It was several days prior to the attack on Gilneas, that much I can remember
I had been making my way down one of the alleyways in the eastern most section of the city. Wearing the 'proper' attire of a Royal made the task much more difficult than it probably should have been. Heels clinked against the cobblestones as my corset kept me from being able to move in a quiet manner. Times like these made me question why I wanted to keep such a presence amongst the other Gilneans, especially with all of the killings within the city as of late. I had made it my job to complete my tasks as quickly as possible.
A few months prior, I had met a man near one of the Rebel hangouts on accident. Standing at what had to be over six feet tall and extremely handsome despite the fact that his right eye was obscured by a leather eyepatch ; it was obvious that he knew it. A cocky grin graced his features when he realized that a woman, me, had been the one to have quite nearly taken herself out on his elbow just outside the bar. After all that, we seemed to have developed a serious friendship regardless of his womanizing ways. Even after finding out that he was a Rebel under Darius Crowley, I was still able to tolerate his presence. Geoffroy Gerhardt, coachman to the rebels and smuggler of goods through the underground tunnels beneath our city
Tonight was to be another of our runs outside of Gilneas. Geoffroy stood patiently near the first brambles of the outstretched woods that lingered behind the alleys and last houses. His coach was only dimly lit with the purples and blues of incense-laced lanterns, and the Clydesdales tapped their hooves impatiently in anticipation of my arrival. As I cleared the final corner of a small bakery, I came into view of the coach which elicited a whiney from the horses and a soft chuckle from my dear friend.
"Lass, ye look as if ye been runnin' in those heels all day", his large hands worked quickly as he grabbed a large satchel from my shoulder while letting forth a sturdy pat against my back, precisely where the ties of my corset joined. The action nearly knocked the wind out of me and I had to brace myself against the cherry wood of the coach's side.
"With no thanks t'ya! I've 'ad t'gatha packages all by mehself!". Shooting Geoff a rather irritated look, I tidied myself as best I could as he finished relieving me of the burden that had been carried on my back for several hours. The ability to stretch my limbs was a welcome one as the last parcel was secured by rope and I could freely climb into the coachman's seat towards the front. It was only a few minutes later that Geoff joined me and placed the reins of the Clydesdales in his lap. He sat there a moment, watching me in the dim light of the carriage lamps. I couldn't take the silence and eeriness of the atmosphere.
"You gonna be alrigh', there?"
Just thinkin' aboot a dream I 'ad a few nights agoo. Don' worry ya head aboot it.."
His accent always amused me being heavily Dwarven-influenced. The thick pronunciations often didn't seem to go with handsome voice that seemed to flow like honey. However, tonight his voice carried an urgency, a seriousness that Geoff never seemed to have. As much as I wanted to press him for more, I left it alone.
Geoff's tongue clicked and a slight movement of both hands on the reins sent the horses into a steadily quickening pace. At this point, he would not have needed to speak a single word to let me know something was amiss. The horses themselves seemed frantic and skittish, their hooves prancing wildly beneath their large forms. A sudden movement in the bushes made me dart my eyes to the right on my side of the carriage, though when I looked, nothing more than a gentle fog ran beside us. We were nearing the entrance to one of the few underground passageways known by few and not outside of the Wall yet so I found my fears to be completely psychological.
A large door lay buried beneath all matter of decayed foliage. Dead leaves, rotten branches, and moss made it nearly impossible to see if one were to not be looking for it. Luckily for us this had not been our first mission outside of the gate and Geoff easily spotted it without much help from a lantern. It would seem that our mission to deliver packages to outsiders and the families of Gilnean citizens would not be hindered. Even though I found myself working with Rebels to do such things, the thanks and gratitude of happy individuals was worth the risk. It was more than the parsonage
Light's Dawn Cathedral
had been doing for anyone within the City.
The door was lifted without much effort on Geoff's part. He'd always had this otherworldly strength to him since I'd met him. I couldn't help but watch him step expertly through the brush and branches, swatting them aside as if flies, as he procured us an exit through the Wall. A smile offered to him faded as he seemingly dismissed my affection. His one visible emerald eye was fixed on the deep, dark pathway we were about to take beneath the earth. A small draft wafted in the air which reminded me a lot of the waste water thrown out the windows into the streets
combined with something I couldn't quite place.
Maybeh you should get in tha coach
His words caught me off guard. Such a request had never been asked of me in all the months that we'd been making our journey. Of course, having the stereotypical attitude towards most of the Rebel men, I took it as an insult.
"I'll 'ave ya know
tha' I c'n 'andle mehself!"
Geoff's body stiffened which made me quiet myself. It was obvious that he wasn't up for any harsh tones or standoffishness. Instead, I simply reached over and rested a hand on his thigh, smiling gently.
"Geoff, I'll be ok. Le's go"
A small nod was his only response as he clicked his tongue again, urging the horses forward. Both Clydesdales eyed each other, panic obvious on their faces as they refused to move. Geoff's usually calm demeanor seemed to snap as he brandished a small, leather whip that had been hidden behind him. Without any more fuss, the horses moved gradually into the tunnel. Had the place not been so creepy, it might be a beautiful sight. Violet and blue shadows danced on the rocks and soil that made up the walls and roots made monstrous shapes that seemingly stalked us through our passage. I tried to keep my attentions on the darkness in front of us, but many of the forms playing around us startled me into looking their direction. Then Geoff's voice broke the silence.
"Jackie, 've noot been entirely honest with ya tonight
Thur's somethin' I need t'tell ya
His expression was sincere and almost saddened, and his voice carried remorse that I couldn't explain. The effect of it almost made me burst into tears though I'd not entirely known why.
"Ya've knoon I was a Rebel fer sometime
An' it's been an honor t'be friends with a Royal, bu' I think thur's more to it than ye knoo. Thur's been a big t'do aboot a group called the Wolf Cult. Noot manneh knoo aboot it or what they do, Rebels included. All we knoo is that they're startin' t'be tied to tha murders in tha city. Tonight m'takin' some evidence to some o' them Night Elf folks at a meet up point close t'Undercity. If ye don' wanna make tha journey, I don' blame ye
If ye insist on stayin'
I wish ye'd get in tha coach
My body trembled at the thought of venturing towards Undercity
In fact, that would be a tremendously dangerous and long journey, one that surely would have me excommunicated by the church. Not that it would matter much
"M'stayin' righ' 'ere in meh seat. Y'can deal with I'."
I'll never remember what actually went on in my head at that moment, but I do remember an overwhelming sense of adventure and need to be with Geoff.
We had continued on several miles from where the tunnel exited along the Wall. I'd found that sometime between watching a frustrated Geoff lead the horses onward and being terrified by a distant howling of wolves that I'd dozed off. In my half-conscious state I had sworn to myself that the same wolves now ran side by side with our carriage but as I went to look, they vanished. Such visions were dismissed as neither Geoff nor the horses seemed to notice. I started to drift once more, everything vanishing in the haze of my dream state.
When next I awoke, I nearly panicked. Geoff was not at my side and the horses were nowhere to be seen. In fact, my entire body had been covered by Geoff's coat, even my face. Making my way off the carriage carefully, I realized that the fog had gotten thick enough that I could barely see a few feet from the carriage. The brightness of the fog, a surreal white, had made me assume that the dawn was close, either that, or a town lay nearby enough to illuminate the area. Keeping my ground, I made a feeble attempt to see out into the never ending whiteness. Off in the distance which in reality had only been about ten feet, a rather imposing figure seemingly made its way towards the carriage. I didn't need any encouragement in securing myself back atop the coachman's seat to ready a small dagger I always kept hidden in my heeled boots. Narrowing my eyes to be able to see a little better, the shadowy figure appeared from the fog. To my horror, it was something far fiercer than I had ever even dreamed of.
Before me stood a canine creature of which I had never seen before, its height many, many feet beyond my own. How it managed to stand on its hind legs was beyond any thought I was capable of at that moment. I couldn't help but gaze up at how broad the animal's shoulders were and onward towards its face
And that is when I noticed a very familiar eye patch donning its right eye.
A guttural chuckling echoed through the thick air but was followed shortly by a bellowing that could only be created by something in extreme pain. I did a once over of his being and saw no such things
no injuries. Was it possible that I was being tricked into thinking this was my dear friend? The creature moved, clutched at its own head as its back arched almost impossibly.
git away from meh
My brows furrowed as I clutched at the dagger in my hands, not realizing why he had been in so much pain until I felt something wet trickling down my arm. Blood.
Geoffroy's gaze changed from something controlled and only slightly frightening to a feral beast ready to rend flesh in an instant. His body contorted agonizingly as he tried to keep himself from coming any closer. Even his claws dug into the ground beneath him in efforts to stop. By now I had begun wrapping my hand with lace torn from the hem of my dress, the actions feeling as if taking a lifetime. The blood flow had stopped but the remaining blood did little to calm the lupine-human. With nothing but worry on my face and less-than-intelligent thoughts, I jumped from the carriage seat and calmly walked up to Geoff.
With a smoldering green eye, the other still hidden behind the patch, he growled menacingly as he snarled. Still grasping his own head, he threated to dig his very claws into his skull. As my hands rested on his large forearms, I could physically feel his skin crawl as if my touch were cold and painful. With as much force as I could muster, I managed to pull his claws from his face, however, with consequences. His free arms engulfed me, pulling my small body to his larger one. Once again I could feel the rage moving through his body and an overwhelming urge to either hurt me or kill me. With his grip on me I never had a chance of escaping him. My eyes closed and I lingered there for what seemed like eternity awaiting my death.
It never came
but a pain indescribable coursed through my left collarbone. Eyes flashing open I managed to see Geoff's large jaws sinking deeply into my flesh and releasing just as quick. His paws left me and my knees collided with frigid, solid ground.