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Diplomacy At It's Best

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6 Months After The Vanguard's Fall

 

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As she lay on the ground, out of breath and energy alike, Lidya throws an arm over her eyes as the sun beats down mercilessly on her fair skin.

She hoped she didn't get freckles again! If it continues to keep up like this, she'll have them in no time and Lidya knows for a fact that none of the ingredients for her usual potion to remove them are on Pandaria. 

Lamenting her loss of clear skin, she's surprised to hear someone clearing their throat and moves her arm to look at the culprit. It was Sky Admiral Rogers, that crazy chick who had a personal hatred for the Horde. Personally, she thought her whole hatred was a little overkill and she was from Redridge. 

"May I help you, Sky Admiral Rogers?" She asked as she moved her arm back over her eyes.

The woman above her glared at her nonchalant attitude and turned towards the small party of people she brought with her. " I have Admiral Taylor here. King Varian mentioned in his debriefing that you were under orders to conduct an investigation and that Admiral Taylor was a key witness."

Both of the Admiral's looked down at her, including the SI:7 agents, Little Lu, and his elder brother, Bold Karasshi. Sighing, she moved her arm back again to look Admiral Taylor in the eye. 

"Admiral Taylor, under orders of His Majesty, Varian Wrynn, King of Stormwind and High King of the Grand Alliance, you are to tell me any and all knowledge you have of the fate of both Lady Karmon and His Highness, Anduin Wrynn, Crown Prince of Stormwind."  She orders.

To her right, an SI:7 agent named Sully "The Pickle" Mcleary laughed aloud, "What, did ye rehearse that in the mirror on the way here from Stormwind?" the dwarf asked.

"Yes," she replies without hesitance. The dwarf seemed to sombre up a little at her answer but was still eyeing her warily. It was annoying, to say the least, then again, what right did she have to complain, she's been doing the same thing to all of them since she got this damn isle.

"You know you don't have to use the full titles right?" Amber questioned.

"..."

It was still for a moment as Lidya glanced away from them, face burning and fists clenched tightly in anger. She was going to kill him! 

He told me I had to use the full title for investigative purposes. He’ll pay! Mark my words Varian Wrynn, I will get you back!’ 

 

-

 

Meanwhile Back In Stormwind

 

-

 

 

The High King of the Grand Alliance himself was working with Valeera, Genn and Jaina on the preparations to head to Pandaria.

"And then the flee-" Varian was cut off of his explanation as he sneezed.

"Are you alright?" Genn asked, concerned.

"I'm fine Genn, just a little sniffle."

"You know, they say everytime you sneeze, someone's talking about you." Jaina pointed out.

"Don't be ridiculous Jaina, if that were true, then I'd be sneezing all the time." he retorted as he rolled his eyes at the audacity of even the notion of that being possibly true.

 

-

 

Back In The Jade Forest

 

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"You did know that right?" 

"It doesn't matter. Admiral Taylor, tell us. What happened to Lady Karmon?" Lidya urged.

"She's dead. We all saw it. When we were first ambushed, I ordered both the Lady Karmon and His Highness below deck to the hold. They both went down there but not even a few minutes later, Lady Karmon came above deck and started to join us in battle. She was good, she took out twice as many enemies than my men. But, we got distracted, all of us, by the thrill of battle, we didn't notice the other rogue until it was too late. That blasted orc stabbed her in the side and her right leg while her back was turned! The coward! But, the Lady, she held on and began fighting back!" he exclaimed.

"Then what happened?" she pressed.

"She started to get sluggish...I believe the blade was poisoned...the orc started to push her back until she hit the side of the ship. The Lady raised her blade to strike when she stopped and let it fall to the deck. Then the orc stepped back and both of her poisoned blades were stuck in the Lady's stomach! Then the orc pushed her overboard! We heard a splash but nothing after that. By the time we could even spare a man to go get her, we were nowhere near where she fell overboard." The admiral clenched his fists in rage.

"And where were you exactly then?"

"I don't know where exactly but there was a wide river going inland and a great red temple farther away, right beside it."

Little Lu spoke up then, "That sounds like the Krasarang Wilds!"

"The what?"

"The Krasarang Wilds. It's an area that makes up most of the southern coast of Pandaria. That temple you spoke of must be the Temple of the Red Crane and that river...it's current is very strong, she could be anywhere along the river or even the Valley of the Four Winds. Maybe even the river between the Jade Forest and the Vale of Eternal Blossoms assuming someone hasn't seen her in the river and fished her out yet."

"And the prince?"

"When we crash landed, the prince was still in the Hold but then he came out because he was filling with water. He stopped long enough to heal our soldiers and ask where the Lady Karmon was. When I told him of her death he suddenly ran off into the forest. I called after him and was about to follow when the Hozen showed up and attacked." Lidya's face darkened at the mention of the monkeys, a tick mark appearing on her forehead and her fists clenched. 

To her right, Sully yells out in alarm as her fists suddenly catch on fire. Lidya hangs her head, short brown hair casting a shadow over her face as her whole body shakes in anger.

"Monkey's huh?" Her voice may sound calm but to anyone with half a brain can hear how tight her voice is as she speaks.

Admiral Taylor nodded, "Yes, they're practically everywhere. "

"Oh, really, I hadn't noticed."

Behind her, Little Lu bent over to Scully and whispered," I think she has noticed. Why has she lied?"

"Laddie, never question a lass. It'll do you a great deal of good later on in life down the road." Little Lu's eyes steeled themselves in determination before he nodded fiercely.

Lidya pretended to ignore them in favour of trying to go out and find the prince when the Admiral stopped her from leaving and ordered her to hand out weapons best suited to each villagers skillset.

Oh, that man better watch his back! If he thought he could order her around, he had another thing coming! The only reason she did what he asked- well more like demanded- was because she was here not only as an investigator a rescuer of princes and nobility but also a diplomat and if it helped strengthen their ties to the Jinyu, then so be it. But she was not his dog!

 

-

 

Stormwind Keep 

 

-

 

"In two months time, the fleet will arrive in this Pandaria?" Jaina questioned, her voice echoing through the room.

"That's correct," Genn responded a moment later. 

"And you sent your champion to go and find both Anduin and the Lady Karmon whilst we prepare to head way to this new isle?"

"Yes, my champion the mage Lidya Appleton," Varian replied proudly to his friend.

If Varian was expecting Jaina to be jealous, the look she gave him was one of terror and despair.

"What? What's wrong?"

"There wouldn't happen to be any sort of monkey's on this isle?" she asked, unusually calm.

"Yes, tons of them in fact," he answered confused. "Why?"

"Oh god," Jaina bemoaned.

"What's the problem Jaina?" 

"We're doomed. Absolutely and utterly doomed."

 

-

 

Somewhere In The Jade Forest

 

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" I AM DONE WITH THESE GODFORSAKEN MONKEY'S!

 

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Pearlfin Village

 

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From inside the village, a confused Little Lu turned towards their new allies. "Do you think she needs help?"

Sully, after trading looks with Amber and Rell, turned to him, "Lad, I think sh-" He was cut off as a loud explosion went off in Moonwater Retreat and even louder angrier bellows followed soon after.

"No, she seems fine on her own, best to leave her be. We'd only be getting in the way."

As soon as he says this, an enraged Lidya appears with a couple of her Jinyu 'students' that she had to train in the forest. Everyone stared at Lidya, a monkey hanging onto her head and another on her leg as she tries to shake it off.

"FUCK THIS SHIT!" She cries, letting loose a stream of fire from her hands, burning any Hozen that risked to get any closer to her. She blinked forwards, running towards Pearlfin Village, blasting any of the damn monkeys that tried to follow them into the village. 

She strides towards to Admiral with a fierce glare in her eyes and snark on her lips. She came to a stop less than a foot away from him, covered in burn marks, scratches and hair a complete mess.

"I am going to find Anduin now...and if you try to make me fight any more of those furred demons when my only objective is to find the prince, I will burn you, Admiral, are we clear?" she orders him, her voice flat and unwavering.

Eyes wide and alight with fear, Taylor gulped before he slowly nodded. He made no effort to withhold the sigh of relief when the short fire Mage turned her steely gaze away from him and onto Bold Karasshi.

"You, you mentioned a Lorewalker who might be able to help. Where is he?"

"It's just to the south, the Dreamer's Pavillion. The Lorewalker who lives there might be able to help you find your friend. " Lidya simply tilted her head in thanks and was on her way before he could even retort.

Now, time to find the little brats.

 

 

Back In Stormwind

 

-

 

"Varian?"

"Yes Valeera?" he asked absentmindedly, focused on the maps before him.

"Did you, by any chance at all, tell Vereesa yet?" 

Varian dropped the map he was holding as his map as his face went pale and his eyes widened in horror.

"Shit!"

"I'm gonna take that as a no."

 

-

 

The Jade Forest

 

 

 

Finding the little brats was not as easy as she had hoped.

She had made it to the Lorewalker's home only to find it empty; it wasn't ransacked so he wasn't kidnapped. Everything was in order and there was no sign of violence so she assumed he simply must be out doing whatever it is 'Lorewalker's' do, whatever that is. 

As she let her chocolate brown eyes roam across the estate, they landed on a small pot of what looked to be tea only it was smoking from its top. Curiosity getting the better of her, Lidya made her way over to the smoking drink, health potion at her side, took a small sip.

As soon as the liquid hit her tongue, she quickly realized it wasn't tea. Not even close. With an 'ack' of surprise, she dropped the cup, the liquid spilling everywhere and made a grab for her health potion.

Before she could even finish unscrewing the cork, her world went out of focus and grew hazy, almost as if it was covered by a dense fog. 

Mists started rolling in and Lidya waited in baited silence as it continued to cover the estate in this unnaturally dense fog. Soon, however, a twig snapping and a faint growl made her whirl around to see a giant white wolf coming out of the mists.

"Two hundred ships at my disposal yet the one carrying my SON goes missing!" Its voice sounded an awful lot like Varian yet she couldn't quite put her finger on as to why the white wolf form was such an important connection to him.

Footsteps pounded from beside her and Lidya turned just in time to see Anduin out from the fog with two large, golden wings of light on his back, "I am sorry, but I cannot go back just yet. " he sounded just as unapologetic a teenager could be and just as stubborn as his father was!

Anduin continued to walk out from the mist until he stopped in front of the wolf, who not once growled threateningly when he approached and raised his hand at the great beast. A light shone from his hand, hitting the wolf.

A puff of smoke appeared as he did this, though soon when the smoke had dissipated, it's smoky haze revealed a stern and overprotective Varian Wrynn.

"I've decided to search for my love and the Vale... Vale... Vale..." he suddenly ran off through the entrance of the Lorewalker's estate.

'My love? Search? The only person missing other than him is the Lady Karmon...oh...OH! Atta boy Anduin!'

Just as he left, a fire appeared and burned higher than the gate itself and suddenly, a gigantic Garrosh Hellscream, Warchief of the Horde, appeared. 

"STORM the shores, and PAINT THIS NEW CONTINENT RED!" The Orc bellowed, sounding angrier than he's ever been before. 

Just then, a panda came walking out from the mists, seemingly unaffected by the dense fog that covered and invaded every nook and cranny of his estate. He held a bucket of looked to be water as he stopped in front of her prone body,

"My my. Hello, stranger! Sampled my dream brew, have we? Its visions are hard to interpret - half-truth, half-illusion! Who's to say which is which?" He threw a bucket of icy cold water over her and she shot up like a rocket. 

Lidya looked at the old Pandaren before her, questioning brown meeting his own purple that swirled with mirth and mischief. She sighed. 'Well, I suppose I better get to work.'

 

-

 

6 Months Ago

Just After The Vanguard Crashes On Pandaria

 

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Loud booms echo through his ears and Anduin swears that time slows to a stop as the noise rings in his memory before it all comes crashing down as the ships lurches forwards and he's thrown off his feet. The wood creaks and groans before a distinct cracking noise make him whip his head up to stare at the windows at the back of his room. The cracks spread like a spider web across the coloured panels of glass the pressure as thousands of tons of water pushes itself up against it.

He rushed to the door, hoping it would open but knowing it wouldn't. It was futile, Karmon had locked him in the door and only she had the key. It hung around her neck along with a master key of the palace, something he gave her as a show of trust that he had in her. So, no, he knew the door wouldn't open but there was something calming in trying to escape, failing and having to think of another way. It was just how he worked best. It was how he learned from Aunt Valeera and how Karmon would teach him later on in their spars.

Anduin turned around to look at the window, more cracks appeared every minute and some of them were leaking enough water that it reached his knees. He had to escape, however, he only had two options; wait for it to burst open on its own unexpectedly and risk not being prepared or break it open himself and know when to act.

He could almost hear Karmon's knuckles cracking in warning at him for even daring to think that option one was even a choice.

No, if he didn't want to be killed, his best option was to break it open himself. But with what; it can't be too soft, he needs to break the window open in one move. And it can't be something that requires him to stand in front of the window when he breaks it open. He risked being swept away by the waves and hitting his head or something and even the light couldn't save him if he was unconscious.

Blue eyes scanned the quickly flooding room and he almost would've missed it if it hadn't glinted in the corner of his eye. He rushed as fast as he could to his and Karmon's shared bed and dived into the sheets. He smiled as his hand grasped cold metal and pulled it out from under the pillow.

Karmon had once jokingly mentioned she kept her guns everywhere around her. He had laughed it off, not even believing for a second his girlfriend would have a loaded weapon under the pillows of their bed. For now, he would rejoice in her paranoia and thank the light that she insisted he learns how to shoot even if he never wanted to wield such a weapon.

Whirling around, Anduin cocks the loaded gun and raises his arm, aiming straight at the biggest crack, before taking a deep breath.

His fingers crook itself around the trigger and he vaguely notes the water is up to his knees now before he finally exhales.

He pulls the trigger.

 

-

 

Gasping for air as he breaks the foamy surface of the sea, Anduin barely has time to take a breath before he's swimming for the shore not too far a ways away from him. He doesn't even notice the ship start to sink further into the sea, too focused on getting back to the shore.

As he reaches the shore, he stumbles only far enough inland to pass the tide point and falls onto his hands and knees, the sand digging into his skin as he gasps for air. His chest heaves and his lungs burn in outrage at being denied the air it needs to survive. He raises his head to look around him and catches sight of the admiral shouting orders to the few remaining crew members still able to move yet Anduin can't hear a thing, a deafening silence rings through his ears and his vision spins before he's forced to closed his eyes in pain and hang his head again.

A little while later, the silence alleviates a little, only enough to leave all sound muffled to his ears and he looks up again but this time he turns his head to the right and catches sight of a young woman, splayed out on the beach, chest barely moving, eyes closed and face peaceful.

He would've continues to stare at her when her chest stops moving and he tries to stand, managing to stumble over to her before falling to his knees beside her limp and still body. He strips her of her armour chest plating and pressed his ear against her chest. He waits in bated breath for anything and after what seems like an eternity he hears it.

A thump. It beats rhythmically, sometimes it loses its pace, but its there. And it's getting weaker by the second. He quickly hovers his hands over her chest and calls upon the light to aid him in saving her life.

His hands begin to glow and after a few moments, the woman coughs up water and opens her eyes to see Anduin, her prince, kneeling before her, concern in his eyes and steady voice flowing through her ear as he asked her if she had any more wounds and reassuring her that she would just be fine now. She watches him rush towards other downed soldiers on the beach.

 

-

 

Anduin took a deep breath, a frown settling itself onto his face as his shoulders hunched down like a weight was placed across them. He let the light glowing around his hands die and pulled the sheet over the limp and still body before him.

Just as he finished praying for the soldier's soul to reach the light, someone cleared their throat from behind him. Anduin turned to see Admiral Taylor standing at attention behind him, his clothes were bloodied and his eyes tired.

"Admiral," he greeted.

"Your Highness" Taylor returned. "We need to talk."

"Go on."

"Lady Karmon-" the admiral was cut off from his explanation by Anduin.

"This is about Karmon? Actually, now that you've mentioned her, I don't think I have seen her since before the ship fell." The prince let his blue-grey eyes trail the survivors of The Vanguard's wreckage who were off to the side, searching for a familiar crimson mane of hair.

"That's the issue Prince Anduin," Taylor began. "I'm afraid to say that Lady Karmon was killed aboard The Vanguard before being thrown over by Horde invaders. I'm truly sorr-"

Anything the admiral had to say fell on deaf ears as Anduin's whole world shattered before into millions of pieces. He felt as though the Deeprun Tram had just hit him at top speed as the air he breathed in was suddenly knocked out by the news Taylor told him. 

He would never see her again. Never see her beautiful eyes, nor feel her hands in his or feel his lips brush hers as they steal kisses from one another whenever they could. Nor see her long pointed ears twitch as she pouts, lips full and eyes shimmering with a stubborn look he's seen many times on his Aunt Valeera.

Never would he watch her at the training grounds beating up his father Vanguard as he watches from the sidelines, a book in hand that is all but forgotten as he is too entranced by her beauty and grace. And then she would turn to him with her eyes gleaming as she sees him, looking at him as if he hung the stars, moon and sun all for her all by himself. And then she'd smile, so bright and full of joy that it would shame the sun in its brilliance.

And he'd feel the breath get knocked out of him when she smiled at him, all for him. Her love was no other and it burned just as fiercely as she fought and he found himself captivated by her. He could have his whole kingdom call him a puppet ruler, say she only loved him for his titles and as long as she still smiled at him like that, he'd find he wouldn't care. Not one bit.

But he wouldn't see it ever again. Not now, not ever. And that was something he refused to accept. Until he saw her limp and still body with his own eyes, he would believe she was still alive, somewhere, searching for him just as he will for her. That was a promise.

He didn't even realize that he had started to run until he heard the admiral yell, but he didn't care. Why would he when he needed to find Karmon.

"YOUR HIGHNESS WHERE ARE YOU GOING? COME BACK! YOUR HIGHNESS!"

 

-

 

6 Months After The Crash of The Vanguard

Lorewalker Cho's Estate

Jade Forest

 

-

 

Lidya shook herself from her stupor, the effects of the dream brew wearing off as she replayed all the events she saw in her head. Anduin, cheeky brat that he is, is alive and well, albeit playing Hide-and-Seek with us but fine all the same. She swiftly set out into the forest, dodging the bog crocolisk and pyro-blasting those weird one-eyed mist monsters. 

Many hours later, as the sun started to set, she found herself up upon a hill, flopped onto the ground like she just ran a 50k- which to be fair she probably just did. - and started wheezing. Soon a shadow cast itself over her, "Lidya," Anduin asked. "What are you doing here?"

Panting, she opened up her tired brown eyes to see Anduin peering down over her. She raised her hand in a dismissive wave as she answered," Your father sent me."

Rolling his baby blues, Anduin held out a hand and once she gratefully accepted it, pulled her up to her feet. "He's always so protective! I'm fine, obviously. I suspect you're here to take me back to Stormwind?" 

"Well that," she admitted and he scowled and muttered what suspiciously sounded like, 'Go figure.' when Lidya continued," and to find your girlfriend, of course." Anduin's head snapped up to Lidya with wide eyes as his mouth fell open a bit.

The two moved over to the dimming fire, Lidya focused herself, closed her eyes and let her fire heat it. The two settled down onto the many blankets Lina and her father had brought with them on their journey, the two Pandaren were already off to the side, sleeping away, unaware of the conversation both the mage and prince were having.

A few moments of silenced passed between them before Anduin spoke again, "H-how do you know about that?" he demanded.

"When I was looking for you, I stumbled upon a Lorewalker's house and there was this really good smelling tea just sitting there getting cold and so I decided to try it. It turned out to be a dream brew, it shows visions that are half-truth half-illusion. You appeared saying you can't leave yet and that you were looking for your love and the Vale. Now, since the only other person missing and presumed KIA is Lady Karmon and you two happen to be joined at the hip, it wasn't that far of a stretch...of course, you just confirmed my suspicion." she ended her explanation with a smirk.

The sun had long gone down and Anduin simply stared at the fire in front of them before he hung his head. Lidya's smirk dropped a little at his ashamed expression and her face softened into a small smile, "How long?"

" I and Karmon have been together for a little over a year now. We...we are happy. I don't know what I'll do if she really is dead..." he lingered off. Lidya took his hand in hers and when he glanced up at her in shock she beamed softly. 

"Do you love her Anduin?" she asked quietly so their other two companions wouldn't overhear such a private affair.

"..." he was silent for a moment." I...I-I do love her." A tense silence descended upon them as Lidya let Anduin process what he just admitted.

"Oh light above, I'm pathetic!" he lamented. 

Lidya raised a curved dark brown brow at him," Why do you think that you're pathetic, kid?"

"B-Because," he started. "I had a chance to tell her...you know...that I loved her on The Vanguard just before she left to join the battle...a-and I couldn't do it! And now I may never get the chance to tell her!" 

She grabbed him by the shoulders and made him look her in the eyes, "Listen to me Anduin, I want you to trust me, we will find her again. I know we will."

"Lidya, you can't be sure we will! Pandaria is massive and for all we know, she never even made ashore." Anduin asked.

"She made it to shore," she admitted and Anduin's head snapped up to look over at her in questioning. "I asked Admiral Taylor what happened. He said she fell overboard near a wide river and a massive red temple."

"A Jinyu named Little Lu overheard us, said the temple sounds like The Temple of the Red Crane and that the rivers current are strong enough that she would've gotten pulled in. It flows through the Krasarang Wilds to the Valley of the Four Winds, she could be anywhere along the banks or even the villages nearby. " She saw the hope in his eyes grow bigger with every word she spoke and she gave him a smile.

Without warning, Anduin lunged forwards and tackled her in a hug. Surprised, Lidya was caught in his embrace and immediately tensed up. Her mind ran a million miles an hour. Did he need comfort? Human contact? Was he feeling sad or was it simply because she was someone he knew that made him hug her? Anduin, noticing her tense body and wandering thoughts, simply hugged her tighter.

"Stop that," he ordered. "You're over-thinking things, Genn mentioned you do that. I'm hugging you because you comforted me and, to be honest, you looked like you needed one just as much as I did."

It took Lidya a moment to process what he said, but once she did, she simply gave up and hugged him back. They stayed like that for several moments, hugging and watching the fire as the wood burned and cackled.

 

-

 

The embers of their fire dimmed as Lidya and Anduin packed up camp alongside their two Pandaren companions when a rustle from the bushes behind them made them turn to see Sully and Amber walk out of the bushes. Amber's sniper rifle glinted in the morning sun, catching it's light, making it look like the gun was on fire. Sully had a few leaves in his beard, a twig or two in his hair and a grumble under his breathe. The two SI:7 agents caught sight of them and approached them solemnly. 

"Prince Anduin, we've come to take ye home," Sully stated, his accent thick. "Come quietly, now."

Anduin's face, so carefree and soft before, hardened and Lidya heard him sigh under his breathe as he stood and faced the dwarf and sniper," I'm sorry, but I won't. I'm sure you understand my reasons. " he stated as he raised a hand towards the dwarf. Lidya would have thought nothing of it except for the giant surge of magical energy that started to emit from the prince's hand.

Sully spoke in a dazed voice, "Eh? Oh...uh...you're absolutely right, Prince Anduin. You are free to go as you please." Amber, who at the time was busy scouting the surrounding area from where she stood, turned to her partner, confusion plain as day on her face.

"Come on, let's go." Anduin turned and before Lidya could say something, ran off into the forest with his new Pandaren friends.

Amber, frustrated, turned to her partner," Sully! How could you just let him go?"

"Eh? What happened?" Sully shook his head, still a little dazed.

" You silly dwarf, he mind controlled you! Now he's gone!"

"Whaaa?" Sully sighed. " I can't believe he did that ta me!"

"I hope you're ready to explain this to Admiral Taylor!" Amber turned and ran off, her thinly veiled threat delivered.

"Cheeky little bugger! Didn't think he had it in him! " The dwarf exclaimed as he ran off.

Lidya sighed as she looked around the empty camp. 

"I don't get paid enough for this," she mutters before running off in a random direction, desperately trying to remember which area Pearlfin Village was.

 

-

 

Meanwhile...

 

-

 

Grunting, Karmon sidesteps her opponent and with a flick of her wrist, a blade appeared in her hand. Quick as lightning, she has her sparring partner held at the throat with her blade and both of them are panting heavily, her bound chest took in deep breathes. One of her long pointed ears twitched as they caught footsteps but as she strains to hear, all she catches are the deep shallow breathes of her opponent. She allows the thought of another person to be banished from her mind as she tries to calm her racing heart.

A slow clap echoes throughout the room and Karmon snaps her head to its source. There, at the top of the stairs leading down to the training grounds, was Master Nurong of the Wu Kao.

"Very good Shadow Karmon. Come, Lord Zhu wants to speak with you. " The older Pandaren didn't waste any time and made his way swiftly out the entrance, silent as one could be and gone within seconds.

Rolling her eyes at her mentor's antics, Karmon sheathed her blades in their holsters on her lower back before offering a hand to her downed opponent. Pei-Ling smiled and accepted her roommates scarred hand with her own left paw, a similar lion burn scar on her paw exactly like her red-headed partners. 

Pei-Ling bid her friend goodbye as Karmon stepped out of the training grounds and quickly made her way up to Lord Zhu's office. She made it in good time, trying not to get distracted by the other initiates who chose Blackguard or Omnia- it was like they were practically begging to be given a scare when how sad their spacial awareness was. Entering the office, Karmon's eyes caught onto several other figures in the room beside the Lord of the Shado Pan himself. There was Master Nurong, Taoshi, Master Wan, Master Yalia and even Master Bruised Paw. 

She didn't let her curiosity get the better of her thought and quickly strides forwards to the centre of the room, letting herself falling onto one knee in a bow before all of her superiors. Taran merely waved a dismissive hand and she felt the tension she didn't realize she had left her muscles. 

"Shadow Karmon, do you know why we called you here?" he asked. 

She shook her head. She had no idea and couldn't think of anything that would warrant all of the highest ranking Shado-Pan all to be in one room with her. 

"That's fine." he began." However, do you know the reason why I accepted Master Bruised Paw's choice of you for an initiate? I could've turned you away for being an outsider but he gave me much to think about and I dare say my old teacher still has some things he's able to teach me."

"He reminded me that you crashed landed here and survived in with fatal injuries even before you set foot upon these lands. That means you are strong, both in body, spirit and mind. But you also had others on your ship, one being your prince, is it not?" he queried.

Karmon's confusion grew. Anduin? Why would he want to know whether or not Anduin was on the ship? Lord Zhu wasn't interested in anything other than the protection of Pandaria and its people from threats both outside and in...oh! That's why he was so interested in Anduin!

"I see you've come to the same conclusion we have. With the prince and by extension you being stranded here on Pandaria, it won't take long for people to flood to our lands in search of him: both to rescue or kill it matters not. What matters is what happens when these two factions clash. As you know, the land is alive and the sha brim from the very ground itself, waiting to strike and be released the moment they can." he continued to explain.

"When the two factions clash, and they already have, the sha will begin to free themselves of their bonds, something that is already happening as we speak this very moment. I have personally warned both champions of the Horde and Alliance, the Huntress and fire mage, to leave and take their petty squabblings of war elsewhere, far away from our lands. But they have not listened and to make matters worse, have involved the local Jinyu and Hozen in their war efforts. Recently, however, the Alliance's champion has made acquaintances with the Jade Serpent, Yu'lon."

"But as the champion continues to negotiates peacefully with the locals, her Admiral schemes behind her back, no doubt infected by sha and the Horde General is no better. I fear both will try to attack one another and it will end in chaos for the innocents nearby. I want you to head to the Jade Forest and warn both the Alliance and Horde Champions of their commanders plotting, help them in any way you can and ensure the safety of the peoples of Pandaria. Do you accept?"

"We are the sword in the shadows. Let your will be done, Lord Shado-Pan."

 

-

 

The Jade Forest

2 Weeks After Lidya & Anduin Met

 

-

 

Rushing through the forest, Anduin huffs as he dodges another set of arrows and the yells of the Horde warriors who give chase after he's escaped Grookin Hill. He dashes through a set of trees, glancing back to see if his pursuers were any closer when he trips over a root and falls to the ground with a pained groan. His blonde hair stuck to his forehead and he wipes a dirtied hand on his cheek, smearing it in a streak of dirt.

He grunts as he pushes himself upwards and takes off running again to the Krasarang Wilds, intent on finding Karmon as soon as he can. He doesn't see the trap until it's too late and gives an undignified yelp as he's strung forward into a tree, dangling pathetically from the rope. His world spins as he tries to adjust to his new level of view before he shakes his head and tries to cut himself free.

He was prepared, after all, rule number one is; Always keep a knife on your person. Aunt Valeera was quick to pound that into his head. He can still remember what she told him the day he was given his first dagger. 

'Even if you never want to be a Warrior like your father Anduin, it doesn't excuse being unprepared for anything that life throws at you. You don't need to have a large blade on your person, just a small dagger you can hide on yourself. Never underestimate size. Big or small, underestimating something based on appearance alone is the quickest way to get you killed, especially in a world like ours. Never forget that.'

Before he can reach for his blade, however, a snarl stops him dead in his tracks. Anduin looks up- well down really- to see a raptor, a beautiful shade of red scales covered its body and a small horn was perched on his head. 

"Spike!" an accented voice called out from the bushes." Did ya find anyting?" the voice sounded female.

It was closer than the small army trying to recapture him but still far enough away that unless the raptor- Spike his mind supplied- alerted her than she probably wouldn't know. 

Of course, his plan hinged on Spike not making any noise.

He looked at Spike who stared back at him with red beady eyes. The raptor began to open his mouth and he panicked," No no no, please don't make any noise!" he whispered pleadingly.

The raptor gave him a look and Anduin would swear to his dying breath that he raptor gave him an evil grin before he started to chuff and call out for his mistress. When Spike was done calling, he looked back at him.

It was petty, he knows, but he gave the raptor a betrayed look and harshly muttered," You traitor!"

The bushes rustled before a troll came out. She had a magnificent red mohawk and bright blue skin and orangey coloured eyes. She held a bow. A huntress then. And Spike was her familiar. 

The troll stopped short when she caught sight of an upside-down Anduin, dangling helplessly in her trap, her eyes trained on the royal crest he wore. She opened her mouth to speak when a yell came from behind the bushes.

"Commander, did you find the prince?"

The troll huntress looked back behind her at the bushes where the legion of soldiers was likely waiting to see if she had caught the young POW they captured. She looked back at the young boy dangling from her trap and the helpless look in his eyes.

She saw defiance in them, but also a hint of fear. If he was who she thought he was, she knew that Garrosh would not hesitate to take his attempted escape as an excuse to torture, probably even to kill the young prince. 

"No," she called back. "Just a silly little cub dat got caught in da trap I set out. You go on ahead, I be going off on my own to search for da prince. Don't be waiting for me to return for some time."

Aside from the acknowledging grunts that the legion gave her, she paid no mind to them as she looked back at the prince. "You be da Prince mon?" she asked. Anduin mutely nodded.

"I be Draggka of the Darkspear Trolls. Dis here be Spike. I mean no harm to ya, your highness." Draggka walked forwards and started to untie Anduin from his bindings.

"Anduin, please. Thank you Draggka...for saving my life," he whispered, still in a bit of shock. He yelped when she cut him down and he landed with a deep thud on the ground. 

"Now, ya highness, why you be running from da camp as if da raptors of Bwondsamedi be on ya tails? " she inquired. Her question confused him for a moment until he got his head in order and the shock finally wore off. 

"I...I am looking for someone very dear to me," he started. "Before we crashed here, she was supposedly killed and pushed overboard. An informant of mine said that she's almost positive that she would've been washed ashore. I was on my way to the Krasarang Wilds to go looking for her when I was captured." 

" I only managed to escape because almost everyone was at the battle at Serpent's Heart. I took my chance when my guard was distracted. Unfortunately, she noticed sooner than I had hoped and sounded the alarm." He explained.

Draggka nodded, absentmindedly rubbing her raptor's head while deep in thought. "So, how you be getting dere now?"

"By foot," he replied as he rubbed his aching head.

"Then I guess I be going with you," she grinned. "After all, I have to be making sure dat you not be killed on your way dere."

"Why?" he looked up at her in confusion. 

"It just be causin' more trouble for da Horde in da long run if you be getting yourself killed." She smirked at him, Spike following her lead.

Anduin stared at the troll in front of him before returning a smile. "Yes, I suppose the would be troubling," he admits.

Draggka stared up at the sun, hand shielding her eyes as she peered up. She sighed and bent down to pick up her bow and pack. She placed the bow around her shoulders and threw Anduin the bag. 

"Den let's be going ya highness, da sun be getting real low soon and I be wanting to make good camp farther away from da Horde's base camp." Anduin only nodded as he followed the red-haired huntress deeper into the wilds of the Jade Forest.