The Coming Storm

Alliance: Chapter 12

Constance

Laughter filled the household. Mariss had returned home, as healthy as before, and that meant a celebration. From all over Darnassus their friends came. Most brought fruit baskets or wine while others merely brought their well wishes and helped themselves to the fruit and the wine. Huntsmen Blake surprisingly turned out to be Constance’s favorite person at the party when he revealed he was roasting a stag outside in the back garden. Mariss happily dug into the meat when the first slice was given to her and while everyone cheered, Constance could not help but feel suspicious. Was this a way of Blake to apologize for sending the Howling Oak Worgen into battle, one they lost, despite King Greymane and thus Constance’s official stance…or something else?

She walked through the throngs of people, and hated the idea already of cleaning up after them after the party would be over, and could not help but overhear a few things.
“My sister has send word from Ashenvale. Seems the Starseekers are rallying with the Shadowleaves for another attack on the crossroads.” The night elven druid Amahel said to one of her kin.” I might join the attack myself.”
“What, why?” the huntress asked.” Your mother will be heartbroken if you leave to.”
“I lost my father to Hellscream and my mate to his son. I am not going to sit by and wait until Vol’jin or another monster comes to take my children or my sister away as well.”

Constance moved on as she picked up a few grapes from a bowl and munched them down.
“How are things in Stormwind?” she heard a Gilnean ask Stephan, the trader.
“It’s a mess there. SI7 is keeping every noble imprisoned, leading a damn inquisition to find the killer while every adventurer is off trying to find the prince. Won’t be long till that entire city will turn into a warzone filled with looting and killing.”
“You plan on moving out of there?”
“I cant, I got a house and all my money is in the bank there. I tried to get it out but the damn bank is shut because everone had the same bright idea. I should’ve invested it in Ironforge but nooo…”
A gnome butted in.” Wouldn’t have done you much either my friend. I got a cousin in Ironforge’s banking system and he said because of the attack on Zandalar and the economic mess coming from Stormwind, Ironforge will go the same downward spiral. Unless Gilneas kicks its economy into gear and Kul Tiras and Dalaran refuse further bail out money, it’s going to suck all over.”
Constance shook her head and moved on. Thankfully most of the conversations were more benign and light hearted. It didn’t even surprise her to find a couple…coupling behind the large tree in her backyard.

What surprised her more was her brother Arnulf. All her life she had known her older brother as a chauvinist, a alpha male (even more so when the Worgen curse was inflicted upon him), a womanizer and a man with strict values. She suspected her father’s words had clawed their way into her brother’s mind at a early age. He cared for her and there were times he stood up for his sister against their father. But when he found out his sister preferred the company of women, he left to uphold the family’s honour (whatever was left of it, he said in his words) by fighting the Horde. The man she knew would never have even attended for the apparent dishonour Constance inflicted upon the family.
Now he was drinking the same wine with Mariss, laughed with her and actually exchanged stories at his sister’s expense.
“You should’ve seen her when she was a child!” Arnulf smiled.” She couldn’t go without five minutes without a treat or a snack! If it wasn’t for my father’s hiking trips she would’ve been as chubby as a dwarf!”
“I noticed that to!” Mariss giggled.” She was gaining a bit of weight from those sweets. So instead I introduced her to berries, the pounds just flew off!” the night elf smirked at her lover when Constance got close.” Didn’t they, love?”
Lady Bowen returned the smirk.” I know you will be sleeping on the sofa tonight, that’s for damn sure.”
“On my first night back home? You wound me, Lady Bowen.” Mariss faked her tears as she turned to Arnulf.” Was she always this cruel?”
“All the time.” Arnulf tsk-ed and took a sip form his wine.” She’s a bad seed from the start, this one. No wonder why she is a good politician.”
“I was not!” she said offended.
Arnulf turned to Mariss.” She is horrible at keeping secrets. If it wasn’t for her big mouth I might’ve been a scholar or a librarian today.”
“Oh, I smell a story….” Mariss poured in some wine in her glass.
Constance folded her arms.” He is still upset I ratted him out for smoking from grandfather’s pipe when he was eleven. He was under house arrest for a week for that and afterward he was send to the military academy. I didn’t see him for three months until he was allowed to come back home for Winter’s Veil.”
“Our household was a little overzealous in their punishments.” Arnulf said.
“Well someone must’ve done a good job still, you both turned out to be very lovely people. With some flaws sure but we all have those.”
“Especially you, my dear.” Constance kissed her lover’s cheek and took her glass from her hand at the same time.” Bad seeds and the like.”
“Oi, Captain!” Blake shouted.” You brought your claymore with you? This thing doesn’t want to give up his leg!”
“Coming, Blake!” Arnulf offered his glass to Mariss.” Excuse me ladies, duty calls.” He did a mock bow before he left.
Mariss shook her head and held Constance’s hand.” Is this the same brother of yours who shouted at us a few years ago and ignored us until recently?”
Constance merely smiled and held her lover’s hand. But the doubt in her mind was already building.

A few hours later, as the party died down, Constance managed to sneak away from Mariss and her crew as they kept talking about nautical shenanigans. She went looking for her brother whom she found standing alone as he looked up to the night’s sky.
He must’ve heard or smelled her coming. He didn’t turn his head but he spoke to her regardless.” You remember the nights we spend stargazing back home?”
Constance smiled and nodded. She stood next to her brother and followed his gaze.” I do, we had the best nights during the winter. Quite a few nights we came back down with a running nose and once a cold…”
“But it was worth it.” Arnulf smiled.” I still do that sometimes…I like to think you do to.”
“I do.” Constance replied. She took a moment to steady herself for what she was going to ask. She saw Arnulf was to.” You know what I am going to ask you.”
He nodded.” Why I am extending the olive branch?” He sighed as he seemed to grasp for words. Being a wordsmith was not Arnulf’s forte.” I spend so much time being angry at you but truth be told, I was angry at myself. Father kept going on and on about the family legacy, about us having children so the Bowen line would continue. I didn’t want to settle down yet, be a adventurer and the like. I don’t think I would be a good father to be honest. Hence I kind of hoped you would be a mother, so the legacy would continue.”
Constance folded her arms.

“Sis, I…” he seemed ashamed.” I am sorry for what I said. Mariss is a lovely woman, I can see why you love her. All I want is for you to be happy and there to be peace between us.”
“And the family legacy? What about father?” Lady Bowen asked.
“Father is dead. Grandfather is dead. Most of our household and men are dead and our riches are either now in Undercity or in some bandits den or Greymane’s. The house of Bowen is long gone, sis. It doesn’t matter if we have children or not. What we have now, whatever little happiness there is left…I don’t want to lose that to the spirits of the past.”
He turned to her and offered his hand.” Truce?”
Constance looked at his hand but instead held out her arms and held her brother in a big hug. She felt her brother hold her back…and then she knew.

She was in the dream realm again. She noticed the castle in the infinity of nothingness had expanded. There were actually windows outside and the darkness was replaced by sunshine. The floating castle had a small garden with fences around it. It seemed someone was busy building the place while she was gone. She took a look outside and saw the person responsible. Archdruid Stormrage was meditating in the garden as slowly more grass appeared and trees began to grow around and in front of him. She felt a connection with another realm, the Emerald Dream she guessed, as some of it’s essence made a foothold in the vast nothingness of this realm.
“He has been here for a few days.” Irriende walked down from the stairs.” I think he is channeling his grief into building this realm. My heart bleeds for him…” she sighed sadly before she shook her head.” Anyways, did you send a message fo-“
Before she could react, Constance grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her against the wall.
”What did you do to him?!” she shouted at the Magna.
Irriende’s face was a mix of confusion and anger.” Let go of-“
“WHAT DID YOU DO?!” the Gilnean noblewoman pinned her against the wall.
“I don’t know what you are talking about!”
“I smelled your magic on him! You changed him!”

Irriende managed to shake Constance off but the Gilnean noblewoman continued.
“I sensed your magic on my brother, he reeked off you! You did something with his-his..mind!”
“I thought you would be glad!” Irriende retorted.
“You turned him into a pawn!” she started to breathe very heavily. “Why? Did you sleep with him to, like the slag you are?!”
“Mind your vile tongue, mortal!” Irriende glared.” It wasn’t my idea to change him into a pawn.”
“Then whose idea was it?!”

She felt a presence appear and when she felt his energy, she already knew. With a angry glare she turned around.” You.”
“Good morning to you to, Lady Bowen.” Wrathion raised his brow. His eyes danced in between her and Irriende. She saw a spark of recognition in his eyes. “I see you have already figured it out…”
“What did you do to him?” she asked with contempt.
“I influenced his mind to be more inclined to follow my orders. Your brother is a captain of the Alliance army whose star is rising very high. Did you know because of the inquisition SI7 is doing in the Royal Guard more applications will appear in Stormwind? Applications for bodyguards with experience such as guarding diplomats? To have someone that close to the throne is a key advantage.”
“You turned him into a pawn for the prince? If he even returns?”
“Anduin WILL return, don’t fret your head over that Lady Bowen. And yes, I need my eyes close to him on all times for when he does. Your brother was a perfect piece in this game and altering his mind suited our needs.”
“You mean YOUR needs.” She frowned.
“My needs are yours to, Lady Bowen. Do not forget we breathe the same air, eat the same food, walk the same earth and sleep under the same stars. The war with the Legion is coming and I cannot allow any mistakes or blind spots to happen.” Wrathion took a seat in his usual chair.” I have no regrets of what I did to your brother and I would do it again.”
Constance felt horrified.” You…don’t care about people, do you? We are all just…puppets, tangled in your strings.”
“On the contrary. You are my chess pieces and every move I make, I do so with careful calculations. If I have to sacrifice a piece I do so with sorrow and with nothing but respect. Unlike Gul’dan I care for this Shadow Council and everyone in it.”
“You are so…full of it!” she trembled on her feet, either from anger or fear she did not know.
She expected to be struck down at any moment from the black dragon prince, but nothing happened. The prince merely looked at her as if he waited for her to continue speaking. Constance collected herself and continued.
“It’s not just my brother whose mind you violated and whose free will you stole, Wrathion. Mordred and him are the first and I’m sure you have others in your pocket to. You claim you do this for the greater good but you are just like the Burning Legion now.”
“I fight fire with fire, Lady Bowen. Also I do recall…didn’t you use blood magic to summon Lord Illidan here to save your beloved?”

Constance’s face turned pale white.” T-that’s not the same! I had to make that choice in the spur of the moment, you had time to think about all of this!”
“What I did, do and what I am going to do, I will do without choice. In the name of Azeroth’s survival I will go to any lengths possible to do my duty where my father failed.” He took out a piece of paper.” I intercepted the letter you send to General Feathermoon, we were fortunate the courier you asked was also under my sway. But this signs your warrant. I’m sorry Lady Bowen but you are to dangerous to be allowed to have a free mind.”
She felt others of the council arrive and slowly circle around her. Drak’thul, Evol, Irriende and so forth. She knew what was going to happen.
“Will it hurt?” she asked.
“Only if you resist. When it’s over it will be like nothing happened at all and you will wake up in your own bed. And do not fret, not all of your free will leaves you. If it did Varian wouldn’t have…well it doesn’t matter.” The dragon prince stood.” Are you ready?”
She shook her head. A loud screeching noise sounded through her skull as she cried out in pain and fell to her knees. Two last things sprang to her mind during the white hot pain that was her mind. One was some kind of relief she would not lose Mariss. The second was the letter she send to Shandris being a decoy and the real one hopefully made it to the portal to Dalaran, to Lady Proudmoore. But a heartbeat later she did not care anymore and that memory as well as any others that were deemed to dangerous were erased as darkness claimed her.

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