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Two Birds with One Stone
#1
Spoiler:
A mystery story, done in somewhat anachronic order. Names and story are revealed as players explore the story through appropriate characters.


              There was a smell of pine leaves, but it was rather sickening to the stomach.




Spoiler:


Twenty-three years ago...

              A mahogany-haired horse slowed its hooves as the rider, dressed grays and blacks, trotted past tall trees of Southshore. Farmers and sailors have all already began locking up for the night, with no one outside except a couple of stragglers remaining past their bed time. The rider remains partially hidden as she leads her mare to a particular house along the hill, the lights barely on as a couple inside is heading to sleep. The rider turns around a corner, a gloved hand tapping onto a window. The husband is aroused, his head peering from the pillow as he leans up. He opens the window, his face contorted to an angry scowl. "What do you want?!" he bellows.

              The rider, her lower face masked and hair covered in a hood, raises a finger to her hidden lips. "Lower your voice, sir. I have a proposition to offer to you."

              "At eleven at night?! Who are you, and what do you want?!"

              "Please, please, keep it down. No need to be alarmed. You are Mister Ingalls, yes?"

              "I am he. Why are you approaching us? Who sent you? Who are you?"

              "Right. You can call me 'Jane'. I do not come armed at all, and I am completely alone. I am told, through my exploration of this town, that you are a barren couple with no child. May I come in, please?"




              Neither Mister nor Missus Ingalls could believe it. As Jane sat before the old couple, two very small children clung onto her, asleep. Both were young boys, very small and very worn; both were barely the age to walk. They were both in magic-induced sleep, doneso perhaps to prevent fear or anxiety as the Jane would travel in the night. The woman was large, muscular even, as though trained to be moreso a bodyguard than a nurse. "I am sorry to come to you both at this hour, but I was sent to do this by my master."

              "Who is your master?" Mr. Ingalls spoke as his wife remained silent.

              "I cannot say."

              "Are those two little one yours?"

              "Not at all. In fact, these are the little ones I'm sent to propose to you?"

              "I beg your pardon?"

              Jane takes a deep breath as she continue to speak. "Normally when parents are to do this, they just leave the babies on the steps of the orphanage or church. But not this time." The woman strokes the babes' foreheads, their delicate black curls wrapping around her fingers. "Their mother didn't want her children just simply dropped off--but her family insists she gets rid of them so she could marry my master. My master's family doesn't know about the boys. I am to act on behalf on the bride so that she may be able to track her sons as she is to marry my master."

              "And this proposition?"

              "That I give you these boys a proper family to watch after. In addition to raising them as your sons, I will provide you six gold to cover all expenses like food, clothing, and education."

              "Six gold?!"

              "Six gold should be able to cover a few years of expenses. I am not to see you or the boys again until the bride and my master have settled into their marriage for some years, perhaps with their own children born shortly."

              "Six gold! For just the boys?"

              "I can offer two extra for your own spending money as long as you keep hush about my presence here and where the boys come from. If anyone asks, say the children were, indeed, dropped off at your doorstep."

              "Why didn't you do just that, then?"

              "I want to see the faces of the man and woman who will be bringing the children in."

              Mr. and Mrs. Ingalls nod with smiles on both their faces. "Say no more," Mr. Ingalls proclaims. "We'll take the boys in and raise them as our own. We won't disappoint you or their mother. What are their names?"

              "You may name them however you wish. Their birth names are fairly unique, and if word gets out that the boys are still about, the bride's family will probably get my head. Both are very, very young, however, barely two years old. War occurred around them, frightening the boys beyond comprehension. They're even delayed in learning to say 'Mama'."

              "Are they timid types?"

              "Extremely. They will cry for the first few days, they will react to you negatively. But this is for the sake of their mother's and my master's. I only wish the best for these boys, as the circumstances around their abandonment is nowhere their fault. I try my best, however, to prevent the bond from them and their mother from being entirely severed."

              "We understand. We'll do the best we can."

              "Can you?"

              "We'll even write to you. Is 'Jane' really your name?"

              "Jane" looks towards the couple. She shakes her head. "No. My real name is Charlene. Charlene Juranne. I am a servant to the House of Colemann, whom the boys' mother will be marrying into. You may mail me to update me on the boys' welfare, and I will check on you as well."

              "We will do everything we can. Where is the money?"

              Charlene moves aside as she reaches into a satchel. She takes out small purse wherein the six coins were held. As she digs into the satchel, she pulls out an additional two and adds them to the purse. "Here. And in this basket down here are the boys' clothes to start."

              "What is their mother's name?"

              "Her nickname is 'Ezi'. She is a soldier... well, was. Her husband and the boys' father died in Stromgarde, and she and her family are without money. The best way for her to provide for herself and everyone is to marry the man who has set his eyes on her.... on the condition she gives up her children so she would bear his. It is her family's decision, not hers. She does not want to lose her children."

              "So you are our mediator?"

              "That is correct."

              "How often will we be contacting you?"

              "I will begin mailing you as soon as I return to Stormwind, where my master lives."

              "Very well, then. Thank you, Ms. Charlene. We'll take good care of the boys."







              Charlene Juranne never returned to Stormwind. The road there was treacherous. As the House of Colmann was not aware of Charlene's work, the funeral was simple but thoughtless. No mourning, no tears. A servant lost is to be replaced.

              Mr. and Mrs. Ingalls were not as trustworthy as Charlene or 'Ezi' have thought. Though barren, the goal to have children was never really their own. Two days after being given the payment, the couple has fled, the house emptied, and the boys left behind.

              There were no names, no birth certificates. The church knew the boys did not belong to the Ingalls. When they inspected the clothing left behind, the basket had a medallion with the sigil of the lion.



Stormwind.



              The priests of Southshore felt the boys were either kidnapped or left behind by some kin to an irresponsible couple. Rather than return alone as did the boys' previous nurse did, they went as a caravan. The Kingdom was barely rebuilt, but the priests felt the boys needed to come home. They had no names, no signs, no certificates. Not even a whispered "Mama", for the boys were extremely timid.

              No other choice was made but to leave them at the orphanage in hopes their real parents would come up.



              But they never did. The boys cried and cried, nameless, parentless, and now, without each other in comfort. The Matron discovered one needed special care and had to be raised within the Cathedral. He never returned, and so, the boys were separated. No names, no parents, no brothers. Lonely corners of constant crying, one lost in the darkness of his eyes and the other of isolation from his peers.


              Only the Lion can watch over them.
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#2
The sun was warm today, but its rays had to be felt from between the darkened clouds.




Spoiler:


One day ago...



              Though a man of the cloth, Brother Gunther was never one to stay within the walls of the Stormwind Cathedral. Grand as it was, the temple was never his style. He sat quietly at the base of the tree, a book on his lap. Words of the Light speak to him, words worth reading. Though not a person to smile on his face, there was a warmth in his heart. His thin, withered fingers trailed along the texts, words of compassion and bravery for the lost and downtroddened. But he knows full well he cannot preach this to those with sightless eyes, especially not all at once.

              "Sir? Lord Colemann?" A little lady with freckles her pale cheeks approaches the small, gaunt man. She stands before him, her head bowed as her messy brown hair falls before her face.

              Brother Gunther adjusts the thick glasses on his face before habitually twirling his fingers along his mustache. "Miss Tammy. Please, address me as 'Brother Gunther'. You can call my family such fancy titles, but as long as I am in priest's garbs, I want to be addressed as a priest."

              "Yes, Brother Gunther."

              "Now how can I help you?"

              "We have a mage to assist you to Dalaran. Your family is there, waiting for you."

              "Already?" Gunther closes this book, sighing as he glances aside. "I have hoped to stay here for the week. I have been neglecting my pupils."

              "You can tell them of your leave, sir."

              The man shakes his head. "I'll have Brother Kitson take another mentor while I'm gone. I've made the boy so many promises already. I wish not to disappoint him further."

              "I beg your pardon?"

              The man stands up. While Tammy herself is barely tall enough to meet most men's chests, Gunther barely had any height to call his own. "You don't know him. He's one of my pupils, perhaps your age. Older, maybe, by a few years, but you wouldn't know. Only recently started formal priest training, as he was an acolyte prior. He's rather delayed, however, as his vision is impaired--he's the young man in a blindfold."

              "Oh, I may have passed by him on my way here, sir. He was looking for you."

              "Has he, now? Where was he?"

              "I last saw him heading to the library. I am not certain he is still there."

              "Worry not, Tammy. When am I expected to arrive in Dalaran?"

              "Before the end of today, sir."

              "Then I will speak to Brother Kitson. One moment, Miss Tammy."



              One cannot assume much from the one known as Brother Kitson. Tall and lightweight, he is a cheerful man with a bright smile plastered all over his youthful face. He moved about very eagerly in the library, his staff and a free hand serving as his eyes. As a pupil of Brother Gunther, he knows full well the man often lost himself in the pages of books. He simply was not aware that Gunther had relocated himself to the courtyard for a change of pace. "Brother Gunther?" Kitson says in a strained excited whisper. "Brother Gunther! Are you in here?"

              "I am here, Brother Kitson," Gunther says as he steps up to the man from behind. He places a hand onto the former acolyte's arm to assure his presence as Tammy remained at the library's entrance. "You were looking for me?"

              "I was! Rememebr this medal?" Kitson stuck his hand into a pocket of his robe. He removes a small medal from inside it, the medal containing the image of a lion in gold while it is lined with blue. Underneath it was the name of the receiptient--but the letters were worn down and scratched from war.

              Gunther scoots the edges of his spectacles higher up his nosebridge. "I remember, Brother. What of it?"

              "I got a name!"

              "You cannot be serious. I cannot even make out the scratches beneath it."

              "Derrick Hunter! I found some friends and they got a name!"

              The usually stoic man seemed to have lost his breath for a moment. "...Hunter, hm? How did you get this?"

              "One of them used scrying to get the name."

              "One of them is an arcanist, then? What are their names?"

              "Mr. Matthew, Ms. Adget, and Ms. Carter! The women are gnomes, and Mr. Matthew is from around here, I think!"

              "How did you meet them?"

              Kitson stopped for a moment. His sightless eyes gaze into the void as he thinks of an answer without putting himself in trouble for slipping out of the Cathedral past his bedtime. "I was... walking around last night when those three were just around. We just chatted about stories when I told them about my incomplete one. I gave them this medal as I told my story. Then they found the recepient's name!"

              "Do you know who Derrick Hunter is?"

              Kitson bowed his head as his cheery expression turns a little sadder. "Well... no, not really. I was going to try the city register for some answers.... perhaps you can help me!"

              Gunther gazes his empty eyes towards Kitson, his steely expression unchanging. He twirls his mustage again as he crosses his arm. "Hm.... give me the medallion, Kitson."

              "What?"

              "Give it to me. Don't worry about Derrick Hunter."

              "Why not?? I want to know who he is... and why I have his medal. Do you believe he could be my father?"

              Gunther huffs a bit as he places a hand onto the medal in Kitson's. He doesn't take the medal just yet. "Kitson, you were left at the orphanage for a reason. You had no name, no parents, not even a birth certificate. The orphanage had to give you the name 'Kitson Myrlon'. If Derrick Hunter is your father and you were somehow dropped off, there is most certainly a reason why. That reason is likely something you really, really don't want to know about."

              The young man's brows furrow as the thought of abandonment crossed his mind. "Do you suppose.... I was not loved?"

              "You are loved here. That's all that matters. Worry not for Derrick Hunter. I can learn about him and tell you what you need to know."

              "I would like to keep the medal, Brother Gunther. It's all I have from my previous family."

              "You will become curious, Kitson. I know you. You are the kind of fellow who will stick his hand into a hole just to find out what's in it. Actually, you did do that once--a squirrel bit you and we had to purge you of rabies."

              "I didn't forget!"

              "No more sticking hands in holes, Kitson. Please give me the medal."

              "No."

              "Please."

              "No!"

              Gunther sighed. "Fine. If you insist. Just don't go blabbing about this Derrick Hunter fellow. You may open a can of worms."

              "I won't, Brother Gunther."







              Gunther and Tammy stepped down the Cathedral steps together. The older man, gaze hidden underneath sun-highlighted spectacles, cleared his throat as he spoke to his family's servant. "I'm not going to Dalaran at all, Miss Tammy. Tell my family I will meet them another time."

              "What?! What about-... is this about Derrick Hunter and Brother Kitson?"

              "Yes."

              "Do you suspect he is his father?"

              "He may or may not be--I have to confirm things first. Is Elsamina in Dalaran?"

              "She is, sir. She didn't want to go, but she went."

              "Then tell her I will be there eventually. I will not go tonight or tomorow, however."

              "Is looking for this 'Derrick Hunter' really that important, sir? Can you not do it when you return?"

              Gunther stops to gaze upon the mouse-like girl. "When I told Brother Kitson to not blab about Derrick Hunter in case he may open a can of warms, I truly meant that. If Kitson is truly Hunter's son, then he and his brother may be in danger. I don't know what became of his brother, however. Kitson had no brother when he was brought to the Cathedral, so I am certain he is not either of Hunter's son."

              Tammy's eyes widened. "So you do know who Derrick Hunter is..."

              "I do. And so do both sides of my family. Please tell no one of this, Miss Tammy."
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#3
              It was right here. They held a faux-wedding for us. With dirt flying everywhere. It stained my clothes, but at least there was laughter.



Spoiler:


Twenty-three years ago...







              "Girls? Please, the wedding is not until an hour from now. I need to step out--just use the mannequin to adjust my dress."





              The woman stood by the canals, the sun kissing its prisinte waters as it lays down between the rooftops in preparation for sleep. The wind brushed against her ebony black hair, but neither it nor the setting son could bring a smile to her face. She gazes out mournfully, sorrowfully; her arms wrap around each other, her head bowed as she fought back the sobs that rose to her throat. Only sorrow was before her. Her love, her one and only, was gone... and so were the children she bore.

              Her brother stepped to her--a big man, though barely only taller than his statuesque sister. He tries to smile for her, though he can feel the sorrow radiate from her. "Elsa? Elsa, the bridesmaids are waiting for you. The wedding will start soon."

              "I know, Parker."

              "Don't tell me you're running now." He steps closer, a long, sturdy arm wrapping around his sister's shoulder. "What's wrong? Do you not like your husband?"

              "I want Derrick back."

              "You can't ask for that."

              "This is how I met him. His younger brothers, Robin and Matthew, were stealing silver from a noble. It happened within about the first week on the job; I just happened to come by them. New armor and everything. I even spoke to Matthew as if I was a seasoned officer--I made him cry." She wipes the tear from her eye as she peers along the fishing dock, briefly turning her head from her brother. "I took them their folks. I met Derrick that very day... it was getting late. He was at the bar. We talked some. Met recurringly. I wanted to be with him. A simple man, yet his smile kept me from becoming a hardened harridan at work. I don't want this Gunther, Parker. I want Derrick back. Derrick smiles. Gunther cannot."

              "It's just his face, Elsa. Something about... I don't know, the muscles on his face not working. You can sort of tell, there's a slight slur in his speech. Childhood illness or something."

              "That's besides the point, Parker."

              "Oh, come on! He's warm... enough. Works in the Stormwind Cathedral as a priest despite coming from a Dalarani mage family. 'Gots loads of money, a big house, a wide yard, a peaceful stream..."

              "I don't want his money. I want Derrick."

              "Elsa..."

              "I don't want to marry Gunther. I want my sons and Derrick back. You, Mother, Father, and all our brothers and sisters add to my grief over my dead husband by taking away my sons from me! My sons! The two boys who were born of Derrick and my union. They had his eyes."

              "They're defective, Elsa. Two years old, and neither could talk, not even say 'Mama'. Rudoff's blind and Randoff freaks out easily, do they not?"

              Elsamina barks at her brother, ready to raise a hand. "Don't you talk about my sons that way! They're not perfect, but they're mine!"

              Parker backs up, palms raised defensively. "No need to get angry! Try having some children with Gunther, perhaps they'll come out whole and recognize you as their mother."

              "How dare you!"



              Footsteps. Two members of the Guard--both of them within Elsamina's division. They stood there, garbed in ceremonial gear. They accompanied a much smaller, frailer-looking man, his face frozen to perpetual neutrality. He gently pushes his spectacles up along his nosebridge to ensure their placement is more comfortable. "Elsamina. Parker."

              "Gunther!" Parker sputters. "What are you doing here?! You can't see the bride yet, that's bad luck! Get back to the church!"

              The small man peers onto the much larger one. "I believe the superstition only applies to brides in their gowns. I'm not sure. I don't care. She's sorrowful and alone out here and your idea of comforting her is to belittle her, your sister? Shame on you."

              "Hey, I'm trying to give her actual pep talk! You know, accept you as her husband and all!"

              "Let me handle that. Please go to your family and assure them that Elsamina will arrive. I'll talk with her."




              Silence. Only the water and the wind accompanied the bride and groom-to-be. The smaller Gunther, face frozen of emotion, lightly steps towards the taller, war-hardened soldier of the Guard. He extends a bony hand to his bride, palm up. "Elsamina?" he starts.

              The woman sniffs as she wipes her eyes. "Yes, sir?"

              "I cannot force you to accept me as your love. I do not ask for it. Your family has good intentions for you--you're all poor from the war, and I have my family's money to provide for you all."

              "I do not want your money."

              "I cannot bring your husband back... but you do want your sons back, yes?"

              Elsamina falls silent. She turns her head.

              "Where are they?"

              Elsa doesn't answer.

              "Elsamina, I am neither your family nor mine."

              "The last time I checked... Southshore."

              The smaller man raised his brows. "Why all the way there?"

              "We were at Stromgarde at the time. Your messenger, Charlene, sympathized my plight, but neither of us could go against the arrangement our families were making for our union. My family was willing to just drop the boys off at any orphanage and prohibit me from ever seeing them again. Charlene... had the idea to just take the boys to a family where they can be cared for with love and warmth rather than live in some cold, cramped building with an overworked matron and dozens of other orphans." She turns to Gunther and bows her head. "Forgive me, sir. I know your family wants nothing to do with my sons and that mine just wants the security of the Colemann's wealth. But I don't want to lose my sons forever."


              Gunther, once more, pushed his spectacles back up to his face. His hand was still raised, as Elsamina has not taken it. "I know this. I overhead the conversation you and Charlene had."

              "Really?!"

              "I provided her some gold so that the boys will be secure, sheltered, fed, and clothed. I told her to look for a barren family who may want children of their own but cannot."

              "By the Light...."

              Gunther raises his eyes to the Guard. "Elsamina. When my family took me to the Cathedral, they didn't take me there because they were religious--they are secular by culture. No, they took me because they only believed in the magic of healing without believing in the Light itself. Compassion is not a part of my family's home--they were focused on only their connections and any opportunities at power-grabbing. As your family wanted my money, my family wants your power--connections with a high-ranking official of the Stormwind Guard." He lowers his hand to fold it with his other. "You are pained, Elsamina--I know this. You love Derrick, you love Rudoff and Randoff. There is much for our families to gain... but it seems nothing for you. I will not force you into this union with me. If you wish, you may flee this city, and I will announce to our families that the wedding is off."

              Elsa was taken aback by the man's compassion. She paces about the canal, her head bowed as she curls a finger to her chin. Her heels click along the cobblestone, her heart racing as her mind is lost in contemplation. Moreso than her brother, this strange man has provided the familial warmth she sought. There is a chance she could defy their families so she could seek out her sons and her own happiness... but there is also risk of betrayal to her families as well as her place in the Crown's Guard. "What about you?"

              "What about me?"

              "What will you gain if I marry you?"

              "I will gain a wife."

              "And if I don't marry you?"

              "Then I will be alone."

              "What would you rather prefer: a wife or not?"

              Gunther glances to the canal as the hour draws near. He takes a deep breath, his habit of pushing up his specs once more occurring. "Personally, I'd like to have a wife--you seemed lonely and heartbroken, and if it weren't for this arrangement, there'd probably be no one else except some other poor woman my family will arrange for. I do not think I am an ideal husband--I am not strong, nor am I capable of any facial or vocal emotion. I can provide you company and a home--but I am not Derrick. I will never be Derrick."

              The woman places a hand over her heart as she frowns sadly upon the frail man. "I... cannot ask you to be Derrick. That is unfair to him. Unfair to me." She pauses as she gazes past the spectacles for Gunther's eyes. "Unfair to you."

              "Do you want to marry me, Elsamina?"

              "Neither of our families will take 'no' for an answer."

              "I am not asking my family or yours. Do you want to marry me, Elsamina?"

              Elsa, once more, turns her eyes to the waters. They change from a golden orange to a serene blue as the skies change to a light purple. She grips her upper arms as she gazes upon the sky. "Will you help me find and track my sons?"

              "I will even request--and continuously so--for their return if possible, Elsamina."

              "Will you feel angry if they become brothers to our children, Gunther?"

              "I would be ecstatic."

              "Will you help me overcome my grief over Derrick?"

              "If you will let me be yours."



              "Then yes. I will marry you, Gunther Colemann."







They never came back.....
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#4
I can see the vultures flying over my back. They are the ones who tore up the nest.


Spoiler:
Present.




              "Parker, please remove the jar from my desk."

              "Why?"

              "That's earthroot. I'm allergic."

              Parker slides the jar of earthroot away from his brother-in-law as he sat by him while Gunther remained at his desk within his home. The large man shrugged as he apologizes. "Sorry about that. I hear you're not feeling well, and I was recommended to bring some to you. Can't even stand the smell?"

              "It's not the smell--my sense of smell is rather dulled. No, it just makes me ill to look at it. I drank earthroot tea when I was young, and my family had to rush to take me to the Cathedral because I couldn't breathe."

              "Oh! That bad... all right, I'll take it away. What would you prefer instead?"

              "Nothing. I'm fine. Now why are you here?"

              Parker casually sat on the desk as he looks down on to the papers Gunther was reading. He recognizes the forms right away. "I was notified that you wanted copies of the city register."

              "Naturally, Mister SI:7."

              "Care to tell me why you want it?"

              The spectacles on the priest's face slid down his nosebridge as he bowed his head to continue reading. Rather than push it back up, he removes it entirely to check on the joints and lens. He opens a drawer to remove a cleaning handkerchief, and he spoke as he proceeds to wipe the lens. "I am simply confirming full names and living quarters of certain individuals. I am given permission by the agents to possess these copies as long as the originals remain at the office."

              "Who are you looking up?"

              "A family member."

              "Who exactly? Care to tell?"

              The priest glares as he places the specs back onto his face, the lens now clear enough to show the piercing gaze. "That is none of your business, Parker."

              "Oh, Gunther. Why deny your dear ol' brother-in-law the satisfaction of my simple curiosity? Besides, it's harmless, yes?"

              Gunther sighs. "I'm looking up Derrick Hunter."

              "........Elsa's first husband? Whatever for?"

              "My own simple curiosity."

              "I thought you want nothing to do with Derrick."

              Gunther grunts a little as he slides the papers away from Parker a bit as a gesture of distaste towards the agent's prodding. "I said it's none of your business. I am not doing anything illegal. I received permission from SI:7 to look up history on my wife's first husband. I am not doing anything wrong."

              "Whoa, whoa!" Parker chuckles as he raises his palms defensively. "I'm not accusing you of anything, brother! I'm curious, like I said! What exactly are you looking up? I know Derrick a bit, he dated Elsa some time before they married. Whatever you're looking for, I can probably confirm."

              "Derrick Hunter was a soldier. What medals did he earn during the first two Wars?"

              ".................Oh. Uh..." Parker muttered as he stroke his chin to recall. He glances down onto the sheets, his fingers trailing along the section of information provided an SI:7 agent would be able to identify faster than a researching layman. "Two medals. One for a campaign wherein he was wounded but survived. The other, honored posthumously after the Second War. Both Lordaeron."

              "That explains everything."

              "Explains what?"

              Gunther removes the sheets, ready to toss the copies. "Nothing."

              Parker looks at where the sheets once were on the desk. He sees more papers beneath, belonging to that of a book. "And what's that?"

              Gunther's brows furrow as he slams the book shut. The cover read "STORMWIND ORPHANAGE ADMISSIONS LOG: 605 KC". "That is absolutely none of your business."

              "Oh, Gunther! Gunther! My man! Don't be angry with me! What are you doing with an orphanage admissions log?"

              "Get out of my office, Parker."

              "Found anything on Elsa's boys?"


              Gunther froze up. His frozen face could not save him this time. "....No."

              "Don't lie to me, Gunny. It's about that Kitson boy, isn't it? What, did he have his father's medal on him or something? Derrick's medal? It explains why Elsa has his red medal but not his blue."

              "Kitson does not possess any medal."

              "Stop lying to me, Gunther."

              "Whatever gave you the idea that Kitson has Derrick Hunter's medal?"

              Parker turns his back and places his bottom onto the edge of the desk, his back turned to Gunther. He folds his hands over a propped knee as he turns his head to gaze upon the lying priest. "We got some interesting thieves arrested over a kidnapping. Your attempted one, actually. Yet you never came forward with that. How come, Gunny? Afraid my folks will find out?"

              Gunther tried to keep his sighs discreet. "SI:7..."

              "Elsa will learn eventually too."

              "What do you know?"

              "One of the thieves reported that Kitson was involved in the kidnapping--helping in providing them levitation spells that got them to your roof. I think he's plotting to get rid of you, Gunther. He probably knows things you hoped not to."

              The small priest sharply turns his head to the agent. "Kitson does not know Derrick is his father! I told him to belay his research and let me handle it."

              "The kid's got friends, Gunther. Friends that tried to get you kidnapped, or worse--killed. They're probably plotting to get your money... or revenge for separating him from his mother, dropping him off to some cold and dreary orphanage while you shower your now-childless wife money."

              Gunther narrows his eyes at the agent before peering back down to the admission log. "Kitson is a good boy. Man. Twenty-five years old. He matches Rudoff's description. He is of good heart, however. I do not believe you."

              "One of the thieves is Ada Pearl, Gunther."

              The man looks up again. "...What?! The seamstress?!"

              "Yes. The same one who got Elsa her nice clothes. They're plotting something against you, Gunther. Kitson and his friends."

              The priest huffs. He peers down onto the log, fingers scratching lightly upon the worn-out leather backing. His breathing stills as his fingers shakily reach for his spectacles to push them up against his face. He faces Parker once more as he nods. "Thank you, Parker. I'll have to confront Kitson."

              "It's absolutely no problem. Anything else I can help you, friend?"

              "Get this earthroot out of here."

              "Oh! Of course!"





              The log is reopened. Gunther peers up and down the "K" section of the provided names. As per tradition of the orphanage, should nameless children be dropped off, it is up to the matrons' responsibility to grant them names. First names are listed first, then seemingly random surnames. Gunther did not bother to try for last names. Twins are more likely to be given names of the same letter, as they should be admitted together.

              And after much searching, he found the twin. "Of course...." Gunther peers up to the door which Parker used to leave. A sneer appears on his face as he shuts the book once more.




              "This ends now."
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#5
Spoiler:
((Although the original story was completed in RP, I'll still use this thread for my Hunter-Colemann characters. Below is recent, intended to happen yesterday))





I remember what it was like to fall in love.


Spoiler:



              Spots littered all over the green leaves of Kogan’s budding lavender and lily leaves, and it concerned him greatly. Going by Scarlet’s advice, however, he did manage to find time to buy a potion to remedy the botanical sickness. As he began sprinkling the potion, the solution began to wash out the spots, if at least to start. The spots remained some, but the soldier is happy to see progress in the plants’ recovery.

              There, he thought. A few more weeks, and Scarlet will see what I have for her...


              As he crouched low to tend to the flowers, Kogan turns his head to hear feet rustling the grass behind him with each step. As the young man stood up, he sees his mother approaching him with her fingers folded while her hands hang before her gown. Kogan smiles as he bows his head to greet his mother. “Hello, Mother.”

              ”Hello,” Elsamina greets with a smile of her own. “It seems your garden is getting better now...”

              ”It is, yes. It turns out they’re ill... I didn’t even know plants could get sick.”

              ”You’d be surprised.” She lowers her hands to one of the lavender bushes to inspect the spots. “I’m afraid, though, that the potion you have there is meant to be a preventative medicine. Otherwise, leaves like these need to be cut off.”

              Kogan furrows his brows in concern. “Really? But won’t that make them grow slower?” He turns his head to the bushes. “I really hope they would bloom well, however long it takes. But I don’t want to deprive them of sunlight.”

              ”Leaves can always grow back, Kogan. If you do not cut out the infected leaves, you’ll make the plants sicker. The spots are a sign of fungal infection--they’re spores, you see.”

              ”Spores?”

              ”Think of them as single-celled seeds of sort. Some plants and fungi reproduce that way. These, however, are parasitic in nature and will kill your flowers before they can bloom if you let them spread. Your potion will not be enough.”

              ”Oh! Then, uh... uh..... can your servants give me scissors?”

              Elsamina smiles. “You use a specific cutter for plants, Kogan. Scissors won’t cut well, but plant cutters are built to do the job.” She turns around and waves to a gardener as he tends to one of Gunther’s rose bushes. “I can have Maddie do the cutting for you. He knows how to spot the infected leaves efficiently.”

              ”Oh... I’d rather I do it myself, Mother. He can help me, but I hope to learn how to garden myself.”

              The mother crosses her arms beneath her bust as she turns to face her taller son. “I figured as much... but I hope to talk to you about the removal of a different kind of infection.”

              ”......I beg your pardon?”

              ”I’m talking about the recipient of this garden bed you’re raising.” She takes a deep breath as she stiffens her posture, though her shoulders remain relaxed.

              It didn’t take long for Kogan to figure out the metaphor. He sighs as he wraps his fingers around his brows. “Uncle Matthew spoke to you, didn’t he?”

              ”I’m afraid so, son. Why was he the one who approached me?” Her eyes narrow as she tilts her head. “Why didn’t you tell me Miss Scarlet is a worgen?”

              Kogan almost sputters as he finds himself on the spot. “I was about to! I just... I just had to think of what to say! I mean, Uncle Matthew didn’t take the news well at all! Do you know what he did when he found out?”

              ”Of course. He tried to take you away.”

              ”He took me by the tabard and chastised me like a child. A child, Mother. I’m twenty-five. I can make decisions for myself.”

              Elsamina takes a deep breath once more as she shook her head slowly. “He was trying to protect you, son. There is so much to the Worgen curse we don’t know.”

              ”The Night Elves are helping them, mother! They provided a cure that released them from their feral natures and now they possess clarity.”

              ”All worgen, son?”

              ”Scarlet was given the cure! It was either she becomes among the undead in Hillsbrad or become a worgen!” He steps closer to his mother as he raises a hand to his side. “It’s one curse or the other, and I would rather she become a worgen than an undead! The choice of being cursed in the first place wasn’t hers! She was just doing her duty!”

              ”I am fully aware of what happened in Hillsbrad, son. She is not the only agent sent there. We had more dead than alive.”

              ”Then you understand!”

              Elsamina sighs as she walks to a stone bench placed along the garden. She sits down on one side then pats the other, inviting her son to sit. “Sit here, Kogan. Let me tell you a story.”

              ”Mother...”

              ”Please, it’s important. It’s not even long.”

              Kogan sighs as he approaches his mother before resting his bottom on the other side of the bench. “All right, Mother. What is your story?”

              Elsa straightens out her dress as she rests her hands onto her lap. She gazes out to the sickened garden before she begins her speech. “This was shortly after you and your brother were separated from me. A situation occurred in Duskwood where civilians were disappearing, only to be found as maimed corpses on the sides of the road.” She pauses to face Kogan with a hand raise to him. “I was still in the Guard then. I was assigned to investigate the situation, alongside two of my partners. We arrived at Duskwood, the three of us. Testimonies were conflicting. Other soldiers were sent before us, but rarely do they return. There were stories of undead... and there were stories of wolf men devouring those who come near.”

              ”Mother....”

              ”It didn’t take long, Kogan. My partners and I didn’t go far into the wood when we were attacked.” She rolls up her left sleeve. Long, uneven scars covered her arm from below the wrist to her elbow, covering the top and bottom. “One grabbed me by the arm. Another by my leg. My partner, a paladin, managed to smite them away, but our third partner didn’t make it. His throat was ripped out when a worgen had the opportunity. His helm was knocked off prior.”

              ”Mother, please....”

              ”Do you have any idea what it was like to tell his family of what happened? That it was a wolf man--not a Defias or an orc--who killed him? He had a wife and three children.”

              ”Mother, I get it!” Kogan stood up as he shouted. “Worgen are beasts!”

              Elsamina smiles. ”That they are, son. I’m glad we have an understa-”

              ”The cure wasn’t found then! Clarity wasn't’ available! It was unfortunate what happened to your partner, and I cannot imagine how hard it was to inform his family of his fate. But this...” Kogan placed a hand onto his hair to run his fingers through it. “How can you compare Scarlet to a beast? She talks. She walks on two legs. She enjoys chocolate despite it probably making her very ill. She still helps civilians when riots occur and we still chase down criminals and invaders whenever the situations arise!”

              It was the mother’s turn to speak. “You don’t get why I was telling you this story, Kogan. The problem lies not only in the worgen, but those affected by them. The family was torn.” She takes a deep breath. “And we may be next.”

              ”No, Mother, no....”

              ”Call if off, son. Your uncle was doing his best to keep you safe. To keep us all safe. Scarlet can still work with you, and she can stay in SI:7, but as soon as she turns feral, we will take action. I don’t want you to be affected.”

              ”She won’t turn feral!”

              ”You don’t know that.”

              ”She endured a criminal family. She chased a single bandit through Duskwood. She lasted against poisoning that could have taken her life. She’s brave, she’s strong, she’s always full of energy and bravado that I cannot ever level up to. She even has a rifle that will shoot down worgen if they do turn feral. She’s not afraid of the curse!”

              ”Kogan.”

              ”She braved through a collapsed mine to save me, Mother! My legs were crushed, and I was suffocating! She came with others to save me!”

              ”Kogan....”

              ”I lived a long, lonely life as an orphan and a squire and especially as a guard. Scarlet was my first real friend. My first kiss. My first real love... And you expect me to throw it all away?!”

              ”Don’t put it that way, Kogan.... but yes.”

              The young man grimaced, his face contorting with anger and despair. “I thought of you better than this, Mother. You married someone your family didn’t approve.”

              ”They didn’t approve because your father was poor. They didn’t have to worry about me turning into a beast.”

              ”So you’re all right with controlling me like the Crews did for you when you married Gunther?”

              Elsamina stood up suddenly. “Randoff!!”

              ”Well, are you?!” Kogan paid no heed to the fact his mother referred to him by his birth name.

              ”Get out of my house!”

              ”I will!” The young man reached for the hat he set aside and placed it onto his head. “Goodbye, Inspector.”

              ”Goodbye, Lieutenant.”






              The gate slams shut. Elsamina glares towards its direction as her breathing slows. She calms down, her eyes cast down as she thinks about what just happened. She hasn’t been this angry for a long time.

              ”Madam?” The young gardener referred to earlier approaches the matriarch from behind. “Are you all right?”

              ”I’m fine, Maddie. Just... had a bit of a fight.”

              ”Is there anything I can do?”

              The woman turns around to face the garden. As she approaches it, she gazes upon her son’s work. The bed was large, making up an area of over three hundred square feet. The bed was framed with lavender bushes, all grown previously before replanted as flowers were about to bloom. Lilies were planted within the frame, though seemingly scattered at random. The lily stalks were just sprouting, the buds having not bloomed yet. Regardless, each of the plants were infected by the fungal spores. None were previously cared for to prevent their sicknesses.

              Elsamina sighed. “He must have spent so much silver to obtain these many flowers.” She lowered herself to inspect the lilies... and spotted something. A line. These lilies formed a line, then they zigzagged. The line was broken up, and a second line was formed. A third and fourth line was made, longer than the second, but of equal length between the two. A space formed after, but these lines were slanted. Following that was a circle, and after that, an incomplete half circle. Elsamina realized the shapes... but she cannot make out the patterns from where she is. “Wait here.”

              ”Yes, Ma’am.”

              Elsa rushed into the house. She races up the staircase and leans out the balcony that overlooked the whole garden. She gazes upon the bed to view it from above. A gasp escapes her lips as she sees what shapes the lilies formed.


              Oh, Derrick, what have I done?


              She goes downstairs, hands wringing with regret. She thinks about her son, about Scarlet. Then.... what happened the morning prior. She didn’t admit it to Kogan, but she did something that was meant to serve as a Plan B of sorts.

              Joseph.

              She didn’t tell her son or her colleague, but she did do something underhanded. The morning before, she tried to convince a worgen named Joseph to court a “Josie”. Knowing Scarlet wanted to protect her identity, Elsamina referred to her false name. Now she regrets it. She realizes the damage she’s done. To her son. To his love. And to a third party she didn’t know. Her face falls to her palms to hide the sobs that were rising from her throat.

              Oh, Kogan. You saw the Crews in me. I have become the destructive, manipulative rats they are.

              ”Ma’am?”

              Elsamina turns around to face Maddie. She smiles at the boy, wiping her eyes. “Maddie. I have a task for you.”

              ”What is it, Ma’am?”

              ”First... trim that bed of infected leaves. If they affected the buds, trim them too. The stalks? Prune them. If the whole plant is infected, replace the whole thing. I will give you money for any that needs replacement.”

              ”Will that be all?”

              ”No. What I want you to do is ask Kaley to get out and search for lonely Worgen women who won’t mind adopting the name of Josie for a date. If she won’t find any, I’ll find some.”

              The boy tilts his head. “And... why are we doing this?”

              ”Oh, Maddie, my boy. When you take care of a sick flower, you cut out the sick parts then nurse it to health. I ended up trampling something that was blooming instead. Now I will have to fix what I nearly broke.”
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#6
Spoiler:
Follow-up with RP with Tavren and Claremont, among other things.


This was our favorite spot--the creek. The waters were so serene. Yet so troubled.


Spoiler:


[Image: darkcreek.jpg]

              It's that dream again. A beautiful creek, with comforting streams of soothing water along crisp, dew-dropped grass that clothed the feet of tall, sturdy trees. At a certain time of the day, the crowns of the trees form hide the grass under shadow... but the space between the leaves produce stars that glisten in the daytime. The beams of light shine and dance with the wind, the grass and leaves moving with each shimmer. Within the creek were playful splashes of the fish that leap and swim, of turning water as it flowed along the turns and rocks that directed its flow. On occasion, if either the husband or wife would go there in time, they would see them... lively and joyously splashing and rolling along with the rocks and pebbles as they fish for food the earth has blessed them all.

              Otters. A family of river otters.

              In the dream, a male and female would meet, and a single pup would be produced. However, in the dream, the family never remains a unit of three. In one instance, the pup would fail to survive birth very long. In another, the female would not survive birthing the pup, leaving the young one to die anyway. Regardless of who died when, the father is left alone. Father otters do not raise young, nor do they stay with the female after mating.

              Such is the way of nature, yet Gunther felt there is a meaning behind this metaphor in his slumber. Not once has a child survived childbirth, but Elsa is still here. And it may as well always come to be.





              Gunther departed the Estate, leaving for the woods that stood behind it. The creek was there, and indeed, otters did live there--not at all the single family as he dreamt. The location was lively, the smells, sights, and sounds ever present. He'd sit there, the beams of sunlight gently pouring over the running water. As he watched the creek flow, his hands reached for a small box in his pocket. Inside it are ivory hair decors seated on delicate red velvet--antique jewelry which Gunther bought from Miss Claremont during a visit to Dalaran. Though the man was incapable of smiling, the curve of the pins smiled for him. He can only picture the decorations on his wife's ebony black hair.

              The sounds of the woods change as footsteps approach. Gunther doesn't bother to turn his head. He closes the box and sets it on his lap as he hears Elsamina sit behind him. "Good morning, Elsamina."

              "Good morning, Gunther," she greets in return. "I see you're back from Dalaran. What was going on there?"

              "Minor matters." He explains no further.

              Elsamina, at this point, has given up on trying to prod her steely husband for any semblence of small talk. She scoots by to seat by her husband, not minding the grass stains on her gown. Though much taller than her tiny husband, Elsa does not stretch her height to overwhelm him; instead, she lowers her head level as she stretches her legs to her side, her back curved and her hip lifted as her weight shifts to a hand planted by Gunther's. Her fingers gently lay over his. "Fair enough," she says. "But I have something to ask you."

              "Feel free to ask," he says, his expression unchanging as is his posture. He does not turn his head, nor does react to the hand upon his.

              "Someone from Dalaran tried to give us a gift."

              "Do tell." He places the box down to his other side discreetly, away from Elsamina's peripheral view. Now is not a good time to give it, his attention fully his wife's.

              "Black roses."

              The brows furrow. "....Go on."

              "A note saying 'We've made a breakthrough', according to Matthew and Kogan. According to them, the card had nothing else but a sea creature."

              The priest says nothing for a moment until he breaks the silence. "...I see."

              "Gunther?"

              "Yes?"

              "What are you and Lord Tavren up to?"

              Once more, Gunther says nothing.

              "...What is this 'breakthrough'? And why are you working with a warlock?"

              Gunther's fingers lift to push the spectacles up along the bridge of his nose, pressing the frames against his face. "It is a private project that needed the assistance of a holy man," he tells her. "It's confidential on his behalf. He is sanctioned by Stormwind and, thus, would not--and should not--be doing anything illegal."

              Elsamina sighs. She closes her eyes, reminding herself that she is speaking to a wall. "Fair enough. Now answer me this."

              "What is it?"

              "What sort of project would prompt a spell that would eliminate the card as soon as it's read?"

              Gunther sees where this is going. Soulless green eyes peer through the window panes of his spectacles as the man turns his head to peer towards his inquistive spouse. "That is none of your business."

              "Why won't you tell me, Gunther? Because I am SI:7?" She frowns sternly. "...Or because I am your wife?"

              "It is none of your business. I said it's private." His deadpan voice, for once, presents emotion: a tinge of anger. "Do you not trust the word of a priest, Elsamina?"

              She is not in the mood for another family fight. Elsamina sighs as she gets up, her arms up to her sides in surrender. "Fine. Fine. Just... whatever it is, Gunther, please. Not illegal. Not harmful. Not wicked."

              "Sanctioned warlock, Elsamina. Sanctioned. I will not allow any harm on myself or anyone."

              "And me?" she ask, her own voice inkling with frustration.

              Gunther simply stared for a moment. "...Of course, Elsamina."

              With only a sigh remaining in her lips, Elsamina leaves without another word. Now alone at the creek once more, Gunther sat quietly as he peers upon the box, now sitting there without being given to its rightful recepient. The man pushes his specs up to his face as he lifts the box and places it back to his pocket. The hand travels to the other, fidgeting about until it pulls out a small disk. It is clear, with the emblem of the krakken borne on its center.

              Whiteshore.


              What breakthrough have you made, Lord Tavren? Will it finally give me a child that would live? He pockets the disk once more as he began to depart, though in the wrong pocket. It sat with the box with the ivory pins and comb. As he turned to look upon the creatures that played in the water, he take noticed of their lack of presence. Not one otter was visible in the creek like they were earlier.


              The spat with Elsamina must have spooked them off.





Life stirs within a creek of another kind, Gunther.

You just don't know it.
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