<----Part 2: Recruit
* By reading this, you agree not to laugh at my lame attempt at a last name or harangue me too badly on errors of lore. Warcraft is property of Blizzard Entertainment. This story is an original fan work and any similarity to other works is accidental because I've never read any Warcraft fiction, either official or fan-made. Details of lore gained from All the World's a Stage guides along with Wowwiki. *
Dustfire led Manasseh through the lantern-lit streets and down darker and darker paths. The night had a warm, balmy feel to it, pleasant after the broiling heat of the day, but she still wore a thick dark cloak clasped at one shoulder.
Under the cloak, she’d dressed to kill.
In her bank vault were her finest silks, her most expensive gems, even a headpiece that had set her back a sack of gold and a month’s worth of flirting.
She had visited that vault just before twilight and donned every item of power: enchanted gems weighed down fingers, wrists, ears, and throat; her gown had been cut from ensorcelled fabric woven on a mana loom by blind monks and mute nuns; a simple golden headpiece held a charming ruby set to dangle just so in the middle of her forehead. Most of these items had been given to her as gifts over the years from rich lovers or craftsmen she’d either charmed or conned. Even the cloak had been imbued with power.
The sorcerers on the streets melted away before them, and even those who could not sense power chose to let them pass unmolested. She had no illusions that it was because Manasseh stayed close at her right, his smile unsettling because it contained no malice, his fingers clicking through his repertoire of curses. He cheerfully tossed a few at rats as they scurried away and his pet, Luudom, burrowed into corners after them.
“I invited a friend,” he murmured as they stopped in front of the dark, unmarked shop that was her goal. He smiled and patted his thigh bone for the fel hound to stop rooting through trash and join them. “He’s been following us.”
Dustfire sighed. Now she had two morons to watch. “Fine.”
She pushed into the shop, not bothering to look back to find Manasseh’s friend. If she hadn’t noticed him, he could not be seen.
There was only one person who knew of her lexicon. Only one person she’d spoken to before she could tuck it safely into her bank vault. It was impossible that she’d been robbed so soon after buying it by coincidence.
The undead behind the desk looked up from a ledger as she entered, a monocle over one eye, the other dangling halfway down his face. He picked his bad eye up and pointed it at her. “Dustfire.” His voice came out warm, and his slack jaw moved into a grimace that she recognized as his smile.
He pointed his eye at Manasseh, entering behind her, and stopped smiling. Turning his eyes back to her, he asked, “And to what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”
“I missed you,” she murmured, swaying to his desk and trailing her fingers along it. “And I have a problem.”
He glanced toward Manasseh, who had found a centipede and seemed engrossed in watching it crawl along his fingers, and then at Luudom in the floor, sticking his sharp-toothed muzzle into nooks and crannies.
“Anything for my favorite customer.” He remained wary.
She slid her hip onto his desk and leaned in. “Someone robbed me.” She trailed a smooth red nail down the front of his tunic. “They took my lexicon.” She hooked her finger in the neckline of his tunic and gripped it. She stopped smiling, pulled him closer, and murmured, “They took my phoenix.”
She’d always wondered if undead could sweat. It looked like he wanted to.
“I, uh. Well. Damn.” His good eye shifted one way and then the other. “That’s lousy.”
She smiled again and made her voice soft and inviting. “It’s not half as bad as what I’m going to do to you if you don’t tell me who it was.”
He released a single, nervous laugh and she ignored the foul wave of his breath. “Why do you think I’d know?”
She kept smiling, confident in her warmth and softness. She saw him sway toward her, an unconscious reaction. “Manasseh,” she said without turning, her voice taking on dreamy properties. “Hurt him.”
Manasseh approached, putting the centipede between his teeth. Luudom followed, all teeth, and wagged his tail.
“Nothing fatal,” she warned, holding the now-struggling shopkeeper by the front of his tunic. She had some difficulty keeping him, but anger gave her strength.
“I’ll hold him.”
She turned to a grinning tauren, his shoulders massive in the small space, and stared. “Yes, you will.”
“Hi, Equil,” said Manasseh.
“Hey.” He got around the back of the desk and took Durell easily from her hold, pinning his arms back to give Manasseh full range.
Why do all tauren have to smell like wet dog? she mused, then focused on the shopkeeper. If she didn’t stay alert, Manasseh would get carried away and she’d never get her answers.
“Now,” she said a few minutes later, when the screaming started to annoy her, “who did you tell about my lexicon?”
She glared at Manasseh. “When I speak, it means you stop.”
He picked a centipede leg out of his teeth. “You should have said so.”
His tauren friend just looked bored, though it was hard to tell on his heavy bovine features.
“Now.” She smiled and turned back to Durell, who moaned and shook his head. “We can be friends, or we can be enemies.”
Durell stared at his monocle on the desk. It had fallen off sometime during the torture. “I don’t know his name.” He gasped to breathe. “But I know where he’ll be.”
Once she had her information, she took Manasseh to the back to check the storage areas for any of her lost goods. She found her jewels and three lost tomes and returned to wave them under Durell’s nose. “These are mine,” she murmured.
“I . . . I didn’t know that. I didn’t know he’d rob you.”
She smiled and stroked the side of his face. “Of course you didn’t.”
“I know. And for that, I’m going to let you live. All I ask is that you contact me if someone brings you any more of my things. Yes?”
He nodded eagerly. “Yes.”
“Because my friends really want to kill you. And they’d be just as happy to do it later as now.”
The tauren flexed his muscles and Durell winced. “I understand.”
“That’s my boy.” She turned to Manasseh. “Wreck his shop.”
He grinned and produced a handful of fel fire, but Dustfire stopped him with a hand to his shoulder.
“Not starting with Durell. You there, take him outside and release him. We can come back and kill him if we need to.”
The tauren sighed. “This is the most boring fight I’ve ever been to.”
“Don’t worry.” She settled more firmly on Durell’s desk as Manasseh set the shop ablaze behind her. She picked up the monocle, wiped it off with a clean handkerchief, and tried it on. “We’ll have a massacre next.”
Part 4: Catacombs ---->