Shalkis looked at the tabard one more time. The crimson background had faded some time ago, and the edges were frayed. Only the black sword motif remained, as sharp as ever. She carefully straightened the tattered cloth, then folded it. Once, twice, thrice.
They had failed offer any answers, either. Those who had once challenged the dominance of Frostmourne now.. just gave up. To some, the call of the grave proved to be too seducing. Others returned to whatever places they called home. Some found new employers. Whatever they did was now irrelevant. There would be no voyage to the north.
With a thud, the male Draenei set a metallic box on the counter and opened it. Shalkis' eyes lingered for a moment on the stack of cloth in it, each one with different markings. Only the top one with a hellish mouth motif was visible, but Shalkis knew the others as well. A golden scepter, a silver sun, a blue wolf's head, a red drake, poison-green eyes, golden twin spires, a red Naaru motif.. and the twin snakes.
"Too many..", she thought.
Shalkis snapped out of her reverie and set the latest tabard on top of the pile. The Draenei put the lid back on the box and unceremoniously picked it up. The self-devouring snakes reminded her of one other thing she needed to do now. News of the collapse would eventually reach their ears and lure the scavengers in, looking for an easy kill. She glanced on the Draenei, who nodded slightly and vanished into the back room for a moment. A few minutes later he re-emerged, carrying an another box.
The stench of forbidden magic greeted Shalkis when she opened it. She would use their superstition to her advantage. In their eyes, she was the betrayer, the heretic, the corrupt. Fine. Let them come and test their bravery before their strength. The first item she removed was a fiery robe with intricate patterns. Then a set of shoulderguards. Three monstrous mouths, locked in an eternal howl stared back at her. Finally, the most important part.. a wooden mask. The dried blood still lined it's insides. The draenei looked at her with a well-hidden frown on his face. She nodded, and the metallic container was sealed and hurried out of sight.
The robe was gentle to the touch from the inside. Like finest silk, straight from the Spider Queen's chosen. Yet the outside looked like it was molten and would scar from the slightest touch. As soon as she slipped it on, the faint whispers started to circle in her mind. Barely recognizable promises of power, of vengeance, of dominance. For such a small price.. yet too steep to even consider. Still.. detecting and fending off the temptations would be good practice. There was no leeway to let delusions of grandeour fester. Any overestimations would be the death of her. Literally.
Next, she grabbed one of the shoulderguards and attached it to her right shoulder with the leather straps. Then the other. From the corner of her eye, the eyes of the beasts seemed to flare. In her mind's eye, she could see the false prophet writhe and scream in agony. Her mouth sharpened into a grin. The price he would pay for his betrayal would be high indeed. But.. not now. Patience. Discipline. These would be her allies in the coming months. Not the rage that was offered to her.
Finally.. the mask. As soon as she lowered it to her face, all seemed so clear. Short-sighted fools. Heretics. So many times she had offered the ingrates the truth. And an equal number of times it had been rejected. Their downfall would be of their own doing. All she needed to do was to watch.. and judge. With their dying breath, they would all admit that they were wrong. But then again, she had been wrong so many times before. So many misguided alleigances. So much trust for those who never deserved it in the first place.
But maybe there would be some who would be worthy. Those who also see the mistakes of the past and follies of the future. It would be so good to talk to someone who would understand. It has been too long since the last time. As she saw it, there was now two alternatives before her. She could stay in the shadows, in the sidelines, to catalogue all the mistakes of the world. It would serve as a warning for the future generations, should there be any. Or.. Perhaps..
With a smile hidden beneath the mask, Shalkis climbed on her wyvern's back and guided it towards the sky.