Stories : Honeybrown Jones: Fruit of the Poison Tree
- Captain Temperance Brown, from "A Report to Sister Superior"
Outside, the guards were driving off a Murloc that had wandered too close to the town, scavenging for food the refugees hadn't gotten to yet. Almost a hundred refugees clogged the road in a shanty-town to the north, less than half of them armed and all of them starving. The blacksmiths couldn't find enough plowshares to beat into swords again and the grain stores weren't going to last another month. Now this.
"I can't send that to Stormwind."
"Why not?" Captain Temperance "Temper" Brown eyed the flashy rings on the man's hands and the soft way his shoulders sloped beneath his largely ceremonial armor.
"When you stopped here to supply, I gave you extra provisions in exchange for helping bring survivors back from Silverpine." Thumping a hand down on the damned report he leaned closer. "Instead, your squire...YOU..." He found his frustration venting to anger on the closest target. "The people of were to be protected Paladine..."
Temper cut him off, hiding how ill the whole situation made her by going on the offensive. Light knew she wished what had happened, hadn't, just as much as he did.
"We were dispatched to prevent the spread of plague. Not save villagers too sentimental to save themselves. We did what we could, and in deference to your donation to the Abbey of Perpetual Misery we tried to help you too, but the fact that we did what we were ordered and brought any survivors out of Silverpine is a gods-damned miracle."
She was leaving unsaid was the obvious comparison - the predominantly male Orders haven't done so well in ages. Two years since Uther was killed and they were still sitting around with their dicks in their hands. Like this guy. A paper warrior embarrassed to tell his superiors he'd tried to bribe the Sisterhood into doing what he should have done himself... Temper leashed hers and shifted her stance from aggressive to more professional, explaining it like she would to a new recruit. "Did we lose some? Yeah. Fewer than would have died in the long run? Hell yeah. You got your money's worth."
"The implication in your orders, in our request did not include...this..atrocity." Maleb sneered, flicking the edge of the report with disgust.
Temper didn't bother acknowledging the gesture by looking at it, but was speaking through clenched teeth now. "I didn't have to let you read my report, Maleb. I could have just sent your people here and gone on my way. This here? This is a courtesy. I suggest you learn what that means."
The man’s' eyes bulged. "How dare you speak to me like that?!"
Temperance just stared at him. He might outrank her in the regular army but no Paladine worth her salt let a piss-ant like this tell her what to do. Besides, she was sure she could take him. And with luck it would knock ten minutes off this debriefing.
Maleb saw he was failing to intimidate her and turned away to glare out the window. "Are there any witnesses alive?"
Temper's lips twitched in a bitter smile. Ah. "No. Honey did it without being seen. A couple of men were upset - I'm sure they suspected, but in the end they didn't make it to the boats." She kept her face calm, empty. Admitting nothing.
Maleb watched a straggling chain of refugee's return with a slaughtered mountain lion slung on a pole. These days no one could afford to turn their nose up at food, and dishes like Hot Lion Chops were becoming staples. Hunger was taking the edge off his righteous anger. There were a lot of things one couldn't afford to do anymore. Over his shoulder he asked: "Then, technically, there is no need to tell anyone about...this unfortunate event. No need to report it to Stormwind?" No need to ever let his name be associated with this massacre.
"None in the world." Temperance sat back, crossing her legs at the ankles. "Except of course I'm not going to lie to my superiors. If I made the wrong decision out there, they'll make sure right's set to right."
"It's not a lie, it’s an omission." He rubbed his eyes. Right set to right was one thing. Ruining his reputation, smearing it with this...that was another. "What the Abbey doesn't know, and all that, right?"
Temper stared at the back of his head. "This meeting is over. Sir."
Maleb started, turning around. "Look, there's no need to get upset. I'm not asking you to do anything untoward, it’s just...politics, understand?"
He was talking to her back. She'd walked out without another word.
Honeybrown was leaning against the
stable wall and smiling up at a smith three times her age. "You think
they'd let me carry it if I couldn't use it?"
The old man was smiling, making the scars dance alarmingly on his face. "The horses can't use 'em but they carry 'em kiddo." He winked to show he was joking and they both laughed. The girl couldn't be much older than sixteen - the age his oldest would be - and he didn't mind having the squire hang around asking questions. Maybe, wherever she was, his Wheatengold was faring so well.
"D'yr scars mean anything, Smitty?" The girl asked, putting her sword back in its sheath and admiring the way the new weapon chain glinted. "Back home a man's face told all sorts of things 'bout him but I can't read anything in your marks."
The old smiths' face twisted a little more in a smile. "They mean I was standing too close to a window when the Orcs lobbed a firebomb into the street on the other side of it."
The girl's eyes lit up. "Gar! You've fought Orcs? Where did'y fight?"
"Honeybrown!" Temperance barked, striding across the road. "Get Vice saddled. We're leaving."
Honey shrugged at the man, tugging her forelock in a bow. "S'rry Smitty. Gotta run. See ya around!" With that she turned, trotting off to saddle the warhorse. Temperance settled up with the man for his repairs to their gear and gave him an extra coin to tell anyone who came looking that they went south.
Ten minutes later found them out of sight of the settlement and riding east. Honey had kinfolk there who'd get them a gryphon back to Stormwind before Maleb could work himself up into doing something unwise. Times were changing.
- A History of the Hidden Good, by Duthorian Rall
"...watchful eye of the Paladins. On the third night, the makeshift infirmary in the Harrow stables was caught fire, killing most of the injured within. The fire quickly spread to the rest of the buildings. This action - presumably by Scourge forces - forced the survivors to break for the coast, a manoeuvre which ultimately allowed the group to reach Southshore in relative safety. Thus we see even in darkness the Light brings good from all things."
- A History of the Hidden Good, by Duthorian Rall
Rall looked up when his secretary announced Maleb. With a gentle smile he asked his squire to go fetch wine and shut the door behind him. The lad gone, he put down his quill and leaned back in his chair.
A somewhat plump warrior stood stiffly at the door, helmet under his arm, looking uncomfortable. Rall turned his amused smile into a welcoming one, waving to the chair on the other side of his desk. "Please, Lieutenant Maleb. Sit. This isn't an official meeting."
Maleb was soon sitting every bit as stiffly as he'd stood. It would have helped if Rall had a rank - some way of putting him in perspective - but he was just "Duthorian Rall". Rank-less, unassuming and inexplicably the second most powerful Paladin in the Cathedral. Everywhere Lord Shadowbreaker - commander of the Paladins of Stormwind - went, there, eventually you'd find Rall. There were those who called him the Shadow's Shadow, but only behind his back. There had been another Shadow once, following another Paladin Lord - Arthas' chief intelligence officer. No one liked reminding of that.
What did the Shadow's Shadow want with him? Hadn't he been through enough?
"What can I do for you sir?" He kept his chin up, despite the reminder of his change in rank and being called in here like a schoolboy. He was still a warrior, by the Light and he still had his pride. Rall tapped a document sitting on his desk.
"A report which reached my desk a few months ago, when one of the Paladine's passed through town on her way back to the Abbey. The Sisters are very good about keeping us informed of their doings, but I think she left a few things out. An accident, I'm sure. You can understand my joy when I heard someone who'd actually witnessed some of the events was in the Keep today."
Maleb eyed the report dourly. If he never saw the thing again it would be too soon. He shifted, keenly aware of the rough patches on his armor where his Captains Marks were once enameled on. "Sir? I wasn't in Silverpine. I didn't see anything."
"Yes, but the Paladine who wrote this - Temperance. You met her?"
Maleb nodded stiffly.
"And the squire? I'm sorry but it seems the Paladine left out the girls name."
"Honeybrown. I heard the Captain call her Honeybrown. I only saw her once, when they first passed through town."
"Ah." Rall smiling again faintly, he inclined his head. "Thank you, Lieutenant.
The warrior blinked. "Is that all?"
"I could ask how you managed to loose a rank if you like?" Rall's smile held a ghost of dislike. Maleb's expression got ugly. Rall waved a hand in dismissal. "Never mind then. You can go."
Minutes later, Rall's squire returned with the wine to find his master's guest had changed. Lord Grayson Shadowbreaker looked up as the lad entered and took a glass of wine. "Thank you William." Sipping it he turned back to Rall. "The coward confirmed it?"
Rall nodded, handing over the report. "It was luck I heard he was in town." He shook his head. "Nasty business letting the Naga get a beachhead in Southshore. At this rate he's going to get drummed out of the army entirely."
Shadowbreaker put down his glass and skimmed the report, making note of Rall's comment on the front. "He was sure of the name?"
Rall nodded again, sipping his own wine. Shadowbreaker smiled in a cool way. "Well well" He closed the file with a snap. "We found her. Those witches at the Abbey might have a talent for hiding things, but even they can't hide this little monster. All you have to do is follow the blood trail."
Rall took the report back. "I have to point out, it's war, sir. A lot of things get done in war, that don't make us evil men." He hefted the report. "If she did set the fire in the infirmary, in the end it saved more than it harmed."
Shadowbreaker shook his head. "I knew her father Rall. You forget that. He always had a reason, always an excuse to get out of punishment for the things he'd done. I was there when we finally hunted him down and put him to the sword, and you didn't see the look on her face." He reached for his wine again and sipped it. "The fruit doesn't fall far from the tree."