Jehanne stepped off the lift to the Scryer’s Tier alone, her heart singing in her pocket. The sun shone a hazy white even this far above the tree line, negating all shadows. The sin’dorei guards leaned against the walls outside the main hall seemingly oblivious to the sorceress’s approach. Upon arriving in Shattrath, Jehanne found the once crowded city paralyzed by a melancholy hush. The soldiers of the Shattered Sun, elf and draenei alike, brooded along the street sides, their minds and weapons dull. Victory seemed to have disagreed with them. Sure, Legion agents still phased in from the nether, and the front at the portal still raged, but the loss of the great binding purpose emptied any sense of a future. Yes, Sunstrider and Illidan were gone, but Draenor remained too dangerous a world to start rebuilding. They were stuck.
Jehanne stood before the guards and bowed. They eyed her tabard and shrugged, letting her pass into the hall without a word. Blue-green ghostlights flickered in the hall, casting long shadows on the ceiling. A few sin’dorei sat at the research tables, thumbing through tomes or sorting through a small pile of arcane junk. Jehanne studied the listless researchers for a moment, almost overwhelmed by their melancholy. It reminded her of the being stuck in the scriptorium as a girl during a bright summer’s day: the grinding monotony and nagging sense of not being in the right place. This was far different though; no temptation of joy beaming in from the windows.
Jehanne wandered through the Scryer’s hall until she found Magistrix Fyalenn sitting on a stool, turning a chipped ruby in her hand. The magistrix still wore her flaring red hair in a pile of tightly woven curls. And she still smelt of cinnamon. Though she seemed older now — a strange thing for a sin’dorei. Wrinkles etched around her green eyes, and pulled down at the corners of her mouth. Jehanne approached slowly, and bowed low. “Magistrix, it is an honor to see you again.”
The elf looked up from her ruby, turning to her. “Ah, Lady Navarre, surprised to see you. Where is that felguard of yours, hmm? I almost missed him berating our commanders.”
Jehanne smiled. She could feel the Captain's disapproval of the city’s defenses snaking in the back of her mind. “I left him at outside the city to sharpen his axe. I figured you didn’t need any more people telling you what to do.”
“Do I…do we seem that fragile to you?” the magistrix asked, her brow furrowing.
“Fragile is not the word I would have chosen,” Jehanne said, sitting on a stool next to her. “More ‘lost.’”
Fyalenn nodded slowly, squeezing the ruby in her small hand. “Lost is the perfect word. Our clean ups are pretty much done. Many of Sunstrider’s fanatics are either dead or have gone back to Silvermoon to pledge fealty. I think most of them have joined the Sunreavers, or whatever that little band of assassins is called.”
“Yes, Sunreavers,” Jehanne said. “You could go home, you know? I’m sure you’d like to see the Summerlands again. The Sunwell burns bright, and Silvermoon could use as much help as it can get in rebuilding.”
The magistrix shook her head slowly, “I don’t know. I’ve been here for so long I can barely remember Quel’Thalas anymore. And I cannot shake this feeling there is still work here for us.” She waved her hand a bit as if trying to dispel her uncertainty. “Anyway, why are you here? I heard Dalaran took you back….congratulations by the way. I’m sure you’re not here to pledge your services again to this dwindling faction.”
Jehanne nodded, guilt prickling inside her chest. “No, no I’m not. I need help…again.” She pulled the small sapphire from her pocket. The gem lay on her palm, seeming heavier than its size warranted.
Fyalenn arched an eyebrow; its long tip wiggling in the air. “Another stone from Magistrix Manuviel?”
“Yes,” Jehanne said, her lips bending into a heavy frown. “Her last gift to me.”
“Last?” the magistrix asked, her green eyes widening a bit. “Oh…I’m sorry. A shame. I respected her quite a bit. She taught me a lot when she returned to Silvermoon as a lecturer for a time. Learned to find the best feathers to properly cast a falling spell from her.”
“She did the same for me.”
Fyalenn stared at Jehanne a moment, “Far, far more than that I suspect. How? If you don’t mind my asking.”
Jehanne squeezed the sapphire in her trembling hand, “I don’t know really, or more to the point, I know but don’t understand it. She had been forced into an asylum. Apparently her memories were beginning to consume her mind. A mutual friend finally found her. Lothwenna said that she felt her time was up. And it appears it was, though…” She stopped herself, the image of Lothwenna’s empty, sopping robes flaring in her mind. “Her death was far from natural.”
Fyalenn tilted her head, “Unnatural?”
The sorceress shrugged, “Apparently the doctors claim she, um, melted. There was nothing left of her but ice and water.”
The magistrix’s eyes widened; she let out a soft whistle. “Well, that takes me back.”
“What?” Jehanne said, blinking.
Fyallen leaned back against the wall, smiling a bit. “My family doesn’t come from a long line of mages. I was the first to have been demeaned talented enough by the magisters to get training. We were fishermen. I learned to gut a fish long before I learned to cast any spell.”
Jehanne smiled at her, for the first time noticing how strong her hands were.
“I used to sail with my grandfather along the Azurebreeze coast, watching him cast his nets and singing. After the last catch he would get drunk on summerwine and tell funny stories about mischievous crabs, and fishes who dreamed of flying. One evening, he told me a story about a netweaver who used work with him. An odd elf and a bit of a hermit. Grandfather said he claimed to remember the white ships, the camps in Tirisfal.” She shrugged a bit, and absently turned the cracked ruby in her hands. “Still he was good at his work, so grandfather hired him as part of his crew. He did his work quietly until one day the weaver came to grandfather and told him that his time was up. Grandfather was confused, and his confusion grew to horror when the weaver melted before his eyes, leaving nothing but a puddle of water on the deck.”
Jehanne’s eyes widened in shock. “When was this?”
Fyallen shrugged, “I don’t know for sure. Centuries before I was born, if it’s true that is. Grandfather was always a bit of a drunk, though I had never seen him so serious telling a story. He believed that this was the fate all the elder ones. When they died they returned to the water that carried them to Quel’Thalas.”
“A romantic notion,” Jehanne said, clasping her hands together around the stone.
The magistrix stayed silent for a moment, her green eyes peering at the human. “I’m sorry to say, we cannot help you Lady Navarre. During one of our last operations in Netherstorm, most of the equipment we would need to open your stone was destroyed in a sneak attack. We’ve been petitioning Silvermoon for replacements, but as you know their resources are limited and the Scryers no long a high priority.”
Jehanne swallowed, nodding. “Ah. It cannot be helped.”
Fyallen stood up and approached the sorceress. She put her hand on her shoulder gently, “I’m sure you will find another way, Lady Navarre. You always do.”
Jehanne nodded numbly; her breath too short to respond with words. That evening, the remaining Scryers held a small memorial for Lothwenna. They stood in a circle and sang a Thalassian dirge Jehanne had not heard in decades. Fyallen added her name to the plaque of the fallen. “Good night, summer sister! Good night! Fly to the sun and burn forever!” the magistrix shouted, and to Jehanne’s surprise, broke down and wept.
Afterwards, the sorceress crossed the bridge leading outside of Shattrath. The triple moons hung low and bright through the trees. Thoodhun stood waiting for her: his yellow eyes gleaming, unreadable. “Now what?” he said simply.
“We improvise, Captain,” she said. “We improvise.”
The Desolace. Always the Desolace. The green-tinged clouds plowed over the dying moon. The howling of distant packs of felhounds echoed in the damp night air. Tentacles stretched out to tasting, Khiithun whined in response, bounding from one side of the camp to the other. Jehanne had found the felhound here during her last pilgrimage. Still a pup really, a runt the coven had turned out as too weak to be a watchdog. The scrawny thing lay in a pool of brackish water, barely breathing. The sorceress let Khiithun feed on her for three days until he was strong enough to bind. She wondered if the felhound could smell brothers and sisters on the wind.
Jehanne stood at makeshift stone table sorting through bottles and regents. Her grey robes hung loosely from her frame. “Captain, could you please take Khiithun for a walk. He sniffed out the best place for us, and I think he could do for some wandering.”
Thoodhun stood near one of the torches that ringed the camp. The felguard had been pacing back and forth, east to west then north to south, on guard for any intruders. “I’d much rather stay close. The coven is only beyond those hills.” He pointed his double-headed axe toward a flicking gleam of orange on the horizon.
“You can do both,” Jehanne answered, without looking at him.
The felguard stood silently for a moment, his protests bubbling in the back of Jehanne’s mind. Finally he shrugged, “Yes mistress.” He marched south away from camp, tapping his gauntlet against his armored thigh with a deep clang. “Come on you.” The felhound bounded after him, snuffling and barking.
Jehanne shook her head with an amused smile and returned to her preparations. It only had taken Khiithun about an hour to sniff out the right patch of land for the ritual. The sorceress was not surprised by the location, being so close to the cave she had hidden in about a year ago. Fel energy suffused the cursed earth, making Jehanne’s skin prickle and insides quiver. In the cave she had sat in a trance, letting the ambient Fel creep into her pours and wind into her veins until her new heart burned. A heart that still seemed to be a broken, weak thing.
Jehanne took a curved dagger of the stone and around to the wide summoning circle she had drawn, inspecting the whirling glyphs and pictograms of constellations that danced along its outer ring. The red chalk lines gleamed in the firelight. The dragon bone had work perfectly, she thought, making the drawings vibrant and clear. She crouched down, scanning the circle to make sure each curve and line was aligned properly.
She could feel Jendria’s glowing green eyes on her. Jehanne had asked her to wear her true form, afraid the glamour would interfere with the ritual. She glanced back at the sin’dorei, who sat on a rock quietly watching the proceedings. Despite knowing Dree was perfectly right that she needed a ‘spotter’, Jehanne felt unnerved by her presence. Like she had invited a stranger to her bed.
The blood elf had found the most comfortable position she could maintain on the rock, not wanting any fidgeting or shifting to disturb her friend's preparations. Despite her outward calm and stillness, however, she was feeling nervous. While not bringing any of her own demons along had been her own idea, she was unaccustomed to doing without them in a place so openly hostile as the Desolace. She understood why Jehanne had sent Thoodhun off, and knew that her own presence was also disturbing the sorceress. That added to her worry, but it couldn't be helped. She just hoped she was up to the responsibility she had taken upon herself.
Jehanne turned back to the circle, giving it one last sweep. Everything was in its place. She walked back over to the stone table and grabbed a long staff leaning against it. Nokuri had crafted a cobalt holder for its top: three arching claws like those of a crow meeting at their tips. She carefully stepped to the center of the circle, and planted the staff in the ground. The sorceress took the blue gemstone out of her pocket and slipped it inside the holder. The staff bent a little under the weight of the strangely massive stone. Luckily, Nokuri had reinforced the shaft enough so it wouldn't break. Jehanne peered into the stone with her soulsight. She could see the faint glimmering of the piece of Lothwenna's soul inside. She couldn't see the way to it; she would need another's eyes for that.
Back at the stone table, Jehanne unwrapped a silken bundle, revealing several bones: a large jawbone, a split femur, a few vertebrae about the size of her hand. She caressed them, and turned to Dree. "You speak Orcish, right?"
The blood elf nodded with a fleeting curl of distaste on her lip. She paused before replying to be sure her voice was properly controlled. "Yes, I do. It was that or listen to them butchering Thalassian."
Jehanne chuckled, taking the jawbone in her hands and considering the large, jutting canines. "I can only imagine...all the misplaced grunts. Well, that's good. Understanding each other won't be a problem, though I suspect hearing his language as a sign of respect might ease any tensions." She turned to Dree. "He won't like seeing me. A human, and a warlock mixed with the fact he died violently will make this difficult."
A soft chortle met the observation. "Indeed, I suppose that might have such an effect." She allowed the hint of a smirk to touch the left corner of her mouth. "I'm afraid that looking like an orc is not in my repertoire, however."
Jehanne smirked and gave her a wink. "Yes, I suppose human is awkward enough for you, and anyway, he'd see right through any illusion. It's very hard to lie to the dead...most of the time." The sorceress placed the jawbone back on the table and nodded, "I think we're ready here. Are you?"
Dree's head tilted and her brow arched. "I don't do illusions, my friend. They're too risky. But I'm not seriously suggesting that we try to deceive the spirit that's about to be summoned." She shrugged gracefully. "I'm as ready as I can be."
Jehanne looked at her for moment. "It's nice to see you like this." She turned back to the table, "Well all you need to do is keep an eye out in case something goes wrong. You'll know what that is when it happens. Otherwise, don't get too close." Jehanne untied the sash around her waist and took off her robe, and laid it on the table. Naked in the chill night air, her brown skin rippled with goosebumps. She picked up her dagger and after hesitating for a moment, reopened one of the many scars on her left forearm. "Zhitcrik," she whispered. She dabbed her finger in the wound and drew a symbol on each of the bones. Picking them up, she carried them to the circle, and gently laid them down inside it. Facing the circle, the pattern of scars that marked her body became more visible in the flicking torch light. Her body seemed almost like an ancient temple with some inscrutable language carved on its pillars and doors. Jehanne took a deep breath, and flexed her fingers to bring her shaking hands under control. She glanced to Dree, and nodded.
The sin'dorei answered with a small nod of her own. Her gaze was mostly on the assembled pieces, and she was breathing evenly, ready to listen and observe, and ideally nothing more. Her calm was the readiness of someone who knows that being too tensed up means reacting the wrong way, or late. If she had to act, she wasn't going to make that sort of mistake.
Again, Jehanne dipped her finger in the still weeping wound on her forearm. Her eyes closed, she marked her body with blood glyphs: thighs, breasts, belly, cheeks and forehead. She let arm continue the bleed: a sign of sacrifice. Jehanne extended her arms before her, and whispered in demonic. The glyphs on her skin sizzled and smoked. She grit her teeth, but did not wince. This pain was a familiar to her as Asmerglis's caress. "Hourk! Spiritwalker of the Frostwolf clan! I send for you; hearken to me!"
The bones rattled on ground, the blood glyphs she had drawn on them sizzling as well. A plume of thick, white vapor swirled up from the bones and twisted into a funnel. The whirlwind spun, snaking its way around the circle until it rested in front of the sorceress. The vaporous winds collapsed into the ashen form of an elder orc wielding a massive club. He turned his head this way and that. His dead eyes, though blank, seemed filled with the panicked rage of one beset on all sides by enemies. The orc turned to Jehanne, and howled. He raised his club and swung, hitting the invisible wall erected by the circle with a thundering clap. The force of the blow staggered Jehanne a bit. She raised her palms up, whispering again, then said, "Hourk! You're safe, the war is over! I mean you no harm." The orc snarled, swore, and made to strike Jehanne again.
Dree watched quietly, fuming inwardly at herself for all the questions which only now ran through her mind. What were the precise circumstances of this orc's death? Did he even speak Common in life? How many times of asking and being rebuffed is that circle able to hold? The traditions behind her own training were for asking three times and being rebuffed, before either dismissing or coercing. She hoped that was the right number here, as well, as she chose to bide her time. Jehanne needed to gain the spirit's attention or this was all for naught.
The orc struck again against the invisible wall. Jehanne fell to one knee, the blood glyphs glowing a bright red like irons pulled out of a forge. Red vapor swirled from the glyphs and spun around the orc spirit. He raised his club over his head again, but halted. The red mist seemed to confuse him. "What?" he shouted in Orcish but echoed in Common. He looked around, made to strike again, halted, and finally lowered his club. "Where am I? I was..." he trailed off, looking around the camp.
"You were fighting demons in Ashenvale," Jehanne said, slowly getting back to her feet. "They tore you apart."
The orc looked at his hands, then nodded, grumbling. "I'm dead."
"Yes," the sorceress answered. "You were caught in that last battle."
"Six years, give or take," Jehanne said.
"And what do you want with me? Huh? Human...necromancer?" He spit both labels in disgust.
"To help you, and hopefully gain your help in return," she answered evenly.
Hourk laughed long and hard. "Yes...sure you do." He noticed Jendria and growled at her. "And what do you want elfling? You want to see an orc dance to your tune?"
She shook her head slowly, giving a sad smile, and replied in Orcish. "No, Spiritwalker. As an ally of Warchief Thrall, I would never be a party to anything so crass regarding a loyal orc of his clan. I am here only as her adopted sister."
"Ally?" he said to her, a faint grin of amusement curving his lips. "Tell me, how does an elf know my tongue? And serve the Warchief?"
"We were betrayed by the humans in charge of their 'New Alliance' at the time. They tried to kill our king for his refusal to fail at the tasks our forces were assigned, even after they took away our support troops. We turned to the Horde for help in rebuilding our shattered homeland. Eventually, through our deeds on behalf of the Horde, we were accepted as full members and allies. I was privileged to be part of the delegation to the Warchief when we were given that acceptance." She gave a graceful half-shrug. "The growing association we had with the Horde required that we learn the language of its leaders. In coming to know the Warchief, I am more and more pleased to be his ally."
The orc shook his head. "You speak truth and do use honor. Strange happenings, though I'm not surprised the human pigs abandoned your people."
Dree gave him a respectful nod and a small stile. "Some of the humans, Spiritwalker. Many of them, even, but not all." She pointed with her head to Jehanne. "In particular, that one never abandoned us."
The orc nodded to the elf and turned to Jehanne. "So, you're to be trusted, eh? A human, and worse, a warlock?" He walked over to the sorceress. "I see no minions, no weapons. And you stand naked, but I know you're not defenseless. Far from it. I've seen warlock magic before, smelt the death and sulfur. But yours is strange."
Jehanne nodded to him, "I am strange."
Hourk laughed. "You said you were looking for help? What help would you want from a dead orc? Hmm?"
Jehanne pointed to the stone glimmering at the top of the staff. "What do you see there?"
The orc turned and paced bit to the center of the circle, eyeing the stone. "I see a soul, or the piece of one anyway. It's dying, screaming, begging to reach out." The orc turned away in disgust. "Someone you trapped, witch?"
Jehanne shook her head. "No. Someone put themselves in there for me, a special someone. I need to access it. I knew a ghost could reach out and touch it, get past the stone's defenses, but I needed one who could guide me as well. You're a shaman, you know the path of spirits."
The orc bristled a bit. "I've only walked that path when I lived once, an initiation. We were all still relearning the old ways." He walked back to Jehanne, towering over her. "And what do I get. Do I get to be one of your pets?"
"No. I will return your remains to your clan, to your family if I can find them. Then you can be finally buried, honored as you deserve, and rest with your ancestors."
Hourk eyed her silently for a moment. "And if I refuse?"
"I will do the same," Jehanne said evenly. "There are too many restless souls in this world."
Dree gave a wry smile of agreement, and suspected that she'd have to do the actual delivering when it came time.
The orc nodded slowly, "The elf vouches for you, and your words have the ring of truth, but I have known too many warlocks in my time."
Jehanne nodded. "I understand." She pointed to the gem again. "In that stone is my true name. The essence of my soul. You will see and hear what I see and hear from that stone. You will know it. You can trust me, because I am placing my trust in you, Hourk of the Frostwolves."
Keeping an outward calm, Jendria winced inwardly. Still, the statement was inherently true, for all that it made her nervous. She reminded herself to keep breathing.
"I know the power of names," he orc said, gazing at the stone. "Very well, follow me." He walked to the center of the circle and touched the stone. Hourk looked back at Jehanne, and offered his ghostly hand to her. "Well? Come then."
The sorceress nodded and carefully stepped into the circle. She placed her hand in his and felt the orc's chill fingers wrap around her skin. "Follow me," he whispered. Her body froze; she could not move a muscle. The stone flared before her eyes and pulled at her soul, yanking her in a direction she could hardly comprehend. She blinked, and the world went sapphire. The blue wash swept back, opening space for memory: her parent's bedroom almost thirty-five years ago. Dionne de Navarre sat upright in bed holding a newborn in her arms. She cradled and sang to the babe, black eyes smiling down at her. The newborn cried softly, testing its lungs, its voice. It reached out widely and grasped a strand of Dionne's blond hair. "Oh, such feisty thing," the woman laughed.
Lothwenna stood beside the bed, an amused smile on her face. "I won't be changing diapers; I'm letting you know that right now," she said, sharp nose wrinkling.
"That's her father's job," Dionne said, and caressed the babe's cheek with her fingers. "Oh, my little Jehanne, you're going to be brilliant."
"Have you decided?" Lothwenna asked, bending down a bit to study the babe's wrinkled face.
"I knew since the first time she kicked inside my belly," Dionne said. She lifted the babe's head to her lips, and then whispered gently into her ear. Jehanne heard the two syllables and they rushed like tiny arrows into her ears and stabbed into her brain. She lost her breath as a great hand pushed itself into her breast and squeezed her head. It was so simple -- always already there.
Hourk's voice murmured beside her, "My part of the bargain is complete. Make sure you complete your end." She nodded, feeling the ghost unwind with a faint breeze, its essence falling back into the bones.
Just as she was ready to break contact, Lothwenna turned from the babe to her. The elf smiled, her eyes a gleaming blue. Jehanne reached out to her, attempted to run up and grab her hand, but her legs froze. "Please...no…please don't go," Jehanne mumbled. Lothwenna smile faded and she bent her head down. The wash of blue light flooded back into Jehanne's eyes, stealing the room, her mother, and Loth from her vision.
It was raining softly in the Desolace now. The camp's torches hissed as drops hit them. Jehanne knelt alone and naked inside the circle. Hourk was gone, and the pieces of the stone littered the ground. Jehanne held her hands to her face and wept.
Dree moved in quickly as she saw her friend finally reacting again, taking her into a gentle embrace and trying to shield her from the worst of the weather.
Jehanne wrapped her arms around Dree, trying desperately to regain control. Her whole body quaked. "She's gone..all gone...." she mumbled between sobs.
The blood elf held and rocked the human, taking a moment to get her voice under control. "I know, sister... but she has us to remember her."
She nodded slowly, trying to believe that would be enough, and swallowed. Shadows moved along the ground, snaking in tendrils to Jehanne and caressing her skin. The wispy darkness seeped into her pores, and the scars marking her body. Jehanne's skin felt warm, too warm, to Dree's touch like some fever had suddenly boiled inside the woman. The sorceress winced in pain, but held up her arm, watching the little waves of shadow crawl along her skin.
Jendria watched, starting to worry for her own safety, as well as that of her friend. She stopped trying so hard to shield the other woman from the rain, in case it could help with the heat. Shadow pooled in her fel-light eyes as she extended her othersight into her observations. Looking into Jehanne's soulself, Dree saw an arch of fire running from the woman's heart down to her left forearm. Jehanne pulled away from her gently. "It's starting; you'd best get clear."
The blood elf nodded, standing and reluctantly backing away. She stopped a bit outside the prepared area, standing ready - whether to protect herself, or just to observe, she had no idea.
Jehanne sat up on her knees, holding her arms before her as if she were waiting for someone to drop a load in them for her to carry. The shadows swarmed over her skin, thickening and congealing until her body was nothing but shadow itself. Jehanne whispered, demonic letters dropping off her tongue in a raging hiss. The shadows pulled off her skin and swept into her arms, taking huge, monstrous shape. Black, thorny tendrils and snapping jaws jerked, flailed, and snapped in Jehanne's arms. The maws cried out in pain and anger and made to stretch out and bite the sorceress. "No!" Jehanne commanded. "Thing of sorrow, thing of despair, I made you flesh, fall into smallness, fall into nothing." The tendrils and maws quivered and waved, shrinking down into a lumpy, chimeric child. Its little maws balled like a choir of starving babies. Jehanne stood up, cradling the thing in her arms. "Jendria, could you hand me my dagger, please?"
Dree quickly retrieved the dagger and stepped a pace forward, holding it by its blade, presenting the hilt to the human sorceress.
"Thank you," she said, taking the dagger from her with a nod. She turned her gaze back to the thing squirming in her arms. "So funny to actually see what you look like on the inside."
The sin'dorei stepped back again, her brow furrowed for a moment in puzzlement.
"It's me Jendria," she said, looking down at the writhing creature with pity. "Or the worst of me. All my anger, all my despair, all the regrets and horror that have consumed me since Ambermill, making me weak, making me insane. And all my demons' pain too." She turned to her, "With my name I could draw it out, and give it form."
Dree nodded slowly. "I was beginning to realise that...." She tilted her head, eyeing the thing, then sighed softly.
She smiled softly at the elf. "Sorry for keeping you in the dark so much. I wasn't sure if this would work..." She turned again to thing, grasping the hilt of the dagger tightly. "I've always said I would never have children. I guess that wasn't true, was it?" She gently kissed what seemed like creature's forehead. "I'm so very sorry, a thing like you shouldn't exist. Don't worry, it's over now. No more pain." Jehanne held up the creature in one arm and stabbed it in the chest with the dagger. It screeched and flailed, crying in a cacophony of voices. Jehanne pushed the blade deeper, and finally the thing fell limp. Jehanne dropped the creature to the ground, and it broke apart like chunk of ash, its essence dissolving into the wet dirt. She let go of the dagger, letting it clang by her feet. Arms hanging limp by her side, she looked up, eyes closed, feeling the rain drops beat against her face. She smiled wide. Her hands were still, showing no sign of tremor.
Jendria shook her head slowly as a wry smile grew on her face. "Seems to have been rather better an outcome than I'd really expected, I must say."
She turned to elf, a glint of fel-fire dancing in her dark eyes. "Far better than expected, yes. Rather like magic."
Jehanne stood naked in from of the mirror, reading the scars on her body like a text. Her dark hair hung damp past her shoulders. It had taken her several days to get back to Theramore from the Desolace. She had parted with Jendria partway so the elf could take Hourk’s remains to Orgrimmar to be honored and buried. She would be good to her word, and knew she needed to do something for Dree in thanks for all her help. While on the road, she had sent Aelnia to visit Avmella in Ironforge. The old paladin already had her measurements, and Jehanne knew she would follow the designs perfectly. The packages were waiting on the ship’s deck when she returned. Good old Avy.
For years, Jehanne had called herself a sorceress to defend herself from the titles others would give her: warlock, demon lover, traitor. She never took the title as seriously as she should. In the old tongue of Strom, the word meant one’s lot, fate, fortune, or destiny, and served as short-hand for the practice of casting lots, the oldest of human magics. Drusilla La Salle once told Jehanne that her fortune seemed tied to some malignant star, for every victory was overturned to reveal some new defeat. Jehanne knew better now. Ever since Ambermill, ever since she first swallowed Rulmat’s fire, the despair-creature, the deformed child of her mind latched onto and wove into her bindings, feeding and growing on her feelings of desolation. Every act of great magic Jehanne undertook came out of desperation and fear. No control.
When she finally tore the thing out and killed it, Jehanne felt lighter, her senses sharpened, her magic seethed through her body with a quickness she had almost forgotten. The pain and tremors that plagued her limbs had vanished. Lothwenna had not just given Jehanne her true name back, but given her back the woman she once was: fearless, arrogant, masterful, the one who would ride spiders up the Violet Citadel without a thought of falling. She was a sorceress now, well and truly, and it was now time to play the part.
After taking a long bath, Jehanne burned the old black dress she had worn everywhere, the colors of mourning. She opened the package and unfolded the red robes. Sin’dorei design: she knew Avy would get a kick out of sewing it. Protection glyphs and wards of Jehanne’s own design were sown in gold thread on the inside. Little pockets were hidden in cuffs, sleeves, and bottom hem for easy access to chalk, inks, and other reagents. She dressed herself, slowly, taking pleasure in the feel of the cloth on her skin. Taking up a brush and small dish, Jehanne painted dark red eye shadow on her eyelids: ground from Grom’s Blood roots, it had the virtues of affecting a fearsome presence and focusing her soul-sight. She dabbed some perfume on her neck and between her breasts: extract from the pedals of Arthas’s Tears, its subtle scent would help her nudge the weak willed to do her bidding. She picked up a staff from the wall. Nokuri had repaired the one she used to hold the memory stone, topping it off with a small, crimson scrying orb.
“Hmm, you wear red well,” Aelnia said, floating in the air behind her. “Hope this means you’ll stop wearing your hair like an old woman.”
Jehanne laughed, and pulled her hair up and wound it into a bun, holding it in place with two sticks carved from dragon bone. “My mother wore it this way, and there are some habits that I will never give up.”
Aelnia feigned a pout, and floated down next to her. The succubus’s mask of childishness was gone, and her voice and attitude seemed far more like her sister’s now. Though, her mind bubbled with a delight Selnys’ never did. “So what now, mistress?” she asked, a wry smile curling her lips.
“We go to Dalaran; I have unfinished business with the Kirin Tor,” Jehanne said. “I am tired of being a servant; it’s time to settle accounts.”