beside her and Pitch trailing behind, she stepped through the Portal into Outland.
Probably going to cheat a bit & have Barraccus run her through the Outland dungeons for a bit before she starts questing. The hard part will be dividing my time between her and Pitch. I'm hoping to get them both to 80 in a couple months, giving myself time off to avoid burnout.
And now I need to crash. Goodnight and Happy Hunting!