Hat Heresey

The officers of the Royal Lions Brigade stood assembled together on the raised platform within Westbrook Garrison. Khadromars leaned heavily on his stave, age and battle seeming to finally catch up to the elder dragon. Rappa stood nearby him, seeming prepared to come to his aid if need be. Jiwa stood in his usual place behind the massive desk which took up a fair portion of the platform, while Corra and Rick took up their positions on the right. Tahlian, a long time friend and mentor to Corra, stood close behind her. They looked to one another as Kelsus Hadson entered, taking them by a measure of surprise as he chose to stand below the platform beside one of the Brigade’s members, Hollyanna.

“Members of the Brigade,” he stated in greeting, tipping his hat with respect as Corra bowed. There was a brief pause as the group waited in silence to see if more of their own would arrive. Kelsus eventually removed a silver pocket watch from his robes, noting the time. “It’s time. I call upon this Lion’s Conclave to discuss the future of the Royal Lion’s Brigade.” With a nod, he continued, “It is rather unfortunate, but a great number of the Brigade’s officers have chosen to take their leave. Though a few are here today for a few final words.”

Holly blinked with surprise. “Leaving,” she thought. “But why?” Kelsus maintained an emotionless expression as he nodded to her. Another member of the Brigade, a death knight named Archelone, joined the small group standing below the platform.

With a heavy sigh, Khadromars adjusted his leaning pose. Corra rubbed her forehead with a plate-gloved hand, a far cry from the simple robes she would have been dressed in prior to tonight. Tahlian placed a hand of reassurance on Corra’s shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. Corra looked back at her friend and gave a solemn nod.

“I suppose there is no putting it off, then,” Khadromars said. “Long have I worked; both within the Alliance and the Brigade – and even before it became the Brigade – to better the position of the Alliance. We have defeated many foes, many enemies, many challenges, and overcame odds I did not think mortals such as yourselves would find the will to beat, but you do. However, it has come time that I move on, be that to exile with the others of my people, or to find a new position to aid the world in, I am unsure. My last words as a leading member of this council are this; choose your path carefully, Hadson. Much has yet to unfold and there are challenges not yet faced in this world for you and the Brigade. If you are to continue standing in defiance of greater evils, you will require focus and resolve beyond that of what has been asked of you in the past. It pains me to not stand with you as these challenges unfold, but I have my own responsibilities to take care of in this world.”

Kelsus nodded silently as Khadromars made his address. Once he was finished, the elder dragon nodded to his fellow council members, fixing his hood. Corra offered a faint smile and a nod to Khadromars. The mage had long been a good friend to her, and she was sad to see him move on.

“Any others,” Kelsus asked. Corra paused for a moment to take a breath before stepping forward.

“Archmage… Friends. I regret to announce that I am among those who will be leaving the Lions. I do not with my association with a man who is convicted of treason to further endanger you. High Guard Cedrey Winterfang has been charged with treason against the Grand Alliance for his actions and… As it stands, he has fled.” Corra paused, containing a measure of frustration. “Control yourself… Do not let the shadow take you,” she thought.

Khadromars stood with his staff pressed against his chest, leaning hard against it. The many long years had taken their toll, and it was more obvious now than it ever had been before. Archelone rested the tip of his runesword on the floor, tendrils of ice spreading lazily from the blade as she spoke.

After a moment, she continued, “To this end, I have discarded my staff and taken up the sword… If any should need me, I am only a raven away.” Khadromars nodded to his friend. If anyone understood why she chose to take the position she had, it would be him. Once she finished speaking, she took a step back and seemed to curl into Tahlian. The warrior wrapped an arm around her shoulders and leaned down slightly, whispering, “You did well, little one.”

Kelsus nodded to Corra as she took a step back. “Very well.” The Archmage glanced around. “Anyone else?”

“We’re well aware of my paucity of speech,” Archelone remarked.

Rick spoke abruptly, “It is time! The Black Sacrament! Purge the traitors!” Corra turned her head to stare at Rick, arching a brow. Kelsus looked upon the warlock, and Rick shrugged. “No… purging?”

Kelsus fixed his hat. “One day.” Khadromars looked at the Archmage with a brow raised.

Rappa tapped his chin light, pondering his words before speaking. “Mm, right. So, I must admit that I will be taking my leave as well. From the entire hero thing, in general. My wife and children come before everyone in my life, including myself, and a tear has been forming between us, which has been greatly affecting our twins. I am taking a leave to mend my relationship, spend some time with my family, move far away from Stormwind, and then probably live out my life in solitude with my family. Like a true dad, hm? I am keeping the tabard though.” He nods once to indicate he is finished.

Kelsus takes a moment to fix his hat once more. The thing had always been terribly over-sized and prone to slipping one way or another. “A long and peaceful life to you, Rappa.” He looked to the other two left on the platform that had yet to speak. “Jiwa and the… ‘Warlock.’ You wish to speak forth as well?”

Tahlian took this moment to speak his mind. “From what I’ve heard, you’ve changed, Kelsus.”

The Archmage shrugged a bit. “Times change.”

Khadromars eyed Kelsus. “But we must ask ourselves, are we changing with them for the better?” Kelsus shook his head, whether in response or agitation, they may never know.

Khadromars leaned on his stave with a heavy expression. “How telling,..”

Rick spoke up. “Kingdoms and kings fall, nothing lasts forever. I’ll be around to see the fall. I’ve made a pact with the Royal Lions Brigade.” Kelsus looked to the warlock with an expressionless gaze.

“The Warlock remains,” Kelsus questioned.

Rick chuckled. “Yes, the warlock remains.”

The Archmage glanced at the Death Knight standing beside him, “You staying?”

Archelone nodded. “For the moment, I still have work to do with the Ebon Blade. As amusing as it may seem to believe hope and justice will win the day, we remain more… pragmatic.”

Kelsus nodded slightly, clearing his throat. “Jiwa, you are the only one left.”

Jiwa paused for a moment, Corra watching in silence as her closest friends delivered their final addresses to those of the Brigade who had joined them for the meeting, however few. Once he had collected his thoughts, the gnome finally spoke.

“… You’ve changed. And from the looks of it, you don’t notice. Your entire council almost, leaving all at once to their different pastures. And yet, you try to stay in your mindset of ‘to the future.'” Khadromars nods in agreement, watching Kelsus carefully as Jiwa continues to speak, “I’ve seen this happen before in this organization. Salena and Hark are the first that spring to mind. And things didn’t change then.-”

“I see you’ve made up your mind, then,” Kelsus interrupted. “You may all leave. Those of you who wish to remain, we will begin the Lion’s Conclave.” He took a step to the right so that those who wished to leave could do so.

Jiwa scowled as he continued, despite the interruption. “Flixle and Quillson back in the days of the Protectorate… You best figure out what you stand for, mage.” Jiwa’s final word was sharp, the stare he directed at Kelsus like daggers. Corra could feel the flicker of shadows growing as Kelsus dismissed them in such an idle manner. She took a breath and huffed, Tahlian pulling her closer to him. “Breathe, little one,” he whispered.

Khadromars slammed the butt of his stave into the ground, arcane energy radiating outward from it. He stared heavily at Kelsus. “You lack the honor to even stand with your officers.”

Kelsus raised a brow toward Khadromars. “Sir Quillson rejoined, and wishes to rejoin the Council. He’s answered the summons.”

“That doesn’t change the fact that he did leave,” Jiwa retorted.

“Then he is indeed a fool for not seeing what lies clearly before him,” Khadromars grumbled.

Kelsus waved his hand at the group. “Bah. If you came here to belittle and lecture me, your words fall upon deaf ears.

Jiwa shrugs. “It was worth a shot… And I’m keeping my airship.”

A low growl seems to emanate from the elder dragon’s throat. “And so those words have done, for many years as you rotted away in your tower.” He approached the stairs, closely followed by Corra. The young priestess turned paladin looked back at Tahlian and gave a nod, the two stepping down together and leaving the Garrison for the final time.

Khadromars pointed the end of his stave at Kelsus, glowing bright with blue energy. “I warn you, be mindful of the actions you choose… They will determine the fate of it all. I will not suffer tyrants and power crazed maniacs within these lands, mage.” His final words said, Khadromars created a portal and left the Garrison while Jiwa gathered his remaining papers from the desk, opened the wall safe, and took his things before leaving himself.

The Lion’s Conclave did, in fact, proceed. Though, with a majority of its officers gone, those who left felt there was little hope remaining for the Royal Lions Brigade. No matter how they chose to reorganize, there simply weren’t enough dedicated soldiers left. The few that had managed to keep the sinking guild together were now gone… And with them, everything that the Lions once stood for.