Steps of white stone and carved ornaments wound their way up before me, leading into the keep. It was the Old Keep, located in the Old Town. One of the remnants of Stormwind which survived relatively unscathed the horrors of the First War. However, the Old Keep had already been the Old Keep back then. It housed the Command Center, the SI:7 and the Champion’s Hall. I had never been interested in the Champion’s Hall, glorifying heroes’ deeds against the Horde. Neither was the Command Center much of interest to me, where Marshalls and Commanders strategically planned every movement of Stormwind’s army. No, I was intrigued by the SI:7. The SI:7 was Stormwind’s intelligence unit, consisting of the best spies in the kingdom, led by Master Mathias Shaw.
Around me the streets were quiet. It was late afternoon and the summer sun had turned the alleys of the capital into a furnace. Nobody in their right mind would leave their house in this heat. Neither would anybody consider it wise to sneak into SI:7. Well, maybe, I was not in my right mind.
Carefully I ascended the steps, trying to be as quiet as possible. Although there was not a soul in the streets who could hear my footsteps, I considered it to be wise to start sneaking early in case anybody was in the courtyard. Sneaking into the SI:7 was not an easy task. It had not been my first attempt and it certainly would not be my last. Last time I made it through the courtyard to the door before I got caught. This time I intended to actually enter the facility.
Determined and carefully I set one foot after another, making my way towards the archway leading into the courtyard. I slipped through and pressed my body against the wall. The stone was cooler in the shadow. I stopped and listened. Not a sound was to be heard and so I continued.
I crept along the wall around the corner and through the second archway leading into the courtyard. The space was entirely paved in stone, surrounded by the stonewalls of the keep. Wooden pillars formed a pergola leading around the entirety of the courtyard, offering shade from the hot summer sun. In the middle puppets of wood and straw stood, bearing markings on their chests and ridiculously drawn faces. On their backs they wore little banners of red with a black marking: the flag of the Horde.
I made my way through the pergola to the left where a row of windows looked over the courtyard. With bend knees and my back pressed against the wall I made my way to the door as quietly as I could.
Suddenly I heard footsteps. Loud footsteps.
Panic flushed my senses and my heart started racing. Motionless I stood pressed as flat as I could against the wall. My eyes scanning the area. The footsteps grew louder.
I was certain that someone was coming my direction. However, I could not see where they were coming from. I closed my eyes and listened.
They were retreating. I took a deep breath. My eyes still closed.
Then a door slammed shut. The sound of footsteps was gone, and silence lay again over the courtyard. However, I did not dare to move. Not for a while. I opened my eyes and looked. The courtyard was deserted. I was alone.
Carefully I peeled myself off the wall and straightened myself turning my head around. Behind me was an open window, leading into what I assumed was a dining room. Carefully I stuck my head inside. For a moment there was only darkness, but soon my eyes adjusted to the dim light inside. Across from me in the middle of the room stood a long table surrounded by wooden chairs. Turning my head left and right I assured myself that the room was empty, and with a swift jump I entered.
Was this the SI:7? I was not sure. I had never been inside the place before. Nevertheless, I was here now, wherever here was, and I decided to press on. On the left was a door. Crawling along the floor as quietly as I could I made my way through the room. But just as I had reached it the door flung open and, in its way, stood a tall slender female with short ginger hair.
“Oh, not again …,” she sighed. “JASPER!”
Behind her quick heavy footsteps approached and a man with long black hair and beard peaked over her shoulder.
“Oh, the Pig and Whistle girl!” he sounded almost delighted.
“I thought you took care of this!” the redhead was definitely not pleased pointing at me while scolding Jasper.
“Well, I brought her back?” he shrugged his shoulders. “What else do you want me to do?”
“Well,” she paused. “I don’t know! Just fix it!”
She threw her hands in the air and stormed off. Jasper, however, smiled at me.
“You made it inside. I’m impressed.”
“To be honest I wasn’t sure if this was the SI:7,” I told him smiling as I rose to my feet.
“Well, you’ve been doing this for years now. You were bound to end up inside eventually. Let’s get you back, shall we?” he held the door behind him open and motioned me to follow him.
I dusted off my pants and walked through the door. Before me lay a large hall with staircases leading up and down, furnished with numerous tables and chairs, as well as sofas and fireplaces, and shelves filled with books along the walls.
“Around the corner,” he directed me, and I obliged, walking through the room slowly, trying to etch the memory of this place into my skull. Eventually I reached the door and was guided outside. Disappointed but still in aw I left the splendor I had just seen behind, and Jasper guided me down the white marble stairs which only moments earlier I had snuck up. The air in the streets was still stuffed with heat as he walked me back home.
“You know, someone of you has really loud footsteps,” I remarked as I descended the steps. “Not very suitable for a spy, don’t you think?”
“Really?” Jasper replied.
It was a short walk. My family’s tavern, The Pig and Whistle, was located just down the street from the Old Keep. From the other side of the tavern door loud voices and joyful chatter could be heard. I stopped, looking up at Jasper. With a smile on his face, he looked back at me and nodded. I sighed and pushed the door open.
“NOT AGAIN!” I could hear my mother shriek as we entered the room.