After her last encounter with Jaylen, Loreli realized she was in a bit over her head and broke the entire story to Arrens and Aely. The following takes place later that night after Loreli has returned to the Pig and Whistle and is under guard by Takani… A collaborative effort from me and the player behind Zhaane, my RL husband.
It had been a couple of years since Zha’ane had last seen Loreli. It had been a rough road for her since her divorce from Laeth. Zha’ane had known it wasn’t a good match. He tried to tell her at first, but per her wishes, he let it happen and left her alone. He had the good taste not to show up when the divorce happened. He wasn’t the type to say “I told you so.”
Zha’ane still watched over her. There was also Channi. Zha’ane hadn’t been suprised to hear that Loreli had saved the human girl from the Defias. What had surprised him was when Loreli had adopted the child. Channi wasn’t exactly an unusual youngster, just a little precocious with a bad case of Hero Worship. She wanted to be just like Loreli and even insisted on training in the ways of the rogue. With her foster-mother’s permission, Zha’ane helped train Channi. He liked the girl, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit that it also helped him keep in contact with Loreli, albiet indirectly.
Two years after it began, Loreli’s marraige ended and the elven rogue did what she did best: She ran from everyone who cared about her. Zha’ane had always known Loreli was bad with sharing burdens. She’d been taught to believe that any show of excess emotion was weakness. He had hoped that some good would come of her marraige by curing her of it; but Loreli had always been stubborn, even when she didn’t realize it. However, Loreli was unable to leave without Channi . The two accepted orders to head to Northrend with one of SI:7′s scouting parties. Zha’ane had wanted to see Loreli before she went, but the words from their last conversation before her wedding still rung in his ears.
Zha’ane received the occasional letter from Channi, when she could write. It was in one of these letters that he learned of the new man who had found his way into Loreli’s life. Jaylen, Channi said his name was. She thought he was okay, but the tone of her letter was not a ringing endorsement to Zha’ane. What bothered Zha’ane more was that he could find no information on Jaylen. Since Loreli was working with SI:7, it only figured. Zha’ane was torn, but in the end, he had to see for himself. So he found his way up to Borean Tundra and started searching. Tracking an SI:7 camp was difficult, but not impossible. Posing as a deckhand for a week he finally caught up to them. Immediately he regretted coming after her. Seeing them together nearly tore him apart. The way Jaylen treated her seemed empty, like he was merely going through the motions. Yet, he demanded her undivided attention. Worse, she gave it willingly. Their relationship spoke too much of Loreli’s foster-father, Lyas. His demanding of unquestioning loyalty from Loreli was exactly what Zha’ane had fought tooth and nail to free her from. Yet, somehow she seemed to keep finding her way back to it.
What Zha’ane didn’t see was Channi. Where was she? A few misleading questions, a bribe or two to check out the recruitment log revealed Channi had been assigned to work with the 7th Legion in the Dragonblight near Zul’Drak. He was gladdened to learn that her training had paid off. Channi was with the best.
Regardless of what choices Loreli made, Channi was still Zha’ane’s student, and he could at least check on her. By the time he made it to Dragonblight, it was too late. Channi was listed as MIA and presumed dead. Her daggers were found on the lowest tier of Zul’Drak and held with her personal belongings at the 7th Legion base camp. Three days of scouting the area turned up a locket that was not found in the initial search. The Initals on the back were those of Channi’s mother, ‘K.A.W.’, Katrina Ann Woods. Sure enough, inside was a picture of Katrina and Loreli. It was scorched, but the source was apparently magical as opposed to natural fire. What caused more concern was the very apparent blood on the locket. Channi’s body was never found.
Zha’ane would have to bring this to Loreli, and he wasn’t looking forward to that conversation. Back to Borean Tundra to find Loreli and give her the news, no hiding this time. He saw Jaylen but wisely did not approach him. Instead, Zha’ane kept an eye on him, as Loreli wouldn’t be far. Yet, for some reason, Jaylen seemed irritated and it became apparent that Loreli had left. That, at least, was good news. However, where did she go?
Zha’ane caught the next boat back to Kalimdor. He thought Loreli wouldn’t want to go back to Stormwind after all that had happened there. This wasn’t the first time he’d misjudged her, and probably wouldn’t be the last. It was two weeks before he gave up on finding her in the land of orcs and elves and headed across the seas to the Eastern Kingdoms. In keeping with his usual practice, he arrived at night. This proved to be more fortuitous than Zha’ane anticipated. Jaylen had beaten him back to Stormwind and returned home to SI:7. It wasn’t luck that placed Zha’ane inside the weapons shop as Jaylen and two other SI:7 operatives carried on a hushed discussion outside. Zha’ane feigned interest in the bow the shop keeper was trying to sell him, as he tried to focus on hearing the whispered exchange.
“…running out of options… Shaw… call for termination… she’ll be back and I’ll…” was all Zha’ane was able to catch. It was enough. Coincidences were not something that Zha’ane believed in. In this line of work, those were few and far between. No, this had to be something concerning Loreli. Hopefully he could find her before it was too late.
The next day, it didn’t take long to find out she’d been arrested and spent a night in the stockades. Further inquiry revealed she’d been saved from expulsion from the city by accepting work at Stormwind University. Contacts in the stockades always paid off! Now he just had to catch her at work or figure out where she would spend time off duty. A few too many ales in some of the taverns around the city finally yielded useful information. The Pig and Whistle had not been a tavern many of them had frequented in the old days, apparently times had changed.
Loreli wasn’t looking very good and was being kept company by a druid in cat form with light colored fur. Her head was bent over a mug of tea, the scent of which told Zha’ane that his effort to hurry had been in vain. As he approached the table, the druid next to her shifted into a slightly defensive stance and eyed Zha’ane closely. Zha’ane was wise enough to keep his hands in plain sight and away from his daggers. Loreli noticed the movement and looked up in astonishment. She had been thinking things couldn’t get worse. Yet, here was someone else from her past at what may well be the lowest point she’d hit in a long time; and she was facing it sober no less. “Zha’ane? What are you doing here?” She could tell from the look in his eyes something was up.
Loreli got up from the table to greet him with a hug. Zha’ane could tell immediately from the way she moved, she was recovering from an injury or injuries. There was the sound of movement as the druid found a better position to pounce from, if needed. Loreli quickly noticed and calmed the situation,”Tak, it’s okay. This is Zha’ane. He’s an old dear Friend. Zha’ane, this is Takani. A new dear friend.” She smiled weakly at her own wit. With all the history between Loreli and Zha’ane, there was no hint of trouble, no key word used to indicate anything other than what she said to be true. So, Zha’ane visibly relaxed as he smiled and nodded at the druid.
“A Pleasure to meet you. She hasn’t been too much trouble, has she?” Zha’ane asked. Loreli replied by elbowing him in the ribs.
“Is that anyway to treat me after so long…?” She asked, raising an eyebrow.
Takani’s ears perked up as he seemed to smile, “I guess he really does know you!”
“Not you too!” She rolled her eyes and faced Zha’ane once more. “So what brings you out here? I thought you were off doing the noble thing for Kalimdor and such.”
“I… well…” even after everything to find her, he wasn’t sure what to say. “I have news. You may want to sit.” Best to start things off in slightly safer territory.
Loreli blinked herself to a more alert state. Of course she wouldn’t sit, that was to be expected. “It’s about Channi…” He produced a small pouch and slowly pulled out the locket. “This was all I could find. I’m sorry…”
Loreli was visibly shaken as he pulled out the necklace, and placed it in the palm of her hand. She looked at it and a tear slid down her face as she opened it to see the picture of Channi’s mother and one of herself inside. She examined the casing and noted the spell damage as well as the blood. Loreli took a deep breath as she put the locket in a pouch of her own. She handled herself pretty well, in Zha’ane’s eyes. Better than he thought she would. She looked up at him and smiled, “Thank you. I’ll make sure she gets this back after I clean it up for her.”
Zha’ane blinked, not sure if he’d heard correctly. Maybe she wasn’t taking this as well as he thought. “What do you mean…?”
“Oh! You don’t know yet! She’s back.” Her mood darkened some as she continued, “She’s back…. as a death knight.” This caught Zha’ane completely off guard. He wasn’t sure if this was worse than what he’d thought had happened or not. Yet, at least Channi was alive. If ‘alive’ could even be used to describe the death knights.
“How…? When…? Does she remember?” He sputtered before gathering himself again.
Loreli shook her head. “She doesn’t remember anything before her change, but she’s been ordered to Elwynn and Westfall for a few weeks. Something to do with the Defias again. She’s… different now; but at times I still see a glimmer of her old self. Maybe this can help us open up her memories.” Loreli honestly seemed hopeful at that prospect. It was good to see, and Zha’ane smiled at her. Maybe his trip here wasn’t a waste after all.
Loreli dropped back into her seat. She ran a hand through her hair. It was a nervous gesture Zha’ane knew all too well, but Loreli didn’t realize she did. “I don’t know where she is.” Loreli shifted and tried to move Zha’ane towards the chairs, “There’s been some issues. Where do I start…” She bit her lip, “Things have happened…”
Zha’ane allowed her to maneuver him to a chair, wondering what could possibly be worse. First Channi was dead, then she was alive, now she’s a death knight and she’s missing?! No kidding there were issues!
Loreli ran a hand through her hair again, glancing towards the silent druid, “Tak… could you excuse us a moment?” Takani flattened his ears against his head, eyeing her. “I’ll be okay. I’m not relating anything new. I promise.” Loreli assured him. The druid glanced between the two and sighed, getting to his feet. His tail lashed back and forth.
“Alright, but I’m going to be just outside.” Takani gave Zha’ane a pointed look, though there was very little malice in it. He turned and padded quietly out the door, tail still going whip, lash, whip, lash.
Loreli sat staring at her hands, unspeaking. Zha’ane waited patiently. This had to be something about her. Loreli appeared to be dealing with a different sort of inner turmoil than just what was going on with Channi. He studied her profile. Did she know how to he felt about her? He’d thought she must after the way he’d argued against the wedding. She finally looked at him and he found himself thinking she really didn’t know. Could she be that dense? Zha’ane didn’t think he’d been trying that hard to hide it.
When she finally spoke, her voice was strained. It could have been pain, or anger or both. “I’m in some trouble with SI:7.”
Zha’ane narrowed his eyes, “Weren’t you working for them?” He asked.
Loreli nodded, “I was. But I resigned my commission after… Well, that’s a story for another time. Anyway, just like Lyas’ organization, you serve until death. Leaving is not an option. They keep trying to pull me back in.” She paused and Zha’ane noticed her rubbing her wrist. He wondered how extensive her injuries were or if she’d even had them looked at yet. Loreli seemed to be doing it unconsciously while she started speaking again, “I got involved with someone in Northrend. He’s been tasked with bringing me back, playing on our past relationship.”
“Jaylen?” Zha’ane asked. Loreli knew she shouldn’t have been surprised that he’d found out; but it was still a shock that he hadn’t brought it up yet. Of course, considering the course of the conversation, he hadn’t had a chance.
Loreli nodded, “Five days ago, I was ill. Jaylen came to see me. He said Shaw would forgive me and leave Channi be…” She trailed off.
So they’d black-mailed her. Zha’ane sighed, “What did they want? It has to be important to use Channi against you. It can’t just be him wanting you back.”
“They were trying to get me to assasinate the Headmaster of the University.” She said.
Zha’ane raised an eyebrow, “Wasn’t he the one who gave you the job?”
Loreli nodded, not in the least bit surprised he’d heard about that. Most people knew her position at the University. “Is there anything else I shouldn’t bother explaining?” She asked, half joking.
Zha’ane shook his head, “That should about cover it.”
Loreli sighed, still rubbing her wrist. Zha’ane resisted the urge to take her hand and look it over himself. She refused to look at him as she spoke, “I tried to find out why SI:7 wanted Arrens dead. Got in a little over my head.”
“Always been a bad habit of yours.” He muttered. Apparently she didn’t hear. A little surprising and very telling to how the whole situation was affecting her. “Well, what’s done is done. First we need to find Channi. You said she was stationed here to assist in quelling Defias activity? Did she finish her mission? Did anyone from her unit come looking for her?”
Loreli shook her head, “No one’s come looking for her and her name isn’t posted on any of the AWOL lists. But three days ago Jaylen tried to bait me with Channi’s unit insignia. We haven’t been able to verify if SI:7 actually has her or not.”
Zha’ane searched her face as he thought, “I’ll see what I can find out. I assume you’re not going through with what they wanted.”
Loreli blinked, surprised that he would even ask, “Of course not! But, well… that’s not what I told them. Jaylen’s a manipulative bastard, but I play his game as well as he does.” Which also served to answer another of his unspoken questions. “Though, they’ll find me out soon enough, I’m sure. I’ve already told Arrens and Aely everything.”
Zha’ane looked at her in askance and Loreli was amused that she’d come across another piece of information Zha’ane wasn’t privy to. “The Headmaster and his girlfriend. You’ll like her and I’m sure if you hang around, you’ll be meeting some of the Riders soon.”
“If I hang around? You act like you expect me to run off after this is all over.” Like you, he added, silently.
Loreli shook her head, “Not at all and this is far from over. I wonder if it will ever be.” She paused, as if considering how to proceed, “Arrens wants me to stay put. I’ve been told I need rest and constant warding.” She chuckled slightly, inclining her head towards the door where Takani almost certainly waited. “I’m in no position to actively look for Channi just yet. Would you…”
“Already planning on it…” and don’t think I’m letting you out of my sight after this either. He gave her a reassuring smile.
Loreli ran a hand through her hair once more and returned the smile. It was a genuine smile. The smile he knew from a long time ago. He’d missed it.
“Thank you.” She said.
Zha’ane almost forgot everything else and had to very actively resist the temptation to lean in and kiss her. If his suspicions about her unjuries were correct, he didn’t think advances of that sort would be received overly well just yet. Perhaps when things had calmed down and they had more time to talk. Zha’ane sat there feeling a bit awkward. After a short moment, he slowly got to his feet. He shifted his gaze toward the door and almost thought he caught sight of whiskers backing around the corner.
“Looks like your guard is getting antsy. Anyway, the sooner I start looking for Channi the sooner I’ll find her. Stay here and be careful. I’d like to find you in one piece when I get back.”
She gave him a grin. This too, he knew very well; as a cause for worry. “Hey, it’s me.” She said.
“That’s what I’m afraid of.” He muttered, heading for the door. “She’s all yours. Good luck keeping her out of trouble.”
Loreli heard Takani snicker.