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Blood Trail (as recounted by Detective Sterling Hart)
#1
The threat of death has the effect of changing one's mind on certain issues.

Initially I refused to recount the events leading to and following the death of Ophice Dawnblood. This tragedy remains too close, too heavy for me to tell it in a manner proper for mass consumption.

However, through persistence I have found a chance, albeit small, to bring the killers of my love to justice. As I pick up the trail of blood, I realize the dangers it presents may make this case my final.

Therefore I recount it here, mailing in my writing to The Sun from the field. I write that my life, and the life of Ophice, are not lost to time. I write that our accomplishments may offer some limited form of immortality through memory. And I write that some enterprising young person, enamored with the noble pursuit of justice, proudly bearing the title Detective, may follow the clues I have left behind should I fail.

With thanks to The Sun for publishing this gruesome accounting,

I remain humbly yours, Silvermoon,

- S.H.



Blood Trail Event Thread



Blood Trail Chapter 1: Dawnblood


It would be our last night together on earth.

The evening started promising enough. I was recovering from an evening well spent previously with Ophice, Vexiph, and Sathia, indulging in one of our now-infamous games involving alcohol and secrets. This is an excellent method of whiling away time between cases. I had assumed this day would end much the same, when I received a familiar summons.

The details are similar to all the beginnings written of in my Case Files - The Silvermoon guards alerted me to a murder beyond their ability to solve, I berated them for incompetence, they threatened to arrest for me disturbance, and I set off to find the truth behind their mystery. The only difference was that this time, a blood knight* was assigned to follow me and keep an eye on my work. I found this insulting, but consented for the sake of the case. Vexiph joined, as did a diplomat friend* of Ophice's, and a priest* I had worked with in the past. I of course asked for the company of Ophice herself as well, a choice I would soon come to regret.

The murdered soul was deposited right outside the gates to the city. In the well-kept gardens, before the massive statue, was a grisly, naked corpse. The head wound was obvious, as were the blood spatters on the statue. But how she came to be here and why were not evident.

My studious companions had become somewhat skilled in the art of observation during our time together, and noted pertinent details.

"What's that tattoo on her back? Or is it a scar?" Vexiph asked. Upon inspection of the skin i found it to be neither, but a brand.

"Wait, I know her," Ophice added. "She's a noble. Our families used to summer together. Haven't seen her in years, and now she's dead and branded?"

"A slaver brand, perhaps? But what would that be doing on a noble, and why would she be here?" Our blood knight was asking the correct questions. I set myself to my usual rigor to find any clues my friends may have missed.

First, her feet were worn, suggested a long journey. An escape, perhaps. This was confirmed by the tiniest flecks of powder in her eyes. Blinding powder, I deduced. The story became clear, and I related it as I saw it in my mind's eye.

"A young noble, waiting to be married, swept off her feet by a dashing stranger. Taken to his home, then betrayed. Drugged, kidnapped, dragged away. Driven through the land as an object to be sold. The slaver caravan passes by her home city, months later. She sees her one chance. Desperately she flees, though she is naked and barefoot. The slavers, not wanting to damage their goods, throw blinding powder to disorient her. But adrenaline pumping, she outruns the startled guards and escapes. She runs for miles, but in her weakened state, half-blind, she stumbles. By a cruel quirk of fate she takes a fatal blow to the head as she falls, killed just a few steps before her salvation."

There was a moment of sad silence. I returned to the corpse. If the slavers were to be find, I would need more information. Surely there was something... yes. A slight bulge in her cheek. A swollen tongue? Perhaps some chemical I could identify... but no! A scrap of parchment, with details of their next auction.

"The lass was clever. She stole and stowed away a clue for whoever she might find. Her quick thinking gave us what we needed. We must hurry to the Ghostlands, stealthily gain entry to the auction, and identify the slavers for arrest."

We agreed that attending in disguise would be the best way. Pose as buyers, gain as much information on the slavers as possible for the guards, and possibly even free a few if we could. Ophice and her friend posed as a pair of nobles, our knight as their guard, and Vexiph and I as servants. Before long we were in the dark wilds of the Ghostlands, standing before the caravan. We had been joined* by the warlock Urameil, wandering through, willing to lend his aid for task.

The head slaver addressed us.

"Sorry, friends, you just missed the auction. We had to end early because our main sale item was lost." We bit down our rage at such callous treatment of a dead woman. I memorized their faces. Ophice pressed onward in her guise.

"Well, let me see what you have left. I might find *something* worth buying among this cattle left over."

Everyone played their part well, giving us much time. We estimated the amount of mercenaries to be small enough that we could perhaps free a few slaves in the confusion. I placed seaforium charges as we wandered from cage to cage, our company acting admirably well given the tense circumstance.

Brilliant as I am, I am not immune to mistakes. I set the charges incorrectly. They blew early. Smoke and fire led to chaos and drawn weapons, and we were thrown into combat before our ambush was ready.

It was a desperate fight. Blades and bows and magic clashed on both sides. I freed as many slaves as I could in the chaos, while the others fought. The priest threw furious mental and holy attacks, Urameil brought men to their knees through dark magic. Ophice ended any mercenary chasing freed slaves with a bolt to the back, and any still in reach were cut down by the knight. Vexiph's magic froze men in place so the others might finish them. We had the advantage. We were going to free the slaves. We were going to find justice.

Let this be a lesson. Never assume victory.

The leader reappeared out of nowhere, backed by a group of mages that were hidden, and bearing a weapon. I immediately recognized it as a grenade. Ophice charges him in a rage. I dashed after, screaming warnings. All too late. There was a flash of magic as they mages summoned their portal, to leave with their leader and the surviving slavers. There was a second flash of fire and death, as the grenade exploded at Ophice's feet. My last memory of her is a beautiful black silhouette, engulfed in flames.

We came to. The slavers were gone. I was badly burnt, and covered in blood. Her blood. Surely there would be some remains left, not just all this blood, the others reassured me grimly. But I dabble in explosives. I know their power. And I saw her consumed. In morbid confirmation, I saw a glint in the grass, and found her family ring - still on her severed finger.

The others left to recover, to report to the authorities, and to give me space. I searched for days without food or sleep. But there were simply no clues to be had. All evidence was gone, taken in portal or consumed in flame. No one would speak of the auction.

I had no choice. With her ring on my finger and the scent of her hair in my memory, I set off to travel the world. I would leave my city behind, and someday, somewhere, I would find the men responsible. Revenge is no replacement for the woman, but it is a powerful motivator. I am nothing if not motivated.

-S.H.


*Anyone I noted without a name or missed entirely, PM me and I'll make sure to add you to the write-up.
---

Sterling Hart - The Great Detective [Blood Elf Detective]
Richter Stahl - Working on a "Cure" [Forsaken Alchemist and Doctor]
Emori Darkrunner - More Beast than Man [Night Elf Druid]
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#2
A scattered mess of letters was found outside the inn of Gadgetzan. It was partially buried in the sand and the ink smudged in a few places. On the backside are auction notices with what appears to be the same hand writing.
Quote:"For the past week I have been drug around with a group of slavers. Six of my fingers are missing or damaged. While they may be gone, the pain still thrashes through my fingers.

But these chronicles are not about me. I have been traveling with four other slaves. I only hope their families and friends can be told so they know they are still fighting.

First one, goes by the name of Aubrey Jackson. She was kidnapped three weeks ago from the border of Stranglethorn Vale and Duskwood. She is of human decent and is emaciated. From her knowledge she has only been fed once a week.

The second two are a pair of troll mates. They had been captured while traveling near Ratchet. The man is known as Jazaku and the female goes by the name Kazama. They both are of the Darkspear tribe. Kaza often speaks of her child and finding a way out. I hope they find it.

The last, is another female Sin'Dorei. She was captured a day or two before I was, though any more information about her is still unknown at this time.

I know we are some where close to Alterac as the weather is getting chilly.

Save us."

Quote:"Jaz and Kaza have both been killed. I witnessed their deaths, both by the hands of a sadistic buyer.

Aubrey has also been sold off, but her life will not last much longer. I gave her my necklace, hoping that she could use it in exchange for food or freedom.

I am being forced to write the posters for the auctions as some sadistic punishment for complaining over the loss of my fingers. I hope my codes can be found.

Save us."

Quote:"The other sin'dorei, who has yet to speak, and myself have both been sold off. The woman who bought us prefers over me. I suppose she disliked that I refused to cry over lashings I was given. It hurts, but I will not allow such an uncivilized woman earn my tears.

Needless to say, I was sold back. My slaver took me back willingly and keeps referring to me as baby doll.

Save us."

Quote:"He has figured out a way of using the emerald whelplings' air as a form of anesthesia. It is his way of keeping me from lashing out.

Eight younglings were caught. I managed to leave a clump of my hair at their camp, I hope some one manages to find it.

I was forced to write up more auction posters. Please find my coding.

Save us."

Quote:"Cookie. The only other slave in the collection. Who ever buys him...I hope they know what they are doing.

Save us."

Quote:"Sold again. Captain Cress is a drunk and continues making sexual advances towards me.

If he does not quit, I will break his nose."

Quote:"It is amazing how terrible of a slave I am. After breaking the captain's nose, I was sold back to my original slaver.

There is less and less time of my normalcy as he continues drugging me. It makes it hard for me to function. I cannot stand this much longer."

Quote:"Will anyone save me?"

The last page contains nothing but...

Quote:All hope is gone.
[Image: anigif_mobile_9893b2566588ab845c7985f71769a9f2-7.gif]
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#3
Chapter 2: Cold Blooded

"You promised to protect her!"

Kilik knocked me off my feet with an unexpected and forceful shove.

It had been two weeks since the death of Ophice. After delivering the notice of death to her family, I returned to the case. I had shed all my tears, now all that remained was justice.

"She chose me, Kilik, this doesn't concern you! You treated her terribly!"

I wended my way around the world searching for clues, ending up in the Bay. There a young woman named Annabelle gave me leads on a Sin'Dorei slaver, Shadovarn. He was not the man I sought, but while questioning for him I finally found the clue I needed.

"Yes, but I didn't let her DIE!" He shoved me again.

A tiny fragment of a poster, water-logged and mostly unreadable, gave me enough to find the slavers' location. After the Ghostlands, they had moved to Alterac. I was two weeks behind them, but it was a start.

"I never controlled Ophice. She did as she chose, and I am fortunate she chose to spend some of her time with me. Now I choose to find her killers and have justice."

"I'll join. I want to dismember some people. Try to stay out of my way."

"Try to stay out of mine."

I left the inn. By then a scene had gathered. Fortunately it included my trusted friends, Vexiph and Sathia, whom I count on greatly. Also other allies, such as the warlock Uramiel, guard Kostus, and shaman Grakor. And other less savory types, such as the mage Astia and of course Kilik. After much bickering I set forth our rules.

"We are going into certain danger and almost certain death tracking these slavers, so we must cooperate. The first rule is that finding the slavers is our top priority in all cases. Second, no one shall make light of Ophice's death. Third, anyone who sabotages this mission will be dismissed or killed."

There was some shock about my coldness, but no arguments. We were off to Alterac.

It was as expected, a land of cold and death. We arrived to immediately find the remnants of some skirmish. Whilst the group got the lay of the land and spoke with a wandering human paladin finishing battle with the scourge, I inspected the bodies. Two in particular caught me eye: a pair of trolls.

Before I could peruse with my normal level of professionalism, a yeti decided that he would upgrade his lunch from the dead to the living. Kilik and the paladin, Dalikan, kept it busy with support from brave mages, giving me time to find what I needed - the trolls were dead slaves, and bore the brands of those we sought. We were closer.

Following the old saw "out of the frying pan and into the fire," we escaped the gargantuan yeti, only to be surrounded by a patrol of bandits who made camp in these mountains. In a flash of smoke and light we were captured, disarmed, disrobed, and locked away in a decrepit basement. Upstairs our captors sorted through our belongings and mused over our fate. Downstairs we were injured, unarmed, and in a field of dampened magic.

Fortunately, cool heads prevailed. Kostus and Grakor, led by Kilik, began to plan an ambush should the guards arrive. Others of us searched the makeshift dungeon for any sign of escape. In the corner was an emaciated human, on death's door. Despite Uramiel's intervention, she passed away. But before doing so, she confirmed her identity as a slave sold by our man to these bandits. She recalled his next destination, the Swamp of Sorrows, before leaving this world. Sathia regained composure enough to pray over her remains.

Through it all Vexiph, frightened as she was, summoned bravery and cleverness enough to find an old key. Rusted it was, and not made for our manacles, but it was enough to allow me to pick our locks. Freed, our ambush was launched.

The battle was brutal, and all fought with merciless determination. The sensational details will have to be recounted by others, dear reader, for it was during this time I was speaking to our late slave to find the information we needed.

"Well, you managed to stay out of my long enough for me to dismember people."

"And you stayed out of mine long enough for me to track our killers. So I suppose we will try to stay out of each other's way in the Swamp of Sorrows."

After future planning with Uramiel and Grakor, Kostus took the injured Vexiph to safety, and we split ways to avoid bandits. Sathia and I regrouped in Tarren Mill after bidding Dalikan farewell. Sathia had demons of her own to deal with, and I thanked her for her aid despite her own troubles.

I will not say that everyone put aside all personal issues to deal with this, but we made forward progress. Ophice would be proud.
---

Sterling Hart - The Great Detective [Blood Elf Detective]
Richter Stahl - Working on a "Cure" [Forsaken Alchemist and Doctor]
Emori Darkrunner - More Beast than Man [Night Elf Druid]
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