On his way back to Mallory's location, Peter stopped at the dwarven bunker to pick up a weapon. A familiar face greeted him there, sharpening a newly-received blade: his old friend Charles Thackery. He had heard that Charles had been gotten a station in Fort Kickass on the recommendation of Shadowsage, but hadn't had time to catch up.

 

With all that was going on now, and his own need to get back to Mallory after Doradrassil's revelation to him, he regretted that he didn't have much time to talk now. Still, he owed him a few kind words at least. "Well!" he said. "Fancy meeting you here, ol' chap. Seen you about, just been busy."

 

Charles smiled and set his tools aside. "Right? Wot with the whole place bein' on 'igh alert… It's been interesting to say the least! Glad to see you joined us over here."

 

"Pft," Peter replied with a dismissive wave of his hand. "Much rather be back in Darnassus runnin' messages. It's pretty here, but I don't like bein' in a war zone. But, boss wants me here." He shrugged. To him, Mallory wasn't his boss — the Shadow Trader was.

 

Charles nodded and sighed. "I wish they didn't burn all the tea. Any chance you think we might get any so we can make a proper pot of it again?"

 

"Mm, I'm sure there was a good reason. Best shot would be to make some yeself. Though don't be surprised if people are paranoid about drinkin' it, after that."

 

Charles shook his head. "Ah, I'm no good at home brews… Guess I'll be just doing without for a while." Charles seemed a great deal more at ease than he had the last time Peter had talked with him — before they had come to Draenor. "Shame about what happened to the girl… Kageseji, I think her name was? No child should ever come to harm no matter the reason."

 

"Yeah…or nice priestess."

 

Charles grinned at Peter. "Oho! Got a special girl on the mind again?" The playful grin was one Charles got any time he was teasing his friend — though it had been a while since he had been relaxed enough to do so.

 

Peter smiled sheepishly. "Boss wants me here to protect the priestess, just in case. But yeah – she's a beauty, that one. Maybe she's just bein' paranoid. Hope so. But yeh — my girlfriend or not, whether she's paranoid or not… Even if she ain't even a target. Just on what 'appened to the others, when I find whoever's behind this…" He shuddered, his white worgen fur beginning to appear for a moment as his face twisted into a snarl, then returned shortly to normal. "Yeah…"

 

Charles blinked at Peter when his fur made its momentary appearance. "That rotten, eh? I'd like to get my hands on the one what done for the lass, the one we know has died. Not that any of us are going anywhere easily anymore… This place is locked up tighter than Gilneas was."

 

Peter smirked. "The Arialynn Wall." Then he tilted his head. "Whot do you mean, 'the one we know died?' Oh…" He shuddered. "THAT one. In Northrend, right? I had the displeasure of examinin' the body. Please…don't remind me. Ever again."

 

Charles nodded gravely. "Sorry, I… forgot you had that unfortunate duty."

 

"Heh. Yer very well informed. Not a lot knew that teh begin with."

 

"It is amazing what you hear when nobody sees you, if you pay attention at all." Charles shrugged. "I'm sure what I hear is exaggerated but that's all it is."

 

"Heh, yeh never seemed the roguish type to me. Whaddya mean exaggerated?"

 

Charles waved a hand. "M'not. Tis' nothin' more simple than I am a useful hand, and as the saying goes, nobody notices the help." he grinned. "Exaggerated, as in that one priestess, the worgen-elf? Rumor says she's so good because she's so old. Like someone who looks like that and isn't a kaldorei can be ten thousand years old! And the priestess you have your eye on… Rumor says she bleeds rainbows and sunshine." Charles laughed outright.

 

"'Looks like that?' Sounds like YOU'VE got yer eye on somebody too, eh? Moving on? And rainbows and sunshine? Heh, I see what yeh mean. She's a chipper one. It's why I like her. We got enough pessimism in th' world today. Maybe I can help her shine a little brighter. If not…well, she can shine in my life a bit, eh?"

 

"Eh. I still miss my lady," Charles confessed. Peter nodded sadly. She had died in the invasion of the Firelands. Charles had gone through ups and downs since…mostly downs. But Peter was glad that his friend had resolved to do something useful. "Just hard to believe someone who looks younger than me can be that old," Charles continued. "Good luck with your girl, though."

 

"Elves do have some great anti-aging secrets, I hear," Charles remarked with a chuckle. "And thanks…might need it. If only teh make sure our little rat don't snuff her out."

 

"Do you think it's caught in our little cage here?"

 

He shrugs. "Don't think the cage matters. I don't think he…she…cares 'bout gettin' away. Prob'ly right at home here, not even carin' who they hurt, whistlin' a ditty while people suffer."

 

"Maybe. Keep an eye on your girl then. Since I don't think anyone has a pattern yet, any of us are targets."

 

Peter nodded silently, Doradrassil's words echoing in his mind. "Yeah… Yeah, I will. You be careful too, Chuck." He stood and took a blade from a nearby weapon rack, sheathing it and attaching it to his belt.

 

"Aye. If it'll help you," Charles offered, "I can see about putting myself near her place when odd jobs permit."

 

Peter shook his head. "She ain't staying there. She's in an 'undisclosed location.' Can't say more – boss's orders."

 

"Ah. Well then, best be getting back teh work, wot? Good luck, Pete."

 

"Yeh, mate… You too."

 

Peter's heart sank as he now made his way for his destination…the barracks. Not for its sleeping quarters, but for one of the dark prison cells beneath the structure. In the back corner of an unused cell lurked a narrow passage, hidden by the shadows of the place, leading to a small alcove. That was where Mallory had made her hiding place. Peter grimaced at the thought of the beautiful priestess having to hide in the back of a prison cell, dark and smelly… but he weakly reassured himself that she had been through worse. He found it hard to picture her as a homeless girl, but that experience no doubt made her ready for nights like these. 

 

Still, upon his arrival, he noted that she had made the dank place as cozy as she might, without drawing attention. Peter made his way through the narrow passage and drew aside the burlap covering that had been draped over the passage's exit. There sat Mallory, cross-legged, on a simple green cushion, a book in her lap. A few candles lit the tiny room, and a bedroll peeked out from behind a privacy screen. The room seemed dull and unremarkable, but Mallory smiled up at him as he entered.

 

"Razboom just left," she said just above a whisper as Peter removed his sword and settled onto the floor against the wall. "I told him he should go and be with Rann right now."

 

Peter nodded. "Aye, prob'ly so. You need anythin' in 'ere?"

 

Mallory shook her head. "I'm okay. Got a book and a good supply of plain old tea. Comfort's not the priority right now. I wanted scented candles, but Aertemis thought the assassin might pick up on the scent. I hadn't thought of that. That's…why the tea is plain. Doesn't have much smell." She picked up a steaming cup and sipped from it, then shrugged. "Not much taste either." 

Author Rann
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