(First encounter with Tirion below is paraphrased from memory. Close enough, but if something needs added, look under his post:
Just ain't the same))
Once Stout had finished his eating therapy, recovering from the portal jumps through space and time, Stepanos and Brother Bailey began making their way toward the Cathedral District.
"Lord High Commander?" Bailey asked, as he thumbed through a leather-bound book of prayer passages. "Don't we have a Guardian stationed here in Stormwind? Brother Emmeran?" Stepanos stopped and turned.
"By the Light we do!" Stepanos said, shaking his head. "In my haste to journey here, I completely forgot. He's at Northshire Abbey immersed in his studies." Bailey nodded and turned to another page. "I believe he's still there; or was, last time I had a squire check in on him."
"He might be a good place to start, my Lord," Brother Bailey said. "I only heard of this plague through our agents. I would think Guardian Emmeran might know more."
It was a short journey to reach the Abbey, and while the oddities they experienced while passing through Goldshire might haunt their dreams in nights to come, the immediate memory of those events faded quickly - leaving them at the gates to the Abbey in seemingly no time at all.
"Wait with the horses, Brother Bailey," Stepanos said, dismounting and handing the reigns to the monk. "I believe there are stables at the back of Abbey. Take the horses there and have them fed and watered while I meet with Guardian Emmeran."
"As you wish, My Lord," Bailey said, fist-to-Light and taking the reigns.
Inside, it took only a couple of questions to locate the sequestered Priest huddled amongst ancient texts, at a library table in the back of the Abbey. "How go the studies, Guardian Emmeran?" Stepanos said, pausing long enough to watch his friend make scribbled notes onto a yellowed piece of parchment. The Priest's head shot up, a look of shock and surprise upon his face.
"Lord High Commander!" he said, pushing the chair away and jumping to his feet. "They, they go well." Fist to Light salute, then the Priest dropped to his knee. "I am yours to command, my Lord." Stepanos smiled and lifted his hand.
"Rise, Guardian," he said. "It's been a long time since we last saw one another." He extended his hand in greeting, and both men clasped hand to forearm and smiled. "Too long, I fear, Anton."
"The Light calls us to do what we must, my Lord," Anton Emmeran, Priest & Guardian of the Righteous Light said. "Myself, I have found nothing to give us hope in regards to the dark crystal we searched for. Only the distant memories of long past heroes from Southshore offer any reference."
"As I feared," Stepanos said. "However, a new threat has arisen and I've come to you seeking information."
"Anything, my Lord,' Anton said. "My staff is yours."
"What do you know of the Shadow Plague that has hit Stormwind?"
Hours later, after long discussion around the plague and what to do, the trio of Guardians rode toward Stormwind in search of answers to the mysterious plague of Shadow that had descended upon the city. Once through the city gates, Brother Bailey was sent back to Light's Flame with messages to prepare for action in Stormwind should the need arise.
In the meantime, Stepanos and Anton would seek the source of the infestation.
The journey brought them to the Cathedral, where after moments of prayer at Light's Alter, they questioned one of the Priests as to the nature of the plague, and where the victims were being looked after.
"Well, that was rude," Anton said, watching the self-righteous Priest walk away from them. "You would think that they'd want all the help they could get." Stepanos nodded and motioned toward the entry into the catacombs.
"Like I said, Anton. This place reeks with intrigue and politics. It's amazing the Light remains as strong here as it does."
"Perhaps it doesn't," Anton said after contemplating Stepanos's words. "Perhaps that is why this plague has occured here to begin with. To show how weak the Church has become?"
"An astute observation,' Stepanos said. "One certainly worth remembering." Having made their way down the spiriling ramp, they entered one of the upper chambers of the deeps. "You know this place better than I, Anton. You lead the way to where the infirm are being seen to."
"Down another flight of stairs, My Lord," Anton said, motioning toward the distant wall. "If I recall the last time we were here, we discussed relocating to the Village." Stepanos smiled and nodded. "I wonder how it's holding up?"
"I would not know, Anton," Stepanos said. "I've been away on a pilgrimage of my own. At the Tian Monastery in Pandaria." He patted his stomach. "Did wonders for my fitness level, not mention my enjoyment of..." he stopped just as they passed a series of columns on their way down the stairs.
"Hold!" he said, lifting a hand to order a halt is if in cavalry formation. "Did you sense that?" Anton cocked his head, looked around, and his eyes went wide. "Fel!" he whispered. "Thick as fog." Stepanos nodded, and pointed up the stairs. Anton nodded at the silent command, and the pair went back to the top of the stairs.
The room wasn't the brightest, being in the lower chambers with only candles to illuminate. Therefore, numerous places existed where one could hide and watch others from the shadows. The sense of the Fel that both Guardians felt came from a particular part of the room, one near the stairwell; in fact, a particular column.
"We know you are there," Stepanos said. "You might as well reveal yourself and explain why you spy on the Righteous Light's Guardians."
A putrid smell of sweat, feces and cheap booze all mixed together was the next thing they experienced; just before seeing a vagabond-looking vagrant step from behind the column and make his presence known. "Eh, now," the man said. "I ain't done nothing wrong. I was minding my own business."
Anton and Stepanos exchanged glances and nods: this was the source of the Fel Taint they had sensed. "What brings you down into the catacombs," Anton said. "Are you here checking on the poor souls caught up in the grasp of Shadow Plague?"
The man seemed surprised, yet fidgeted - as if wanting to flee as quickly as he could. "Eh, what ya going on about?" he said, using broken speech, like that of the town drunk or local street thug. He certainly looked, and smelled the part. "I can come an go as I please. Ifn ya want the sick, head on down those stairs and leave me be."
He moved to leave, but Stepanos matched his movements. "We mean you no harm, sir," he said, meeting Tirion's eyes with those of his own. "We would just like to ask a few questions about the plague. What do you know of it?"
"Ask them," the man said, pointing towatd the stairs. "I ain't got nothing to do with it. That priest was just askin me questions, is all."
Anton and Stepanos exchanged glances. "Questions?" Anton said. "Regarding what? Out with it man, it may be important."
The man shook his head, his hand fumbling with something hidden behind his cloak at his side. "Routes' is all," he said. "What routes I used." He moved closer to the door. "Why don'tcha go bother someone else. I ain't got nothing you fellahs want, anyway. It's not like it's being hidden! Everything's locked down, even the docks are closed. No ship's gettin in er out."
"You might," Stepanos said, pressing the man harder. "What's your hurry? Afraid you'll miss prayers?" He narrowed his eyes and focused hard on Tirion.
"What are you hiding?"
The man's eyes went wide, then darted to meet Anton's. "I'm leavin'," the man said, and made as if to run toward the rampway out of the catacombs.
"You're Tainted with Fel," Anton said. "Why? Are you the cause of the Shadow's Plague?" Seeing that neither of the armoured men were moving to stop him from leaving, Tirion bolted - running for the door without looking back.
"I ain't tainted with no Fel!" he said. "And I ain't got nothin to do with nothin!" Rounding the bend, the filthy rascal bolted out of sight
"He knows something," Stepanos said, watching the man disappear up the ramp. "I can sense it!" Anton nodded, and glanced down the stairs. "I don't think we'll find any answers down there, High Commander. I agree with you, he knows more than he's letting on."
"He's long gone now," Stepanos said. "We'll need to find him in the morning. Old Town or the Docks?" Anton pondered the question. "He mentioned the docks," Anton replied. "Which I found interesting. If he's gone to ground, we should search there first."
"Agreed," Stepanos said. "Let's find an inn and settle in for the night. Pick up the search tomorrow when we've had a chance to rest. Portal travel always takes it out of me, for some reason."
===========================((Part two will pick up in the next post, where we corner Tirion and put him to the Question in a more gentle manner than previously done by our Order. Stay tuned!))