A Life of Sin
The sounds of the forest soothed her
The sounds of the forest soothed her. The chirping of birds in the trees and the soft flutter of the gentle breeze was not alien to her ears, but something about being in the middle of the wood made all of the sounds seem different than what could be heard through an open window. Perhaps it was the slight chill of the shade, the rare sights of deer bounding through the thicket, or watching the patterns of sunlight dancing on the dirt path that brought it to life for her. Even as the priestess drew her cloak around her shoulders, there was warmth radiating from her heart outwards.
"Sister, we're nearly to Goldshire, are we not?" asked one of the girls in the back of the wagon.
"Yes... Are you growing impatient, Josephine?"
"Quite." Sister Isis smiled as the young girl sulked, glad that she was at least honest. "Perhaps I could walk beside the horses just for a little while? Just to stretch my legs?"
Isis nodded her ahead. Goldshire was close by and the woods here were safe, patrolled by guards from Stormwind, unlike the roads in Westfall where the People's Militia seemed to be constantly shorthanded. Plus, she understood all too well how the girl ached for more adventure in her life. She had once been the girl that couldn't sit still for longer than a few minutes herself, but she was thankful that the other four were content to sit in the back and practice their needlepoint while quietly chatting. It was a relief to see them at ease when one considered the dreadful place they had come from. The war torn villages to the east were no place for children.
The priestess was pulled from her thoughts as the horses began to neigh and jitter, pulling up short.
"Jo, back away before you get kicked," she warned, tightening her hold on the reins. "Get in the wagon."
"What's wrong, Sister?" another girl asked, leaning up to peer over the back of the bench.
"Get down. Be still all of you."
Isis listened carefully to the sounds around her as the horses continued to move in antsy fashion, refusing to go forward a single step until whatever had spooked them was gotten rid of. The birds overhead made no sound here. Not even the hushed chatter of a chipmunk could be heard. Isis narrowed her eyes, directing the children to hold tight and keep their heads down, the idea forming in her mind to force the horses onward in a full gallop and pray that soldiers were only right around the bend. She reached for the whip setting in its holder, gasping in surprise when a dagger embedded in the wood inches from her fingers. They were upon them in an instant. Bandits! A group of six to outnumber the single priestess and five teenage girls.
"Give us all of your goods and your horses and we'll let you walk free from here!" barked the supposed leader of the gang, his face masked by a red kerchief along with the others. "Protest and you shall be food for the wolves!"
"Very well!" Isis agreed, knowing their lives had greater value than anything they were carrying. "Girls, get out. Quickly. Leave your things." The terror in their eyes wasn't nearly as heartbreaking as the disbelief that came with it. All of their belongings were packed into the trunks that lined either side of the wagon's bed and Isis knew there was very little to be found in each case already. "I do hope you find satisfaction in stealing from orphans..." she muttered as the group began to rummage through their things already. "And may God have mercy upon your souls when you confess to Saint Peter all your sins."
"Would you find satisfaction in one of your precious tarts being my next sin, woman?" the leader sneered, bringing the point of his dagger near to her throat.
Before Isis could come up with an answer, the man cried out, grabbing at his shoulder where an arrow was lodged into his flesh. He yelled in outrage, barking orders to get the wagon moving to two of his lackeys. The rest of them remained to help find whoever dared to take a turn at them. From somewhere in the trees came more arrows in swift succession, taking down half of the bandits with fatal shots. Isis grabbed at the girls fast.
"Under the wagon! Hide!"
She gasped as a strong arm circled her waist, yanking her back and slinging her around. The dagger came to her neck once again as she found herself pinned in the man's arms.
"Come out, hero! Show yourself lest I cut this servant of God end to end! Fight like a man!"
"And what do you know of manhood?" a voice called from somewhere above them, echoing so its location could not be determined. "Attacking defenseless women and children. Indeed, that is quite the show of bravery!"
The bandits turned their guns and fired as a swift blur of darkness moved among the branches, arrows flying in retort, taking down the remaining two and leaving only the leader and the priestess standing. Now the mysterious hero showed himself, landing lightly at the foot of an oak. Isis's eyes widened as the man stood in full view. He was clad in black and crimson leathers from head to toe, his regal bow and full quiver strapped to his back, two daggers clutched in his hands and at the ready. What she found shocking, however, was not the intimidating appearance of her hero, but the only features visible of his face were green eyes that glowed inhumanly along with long pointed ears that stuck up from under the black mask.
"Ah... Now we see why you are a coward that hides in the leaves," the man growled, tightening his grip on her. "Woman, you should be thanking your God right now because it seems that I am actually the hero here. Who knows what this stinking blood elf intends with you and your pretty little girls. No doubt he has been stalking you through the forest."
"I wouldn't normally waste my time on a bunch of ugly human wenches," the elf chuckled, "but if there's one thing I hate more than human women, it's human men... or at least humans masquerading as men."
"You speak English pretty well for an elf. Too bad you say all of the wrong things!"
The dagger at the priestess's throat flew straight and true, but its target was gone in a flash. From behind her she heard the bandit grunt, stumbling forward and shoving her to the ground as he fell. She quickly looked to see that he was dead. The elf bent and pulled his dagger from the man's back, wiping the blood away before sheathing it at his hip. He looked then at her for a moment and back at the girls that still cowered beneath the wagon, staring at him with terror in their eyes.
"I take it you've never seen an elf before?" he laughed, looking back down at Isis. "If I wanted you dead, you would be already, but I have a strong distaste for those who prey upon the helpless."
Isis flinched back slightly as he reached for her, but blinked when he merely held out his hand in offering. Hesitantly, she accepted, getting back to her feet with his help. She had seen night elves before this day, but never had her eyes lain upon the other race of elves. She had heard enough to know they were ruthless and cunning, light on their feet, graceful and yet malicious in their killing. This one, however, had saved their lives. She watched in stunned silence as he moved to each of the fallen bodies, yanking his arrows from their lifeless forms to return to his quiver. The girls crawled out from under the wagon to gather near her, whispering if she was alright and eyeing the elf just as nervously as she. She calmed them and directed them back into the wagon... then approached him as he gathered his final arrow.
"Thank you," she spoke, drawing his attention and noticing that his ears moved. She wondered briefly if he did it or if it was involuntary, but quickly looked back to his eyes as they shimmered down at her. "Thank you very much. Although we might've been left unscathed, all the things that these children own are in this wagon. It would've broken their hearts to have lost it."
Under his mask, Isis could detect a smile as he shook his head. "I think you give them too much credit, Priestess. Those urchins reek of foulness that your innocent mind could never even fathom. You and your children would've indeed been their sins of the evening." She could actually feel the blood drain from her face as she heard his words, something in his tone telling her that somehow he knew it to be true. "In any case, I suggest you hurry to wherever you are headed. Those bandits are from a much larger band that I spotted deeper in the woods on my way through. No doubt they'll be wondering what happened to these fools..."
"Again, I thank you, Elf. Please, let me give you something in return." She opened a pouch tied to her belt, pulling from it a few coins to offer to him. "It's not much, but it comes with deep gratitude."
"It's not necessary," he said politely. "Use your money to buy something for your girls. They could use it after this."
Before she could say another word, the elf hurried off into the trees once again, leaping up into the branches to disappear from sight. Isis marveled another second or so at how easily he blended in, wondering just how effortlessly he could take down the guards on the road with such stealth. A blood elf in Elwynn Forest... Horde infiltration. Was he alone or was he just one of many that had somehow gained access to the wooded area just outside of Stormwind? As she climbed back into the wagon seat, Josephine voiced her exact thoughts.
"Are you going to tell the guards about him, Sister?"
"No..." she paused a moment, but then nodded. "He saved our lives, girls, and in complete selflessness. We can repay him by allowing him to continue his journey unhindered."
"But what if he's a spy or an assassin?" one of the other girls asked. "What if he means to kill the king?"
"He is but one elf, girls. There is no way he alone could penetrate Stormwind's defenses." She reassured them although she was wondering herself after having witnessed him kill six men in mere minutes. "He's probably just a traveler. Not every elf you meet will be a soldier fighting our war, same as not every human is a soldier. So not a word of this event to anyone."
"You may want to hide this then..."
Isis looked as Josephine pulled the dagger from the side of the wagon, the same dagger that had nearly hit her hand. She took it from the girl and tucked it away in her things, wrapped safely with thick leather.
The band of women continued on to Goldshire and then further to arrive in the capital city of Stormwind. It had been nearly a year since Isis had last been within the walls, but nothing had changed. The hustle and bustle of the people crowding the cobblestone streets made her feel trapped. Never the less, she led her small troop through the city easily, remembering the way as she had once traveled it day after day in her own youth. From the Trade District of the city she took a small alley way to the arched passage leading to the canals and over the bridge where young men were fishing. Practicing fishing was more appropriate, though, as the water through the city wasn't safe enough to drink, much less provide life for fish. The only things that lived in the canals were giant sewer beasts, rumored to be mutated lizards that idiotic children sent to watery graves.
"This way, girls. We're nearly there."
Through another archway, Isis led them into Cathedral Square. If they hadn't already gasped and marveled enough in the Valley of Heroes, the girls surely were impressed with this area. She couldn't help but smile, imagining how amazed they would be when they visited the Park and the Mage Quarter and found the entire area still growing fresh grass and covered in trees and flowers. Isis had spent most of her free time there, hiding from the rest of the busy city in hopes of never being found. But she had always been found. She knew that the life in store for these girls was not ideal, but it was without a doubt better than risking an early demise at the hands of a vicious orc or a bloodthirsty undead. She led the girls to the orphanage to deliver them into the caring hands of Matron Nightingale.
"Isis!" she exclaimed with joy at seeing her again. "Oh... Pardon me, Sister Isis," she corrected herself with a teasing smile.
"Patrice," she smiled in return and embraced her dear friend. "It has been a long time, but my work has finally brought me back here. These girls are from Lakeshire and they have lost their families to the war. I brought them here in hopes of a better life."
"Oh... sweet girls." She sighed, but smiled sadly. "I'm very glad to meet all of you. I'm Miss Nightingale and, I suppose, I will be your mother, though, I have no expectations of you to treat me as such or call me as so. I will do my best to care for you and help you begin your own lives here in Stormwind."
"I wanted to stay in Lakeshire," Josephine spoke up, ever the opinionated one.
"As did I when I was your age," Patrice nodded.
"As I wanted to stay in Southshore where I grew up, but sadly life rarely turns out the way you expect or want it to," Isis added.
"Both of you? You were orphans?"
"That's how we know each other. The two of us were raised right here in this very orphanage under my teacher, Matron Christophson. When she passed on, I took her place."
"What will happen to us now?"
Isis listened silently as Patrice began to explain to them about what they could expect from her and what she expected of them in return. Nothing came without a price or a trade, not even life. After a few moments, she politely interrupted and explained to Patrice that she was going to visit some other friends and would meet her at the fountain as they had always done. She then wandered away with a vague smile on her pretty face, wondering how tall the trees in the park had grown and fully intending to find out.
As she made her way through the canals once again, she overheard a great commotion from around the bend ahead of her. She paused and listened, hearing much shouting and panic, then a woman screamed. Isis hurried through the crowd to see what was going on and if she could be of assistance. She was halted short when she smacked right into a man's broad chest as he rushed around the corner in the opposite direction. She heard a familiar voice, but didn't understand the words that were said, looking up...
"You!" her jaw dropped as she saw the green eyes of the blood elf once again. He blinked back at her, seeming to also be shocked and laughed slightly.
"Doral ana'diel?" he asked, his ears twitching slightly.
"I don't underst.."
Before either of them could even turn towards the outburst, the guards tackled the elf to the ground, pummeling him mercilessly as he struggled to be free. Isis gasped, drawing back from the sight as blood gushed from the elf's nose and he groaned in pain. Five men were upon him and still he pushed to stand until a sword was put near to his face. He went slack in their grasp, allowing them to pull him to his feet and strip him of his weaponry; the twin daggers that had saved her life, the bow and arrow that had taken the bandit numbers down by over half, along with throwing knives, other small daggers, and what appeared to be a wand hidden among the many layers of leather armor he wore.
"How you made it past the walls I don't know, but you are obviously a fool just like all other Horde wastes that we have put to death here."
As they dragged him away, Isis saw him give one last look over his shoulder at her, and this time she needed no guesswork to read the look on his face or what it meant when those long ears turned completely down. She hurried after them, following them at a safe distance straight to Stormwind Keep along with many others who wanted to see and hear just what was going to happen to the intruder. Isis stood among the crowd listening closely as the guards announced his presence and what they suspected he was doing. They claimed he had come to assassinate King Anduin Wrynn! The sentence for such a crime was death and being that he was Horde, he was not entitled to a fair trial. He was not even entitled to defend himself. Which meant someone else would have to defend him.
"I protest!" Isis spoke out, stepping forward and moving to stand near to the elf. "You can not accuse him of just any crime you wish. You have no idea what he was truly here for!"
"And just what do you propose, woman? That we ask him? Do you honestly suppose that he came here to browse the fruit vendors for a fresh pear?" the high guard scowled at her.
"For a royal guard you have all the manners of an ogre. I believe I've met an ogre who knew how to properly address a priestess!" With that she turned to look at the elf rogue, knowing that he spoke English perfectly well and understood what was going on. "What do you have to say for yourself?"
The elf merely blinked at her, tilting his head slightly as if he had no idea what she was saying to him. "You see, milady? He doesn't understand us. Even if he could speak he would spew nothing but lies."
"This elf saved me and five young girls from a bandit ambush mere hours ago." She blinked as the people around them gasped in surprised, others murmuring that she had to be lying. "A priestess never lies. Dishonesty is a sin!"
"A blood elf saved a group of women from bandits?" the guard asked in disbelief.
"And would not even accept payment for his deed," she added. "The girls will vouch for this, as well. I left them with Matron Nightingale only a few moments ago. You may go there and question all five of them if the word of a priestess is not good enough for you."
She arched a brow at the guard, as if to challenge him on it, but indeed it seemed he was stubborn in his ways and sent a guard to gather the children. Isis sighed and shook her head. Her word was as good as gold and worth much more in its weight. Still, she knew if she was patient and logical that she could get the elf out of trouble just as he had done for her. She looked at him once again, then drew a handkerchief from her belt, moving to gently wipe the blood from his face. Again she heard the murmurs of the crowd as they balked at her helping him, being kind to him, but in her eyes he had already proven himself. Even if he hadn't, he was a living being all the same and didn't deserve to be left to bleed. She whispered quietly to him that everything would be alright as she moved part of his mask aside, intending to clean away the blood that had seeped underneath the cloth.
"Wait!" The head guard barked, reaching around her and snatching the black wrapping from the elf's head. "This blood elf saved your life, priestess? Are you sure he is the same one?"
"Yes! I recognize how he's dressed, the weapons he carries, and the sound of his voice!"
"Do you realize who he is? He is not any ordinary elf. He is Sin."
"Sin...?" she asked, looking at him once again.
It was then that the young priestess realized, with a deep tremor of revulsion, that the man who had rescued her and her wards was none other than the blood elf rogue of legend both local and abroad. As Sin looked down upon her with his glowing emerald eyes, she was reminded of the tales and that one sentence that always seemed to accompany his name that chilled her straight to the bone. "They say that he fights like the devil..." And indeed he had done just that in order to save her life. This man.. This elf was the monster of all children's nightmares. He was the terror that brought women screaming out of their beds for fear of their men out at war being slaughtered by his hand. The maniacal, bloodthirsty retch who could take down entire armies single-handedly. But that thought made Isis furrow her brow.
"If he's Sin then how come it only took five of you to take him down and not the entire army?" She looked up at the guard, hearing some people chuckling as he stuttered. "As I suspected, you can't even tell one elf from the next. They probably all look the same to your prejudiced eyes!"
"And how many elves have you laid your eyes upon, Sister?" he yelled back. "Do you believe that simply because you have gone on a few mercy missions that you can recognize evil when you see it?"
"I can recognize evil in the eyes of any creature, not because of my experience in this world, but because I am pure of heart." She narrowed her eyes up at him. "I know when a man has sinned, Captain. You should do well to keep that in mind."
The arch of his brow told Isis that she had hit a mark with that comment. From behind her she heard a low chuckle from the elf, recognizing the low pitch of his voice once again. She turned to look at him, about to challenge him on what he was laughing at if he didn't understand English, but she spotted the returning guards with Patrice and the five girls. This would settle things once and for all. Patrice came to her swiftly, taking her arm as she leaned close.
"Isis, what are you doing? Is it true you are defending the honor of Horde soldier?" she whispered.
"This young man saved me and the girls from bandits on the way here, Patrice. He saved my life and I am trying to repay the debt." She looked at him as Patrice did, seeing him watching her with those keen emerald eyes. She decided that she liked those eyes. "Would you not do the same thing for a fellow human? Or a night elf, a gnome, or dwarf? Even one of the draenei?"
"But they are not Horde warriors, Isis." She bit her lip, finally looking back at her. "This is different."
"I don't see why."
"That's because you're stubborn."
"Yes, I am." She nodded and called to the children. "Girls, tell the Captain what happened to us on the way to Goldshire."
Josephine was, of course, the one to speak up. "We were attacked by a group of bandits wearing red face masks. They were going to take our wagon and everything in it!"
"But that blood elf right there helped us," one of the other girls said, pointing at him.
"He was just in time, too! One of the bandits put a knife to Sister Isis's neck!"
Isis smiled proudly as the girls repeated the incident with even more detail than she herself had provided. "So you see, Captain? I never lie. Now, do you still believe that this elf is your so-called legend? Would Sin ever save helpless women and children and then get captured by small group of guards?"
"Perhaps not..." he grumbled, obviously not proud of being proved wrong in front of an audience. "But never the less, he is still a blood elf, a member of the Horde, and a criminal in this city."
"Just what did you catch him doing anyway?" Isis tilted her head.
"He was caught stealing!"
"Stealing what?" Patrice interjected.
The captain hesitated a moment. "He stole.. fruit from the market vendor and bread from the bakery."
"You were going to kill him because he was hungry?" Josephine asked in disbelief.
Isis smiled at the girl as the crowd also began to laugh at the captain's expense. "Captain, even a mere child can see that you are merely fishing for commendation by pretending to capture and execute the rogue known as Sin. What a dishonorable thing to do. Whatever the elf stole, I will pay for and then you may let him go."
"Really? So are you, Sister Isis, saying that you will take full responsibility for the release of this thief?" he asked, speaking loud enough for all to hear.
"Yes. I intend to repay him for what he did for me. I take responsibility."
The captain chuckled. "Very well then. Arrange for the release of the prisoner. Sister Isis will be the one to lead the group back to Silvermoon City!"
"What?!" Isis gasped, her jaw dropping.
"Did you not say you take full responsibility?" he looked back down at her. "The few times that we do release Horde prisoners, we escort them to their capital cities in order to prevent them from further terrorizing our lands. You and two emissaries along with four soldiers will travel to Silvermoon City and be sure that this thief is delivered to his superiors. So you had better pack your bags, Sister!"
With that, the captain turned on his heel and walked away, returning to his post. The guards holding the elf captive pulled him along towards the prison while another came to Isis to brief her on what she needed to bring with her and when they would be leaving. She listened in a bit of a daze, surprised at how easily the captain had duped her and successfully forced her out of the city. Obviously it was payment for making a fool of him before the people. She frowned deeply, looking in the direction the elf had been taken. Was he truly worth such trouble? She sighed and nodded to herself, starting away. A life is worth any trouble so long as it is the life of a good soul. She believed in the very depths of her heart that he was a good person.
DISCLAIMER: World of Warcraft and all associated concepts are property of Blizzard. I stake no claim over any of their awesome ideas.
SPECIAL THANKS: To Jesper, for being such a perfect, living muse; always inspiring me by simply being himself.