The sun had begun to set as Sielic approached Westguard. The guards on duty at the gate recognized him. The signal went up and the turncoats acted. The gate was soon open to Sielic and his escort. The first target was the Keep. The action was silent, undiscovered by the loyalists so far. Turncoats led the way, and the infiltration advanced quickly, finding the Justicar alone reviewing plans in the war room. Sielic entered, flanked by two traitor guards. A heavily robed figure stood just behind Sielic, following him into the room. Several soldiers remained outside to prevent any interruptions.

�Ah, Arialynn. How typical to find you here, at work, always so diligent.� Sielic grinned, what used to be a grin full of mischief merely oozed predatory instinct and violence now. �Did you have any idea that your guards were so easily swayed?�

The Justicar slowly turned from the table. Though she worked over documents, she was fully armored with a Northrend-style, fur-lined cloak about her. The visage was not unlike a Warden and her expression no less severe.

�Sielic,� she replied, her voice made of stone. �Do you have any idea how surrounded you are in a compound such as this?�

Sielic laughed, the mirth in his voice clearly meant to mock the gravitas of hers. �Ah, I am just popping in for a moment. We will be leaving shortly, Justicar.�

He snapped his finger and the robed figure unveiled. Sielic knew time was of the essence and had no plans of grandstanding. The figure stood tall, taller than most Worgen. Its skin was raven black, with no marks. It looked like shadow given the form of a man except for three oddities. Three faces pressed against the chest of the being. The sizes too small to be anything but children. 

�I come bearing an invitation. One which I expect you to accept. The children depend on someone to save them, after all. If you surrender your guildstone, these three children live.� Sielic gestured to his creation.

Arialynn�s eyes moved from Sielic, to the figure, the children, then Sielic once more. �A guildstone is a paltry prize for such a ransom,� she replied tersely. An arm comes to rest at the leather-wrapped hilt of her hammer.

�Well, I have amassed quite a few children lately. Though, I need the help of one such as yourself. I�d rather no more die than necessary. This is a chance for you to surrender, come with me, and tend to the wounds of the children. If you will not, it is incredibly likely that this will prove too much for most of them, and none will return home.� Sielic stayed several paces away, his eyes taking in the change in stance. His grin merely widened, more teeth.

�You forget that too often, your words have been empty, Sielic,� Arialynn�s gaze leveled on him as she spoke. �These children only appear to be starving. No paladin can heal against such elements. What is it you truly want?�

�I speak truthfully this time. I ask you to bear the Light to these children, Arialynn. My experiments already cost the lives of two orphans. They are of no use to me dead, and you can spare them such a fate. Think of it as a compromise. You get to save their lives, and I get to continue my work.� His eyes did not hesitate to meet hers, the sparkling blue that once lurked in his eyes replaced with ice.

�Stand by your words, Sielic,� her hand still on her hammer, Arialynn nods tersely toward the children. �Show them to me. Prove they are real. You have used one too many glamors for me to take any threats at your word.� 

Sielic motioned to the monster. With a quick gesture, liquid shadow parted and revealed a trio of orphans, clearly there. Somehow, they were magically suspended within the beast. Sielic stepped to them, blade drawn. 

�I can bleed them if you’d like further proof, Arialynn.�

Her hand still grasping the hilt of her hammer, the lady knight channeled the Light with her free hand. A protective spell alighted around the child nearest to Sielic, its light brightening the faces of the others in its warm glow. They were instantly recognizable to Arialynn as among the orphans taken from Stormwind. She widened the shield over the other two children. Through their brief connection through the Light, the children were assuredly real, their fear and pain stark and clear.

Abruptly turning, she opens a steel-latched box on the war table, rummages through it, and retrieves something inside. She rolls it across the floor.

�A guildstone, you monster. Now fulfill your end of the deal.�

Sielic closes his eyes for a moment and the shadow dissipates from the children. As they are released, the escorts step forward and lower them to the ground.

�An accord has been reached.� He tucks the guildstone into his pouch. �Now, I ask that you surrender your weapons and come with me to tend to all the other children. Nothing quite matches the Light�s tender touch when trying to comfort a child.�

A quick look around Sielic revealed that the shadowy construct remained, and there seemed to be more. They had first remained in his shadow, hidden, but they now spread. 

�Let’s make this easy on ourselves.�

Arialynn flickers her gaze across the room, taking quick inventory of the growing number of enemies filling the room, then notes the children caught in the center. �You prove again why you cannot be taken for your word,� loosening her hammer from her belt, she assumes a battle stance. �My turn: You let them go. You surrender. We end this now, Sielic. No more deaths, no more games, the end of all the chases.�

As she spoke, her free hand worked over a pouch looped on her belt. The guildstone within activates and an alarm sounds over the compound: a clear and urgent warning of danger.

With that, the shadows around the room came to life. Shadowy beings sprang up, making for the paladin in an attempt to overwhelm and restrain her. Sielic sighed and ordered the traitorous Templars out into the compound.

�Set it ablaze, burn it all down! Ashes for everyone!� He snarled, darting towards Arialynn in case she was more trouble than expected. As he passed, a shadow swooped up the three orphans anew and surged up behind him.

Taking up her shield, Arialynn charges forward with it at the fore. Light blazes from her hammer like lightning against the shadows� darkness. 

Sielic sees Arialynn charge forward and grins, adopting his Worgen form immediately. As he nears the paladin�s shield, he snaked an arm around the edge in an attempt to damage the shield arm. Arialynn found him nothing more than an annoyance, shoving him off quickly. As she turned, she realized she was surrounded. Her eyes found her target, nonetheless.

The creature with the children had joined the encircling ring. Arialynn charged forward to reach them, to separate the ransomed from their captors.  A blast of Holy energies made the beast recoil and shudder. She followed up the exorcising attack with a swing from her hammer. At the moment of connection, though, the beast shifted the children to the location of the blow. The inner workings of the shadowy creature churned like frothing waters as they repositioned, one of the children could be heard, a muffled sobbing in pain. Arialynn recoiled.

Sensing opportunity, Sielic regained his footing behind her. She turned to block the blow she felt coming, but the dagger soared over her head. It sank into the beast, whose insides churned again. One of the orphans sank out of the creature, bleeding from the knife in his chest.

�Death comes, Lightbearer. You may win this, your Light might banish the darkness here. These children will die, though. And so will every other child I already possess. Are you willing to let that happen?�

Arialynn gazed at the fallen child. Blood seeped from the knife wound, pooling over the floor. The child�s eyes were wide with fear and the light behind them rapidly began to fade. Taking a knee, the Justicar took up the child in her shield arm. The battle around them paused in anticipation. The severity of the wound, the guaranteed fatality of a dagger to such a small breast, called for only the greatest Holy spells. Her gaze and Sielic met, hers silently seething, his almost glittering in delight. At the moment of choice, he knew the sight of victory: this child�s life, or surrender.

Pressing her hands against the child�s chest, Arialynn restored life and health to the boy. He had barely taken a new breath before the shadowy beasts swooped for their prey. Her hammer and shield were thrown across the room, far out of reach. She considered her position, the renewed child alive in her arms but breast still stained with blood. Calmly, slowly, she rose, allowing herself to be taken. As she was restrained, she managed a bit of legerdemain, depositing her guildstone within one of the gaps in her armor. It was not comfortable, but it kept it secure and on her person.

The children left behind, Sielic led the shadows outside, battle having begun in earnest throughout Westguard. The flames played tricks on the minds of the defenders who thought they saw moving shadows head towards the cliffside. No one could afford to notice the gryphons depart from the compound for their eyes were kept on the ground, watching their enemies who had but recently been friends.

Author Sielic
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