It was at least 10 at night, and I’d spent several hours attempting to negotiate Khairan out of stabbing Chernow Jarath into another dimension.
It was still hazy to remember. Khairan had practically leapt upon the man when he’d arrived and seen him in a cage. It took Thelnarion’s timely arrival to stop the phase-blade going any deeper than a millimetre into Chernow’s gullet.
I could understand Khairan’s reaction completely – the man despises nobility, and to have one in a cage is probably too good an opportunity – but we were not going to get anywhere by the same kind of insane reactionary attitude that we’d had for the last year. It was the thing that had gotten us into this mess. So, that night, I discussed it with him.
“Have you learnt nothing from all the deaths in the last year?”
“Yes. That Sorlain and those of a similar bent ought to be stopped before they can cause more harm.”
“He was already stopped. He was in a cage with no allies except some handmaidens.”
“Still alive. Still may have allies and sympathisers in the High Kingdom. Better to stop his tyranny before he becomes untouchable once again.”
“By that logic, everyone in Quel’thalas will be dead by the end of the war. Corruption in Quel’thalas is a hydra – if you cut this one head off, it won’t work. You need something that will affect everyone without killing them all, and giving Chernow a trial to remember will be a more effective solution than a private and merciful execution.”
“Giving Chernow a trial gives him a chance to escape – such affairs are often political in nature, and we may have Karin Jarath pulling strings. And she may not be the only one.”
“Which is why I suggested we hand him to Vol’jin. With the Shattering, he’s the most senior troll chieftain left alive, and the Darkspear tribe is considerably influential in troll circles. Especially with what Milva did, I don’t think it’d be a stretch for him to trial Chernow over his actions towards the tribes under Darkspear and Amani banners.”
“Perhaps, but what if Thelnarion and Anrithen insist that he return to the High Kingdom? The former seemed to fawn over his charge – to the point where it was uncharacteristic. Thelnarion was looking after a monster.”
(I had to agree that this was an incredibly concerning point. Whereas I and Sathreyn had been attempting to make Khairan see reason, Thelnarion had practically flung himself between Khairan and Jarath, treating the latter as though he were a member of his own family.)
“I admit that their closeness is disconcerting. Thelnarion is a Sunwell Warden, so it stands to reason that he’d be more patriotic than most, but I’d like to know what they were giggling about. And as to your question, I’m afraid I have no answers. I’d push for a troll-led trial – Chernow’s crimes against trolls are the most clear-cut – but a lot is going to depend on what action the Regent Lord takes against the dissenting Houses.”
“In that case we need to be prepared to take action in case a potential threat escapes. I think the same goes for Sehsel – they admitted to having a hand in the mana bomb’s creation, and there are likely parties within both the Horde and Alliance who wish to see them brought to justice.”
“The mana bomb… I admit, I would like to see the perpetrators brought to justice, but that is complex. Would you indict the Regent Lord for allowing it to happen, if he was buying the High Kingdom time? What about the conscripted engineers, the goblins flying the zeppelin, the forces used as the distraction? What about the people who, when ordered by Orgrimmar to start producing the bombs, just acquiesced without asking why?
What of anti-magic fields, similar to how they operated during the 7/7 party? No one who gets in can use magic to release Chernow, and he will be too close to guards to escape of his own accord.”
“True, it is complicated, however I would take out those who proposed it, funded it, and took blood money to finance it; the workers themselves may not have known the true scale of what they were working on for the sake of secrecy, and these are likely people who would be powerless if their superiors were to extort them. You know what Sehsel and the other houses are willing to sink to.”
“Aye, which brings us to another issue: slavery. Every house is doing it, and it’s often trolls, or in these cases, rebels. If we’re to make an example of Chernow for what he did to the trolls, we ought to ensure that they don’t have any hidden away so they can just go back to business.”
“Yes we should. Did you expect me to defend their atrocities?”
“No, I’m just saying that we can’t go punishing just Jarath. And I fear that we’ll need more than a degree of acceptance from the Regent-Lord to go ahead with this, unless you want to trust the official authorities.”
“I would be fine with gathering support from the Regent and the Grand Magister. Unless you have any other methods in mind?”
“No, those methods are good. If we go too underhandedly then we risk the Houses putting us on trial and cementing their power.”
“Hmm… I suppose I could go via the Blood Magi, providing that they are not also interested parties.”
“What of the Farstriders? They’re not exactly friends of trolls, but I’d imagine them to be more inclined away from corruption than any other faction.”
“True. It is also worth remembering that not all the slaves are trollish. That may shock a fair few other parties into action.”
“It would help if we could get some examples – do you suppose Anrithen would be willing to help?
Although Eirvaness are quite close to Thalethim – and I would dare say that Thalethim are going to be opposed to us if we are so overt.”
“Let them come, and we shall deal with them.”
“You’ve said yourself that there will be allies within the shadows. Thalethim is nothing if not well-connected.
Still, perhaps we should leave these matters until we have a chance to meet properly with the Regent Lord. He’s certainly going to listen if we have Chernow and Verian in tow.”
“Only in Kalimdor.”
“Will he be here? He is participating in the siege, after all.”
“The question is, will we attend the siege?”
“We may have to send some form of delegation if not. I don’t know how long we’re going to spend here.”
“Hm… at least it is not some pointless garden party.”
I would have hoped that it would not be so ridiculous as to hope for even a small sign of reform in Silvermoon, and though our plans changed slightly as time went on, we did indeed hand Chernow over to Vol’jin to be put on trial once we reached Durotar.
Power, while it is argued about by philosophers, nonetheless exists, and someone must control it if society is to function. Whether or not one believes it to be corruptive, abuses of power should never be tolerated. Beyond its mere… bloodlust, the sheer genocide inflicted by Chernow’s line of the Jarath family wasn’t just unbelievable, it was astonishing. What made it all the more enraging was that, as the immortal enemies of Quel’thalas, any crime committed against the Amani would inevitably go unpunished, due to the ease with which one could skew it as protecting the realm. Milva and Chernow went beyond this. They had spent well over half a millennium between them spending their spare time killing trolls, and most of that time had been peaceful – trolls had only warred with elves twice in the last century, and of that century both bouts of fighting had occurred within the last five years.
Khairan was correct entirely – due to Silvermoon’s illogical system of power, in which money and title reign above experience or wisdom, Chernow would be able to buy himself out of any punishment the moment his boat hit ground, and from there his family would be able to make him untouchable once again. We needed to send a message – and while a trial in Quel’thalas itself would attract more attention, it was clear by this point in time that any and all trials would be occurring in Kalimdor and orchestrated by the victorious side. With any luck, a guilty verdict in an open trial in Orgrimmar would be more emphatic than a pardon in private in Silvermoon.
While trolls could certainly be corrupted, they could not in the way that the elves were accustomed to – by placing money above honour.