Joined by the mercenaries we had picked up in Orgrimmar, as well as the travelling Pandaren guide Juan-Ji, we arrived at the Sunsail Anchorage after a couple of days of travel. Our Pandaren’s skills in song did little to prevent the stifling isolation that was evident throughout the trip. Many of us kept to our own corners of the assorted quarters below deck, with shanties drifting down to us from above.
When we arrived it was late afternoon, the golden sun overhead slowly beginning to turn orange as it headed towards the horizon. We lazily gathered in an idle formation on the upper deck. It was an unusually hot day for Eversong (which stayed in the blissful mild of springtime throughout most of the year) and we took refuge in the Anchorage. Another half-hour must have passed before the emissaries from Silvermoon arrived to welcome us. I did not recognise the emblems on their tabards, but I had heard rumour of the Great Houses’ involvement in our exile (and the ending thereof). Perhaps they were our welcoming party.
‘Welcome back, my good elves. Much has changed since your return. Come!’ The man in charge, a wizened Magister who did not seem widely known, set off at surprising pace towards the capital, leaving us to catch up. I did not pay particular attention to his explanation of the various factions that had always existed within the city, knowing that we held the ire of most anyway.
In a short time, we were filled in by Sorlain anyway.
‘The Great Houses have always had rivalries, but in the… stagnation of Lor’themar’s duty they have elected to field their own candidates for monarch. Of course, no house wishes any other house’s candidate to succeed, so the houses remain at an impasse, and this will certainly die down as soon as the Regent Lord returns and resumes overseeing the management of the Kingdom. Until then, we are to aid the houses however they see fit.’
We had by this point reached Silvermoon. The city felt… different. I had felt uneasy as soon as we had landed, but when we looked around the streets were utterly devoid of life save the guards. Prior to the Theramore bombing, the orcs had been regulating some of the Silvermoon industry for the war effort. But this was nothing short of policing. Some of us were adept enough to see Kor’kron agents hidden in the shadows as we progressed through Murder Row, but I found the lack of actual elves disturbing.
Where were all our people? At war? Munitions? What point was there to a lavish city when there was no one to enjoy it? I was distracted from my own deep thoughts by a commotion at the front of the group, where the Magister had gotten involved in a dispute between a youth and a press-gang. The boy was clearly homeless, malnourished and vulnerable, but the orcs insisted on taking him until directed elsewhere by the Magister. Shari’fal and Kal’es got involved, leading to a debate with Juan-Ji about what constituted an adult in Thalassian society. Eventually the youth ended up in our custody, but it only served to reinforce my distrust of the way things were being run. Soon after, we reached the Spire, where we met with the ambassadors from the various Great Houses.
‘And now for your orders.’
There was a short amount of grumbling.
‘The first matter of business is that we have been invited to a party hosted by House Thalethim, starting next Monday at 8PM. Do bring your best clothes.’
Slightly late as always, we gathered in front of a small yet luxurious estate to the west of the city proper. The Archons Kim’belore and Kal’es were in luxurious dresses that looked to have been imported from Pandaria (no doubt Pandarian imitation was a new trend). Khairan and I were in less high-quality robes (battlegear, in truth), Juan-Ji in some ritual dress, and the rest of the men were in various tuxedo designs. We were all presentable (except Sorlain, whom Edanna looked over three times before sighing). Whilst waiting, we conversed.
‘What is it that House Thalethim does?’
‘They make their money from the other Houses through throwing lavish parties for them. They’re also responsible for most of the slavery in Silvermoon.’
‘The House pays generously for prisoners the other Houses obtain in battle, but they also have debtors in some of the higher slave positions. Their parties are usually quite exotic.’
I was beginning to remember the memories I had of the Thalethim parties before the wars. Although I had been too young to go into most of them, I remembered my parents paying for lavish outfits that I put to little use in supervised areas away from the main rooms. The attendant approached us.
‘Ah, the Convocation party. Please come this way. I’m afraid your Quel’dorei friend and the boy will have to stay in the supervised room for their own safety.’ Though there was some opposition from Khairan, we convinced him that it was for the best. Neitara – a blue-eyed elf and friend of Thialen whom we had picked up in Dalaran – would not be received well, and while I had resented my own exile from the parties when I was younger, I would soon realise why.
‘Ah, Lady Quel’belore, Lady Caleath sends her greetings.’
‘I told you I gave up that name years ago, and I would appreciate it if my family honoured my decision.’ The Archon snapped back at the attendant, who nodded. Caleath? The renowned Magistrix? I had known Relcha had powerful lineage, but House Caleath was one of the candidates for the next ruling house. It was curious, but no one dared say anything further.
As soon as we stepped inside the door of the lavish building we were all hit by a wave of sweet and slightly numbing magic. Several turned to get fresh air, only to find that the doors had not suddenly closed, but looked entirely different. We were not just in an unusually-decorated building, we were in another dimension entirely, and the main hall beyond us stretched larger than the entire estate we had been on before. Khairan looked like he was choking.
‘Welcome, my ladies and gentleman, to 7/7/0.’
Archon Kim’belore gasped sharply, and muttered into the communicators.
‘I knew this was a bad idea. We shouldn’t have come here.’
‘Why?’ Khairan gasped back.
‘This is a 7/7/0 party. There are no rules involved.’
‘So… zero gravity?’
‘If you wished, they would make it so.’
While Khairan debated with the attendant about the composition of the magic in the room, we progressed into the main hall, where numerous attendants (some of whom were exotic) offered us a tantalising display of drinks.
‘Drink nothing unless it’s been tested first.’ Kal’es warned us over the communicators. The main hall was even more intoxicating in its saturation with stifling yet delicious magic (a security measure to ensure no one could use magic during the event, and thus no one would be assassinated). An attendant led us on a tour throughout the palatial rooms:
Sloth was a hazy room filled with luxurious incenses (and no doubt other less-reputable substances). Comfy chairs and thick rugs were scattered about, and the few people present orbited around large cages holding exotic beasts from all across Azeroth. Quieter music played than in the other rooms, and the lighting was sparse;
Greed was smaller, filled with cigar smoke and rich individuals. Nobles of various renown played at embellished tables and gambled money from one house to another, while the curious camaraderie between participants drowned out the music;
Envy was filled with chains and torture implements, nobles allowed to come and go as they pleased and do whatever they wished to the servants (magical draining included). Guards remained in the shadows of the room (not hard, since the lights focused on the servants) to ensure that the servants survived and stayed inside the room until their time was up;
Pride was a steamy room filled with soft lights and floating candles and delicious scents. Nobles relaxed on beds, loungers and bathed in hot magical spas. At the back of the room was a better-lit stage, where servants were treated like magical marionettes, putting on plays for the gathered guests;
Gluttony seemed to stretch onwards for half a mile. The only outdoor room, it overlooked bountiful meadows and orchards that I could not recognise. The entire room was covered by a light marquis with patterns resembling the canopy of Eversong, and an immense banquet stretched along the ground. Hundreds of wines, meats and desserts floated inches above the table, and the guests gorged and drank themselves full. Servants dashed around at their whim, but the tables never seemed to empty;
Wrath was a room not for the faint of heart. Great beasts and gladiators were flung against each other in a central pit, lowered beneath the rest of the floor. The place was hot and heavy, bodies packed closely to the spectating edge but kept from falling in by an invisible force. Loud music and bright lights mimicked the underground fighting clubs of Orgrimmar;
Lust was possibly the most vibrant of all the rooms, but just slightly cooler than Wrath thanks to the air currents from large open windows. Furniture was wildly strewn around and the décor changed depending on where you were. Tens to hundreds dwelt within, in various states of undress and sexual activity – I could not tell whether servants were involved.
The grand rooms of the party referred to the Seven Sins. And, as I would later discover, the second of the sevens referred to the length of the party – an entire week. Aside from Khairan (who refused to enter due to the magical atmosphere) we dispersed in groups to gain information and relax, though in an atmosphere where one had to check each drink for poison, I could not quite see how this would happen.
‘Keliera, sweety-darling! What a surprise! I didn’t think we’d see you here, oh this is fantastic!’ Yes, my mother, who appeared to have already been drinking for a week. Fantastic. My eyes span as she dragged me off to meet eighty-one attractive/rich/available young men within the next half an hour, at which point I managed to quickly get away.
After that, I tried to relax. Some drinking, some dancing, but my heart wasn’t really in it. Given the state Silvermoon had been when we’d arrived, I couldn’t truly justify being at the biggest party I’d ever seen.
‘Well well, what do we have here? The daughter of the Countess Durore’Fanar..’ A young-looking man sidled up to me, one who I did not recall, although like everyone here he looked vaguely familiar.
‘Uh, yes…’ I hated that name. I used the orcish translation whenever possible. Another reason why I tended towards avoiding such events. But I supposed that after everything in the last few months, I wanted some normalcy (for Silvermoon). A chance to do up my hair, utilise some mana gems and beauty illusions… The grass did not exactly seem green, but this man seemed alright. He was at least nicer than most of the vainglorious men I’d been introduced to earlier.
He was some… Nal’pher, or something. I can’t remember. The party went on for quite a while. Progressively, we got more drunk while I tried to figure out where I knew him from.
‘Go find your parents and tell them you won’t be coming home tonight…’