A few days later…
Loreli heard the ruckus before she ever saw the crowd. Rounding the corner from the Stormwind bank toward the city gates, she stopped, narrowing her eyes. It was a large gathering against the evening chill and they didn’t sound like they were celebrating. She climbed atop a pile of crates next to the cheese shop, squeezing in between a couple of others, already parched on the precarious stack. Even being tall for a night elf, it was hard to see through this throng.
A tomato sailed through her field of vision and she heaved a heavy sigh. Apparently the Ebon Blade had sent another delegation of Death Knights to see the King. Though they had been at this war for some time now, the civilians were still uncomfortable with the Death Knights. Loreli knew people tended to fear what they didn’t understand and fear breeds anger. Loreli had had her own ass saved enough times by Death Knights to be grateful for the Ebon’s Blade assistance. She’d try to stop this mess, if she wasn’t attempting to remain inconspicuous.
Fading back out of the crowd, Loreli decided to wait by the Keep. If the Death Knights were anyone she knew, she could buy them a drink, apologize for their reception. For all the good it would do. Loreli made her way along the canals between Old Town and the Dwarven District. She neared the Keep entrance and sat, leaning against a tree. She pulled out an apple and munched on it. The guards looked at her in askance but said nothing.
It wasn’t long before the Death Knights came around the corner. There were three of them in this delegation. The first was a large Draenei male with two big horns curling up from his head. He carried himself like a seasoned warrior. The second, judging from it’s stature, could only be a gnome. Their gender, however was ambiguous, due to the spiked helm they wore. The rogue turned her attention to the third figure. Loreli’s breath caught in her throat, the bottom dropped out of her stomach. The half eaten apple fell out of her hand. It rolled across the cobblestones, bumped into the gnomes foot and went unnoticed as it was knocked into the canals.
The third Death Knight was a human girl. A human girl, that Loreli knew all too well. She had been seventeen when she died. Aside from the glowing eyes and the unhealthy pallor of her skin, she remained unchanged. She still wore her black hair drawn into a pony-tail. Loreli could see the remnants of her walk in the Death Knight too, even thought it was now weighted with plate armor. Loreli sat stunned as they walked past her into the Keep.
“Oh, Chaanii.” She breathed. The night elf got to her feet and slid back into the shadows. So many thoughts and memories clamored in her head. One pushed its way to the front. Chaanii was here in Stormwind, with SI:7 still a bit annoyed over her existence as a Death Knight. Loreli had to warn her and so she waited in the chilly night air, unbothered, thoughts still crashing around in her mind. Eventually, and luckily, a lone figure emerged from the Keep. Loreli stepped out to intercept her.
Chaanii stopped, looking at Loreli blocking her path in confusion, “Yes?” She asked, shying back a bit.
“You don’t recognize me, do you?” Loreli asked, her heart breaking all over again.
Chaanii tilted her head, “Should I? I was expecting rotten fruit or something.”
Loreli fought back tears, “Not from me. Never from me. “ She whispered.
Chaanii moved to step around the other woman, “Well then, if you’ll excuse me. I have things to do.”
“Wait…wait…” Loreli put her hands out. She glanced around, but the only others in the area appeared to be the guards. She knew better. “We should get off the street. Come with me? Please? You won’t regret it. I promise.” She turned, hoping Chaanii followed. Glancing over her shoulder confirmed the Death Knight was indeed behind her. They made their way from the canals, wending through Old Town. The Pig and Whistle was empty.
Odd. Loreli thought. She’d been hoping to hide in the crowd. Loreli stationed herself just inside the door. She could see anyone coming in before they saw her.
“Beware of SI:7.” She said.
“Ess eye seven…?” Chaanii said, not quite following.
“This is going to be harder than I thought.” Loreli sighed, “SI:7; the eyes and ears of the city. Seeing what others try to hide, hearing the whispers all others miss.”
“What do they care about me? What do you care about me for that matter?”
The rogue hesitated. If Chaanii didn’t remember any of her former life, Loreli didn’t want to throw too much at her. She settled for minimal information. “You worked for them once. They’re not happy about one of their own traipsing around as a Death Knight.”
Chaanii shook her head, “I work for the Ebon Blade.”
“Not always.” Loreli said, “What about before that?”
“I served the Lich King.” Chaanii replied, automatically.
“And before that?” Loreli promted.
Chaanii was quiet a moment, then, “I… I’m not sure…”
Loreli crossed her arms with a sympathetic smile. Chaanii’s confused expression endured through her next question, “And why are you telling me this?” She asked again.
Loreli heaved another sigh, so much for minimal information. “Because you had a good life once. A family, friends… I was part of that family. See…” She paused, wondering how to phrase her next statement, “…you’re my daughter.”
Chaanii blinked, “I may not remember my own personal history, but I know that to be impossible.”
Loreli nodded, “I adopted you when your parents passed.”
“But then how did we meet?”
Loreli rubbed the back of her neck, she was tired and admittedly cold, “I rescued you from Defias in Elwynn… four years ago.”
Chaanii looked thoughtful, “I was sent from Northrend to assist against the increased Defias activity in Westfall.” She was quiet. Loreli remained silent as well and let the young woman think. “It’s a lot to process…” Chaanii said, finally.
“I know. “ Loreli replied, “Think about it. I’m lying low for a while, so I may not be around. If you need me, inquire at the University. Someone may have a way to contact me.”
Chaanii bobbed her head in a nod, appearing to only be paying half attention.
“And be wary of SI:7.” Loreli cautioned. She stepped past Channi into the chill night air again. She glanced up and down the street. Deciding it was clear; she moved into the shadows and disappeared.
Once Loreli was out of sight of Chaanii, grief stuck her anew. “I’m so sorry.” She whispered into the breeze, “If I could take your place, know that I would. In an instant.” Her pain and anger at the injustice made her reckless. Loreli circled back through Old Town and walked up to the door of SI:7. Two of Shaw’s guards met her, two she knew quite well. She has expected nothing less.
“Good evening, boys.” She greeted them. They said nothing, just flanked her as she walked inside.
“No news on the Headmaster.” An unfamiliar voice carried from inside.
Headmaster? Arrens was the only person Loreli could think of that carried that title currently. However, she had been away from Stormwind for a long time. The conversation stopped as she and her escort entered. Mathias Shaw lounged in a chair by the fireplace. A rough looking character stood across the room, arms crossed. The latter turned and leaned against a chair with is back to Shaw and Loreli.
The leader of SI:7 arched his eyebrows but got out of his chair. Shaw took Loreli’s hand with a smile. “Lore. How lucky we are that such beauty graces us with its presence. We’ve missed you.” He drew he further into the room. The guards fell back, returning to their posts. “Can I interest you in a glass of wine? Maybe a hot cider?” He asked, gesturing to a decanter of red on the table.
“I’ll pass.” Loreli said, “We need to talk.”
“Indeed we do. It’s been too long! How was Northrend?”
Loreli felt the reins on her anger loosening, “You know damn well how Northrend was.” She snarled.
Shaw nodded and turned to his companion, “Leave us.” He said. The man left his spot against the chair and headed for the door. Shaw lowered himself back into his chair. “Speaking of old friends back in town…” He began.
“Leave Chaanii out of this.” Lore said darkly.
Shaw’s expression turned serious, “I hardly think you’re in a position to give orders, Lore. You’ve been away too long. No one knows you anymore and no one cares what happens to you. The same goes for Chaanii.”
“I wouldn’t underestimate the Ebon Blade, or myself for that matter. I can still be as much of a pain in your ass as I ever was.”
“You’re SI:7. I own you.”
“No, I ceased representing you when I got the order to kill my daughter.”
Shaw smiled, a cold grin, “You don’t leave that easily.”
Loreli began to retort but Shaw waved his hand. “This discussion is over. I’ll give you some time to think. Now leave before I change my mind.” He turned his back on her. For a moment she considered planting a dagger in it, but that was guaranteed suicide. The two guards had returned.
“I can find my own way out.” She growled at them.
“Loreli?” Shaw’s voice carried from by the fireplace, “In regards to your recent, employment opportunity. I’d reconsider. I doubt the hazard pay is high enough.”
Loreli felt cold and not from the temperature outside. That was that then. She had better watch her step. She was now fairly certain it was Arrens they had been discussing; and her popularity was about to drop a whole lot further.