Kendrick stood before three bishops who were considered the true power of the Bishop Council.  Hylan, Leander and Neheri, even though at times they disagreed, had the attention and persuasive powers over the rest of the bishops.  Policy and direction of the Church often swayed in their favor and at their discretion.  Kendrick wondered why they had called him in this late.  Customarily they held their private meetings with the rogue at midnight, for some symbolism and out of convenience to avoid prying eyes but the clock had just struck two in the morning.

It didn’t bother Kendrick much since he was used to staying up late.  It was in these early hours or very late hours, depending upon your point of view, that the underworld came alive.  It was a world he knew and navigated with familiarity.  He served the Light but the Darkness was where he lived.  Besides, Rymenhild had been gone for a few days at that point.  He had found himself accustomed to her warmth beside him.  An empty bed did not feel very welcoming.

“I want to apologize for setting up this meeting so late Kendrick,” Leander apologized.

Kendrick nodded lightly as he answered, “Not a problem.  I was up anyways.”  He knew they were going to drop something big on him and he was too frustrated and too tired to play their games.  He added, “But I am guessing you have something of great importance to discuss with me or you would not have called me in like this.”

Leander smiled lightly and stated, “Yes, you are correct.  We wished to inform you on a decision that was made by the three of us.”  Neheri crossed his arms and looked away for a moment.  Kendrick’s eyes perked up at the display.

“We wish for you to invite Netanel into the Society,” Leander finished.

Kendrick’s brow furrowed as he watched the three bishops.  It didn’t take long for him to answer.  “No,” he said empathically.  He knew Syrenity had to be involved in this somehow.  She tried to place the inexperienced priest between them before and now she wanted him to replace her in the Society.

“You have something against Netanel?” Leander asked curiously.

“He’s too inexperienced and much too meek to perform field work,” Kendrick argued, “he would not be able to handle the work.”

“Some of your previous agents were inexperienced as well,” Hylan rebutted.  “Even Syrenity whom you have great esteem for was just training to become a priestess.  I am sure in time Netanel will do the same.”

“I thought I was given charge of recruiting the agents?” Kendrick asked.

Leander nodded, “You were and still are but it is in the discretion of the Council to suggest recruits whom you may not have considered.  We believe you are overlooking Netanel due to your own prejudices instead of looking at him objectively.”

“I’ve seen enough to know he is not qualified,” Kendrick flatly stated.

“We believe he is,” Leander calmly retorted.

Kendrick stared at the bishops again.  He knew he couldn’t win this fight.  He did find it interesting that Neheri did not offer any input.  He understood that bringing Netanel into the Society was not an unanimous decision.  In the future that knowledge could be used to his advantage.

Kendrick stood in silence as he thought.  He nodded to himself and looked directly at Leander as he explained, “I will make Netanel an agent but I wish to make this clear.  I object to his recruitment but only do so in order to follow your advice.  If he fails, the responsibility goes on your shoulders.”

Neheri sat back marveling.  To think Kendrick, a rogue would speak to a high ranking bishop in the Council was quite a bold move.  The rogue was not intimidated.  Neheri smirked slightly.  Perhaps Bishop Eldrid was right.  Maybe there was more to this Kendrick than he had anticipated.

Leander stared back coldly.  It was rare for the personable bishop to do so.  “Very well,” he noted.  “We will acknowledge that you have taken Netanel into the fold against your own recommendations.  The decision was ours.”

Neheri mouthed under his breath, “Not mine.”  Both Leander and Hylan shot him a look and Kendrick smirked a little.

“Is that all, Your Grace?” Kendrick said calmly.

Leander huffed and waved him off, “Yes, that is all Kendrick.”

Kendrick left the room and thought carefully.  He knew none of what transpired went on record.  If Netanel failed, it would not hurt any of the bishops directly or even indirectly with the general public.  But the four of them knew and that was important to him.  A lot seemed to rest upon the fate of a not so extraordinary priest by the name of Netanel.

I write this journal with a sad heart. The two people that mean more to me than anyone else are gone.

I awoke in an empty bed. Rymenhild left during the night. I don’t know why. She left a message but didn’t give me an explanation. She did promise me she would return. Then why does my heart feel as if someone shoved their fist through it?

She’s been gone before but I never worried during those times. She has her own projects and own things to take care of. I expected she would share what those things are. And she did. She told me a great deal. Who she was, what she’s been up to, who she is associated with…

Perhaps that is why this time feels so different. Before, we had a casual relationship but now that we’ve made ourselves so vulnerable, things are more serious. So now when she leaves, even with a note, it hurts. It hurts because her note sounded like she was hurting too. And all I can do is wait again. Wait like before until she is ready to open up to me again. And wait I will because I love and I care.

Syrenity left me in a different way. She should have never associated herself with Ravenholdt. But it’s too late now. She joined the League. She may not have signed her name in blood but she might as well have. No one leaves the League free and clear. She will forever be tied to them as Silverblade and I are.

The old Ren left me. She killed, no, assassinated someone. Alastair from long ago who was found guilty of those heinous crimes within the Cathedral. I do not mourn his death or feel that he didn’t have it coming. But she killed him under contract. She can justify her reasons but ultimately, it was a hit and she executed which makes her an assassin.

The old Ren is gone. She was my conscience and my moral compass. No matter what happened around me, I could always look to her knowing she would not compromise. My father held that role before, as did Bishop Eldrid. In darkness they were my Light. Ren was my Light. Is she still now?

I don’t know anymore.

“Thank you Kendrick for coming on such short notice,” Neheri greeted as he took a seat next to his fellow bishops, Hylan and Leander.

“The message sounded urgent,” Kendrick replied as he nodded while taking his own seat at the small table.

Unlike their other meetings, this one was conducted in a small room deep within the Cathedral most often used as a study room for student priests. Kendrick immediately noticed the solemn features on all the bishops as well as the heavily worn journal placed on the center of the table. He figured they were about to present to him another assignment but this time something was a bit off.

“We have some very disturbing news,” Hylan informed, opening up the meeting. Kendrick glanced at each of the bishops and listened intently.

Leander chimed in, “After your team disposed of the throne at Un’Goro, we sent another small group to excavate and collect information regarding the vault. Unfortunately, a group of cultists discovered the site and the entire team was killed.”

“If they all died, how do you know they are cultists?” Kendrick asked.

Neheri answered this time, “There was one survivor from the battle that ensued; a young priest by the name of Liam Bowman. He managed to escape and reach the Marshal’s Refuge. Sadly, he too died from injuries sustained during his escape but he managed to send this to us.” Neheri tapped the journal in the middle. “He also wrote a message on what transpired,” he added.

“According to Liam,” Leander spoke next, “the attackers were members of the Twilight Cult. He recognized their robes. By the time he saw them, the camp was already overrun and the leader of the expedition, Captain Trevor McKennan was captured.”

“How did he escape then?”

Leander answered, “Liam was with a group of dwarf archaeologists. They held off the cultists as he escaped. They all died to save him.” Leander seemed very grief struck as he spoke the last few words.

Kendrick sighed, “What were they looking for?”

Hylan interjected this time, “We believe they came to the location to free the entity that you discovered weeks ago.”

“That’s not possible,” Kendrick defended, “we destroyed the throne that held its power…”

“Unfortunately the evidence suggests it survived somehow,” Hylan retorted immediately. He continued, “After we got word from Liam about the attack, we immediately sent another, more combat ready team to the location. They found the broken camp as well as the dead bodies of both the first team and various cultists. They also discovered a husk of a man. His body was completely rotted away, flesh practically melting away from the bones. When the second team could not find Captain McKennan, they immediately spread out. After two days of searching, they found his body.”

Neheri said sadly, “His body was also in a very decayed state. His body was completely desiccated to the point when the team tried to move the body, it started falling apart. We suspect the entity feeds off the bodies.”

“…because it no longer has the throne to give it strength,” Kendrick whispered in shock.

Neheri nodded, “That’s our theory. The first body was of a cultist. The second was Captain McKennan. We don’t know if the entity has a body of its own or if it just jumps from one person to another. But seeing that it had the ability to enter your mind and even gain control…”

“The logical assumption would be it possesses the body it drains…” Kendrick finished the sentence. He brought the journal close to him and flipped open the pages. The entire journal was filled with etchings and copies of the runes found in the vault. He cursed himself as he slammed the book shut.

“It’s not your fault,” Neheri tried to console.

“Yes it is,” Kendrick admitted. “I should have blown that throne up instead of activating it.”

“You presume that by activating the throne, you released the entity,” Neheri argued. “But even after you destroyed it, the entity survived. And it survived without the throne until the cultists found it. In some ways, it is fortunate you discovered what you did before they did because now at least we are not completely in the dark.”

Leander looked at Kendrick with sympathetic eyes as he said, “Those cultists knew the location. They would have managed to find this thing whether you were there to destroy the throne or not. But you got there before they did but it seems they got there before the research team and somehow freed the entity. And it’s looking for something.”

Kendrick stared at Leander whose eyes were trained on the journal in front of him. Kendrick asked, “What’s so special about the book?”

Leander replied, “We don’t know yet. But Liam made it clear in the message that Captain McKennan wanted him to escape with it. Those are writings within the vault and they may have answers to what we are dealing with. We hope it reveals a way to kill it.”

“And we also suspect it also holds the key to returning power to this thing which is why it wants it so badly,” Hylan added.

“Why didn’t the cultists just go back in the vault and gather the information themselves?” Kendrick asked.

“The vault is destroyed,” Hylan explained. “The second team found the heat near the entrance unbearable. The throne most likely maintained the environment within the vault. With it destroyed, it was only a matter of time before the magma deep within took over.”

Kendrick let out a heavy sigh.

“We will need Brann again,” Leander commented. “We need those etchings deciphered.”

“I’ll contact him again,” Kendrick agreed as he nodded.

Hylan explained solemnly, “You will maintain possession of the book. Yours will be the only copy. Because we know this entity can take control of anyone, trust will be at a premium. Even now we are working on a method to identify possession of the mind but it will take time.”

Kendrick smirked as he commented, “Great. Now you’ve given me another reason not to trust anyone.”

“Even though it is risky, you will need to trust some people,” Neheri added. “This mission is far too difficult and dangerous for you to do alone.”

Leander and Hylan glanced at each other suspiciously. Kendrick narrowed his eyes as he asked, “What are you suggesting?”

“Rebuild the Society,” Leander commanded.

“You have another list of candidates?” Kendrick asked.

Leander shook his head, “Not this time. This is your team. You build it. But if we find someone we think is suitable, we will present that person to you.”

“I’ll need access to some of the Church’s resources if you want me to select the agents,” Kendrick explained.

“Granted,” Leander agreed with a nod.

Kendrick stared at each of the bishops before he looked down at the journal. He fingered the edges and reflected upon all that transpired. “Darkness never rests but the dawn approaches…” he said softly but loud enough for the bishops to hear.

“What was that?” Hylan asked curiously.

Kendrick shook his head with a smile as he answered, “Nothing. Just something a good friend once said to me.”

Trevor McKennan was a dedicated church man, serving the Church of the Holy Light ever since he could raise a sword to fight. His effort and hard work managed to bring him up the ranks among the church guard and the paladin eventually earned the rank of captain. One week ago, the Council assigned him to lead a small expedition to Un’Goro Crater to excavate and examine a known titan vault. It didn’t take long for his team to find the small opening that led to the underground chamber.

Inside they found a broken complex worn by age and decay. They also found what remained of a stone bridge, reaching out to nothing. The Council had said previous Church investigators were forced to destroy some ancient artifact by dropping it into the hot magma below. After a few hours of searching, the team found nothing of value. A couple of dwarves took some etching of numerous runed writing of some ancient language and they were all placed in a large journal.

Captain McKennan wiped his brow with a small handkerchief. The heat from the magma below made the vault almost unbearably hot. McKennan’s hair was matted with wetness and he longed to strip out of his armor and return to the outside world. His assistant, a young priest named Liam offered a waterskin. McKennan took the skin gratefully and gulped down the lukewarm water.

After wiping his mouth and handing the waterskin back to Liam, McKennan commanded, “I want the dwarves done in an hour. The heat seems to be getting worse.”

Liam nodded as he replied, corking the waterskin, “I’ll let them know. They told me the vault would have most likely been well preserved but with the destruction of the power source, as the Council explained, everything started shutting down.” He looked up at the ceiling as the lights got dimmer, “That means the environmental controls and the lighting. I doubt this vault will be inhabitable after this day unless we find a way to control the heat.”

“There’s nothing here,” McKennan stated. “We’ve been searching for days and all we have are the etchings.” He repeated again, “I’ll be topside. I want everyone out of this hole in one hour. Be sure to watch over the journal once the dwarves are finished making copies.”

Liam nodded.

When McKennan reached the outside, he was in utter shock. The small makeshift camp they had setup was in complete disarray. And what was more disturbing were the bodies of three of his men. He rushed to the bodies kneeling next to them hoping he could still save them. His prayers to bring them back from death were left unheard; the men had already passed to the next life.

McKennan stood up and armed himself with his heavy two-handed mace. With all his senses on alert, he began to call out, “Rivark! Lucis!” The two men whose bodies he couldn’t find did not answer. He was about to proceed to scout out the area when a voice responded.

“Your men are dead,” the voice hissed.

“Show yourself!” McKennan shouted firmly grasping his mace, “or are you such a coward you would not face me in the open?”

The laughter came as a response and emerging from the shadows and around the perimeter of the broken camp were many individuals dressed in dark purple robes. McKennan recognized them immediately.

He angrily spat to the side, “All of you will pay for your crimes.”

One robed man stepped forward, his face covered under the shadow of his hood. He spoke, “Your threats are empty paladin. Give us the journal and I promise you a quick painless death.”

“What was so important about the etchings that the Twilight Cult was involved?” McKennan wondered. It didn’t matter for nothing good resulted from the cult. He ignored the demand and charged with his mace charged with Holy energy.

The robed man grinned wickedly under his hood and raised his hands. Shadowy mist began to flow out of his hand and quickly engulfed the paladin. Before he realized it, the mist wrapped itself around McKennan and held him in place. No matter how he tried, even with his strength fueled by the Light, he could not break free. As McKennan struggled, the robed man slowly walked over to him. The paladin stared at the man with fury as the man folded the hood back.

McKennan was startled by the visage. The man’s face was deteriorating before his very eyes. The skin seemed to be slowly melting away leaving behind tendon and muscle which also began to be pitted with rot. The paladin also noticed the man’s hands were also slowly decaying away.

“What kind of madness is this?” McKennan gasped.

“Madness of a new world,” the decaying man replied. He suddenly looked past McKennan and smirked. McKennan managed to turn his head and noticed Liam and the handful of dwarves had come to the surface. In Liam’s hands was the journal.

“Run Liam!” McKennan screamed as the man raised his hands towards the young priest. The paladin prayed one last time to the Light to give him the strength to break free. The Light answered his prayer. McKennan managed to break free from the shadowy hold and tackled the decaying man just as the man fired his shadow bolts in Liam’s direction. Both crashed to the ground and the bolts missed a dodging Liam. The dwarves not needing any more reason to fight, charged with their axes and picks and engaged the cultists who controlled the camp.

“Escape with the journal Liam!” McKennan cried out before the decayed man slammed his fist into his face.

Liam, more of a researcher than a fighter took off in fear. Another bolt of shadow streaked past him. He rushed past the fighting dwarves and cultists and was almost clear of the camp when another bolt struck him in the back. Losing his balance, he rolled off the side of the trail leading to the camp and tumbled down the mountain. A pair of cultists began pursuit.

Shaken up and chilled by the shadow bolt, Liam had trouble getting up. He saw the two cultists walking towards him but he was still stunned from the fall. He clung to the journal but he feared this was the end.

One of the cultists drew a dagger and stood on top of Liam. He grinned wickedly to end the young priest’s life as he raised the dagger. Suddenly, a large raptor crashed into the cultist and threw him onto the ground. He screamed in agony as the raptor tore into his flesh with its claws and teeth.

The eyes of the second cultist started to dart around as fear started to overwhelm him. He slowly started to back away when another raptor swooped in and knocked him to the ground. Liam managed to gain his senses at this point and started to crawl away from the carnage. It would be a long journey but he knew he had to get to the Marshal’s Refuge and return to Stormwind with the journal.

*****

The dwarves at the camp put up a brave fight but in the end the cultists prevailed. The cultists had every one of them killed except Trevor McKennan. The decaying man had special plans for the paladin. McKennan was brought before him and tossed to the ground.

“You lost,” McKennan spat. “The journal is gone.”

The decaying man smiled, “I will retrieve it in time. But that doesn’t concern me now. Right now I must feed. The fight has expended much of my energy.”

McKennan growled, “Go on then, kill me.”

“In time,” the man replied as he stepped in front of the paladin and placed his hands on both cheeks. “You have a healthy body and will support me longer than the one I have now.”

McKennan’s eyes flashed open as he screamed in pain. The other cultists stood around in a circle chanting slowly. Wisps of shadowy energy poured out of the decayed man’s mouth and flowed into McKennan’s mouth. Once the last of the wisps were swallowed by McKennan, the decayed man collapsed to the ground. The cultists all fell to their knees.

The paladin stood up slowly and looked around. He smiled as he watched his hands and fingers flex.

“His body is strong but even one will not last,” McKennan explained as he already saw the signs of an open sore on the palm of his hand. “Without the power of the throne sustaining me, I deplete my energy quickly. I must continue to switch bodies until I regain my strength.”

“We are here for your will, our Master,” one of the cultists said still on his knees.

“Then bring me the journal,” McKennan hissed.

*****

Liam reached the Refuge but he found that whatever struck him in the battle had weakened him greatly. He cast all the healing spells he knew but the shadow magic was greater than his abilities. He knew he would not return to Stormwind but he made sure the journal would reach the Council along with a report. He died the following day but the journal safely reached its destination one week later.

Kendrick was at Ratchet sitting at his usual table at the usual tavern where he met his usual friend. The message was urgent and the rogue decided to use the services of a mage to quickly transport him to the goblin city. He didn’t mind. He would charge his friend for the expense.

He took a long drink of his ale before settling it down on the table. Without turning around, he said, “On time, as usual.”

The silver haired blood elf that stood behind him smirked, “Not bad for a human.” He took a seat in front of Kendrick. “How did you know, not that I was trying very hard?”

“You stink.”

The elf laughed, “Not as much as you.”

Kendrick chuckled, “I caught your shadow briefly.” The elf nodded knowingly. “How are you Silverblade and why did you call me to this meeting?” Kendrick asked.

“Can’t you just accept that I like to see my friends every now and then?” Silverblade replied.

“Oh, now I know something’s up,” Kendrick smirked. He added, “And you owe me gold for the travel expenses.”

“Put it on my tab,” Silverblade grinned.

“Bastard,” Kendrick exclaimed.

Silverblade leaned back on his chair smirking. After a brief moment of silence, he explained, “I’m looking for someone. Someone on your side.”

“Is this person going to end up being dead?”

Silverblade shook his head, “No. Ravenholdt just wants me to find her and return her to the manor.”

Kendrick perked his eyebrow, “Ravenholdt? Well, this is interesting. How is the old man?”

The elf shrugged, “He’s okay I suppose. I haven’t been there in some time. He only contacted me for this contract.”

“Very well,” Kendrick crossed his arms as he spoke, “who is this person?”

Silverblade sat straight up again before leaning closer to Kendrick as he replied, “She’s supposed to be this petite young thing. Very pretty from what I’ve been told.”

“Oh, you are loving this, I can tell,” Kendrick smirked.

Silverblade grinned, “Ravenholdt just wants her back. But that doesn’t mean I can’t have a little fun.”

“What if she doesn’t want you?”

The elf winked, “Don’t be silly. They all like me.”

Kendrick rolled his eyes. As usual, Silverblade was cocky as ever. “Continue,” Kendrick added.

“That’s pretty much it and I have her professional name,” Silverblade said as he leaned back again.

“Then it shouldn’t be too hard to find her…”

“Her name is Argent Rose.”

Typically Kendrick was excellent at keeping calm and not reacting but he failed this time. The information caught him completely off guard and it hit too close to his heart. Silverblade noticed immediately as he watched Kendrick stare at him with obvious shock that he tried to play off.

Silverblade stared at Kendrick slyly, “You know her.”

Kendrick cursed under his breath but nodded.

“So, is she beautiful?”

“Touch her and you die,” Kendrick responded immediately.

Silverblade perked up and grinned, “Well now, this is quite interesting. You rarely act like this. It’s like I mentioned Rymenhild or Syrenity.”

Kendrick flinched again and he cursed. In retrospect he realized he did only because he trusted his friend. He knew he would not be so obvious with others or so he hoped.

Silverblade asked with curiosity, “Syrenity? Really? My, this is become quite interesting indeed.”

“I didn’t realize she was training at Ravenholdt,” Kendrick sighed.

“Seems like she’s been busy while you were away,” Silverblade commented. “Still, Ravenholdt wants me to find her and find her I will. Since you worked with Ravenholdt too, I know you will help me.” Defeated, Kendrick nodded.

“Touch her and you die,” Kendrick repeated.

“Are you two an item?” Silverblade asked knowing full well what the answer was.

“You know we’re not.”

“Then all’s fair in love and war,” the elf stated.

Kendrick shook his head, “It won’t matter. Once I find her, she’ll be dead anyways.” He knew she was training as a rogue but joining an assassin’s guild was something he did not expect or approve.

Silverblade rested his hands behind his head and said as he chuckled, “I think there will be some fireworks in Stormwind when you return.”

As usual the bishops arranged the meeting in the dead of the night. It was just easier and simpler this way. Although my services to the Church were no secret, it also wasn’t common knowledge either. The less I interacted with the Council in the open, the better it was for all of us. And so here I was again, meeting with the three major players in the Council: Hylan, Leander and Neheri. They assigned me to the task of finding the artifact and find it I did.

I briefed them on what occurred. I had arranged a small group to enter the location of the vault, discovered and mapped out by Brann Bronzebeard. Gwendollwyn and Syrenity were automatic choices seeing the Council selected them. I picked Magwynn because I could trust her level-headedness in case things went badly. Carad was chosen out of necessity because the clues implied the throne could only be activated using certain aspects of power: Life, Death, Fire and Frost. I knew he joined only out of loyalty and dedication to Ren and not because he wanted to help me or the Church.

Our destination was Un’Goro Crater. From there we trekked to Fire Plume Mountain and in time we found the passage. It looked like an old lava tube, now cooled and hollow. One by one we entered and reached the titan vault. Inside was something I did not expect. It was a significantly large interior similar to the halls found in Ulduar. Time had eroded much of the place and the natural rock and magma that encased the vault had begun to encroach upon it. Walls were broken and the bridges that stretched over molten lava were cracked and splintered. But the automations and stone guardians were fierce and active as ever. It took our small party a considerable time before we reached the throne itself.

From the clues gathered, I knew the throne was capable of manipulating matter. Brann surmised the titans used it to test out new creations but also believed the throne itself was just a prototype of something more incredible. The throne was in effect, part of the mountain, carved out of the very heart of the volcano. One bridge allowed us to reach it. Although the group had reservations, ultimately we decided to activate the throne using the four aspects while I placed explosive charges around it as a precaution. I was not prepared for what happened next.

The throne was sentient. It spoke to us and offered us anything we could dream of. I could only guess on what it offered the others but to me it offered peace and love. It gave me visions of a life that was tranquil, without the worries of the Scourge or anything else that would threaten I held dear. It also offered love. Not just for me but for Ren as well. That’s when I knew it was all fake. I knew who she loved and the throne could not give it to her unless it took it by force.

And it did just that. It swept my mind and took control. At that point everything became a blur. I remember shouts and flashes of arcane power. I remember unsheathing my blades and threatening Ren. I remember breaking her hand with strength beyond my own. I remember being free for a split moment to detonate the charges. I remember falling and opening my parachute cloak. Were it not for Maggie, my story would have ended there.

I watched the bishops carefully as I made my report. I watched their countenances hoping for some sense of what they were thinking but they did little in reacting to my report. Neheri seemed glad the throne was destroyed, melted in the magma below. Hylan did as well. Leander asked the obvious question on whether there were more artifacts in the vault. I told him I didn’t see anything else but I am sure he plans to send someone else to investigate because he did not request me to return for more studies.

I told them I believed the entity was destroyed along with the throne but I wasn’t completely sure. I also mentioned I didn’t think the entity was part of the titan structure but something else. It was my hope that if they did send someone else, they would take the necessary precautions.

After the meeting I left feeling anxious. I still had the book. The bishops didn’t request it back and I wondered if they purposely did so. Maybe they also felt there was more to this vault and the throne? Time will tell but for now the darkness seemed to cast a shadow over everything. But I remember what Eldrid said to me. The dawn approaches and I planned to be ready for it when it arrived.

I left Rymenhild.

I left her sleeping peacefully under the covers before the break of day. I made sure Jeeves would take care of her when she woke up but he’ll probably say something snarky along with breakfast.

At least we had one final night. We had one last night of passion before parting ways. I wish things could be different. I wish I could avoid breaking her heart but sadly, wishes do not make reality. I want to love her. She is a kindred spirit. She sees what I see; thinks what I think. There’s no need to pretend with her or try to sugarcoat anything because she knows the same tricks. She’s experienced the same things. I could love her.

I wanted to tell her where I’m going and why I needed to go. I wanted to give her a MOUCE so no matter where I went, she could find me. But that would mean bringing her fully into my life. That would mean trust… Do I have it in me to trust again? She makes it so hard sometimes but on those rare occasions, she shows her vulnerability. And in those moments I believe that I do love her.

Forgive me Rymenhild. Forgive my cowardice.

And where does Ren fit in all this? Was I telling the truth when I told Rymenhild I still loved her? Yes I was. But this love is different. Ren and I are linked by Fate. For better or worse we are part of each other’s lives. But deep down I know she and I were never meant to me and I think if she reached down deep, she’d see it as well. And I am content with that. Love doesn’t always start and end in the bed.

Whatever chance I had with Rymenhild ended when I received Brann’s final letter along with the information I was waiting on the day before. So there it was. I finally found what the bishops were looking for. Hidden deep within Un’Goro Crater was a vault. And in the vault was a throne. And what did the throne do? It gave power. Brann also translated some other markings. Apparently it was part of a manual of some kind. Activation requires the aspects of life and death as well as fire and ice. Dichotomy of aspects; I didn’t know the titans were so poetic.

Ren and Gwen will go with me but I will need two more. I already have one person in mind. She’s not prone to emotional irrationality and I think will benefit this expedition. I still need another. I will speak with Ren and Gwen to find the fifth. We will need level heads. The translation suggests there were some problems with the device…really nasty ones. I will have to make sure the throne never falls into the wrong hands. Once I see what we are dealing with, will I know if I will heed Brann’s advice.

I have made arrangements with Avery to make sure Rymenhild is notified if I do not return within a certain timeframe. I wish I had time to finish that chopper I was working on for her. There I go again, making wishes. Light, grant me this one wish this time…

Another letter:

Dear Kendrick,

I have enclosed what I could translate from what you gave me. It speaks of life and death; of creation and destruction. I have surmised that what you seek is an actual seat, a throne. And I think I know what it does. I have written down my guess along with the translation. Be careful lad. Something sounds fishy and the mechanisms of titans are nothing to be toyed with. But this is in your hands Kendrick.

But I will leave you with one advice. Destroy it. I know why you are doing this. But a device such as this should not be in the hands of anyone, even if there are good intentions. The church as good as they might be is still run by humans. I’ve seen enough to know that power can break even the noblest people.

Brann Bronzebeard

A letter:

Dear Kendrick,

After some research and good ole fashion elbow grease I managed to decipher more of the strange text you left behind. By estimating the original location of the continent before it got blown to bits during the Sundering, I calculated the general location of this seat of power. It seems to lie within Un’Goro crater. I have enclosed a map of the location. I wish I could come with you but my work at Ulduar is still a work in progress. Besides, this is your discovery and finding.

I am still working on the other runes which should shed some light to purpose seat served. I know I have translated Life and Death. I think Fire is another word but I’m not sure yet. Give me some time and I’ll have more answers for you. Take care lad and I’ll contact you again.

Brann Bronzebeard.

Weeks had passed as Kendrick tried to track down the one person who had the knowledge and expertise to translate the clues in the book. Everyone knew Brann was researching Ulduar but finding the busy elusive dwarf was another thing. The search began at Dalaran through gossips and finally after many days, the journey ended at Frosthold. Word was out that Brann was there replenishing his supplies. Serendipitous timing allowed Kendrick to travel to Frosthold before the dwarf explorer left again for Ulduar.

The chill of Storm Peaks clawed at Kendrick as he cautiously made his way down to the town from the flight master’s perch. The thick hide and fur of his winter cloak seemed to barely block out the cold and he was glad when he reached the bottom. Because Frosthold was situated in a large pit, the bitter wind and cold were held at bay.

After a few minutes talking to the townsfolk, Kendrick managed to find Brann Bronzebeard. The famous dwarf was almost ready to leave the town. A large pile of supplies of various kinds were stacked neatly next to him. Two other dwarves were reading off a list and checking the stack to make sure everything was there.

“Brann!” Kendrick yelled out as he rushed to the dwarf.

Brann blinked a few times in surprise and turned his attention to the rogue. With a big grin, he replied, “Hello there lad.” He paused for a moment as he thought before adding, “Kendrick right? I’ve seen you a few times before.”

Kendrick nodded with a smile, “That’s right. I guess it is true. You have a marvelous memory.”

“That’s mighty kind of you lad,” the dwarf smiled. “Now what can I do fer ya?”

“I have something I want you to see,” Kendrick explained as he unslung the knapsack off his shoulder. Pulling out the large tome, he walked over to a nearby table and placed it. Brann looked at him curiously and walked over to take a look.

Kendrick continued to explain, “It is no secret that you are the premier expert in lost artifacts and historical findings. I was wondering if you could be so kind as to look over this book and maybe explain some of its contents.”

The dwarf nodded and carefully opened the book. He didn’t say much as he fingered through the numerous pages, nodding to himself and mumbling something under his breath. Kendrick watched with fascination as Brann studied each rune, each picture and every strange code found in the book. Brann seemed unconcerned with the findings until he reached almost the end of the tome. His eyes flared and without a word, turned and rushed to his stack of supplies. Kendrick watched in confusion as Brann started ripping open boxes and bags ignoring the pleas of the two other dwarves to stop. Brann finally stopped when he found what he was looking for and rushed back to the table.

“Found it!” Brann said with glee as he flipped open a medium sized journal.

“Found what?” Kendrick inquired.

“That,” the dwarf answered as he pointed to the tome that Kendrick brought. The page was open to what appeared to be a map of some sort but the rogue couldn’t decipher what the map was for. Brann then showed his journal and Kendrick saw the same map drawn in one of the pages.

“Do you know what that is?” Brann asked. Kendrick shook his head.

“It’s a map of Azeroth before the Sundering. I found it in my expedition to Ulduar,” Brann explained. He then pointed to a small point on the map on the large tome saying, “And I’m not perfect in this ancient dialect but I suspect that location is very important.”

“Do you know where it is?” Kendrick asked.

Brann nodded, “Give me some time and I should be able to calculate the correct coordinates. Since the one continent was shattered, this old map won’t reveal the location but I can figure out where the point is now by estimating the current positions of the three continents.”

“Anything else you can tell me?”

Brann stared at Kendrick, “Exactly who are you working for? And what are you trying to find?”

Kendrick knelt down and whispered to Brann. Afterwards Brann nodded before saying in jest, “I better not be involved in some kind of brainwashing so the Church can take over the world.”

Kendrick chuckled, “If they do, I’ll make sure I put in a good word with you with the Council so you’ll have a nice place in the new world order.” Brann laughed.

“So what else have you learned?” Kendrick asked.

The dwarf nodded again, flipping some pages and explaining what he knew, “These runes seem to suggest a seat of power. That can mean a capital city or an actual place where you plant your rear. I suspect it means both. And there’s a few other writings here that look familiar but I’ll need to study them more. Would it be a problem leaving behind the book?”

And that’s when it occurred to Kendrick why the Church didn’t seek out Brann long ago. It was a matter of trust. The Council would be upset if he decided to pass the book off to Brann. Or would they? Kendrick thought more. The bishops knew he would be unorthodox in his mission to find the artifact. He found it oddly reassuring that the Council had so much faith in him. He also wondered how much of that was directly attributed to Eldrid and his influence over the Council.

Kendrick made the decision. He tore off the pages that seemed to intrigue Brann the most and handed them to the dwarf. “Contact me as soon as you find out more,” he said.

Brann nodded as he folded the papers and tucked them into his tunic pocket.

Trust. Kendrick was finally able to extend it to others. Time would tell if his choice was the right one.

September 2014
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