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Part 1

It was late, nearly dawn, but Archdruid Fandral Staghelm was wide awake. He stood at the window, looking down at the city. He had a splendid view of Darnassus from atop the highest tower in the Cenarion Enclave, but the city's beauty was lost on him tonight. He turned from the window to glance at the door to his quarters. Surely if she had come in that way, he would have heard her...would he not?

Sighing impatiently, he sat down at a small table to shuffle through the latest reports from the Eastern Kingdoms.

Suddenly, there was a knife at his throat. He dropped his quill with a start but was clearly more annoyed than frightened. "You're late."

"Sorry." She didn't sound the least bit sincere.

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"I didn't hear you come in."

"That was the idea." She replaced the knife on her belt, then slid around him with sinuous grace to perch herself on the table next to his papers. "So, you have need of my services again?" The night elf in front of him was clad from head to toe in soft black leather, which combined with her waist-length, dark blue hair made her seem to blend into the shadows of the dimly-lit room.

"I have a special task for you, yes."

She leaned forward seductively and smirked. "A...special task, hmm?"

Staghelm frowned sternly, making it clear that he was in no mood for her teasing.

She shrugged slightly and sat back, inspecting another of her daggers. "Who's my target?"

"Not so much whom...as where. I need you to gather information."

"Easy enough." She flipped her blade in the air and caught it expertly.

"You won't say that when I tell you the details."

She looked mildly offended. "Have I ever failed you?"

"No," he said curtly. "Which is why I'm entrusting this mission to you."

"Fair enough."

"You will travel to Northrend."

"I'll pack my warmest clothes."

"There you will find the heart of the Scourge's operations."

"I've fought undead before."

He continued as if her flippant comments had never been spoken. "Observe them. Study them. Learn their secrets."

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She raised an eyebrow in interest. "Why?"

"The Scourge have succeeded in breaking the bonds of mortality. Vile though they are, they hold the secret to reversing death. I must know how they accomplish this."

Her confidence faltered slightly but she recovered within two heartbeats. "Druidic magic isn't good enough?"

"It can heal, yes, but death is still final. To recover someone who has died, we must go further."

"Recover someone..." Her eyes widened, understanding at last. "Ah, I see...you're still determined to get your son back, aren't you?" she asked shrewdly.

He stiffened defensively. "That is none of your concern."

"If you're asking me to risk my life--not to mention my soul--I think it is my business. Besides, do you really want your dearly departed to come back as a rotting ghoul?"

"Of course not!" He stood up, glaring down at her. "But what the Scourge started, I believe I can finish! Bring me the secrets of their magic--"

"Necromancy. Call it what it is."

"Very well, their necromancy. If I can unlock its secrets, I will supplement it with druidic magic and accomplish a true revival, body and soul!"

She regarded him in silence for a moment, clearly thinking through her options. "What's in it for me?" she asked at length.

"Wealth beyond imagining. You'll never have to lurk in a dark alley again."

"Enough to hang up my blades and live a life of luxury someplace warm and tranquil?"

"If you choose."

"Tempting... Very tempting."

"You may have a few days to consider, if you require more time. There is a ship leaving from Auberdine at the end of the week."

She slid off the table and sauntered to the window. "I flunked out of druid training, you know. I'm not very good with magic. What I am good at..." She turned, flinging one of her daggers so that it sliced through the air barely an inch above the archdruid's head. He managed not to flinch, and the blade thunked harmlessly into the wood near the door. "...is dealing with weapons."

"Be that as it may, you're still an ideal choice. I remember why you failed as a druid, Kalizai."

She tilted her head, daring him to continue.

"You weren't able to master the ability to call on the spirits of nature. You drew on the arcane instead."

"My parents were Highborne. It's in my blood." She strode over to recover her dagger, carefully running a finger along the keen blade to remove any sawdust.

"Yes, and that's what I need. You haven't been ingrained into the mindset of typical Queldorei magics. You'll be able to open your mind to new ideas."

"I can," she said with a sly smile. "Can you?"

He regarded her warily.

She leaned closer, her eyes half-closed. "I can teach you lots of new things, Fandral..."

He drew back, a hint of color in his cheeks betraying his discomfort. "Complete your mission and you will be rewarded generously."

She put a hand on his shoulder, playfully tweaking the leafy decorations there. "Can I have part of that reward up front?"

"Control yourself, woman," he growled.

Her hand moved to his cheek, stroking back the dark green hair that framed his face. "Are you sure?" she said in a slightly mocking tone.

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"Will you never let me forget that one moment of weakness?" he snapped.

"Weakness, was it? That's not how I'd describe it..." She grinned and ran a hand across his chest.

He seized her by the shoulders and firmly pushed her back. "It was a mistake I do not care to repeat. This is business, Kalizai. Nothing more."

She pouted briefly but did not seem particularly upset. "Suit yourself. You know what you're missing..."

He frowned and looked away. "Let me know your decision and I will arrange passage on a ship to Northrend."

She shrugged. "Go snoop around the Scourge, learn how they do their necromancy, come back and get rich. Got it. Go ahead and book me a berth. I just got back from Theramore; it won't take me long to get my sea legs back."


"If there's nothing more...?" She raised an eyebrow.

He crossed his arms on his chest. "There isn't."

"I'll be on my way."

"Do not let anyone see you leave."

She gave him a fierce scowl. "Don't insult me. If I want people to see me, they do. If I don't...they don't. It's what I do."

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To prove her point, she melted back into the shadows, and Staghelm strained his eyes but failed to see any trace of her. Her voice whispered from somewhere behind him, "If you change your mind, you know how to contact me." There was the disembodied sound of her blowing a kiss before all traces of her simply vanished.

If she had some secret passageway into the tower, or even some magic method of moving around, Staghelm had never been able to discover it. The latter was quite possible; despite her claims to the contrary, she had a fair amount of skill with magic...just not the kind of magic accepted in Night Elven society.

Kalizai was unpredictable and infuriating, but he trusted her to do what he asked--if the price was right. He had many enemies (fewer since she came into the picture) and she was a valuable ally.

Staghelm shook his head to clear his thoughts and went to get some sleep.


Part 2 ---->