Absently sipping a drink that would not nourish her dead organs, Effraeti’s mind wandered.
She had been mostly idle in the dreary village of Darkshire for a period of time she could not even quantify. After thousands of years of life as a Draenei, to now be undead with a indeterminable lifespan (if it could be called that) meant the passage of time had little meaning for her. It had been long enough for her to become well enough known among the peacekeepers of the small town. She had lent her blade to the defense of their borders on more than one occasion already, for Darkshire was forever sieged by undead and feral Worgen.
Without purpose or direction, Effraeti found herself once more questioning her continued, damned existence. The only thing that brought her comfort anymore was the satisfaction of ending the second life of Scourge filth with her runed blade. It was her sole respite to the thoughts and urges that tortured her day and night, bringing her the briefest touch of Light that had been so much a part of her before this cursed undeath.
The tavern was quieter than usual this evening as a storm seemed to be brewing, threatening one of the harsh downpours so common in the dark boughs of Duskwood. So it was no surprise the one conversation that did happen to take place in the Scarlet Raven this night came unbidden to the Death Knight’s ears.
“…a good warrior’s arm would be a welcome addition,” a female voice commented.
“Agreed, but a good warrior is hard to come by,” a male replied. “I fear we may have travel to Stormwind and hire one.”
Effraeti glanced nonchalantly at the table the voices drifted to her from. Four humans, a male with three females, sat there holding their discussion over a substantial meal prepared by the Raven’s waitstaff.
If there was one blessing undeath had brought her, it was a fearlessness both in battle and in social interactions. The only pause she made was grab her blade from the table, for it was never more than a hand’s length from her grasp, then Effraeti strode to the table of the four. The Death Knight planted her hooves confidently in a wide stance and leaned on her blade, meeting the curious look of the male as he addressed her.
“Ho there, milady. What brings you to our table on this dark night?”
“I could not help but to overhear that you are in need of a strong arm,” she responded without preamble.
“Indeed, friend. Please, take yourself a seat with us.”
“Let us be clear – I do not come seeking friendship, pink skin,” Effraeti snarled, spitting the racial epithet almost contemptuously. “I come only to offer services that might fill a need for both of us.”
The man chuckled beneath his black goatee, making his dark eyes sparkle and seeming not to notice the venom in her voice. “There was certainly no offense intended, milady, and if some was taken, I extend my apologies. But please do not let that stop you from enjoying the hospitality of our table while we discuss such matters that brought you to seek our humble company.”
Nodding brusquely, Effraeti seated herself. She kept hold of her weapon, caressing the worn grip like a lover whilest they spoke.
“Can I have Lady Trelayne bring you something to eat, milady?” the man asked her pleasantly.
“Sustenance is a mere novelty to me, and you can drop with the flowery titles and simply refer to me as Effraeti.”
“Fair enough, Effraeti.” The disarming smile came again and the man continued. “I am the Lord Eduard Wolfsbane. To my right is my dear wife, Lady Gaeladrial. Beside her are our beautiful daughters, Amaeris and Sifaol.”
Effraeti nodded to all three women, only briefly pausing to notice that all three were maned by the same rich, fiery locks, and once more focusing intently on the much darker-looking Eduard. “To what services may I and my blade be of assistance?”
“Ah, most succinct and to the point. I can respect that.” The man chuckled again. “My comrades and I have been most diligently attempting to help the distressed folk of Darkshire with their Worgen problem.”
“Slaying Worgen is something I have become quite accustomed to in my stay here.” Effraeti permitted herself a sly smile.
Amaeris’s face twitched in a moment’s distress that the Death Knight’s keen gaze did not miss.
“Well, actually, we seek more to help these feral Worgen than slay them,” Eduard clarified.
Effraeti blinked. “Help them? They are monstrous, savage beasts! They are hardly better than the foul undead who plague the woods beside them.”
Effraeti noticed Amaeris fidget in her seat and remove her hands from view to beneath the table, not meeting eyes with any of them.
“They are… sick, yes. But there are also cures to the feral nature that overtakes them. Not all, unfortunately… Some have been infected too long to retain any shred of their former humanity, but we have already helped many to contain their natures and regain their control.”
An unconvinced look lined Effraeti’s harsh features.
“But,” the smile returned to brighten the man’s handsome features, “this is our mission, in any case. I would think someone in your position of anyone would see the detriment such costly assumptions make…”
The Death Knight snorted and responded with a new question. “So, why do you need someone like me? I am no shaman…” Effraeti’s brow crinkled in a disgruntled manner at her own poor choice of words.
“Well, Effraeti, my friends and I are all most capable, but there is many a time when the strong hand and heavy blade of a warrior can be most helpful to us. As you touched on, there are many undead who stalk these woods, as well as dark forest beasts, tainted by the very foulness we seek to fight. It is more than just saving our br- these worgen. It is about keeping safe the innocent.”
“How noble.” Effraeti studied the man intently, but his gaze did not falter under her own.
Her sarcasm seeming to escape him, Eduard replied by renewing his smile and giving a simple, “Yes.”
“Well, I cannot promise to stay my blade when it comes to these beasts -” Amaeris seemed to be sitting on her hands, not a single one of her movements being missed by the newcomer “- but I still offer my services.”
“And they are most welcome.” The pleasant smile never seemed to completely leave this man’s face. It was nearly infuriating. “We of House Wolfsbane refer to ourselves as the Children of Greymane. We warmly welcome you to our fold.”
“I hardly think I look the part to be any relation of yours,” Effraeti snorted with sarcasm.
Eduard chuckled again. It was such a pleasant sound, but both it and the disarming smile put the untrusting Death Knight more on edge than anything. In another time (lifetime?) and place, she might have found it warm and charming. “It is more of a figurative title, really.”
“Hmm, rumor has it Greymane is more beast than man these days,” Effraeti commented with feigned nonchalance and carefully watching for a reaction.
Eduard’s dark eyes gave the briefest glint of something other than humor. This almost feral glimmer was punctuated by a grimace twisting his lips just slightly in the first sign of an emotion other than amusement Effraeti had seen him express so far. The fiery-haired woman next to him put a calm hand on his forearm, and the anger drained from Eduard’s face like blood from a wound.
It all happened in the merest seconds, but Effraeti caught it all as if it had been much more.
“Well, Miss Effraeti, I do believe it is getting late and I should get my lord to bed,” Lady Gaeladrial concluded with a friendly smile. “We look forward to your company on the morrow. Pleasant dreams.”
Well wishes were exchanged and Effraeti was left once more to her thoughts.
Well, if nothing else, this whole ordeal should prove interesting… Effraeti thought with a smirk and a shake of her head.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Awaiting the Muse by Jamie Roman AKA Effraeti is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.