Kane Lecher was in a particularly irritable mood this evening. His day working at “Findel and Co. Trading Company” had been a long gruelling one. One of the incompetent half drunken dwarves that his employer was forced into hiring had added two zero’s to a weight of an order of iron bars. This of course led to a major confusion when 6 carts showed up instead of one asking for a significantly greater quantity of gold. As he strolled through the hot smoking halls of the Great Ironforge forge, he cursed to himself. Of course he had been left to deal with the issue this morning, and then his wretched employer had deemed that he was the one responsible and therefore wouldn’t be getting paid this week. The company was notoriously prejudiced against humans; the gnomish owner prided himself on keeping an Ironforge citizen only work force. The only reason Kane had gotten the job was because of his ability to re-balance their accounts in a matter of hours, which pleased Findel as he found he was 1000 gold pieces less in debt. Despite the heat, Kane pulled his cloak around him and looking to the floor as he walked. Kane was a tall man, standing at about six foot with a surprisingly strong build for a scribe. Any person who passed him in the street would have called him ordinary. He was well presented, despite his aging doublet and breeches. His long black hair was normally pulled back behind his head in a pony tail. The only odd thing about his person was his left hand, as in the place of the index and middle fingers were two short stubs of tissue. Luckily he was a right handed writer so this in no way hampered his ability to force feed short unimportant bastards like Findel their own accounts, organised and signed.
In truth Kane hated his job. He hated Ironforge, he hated Findel, he hated his having to scrape every penny to feed his family and he most defiantly hated the stupid prick you can’t tell the difference between one thousand and one hundred thousand. He had only been working for the company a month, since his previous place of employment had dissolved suddenly. He cursed to himself in his head.
“You had to go and fuck it all up didn’t you Lecher?” And he agreed with himself. He had “fucked” up his life.
“Before you could have had anything you wanted. Now look at you, working for a spineless bastard like Findel!” He cursed aloud now as he reached the tunnel that would take him past the city bank and towards the main gate of Ironforge. As he walked he suddenly became uneasy, like a nervous feeling in the pit of his stomach. He instinctively flicked a glance over his shoulder at the tunnel behind him to see a rat scuttling across the stone floor, heading for a crack in the wall. He shrugged to himself before walking on, now slightly faster.
“You’re just being Paranoid Lecher. It’s just your head playing tricks on you again.” He told himself this over and over. Yet still this nervous ache persisted, and in his experience his gut feeling had rarely been wrong. He walked out into the bustling square outside the Ironforge bank, his eyes suddenly scanning the crowd and buildings overlooking him. He looked for anything; A familiar face, a particular posture or even a reflection from a rifle scope. Sweat now drizzled down his forehead which he mopped with the back of his hand.
“There’s nothing Wrong Lecher, go home and get a drink!” He summoned up his courage and stepped forward, bustling towards the City gates.
Kane lived with his wife and two children in a room they rented beneath the brewery in Kharanos. The owner had been most kind to them, giving them a fair rate and a comfortable place to rest their head. The only thing to dislike was the potent smell of fermenting hops which lingered beneath the tavern. Kane was now out of the city strolling down the slopping path towards Kharanos. The unsettled feeling in his stomach had now rested and a smile now grew across his face.
“Oh god... Mallin is going to kill me when I show up empty handed again.” Mallin, his wife had never been the same since Kane had lost his previous job, and the never ending funds which came with it. Not to mention she had not been keen about him uprooting the family to take them to some small chambers beneath the snow of Dun Morogh. He sighed to himself, letting out a lungful of pale wispy vapour as he exhaled.
“You made the same mistake as they did, Lecher. You didn’t think your own weapon would ever hurt you.” Again he sighed. Well what was done is done, that was one thing that Kane’s old colleagues had taught him.
He had now reached the main street of Kharanos. This small town stood in the shadow of the mountain in which was the smoking metropolis of Ironforge. Yet the town showed no similarity to the city. The inhabitants were friendly and less judgemental than any of the city folk Kane had met in the last month. And last but not least, they just wanted to get on with their lives, and this meant nobody asked too many questions. He bore left up the steps of the tavern, before grasping the handle and pushing the heavy door open. The tavern was busy as per normal. The townsfolk normally filled the place, but there were always a few people who journeyed here to sample the fine ales. The bartender saw Kane as he made his way between the tightly packed patrons and serving girls, he raised his hand to Kane in a welcoming gesture and near bellowed of the heavy throng.
“Hey there Laddie! Ya’ be home late again I see, I don’t think ya’re lass downstairs will be ta’ pleased with ye’.” He offered a grin to Kane, who reluctantly returned the grin before responding.
“Well you know women. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.” This prompted a hearty chuckle from the bartender as he nodded frantically.
“Aye lad. Tha’ be true.” Kane chuckled genuinely before forcing through the remainder of the crowd to the steps which led him down into the chambers beneath the tavern.
The racket of the tavern above was now a deep drone due to the several metres of rock which separated the lower chambers from the tavern floor. Kane finished descending the stairs to another heavy door which lead to the family chambers. He pulled the handle ad pushed it open, the hinges of the door screeched loudly, obviously they were reaching the end of the days. Inside the chamber were a bookshelf (filled mostly with books on the art of brewing dwarven ales), a fireplace and a table which was currently covered in paper work from the trading depot which Kane had not yet gotten around to filing or burning. There were also two doors and stair cases going down further. The one directly across the room from him lead down to him and his wife’s bedchamber and the one just to his left lead down to the quarters of his 12 year old son and 15 year old daughter. Kane looked about the room and sighed to himself.
“They used to sit up and wait for me, even into the late night.” Kane took a look at his bedroom door and then at the children’s.
“It’s been a long while since I wished them good night.” He turned to the left stairwell, walking down the short stairwell and knocking gently on the door. Almost immediately he heard his daughter’s voice.
“It’s open dad.” He grinned to himself before pushing the door open slowly, looking at the small room beyond. Two beds stood on the sides of the room, with a dresser wedged tightly between them. His son Sloan and his daughter Meganne were both propped up on their beds, reading. His smile only widened upon seeing them engrossed in literature, he himself was unable to provide an education for them himself.
“How did you know it was me?” he asked quizzically.
“Its only you that knocks, mum just barges in.” As Meganne responded, folding the page of her book and sitting up to look at him. “I guess fathers are scared on walking in on their daughters half dressed”
“Oh believe me, there are plenty of men who are scared of that.” Sloan sniggered as he jabbed his head in the direction of his sister. She promptly responded by throwing her book as hard as she could at his head, which met its mark with a loud yet somewhat satisfying thump. Sloan of course sat bolt up rubbing his head, cursing profusely. Kane’s paternal instincts held back the wave of laughter that he felt may overcome him; instead he simply raised his voice slightly.
“Sloan! Watch your tongue in this household, heaven help you should your mother have heard that. And Meganne be nice to your brother.” Sloan lay back down on his bed muttering while rubbing the now large red patch on his forehead.
There was a moment of uneasy silence, none of them spoke. Kane sighed slightly to himself before putting his hand back on the door handle.
“I’ll let you two get some sleep now.” Kane slowly started to back out of the room pulling the door shut, until he heard his daughter almost yell back.
“Wait dad. There’s something I want to show you.”Kane peered back round the door looking towards his daughter as she rummaged under her bed. There was an audible groan from Sloan.
“Damn it Meg it’s not that interesting.” Kane looked between them, his curiosity only increasing as he stepped across the threshold and closed the door behind him. Meganne then re-emerged from beneath her bed holding a single fresh white rose. Sloan only muttered to himself as Kane moved slowly to sit with his daughter on the bed.
“Seems that you have an admirer.” Kane grinned at his daughter who only wrinkled her nose and shook her head.
“Hardly. I was given this by some flower seller in the street.” Kane reached out with his hand taking the rose and gazing down upon it, reminiscing to himself. His wave of thought was suddenly broken by his daughter speaking to him.
“Dad, what do roses mean?” Kane looked up from the rose at his daughter somewhat confused.
“That’s rather an odd question Meg.” She shrugged at him, looking just as confused as he was.
“The flower seller said I should ask my father what it means.” Kane grinned to himself again looking at the rose in his hand.
“A rose... is a lie.” He shrugged only continuing once he saw her bemused expression. “A rose is a flower of such grace and beauty. But yet it carries thorns.”
“Surely those are just for defence though, to stop things eating it.” His daughter responded. This prompted a sigh from Kane.
“When a man gives you a rose, what do you think it means.” His daughter shrugged at him.
“I guess it means that he’s interested in courting me.” Kane shook his head at his daughter, locking eyes with her for a moment.
“It actually means he wants to sleep with you. A rose is a lie Meg, a beauteous and pleasant smelling article of deception.” Meg broke eye contact first, leaning back on her hands, obviously thinking.
“This is all really weird.” Kane grinned ruffling his daughter’s hair.
“Yes I know I’m a cynical bastard aren’t I” Meganne shook her head, still looking deep in thought.
“It’s not just you. The flower seller was odd too.” Kane shrugged turning his attention back to the rose in his hand. “I mean, she had white hair but she only looked just older than me. And her skin, never seen anybody look so pale.” The grin faded from Kane’s face suddenly, as his entire body froze and locked in place.
“It can’t be so. It can’t!” were the only words running through his head. After a moment he lifted his head turning to his daughter.
“Her eyes Meg... What were her eyes like” he spoke slowly and calmly, slowly turning the rose in his hand.
“It doesn’t matter. She was just another crazy street trader.”
“Meg. What did her eyes look like?” Kane’s tone grew more agitated, and once more that sweat could be seen rolling down his forehead.
“I said it doesn’t matter, she was just a...” Meg was cut off as Kane practically screamed at her.
“God damn it Meg! What were her eyes like?” Meg stood frozen almost in fear, gazing at her father in surprise. “Meg! Answer me!” He bellowed again. Meg sighed and quietly spoke to Kane.
“They were like a pinkish purple, and her pupils were almost like slits from top to bottom.”
The rose fell from Kane’s hand, landing softly on the bedspread beneath him.
“You and your brother stay in here and pack your things. We’re leaving in 10 minutes.” He stood up turning towards the door, ripping it open and slamming it to drown his children’s protests.
“How did she find me? Why would she find me?” He cursed as he walked up the stairs into the main room, his eyes darting to the corners in a frantic fashion. At a fast pace he raced down the stairs to his chamber, pushing the door open as fast as he could. His sudden entrance caused Mallin to jump up from the armoire where she had been arranging clothes.
“Fucking hell Kane. Are you trying to kill me?” Kane only barged past her to the locked cabinet by the bed.
“Pack only what you need. We’re getting out of here” As he pulled a key from his pocket and placed it in the locker, the relentless drone of his wife continued.
“Oh I see. Let me guess you got kicked out of your job again?” Kane didn’t respond. He only ripped the cabinet doors open to see the somewhat relieving site that was his shotgun hanging in its rack. “So you’re just going to uproot out family again, take us to some small back end of the world where you children can’t get an education or make friends. Look at Sloan, that boy has never had a friend his age because of you! And as for Meg, well unless you let us hang around long enough for her to pick up a trade she’ll end up like those girls in goldshire...” Kane spun round to face his wife, shouting as loud as he could, brandishing the gun in one hand.
“Shut the fuck up woman for the love of god! You think I would drag you all with me if it wasn’t important!”
“I don’t know Kane! Maybe if you told me why, I would be more co-operative.” Kane sighed to himself, grabbing the ammo pouch from the cabinet and pushing forcefully past his wife on his way to the door.
“Mallin... I will tell you everything later. But now, we’ve got to go.” He pushed his way through the door, leaving his wife somewhat stunned behind him.
As he walked, Kane pulled open the chamber of the shotgun with shaking hands. Inside the two thorium shells lay there just as he had left them. He snapped it back shut, feeling somewhat comforted now that he had a gun in his hand. He turned back to his children’s quarters, his pace quickening further. This time he didn’t knock he just barged in, to see Meganne and Sloan rapidly shoving clothes into their satchels silently.
“You two almost done?” There was no response from either of them for a few moments before eventually Sloan spoke.
“Dad. Are you going to tell us what the fucks going on?” Kane grimaced and shook his head.
“There are some things kids your age should just go along with and think about later.” His daughter looked up at him; you wouldn’t have to be an expert at reading people to tell that she was upset.
“Why can’t you just tell us? Why can’t you just...” She was interrupted by the sound of the door of the chamber above them, screeching as it opened. All three of them froze, as they heard the sound of footsteps across the stone floor, and then they heard Mallin’s voice.
“What the hell are you doing in here! This is a private...” She didn’t get to finish the sentence. There was a sudden sweet sound of a blade cutting air and silence for a moment. Then followed a series of thumps followed by one large crash against the door of the children’s chamber. Everybody stood perfectly still like statues, not making a sound as a pool of red crimson crawled across the floor from beneath the door.
Kane was the one who reacted first. He hit the hammer back on his shotgun before walking slowly to the door and pulling the bolt shut. His heart raced now, all three of their hearts did. The first to speak was Sloan.
“You bastard.” Kane turned to look at his children, trying to stem back the sickening feeling that he felt grip him about the stomach.
“Just keep quite ok.” His voice broke slightly as he tried to remain calm “Hopefully the guys upstairs will figure out what’s going on and get the guards.”
“And what is going on Dad?” his daughter murmured to him, tears streaming down her face. Kane sighed and sat on the bed beside her.
“It’s not easy to explain...”
“I’m sure mum was glad she didn’t know...” Meg whimpered slightly as she nodded at the slowly spreading puddle of blood. Kane clapped eyes on it for a moment before looking away in disgust.
“I’ve done some bad things Meg... I’ve met some bad people. And anyone who knows about that side of life is in as much danger as those in it.” He looked from his daughter to his son and back again.
“You’re an accountant dad, not a fucking cultist...” Sloan almost spat the words at his father. Kane shook his head and eyed his son.
“Bad people can’t all arrange their finances and paper work, they need someone to do it for them.” He sighed again. “I just wanted a little more money to give you guys a good start in life. But you’ve got to understand that this stuff isn’t simple to understand” He felt his daughter press herself close against him, shivering heavily.
“Tell us the truth dad... please.” Kane sighed to himself and gently slipped his arm around his daughter.
“Well. It all started with one little girl. About 6 years ago...”