Background: Rosethorn Tower

Tonight I thought I would describe the mage tower Sheigh keeps in Orgrimmar, his home:

Rosethorn Tower looks nothing like a traditional wizard’s tower, nor like an elf lord’s home. It is a traditional orcish tower built using timber and rough-hewn stone overlaid with thick leather tarpaulins. The bottom floor is made up of the “Orgrimmar Bowyer” shop and the living quarters of Jin’sora, the troll who runs the shop. If one circles behind the shop, toward the canyon wall, one will see a small stable and next to that, a locked door. This is the entrance to the rest of Rosethorn Tower.

The second floor of the tower is mostly storage, including a pantry, a safe-room for treasures and goods, and the servants’ quarters, currently occupied by an old Orcish crone who cleans and cooks for Lord Llyrandor.

Whereas the first and second floors are unassuming, the stairs leading to the third floor are oak inlaid with red marble, opening into a lavish third floor. This area is the primary living quarters and includes a greeting hall, living room, and dining room all decorated in the height of elven style. Attached is a full-service kitchen and a chilling room kept cool by Lord Llyrandor’s ice magics.

The fourth floor is composed almost entirely of bedrooms, but even the untrained eye will quickly realize something is awry here – the hall is not circular as would befit a tower, but straight, and far longer than the tower’s diameter. Lord Llyrandor has used his knowledge of arcane magic to project extra-dimensional spaces inside the tower, leading to the fourth floor being several meters longer and wider than is physically possible. At one end is an elaborate bathing room attended by an imprisoned water elemental – the elemental controls a large central shower-and-bath in the tiled room. Next to this is Lord Llyrandor’s personal quarters. Along the hall are four other rooms which house various guests, with only Sir Garradh Sideath maintaining a permanent room for himself. At the far end of the hall is Lord Llyrandor’s small library.

The fifth floor is Lord Llyrandor’s magical laboratory. The doors and windows are magically locked and sealed against intrustion of any kind, though he has recently found out those seals are not as impervious as he imagined. The staircase first leads to an observation lounge with a breathtaking view of the Valley of Honor, before continuing up to the laboratory itself. What exactly goes on up there is a secret to all but Lord Sheigh, though he is known to keep several magical tomes up there as well as his gemcutting equipment.

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Nobody eats cat!

“Oh good, you did get my message!” he beamed a grin as he crossed the small restaurant, meeting her as she rose to her feet. Sheigh took Elleiria’s hand in his, bringing her fingers to his lips gently. “It would have been rather embarrassing if you hadn’t.”

She blushed as all the eyes in the restaurant turned to them. “Oh please, you sent in somebody to make certain I was here before you came in!” She winked playfully (even though yes, he had) and then took a step back. “So did I get it right? Is this appropriate?”

He eyed her up and down. Instead of her traditional ponytail she wore her auburn hair in voluminous waves that covered all but the ends of her long elfin ears. A barely-there splash of eyeshadow and touch of blush made her smile warm and soft. Bright red lipstick offset the creaminess of her skin, a splash of color that kept his attention focused on her soft, inviting lips.

Her dress was equally elegant, a strapless red taffeta gown that hugged her sleek form down past her hips before layering and expanding through the knees to her feet. Emerald beads splashed a sharp contrast in a thin under-bust pattern, drawing his eyes in that direction enough that he wanted to blush in embarrassment. The emerald matched her eyes, along with a stunning silver necklace that hung across her throat, a large ruby amulet dangling from a thin silver cord against her skin.

He raised an eyebrow. “I recognize that necklace! It’s absolutely beautiful on you.” He grinned and nudged her playfully as he helped her take a seat. “I suppose you can keep it after all this.”

“Oh I didn’t intend to give it back,” she replied without missing a beat. “So . . . you like it? Will I fit in?”

He nodded as he took his seat. “I didn’t think you could become more beautiful, and yet I am proven wrong again.” He looked down at his own attire. “I feel like some common steward next to what you are wearing.”

“Nonsense!” she laughed, taking a sip of water from one of the table’s fine crystal glasses. “You look marvelous in a tuxedo. Is that one new?”

He nodded as the waiter arrived. Sheigh reviewed the wine list before selecting a Redridge vintage, then looked up at his dinner partner. “Wait, have you been through all my clothes?”

She giggled softly. Elleiria might call herself many things – a gambler, a professional at the games usually – but she was a masterclass thief. Sheigh had been impressed when his housekeepers admitted things were missing from the kitchen and larders, but when the beautiful thief appeared in his private chambers one night, that impression had become admiration. The girl had been an enigma, coming to take his food and drink, dismissing his powerful magical works and items as merely “trinkets and junk,” stealing not one of his library’s priceless ancient tomes but rather a just-bound book of blank pages . . . the mystery of it all intrigued him, and he set out to get to know her.

He grinned to himself at the silliness of it all, courting a burglar, but here they were on what was not their first date.

“What is so amusing tonight?” she asked, kicking his shin lightly under the table. Her foot didn’t leave his leg, teasing his bruised shin and calf through her toeless heels seductively.

He smiled and lowered his voice. “Just thinking about how I am taking a cat burglar to the finest restaurant in Silvermoon, before she is my guest at the grand reopening of the opera house, when she is wearing jewelry she stole from me.”

“Oh hush,” she smiled as the waiter poured them two thin glasses of the wine. “It was in one of your little treasure shipments from up north, not your precious family jewelry.” She reached out to him, taking his hand in hers, letting her fingers tease his family signet ring that she had briefly stolen.

He squeezed her fingers softly, warmly. “It is good to see you again. Two months is too long.”

She nodded, her eyes darkening. “You’ve been home. I wish there was a better way for us to communicate when we are apart.” She withdrew her hand as the waiter came. They listened to the night’s menu, and though Sheigh smiled to hear it was in older Thalassian as befit such a fine establishment, he saw the sad loneliness in Elleiria’s eyes. He resolved to himself that he would find a way for them to talk more while he was gone fighting the Scourge in Northrend.

He liked her, he couldn’t deny it. Her personality was a match for his own, at least for his real personality, not the one he hid behind the facade of lordship and duty as an archmage fighting in the war against the Lich King. She could be frivilous and funny, finding an inside joke and whispering just a single word of it into his ear off and on all night until even he was laughing from the ridiculousness of it. At other times she hid a deep sorrow, or tried to mask a heartache that she refused to tell him about. He often suspected she was in love with someone else, or had been deeply in love and had been hurt badly. He didn’t press her on it, nor did he press too deeply into his own feelings for her. He often asked himself if he loved her, and his answer was always the same – maybe. He knew he was keeping himself at a distance from her emotionally after learning about his fiancee Islimah and losing his concubine Abegail. Still, when he looked at Elleiria, his heart raced, his tongue became dry, his head spun at night when he thought about her. Did he love her? Maybe.

“And the good sir?” the waiter asked, more than a little annoyed. Sheigh snapped out of his reverie and realized Elleiria and the waiter were both looking at him strangely.

“I . . . ahh . . . the steak please,” he stammered, throwing out something he knew every restaurant would have while he tried to cover his embarrassment.

The waiter snorted slightly in frustration. “The lynx medallion or the shoveltusk porter, sir?”

Damn it, he thought, two steaks! “Umm, the lynx will be fine, thank you.” Elleiria kicked him under the table again as she brought a napkin up to her lips, trying to stifle a laugh.

“I can’t believe you eat cat,” she laughed as soon as the waiter was gone.

He shrugged. “Everyone eats lynx. I’ve been eating lynx that my family hunted ever since I was born.”

She rolled her eyes. “Nobody eats cat anymore! It’s unfashionable. Nobody even hunts them anymore!”

He laughed and sipped his wine. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know. Did I embarrass you?”

“Yes!” she smiled, blushing. “So . . . tell me how beautiful I am. You wouldn’t believe what I had to go through to get this dress.”

“I probably don’t want to know,” he grinned. “That would make me an accomplice to the crime!” That earned him another kick to the shins, so he winked at her and began to remind her of how lovely she looked. She wasn’t used to such compliments, least of all from high lordlings who were used to preening noble girls, and she loved hearing him fawn over her.

He heard a disturbance by the door but thought nothing of it, just whispered voices having a quick conversation about something other than reservations and seating arrangements. But when he heard the sound of heavy footsteps accompanied by the rattle of sword belts, he knew something was more than just awry.

A shadow fell over his table. “Lord Sheigh of House Llyrandor?”

Sheigh tensed, a spell of shielding quickening in his mind. Elleiria flashed concerned eyes at him, then up at the man behind him. Her hands disappeared under the table.

Sheigh stood and turned. A royal courier and two city guards waited impatiently. “I am Lord Sheigh. What is the meaning of this interruption of my dinner?”

The courier bowed respectfully, helping set Sheigh at ease. “Milord, my sincere apologies but I have been trying to track you down for three days. The Lord Regent said I was to deliver this note to you personally and make sure to witness you reading it, milord.”

His heckles rose. News from Lord Lor’themar himself was almost never pleasant. Sheigh’s dealings with the Lord Regent of Quel’thalas had been a rollercoaster of difficulty, including exile, reinstatement, and all places in between. He broke the wax seal of the note and read it. “Appointment?” he muttered in confusion at the note’s almost unbelievable message.

The courier bowed again, turning and marching for the door, satisfied his job was done. As Sheigh turned back to his seat, he saw the waiter was coming with his steak and Elleiria’s pasta. He took his seat and looked across at her . . . only to see she wasn’t there.

The waiter cleared his throat. “Is milady returning shortly, good sir?” he asked, setting the steak in front of Sheigh.

Sheigh sighed heavily, knowing the girl was gone. The guards must have scared her off, he reckoned. His ire rose . . . one night alone in two months, ruined by politics! He looked around the room for any clue where she was hiding, but saw nothing. Damn!

Then he noticed the origami on her side of the table. He reached out, picking up the napkin gently so it didn’t lose its shape. Rolling it around in his fingers, he clearly made out the figure of the climbing cat, smiling at her quick message to him.

“Sir? Is the steak to your liking, sir?” the waiter interrupted his thoughts.

He looked down at the perfectly browned steak, its scent making his mouth water and his stomach rumble. The origami cat sat next to it, leaning on his wine glass – a cat burglar climbing a tower to steal inside of it. He chuckled to himself and rolled his eyes before handing the waiter a pouch of gold coins for the meal and turning to leave. “No thank you garcon, apparently nobody eats cat anymore.”

*Auth. Note: I used this gown (and its description, obviously) as a reference for those interested: http://www.rissyroos.com/products/Alyce_Designs_br_Style_6572-14184-25.html

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Just curious . . .

This gets quite a few hits a week. Feel free to say hi in a comment to this post!

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Preferable to Death?

Today is da day you gonna die, Shimzey, he thought, swallowing hard. Each of his feet seemed to weigh a hundred pounds as he forced one in front of the other, up a stair, up a stair, up a stair.

His daddy had died in a storm at sea when he was just a whelp. Mama had raised him up the best she could. but he was a troublemaker by nature. By nature, that is what the village shaman had said when he pulled Shimz aside and explained how he would either become the man’s assistant or he would become a pariah to the tribe. At first he simply had nodded and smiled and played his role fetching this or that, but as the shaman showed him more and more secrets, Shimz began to see things that made no sense. And then there were more, and then more, and soon Shimz began to accept that the elements had more power than he had ever credited them for.

And he wanted to learn that power for himself.

But the quest for power had led him to his end. For all the great perks he had enjoyed working for House Llyrandor, the greatest of all had been the forbidden fruit, the master’s apprentice, and he had eaten of that fruit. Now he had to decide whether to admit his sin or to turn and run away. Sadly, Shimz knew Lord Llyrandor too well. If the master wanted him dead, he would die. Best ta face it like a man, Shimzey.

He raised his hand to knock on the door, but it swung open before the blow could strike. He swallowed hard in fear as he saw the manifestation his lord took on, waiting like some high king in his throne-like chair, staring at him from across the room as he stood there, hand still raised in a fist to knock, dumbfounded.

The elf was easily a meter shorter than him, compact and strong but physically unimpressive compared to the tall, whipcord-muscled troll. He was clad in heavy robes, but it was the power emanating from him which made Shimz pause. An icy cold filled the room, steam gently rising from rents in his master’s robes where magical power glowed with strange pulses as if matching a slow, frosty heartbeat. Lord Llyrandor’s face was hidden under a heavy cloak, only the icy green of his fel-glowing eyes appearing from under the hood. Ioun stones rose above the hood, floating effortlessly around the archmage’s head. I’s gonna die, he thought, trembling with fear, more afraid to run than to just sit there, speechless. Finally he fell to a knee, genuflecting if only to escape the terrible gaze of his lord.

Shimz had never seen Lord Llyrandor like this. He had always thought the man weak, had laughed as he fucked his lover and took his gold. He knew the man was a mage, but now he realized in fear just how powerful the elf’s control over the elements was – even in the heat of a Durotar summer the room was like an icechest, a hateful, calculating coldness that seeped into Shimorpican’s bones until his joints ached. He thought he had come to confess to avoid murder – now he realized he came to be judged or face annihilation by a being he had severely underestimated.

“Rise, troll.” Shimz did so dutifully, slowly, keeping his gaze down. “Please, come inside.” His feet seemed to act of their own accord – his heart screamed for him to run, but he walked through the doorway, hearing it close with a sickening thump behind him.

He felt the mage look into him, through him. There was no confession to be made, only a verdict to be handed down. “Masta Sheigh, I . . . ”

“I already know, Shimz.”

Shimz swallowed hard. Not even a chance to plead mah case. Best just ask for mercy. “Masta, I know what I did was wrong, an’ I know ya mad at me, but please, if you can find it in yer heart ta forgive me, I promise I’ll swear mah life for yours.”

He felt compelled to look up, and in doing so he met the elf’s eyes for a brief moment. There was anger in them, but not a rage, a deeper-seated, wounded anger. The cold spoke to Shimz, it whispered elementally to him, speaking of aching and remorse. Part of Sheigh Llyrandor had died with the loss of Islimah, and the cold was as funerary as it was wrathful. “Please masta, I do anything for ya. Just don’ turn me into something . . . unnatural.”

“You are in luck, troll.” The words of the blood elf were otherworldly, projected from all around him. He shivered as he realized there was another copy of Lord Sheigh to his left, a third copy to his right. The fur on his back heckled as he felt the presence of a fourth copy behind him. The simulacrums spoke in unison, while the archmage did not. “Know your life is forfeit for your betrayal, yet I can find it in my soul to pardon you.”

Shimz fell to his knees, bowing deeply. “Thank you, masta. Thank you!”

“Silence.” Shimz jumped in fear. The apparitions spoke again. “You live because your life yet serves a purpose, Shimorpican. The war against the Lich King is almost at an end, but that does not bring this world peace. You must go to Draenor, to scout the activities of the Burning Legion there.”

Shimz swallowed hard. Draenor? The Outland? But what could possibly be there? He knew he had no choice but to accept, and only nodded his agreement. A new planet, with strange spirits, where the orcs and ogres came from – what?

The world around him had shifted violently. Instead of the cold of his master’s chamber, the air was warm, with a slight breeze. The sound of wind chimes rustled through the large chamber he found himself in, as if his appointment with his lord had been only an unpleasant nightmare. He turned to see the source of the noise, only to see two armored Draenei warriors marching toward him. Turning to look for an escape, he saw humans, blood elves, and a platform in the center of the room dominated by a being whose warm energy calmed his urge to flee. The na’aru spun and twirled in its mysteries, producing the calming sounds and warm glow that put Shimz at ease.

Shattrath, he thought, smiling calmly. Exile be preferable to death.

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Beautiful Disaster

He had sent the letter to Islimah telling her the wedding was off. He told her to sell the ring, and as a side note drew up a paper saying her apprenticeship was complete.

Abegail he heard about, though his heart knew the truth. She never wanted to be a concubine, and when he had pulled Sir Garradh from House Vermillion, well, she became more distant quickly. She left to visit “an old friend” and the night she left they fought, they fought terribly and angrily. It was clear that love didn’t drive her to stay with him, and whatever reason she had quickly faded as her own influence grew within House Vermillion and she didn’t need a proper elf lord keeping her as a pet lover and never-wife. It stung even worse than telling Islimah things were over. Perhaps it stung worse since it wasn’t his choice. Perhaps it was because her professed love was a lie. He knew he loved her, knew he showed it in all the wrong ways, and her leaving was probably exactly what he deserved. But it made the end no easier.

Elleiria was a challenge. He cared about her but he knew it could never be. He at least spoke to her about it. He wanted to recant, but ending it was sensible, was for the best. Beautiful disaster, he thought of her, feeling the words like fresh stitching on his heart. He didn’t want to, but he oh so wanted to. So he had.

Lord Sheigh Llyrandor sat in his tower, upon his wooden throne, and wept for that which would not be. And in his loneliness and pain, he knew joy, for that was how it always ended.

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Terrible Revelation

(Author’s Note: I cannot for the life of me remember Islimah’s family name! Thus the striking, I’ll fix it when I find out! 7/8/10 Thank you Isli for clarifying!)

“My lady, he is here!” her handmaiden hissed. Her eyes were wide with terror, causing Lithil’s heart to skip a beat. “He knows!”

The pruning shears fell from her hands, clattering off the tile walkway. By the Light, he knows! He knows! Her heart was in her throat. So many things she had done, so many things she feared he might learn about, might become angry about, might . . . But what exactly does he know?

She took three deep breaths, calming herself. The handmaiden handed her a heavy robe as curious onlookers edged closer, wondering what caused such commotion within the temple grounds. Lithil slipped into the robe, its blandness covering the light, revealing clothing that was the height of elven fashion, and that my son would be more angry to see me in she reminded herself. What exactly does he know?

MOTHER!” The yell made her tremble in primal fear. Her son was beyond angry, furious, almost hateful in his tone. She tried to calm her racing heart but it was impossible. He had discovered something, he was coming to her now to learn if it were true, and she feared she might die if he did not like her answers. Such horror, to die by the hand of the only person I still love in this world. Still, she didn’t weep. What exactly does he know?

Lady Lithil Llyrandor was the dowager of House Llyrandor, and she had striven ever since overcoming the grief of her husband’s death to make her son as great and powerful a man as she believed he was. She would have done anything for him, from murder to treason, from prostituting herself to dying for him. And she had done most of that. Sarenadia was dead because of her. Sheigh’s exile was because of her. His return, equally, was because of her. His exaltation was because of her. But for him to know, for him to see her for what she really was instead of what she portrayed herself to be, would break his heart. And when her son’s heart broke, the terrible rage grew in him. The fires grew. People died. She had thought hiding herself behind the cloak of a priestess would save her from her enemies, but if her own beloved boy was now her enemy . . . Calm yourself. What exactly does he know?

The aura preceded him. A light, a horrible orange and red flaming light grew down the hall from the temple entrance. The fires were upon him, dear gods those terrible fires, all the power and glory of an archmage wrapped around him like a grand fury given vision and form. His face was a mask of rage as he strode into the temple garden, roses wilting and dying in the heat of his anger as he marched purposefully toward him. He opened his mouth, his neck straining as if to scream his rage again, but the fury was contained. He breathed deeply, the fiery aura seemed to shrink around him as he too fought for control over his emotions. “I know, Mother. I know what  you did.”

A fool acted. She had been afraid someone would try to interfere, she saw the movement out of the corner of her eye and knew the man was already dead. “Listen here, sir, you must AAAUGH!” With a word her son spoke of immolation and the man erupted in flame. Instinctively Lithil spoke the power word of shielding, watching the poor wretch dance in pain as his clothes burned, his skin already blackened and his hair scorched away. This is a house of healing, he might yet live, Lithil thought, beginning to chant a prayer of healing.

“SILENCE!” Sheigh shouted, and Lithil was stunned into inaction. She tried to open her mouth to form the prayer but found she was unable. The burned man looked up at her in pain and horror, watching in terror as the flames scintillated around the power shield she had thrown up around him, watching as the flames ate through the shield second by second. Lithil was unable to save him, Sheigh had already forgotten he existed. The fires tore through the shield, engulfing him, stealing the air from his lungs so he couldn’t even scream his death. A tear formed in Lithil’s eye. Poor fool, he died for me.

Sheigh stared at her, hatred and rage burning in his eyes. She dared not speak, she dared not move, and the rest of the priests and acolytes in the garden kept a fearful distance. She noticed his sword was in his hand, somehow that had escaped her before now. Will I die on it?

“How . . . how could you?” Sheigh asked. The rage melted into sorrow, into pain and disappointment and disbelief, and Lithil felt her heart tear out of her body at the sight of it. Suddenly for all her fear at the murderous archmage before her, he was once again a little five year old boy, his eyes puffy and red as he cried in pain and showed her where a bee had stung his finger. She wanted to hug him, wanted to hold him and tell him everything would be okay, Mother was here for him, and yet the burning fires emanating from him kept her at check.

She snapped back to the present, remembering that her actions would save her life or end it, and perhaps his own as well. Her crimes against him were many, but he was nothing if not a pragmatic nobleman himself, perhaps she could explain her reasons and he might see the truth from her point of view. Or perhaps it would buy her time to stop him from doing anything worse. Powerful he might be, but she knew enough magic of her own to get by. “I did it because I love you, and I did it because it was best for you.” That might draw the discovered secret out.

His rage flared – she hit the nerve. “And what of Father?” he screamed at her, the blade rising menacingly in his sword arm. “Did you not love him, did you not care for him while you were whoring yourself to Deh’Lorei?” He lowered his arm. “You sold yourself to him. You sold me to him.”

All the strength, all the fear and adrenalin rushed out of her. She eyed his sword, willed it to strike, willed it to bring the end before the eruption of pain his words would bring to her heart, but it did not. All her betrayal of her beloved Rhaedd, of her little boy Sheigh, of her wedding vows and her promises to her husband’s grave, tore down her emotional defenses. Her face contorted in agony and tears burned down her cheeks. No, no no! This is not how I am supposed to feel! her mind screamed at itself, but her emotion could not be stopped.

“How could you?” he asked, his voice barely a whisper.

She fell to her knees, buried her face in her hands and curled up into herself so she could not see him, could not see the world. She cried, sobs wracking her body. I’m so sorry! I’m so sorry! Rhaedd, I’m so sorry! The wedding band of her lost husband felt cold and lifeless against her eyebrow. Forgive me, I’m so sorry! Father, I’m sorry! Daddy, I’m sorry, I didn’t want to, I had to for my son! Her throat felt raw from her sobs, but she could not form words. Sheigh, oh Sheigh, my darling baby boy, I had to for you! I’m so sorry!

Strong hands pulled her to her feet, but she refused to look. His hands singed her robes, heat like a fireplace emanating from the body as it pulled her against it, powerful arms holding her tight. She buried her face in his robes so he could not see her eyes, sobbing apologies into his chest, shameful, heartbroken, every bit of her deceit and malfeasance, her iron persona, gone at the revelation of the one act she prayed he would never discover.

She had been lonely, so lonely since her Rhaedd died. She lied to herself about it, hated herself for it, but she was still a woman, still young in the lives of the Sin’dorei, still beautiful. She saw their eyes, she basked in their attentions, she dreamed of being with someone else again. She had centuries of her life ahead of her and to remain alone, to remain untouched, tortured her into wanting to know a man’s touch that much worse. Yet her heart belonged to her husband, and she could not bring herself to break her vows to him. Not even seven years after he died.

She wanted to say he seduced her, but she knew the opposite was true. Duke Deh’Lorei was the one vote on the Council of the Moon that her son needed to have his exile overturned, his rights and properties returned, for the good of House Llyrandor and for the good of all the Tuar’annwn. Her father had been a great nobleman within the Tuar’annwn, and it shamed his name as well as her husband’s that her son had been exiled. She had promised her father’s grave, her husband’s grave, her father-in-law’s grave that she would save her son from his punishment, for crimes that she, not he, had committed.

She entered Duke Deh’Lorei’s’ carriage that night to change his mind with one final argument, the one trump card she still had left – her son’s hand in a marriage that would bring prestige to the Deh’Lorei line. Even in disgrace, the name Llyandor was ancient, powerful, and most importantly rich. Marry a girl of his family to her son, she would say, and the Llyrandors would cover some of the outstanding debts of his own family before they were made public. That is what she meant to do.

She had dressed revealingly because she was an ambassador by trade, she wanted his mind to be in two places at once while he struggled to make the decision. He was a married man, so a bit of forbidden fruit would only make him less focused, more eager to please a lovely lady, anything for attention from a beautiful woman who wasn’t his wife. But once she was in the carriage with him, alone in the dark next to him, only faint lantern light outlining the strong features of his chiseled, matured face, the heat of his body so close to hers, the scent of his hair, the warmth of his breath as it touched her face . . . She knew he wanted her. She knew he would do anything to have her. She knew she wanted him, too. So she made the deal.

Sheigh spoke, breaking her reflection. She didn’t hear his words, she was still crying in shame, still burying herself in her son’s robes and unwilling to face him or anyone else, but she realized they had been walking, he was guiding her somewhere. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry,” she repeated as a mantra into the tears-whetted silk of his robes. Finally she looked up as she realized they were outside the temple gates. She couldn’t bear to look at him, he looks so much like his father I couldn’t stand to see him, oh gods my love, I am so sorry!

There was a carriage waiting for them. Knights, fully armored knights squared away with the temple guards, both groups seemingly eager for violence, both groups stepping down as they saw the crying priestess and her archmage son. She did not look at them, did not look at Sheigh, but climbed into the carriage and lay down on one of its upholstered benches, grabbing a pillow to cover her head in shame. Her son entered behind her, taking a seat opposite her, and the carriage started rolling. He did not speak, and as the carriage continued her sorrow and shame turned to fear. What does he have planned for me? Her heart raced.

***

Sheigh folded the letter neatly, dripping wax from a candle onto the last fold. He watched it cool, reflecting everything the letter meant. Pressing his father’s signet into the wax, he thought of his mother. Of course he would forgive her, in time, he had no choice. But she had to be punished, and he needed to think of something appropriate.

Sheigh Llyrandor was not a commodity to be bought and sold. He was not a prize to be won. Whatever good intentions his mother may have had, they demeaned him, made him a pawn. He was no pawn, not for weak men like the Duke. The letter made that clear. There would be a reckoning. The marriage to Islimah, and it hurt his heart to admit it because he loved her in a rare, special way and knew her heart would break at the news, was postponed. Perhaps it would be off altogether.

“What we do for love,” he whispered to nobody in particular, before getting up to deliver the letter to a courier. What we do for love, he reflected, and what we do for honor. And which should win out in this case? His heart ached, his mind raced, and he knew it would be no easy decision.

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Dramatis Personae – Acquaintences of House Llyrandor

Here are some names that will occasionally pop up in stories, that folks might need to be familiar with:

Redmolly – Female Blood Elf Rogue: Molly is a longtime friend and traveling companion to Lord Sheigh. Unlike many of his female “traveling companions”, Molly and Sheigh have never been romantically involved. He enjoys her company as a sounding board for his ideas, both political and martial, because Molly is never afraid to share her opinion. She is also very handy with a lockpick and is invaluable to House Llyrandor when dealing with security issues. Molly and Sheigh never really talk about how they met or what keeps them so close, only that it was “a long time ago in a completely different world.” She has accompanied him through his exile and served with him in both the Iron Dragon Legion and the Outsiders mercenary group.

Pejitei Mi’zuma – Female Troll Hunter: The famous troll archaeologist, explorer, and big-game hunter Pejitei Mi’zuma has long been a friend of House Llyrandor. She frequently visits Lord Sheigh to discuss troll history – Sheigh’s military endeavours into Zul’Gurub and Zul’Aman give her an insight that she would otherwise need an army backing her to gain. Pejitei is also a master artist and Lord Sheigh frequently commissions her for her excellent paintings.

Mue’hela – Female Tauren Druid: The leader of The Unruly and a close acquaintence of the Roaming Oak tribe, Mue’hela or “Moozie” as her elf friends call her has been a longtime associate of House Llyrandor. Lord Sheigh often seeks spiritual advice from her, though he would never claim to worship Cenarius.

Lady Mylasande Sylvranesti – Female Blood Elf Mage, deceased(?): Lady Mylasande was Lord Sheigh’s wife, and was the head of House Sylvranesti. The two met when Mylasande’s sister Eratika was petitioning to become an apprentice to Lord Sheigh. The two quickly fell in love and were married in an elaborate ceremony in Azshara. Though it was rumored that Mylasande was a warlock, under Sheigh’s tutelage both she and her sister became powerful mages. However, the traditions of House Sylvranesti and House Llyrandor were very different, and this often led to problems in their marriage, as did Sheigh’s affair with Mylasande’s sister.

Mylasande bore Sheigh a son, Aearion, during the war against the Burning Crusade on Draenor. By this time the couple was growing apart, and with Sheigh’s arrest and exile she officially divorced Sheigh. Many who knew her believed she had become power-hungry and mentally unstable, a charge that Sheigh denies. With their son Aearion, Mylasande disappeared into Northrend in pursuit of knowledge about the ley line nexus controlled by the Blue Dragonflight. Members of her party reported both her and Aearion as missing, presumed dead.

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