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Old 02-28-2012, 03:57 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 13


Laterbrus carefully walked through a thick fog. He couldn't even see his own outstretched hand through this haze. What was worse, he didn't seem able to use his magic. It kind of made sense, after the arcane disruption that had come when he'd been pushed into the rift by Sven...

He stopped for a moment to once again try to figure out what had happened after that. Everything had gone white, and then he'd just been standing here, in the fog. He scowled and continued walking. He wasn't sure how long he'd been going, but he wasn't tired yet, so it couldn't be long.

”I have to get out of here to...” He mumbled to himself and paused. ”I have to get out of here.”

A shiver ran through him as he once again felt like he was being watched by someone.



Sven blinked his eyes, confused. ”Uh, do I know you?” He took a step toward the wise one and squinted his eyes. The man didn't look familiar in the least.

”Wait, no”, the sage said and shook his head. ”Åke Yorgen was a young man back then... he'd be long dead by now.”

“Åke?” Sven frowned and said: “He was my grandfather... who are you?”

The man slowly stood up, helped by one of his Worgen companions. Despite his apparent frailty, he was as tall as Sven. Looking the farmer in the eye, he said: “My name is Garren Roland. I was once an Archmage of the Kirin Tor.”

Sven furrowed his brow. “Roland? You... died, didn't you?” He took a look over his shoulder, and found that Guy and Renthlos were staying back, out of this discussion.

“Died?” The old man said amusedly. “I guess it's fair that they assumed that of me. So you're Yorgen's grandson? How did you end up here?”

Sven frowned and crossed his hands over his chest. “Wait, can we go through this in a chronological order? First we talk about how you got here, and we talk about how we got here, and then we talk about the current situation.”

Roland fingered his white beard for a moment and then nodded. “Very well, then. This is going to be quite a tale, though, so we might as well have tea and honey cakes as we speak. Daena, dear, will you get the refreshments for out guests?” He spoke past Sven, at an elderly Worgen near a doorway, next to a large table. She smiled and nodded before leaving the room.

The old man walked beside Sven and looked at the others. He didn't seem to pay Guy much attention, but the unconscious trio who had just been carried in behind him seemed to catch his attention. “Hmh, I think I know what's wrong with your companions.” He walked past Guy and put a hand on Kra'osha's forehead. “Yes, the same thing happened to me too, when I first came here.”

“...they're all magic-users. I assume you are too”, Guy said hesitantly.

“Yes”, the old man said with a pleased smile. “Nice of you to see the connection. What happened is that their personal psychovibric arcane spectrums clashed with the new atmospheric magimental conditions, causing them to suffer mild epileptic shocks. Normally they'd undergo a day or so of mental recovery but I can boost up the process by properly syncing their auras using the Brelav-Zirallata method.”

He seemed to enjoy their blank stares very much as he chuckled and pressed his thumb against Kra'osha's forehead. “You're going to have to tell me how you ran into one of her kind later.” His eyes flickered over Windfarer next. “And especially him.”

A red wave of energy ran through him, and past the orc. She moaned in her sleep: the first noise she'd made in this world. “There we go”, Roland said with a slight smile. “Now she's in regular sleep. She'll wake up when she does.” He turned to Dab'ra next and repeated the process. “With him... I'm not so sure. Maybe the magics binding his mind to his body will refresh over some minutes? I've never studied the undead, except as a theoretical concept...”

The elderly worgen returned to the room with a large tray, which she lay on the table. “Please, take a seat”, she said in a friendly tone in perfect Common, and yipped something at the other Worgen in the room. Renthlos sat down at the table, while his men put down the unconscious magi on some cushions. Roland's guests from earlier walked off after short goodbyes in their tongue.

Sven and Guy took a seats opposite of Renthlos, but ignored the tea and pastries for now. Instead, they watched as Roland walked to the three sleeping figures and did his red wave spell on Eric. Though nothing looked different, a grim look fell on his face when he did it. “Did something go wrong?” Sven asked.

“The issue that struck the three of them has been corrected with him too”, Roland said hesitantly. "But with this one, something is different. It is not arcane, but spiritual. His soul has... retreated within. He won't wake up like the others will...”

Sven felt numb. “What? He's dead?” He only realised he'd stood back up when he felt Guy's hand grab his shoulder, urging him back down.

“Heavens no!” Roland said and slowly walked to the table, sitting down as well. The old Worgen female walked behind him, looming there like the retainer of a lord. “I don't mean that he's never going to wake up. I mean he won't wake up yet, not until... well, it'll help out if I know what's happened to him. And going by our agreement, I guess I'll start with the narration. Know, though, that he's in no immediate danger. I think.”

Sven very slowly sat down, taking a look at his slumbering brother. He and Kra'osha looked restless now, not comatose like before. Only Windfarer remained as still as he had all evening...

“So. Where to start? Well, I was Archmage Roland of the Kirin Tor. It was... oh Gods, so long ago. Well, your grandfather Åke was in his late twenties. I was about as old as he was. I left Dalaran to study on my own, tired of the big city. I came to a town called Sunnyglade, and found a nice cave nearby where I could study without being harassed. The Yorgens sold me food. I lived a simple life, contently studying the barriers that divide Azeroth from other worlds, and from the Nether.

Well, one day, something went wrong. I was being careless, there was a spike in the nearest lay line... and I woke up in another world.” He spread his hands in an and-here-we-are gesture.

Sven rubbed his stubbly jaw. “It's that simple, to travel to another world?”

“Heavens no”, Roland said. “I made it sound easy? It was a great coincidence it happened at all, and had I been a weaker mage, I'd have surely died.” He reached for a honey cake and took a bite of it. The Worgen lady gave him a strict look which he very pointedly ignored. Apparently she'd have preferred for the guests to take the first one.

“So they named you their sage? I mean, you just talked about sensing my brother's soul, so...” Sven trailed off while the old man finished his pastry.

“I wasn't given any honorary first-visitor-from-another-world title. I earned it”, the wizard said, and bit onto some more cake. He continued with his mouth full, sounding a bit like Windfarer did when he wasn't using his voice spell. “It took me years to learn the Worgen language, and then I studied for a decade under the previous Wise One. I learned the duties and skills of a local shaman to do it. I'm not that good a wizard any more, since I haven't practised much.”

Guy hesitantly reached for a pewter cup and poured himself tea. Sven nodded his head jerkily. He hadn't meant to offend the man, but for some reason he couldn't imagine an archmage working as some Worgen's apprentice.

Roland swallowed the rest of his honey cake and continued: “I know some of what's going on in Azeroth nowadays. Some of the Worgen tribes have been called there in the past few years, and they've relied a little of what things are like to me.” He frowned and took another look at Kra'osha. “My biggest regret is that I can't go study this 'dark portal' thing I've been told of. I want to know how it keeps magic-users from passing out when they use it...”

Sven blinked his eyes as a memory came back to him. “Grandfather said that he once heard your voice in Roland's Doom. Uh, the cave where you vanished...” He cursed himself in his mind for using that name. It sounded so grim.

“So that's what they call it...” Roland said. He didn't sound very amused. “Yeah, that was me. In my first years here, I tried to contact someone back home to get help, but I gave up on it. I could only send very fragmented recordings of my voice, and only to the place I'd departed from, so I figured it was no use... shortly thereafter, I found happiness here. I hadn't thought about Azeroth for years until all the recent summonings...”

Sven just nodded. He finally reached to take a honey cake. As soon as he tasted it, he felt like a fool for not trying one earlier. It was delicious.

“Now it's your turn, I'd say”, the old man muttered while pouring himself tea. “Chronological order, as we agreed. How did you end up here?”

Sven sighed a little and wondered where to start. “My brother and his friends – they're the three boneheads lying on the cushions – were searching for the Scythe of Elune. It's a magical object said to be able to summon legions of Worgen to do the wielder's bidding, and it was last sighted near my home. He decided to pay me a visit, one thing led to another, and I found myself in his group, riding to Karazhan and beyond.”

He stopped to think what else was important. He pointed at Eric. “My brother is Laterbrus. Renthlos may have told you about him. He was the apprentice of Arugal, and heavily involved with summoning Worgen in the past.” It was impossible to tell if Roland had already figured this out or not.

“Well, we eventually found the man who had captured the Scythe. We fought our way into his sanctum. Only, he wasn't the real threat. My brother made it there first, and by the time the rest of us got to him, he was dead and instead we faced a... I don't know, devil.”

“A devil with three horns”, Guy said grimly between sips of tea. All at once, Roland, Renthlos and the Worgen woman went stiff as boards of wood, their faces frozen in fear.

None of them spoke, so Sven continued slowly: “My brother... he said he was going to make a deal with it. He'd get the Scythe in exchange for helping it go home. Things got chaotic, and I ended up pushing him into the rift that was being channelled. We woke up here.”

“If you are here...” Renthlos said, his hands grabbing the table in front of himself hard enough to leave scratch-marks on the wood.

“Then so is he”, Roland finished. He closed his eyes. “I suspected he might be related to the Worgen-summonings on Azeroth. This confirms it.”

“He... it is named Druj, isn't it?” Sven asked. The two Worgen in the table seemed to shudder at the mention of the name, while Roland cringed in a painful manner.

Renthlos seemed to force himself to let go of the table, and nodded jerkily. “That name is not to be spoken lightly. He is a Lord of the Emerald Flame, an enemy to all who live.”

“Which means...?” Sven asked. He knew he was stretching it, now, but he was feeling too curious to let the subject go.

Roland seemed to think what to say, and bought himself time by reaching for a new honey cake. “I think you deserve the explanation, but I would rather save words for now. Your friends are going to want to know this as well. I will tell you all later. For now, I think you should rest. It is very late, and though I am used to staying up through the nights, like the Worgen are, I doubt the same applies to you.”

Sven didn't actually feel that tired, but he felt weary. A lot had happened in the past few hours, and he felt like it would really help to lie down and think for a while. “All right. Uh... do you have guest rooms or?”

“Yes, actually. Chieftains and seekers of wisdom visit me often, so I have rooms to spare, just in case. My daughter will take you to your rooms”, Roland said and called something out in the Worgen tongue.

Sven didn't quite have time to process what was just said before the door opened and a woman entered. She was Worgen, and yet, more human-like. She had bright blue eyes, a very short muzzle, and humanlike hands, but her skin was covered in white fur. Suddenly the elderly female Worgen in the table made much more sense.

Guy cocked an eyebrow as he stood up, while Sven wished he could be so casual. He found himself staring, and blushed as he lowered his eyes, raising from his chair.

“Good evening, I'm Srira”, the woman said and smiled. It was hard to tell how old she was, but she was probably older than Sven or Guy. “I can't believe there's another human in our world...” She seemed just as intrigued by them as they did by her.

“Our guests are tired, dear”, her mother Daena said. “You can ask them questions tomorrow. Take them to their beds, now.” Despite her age, she sounded very authoritative. Her Common was a little clunky, but still understandable.

“Yes, mother”, Srira said and gestured for Guy and Sven to follow herself. They passed by the sleeping magi on their way to the stairs. Sven assumed they'd be taken to proper beds soon.

She followed the woman through a doorway and up some stairs. In a cramped corridor in the second floor, she pointed at two doors and said: “You can sleep in those. I'll bring you washbins in a minute.” She stopped to take another good look at both of them. Sven felt uncomfortable being stared at like that. With the Worgen outside, it had been awe and intimidation. Here, it was curiosity and... something.

“Thank you”, Guy said tiredly and lowered his hand onto the hilt of his sword. “Can you tell your father to have someone guard the black-haired sleeping youth? He may be dangerous if he wakes up.”

Sven felt like protesting for some reason, but then ended up nodding. “The other two are going to wake up soon, I think he said. I guess he's going to give them the warm welcome and explain where they are when it happens”, he said and rubbed his eyes.

“Let father worry about that”, the woman said and turned to walk back to the stairs. Sven now noticed that her feet were more humanlike than a Worgen's as well, but not quite human. “I'll see you soon with that water.”

Sven and Guy were left alone in the corridor. The farmer turned to his newfound companion and said: “If Roland teleported here, maybe he knows a way back. I mean, he said that he gave up on returning to Azeroth at some point, but maybe he knows a spell, only he chooses not to use it.”

“It's possible”, Guy admitted. “We'll ask him tomorrow. I don't know about you, but I truly am tired as can be.” He walked to one of the doors Srira had pointed, and opened it up.

“Good night”, Sven said, and yawned loudly.

“Good night, Yorgen”, the former crusader answered and entered his room, closing the door behind himself.

Sven stood still for a minute. He wished he still had his sword. Ladimore's sword. Lazily, he walked to the other door and entered the guest room. He hoped that he didn't dream tonight. With the material he'd been getting since his last sleep, he was going to have really disturbing dreams.



Laterbrus stopped and lowered his hand. He still couldn't tell how long he'd been walking, but he was starting to sense that there was no end to this fog. “I know there's someone in here!” He yelled in frustration. “I can sense you looking at me. Show yourself.”

The oppressive silence around him deepened for a moment, before breaking when a familiar voice spoke: “You're right. There is someone in here.”

The fog gave way and the vague shape of a person appeared in front of Laterbrus. He wished he could access his magic, but without that, he lowered his posture, ready to fight with his bare hands if need be.

When he finally saw the other person completely, though, he forgot his intentions. The man was short and scrawny, with a feminine face and small hands. He wore clothes of blue and white, and had a short, blonde hair. His eyes were dark, almost black.

“What?” Laterbrus asked, confused beyond all thought. It was himself, only... in opposite colours. White clothes instead of black, blonde hair instead of dark... “What are you?”

The other Laterbrus sighed and shook his head. “That's a long story. Though I guess time is all we have at this point.”
I've gotten addicted to cliffhangers. Sue me.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.

Last edited by Kerrah; 02-28-2012 at 04:03 PM..
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