"Just a second!"


Mallory awkwardly tugged at the back zipper of her battlesuit that she wore beneath her robes, an unwound wire hanger threaded through the zipper's loop so she could reach it. The knock on the door had come at an awful time. This suit was a pain to put on, but offered a great deal of protection all over her body. With Doradrassil's recent deduction that there had been a traitor among the ranks of the Templars, Mallory was willing to put up with the awkwardness of donning this suit for its defensive strength. 


She hastily threw on her priestly robes and shoulderpiece, the battlesuit well hidden beneath them. If she were attacked, the attacker would be in for quite the surprise, especially if the draenei Zen had come through for her. Mallory wasn't sure whether to trust the new Zen, but had ways to test her. She would know soon enough. 


She unlocked the door and swung it open, and there saw a goblin standing patiently at the door. She smiled down at him. "Well, hello. You must be Razboom."


"That I am!" Razboom answered, bowing low, sweeping his brown hair back as he stood. He straightened his suit and adjusted the sword at his side. "I see I'm expected. The Shadow Trader is awfully interested in keeping you safe, it seems."


Mallory chuckled. It was the first time she'd met Razboom in person. In the end, the goblin had gotten his wish, even if he didn't know it. "Is he? That's good to know. Have the Templars been kind to you so far?"


Razboom shrugged. "Couldn't say, ma'am. I think some of them were trying to pull my chain about having met the Trader. Some kept calling him 'he,' and some kept calling him 'she.' Pretty sure they're either liars, or just trying to confuse me."


"Well if you figure it out, let me know," Mallory answered. "I'd like to know a little more about that figure myself. Hey, I don't suppose a draenei stopped by during the night, did she?"


"Uh, yeah actually," Razboom said, looking over at a table where a small box lay. "Introduced herself with the same name as a night elf guy I met earlier. Zen something." He retrieved the box and offered it up to Mallory.


"That's the one," she said, taking the box in hand. It weighed a few pounds, but wasn't too heavy. It should do fine for what she needed. "All right, I'm going to see what's in this, and I'll be back out shortly. You'll be around all day, right?"


"Yes ma'am," Razboom answered. "I was told to answer to you as if you were the Trader himself." 


"Sounds like a plan. I appreciate it, Razboom. Be right back." With that, she quietly closed the door and locked it, turning her attention to the package. Breaking the seal and lifting the lid, she smiled at the contents. Dozens of small, spherical devices, each no bigger than an inch in diameter. Yes, if she was the next target, the attacker would be in for quite a surprise indeed. 


She lifted up her robes and began to stow the devices into the pockets of her battlesuit, including one at her collarbone, on the other side from where her guildstone was kept. A few more went into her satchel, in a compartment that kept them separate from her other belongings.


And now for the test, she thought with a crafty smile, letting her robes fall back into place and opening the door once again.


"Very good," she said. "I'm heading out near the mine, behind the war tower. Coming?"


As Razboom and another goblin followed, she made her way downstairs and out of the inn, snatching up her staff from a nearby corner on the way out. She twirled it deftly, having practiced the motion many times. Its swift whoosh was music to her ears, and she had learned how to put surprising force into its swing when necessary.


"Stay back here," she told the goblins when they arrived at the war tower. "I want privacy for this." They obediently did as they were told, Mallory making her way behind the tower to the cliffside, out of their sights. She looked around everywhere she could, in search of Wardens or any others who might see her, having grown somewhat used to being watched by them and learning how to see them through their stealth at times. Seeing none around, she quickly pulled one of the devices from her satchel, pulled out a small pin, and threw the device over the cliff, into the sea.


An explosion launched a fantastic amount of water into the air, but its sound could easily be masked by the ocean itself. She thought it likely that she would still have the element of surprise on her side in this, with a smile. Sure, the goblins could easily have crafted these miniature grenades, but theirs would be more likely to explode while Mallory still held them. Zen's were sleek, compact, and seemed to be about as safe as she could get. The small pins were locked into place, with a safety release button to allow them to be pulled free.


And so the new Zen could be trusted not to make a faulty weapon. That was good. Mallory hadn't yet worked out who the traitor was, or the reasons behind his or her targets. Maybe Doradrassil would know more soon. But one thing was for certain: if Mallory was next, she would make sure the attacker wouldn't get away unharmed. After all, if there was one thing she had learned from years as an orphan fending for herself, it was that people consistently made one common mistake. Usually it was harmless — as Mallory herself was usually harmless. But this mistake would likely be fatal in the kidnapper's case.


No matter who they were, no matter where they came from or what their intent was, they always underestimated her.

Author Rann
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