“Death's dark hold now all undone; with joyful heart, we pray as one: give thanks and proclaim glory.” Heroes 8:1-14
The final attack had ended, and now the colony was aflame. Sergeant Grunwald, having sent out fire brigades, saw the Stormwind Trading Company house burning in the distance. His eyes widened, as his lips could not help but utter the words "father" quietly. He immediately turned to his superiors, requesting permission to venture forth into that hellish inferno. Surprisingly, Duke Montclair, the Lord Marshal himself, volunteered to aide him in this grim task. Yet, as they ran down the cobblestone streets towards the docks, the reality of the situation set in. The building was being torn asunder -- a direct hit from a fire pot having sent it ablaze. Regardless, the pair ventured forth, entering the structure.
It was not long before the odds were stacked against them, however. As they climbed a series of steps to move towards the second floor, Edrington crawled his way forward as they began to collapse beneath him. Separated from the Lord Marshal, and with no other alternative, he proceeds onward, using his cloak as a makeshift shield against the fire. “Father!” he shouts out, making his way down the debris-ridden halls of the warehouse. Loudly, the floorboards begin to creak under the stress of so much weight. Fire now continued to weaken the whole lot of it, threatening to bring the building down at any moment. “Father! Where are you!?” he cries out again, attempting to peer through the inferno in an effort to find a safe path forward.
“Edrington!” A voice shouts his name from a nearby room, along with further commotion and clamor. With great rapidity, the sergeant perks up and begins to run and hop over debris in an effort to make his way over to the source of the voice. “I’m on my way – I hear you!” shouts Edrington, doing his best to keep some measure of communication open. He then begins to look around the many doors, desperate to find the right one. “Where are you!?” Nothing for a moment. He shouts gain, but this time it is heard. “Here! Here!” Nodding, the sergeant proceeds down the hall, making his way towards the end of the passageway. As he advances, however, flames flicker upward, lighting his coat on fire! Quickly, he slides it off his armored body, kicking it to the side. The purple cape, a mark of his rank within the King’s Fusiliers, now serves as further kindling for the hellish flames that consume the whole of the edifice. “Light . . .” He shakes his head, looking onward. He couldn’t be too far now.
Arriving at the door he believes to be the one, the man attempts to kick it open in order to enter. Alas, it won’t budge. “There’s debris on our end – strike harder, my boy!” Edrington sighs, proceeding now to slam the door with the full strength of his body. Twice he does this, and on the third try does he finally manage to charge into the office. With the way clear, Wilhelm stands tall alongside the company of two other individuals. Both faces were familiar to the sergeant, but one he was incredibly wary of. “Edrington! Thank the Light!” exclaims Wilhelm, rushing over to reunite with his son. The sergeant too makes his way inside, shouting, “We’ll have time for pleasantries later, I’m afraid! Why have you not exited the building?!”
“We tried! As soon as we prepared to make our way out, a great fireball crashed into the main hall, throwing wood and stone all over!” Wilhelm explains, raising his hand up to cover his face from the roaring fires all around him. “Is the way clear!?” Edrington looks back towards the door, “Alas, the stairs have burned away! Head towards the far room at the end of the hall – I pray my commander will come with help!”
“Duly noted!” Even in times like these, his father managed to crack a smile and have a laugh. Turning around to face his fellow compatriots, Wilhelm beckons for them to follow. Penelope seems to glance at Edrington for a moment as she passes him, and so does Commander van Ruyter. Edrington wasn't expecting him to be here. He always considered van Ruyter a loyal hound dog to Wolfram's schemes. But, if Wilhelm and Penelope had good reason to be in his presence during this most desperate hour, then he would have to trust their intuition. Yet, just as they proceed to leave, the sergeant places an armored hand on Penelope’s shoulder, gripping her tightly. He leans down to speak into her ear, stating firmly, “Where’s Wolfram?”
“Upstairs. I trust you have what we asked for?” asks Penelope, quirking a brow.
“We’ll have time for such later. Go.”
“Mr. Grunwald," she pauses, seeming to hesitate, "He must stand trial.”
“He shall, Mrs. Redsummer. As I said – go!”
With their brief, but pertinent business concluded, Edrington shuffles out of the room once the trio had left down the hall. Seeing the group safely maneuver their way down the debris ridden path towards the far room, the sergeant now prepares ascend to the third and final floor of the Company building. Sighing, he begins to climb upward, the chaotic clamor outside mixing with the crackling of flames within. Eventually, after carefully navigating his way through, he overcomes the treacherous path to the top. Only a few offices reside here, and he knows exactly where to go. Approaching Wolfram’s office, he kicks the door open to find the room empty! Growling lowly, he heads back out into the main hall and ponders where he could’ve gone. Did Wolfram already leave? Has this one chance to enact justice slipped from his grasp?
Suddenly, a loud cry for help fills the smoke-choked air. “Aaaah! Help, anyone!” Wolfram. Edrington makes his way down the hall, finding that the source of the yells was coming from a room that was labeled as the archives. Of course. Opening the door, the sergeant is greeted by quite the sight. Conrad Wolfram, governor of the Company, pinned down to the burning floor by a pile of debris. The ceiling above them was now giving way, and the evening sky could be seen. The clamor outside seemed to overcome the chaotic atmosphere within the burning building, but all this was superseded by Wolfram’s shouts and pleas. “Mr. Grunwald! By the Light, thank goodness! Please, help me!”
Edrington steps forward, moving towards the debris pile. Kneeling down to face Conrad, he looks to the remainder of the room for a moment. It is then that the keen-eyed sergeant spots a pile of parchment and scrolls being burned. These documents didn’t simply fall off their shelves. No, this was done on purpose. Glancing back towards the elderly fellow, Edrington utters, “So, you rat. You thought to get away with it, eh?”
“What!? Cease with your nonsense, Mr. Grunwald, and help me!”
“I think not, Mr. Wolfram. You see, you’ve duped me. I don’t enjoy being tricked. You promised me the honour my family deserves – for all the service we’ve provided you and this country.”
“Mr. Grunwald, I hardly believe this is the time for such talk!”
“Oh, but I think it is, Mr. Wolfram. First, you lure us into your schemes. Then, you betray the honor of this Company with your foul trickery. You have broken the King’s law, and you have proven to me that you are nothing more than rotten filth.”
“You . . . you know of . . .” stutters Conrad, his eyes widening in disbelief.
“Aye. I do.”
“Grunwald. Do not listen to whatever lies you’ve been fed! I fully intend to restore your honor, and that of your father’s! You have both served this Company and this nation dutifully for years! That business with Medio Trading . . . you have to understand, it was merely business! Have you no sense, man?! If we had not evened the playing field, this colony would have not succeeded! Our investors demand compensation!”
“Your investors? No. Your greed demands it, Conrad.”
“Edrington, enough! Help me!”
With that, the sergeant draws his pistol, cocking back the hammer and aiming it directly at Conrad’s head. The elderly man frowns, nearing tears as he shouts for mercy, “For the Light’s sake, don’t do it! Don’t kill me! You can’t kill me – are you not a man of the Light?! A Kingsman!?” His hand trembles, as the man purses his lips. Conrad was right. The sergeant exhales sharply, unable to follow through with it. Yet, he had his own reasons for not putting a bullet through Wolfram’s head. Edrington peers at the pile of burning documents once again near the end of the room, seeing that all evidence of the Company’s foul presence here would be gone. Including his own. The only thing that remained was Mueller’s ledger, and he had it.
He had it.
Turning back to Conrad, Edrington states, “You’re not worth the powder, Conrad.” The man then begins to make his way out of the room, as Conrad growls loudly in anger and pain. “Curse you, Edrington! Curses upon you and your whole vile family! I damn you and the rest of your sorry lot! May you all burn in the most hellish corners of damnation! Curse you!” His shouts continue to fill the halls of that hellfire, until they finally cease. One final shout escapes his lips as the floor begins to give way, and his body is thrown down three stories. Crushed and burned by the debris, Edrington peers at the gaping hole in the structure where Wolfram once lay. He was dead, and all foul memory of this debacle would be gone with him.
Deciding he would no longer waste any further time here, the sergeant makes his way down the hall and towards the stairs. By now, the structure was nearing its end. Luckily, he still had one escape route. As he made his way back downstairs, the Lord Marshal could be heard calling his name. Navigating towards the room with the rest of the survivors, he looks out the window and proceeds to bash it open with the butt of his rifle. As he does so, the sergeant looks outside, but is interrupted by Penelope's questioning.
“Mr. Grunwald! Where is Mr. Wolfram!?”
“Dead, I’m afraid!" shouts Edrington, his facade suggesting earnest disappointment, "I found him in his office, pinned under debris. There was nothing that could be done, Mrs. Redsummer!”
Silence, at least for the moment. The party, now trapped in the burning room, stood their quietly as news of this sunk in. Yet, Penelope, stricken by the fact that justice on this mortal world had failed to bring Conrad Wolfram to trial, steels herself and purses her lips. She nods slowly, replying, “Aye, then. What’s done is done. He’ll stand trial in the afterlife, I suppose.” Edrington sighs in reply, looking back out towards the street below, “Right then . . .” He looks towards the trio around him once more, stating with a tired smile upon his lips, “Only one way out then, aye?”
The colony of Kingsland still stood, albeit with some damages. Fort Greenwell, its only defensive bastion in the east, was all but destroyed. The colony itself had suffered, with some buildings still burning on into the night. Yet, the walls were still standing and the people of the settlement remained defiant against all odds. The First Regiment of the Elwynn Brigade, standing alongside their fellow countrymen, now took watch alongside the remaining militia and Company troops that lingered within the colony. The warriors from Grom’gol, just as equally devastated by the battle, still continued to uphold their promise to the Alliance. They too stood alongside their would-be allies, waiting for the enemy to return again.
Yet, they did not return. The trolls, at least for now, were beaten.
Celebrations, for the moment, were done quietly. Some locals brought food and water to the weary troops on the wall, ensuring that their night watch would at least be a tolerable burden. Others, even though they did not have medical experience, volunteered to help gather the wounded and serve as assistants to the doctors and menders that now hastily worked throughout the night. A motley band of citizens armed themselves with clubs and lanterns, patrolling the streets while the armies of the Horde and the Alliance watched the horizon. In the morning, the Horde would return to Grom’gol, and new reinforcements would be brought in from Stormwind City to replace the First Regiment. Their service had been completed.
For Sergeant Grunwald, however, he was busy elsewhere. It was in the early hours of the morning that he ventured towards the docks of the colony, having tended to the business of patrols and night watch already. He had made his way here to meet with his father and the two other members of the Board he had saved from the fire: Mrs. Redsummer and Commander van Ruyter. The sergeant found the trio surrounded by a few adjutants from the Company, discussing matters of reorganization. When Mrs. Redsummer spotted the battle weary sergeant approaching them, she dismissed the porters and menders who surrounded them. “Mr. Grunwald. I see you return to us in one piece.”
“You underestimate him, Penelope.” replies Wilhelm, chuckling lowly, “It’s good to see you, son. How do you fare?” Edrington chuckles in reply, now standing alongside the remnants of the Company’s administrative body. He spots a nearby crate, pushing it into place and taking a seat atop it. The wood beneath him groans at the man’s armored weight, as he moves to release the straps on his gloves. “I’m alive, father. I think that should count for something.” Wilhelm and Edrington share a laugh quietly, while Penelope seeks to jump straight to matters of business.
“Right,” comments Penelope, asking, “Although Mr. Wolfram may have escaped judgement by the King’s courts, I trust that you at least have the item I entrusted you with?”
“Are you so sure you wish to discuss our business with Commander van Ruyter among us?” asks Edrington boldly, pointing to the imposing, uniformed fellow.
“Hush, boy. I know of your business - I know it all too well.” retorts van Ruyter, crossing his arms with a frown.
“Commander van Ruyter is with us, Mr. Grunwald.” adds Penelope, standing up and wrapping a cloak around her body. “He, along with your father, was among the first I informed of Wolfram’s treachery.”
“I would’ve thought,” says Edrington, leaning forward somewhat, “That the good commander would’ve been in cahoots with Mr. Wolfram, considering that it was his mercenaries who did the deed at Medio Trading.”
“You’re mistaken.” states van Ruyter firmly, stepping towards Edrington, “In case you’ve forgotten, it was Wolfram who ordered Colonel Barbaro dead. He was a mutual friend and a loyal soldier.” Sighing, the commander turns his back on the trio and faces out towards the open sea. Contemplating what he had to say for himself, he then utters, “As Mrs. Redsummer has spoken for us, we all fell to Mr. Wolfram’s honeyed words. I never doubted the man. I’ve been with him through countless debacles. Spice wars, trade missions, blockades – you name it. Yet, I suppose his greed only grew with his age. He killed my right hand, and he used my men like pawns. Were it my choice, Mr. Grunwald, I would’ve fought with you at Fort Greenwell.” Turning around once again, this time facing the battle-hardened sergeant, he concludes, “Don’t forget, man. I too once was a soldier in His Majesty’s service.”
“Yet, are you still willing to uphold His laws?” questions Edrington, quirking a brow in curiosity.
The sergeant had every right to doubt Wolfram’s once-loyal guard dog, at least he thought he did. But, as he doubts his words, van Ruyter slowly steps over to Edrington, standing before him. His uniform, a deep azure blue coat with a breastplate atop it, was now singed and ruined. Even in such a rugged state, the elderly commander manages to purse his lips before offering a weak, tired smile in some effort to reassure the sergeant.
“Even merchants must trust, right?” Edrington examines van Ruyter, shaking his head with a laugh. The sergeant comments, “Light, that phrase does seem to be thrown around a lot lately, aye?” Standing up, Edrington walks over to meet van Ruyter halfway, taking the offered hand and shaking it firmly. “Aye, that they must,” comments Edrington, “We’ll see justice done, and this foul business put behind us.” The two shake on their newfound, if tenuous, trust. It was something, at least.
“Now then,” utters Penelope, “Enough of this, I say. The ledger, Mr. Grunwald. If you’d please?”
Edrington nods, reaching into his satchel and procuring that little black book. Handing it over to Penelope, he states, “Here. All records are still intact. Even though Mr. Wolfram has escaped trial, I am sure there are others there that may be brought to justice?” Penelope nods, as she stows away the ledger in her own bag.
“Aye, Mr. Grunwald. That is the plan, after all. Mueller’s and Wolfram’s deaths may be most unfortunate, but their actions will carry on to damn others who have sought to undo the good name of the Company. Considering that I will no doubt be given the title of Governess upon my return to the capital, I will have to carefully reconsider who sits upon the Board of Masters. The younger generations of our group, I’m afraid, may be too far gone. Perhaps it’d be better to see them locked up.”
Indeed, they were too far gone. Young, idealistic, and brash. Individuals not to be trusted. These thoughts run through Edrington’s mind, pondering whether Penelope’s plans truly suit his own. Regardless, he must play along for now.
“Are you not afraid they shall implicate you as well, Mrs. Redsummer?” asks Edrington.
“I’ll see to it they are swept away like dust, Mr. Grunwald. Justice will be served.”
Edrington glances at his father for a moment. Wilhelm’s gaze turns from jovial to one only his son has seen before. Steely eyes, intent on action. The sergeant nods at Wilhelm, looking back towards Mrs. Redsummer, “’Lest I forget my original intent, Mrs. Redsummer. Commander Jarlson has requested the presence of what remains of the Board in the town hall. Considering that Mr. Wolfram is indisposed, I’m sure he’ll want to speak with you and the Commander about what shall be done with the colony.”
“Aye. This sordid troll business has, thankfully, come to a close. We best secure our investments here before our plan is once again undone.” Mrs. Redsummer motions for van Ruyter to follow her, along with Wilhelm. “Gentlemen, if you’d please accompany me to the town hall.” Penelope then stops in front of Edrington, stating, “Mr. Grunwald. If you’d be so kind, I’d ask that you hold the remainder of the Board here in Kingsland. I’m afraid that I’ll have to send word concerning Eckhart’s and Derrickson’s arrests – they’re already back in Stormwind, no doubt.”
“Truly?” asks Edrington, “I would’ve thought the whole Board would oversee their investment here in the colony.”
“The Company needs representatives back in the capital, Mr. Grunwald. Mr. Derrickson and Ms. Eckhart are, I assure you, involved in this foul business all the same. Thankfully, however, they have not yet heard of Wolfram’s demise. Ms. Rose and Mr. Blackstone, however, have. They are two junior officers that accompanied us here during our first voyage.”
She leans forward, uttering lowly, “I ask that you keep them from leaving, until we can organize the arrests.”
“Duly noted,” replies Edrington, “I shall make sure of it with all due haste.” With that, the trio of Masters bid their farewell. Wilhelm quickly embraces his son before departing, whispering something into his ear quietly.
“You know what must be done.”
They then step away from each other’s arms, with the Masters now heading towards the town hall and Edrington towards the docks. His business there hadn’t concluded yet.
The frigates of His Majesty's Royal Navy now made their way to Kingsland. They were mere hours away, and he had to act quickly in order to capitalize upon this one chance. His one opportunity to set the plan in motion. Immediately, as the remainder of his company slept soundly and slowly gathered their things in preparation to depart this land, he made a beeline path for the medical pavilions that overlooked the docks. There, he knew he would find the pair.
“We are to leave without them, sergeant?” asks Mr. Blackstone, a young, sprightly fellow. In his company is an equally youthful female, Ms. Rose. The two seem perplexed at the sergeant’s request, but Edrington goes on to explain himself. “Indeed, Mr. Blackstone. Commander van Ruyter has organized a private sloop for the two of you. A contingent of guards will ride along, to ensure you are kept safe on the high seas. Considering that we’ve struck a deal with the local goblin trade barons, however, I’m sure the privateers shall leave your vessel in peace.”
“But, Mr. Grunwald, should we not wait for the rest of the Board? Mr. Wolfram’s death has left the Company in a vacuum.” states Ms. Rose, seemingly confused at this turn of events. Edrington offers a reassuring smile, walking over to her and placing a hand upon her shoulder. “My good woman, Mrs. Redsummer is, at present, handling the situation. She has, in good faith, entrusted me to see you two off Kingsland and towards the capital city.” He pauses, adding, “We do not know if the trolls will counter attack, and it is imperative that the most junior officers be spared from a ghastly fate, should the walls fall.”
“We pray they do not, sergeant.” adds Mr. Blackstone, stepping up to intervene. “I should go speak with the Commander about this. I would like to hear this from him.” Edrington then steps up to block the man, but not brusquely so. “Mr. Blackstone,” retorts Edrington, “This ship is your last chance off this colony. If you do not take it, and insist on dawdling, you will be left here until the next supply ship arrives. That will take weeks, considering the amount of reorganization that must be done. Priority will be given to the wounded, who must be transported back post-haste. And, last I was informed, you are not a soldier in His Majesty’s armies and nor are you in any grave state of health.” The sergeant pauses, adding in conclusion, “Furthermore, I would think you, a Master on the Board, would know of Commander van Ruyter’s temper were he to be interrupted during an important meeting with officials from the Crown.”
Mr. Blackstone frowns, sighing in surrender, “. . . Very well, then.” Shaking his head, he looks down the dock, pointing to a lone sloop sitting at the end of the pier. A few sailors and dockworkers hastily pack supplies aboard, preparing the sails and making ready to cast off the moorings. “I assume, then, that is our ship?”
“Aye, Mr. Blackstone. The ship is a fast one, so you should make it back to the capital in a week’s time. Much better than a navy frigate, that’s for sure.” Edrington nods, escorting the two down the docks. Ms. Rose seems to be quite trusting of Edrington’s intent, while Mr. Blackstone remains wary. “Thank you, sergeant,” states Ms. Rose, offering a tired smile. Clearly, the siege has left her restless. “Although I express great concern towards the Company and this fair colony, I suppose I would be lying if I didn’t say that I fear for my own life as well.”
Edrington chuckles, placing a hand on her back, “Miss, there is nothing wrong with a bit of self-preservation. It’s what keeps us alive. After all, you and Mr. Blackstone are the future of this enterprise. Now, I’ve been told to inform you that Mr. Derrickson and Ms. Eckhart will be waiting for you at port. Look them up once you arrive, and they shall provide you with all the details you shall require moving forward.” Mr. Blackstone nods, walking up a wooden ramp towards the ship and prepares to board. Yet, he pauses, with Ms. Rose’s way aboard being blocked by the man’s body. “What’s the matter, Wyrick?” With a heavy sigh, Mr. Blackstone then begins to turn around, facing Edrington.
The sergeant peers back at the man, his heart sinking. Was he about to deny him once more? Thoughts raced through his head as to what he would do if Mr. Blackstone continued with his persistence. His lips trembled somewhat in anticipation, as the man began to descend the steps away from the ship and back unto the dock. “Wyrick?” asks Ms. Rose once more, looking towards the man and then towards the armored sergeant. Mr. Blackstone stops right in front of Edrington, extending a hand. “My apologies, sergeant. I thank you for your thoughts and efforts. Light knows this must’ve not been easy – to organize us a private voyage home. You must understand that recent events have left me . . .”
“Left you worried – yes, I can reckon so, Mr. Blackstone.” replies Edrington, finishing the mans’ sentence and bowing his head courteously. Taking Blackstone’s hand and shaking it firmly, the sergeant concludes, “Now, we’ll have time for pleasantries later. I wish you both a safe voyage. King’s honour.”
“King’s honour, Sergeant Grunwald.” The pair board the sloop, taken into the hold of the vessel by Company guardsmen already on the ship. They give the sergeant one final farewell, thankful and seemingly content with the opportunity they’ve been given. As they go below decks, a guardsman aboard the ship walks down the ramp to the docks, approaching Edrington and uttering quietly.
“Are we still to proceed, Master Grunwald?”
“That you are. Godspeed.” The guardsman nods, offering the sergeant a two-fingered salute before boarding the ship once more. “Prepare to cast off!” The ship’s moorings are undone, the sails unfurled, and the helm manned. Within a few minutes, the sloop is out on open water, sailing north back to Stormwind City. Edrington looks off towards the horizon, a tightness in his gut. The nerves were getting to him, but he could at least be sure of one thing.
The sloop sailed on throughout the first few days without much trouble, experiencing rough seas on occasion. Considering it was the height of the monsoon season, this was to be expected. The typically sunny and calm weather that hallmarked the approach into the territories of Stormwind would be some days away. Still, Wyrick and Olivia could rest easy in knowing that the hustle and clamor of Kingsland was far behind them. They’d had their fun, playing as administrators within the colony. It was an exotic locale turned dangerous, and they had been provided a golden opportunity by the Company and the good Sergeant Grunwald. They had some comfort in knowing that, indeed, they were the next in line within the Board. The fact that their superiors, older veterans of this mercantile business, were willing to send them home to safety proved to them that they could be trusted with the more intimate affairs of the organization. They felt wanted, needed even.
Thus, they could sleep soundly at night, as the ship rocked them into a deep slumber.
It was on the third night, however, that the plan would go into effect. As the moon sat high in the night sky, guardsmen aboard the ship patrolled the top decks. Their eyes rested on the horizon, waiting to see if anything would come greet them with cannon fire. Yet, no such thing occurred. Instead, the threat came from within. A bell was tolled, marking the passing of another hour. The new rotation came up from below decks, greeting their fellow comrades. As the relieved mercenaries made their way down to their awaiting cots, some commented quietly. “Not a damn thing out there, it seems.” Low chuckles were exchanged, as another replied, “Not yet, anyway.”
A scuffle broke out, as daggers were thrust swiftly into the bodies of the previous watch. Screams were quickly stifled, and any who resisted were handled by the armed group. The helmsman, having spotted this, began to sprint towards the alarm bell. “Hands to --!” Before the words could escape his lips fully, a hand cupped around his mouth. The sickening sound of bones being snapped followed, as the helmsman’s body dropped to the floor of the deck. Four guards now stood alone, with just as many corpses strewn about them. “Alright. Let’s go.” The party then delegated one of their own to steer the ship out to open waters, diverting their course away from Stormwind City. The trio that remained quickly descended to the lower decks, making a beeline path for the general quarters. A small sloop like the one they were on barely necessitated a large crew, thus they only had to concern themselves with the pair that now rested quietly in their chambers.
Spotting the quarters usually reserved for the captain of the ship, the armed men peered inside to spot the pair sleeping in their beds soundly. The commotion from above had not disturbed them, thankfully. Sneaking inside, two of the three rogues gathered pistols from their braces, drawing them and cocking them back. Just as Mr. Blackstone stirred at the sudden sound of the firelocks clicking into place, he found the barrel of a gun aimed right at him.
Two gunshots echoed within the ship, lighting up the otherwise dark room for a brief moment. The trio finished their business, leaving the room and proceeding back up to the top deck. Spotting the helmsman, one of them shouts, “It’s done! Grab the jolly boat and let’s get moving.” The apparent leader of this party of assassins then points to another, “You. Go set the powder stores alight, would you?” The man tasked with this risky business simply nodded, descending back to the lower decks, spotting the locked door into the powder stores. Prying it open, the assassin enters and quickly sets up a line of slow burning powder to be set alight once the party had made ready to make their way out to sea. “Hurry it up!” The assassin groans quietly as he hears his compatriots barking out orders outside. “Right, right . . .” he grumbles to himself, finalizing the necessary steps.
“Get ready!” he shouts, lighting the powder and running back to the top deck.
“Come on, then. We haven’t much time!” The party hops unto the boat and lowers itself unto the dark waters. Procuring a compass and map, they begin to guide their small rowboat eastward towards land. Once at a reasonably safe distance, they all turn back and stare at the now desolate sloop. It sails west still, carried by the winds off to the Great Sea. Minutes pass, and the powder finally makes contact with the main stores. A cataclysmic explosion follows, tearing the ship asunder and sending debris flying in all directions. The men instinctively duck down, covering their heads with their arms. Fortunately, no shrapnel reached them or had missed their vessel altogether. With no lighthouses in sight and the shores of the Vale on their horizon, a collective sigh of relief was shared by all. Clearing his throat, their leader then states, “Alright. Take us east."
Word had to be sent fast from Kingsland. The two at sea were taken care of, but the remaining pair still lingered in Stormwind City. A rider was dispatched from the colony with a reliable steed, making it to the edges of Elwynn Forest in roughly ten days time. This would be a close finish, for the army convoys were bound to make it to port in two or so days. The act could not stop. The show must go on. As the messenger galloped into the great city, he made his way towards the Trade Quarter, intent on meeting his contacts within. By morning, the agents in charge of carrying out this operation had received their orders.
Meanwhile, later that night, the usual clamor of laughter and drunken escapades fills the air.
“Thank you for having allowed me to accompany you, Mr. Derrickson.” A woman wraps her arm around a much older gentleman, both dressed in fine garments. They have just left a local theater, where a play was being staged. The pair seems rather content, if not due to minor inebriation caused by wanton merrymaking and festivity.
“Come now, my dear Amelia. You may call me Balwick – the name ‘Mr. Derrickson’ makes me sound a bit old, don’t you think?” The couple laughs, with Amelia replying, “Well, there’s nothing wrong with addressing you with some modicum of respect, Balwick.” They carry on with their conversation, walking down the streets of Stormwind. The cobblestone pathways are lit by a few lanterns and torches here and there, furthermore guarded by the local watch who maintain constant vigilance – especially this late at night.
“Would you be so kind as to escort me back home, Balwick? I think it’s getting rather late; don’t you think?” Balwick looks down at Amelia, a sly smirk forming on his features.
“I think that the path back to your estate is a bit dangerous, especially considering the forest highways we must traverse. Why don’t you . . .” He leans down, uttering, “Accompany me instead?”
Amelia blushes a deep red, retorting quietly, “Mr. Derrickson, I hardly think that . . .”
“Hardly think ‘what’, Ms. Eckhart? After all, I believe you owe me a few personal debts.”
“I thought we had concluded such business, my good sir.”
“I beg to differ. Now, why would you deny an honest man the company of a youthful woman like yourself? I do not mean to impart myself upon you, but rather offer you a place in my apartment. I assure you, it is as equally comfortable and luxurious as your own estate out in the country, Ms. Eckhart.”
Sighing, the woman then composes herself. A forced smile forms on her lips, replying, “Yes, of course, Balwick.” Balwick in turn smiles, followed by a hearty chuckle.
“See? Do not deny charity when you see it, my dear. I merely seek to keep you safe on a dark night like this.” He pauses, glancing at the canals streaming through the city. Uttering quietly, perhaps to himself, he whispers, “And ample repayment for certain favors I’ve ensured to you.”
Amelia perks up slightly, quietly disgusted at the man’s behavior, but surrendering herself to her current condition. She had little chance to deny such a powerful individual. After all, it was he who get her admitted into the Board as a junior officer.
What neither realized is that a quiet specter had followed them since the theater, sticking to the shadows and alleys of the city in order to conceal his movement. As the couple passed a nearby tavern, which by now was in full swing with lively night owls, their observer ducked into the establishment and approached another fellow nearby. Standing shoulder to shoulder by the entrance into the drinking hall, one whispers to another.
“He’s heading to his apartment. Let them know.” The man receiving the message nods, leaving the pub swiftly and making his way down a few alleys to Light knows where. With him, he carried the knowledge of the pair’s whereabouts. What would usually be considered generally useless information was now worth its weight in gold. Knowing this, the rogue took no risks. He advanced with caution, avoiding the ire of the guard or the attention of citizens venturing out in the middle of the night. Eventually, he arrives safely to his destination: an apartment, nestled deep within one of the many, countless alleys of the capital. He knocks on the door thrice, then twice, then thrice more. Sounds are heard from within, as another fellow steps up to the door and inspects to see who it is.
“I have it.” utters the rogue to his compatriots inside. With a nod, the guard within opens the door and allows him entry. The door is then shut, and their business begins. The messenger is ushered into a small room, desolate and empty. Only a table with a few chairs stand to serve as furnishings in this otherwise dimly lit chamber. “So, you have it?” asks one of the men, leaning forward in his seat.
“Aye, I do. The pair shall be staying at Mr. Derrickson’s apartment for the night.”
“He will leave early, I think,” replies a burly man in the corner, “We must strike quickly. Word has reached us that we are to go ahead at the earliest convenience. If we do not strike by week's end, we will have failed.”
“Then we have no time to waste.” The man at the head of the table stands up, looking at the messenger and the burly fellow from before. “Strike at dawn. Remember, be swift. We’ll have some of our own waiting for you at the previously agreed upon meeting place. Change out your garb there, and dispose of your weapons with them. Then, once the deed is finished, regroup back at the estate.”
Dawn greets the new day, as the sun rises over the horizon. Within his abode, Balwick stirs slightly as rays from that great orb in the sky shine through his window. With a yawn, he glances down to his bedside, seeing the company of Amelia there. He can’t help but smile. Considering his age, he was quite proud to be so fortunate. Content, the man begins to sit up, planting his feet on the wooden floor and leaning forward. Amelia, by now, too had stirred from her slumber. But, she dared not move. She, on the other hand, felt a crippling sensation in her stomach. As she lay there, once more used for the man’s pleasures, a great deal of shame washed over her like a painful tidal wave. Her quiet thoughts were interrupted, as the elderly fellow leaned down to greet her with a kiss upon her cheek. “Morn’ to you. Stay there as long as you’d like – I’m going to go check up on something.”
“May I inquire as to what, Balwick?”
“None of your concern, I assure you. You rest for now, and I'll come back for you shortly.”
Frowning slightly, she simply curled herself up within the covers of the bed, closing her eyes as she attempted to forget about this whole mess. Balwick, meanwhile, purses his lips in distaste. It annoyed him only slightly that she was acting this way, but he has otherwise happy that he had secured another night of merrymaking and carnal pleasure. Victory, at least in his own mind, was his. What women would do, he thought, for a chance at fortune. Shaking his head with a light chuckle, he stands up to make his way over to his dresser.
The door into their room is then kicked down, as two men storm in to the man’s apartment. “What in the Light’s name!?” shouts Balwick, as Amelia jolts up and looks towards the door. Two men, armed with blunderbusses, stand poised and ready to attack. Cocking back the firelocks of their weapons, they do not even utter a single word as they pull the trigger and spray the room with both lead and blood. Both their bodies are thrown back at the sheer force of the blast, sent toppling down to the floor and bed, respectively. Seconds. In mere seconds, the pair had fallen to the assassin’s guns. The two men, having completed their work, quickly begin to rummage around the room. Balwick’s business was, indeed, a sensitive matter. While Mr. Mueller served as Wolfram's adjutant, Mr. Derrickson was his right-hand. An older veteran of the Company, and more agreeable than most when it came to dealing with matters that were not considered "wholesome" and "true" in the eyes of the law. Yet, he had forgotten to tidy up, as it were.
“Here.” declares one of the rogues, holding up a satchel. Inside, parchments and scrolls were to be found. They had little time to sift through them, but this was no doubt what they had come for. “Take it and go. I’ll handle the rest here. We’ll meet back up at the estate.” Both men nod, one quickly leaving the confines of the apartment and storming back out into the street. The other remains for a few moments, smashing the room to pieces and making it seem as bloodthirsty robbers had come to interrupt an intimate scene. As the second gunman leaves the apartment, both move to meld in with the crowd. Like clockwork, they pass by fellow compatriots, handing off their weapons and ducking into a nearby house to change their clothes. Thereafter, they casually make their way towards the gates of the city and disappear just as quickly as they came.
Finally, all the pieces had been taken.
#12527124 Jul 08, 2016 at 01:25 PM · Edited 6 years ago
By the end of the week, the frigates carrying the First Regiment of the Elwynn Brigade back to Stormwind City had arrived. Days passed, and there was no word from either side. Sergeant Grunwald tended to his duties once more, preparing for the next major offensive -- this time in Stromgarde. Penelope Redsummer, now appointed as Governess of the Company, was busy reorganizing the guild. Yet, when Governess Redsummer returned to the capital, she found herself short staffed. Two of her Board were lost at sea, and two more were found dead. All she had to give her some answers was a simple letter given to her by a messenger, just as the army left Kingsland on the dawn of that July day.
She reads the letter aloud for a second time.
I apologize for leaving this message on such short notice. By the time you have read this, I will unfortunately be on a ship back to Stormwind City. Yet, I feel it prudent to inform you of a development that has gone against our previous plans. This morning, I was informed that a sloop has left port. Reportedly, Mr. Wyrick Blackstone and Ms. Olivia Rose were on it. I have only myself to blame for this oversight, and have sent this letter to you to confirm that, upon landing at the capital, I will track down the pair and hold them for as long as I can. They will no doubt go about their business, but I do not believe they would leave Stormwind. Yet, one cannot be too sure. After all, it pays to be prepared. They have left only hours prior to my own departure, but our own frigate is comparatively slower to their much faster vessel. Nevertheless, I should be able to arrive in good time. I pray all is well in Kingsland, and I shall hope to see you and the remainder of the Board in the city in a week’s time.
King’s honour, E.W.G.
Penelope sets the letter down, sighing softly to herself.
Having left Kingsland weeks ago, she now resides in the capital city once more. Within the large hall that once occupied the whole of the Board of Masters and the Company’s closest investors now sits only two other souls that accompany her. Commander van Ruyter, sitting quietly in pensive thought, and Wilhelm Grunwald, promoted recently to Lieutenant Governor, idly sipping away at a cup of tea. Clearing her throat in preparation to speak, she is interrupted by a knock at the door to the meeting hall.
The doors are opened, revealing Edrington himself. He stands dressed not in his usual armament, but instead he dons lighter garments. His face is shaved entirely, and his hair is neatly combed and trimmed. Clearly, he’s had time to reacquaint himself with the comforts of being once again in familiar lands. Wilhelm raises his cup of tea in greeting towards his son, while Redsummer and van Ruyter lean back in their chairs and carefully examine the man. “Mr. Grunwald,” states Penelope, beckoning for him to come over, “I am glad to see you’ve settled in nicely.”
Edrington offers a courteous smile, nodding in reply, “Aye, that I have. I suppose it was time for a change.” He reaches up to stroke his now beardless face, chuckling quietly. With that, he proceeds to enter the chamber fully, moving towards a spare seat at the end of the table and asking for permission to take it. He is given it, the sergeant then withdrawing the chair and sitting down with a sigh of relief.
“Would you care to explain your letter?” asks van Ruyter, leaning forward with hands clasped together.
“There is not much to explain, I reckon. I failed at my task, but I assured you all that I would apprehend the pair when they arrived.”
“Yes, but,” retorts Penelope, “That is indeed the problem, is it not? They did not make it, Mr. Grunwald. Reports have come in stating that the ship was perhaps lost at sea, due to the fact that they are a week overdue.” She pauses, sifting through some pieces of parchment before her, “Furthermore, I have also received a most distressing piece of information. Two days ago, the bodies of Balwick Derrickson and Amelia Eckhart, both officers within this Board, were found dead in Mr. Derrickson’s apartment in the Trade Quarter.” Lowering the piece of paper, she frowns and concludes her statement, “Would you happen to know of what has transpired here? Our absence has left us out of the loop, as it were.”
Clearing his throat, Edrington leans back in his chair, procuring a pipe from his satchel. Silence settles over the room, as the man moves to gather his tin of tobacco and a set of matches. “Well?” asks van Ruyter impatiently, eyeing Edrington with growing frustration. The sergeant says nothing, as he fills the vessel of the device with the aforementioned substance, proceeding to light it. Taking a few drags to get the flame going, he lets out a plume of smoke from his lips before speaking.
“I believe, my friends, that these four individuals have met a most unfortunate end. I believe Mr. Blackstone and Ms. Rose knew of the dangers they would face if they left Kingsland without proper escort. They paid the price, and Light knows what happened to them. The monsoon rains, pirates, you name it.” Taking another drag from his pipe, Edrington slowly stands and looks at Wilhelm, “Is that not correct, father?”
“That it is, son.” replies Wilhelm, continuing to casually drink his tea.
“Enough of this! Do not think us fools, Mr. Grunwald!” Commander van Ruyter brusquely stands from his seat, planting his hands on the table and glaring at Edrington with his usual grim demeanor, “How could you have possibly let them escape in the cover of night?”
“Commander van Ruyter,” states Edrington, slowly moving to stand by the man, “I would ask that you take a moment to compose yourself. I can explain what has transpired, of course.” The sergeant then begins to pace around the room, his speech broken at moments by momentary pauses taken to inhale smoke from his pipe.
“Simply put, I have done what I believe is best for us. Truth be told, the four of them could not be trusted. Aye, we were all guilty of what we did – we were greedy and far too eager to listen to reason. Instead, we dove head first into what seemed to be the best business deal of our collective lifetimes. The Company would grow, Kingsland would become prosperous, and – as an added personal bonus – my past would cease to haunt me. No longer would I be seen as that one greedy bastard who escaped the Stockades by enlisting once more in the Royal Army. No more would I be treated as some pawn in a greater man’s game. Nor would my father have to carry the burden of my sins. I had much to gain, and indeed much to lose should this all fail. My career, my reputation, and my life even. The Army cares little for individuals who are willing to entertain borderline criminal plots, you know.”
Edrington then moves to a nearby window, peering out towards the Stormwind Docks and the Great Sea. “Knowing this, I couldn’t let them speak. You, Mrs. Redsummer,” he pauses, laughing and correcting himself, “My apologies. Governess Redsummer. You wanted to put them to trial. Mr. Wolfram included. Yet, need I remind you of the danger there? Should Mr. Wolfram have survived his most unfortunate encounter in that fiery inferno, then I believe he would’ve garnered the necessary support to see us all put away. His lackeys would now be in your positions, and we would all be in some rotten cell, exiled, or worse.” Clearing his throat, he approaches the table once again, looking at all those present, “Thus, I needed some insurance as well. Mind you, I also thought of your best interests. Do not think me a selfish man, at least not entirely.”
“Yet, you have all done something that has offended me and my father greatly.” Edrington bites down on his pipe, placing both hands on the table in front of him and leaning forward slowly, “You have thought of me as some naïve, bumbling moron. A pawn in your games. Mind you, you all at the very least sought to restore honor and order to this noble Company. To undo the wrongs that you yourselves participated in. But, if you really thought that this sordid business could be solely handled through the machinations of justice alone, then you are all sorely mistaken. For you see, if those traitors were willing to sell out their morality for some coin and land in the Vale, then they surely would’ve done it again to see themselves saved."
“Thus, they have been removed. Should you seek some plausible explanation to the public notaries that shall, no doubt, follow up on this debacle, then you may explain it thus: the ship has been lost at sea due to a pirate attack, with wreckage found floating along the coast. The vessel itself, however, has been lost at the bottom of the Great Sea. As for the deaths of Mr. Derrickson and Ms. Eckhart, it is quite obvious that Mr. Derrickson had a checkered past. No doubt less-than-savory folk whom he owed debts to came to collect, or perhaps lackeys that were involved in Mr. Wolfram’s schemes double-crossed him and his mistress while they laid in bed.”
Mrs. Redsummer and Commander van Ruyter listen on, their eyes widening at the apparent revelation of what has occurred in their absence. Wilhelm still remains calm and in his seat, now clasping his hands together and looking towards his fellow Board members.
“You,” stutters Penelope, “You had them killed?” Even van Ruyter, a hardened military man, seems shocked at the development. Both tense up, seeing that they could be possibly next. Van Ruyter himself begins to edge towards his holstered pistol, fearing the worst. Yet, Edrington, ever the keen-eyed soldier, states openly, “Commander, as I said, I ask that you compose yourself.”
“I have no quarrel with any of you. I merely did this for my family, and I will admit for my own preservation. Yet, by that token, I have spared you all from the hangman’s noose.” Pausing, the sergeant makes his way over to the Governess, placing his hands upon her shoulders as she remains seated in her chair. Leaning down, he utters to her, “Mrs. Redsummer, are you not the Governess of this Board? Do you not have the power you wished, so that you could bring the Company back to its former glory? So that you can install individuals loyal not too coin or greed, but to the honest effort that all merchants should strive for?”
Moving his hands away from her, he then points at van Ruyter, “And you, sir, a fellow man of the service. You still retain your fleets and armies, poised to strike out and go on the next great adventure.” Finally, he motions to Wilhelm, “And now, ‘lest I stand corrected, my father stands as your trusted Leftentant Governor. He, Mrs. Redsummer, whom you have trusted since the beginning. He, that you first went to when you wished to divulge the truth behind Mr. Wolfram’s schemes. Clearly, then, he must mean something to you as both a friend and a fellow business partner.”
“In the end, I have secured our future. I ask for only one thing in return – to make up for your insults to myself and my family. Once I ask this of you, I will remove myself from this business altogether. I will already assume that my own honour will be restored, and that of the Grunwald name. I wish to put behind this sordid business, and I no longer want to be haunted by my past greed and misdoings to this organization and the Crown.” He smirks, “After all, I am a man of the King. I wish to serve my country, and I shall gladly devote my life to it – just as you all so willingly saw to see justice done.”
“And I assure you, although not by the courts . . . justice has been served.”
Mrs. Redsummer looks on, glancing at van Ruyter and Wilhelm. Van Ruyter stares at Penelope, while Wilhelm looks towards his son. With a sigh, she asks, “How then, could I possibly trust that you will not come after us as well? If you wished to tie up loose ends, were we not also part of that bloody equation?” Edrington chuckles, standing before Penelope and leaning down to face her directly.
He utters, “Because, Mrs. Redsummer, I am reminded of the watchword we carried with us as we braved the dangers of this scheme back in Kingsland: even merchants must trust.” Van Ruyter looks at Penelope, nodding slowly. He was in agreement. Wilhelm too nods. The governess then turns back to face Edrington, asking, “What is it then that you wish, Mr. Grunwald?”
With that, Edrington sits back down, takes a drag from his trusty pipe, and simply smiles.
Nothing seemed to transpire from the recent bloody events. Time, combined with foul omens ushering in the coming of the Burning Legion once again, allowed for most to quickly move on with their lives. The deaths of that unfortunate pair at sea was ruled out as mere irresponsibility and foolishness. Who in their right mind would dare sail the waters of the Vale without escort? Pirates and storms, after all, stalk the coasts of that dangerous land. They may have perhaps been lost out at sea, or foul brigands set upon with them with cannon and sent them to the azure deep. As for the murders of that couple, it was found, through records uncovered by the Stormwind Trading Company, that Balwick Derrickson, Amelia Eckhart, and Conrad Wolfram were all involved in illegal activities that undermined the good name of the Company. By happenstance, Wyrick Blackstone and Olivia Rose too were involved.
The newly promoted governess was tried for any misdoing, but she was found innocent along with her subordinates. Why would a criminal bring forth such damning evidence of subterfuge within their own ranks, and so willingly? Governess Redsummer’s conviction to bring order to the honorable Trading Company was met with admiration, and Commander van Ruyter quickly reorganized the ranks of the Company’s army and navy – ousting any who he saw as unfit and criminal. Furthermore, the new Lt. Governor Grunwald quickly moved to stand as the legal face of the Company, ensuring the House of Nobles and the courts of the Crown that justice would be served. Swiftly, it was. Within weeks of news getting out about the now defunct Governor Wolfram’s schemes and plots against the Crown, many more lackeys were arrested and placed in the Stockades.
Unfortunately, none of them knew much besides what they were told by their superiors. Suffice it to say, it wasn’t much. Nonetheless, they were involved in crimes against the Kingdom, and they would serve their sentences.
With the Trading Company now purged of all criminal activity, Governess Redsummer quickly reformed the enterprise. There was, however, a small price to pay. The Stormwind Trading Company did lose its royal charter, which meant that many of its monopolies and rights were also retracted. Its private armies were cut in half, and its stocks fell drastically. For some time, it seemed as if the whole of the organization would declare bankruptcy. But, they still had one claim to fame: Kingsland.
Although they now had more competitors on the market, the Company reintroduced itself as a ferocious, but fair merchant willing to play the game of mercantilism. They played it well, seeing their stocks restored to a favorable price and their trade once again reinitiated in the young colony. For now, the Board of Masters was content. Profits were not what they used to be, but they were at least afloat and had some prestige to their name. They were, for all intents and purposes, redeemed for their actions to stand against the despicable behavior of men like Conrad Wolfram.
Kingsland itself would prosper from increased competition, but that prosperity would be somewhat isolated to the Vale. With no company holding any monopoly on the colony, the diversity of trade increased, but so did the routes for it. Trade goods, both raw and finished product flowed locally, rather than back to the capital city in Stormwind. New trade policies were suggested in the House, but many merchant companies and guilds found it more profitable for themselves to keep a balance of trade rather than succumbing to laws that would leech all resources from the Vale and bring them solely back to the heartland of the Kingdom. Motions failed to be passed, and thus local neighbors like Grom’gol and the Trade Barons of Booty Bay took from the profits that, perhaps by right, should’ve gone to Stormwind.
Yet, it wasn’t a total loss. The Kingdom, although initially experiencing a loss from the colony, gained back a marginal profit from their investments. The King’s coffers were slowly being replenished, but perhaps not at the rate they had wished. Still, they could do little to infringe on the machinations of the mercantile world. They did not wish to trifle with them, so as to avoid further debacles of smuggling and thievery. The Crown, content nonetheless, sent troops south to garrison the new land. News of its prosperity, at least regionally speaking, reached the ears of many would-be pioneers. By summer’s end, the colony’s population would rise to one thousand souls.
However, there was still one problem: Kingsland’s leadership. The House of Nobles bickered and argued as to who would govern the land, for many thought it should be a man of peerage. Yet, the Royal Charter did state that the position of Lord Governor, the individual whom was to rule in the King’s name in the colony, could be from either the House or from the Commons. Many speculated that perhaps an individual with a military record could be the best suited for such a task. However, others countered this argument, suggesting that soldiers would not understand the fine nature of statecraft or politics. This went on for some time, until finally they opened up the candidacy for those who would be recommended by well-known peers.
Dozens were suggested, from peers of the realm to battle-hardened commanders of the Crown. Many nobles were denied, perhaps due to a lack of popularity or an unsuitable record. A pampered politician who had only known the comforts of Elwynn was not ready to venture down to an inhospitable land like the Vale. What of the many military careerists that were brought for examination? Sadly, many were needed at their current posts, and some were known to be too brash – not suited for the political machinations that the title demanded.
But, late one day, one candidate was sent in. His initial letters of recommendation featured praise from the Stormwind Trading Company, and many within the House were wary that this was another ploy by the organization to support a puppet within the government. Yet, when they kept reading, they found out that this man had a crucial part in bringing down the criminal ring that had poisoned the Company. He was a man of the military, although not of incredibly high rank. Yet, he had seen much in his years of service. Draenor, Kalimdor, the wars against the Pirate King, and many more campaigns wherein he had proved his ability to command and his loyalty to the Crown time and time again. He was a head battalion chief within one of the most prestigious regiments in the whole of His Majesty’s army. He was well educated, holding degrees in civil engineering and mathematics. Faithful, loyal, lawful, and rational. His family name sealed the deal, for although not of noble peerage, his place among the landed gentry made him one of the most viable candidates among all others.
It also didn’t hurt that a few favors were pulled to ensure he was seen by a suitably agreeable board of peers during the selection process. Thus, on that final day of deliberation in August, his name was sounded out throughout the halls of the Royal Keep, followed by the crack of a gavel to officiate his new position as a loyal servant of His Majesty abroad.
Edrington Wilhelm Grunwald, Lord Governor of the Royal Colony of Kingsland.
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Seek out an officer in-game! When applications are approved a list of everybody who can interview you will be listed along with their in-game names. Using /who and typing the guild name also works as well!
Hello. i was just wondering how i can contact someone for my in-character interview.