Episode 10: Unexpected Divergence

       The hustle and bustle of the tavern in Booty Bay was surprising. It had been ages since Sionis Sepher had made his way to Stranglethorn Vale, but the trip had not disappointed him so far. This place was a hive of pirates, adventurers, scoundrels, and any other shady suspects you might find hiding away from both the Horde and the Alliance.

       “We’ve waited too long,” Iliera mumbled, shifting uneasily in her chair next to him. “We should get moving.”

       “Give him some time,” Sionis replied as calmly as he could. “No one shows up on times for these kinds of trades.”

       Iliera didn’t settle with that and Sionis couldn’t help but smile. He knew that she was feeling especially exposed right now. He had convinced her to leave her heavy plate armor behind in exchange for a lighter cloth and leather outfit that would better conceal her identity.

       The truth was, the two of them were outlaws here.

       An unfortunate series of events over three years prior had put them on the bad side of the entire Steamwheedle Cartel, but with the Legion’s invasion everyone had become distracted with other priorities. Enough time had passed now that Sionis assumed the cartel had completely forgotten about them.

       Another few minutes passed without any spectacular changes in the tavern, but just as the mage was considering listening to Iliera and abandoning their place, a small goblin made his way over to their table and took a seat as though he had been part of their party the whole time.

       Iliera looked like she might crawl across the table and destroy the new arrival, but Sionis politely placed his hands on the table’s surface and offered a welcoming grin. “Hello, friend. How can we help you?”

       “You the pair from Stormwind?” the goblin asked.

       “Indeed we are,” Sionis replied.

       “I got what you need.”

       “I assume you will be asking for some kind of payment?”

       The goblin smiled, his grin growing wide. “Oh, well yeah, but you’re going to have to talk to the right people for that.”

       “The right people?” Iliera asked.

       Sionis suddenly realized something devastating.

       The tavern had gone… silent.

       He looked up from the goblin and saw that the bar was completely cleared of patrons. The doors were blocked by several large Tauren and at least one creature that looked like a small Ogre. Iliera started to move, but Sionis placed his hand on hers and she instantly fell still.

       “You see,” the goblin explained. “I had the wand like I said, but after I reached out to you about it I was contacted by someone else that had figured out you wanted it…”

       “Baron Revilgaz?” Sionis asked, already aware of the answer.

       “The one and the same,” the goblin said. “He’s eager to have a chat.”

       Sionis frowned. He thought about the options they had in this situation. The bar had required they check their weapons at the door, so those were secured somewhere far away by now, but Iliera had the power of the Light and he had his fire magic again, so they might be able to fight their way out of the situation if they went for it.

       Then again, the chances of punching through unharmed were nearly impossible.

       “What do we do?” Iliera asked.

       “We humbly accept the Baron’s request,” Sionis answered, bowing gently to the goblin. “Lead the way, my friend.”

       The goblin nodded his head in return. “Right this way, heroes.”


       The Salty Sailor Tavern was known for being a local hotspot for all kinds of dealings here in Booty Bay. The reason for that, of course, was that Baron Revilgaz had made it the safest and most secure place to arrange such things. In hindsight, Sionis realized that waltzing into the Baron’s own establishment might not have been the greatest idea, but he had genuinely assumed that three years was enough time to forget a minor crime against the cartel.

       He had clearly miscalculated on that assumption.

       The second floor of the bar looked friendly enough without any occupants, and it also made it a lot easier for the bartender to reveal a hidden passageway that led down a short hall and into a large office area.

       A massive ornate wooden desk was placed at one end of the room, behind it a glass doorway led to a beautiful half-circle balcony viewing the city and blackwater cove. There was a large red leather chair positioned to the side, and sitting in it, only taking up half of the high-back height, was another goblin.

       Not just any goblin. The goblin.

       “Baron Revilgaz,” Sionis said. “It’s an honor to finally—”

       “You should keep that mouth shut, if you know what’s good for you,” the goblin in the office chair replied, looking up at the pair that had been brought before him. His green skin was dark and tanned, with weathered patches that looked like they might be permanently callused over. His black hair was tied back in a ponytail, and he held a long dagger in his right hand, carefully using the tip to dig dirt out from his fingernail as he scanned them over.

       Sionis and Iliera stood there, letting him have his moment.

       “Do you two know how much damage you caused me?” the Baron asked, slowly sliding forward from his seat and nearly disappearing from view when he dropped to the floor, save but the tall ears that stuck up from behind his desk. “I mean, do you have any actual idea?”

       Iliera’s eyes squinted. Sionis could feel the energy building within her and he knew that the Baron was testing the Draenei’s patience. Ever since becoming forged with the Light, Iliera had gained more power than Sionis even fully understood. He knew she was restrained with her might, but she didn’t see the shades of gray that many citizens of Azeroth operated within. To her there was only the Light and the Dark. If you weren’t in the Light… well, the point was that the Baron was not in the Light.

       Still, she remained silent, clearly smart enough to know the Baron’s questions weren’t mean to be answered by either of them.

       “It’s alotta gold,” the Baron answered himself, appearing again as he reached the front of his desk and continued to approach the two. “You infiltrated one of my best warehouses, destroyed my supplies, injured dozens… dozens of my guards, and marched out of there like you were some kind of champions for all that’s good and right in this world.”

       Here, Iliera’s power flickered. The Baron seemed to sense her wavering conscience and locked on immediately.

       “That’s right,” he said, looked up to meet eyes with her. “It might have been one thing for a holier-than-thou paladin to come romping through my operations if they were doing it for the good of their Alliance. No, that’s not who sent you to mess me up, was it? It was those lowdown scummy Bloodsail pirates!”

       “Our friend had debts to the Bloodsail Buccaneers,” Sionis said, admitting their crime. “We were only trying to get him out of danger, not start a war with the cartel.”

       “Yeah yeah,” the Baron said. “I told you, I looked into the situation. I know all about your friend, the rogue with the golden heart… mixed up with the wrong people… it’s endearing what you did. I actually respect the steps you took to get him out of harm’s way. It’s an admirable quality to take big risks for your friends.”

       “I agree,” Sionis replied, “but I sense there’s more here than just a pat on the back.”

       “How astute,” Revilgaz said, lifting the dagger so the blade pointed upward, leaning back on his desk casually, and then pointing the weapon at each one of them.

       “I could slit your throats, right here and now, if I wanted,” he said calmly.

       “I doubt you’d live to tell the tale,” Iliera responded, her voice firm.

       The Baron looked her over and shrugged. “Maybe so.”

       “You’re not going to kill us,” Sionis said, as much as to calm Iliera as move the conversation forward.

       “Why didn’t you run?” Revilgaz asked. “Down there on the main floor? You had the ability, I’ve heard about your antics on Argus and the Broken Isles.”

       “I’m ready to resolve this,” Iliera answered before Sionis could think up one himself. “We’ve kept our heads down and avoided your cartel for long enough. We assumed you might have forgotten about us by now, but clearly you hadn’t. Running would only prolong this eventual meeting, so it was time to get it out of the way.”

       “So you let my goons capture you?”

       “That’s right,” Iliera said with a nod.

       There was a long silence between the three of them. The Baron seemed to be genuinely considering his options. Perhaps he had expected Sionis and Iliera to fight their way out and now that he had them here he wasn’t sure how to proceed… or perhaps this was his plan all along. Either way, Sionis knew there were at least ten guards between them and the main exit. If things got nasty, they could push forward, hit the balcony, and take to the streets. If they could get lost in the city, they might be able to evade capture again.

       “Well, here’s the deal,” the Baron said, pulling Sionis back to the moment. “I’m not a fool. I know all about your little organization, the Remnants of Hope, and I know you’re superstars in the Alliance world thanks to your work on Argus. Killing you is more trouble than it is worth. I acknowledge that. There would be retaliation, more damage control, wasted time recovering assets, and anything else your fans might do to me. So no, I’m not going to kill you.”

       “Wonderful,” Iliera said. “Now that we have that resolved we—”

       “We haven’t resolved anything,” Revilgaz said, cutting her off. “You still cost me a lot of money and I dare say you owe me a debt. So, I want us to work things out… civilly.”

       “How do you propose we do that?” Sionis asked.

       “The way I see it, you’re some pretty powerful folk. I got people in various places of the world that are causing me problems. To be frank, I want them out of the way. I was impressed with the damage you did to my own warehouse back in the day; I can’t imagine what you’re capable of now.”

       “No,” Iliera said firmly. “I refuse to do your dirty work. I already regret helping those villainous pirates.”

       The Baron squinted and nodded his head slowly, as though he understood where she was coming from. Then, he glanced at Sionis and raised a brow. “What about you?”

       Sionis closed his eyes. This felt like a repeat of the very events that had gotten them into this mess in the first place, but he knew what turning down the Baron would mean for them. Just because he couldn’t kill them didn’t mean he couldn’t make their lives miserable.

       “No murder,” Sionis said. “You want me to stop your competitors, I can do that, but you have to let me do it my way.”

       Ileira’s glowing eyes turned to him and he saw the concern within them. He was going to have to deal with that after he was done getting them out of this mess.

       “Likewise,” he added. “I’m not doing anything that gets us in trouble with the Bloodsail. We’ve worked too hard to get on their good side to risk having them hunting us instead of the cartel.”

       The Baron seemed to think this over for a moment, so Sionis glanced to Iliera and gave her his best comforting look. She was hesitant for a moment, but then her face softened as she clearly came to the same conclusion that he had.

       “What if I tell you that’s not an option?” The Baron asked.

       “Then I refuse your offer,” Sionis answered.

       “I can call the whole cartel down on you. You would never be safe outside of an Alliance capital again.”

       Sionis took a deep breath and nodded. “It’s a risk we would be willing to take. The question you’ll have to ask yourself, Baron Revilgaz, is how safe are you from the orbital cannon of the Vindicaar?”

       The Baron frowned.

       “That’s right,” Sionis pressed. “Iliera helped bring down the greatest threat this universe has ever known. She has access to all the weapons that we used on Argus.”

       “She’d never be allowed to use it,” the Baron scoffed. “The precedent it would set would—”

       “That’s true,” Sionis interjected. “She’d never be allowed. That doesn’t mean she couldn’t do it anyway. Just one shot. That’s all she would need to take out half of Booty Bay.”

       The Baron laughed. He cracked a wide smile and wiggled the tip of his dagger at the mage and then gave a long relaxed laugh. “You, Sionis, I like you a lot.”

       Sionis raised his brow. “Well?”

       “Well, I think you’ve got yourself a deal. You help me deal with my competition, on your own terms, and the Steamwheedle Cartel will release you of your crimes against us.”

       “I accept the offer,” Sionis replied.

       Iliera remained silent.

       The Baron looked her over and his smile faded again. “You’re a serious one. I can respect that. You’ve done a lot of fighting in your life. I looked into your background too. It was harder to find since you’re not from… around here. I admit I’m more scared of you than I am the mage.”

       “Thank you,” Iliera said, no sign of humor showing. It almost made Sionis laugh.

       “So what say you?” the Baron pressed. “This is a one time offer and it requires the two of you to accept. I’m not letting just one of you off the hook.”

       “I want the wand.”

       “What?”

       Iliera relaxed a little bit. “You have a wand that belongs to a friend of mine. I want it back.”

       “Oh right, the wand,” Revilgaz said, the smile returning to his green face. “You know what? That’s a fair request, Iliera. I’ll throw in the wand you thought so important to come all this way in the first place.”

       Sionis kept his best poker face, but that would have likely been worth the cost alone. He had completely forgotten about it in all of this nonsense, but Iliera was here playing the game to her favor.

       He loved her for it.

       Of course, Iliera still didn’t agree.

       For a moment, the mage started to worry. Iliera had become steadfast in her decisions lately and she might just throw this opportunity away without thinking through the ramifications. He wanted to express that, as best he could, with a gentle facial expression, but by now Iliera’s glowing eyes were locked on the goblin in front of her.

       Sionis looked to him and saw that the Baron’s hand had tightened on the hilt of the dagger while he continued to stare right back at the Draenei. The two of them had become entangled in some kind of soul-searching stare and Sionis wasn’t sure what was about to unfold.

       When no one had spoken for over ten seconds, Sionis decided to flex his hands, preparing to weave the first magical spell if this all went south.

       Then, thankfully, Iliera spoke.

       “I accept your offer, Baron Revilgaz,” she answered, emphasizing each syllable.

       The Baron smiled, slowly this time, and his grip relaxed once more. “That is good news. I gotta admit, this has been one of my more interesting meetings as of late.”

       “We thank you for your time,” Sionis said. “I assume you’ll have someone else arrange a list of the organizations and locations where we need to concentrate our efforts?”

       “That’s right,” the Baron said. “I’ll get someone on it this evening. For the time being, you go ahead and stay here at the tavern tonight. We’ll get everything sorted out and have you on your way in no time.”

       The Baron turned from them and started making his way back around his large desk. As he did so, the doors to his office opened and one of the Tauren from earlier stepped up, taking each of them by an arm.

       “Release me, if you wish to live,” Iliera said, her voice as cold as Sionis had ever heard it.

       The Tauren did as she said without hesitation. “I’ll show you to your room,” he added, clearly flustered by her tone.

       “Thank you,” Sionis said, offering a smile. “It’s been a long day. We could use the rest.”

       As the pair walked behind the Tauren they met eyes for a brief moment and Sionis saw the concern on Iliera’s face. He tried to convey, silently, that everything was going to be okay, even if they had a new problem to deal with. They had done it before, they would do it again.

       Everything would be fine.


TO BE CONTINUED! 

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