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The Dead Rats (Story.)
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Historically, the times had not been great for Phillip. Born a bastard with a prostitute for a mother, he was often left to fend for himself on the streets of Stormwind's Old Town. Learning from an early age to pickpocket, steal, and fight his way through life, he was growing to be quite the thug. That was until he met Colin Marastone- then boss of the Dead Rats street gang.
Colin took pity on the young ruffian and saw potential in him, training him in the finer points of crime- mainly, the business aspects. Phillip was still a rough-and-tumble son of a !@#$% for awhile, though with time and Colin's mentoring he slowly grew to be a smooth talker, a slick diplomat who tried his best to keep the simmering gang pressure cooker from blowing sky high. After all, getting the Guards involved was bad for business, and in the post-war climate business was booming.
But criminals are far from trustworthy, and when criminals stare at each other long enough, someone flinches. The Ninth Street Cats were the first to strike- they declared war on the Dead Rats by demolishing a warehouse containing a large supply of smuggled leathers. The skirmishes were bloody and violent- while the Dead Rats were brutal and dwarfed them in number, the Cats were better equipped with swords, polearms, and even guns- a relative rarity among the street gangs.
While Colin desperately tried to contain the war between the Rats and the Cats, Phillip had other plans.
Knock. Knock. KnockKnockKnock. Knock. That was the code for the Blue Orcs' headquarters entrance. They were founded at first by the half-orcs left behind from the wake of the Horde's decimation of Stormwind and the pillaging that had occured in the country. Cast out and dejected, the halflings had banded together to survive on the mean streets. Their home was in the Dwarven District, hidden from the world. Phillip looked behind him after looking at the door again. His thick brown and red leathers stuck out like a sore thumb here- this was Blue Orc turf, and a Dead Rat being here turned heads among the lowlives and scumbags. He fiddled with his red bandana, glancing about nervously before he finally heard the sliding peephole set into the door slam open.
"What the fu-"
"I'm here on business. Parlayin'. I'm unarmed, ya can search me if ya want. Just wanna talk."
"Where's your boys?"
"I'm just here to talk. Ain't no need to bring my boys along."
The tusked thug on the other side gave a short hum before shutting the slide back. Phillip stood there for a bit before the door swung open slowly, inviting him inside. He stepped in.
Immediately he had a knife's tip to his throat- a grim reminder that he was not the most welcome person here. He lifted his chin slightly to make sure the tip wasn't going to accidentally pierce his throat, lifting his arms out to his sides slowly. He was patted down thoroughly before the knife was pulled away and sheathed by the doorman.
"Boss says you say what you gotta say and get the hell out. Who told you the code?"
"Guy on the corner of tenth and maple."
"We ain't got nobody out that way."
The doorman scowled for a moment before stepping away and letting Phillip walk through. The Blue Orcs had embraced their more savage heritage in a big way. The furs of bears and wolves studded the walls like grizzly tapestries- Phillip could even remark on a few humanoid-looking skins, but put that thought away quickly. A crackling bonfire sat in the middle of the room and smoke from some burning leaf filled the room, dulling his senses as he breathed it in. Peacebloom and Kingsblood... not a bad combo, he thought before shaking his head softly to make sure he stayed on track.
At the far end of this smoky room was a large mountain of a man. He was covered in sickly scars, and what parts of his body weren't had skin that was nearly an emerald green. Furs draped off of him lazily.If it weren't for the edges of pink skin near his nostrils and eyes, Phillip would have sworn he was facing down an actual orc rather then a halfling, but he steeled himself.
"Thekal, good t'see you, was jus-"
The half-orc barked. Phillip got the message and shut his mouth.
"You're here because you think we'll help you against those frilly little Cats from the Trade. That's HILARIOUS. The Rats are running from the Cats!"
He laughed harshly, his assorted underlings taking the hint and laughing with him. Phillip smirked slightly.
"Sure, y'could say that. Could say we're 'groveling' as it was, but that's not the picture you should be seeing, chief."
Thekal frowned, leaning in and listening as he rested a hand on his throne's armrest. Phillip continued.
"Holy Rollers been beefin' with you for years now. They own the park and the cathedral district- you know that. But ya'll ain't gone full out yet, no need to. You got the Tram, and that gives you plentya routes for your shipments, not to mention the rackets you're runnin' on these dwarves..."
Phillip took a moment to breathe, trying desperately to keep himself from collapsing. Those herbs were STRONG. Thekal grinned at him, almost opening his mouth to interrupt before Phillip continued, a little exasperated.
"-an' who'd think you'd need anything else, huh? But that tram's a valuable thing to have, and the Rollers knows that... an' so do the Cats. Which is why this little letter got intercepted 'fore it managed to hit Holy Roller hands."
Philiip reached into his pocket carefully and retrieved a folded piece of paper, handing it off to an underling to carry to Thekal. The half-orc grunted, snapping his fingers at a frail-looking dwarf who stepped forward and silently read the letter before whispering in the chief's ear. Slowly, Thekal's eyes grew wide.
Phillip grinned- inwardly, at least. He maintained at least a bit of professionalism.
"Yup. That's the Rollers and Cats signatures on the bottom, too. An' I know you've been hearin' about Cats on Roller turf..."
Thekal stood and spat into the fire, gritting his teeth as he began to pace. Phillip took the time to desperately breathe.
"...What do the Rats need, boy."
"Men. Twenty at least, armed to the teeth and ready in the canals. Our shops'll keep 'em well hidden on the fifteenth when we'll charge on the Cats. In exchange we help you the moment the Rollers try an' start in on your turf- 'cause ya know they'll try to once they see they boys start droppin'."
Thekal breathed heavily, sitting back in his throne before nodding. Phillip gave a typical Dead Rats salute- a fist clenched to the forehead, followed by an index finger trailing down in a curve to the chin- before turning on his heel and half-stumbling out of the building.
Colin was furious. Phillip had gone behind his back and set up the Rollers- long time allies of the Dead Rats- to take the fall for crimes they had no idea were being committed. He was quite ready to punish the young upstart in a horrid way when the Ninth Street Cats burst into the bar owned by the Rats, opening fire.
Noone was killed and the Cats were dealt with quickly, though Colin had sustained a superficial injury to his arm. While they treated it, Phillip used the attack as justification- they were in the heart of Old Town, Dead Rat turf, and the Cats had just tried to kill them both.
Colin reluctantly agreed, and told Phillip to prepare for the fifteenth.
Phillip took a swig from his second bottle of beer, sighing as he tightened the tape holding his brass knuckles to his left hand. The whole building was abuzz with excitement and tension, at least three dozen Dead Rats standing in their reds and browns with various weapons from simple wooden clubs to broken bottles to the occasional sword and axe. Phillip's only visible weapons were his knuckleduster and his pick- a nasty little number modified from a former miner's pickaxe. One end had been cut off completely and the other had been sharpened to a nasty tip. He finished off the beer and thought of taking another one before a boy who couldn't be older then twelve stepped up to him.
"Da orc said theys is ready when ya give tha signal."
He handed the beer he was going to open to the boy and patted him on the back, letting him run off. Phillip took a last swallow before patting his forehead and standing on top of the crate he had been sitting on, letting out a loud whistle. The Dead Rats assembled slowly stopped their discussions and arguments, turning to him.
"Cats have been musclin' on our turf for TOO, LIGHTDAMN, LONG! Today we're gonna KILL 'EM! We're gonna RIP 'EM, TEAR 'EM, BEAT 'EM! They even shot COLIN! ARE WE GONNA LET THAT STAND?" The assorted gangsters howled with frenzy, shouting back an enthused 'NO!'.
"DEAD, RATS! DEAD, RATS!" Phillip started the chant as he jumped from the crate and scooped up his pick, heading for the door and kicking it open. The gangsters followed him, continuing the chant as they charged from the building into the bright sun.
The bridge that seperated the Trade District and Old Town currently housed an equal number of the Ninth Street Cats. They flew their colors proudly, pink and green, in a battle standard as the Dead Rats started to make their way down the streets, their footsteps pounding the cobblestone. At the forefront of the Cats defensive line was a small volley's worth of gun-weilders, pointing at the bridge and waiting for the Rats to come into the line of fire...
"NOW!" Phillip shouted. From beneath the canal's waters, six half-orcs in blue burst, carrying buckets full of the filthy water they had just been waiting in and throwing them forward with a strange practiced accuracy, soaking the musketeers through and through. They pulled their triggers- causing nothing but a wet fizzle. The Blue Orcs roared as they drew axes and hammers and started their charge. As the Dead Rats passed an armor shop, ten more of the blue-clothed halflings burst out with their own weapons, joining the charge as the three gangs met in the middle, clashing with screams of pain and roars of bloodlust.
Phillip had one target, a target easy to spot. The Ninth Street Cats' banner waver was none other their second in command, Anthony. He shredded through the forces that got close to him with a pair of clawed metal gauntlets, screaming in frenzy. Phillip ducked a quick axe swing and punched the offender in the gut, shoving him over the bridge's edge with a shout. Two more stepped forward and jabbed at him with swords- one managed to tear a gash open through his side, the other opening the side of his cheek. He continued on, punching one of them in the nose and swiping the other with his pick. He was soon joined by his own gang who aided him, clashing with the Cats.
Phillip weaved his way through the crowd, avoiding combat where he could and swiftly disabling anyone who stepped in his way otherwise. Finally, he made it to his adversary, who looked at him with an almost innocently wicked grin- Phillip could see that a few of Anthony's teeth had been filed down to points. He advanced. A few Cats stepped in the way to try and stop him but were pulled aside by Anthony himself, screaming as he leaped forward and crashed into Phillip with his knees in his shoulders. Phillip punched the Cat in the side repeatedly, desperately trying to use his other arm to cover his face as Anthony slashed at it with those metallic claws. Frustrated at the lack of give, Anthony reared his head down and bit down into Phillip's ear, ripping away part of it as Phillip gave a loud scream of pain. Anthony spat it aside, looking for all intents and purposes as if he was going to go back in for another mouthful.
He found the barrel of a pistol in his chest before he could. Phillip grinned up at Anthony, even as his face bled and his right ear gushed, before pulling the trigger. Anthony stumbled back as the gunshot caught him, falling back into the stone as the Dead Rat reversed their position, tossing the pistol aside and rearing his fists back, slamming them again and again into his face until the mass resembled more a piece of butcher's scrap then a human face. He let out a primal roar and lifted Anthony's corpse up by the hair.
"LOOK AT THIS, CATS! WHO THE HELL'S YOU GOT TO SAVE YOU NOW?"
The Ninth Street Cats did indeed look over. Most fled. Some remained, staring dumbfounded at the corpse of their figurehead- which made them easy prey for the Rats and Orcs. Phillip let the corpse fall and fell to a sit, panting hard as he looked out over the bloodbath the three gangs had caused, adrenalin slowly leaving him and reminding him that he was bleeding profusely.
He really wished he had drank that third beer.
And so, time passed. With the help of the Blue Orcs the Dead Rats pushed the Ninth Street Cats out of Stormwind entirely- their leadership fled, while any underlings shed their colors and joined either the Holy Rollers or the Dead Rats. The Holy Rollers were the next on Phillip's list.
Phillip stared down into a mug of ale like it was going to give him the secrets of life itself before leaning back and taking a swig of it. He winced a bit as he moved- his bandaged right hand screamed as he tilted the mug back, and his ear cried from his head's motion. He checked the bandages as they did so and gratefully found them to still be dry.
"So you probably think you're hot crap, don't you, kid?" Phillip turned slightly in his barstool and faced Colin. The old man had certainly seen better days- his suit was wrinkled due to the sling wrapped around his arm from the gunshot he had suffered. Phillip smiled lightly.
"Well, yeah. Took out the Cats'n got us a whole district, plus made some new friends."
"Don't get too confident, Phil. Orcs might not be your friends for long."
Phillip turned fully on the stool and leaned his elbows against the bar, wincing again at his hand.
"How you figure, Colin?"
"I'm not going to just let you kill our friendship with the Rollers."
"Pap, they don't DO nothin' for us! They didn't help us with the cats not a bit an' every time we try'n open up some trade they shut it down!"
Colin sighed, taking a seat at the bar beside Phillip and tapping it. The bartender nodded to the older man and poured him his usual with a degree of reverance.
"Back when the troubles first started, after the first war- Holy Rollers weren't a gang. They were just priests and citizens doing their part to try and pick up the pieces left by the damn orcs."
Colin took his drink with his good hand and swigged it, sighing before setting it back down.
"If it weren't for them, there wouldn't be any Dead Rats. Wouldn't be any Cats, no Blues, no nothing. We were all Holy Rollers once, if not by name then by allegiance. When the city got rebuilt I agreed I wasn't gonna swing on them, no matter what happened, no matter what they did. I stick to my word, hell, Phil. If I don't have anything, that's what I'll have, at least.."
Phillip frowned deeply into his mug, sucking his top teeth.
"Colin, man... why didn't you tell me?"
Colin sighed, taking a last swig before waving the bartender off.
"Phil, I'm getting old. I'm nearing seventy now and I can't keep running around dodging bullets and fighting. That's why I've been trying to show you that you don't have to shove every sorry son-of-a-bastard that crosses your path. When I'm gone-"
"Pap, don't talk like that-"
"Now LISTEN, boy. When I'm gone the Dead Rats are yours, you know that. It's up to you to -make- them something."
Phillip stared back down at his mug for a long while before Colin stood and started to make his way outside. The protege looked up.
"Colin. ...What if the Rats don't got nothin' to do with the Rollers goin' down?"
The mentor looked back with a smirk.
"Then I figure you've got some people to talk to."
What Phillip did went against every rule- spoken and unspoken- the gangs had. Dressed in Roller yellows, he and two of his gangsters went on a vandalising rampage, breaking windows, doors, and the occasional face of a citizen in the Mage's District. The last thing you did was get the Mages involved- The Guards were friends with the mages. The spree didn't last long but the Rats weren't caught, fleeing back into the Canals.
Colin pulled the Dead Rats away from the Cathedral bridges. Thekal immediatly reinforced his bridge with men and asked the Rats' leader just what the hell he was doing.
Colin told him to give Phillip some time.
This was deeeefinitely not Phillip's scene.
Beautiful silver candleabras stood on long poles, leading in a path towards the mansion home of Niel Prenesal. The Captain of the Guard had certainly made his way to the top. People filed in to the main entrance in lavish tuxedos, wonderful dresses, and ridiculously fancy hats. Meanwhile, Phillip stepped with a dirty old suit that had been hand washed in well water and still held a few spotted marks of dampness. He was never going to fit in there... He glanced about and noticed a lone aristocrat making his way towards the door, passing several alleyways as he did. Now that top hat was just stupid, but that tuxedo... Phillip grinned, sliding his hand into his pocket and making his way around.
Phillip covered the bloodstain from his new tuxedo with his new hankerchief, spitting in his hands and slicking his unruly hair back. A cough came from behind him as the man who was formerly dressed in Phillip's new tuxedo tried to stand up. Phil shot a fist out and cracked the man in the nose, dropping him back to the alley's ground. People didn't bleed out from broken noses, did they? Eh. He stood and brushed himself off with the white cotton gloves he had stolen and made his way to the doorman, wearing his brightest smile.
The doorman stood there, looking over his clipboard at the well-dressed gangster, as if expecting more. Phillip's mind raced before he grew a dissapointed frown.
"You mean that I'm not already on your -list-? Gods' blood, man! How can you not recognise the prem-eer-"
Phillip pulled the silver watch out of his pocket, this time rememering to leave the chain out when he put it back in.
"-pocketwatch manufacturer of the Eastern Kingdoms? I'm offended, sir!" Phillip sighed, if only to disguise the grin. "Very well, very well. If you must know, Phillip, Marastone."
The doorman blinked, flipping through the papers before finally resting.
"I'm- I'm sorry, sir, but we don't appear to have you on the list."
"I do hope you're not expecting me to leave. I've been anticipating this event for weeks!"
The doorman looked behind Phillip at the waiting line and stepped aside, winking to him with a nervous smile. Phillip turned his nose up and stepped inside with an exasperated 'hmph'.
He made his way through the home barely managed to keep his jaw from dragging on the floor. The nicest home he had been in before was Colin's- and the gang leader's pad didn't hold a candle to this elaborate and garish display of wealth and political power. Tapestries and paintings dotted every wall, often flanked on either side by expensive suits of armor, holding blades in defense of their artwork. Candleholders made of gold with brand new candles dotted every twenty steps, the wax and candle giving off an eeirly magical warmth.
Phillip had half a mind to try and rob this place right here and now- he would be set for life after just four or five of these, but fought the urge. instead, he contented himself with the food, devouring at least a plateful of good, rich grub from the offered tables before cordially asking with a half full mouth where Niel might be. A shocked and offended woman had pointed out that the Master of the House was in the study. Phillip gave her a grateful food-in-teethed smile and wiped his gloves off on the tablecloth before heading in that direction. Thankfully he had not been seen when the woman fainted with shock.
He made his way into the smoky room, breathing through his nose. Aaah. This wasn't the overpowered stench of herbs, this was the richer reek of good rolled tobacco. He took it in for a moment before taking a glance at his surroundings- bookshelves ensircled the room containing hundreds if not thousands of tomes, all carefully organized. A desk sat at the far end of the room, while at the nearest side a group of men sat by the fireside chuckling and smoking cigars- good cigars. Phillip strode right up to them with a winning smile, turning to the main man. After all, he was the one with the biggest chair.
"...And just who in the blazes are you?"
"Ah, m'Phillip, sa-"
"Oh. Colin's boy. What are you doing here, don't you have some cats to terrorise?"
The men laughed while he struggled to maintain a welcoming face.
"Nah, sir. Jus' want to talk to you-"
"Well I'm a little busy, Phil. Perhaps if you come by the station later, we can fill out some paperwork and get you thrown in a cell with the rest of your twitchy little friends."
Phillip licked his top lip and sighed.
"Can what? Get ouf of my study and leave me be? That'd be lovely."
"-can give you the Rollers."
Niel frowned, snuffing his cigar out in an ashtray as he stared into the fire for a moment.
"Excuse us gentlemen, please. We can continue our conversation in a bit."
The aristocrats nodded unsurely, stepping out of their chairs and making their way into the main hall. The moment one had relinquished his place, Phillip plopped down in the chair left behind, leaning back with a grin.
"Wow this is aaaawful comfortable. Wha's this made of, wool?"
"...Leather, you silly fool, and if you get your arseprints on it you're paying for it! Now, what's this you're talking about?"
Phillip leaned forward and smiled brightly.
"I can give you the Rollers on a silver platter. You heard about 'em startin' some stuff in the Mage's District, right?"
"Vaguely. The citizens were very irritated. Though the Rollers being stupid enough to start something...?" Phillip gave a short shrug.
"Y'never know, captain."
Niel leaned in and pulled a cigar from it's case, snapping it and lighting it before taking a long puff.
"I want the Dwarven District."
"I mobilise my forces against the Rollers and arrest their leadership. Meanwhile, you take out the Blue Orcs."
"Nah, man. We at peace with 'em right now, no reason to go-"
"I don't remember this being a negotiation, -boy-. You take out the Blues, I handle the Holy Rollers. That's my deal."
Phillip chewed his lower lip, rubbing the back of his head before sighing. "Alright, Niel. Y'gotta deal."
"That's Sir Prenesal to you, Rat."
Neither man said another word as Phillip left the building.
The Holy Rollers were accused of trafficking in plague and Necromancy- a serious crime considering the threat of Scourge invasion from Lordaeron. Strange barrels and sacks of grain had been conveniently found on their properties, confiscated, and destroyed. Their leader was executed for treason and Necromancy, while many of his lieutenants were similarly charged.
The Blue Orcs did not see the Dead Rats coming. Using Dwarven support, the Rats pushed the Blues out of the district completely, Phillip himself killing Thekal.
Left the only gang in Stormwind, the Dead Rats rested.
The Third War ended quietly for Stormwind. While many of her troops had served in the war, the city itself had not seen conflict as it had in the First and Second. With varying races of people coming to visit and live in the southern city, The Dead Rats grew more and more with each passing day, locking down the smuggling, protection, and illegal distribution markets without anyone to prevent them. A few guards made it their mission to put down the gang, but generally failed against the monolithic rise of the Rats.
It seemed that the Rats would be there forever. In his office overlooking the city, Niel Prenesal plotted.
Phillip had grown older. He grew out a beard and let his formerly cropped hair grow long, hanging at his neck. Though he never wore the tuxedo, he had kept the pocketwatch from his theivery and held it wherever he went. He sat on the corner of ninth and pine- regarding the street with a certain devious smile as he remembered the battles fought over it from the days of the Cats. Lighting a ciggarette he relaxed against a nearby lamp post, waiting. Soon a boy ran up- more a teenager now, though Phillip didn't quite recognise him from so long ago.
"Some trouble's goin' on at tha' keep, sa'!"
"Eh? What's up?"
"Tha' Masons, sa'! They's riotin'!"
Phillip blinked. He blinked again. Finally he clapped the boy on the shoulders.
"Get all our boys inside somethin', RIGHT NOW! I don't want none of them bein' a part of this! Get on the horn with Colin an' tell 'im somethin' big's goin' down!"
The boy nodded rapidly and took off like a rocket, shouting through the streets. Phillip took off in the opposite direction, sprinting towards the keep. A thousand thoughts shot through his head as he threw his ciggarette aside and hoped- prayed, for them to be at least a little reasonable, at least a little maleable...
Phillip Marastone turned the corner from the Old Town gate just in time to see what everyone else had seen on that blue day. A rock shot out from one of the enraged rioters and struck their beloved queen Tiffin Wrynn in the head, felling her. The riot had dispersed afterward, and Phillip had ran for his life.
What followed was a manhunt of epic proportions. As the Stonemason's Guild became the Defias Brotherhood, the Captain of the Guard used the identical colors of the Rats to implicate them in the Brotherhood's plots, turning public opinion against them. Any gangster flying Dead Rats colors was beaten and arrested. Within a matter of weeks, a criminal empire that almost ruled Stormwind's underground was reduced to a dozen cowering men.
Below him, Phillip heard the door crack free of it's hinges as it was burst open, cries of the Constabulary announcing themselves filling his small home. He didn't dare move an inch- that would cause the bed to shift. More crashes came from downstairs and filled the air with a cacophony of breaking wood, glass, and twisting metal. Silently, Phillip fumed.
The footsteps of the guardsmen made their way up his stairs and to his bedroom, the crashes filling his eardrums before finally he heard the mattress creak. He waited. With a heave, the guardsmen threw it aside and revealed him. With the temporary surprise he shot upward, shoving the guards out of his way and jumping forward, catching the doorframe with his hands and vaulting over the next who tried to grab him. He took the stairs down two at a time as they pursued, drawing blades and truncheons. He made it to the door with his heart pounding and spared a glance back at his pursuers. When he looked back, he connected with an outstretched arm and was sent tumbling back onto his back. The last thing he saw was the royal-armored form of Sir Prenesal grinning over him before his truncheon sent him into unconciousness.
Phillip Marastone and his gang were locked in the Stockades. While they managed to form a clique and protect themselves in the prison, they never reached their former height. While Phillip was in prison, Colin Marastone died of disease at the age of seventy four. None of the Dead Rats were permitted at his funeral.
Ten years after his incarceration, Phillip was released on a claim of good behavior and a "willingness to become a decent member of society". He has re-formed the Dead Rats and now begins to grow his empire once again.
It was a cold morning, the dew hanging off of the graveyard grass and a soft fog rolling over the stone path that Phillip walked. His ciggarette smoke added to the mist as he made his way towards the back row of the graves, his hands in his pockets. It was a sunday. He stopped at a particular grave and smoke his ciggarette down to the butt, flicking it aside before clearing the seven rat tails that had been assembled on top of the grave beforehand. He pulled a hand out of his pocket and placed a rat's tail on the top of the grave with reverence, kneeling his head for a moment. After his ritual, he turned and left, lighting another ciggarette.
Phillip Marastone is officially, according to the Stormwind Census, the city's number one pest control specialist.
No one has killed more rodents then he has.
SO WHAT THE HELL IS THIS
-Kind of Origin Story for my character Phillip Marastone.
-Timeline is End of the Second War to End of the Third War(Beginning of World of Warcraft)
So anyways tell me what you think
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