In all the chaos of the Legion invasion, the murders are easily overlooked. After all, no one particularly liked the doomsayers. Trouble and troublemakers both, they are, rabblerousing at all hours of the night, muttered the townsfolk of Stormwind. True, the scene itself wasn’t pretty; lime decked the walls like a deranged painter thought they’d be an excellent canvas for their work. But right now, with things as they were? Good riddance to bad rubbish. 

And it wasn’t ALL of them, overnight. 

Just one, here, and another, there- shouting one moment, and gone the next, vanishing from the streetcorners they stood on, or the inns they lurked in, or the darker parts of the city where fel deeds done and deals brokered. It happened almost lazily, and almost without notice, except by certain interested parties on either side. Stormwind Guard -those poor, beleaguered, overworked lads and lasses- had their hands full, what with the death of one king, the crowning of another, the panic in the streets, the refugees and reports flooding in from assaulted areas of Azeroth….. It was hardly fair to expect them to investigate every single little body found in an alley, especially when that body was naught but trouble from the start. 

In directly unrelated news, a recent string of puzzling thefts left the Guard flummoxed and frustrated. Items stolen included five entire blackberry pies sitting on a windowsill to cool, one knit sweater gone from a clothesline, one whole roast pig, three red silk scarfs and an assortment of skimpy underthings stolen from a noblewoman’s underwear drawer (much to the chastisement of her maid/lover), odds and ends from the smithy and the leatherworker, a young boy’s magical EverBouncy ball, several vials and concoctions from the alchemist’s shoppe (some of whom the owner refused to name, with a shifty look in his eye) a green mechanostrider, returned intact with no explanation, three barrels of the innkeep’s best ale that turned up empty floating in the canals, a Red Crashin’ Thrashin’ Racer, a Darkmoon Faire attendant’s hat, nine baguettes, and a beehive, later found when a prominent businessman known for his cutthroat practices opened the slightly-ajar door to his master bedroom and it fell from where it was precariously balanced on the edge of the frame onto his head. 

(As he was deathly allergic, this was a particularly unlucky happenstance, and he did not survive the encounter, though incriminating journals kept my himself and his mistress revealed them as Legion sympathizers and gave the Guard the names of several more.)

 The wide variety of purloined parcels wasn’t the only puzzling facet. Some were taken from secure rooms several stories high above the ground. Two were behind magical wards, broken with force if not skill.

Odd days in Stormwind. 

Odd days indeed. 

The doomsayer on the corner agreed. 

“THE END IS NIGH!” he bellowed. Human, unshaven, and nearly frothing at the mouth, he thrust his pamphlets at the passerby, who moved as one whole being to avoid him. “EMERALD FIRE WILL BURN THE WORLD CLEAN AND USHER IN A NEW ORDER! THE END IS NIGH!” 

He continued on this vein for some time, until dusk set on the city, sun sinking down to sleep beneath the waves and leaving the sky to the dominion of the stars. But there were no stars this night, only clouds, thick and grey, rumbling with promise. The imminent rain did not phase the doomsayer, who, if we shall give credit where credit is due, was stubborn, if nothing else. 

A plip on cobbles would have masked the noise, if any such were made, but she was silent as the shadow of an owl’s wing. The darkness seemed to shift just a little behind him. 

If there were witnesses, they would be hard pressed to described what happened next. He was there, and then, he wasn’t, yanked from the safety of the lanter’s flickering circle of light. No screams split the night, no yelling, no calls for the Guard. 

Just the pamphlets, fluttering down to rest gently on the cobbles, as the rain began to fall. Droplets hissed and spit and sizzled on the tin roof of the lantern. Something half splashed, half thudded into the gutter, heavy and limp. 

For half a heartbeat, the light showed something green and glowing, cat’s eyes in the dark, but muted, fuzzed, the edges blurry. Something made a noise like a sail unfurling; something made a sound like a hoof on stone; something lashed in the darkness, just out of sight; something made the shing of metal being sheathed. 

Something smiled, a flash of gleaming white pointed teeth, predatory, impish, pleased

The grooves between the worn cobblestones began to fill with green blood and rainwater. 

And then, the eyes and teeth were gone, as if they never existed, but for the disguised demon’s lifeblood seeping slowly down the gutters on this dark and stormy night. 

Author Cael
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