Chapter 17: Nemeses
**Rhoelyn:** “Half of your team was wiped out by three elves. What were you doing? Screaming your presence? Tripping over your feet?” The orc growls.
**Araatris:** The Tauren before him stares him down with calm detachment, her mousey brown eyes at the level of his bald pate. “I warned you, Xiphos.”
**Rhoelyn:** He crosses his arms over his chest. “And what would you have me do, recall multiple teams to handle these strays? I’d rather bomb the area.”
**Araatris:** She shakes her head, running a three-fingered hand over the barrel of the rifle on to her back. “Command forbade it. And that was not our bargain.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Then what do you suggest, Neelie? They’ve tied our hands, and I doubt they’re sending any support.” He leans back against the nearest tree.
**Araatris:** The young woman says, “My brother taught me to match your hunt to your prey. To fight Elites, you must be Elite. Your most skilled team.”
**Rhoelyn:** He regards her for a moment, then gestures her to follow. “Then you will choose the team. You have the most knowledge of our enemies.”
**Araatris:** Her fur hides the way she blushes at that as she strides after him. “I am no leader of soldiers. But I know who is, and he is as motivated as I.”
**Rhoelyn:** The orc nods. “Then you will choose your leader as well.” He opens the flap to the command tent and steps inside. Neelie ducks after him.
**Araatris:** A young nightfallen waits inside, looking nervous as she watches a pair of Forsaken loiter in the space. The orc scowls. “What’re you doing here?”
**Rhoelyn:** “S-sir, they insisted on speaking with you. They said they have information you need.” She grips her blade tighter and sketches a rough bow.
**Araatris:** The grizzled old soldier glares until they turn, then his eyes widen as the female pulls her hood down. “What’n the name of Golban’s balls?!”
**Rhoelyn:** The forsaken woman’s laugh grates on the ears. “It is good to be welcome. I do believe that we have a common… goal: the priestess and her guard.”
**Araatris:** Neelie watches with some surprise as her stunned commander approaches them, reaching a meaty finger out to the patch of healthy skin on her cheek.
**Rhoelyn:** “That… this shouldn’t be possible. You can feel this?” She nods as his finger brushes her cheek. “It is a gift courtesy of the priestess Rhoelyn.”
**Araatris:** The Executor beside her adds, “I’m sure you can understand our interest, now.” Gulkar nods, lowering his hand. “I can. And the guard?”
**Rhoelyn:** “The huntress can produce a mystical wolf. I’d be interested in her, but if something should happen… The rest mean nothing.” She smiles at him.
**Araatris:** Neelie scowls and steps forward. “She killed my brother, the huntress. I already have laid claim to her life, and Ki’ilikai is with me on this.”
**Rhoelyn:** The forsaken woman nods. “I will not stand in your way, but will you have a use for her body when you have completed your vengeance?”
**Araatris:** The Tauren’s normally kind brown eyes go narrow and cold. “None. Her corpse can be yours when I have emptied it. We have no conflict.”
**Rhoelyn:** The undead woman nods. “I am Apothecary Elizabeth Kimmel and,” she gestures to the man with her, “this is Executor Lektor Carling. And you are?”
**Araatris:** Neelie glances at the orc for permission before she bows and says, “I am Neelie Swiftshot. This is the chief of the Veiled Eyes, Gulkar Spineblade.”
**Rhoelyn:** Lektor rasps, “Pleasure I’m sure. That little group of theirs wiped out our entire camp and my best assistant. I’m eager to get to work.”
**Araatris:** Gulkar snorts and looks over at the nightfallen. “Dirk. Fetch our guests something refreshing.” He gestures them to the camp chairs. “Mead?”
**Rhoelyn:** “That is fine.” Kimmel takes small, measured steps to the chair and settles in. The Executor follows suit. Neelie retrieves two other chairs.
**Araatris:** The commander settles in beside Kimmel, his keen black eyes on her face. “You should know there’s already a chance Neelie offed that priestess.”
**Rhoelyn:** The Apothecary chuckles dryly. “I doubt it. The priestess has the gift of foresight. She was likely out of danger without Neelie knowing.”
**Araatris:** He blinks, drawing back with surprise. “A seer? And somehow powerful enough to invigorate undead flesh? How did you ever get hands on her?”
**Rhoelyn:** “We almost didn’t. However, we had her guardian so she walked to us quite willingly.” She pulls out a vial, “And we can trigger her visions.”
**Araatris:** The orc gives a tusk-full grin, a hungry look in his eyes. “So you know not only how to get her, but how to persuade her to cooperate. Impressive.”
**Rhoelyn:** The Executor gives Neelie a sharp look. “That’s assuming that Neelie allows the huntress to live long enough to coax the priestess into our hands.”
**Araatris:** Beside Gulkar, the Tauren considers that for a moment. “Acceptable. It can only increase her anguish to die knowing she was bait for her charge.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Good. Then we need to focus on a way to separate them from the rest. I believe that we can handle those two alone.” Carling advises confidently.
**Araatris:** Neelie nods. “I am confident that the team I have in mind can handle the pair of them and more. It may be impossible to overcome her foresight.”
**Rhoelyn:** Kimmel smiles. “No, but we can trick it, I believe. She cannot see everything nor can she control these fits. So, who do you have in mind?”
**Araatris:** “You may not be aware,” the young woman says by way of answer, “but the priestess and her guardian travel with a pair of blood elves…”
**Rhoelyn:** The Executor nods. “We are familiar with one of them. We had the traitor in our care, but he wasn’t very talkative even with encouragement.”
**Araatris:** Neelie says, “Yes. The brothers. The team I wish to bring is familiar with the mage, especially. They have all worked together closely in the past.”
**Rhoelyn:** “You’re suggesting that they may be our linchpins for this? Yes… yes, that could certainly work.” Carling taps his fingers against his leg.
**Araatris:** Gulkar leans forward and clenches his hands together in meaty fists, his gaze on Neelie. “And just how many of my top operatives are you taking?”
**Rhoelyn:** The tauren woman regards him evenly. “Including myself, there should be five. I trust that will not be too great of an imposition, Gulkar.”
**Araatris:** Her commander’s bushy white brows shoot up. “Only five? I expected you to want twice that number.” Kimmel smiles. “Quality over quantity.”
**Rhoelyn:** Neelie nods. “We need to choose those with the skills and knowledge to counter. Quaed will be a good resource. He knows the sin’dorei mage well.”
**Araatris:** The apothecary accepts the mead the nightfallen brings, showing little interest in it. Her half-rhuemy and half green-eyed gaze is on the Tauren.
**Rhoelyn:** “And who else are you thinking for this?” Kimmel inquires. Carling takes the drink offered, but unlike the other, he sips at it mostly out of habit.
**Araatris:** “Ki’ilikai is a shaman of no small skill; he can lead. He and a warrior, Dakna, have both faced the huntress and her mate before and endured.”
**Rhoelyn:** The forsaken nod, pleased with the selections so far. Gulkar ponders for a moment. “If you don’t have anyone else in mind, there’s Bendric.”
**Araatris:** The young woman considers that for a moment, scratching at the base of her horn. “I do not think he will thank me, but he is a good choice.”
**Rhoelyn:** Gulkar snorts. “He doesn’t thank anyone unless he’s making money off of them. Greedy green-skin.” He picks up a mug from the table by him.
**Araatris:** Carling raises a brow, eyeing the orc’s coloring. “An interesting choice of words, chief.” Gulkar guzzles his drink before he corrects, “Xiphos.”
**Rhoelyn:** “And I might be green, but at least I think of more than gold.” He looks at Neelie. “Consider it done. Any other other resources you need?”
**Araatris:** “I will make a list of traps and goods for the quartermaster.” Neelie looks at Kimmel. “Perhaps you could assist with… substances, apothecary?”
**Rhoelyn:** Kimmel bows her head graciously. “Of course. We are fighting for a common cause.” She hands her drink to the Executor and stands. “Shall we?”
**Araatris:** The Tauren gives her a little smile before she stands. “I will see you to the camp stores. You may need to assemble a lab space for yourself.”
**Rhoelyn:** Apothecary Kimmel offers her a little, grotesque smile. “That would be preferred.” She follows Neelie outside. “May I see your weapon ammo?”
**Araatris:** The huntress glances over at her with a surprised look that turns pleased. “You have some enhancements in mind?” Kimmel nods. “Precisely.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Perhaps even a special set for our priestess. Alas, I wasn’t able to study the night elven huntress to come up with something to stop her wolf.”
**Araatris:** Neelie’s hooves scuff the worn dirt of the camp’s main thoroughfare as she ponders. “Perhaps Ki’ilikai will have some insight to that end.”
**Rhoelyn:** Kimmel nods as they turn past a larger tent with sounds of steel inside. “It would be best not to ignore anything they have to offer.”
**Araatris:** “Yes.” The huntress plods along in an almost shy silence for a bit before she says, “Does it… pain you, what the priestess did to your skin…?”
**Rhoelyn:** The apothecary mirrors Neelie’s response, “Yes.” Then after a moment, she continues, “I can smell and feel things that I haven’t in years…”
**Araatris:** Neelie rubs her cheek. “Is that a good or bad thing? It seems to me that her attack has brought you closer to the life you once had.”
**Rhoelyn:** “It is a… reminder of what cannot be. Give me fresh skin and it is merely a new veneer. It doesn’t change that I am dead.” Kimmel sighs deeply.
**Araatris:** The Tauren looks over at her as she continues, “But the promise in what the elf has done can’t be ignored. I must know if there is a chance…”
**Rhoelyn:** The forsaken looks sharply at the other woman. “It gives us an ability to renew ourselves like our honored Nathanos Blightcaller.”
**Araatris:** While she leads the way to a tent crowded by crates, Neelie blows out a breath. “How is it possible that the Silverwing priestess is that powerful?
**Araatris:** My brother never saw such potential in her when she and her sister were… involved with him. He told me that she was weak and soft, helpless.”
**Rhoelyn:** “That was many years ago and before the war. Many things have changed such as those ‘night warriors’ of the elves.” The undead suggests.
**Araatris:** “Ah.” The young woman nods as she sweeps aside the tent flap, holding it for her new companion. “I suppose that might explain much.”
**Rhoelyn:** The undead ducks into the dim tent. “She was actually quite resistant to our methods at first, but we persevered. I would not underestimate her.”
**Araatris:** Nodding, Neelie says, “Noted. I will be certain not to.” As the leather flaps closed behind them, the apothecary eyes the quartermaster’s wares.
**Rhoelyn:** Hours later in the command tent, Quaed rasps in exasperation, “Are we really waiting on Bendric before finding out what the mission is?”
**Araatris:** The troll sitting across from him calmly wraps some sort of rough fiber around a carved totem, crouching on the ground. “Dat’s so, mon. B’calm.”
**Rhoelyn:** “I’m calm. I’m just tired of always waiting on him.” He leans against a large tent pole. “Must be something big to call in this many of us.”
**Araatris:** Gulkar shoves through the flap of the command tent, the goblin in question caught by the back of the collar and dangling from his meaty fist.
**Rhoelyn:** “Lemme go! I said I’d help already!” Bendric yells and flails ineffectually against his leader’s grip. “‘Course ya will. Just ensurin’ it.”
**Araatris:** Neelie glances up as the two Forsaken trail them. The Executor secures the tent flap carefully, his expression calculating as he looks around.
**Rhoelyn:** The commander drops the goblin onto an empty chair. “That should be everyone. Neelie, why don’t you explain why everyone’s been called here?”
**Araatris:** The huntress nods and shoves to her hooves, brushing her hand through her yawning tawny lion’s mane. Her gaze skims those gathered. “Yes, Xiphos.”
**Rhoelyn:** “We are on the hunt for a dangerous team in Darkshore led by the night elven Silverwing family. They’ve already killed many of our operatives.”
**Araatris:** The female orc standing near Ki’ilikai grins, her tusks twisting her lips. She slams her fist into her palm. “Good. I want another shot at them.”
**Rhoelyn:** Nodding, the tauren continues, “Play it smart. This is not just a kill mission. There are secondary objectives for our forsaken comrades.”
**Araatris:** Quaed eyes the hooded pair with interest and rasps out, “What secondary objectives, exactly?” When Kimmel turns her head, he straightens, shocked.
**Rhoelyn:** The rogue grates out, “Your skin?!” “Yes.” Kimmel draws down her hood so the others can see the pink, fresh skin. “A gift of the priestess.”
**Araatris:** He frowns. “What are you talking about? Rhoelyn can’t do that.” The Executor chimes in, “I assure you, she did. You must have felt the waves…”
**Rhoelyn:** “I felt something, but I can’t imagine the priestess having the power that you’re describing.” He stays unnaturally still, processing the idea.
**Araatris:** Carling’s eyes narrow on the rogue. “You’re so familiar with the healer, then? Who are you?” Quaed folds his arms across his chest. “Quaed.”
**Rhoelyn:** “And what makes you qualified to speak to their power?” The rogue shrugs, answering, “She and the huntress were our prisoners in Pandaria.”
**Araatris:** “Years ago?” the Executor points out with a raised brow. The undead before him scowls, “Yeah, well, y-” Ki’ilikai interjects. “Dat’s enuff, Q.”
**Rhoelyn:** Quaed glares at him, but falls silent. Kai rests his arm on his knee. “It does seem like dis power is a recent development. Dat could be good news.”
**Araatris:** “How?” Neelie asks, her furred and mismatched brows furrowing. The shaman gives her a toothy grin. “De best kinda power de enemy can have (c)
**Araatris:** (c) is de one dat’s new and uncontrolled.” His bright eyes travel to the visiting Forsaken. “Do ya t’ink de priestess be usin’ dis massive power?”
**Rhoelyn:** Gulkar snorts. “So, you’re suggesting that the power is using her. Since she has no control, then it means she can’t use it against us.”
**Araatris:** Kai nods. Kimmel smiles slightly. “It’s my preference that we use that power.” She looks around at them. “That’s why she must be captured alive.”
**Rhoelyn:** The orc, Dakna, nods. “But how? She’s surrounded by her family, ain’t she? They ain’t going to just let us take her.” She tugs at her weapon harness.
**Araatris:** “No,” says Neelie. “Certainly not. That is why one of our first objectives is to separate her from her protectors.” Quaed quirks a brow. “How many?”
**Rhoelyn:** Neelie frowns slightly. “Six. The huntress, her druid brother, two traitors, an unknown druid, a human, and one of those night warrior sentinels.”
**Araatris:** The rogue’s reaction is no reaction at all, but Bendric hops up on his chair with a whoop. “Ah’m callin’ dibs on the pally traitor!” Dakna chuckles.
**Rhoelyn:** Kai regards Bendric then Neelie. “We need ta be careful focusin’ on our vendettas. Loa be willin’, it’ll happen, but the plan need ta come first.”
**Araatris:** “Ehhh, suresure.” The goblin waves a hand, earning a stern look from Gulkar. Kimmel takes the opportunity to refocus the conversation.
**Rhoelyn:** “Regardless, we must determine the plan. We have the players, but not the play.” The apothecary gestures to each of them in turn. “Shall we?”
**Araatris:** His team looks to Kai for a nod before they gather in, eager save for one undead rogue who simply… follows. The apothecary smiles.
**Rhoelyn:** That evening, Quaed grumbles to himself in the darkness outside of the firelight. A soft voice asks, “Are you really going to do it, papa?”
**Araatris:** The rogue sighs, a ragged exhale that’s only habit since he no longer breathes unless he needs to speak. “Don’t got much choice, now, do I?”
**Rhoelyn:** “But they’re your friends, papa! Why would you help Rhoelyn just to give up on her now? They’re going to hurt her!” The girl whispers urgently.
**Araatris:** Her father grips the locket around his neck, growling, “Things like me don’t get friends, Tali girl. And we don’t give a whit about night elves.”
**Rhoelyn:** His daughter changes her tact, “But you do care about blood elves. You worked with mister Leo and even made sure he was cured that time he was sick.”
**Araatris:** Quaed paces, keeping his voice quiet. “Don’t matter if I do,” he grouches, “There ain’t no place for the undead outside of the Horde.”
**Rhoelyn:** “You have to do something, papa. They don’t deserve to die. Please?” Her tumultuous voice echoes in his head plaintively. “Isn’t there anything?”
**Araatris:** Drawing breath for another deep sigh, the man mutters to his daughter’s ghost, “Look, Tali. I know you like Leo, but savin’ him would be stupid.”
**Rhoelyn:** She huffs even though she’s nothing more than a spirit within him. “I like miss Rhoelyn, too. She was really nice. Maybe you can… tell them?”
**Araatris:** The rogue pinches the bridge of his decaying nose, going still. After a long silence, he mumbles to himself, “No. Don’t be a rotting idiot.”
**Rhoelyn:** “Well, can I tell them? I’d love to talk to miss Rhoelyn again. Can I, papa?” His daughter pleads softly even though no one else can hear.
**Araatris:** Quaed lifts his head, suddenly, eyes going wide. “What?” He can feel his daughter’s ghost grin. “I can really do it! I got a cun… connekshun.”
**Araatris:** He scowls, but before he can grouch, she pleads, “Jus’ get me a little bit close. I jus’ know I can reach her, even if ya don’t give her my locket.”
**Rhoelyn:** “You’re stretching yourself a bit far doing something like that, girl. What if you can’t get back?” The forsaken attempts to reason with her.
**Araatris:** Tali’s soundless voice is warm and reassuring. “Don’t worry, papa. I wouldn’t never leave ya alone. Not ever.” His gruff expression reveals nothing.
**Rhoelyn:** The rogue looks over at the main camp and mumbles, “Fine. If you get the chance, but there’s no guarantee that we’ll have the opportunity.”
**Araatris:** The little dead girl’s voice is briefly quiet until she says, “You wanna help ‘em, too, papa. Even if ya don’t wanna say. You’ll find the chance.”
**Rhoelyn:** Quaed grumbles something incomprehensible under what little breath he uses. “Papa! You’re not supposed to talk like that!” Tali chides.
**Araatris:** The rogue snorts as he turns to meander back to camp. “What’re ya gonna do, tell your mama on me, Talidoll?” He smirks to no one when she huffs.