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Join Date: Dec 2007
Kul Phorcys, Kul Tiras, Lordaeron
Alarms sounded throughout the Kul Tiras prison as guards and soldiers scurried about frantically. Kraven Cobra descended into the corridors, sweating and screaming.
Kraven Cobra: Fools! Imbeciles! How could you let those traitors escape our prison… again!
The prison’s warden was almost assuredly going to be relieved of his position, if not moved in to his former place of employment. Kraven feared he might be imprisoned as well.
Kraven Cobra: Next time, we just execute them immediately!
Then he saw for himself that the new arrivals were not the only escapees, and that other cells were empty. The special cells…
Kraven Cobra: The Guardian and the Crimson Cabalist both gone…
Kul Tiras Prison Guard: Yes sir, we believe the new captives liberated them.
Kraven Cobra: Stolen keys alone weren’t enough for these pens… the cads must have had powerful allies that we did not account for. Send out pursuit teams, now! Equip them with our finest anti-caster gear! Scramble Couatls! I want any teleportation spells tracked! Find them! Bring the special prisoners back and kill the rest!
Kraven wondered why Phorcys had not foreseen all this. Then again, ever since the battle off the coast of Gilneas, Phorcys had not been the same. Once the KTS Thaumas F. Proudmoore limped back to Kul Tiras’ harbor, Phorcys locked himself in his chambers, doing Mnesthes knew what. He was injured during the battle, which was truly shocking given his power level. For some reason, his clairvoyance faltered when it involved the pagan sailors that joined the battle against them. Phorcys did not foresee their empowerment, and thus was caught uncharacteristically unprepared.
Kraven was sweating profusely now, and almost hoped Phorcys would stay sequestered. His wrath would certainly be considerable…
Kul Tiras Prison Guard: Sir, our survey is complete. Not counting those we captured tonight, we’re missing three prisoners total.
Kraven Cobra: Three? Who is the third?
Kul Tiras Prison Guard: The Makrura sir. She escaped with the others.
Kraven Cobra: Oh @#$%. Periandrius is going to be pissed…
Kul Phorcys, Zul'Dare, the Benefactors
Namor Periandrius: Raaarrghh!
The Commodore bellowed with rage. The battle had been costly, though they had succeeded in capturing the town thanks to the Eels. They had bought him the time he needed, and now he had to support them. If they were fighting in the forests, then into the forest he would go.
And while there, if he should find the secret to obtaining super-human, godlike abilities… well, all the better.
Namor Periandrius: Assemble everyone you can spare. We move on the forests. I won’t sacrifice any of my people, commander. Let the men know that if they need a morale boost.
His underling saluted and moved swiftly to carry out his orders. At the very least, he’d been pleased with the performance of Mrs. Proudmoore. Her abilities had proven she was valuable on the battlefield as well as in the bedroom, and neither the pagans nor the lightists from Stromgarde were prepared for her nature magics. He would leave her in charge while he plumbed the bush, secure in the knowledge that she was loyal - it was commanded by Phorcys.
Namor Periandrius: And commander. Fetch me Zadonk and the rogue. They’ll be joining us.
Van Dam was beginning to understand what was happening here, and is was more frightening than he imagined.
Warester Van Dam: You, prophet! You’re the one who wants to break history!
The Viridian Prophet: I be doin’ what da Doctrine demands, boy.
Meryl Winterstorm: No, that’s a lie. Xaxion is the Doctrine’s defender! History must not break!
Warester Van Dam: Don’t you get it, Meryl? The Doctrine is a lie! It’s meaningless! The so-called “Prophet” said it himself. “Da Doctrine is da future! I am da future!” He is the Doctrine! He’s using it as a means to consolidate his own power - the same as Xaxion is! Its just diatribe!
Meryl Winterstorm: No…
Warester Van Dam: Search your feelings Meryl, you know it to be true. The only difference between the two is that Xaxion wants to preserve history, while this troll wants to break it!
The Viridian Prophet: Oh, boy. Do not be blaspheming! I have seen da future, and I know what awaits dis world. The unbroken timeline, it plays out to me all day long in the home that I created - Karazhan. I bred the future into Karazhan’s walls with da very blood of da dead ones. You spend time dere, you would know too. Dere be unspeakable evuls out dere, in da Great Dark Beyond, and there be evuls here too, trapped below and jus waitin’ to end it all. I gots to break history, boy, to save it.
Meryl Winterstorm: Maybe Xaxion did deceive me with the Doctrine, but I know Xaxion wants to prevent the break in history. This troll wants to break it for his own interests! He means to rule the world! The prophecies said that paganism would atrophy, the gods would be forgotten for millennia. In a thousand years, nobody will even remember who built his precious Karazhan! Thoradin’s religion will dominate humanity!
Warester Van Dam: So that’s why the Archivists converted to the Light. They knew it was the wave of the future…
Meryl Winterstorm: And he cannot have that if he wishes to remain in control! That’s why he wants the egg and all the other artifacts of power! That’s why he instigated this war! He wants to break history so that his corrupt vision can come true! A vision of an Azeroth dominated by false Paganism!
Caxagord: Without him there will be no Azeroth! Paganism cannot go quietly into the night! Azeroth needs the break in history to remain strong and survive its coming trials!
Both sides seemed absolutely convinced of their righteousness. Van Dam, without question, preferred the unbroken timeline. Humanity united under the Holy Light would be the ultimate fulfillment of Thoradin’s legacy. Yet, what if these threats the Prophet and Caxagord spoke of were real? Could he be dooming his world by denying the prophet he ability to fight them? He turned to Krasus.
Warester Van Dam: What about it, Big Red? What do you know of the future.
Krasus: I know that in this unbroken timeline, at least, I survive.
Warester Van Dam: And you know this how?
Krasus: Once, nine-thousand years ago, I met my future self.
Warester Van Dam: Oh.
Hocus Snood: Yeah, he loves to tell this story. He was extremely weak if he wasn’t in the direct presence of his older self and he couldn’t shape shift at all, but he still managed to throw down with Deathwing, even though Deathwing had this magical MacGuffin that could dominate any other dragon. It sounds pretty contrived to be honest…
Warester Van Dam: I’ll say. Did future you at least tell you anything about this current situation?
Krasus: He was mum as to any details of the future, to avoid changing it. I even had to deduce his identity on my own.
Warester Van Dam: Fantastic. What about the Bronze Dragons? They’re time masters right? Can they help us?
Krasus: I’m afraid not. Not here anyway. If we could get to their caverns…
The Viridian Prophet: Enough of dis interlude! Da Scale of the Sands cannot help you now! If you dun give me da egg, I will take it myself!
Van Dam had already decided. He put his faith in the Light, and trusted that if humanity embraced it, they could overcome any evil that threatened their world. The prophet was not getting the egg, and history was not going to break.
Warester Van Dam: Now!
Van Dam shouted to his dragon cohort, who quickly placed his hands on the ancient egg. While the strange shielding that permeated Ythan'alai prevented any of the individuals there from casting even simple spells, the Egg retained its power.
Van Dam’s grappling hook whirled out like a lightening bolt, ensnaring Meryl around the waist and yanking him forward. He was not going to let the man be torn apart by trolls, even if he was already dead.
Simultaneously, Krasus’ intercourse with the egg took effect. Suddenly, there was the spirit of an enormous (and furious) Kaiju Spider standing between them and the trolls. As relayed to Van Dam by his sword-brother Myrokos, the essence of Elortha no Shadra was absorbed into the Ancient Egg at Jintha’alor after the giant arachnid beast was slain by the dragon Lethon.* Krasus had the knowledge needed to draw it out, but Van Dam had to communicate the instruction to him.
That was the reason behind the banter about time travel, to buy time for Warester to non-verbally communicate the words “distract,” “Shadra,” and “egg” to the dragon mage via a paralanguage called “vocalics.” Pioneered by Krol, the technique involved various acoustic properties of speech such as tone, pitch and accent, collectively known as prosody, which all give off nonverbal cues corresponding to letters of the common alphabet. Warster gambled that Krol would have taught the technique to his old teammate while the others in attendance would be oblivious, and he was right.
Krasus: The shade of Elortha no Shadra will not last long outside the egg, Warester. Its already dissipating!
Warester Van Dam: Move, move!
While the fading ethereal Spider engaged the Prophet’s trolls, Krasus, Hocus, and Warester, with Meryl in tow, rushed towards the entrance to the Ziggeraut. While the Prophet’s units were momentarily cut off, due to his position Relfthra was not. This was a calculated risk made by Warester. The Councilor could either join them, or stop them.
Van Dam feared Relfthra’s corruption. He knew the Council had allied with some pagans, but which ones? Xaxion’s or the Prophet’s? As an organization sworn to safeguarding Azeorth, he didn’t rule out the possibility that Relftha and the gang might have bought the Prophet’s line about protecting the planet from external evils. The Council itself was an organization that accumulated power in a single individual with the goal of fighting evil. Maybe “the Guardian” was obsolete for some reason, and the Prophet was the better bet to be the spearhead against demons and the like.
Yet, at the same time Relfthra had actively fought the Chancellors and was instrumental in their defeat in Alterac. He helped prevent Akaerna-Sagai’s avatar from becoming unstoppable. Yet, so had Caxagord - and look at what side he was now on. Warester could only hope Relfthra would choose to join them, but he was putting a lot of faith in the better nature of the elf…
* Way back in November, 2009! -- Gurt
A great void stretched out before him. Jin'thek felt as if he was being cast into an ocean, teeming and wretching, heedless of him. Within its inky depths, Jin'thek felt movement, and thousands of eyes peering at him from every direction. It was like being back in the Shrine of Ula-tek. The thought of reliving that memory sent Jin'thek into a spiral of madness.
Then, the darkness parted.
Ashes seemed to swirl through the emptiness, coming together to create the outlines of two tusks. A humanoid form materialized to match the tusks. It beckoned to Jin'thek, and Jin'thek felt that he wanted to draw nearer.
He wanted to squint, to look more clearly, but Jin'thek realised then that he was formless. There were no eyes to perceive with; only his soul and mind. He found that he could speak, though the feeling was different. It was as if he was becoming sound.
"I know you."
The figure stepped closer, and Jin'thek realised that it was his father.
"Father." Jin'thek gasped. "How can this be possible?"
With a rumble, the figure grasped its stomach and shook. It was laughter.
"No boy. I not be your father. But you see him in me, perhaps. Or perhaps, Jin'thek, you be lookin' at yourself."
"I don't understand, mon." Jin'thek felt brave enough to admit. He almost felt himself rise taller to meet the stranger at eye-level. "But that is why I am here. To understand. To break the strings of fate. To know Fon'kazk'ah."
"And that is why I be here, warchief." the shade replied. "I be Zanza the Restless. An' I be watching you for a long time, Jin'thek. But I don't come to you because you are special to me, Jin'thek. No. I am of da Loa. You be here, Jin'thek, because your people, they love you. They believe in you. And the realm of gods be the realm of Belief. You be a god of the heart, mon. That is why you be here. I did not come to you. You came to me."
Jin'thek stood eye to eye with Zanza and he nodded.
"Then tell me about Fon'kaz'kah. About da Jin'rokh and Ker'ah."
Zanza leaned in closer to Jin'thek as a shadow stretching deeper and wider.
"Wanna know a secret?"
Once again, Jin'thek felt the sensation of nodding. It felt like Zanza was smiling at him.
"I don't know, Jin'thek, about why you be findin' Jin'rokh or Ker'ah. Or why they come to you. Maybe there be no special reason. But I tell you this about Fon'kaz'kah, mon. Destiny? Does it mean anything, mon? History be decided by people. Da future is never certain. Perhaps Fon'kaz'kah, da death of time be meanin' nothing more, Jin'thek, nothing more than elders talking about one troll strong enough and brave enough to make a difference. It don't take magic to change history, Jin'thek. It just takes a heart. Your people believe in you, mon. But do you believe in yourself? Why you be here, Jin'thek?"
Zanza's words echoed through Jin'thek's mind. His thoughts raced, and he felt Zanza slipping away from him. The Loa's laughter came as if from a vast distance, as wide as the stars themselves. Jin'thek felt himself falling, falling and falling into darkness. The darkness became a nightmare.
With every passing moment the eyes watched more closely as Jin'thek fell towards them. Then Jin'thek saw Him.
Hakkar the Bloodflayer rose as a giant serpent above him, claws and talons sharp and clicking.
"Fleeing will do you no good, Jin'thek. You will never be rid of me. I am in your blood, in your mind, in your soul. I live through you, and you shall be forever mine!"
Jin'thek heard whispering, voices of dead gods begging for worship. Secrets best left buried crawled from the cold nothingness, trying to worm their way into Jin'thek's mind to become known in the world of flesh.
"Your friends will abandon you. Your courage will fail. You will stand alone on the precipice and drown in the disappointment of your entire race, as your heart explodes."
As the madness sank further into Jin'thek's, Zanza's words kept dancing at the back of his mind. He tried to focus on them over the whispering, but the whispering kept growing louder. Soon, it was screaming. Jin'thek felt his tainted blood begin to boil.
"Xostheron-glob búbhosh skai!"
A vision of a vast empire, and magic based off of blood.
Then Jin'thek saw Ba'jal, kneeling to the Prophet under the forest canopy of Zul'Aman. Another voice slid through the scenery.
"They have turned against you... now, take your revenge..."
A god of death, older and more terrible than Mueh'zala, gnawed at the bones of the world.
"You cling to your life as if it actually matters... Your hopeless destiny."
Then, just as it seemed Jin'thek was about to be consumed completely, he realised what Zanza had meant. The demons and gods were his fears incarnate, his self-doubt and his self-loathing. Every single regret that he had ever felt had turned against him in the corners of his mind. Yet, they had no power over him unless he let them. Destiny, fate and a history that had not yet happened were nothing but stories without substance. Mere words never had any power, and they never would. Not without a voice behind them, and a heart and mind to make them mean something.
The blood that burned so hotly within his mortal body suddenly lost its intensity. Jin'thek realised that he had arms again, legs, a body.
He opened his eyes and stared at calm waters and gigantic trees. The lake lay just an arm's reach away. For the first time since the druids at Caer Darrow had lessened his pains, he felt relief.
Fon'kaz'kah meant nothing. Prophecies, words and high tales and wisdoms only shaped his beliefs about the future as long as he let them. Whatever the elders had foreseen, nothing was ever set in stone. Perhaps, the only prophecies that came true were the self-fulfilling ones.
There was always a choice.
Kul Tiras and Zul'Dare
Ishmael Khalabrond remembered his days as Vizier with a heavy heart. As the fishing boat he and his crew had taken from Sorsbrent bobbed up and down on the waves, he remembered a time of silk cushions and borrowing drops of Makrura nectar.
"Why so serious, Khalabrond? Never thought you'd be working with a Lightist?" Henry Caldwell grumbled as he adjusted the sails. Khalabrond growled at the young whelp. Henry had long been a royal guard at Boralus, cleaning up after Khalabrond and protecting him like a meat-shield. Now, Henry was free to voice his honest opinions, and Khalabrond did not like it.
"Silence, Caldwell! Or will you betray me as you betrayed Kul Tiras to DeMeza?"
"You yourself are working with Grand Admiral DeMeza now. So you be silent."
Ephraim Marsh watched smoke rising above the trees and smattering across the horizon. It was the smoke that marked the end of Middlecreek, like a signpost indicating a graveyard. With his half-troll army at his back, Ephraim was heading along the beaches south, towards New Barsmouth. He hoped to find his son safe there, and then the city could be used as a staging ground to strike at Kul Tiras.
His scouts returned with two messages. One reported the fall of New Barsmouth to Donald Redpath and a Tirasian force. As Ephraim fumed, he heard the other message. A ship had anchored not far from the half-troll army, and its crew had come ashore looking hopelessly lost. The crew was to be brought before him.
Ishmael Khalabrond, Henry Caldwell, sailor Magnus and Lennart McNabb and the men and women who had accompanied them from Sorsbrent had been surrounded by trollish hulks the moment they had stepped on Zul'Dare's sands. Khalabrond could barely keep himself in check, and Henry was too busy cursing his luck to pay any heed to the situation. That left Lennart to handle things.
Lennart was brought before the leader of the half-trolls, standing at the head of his army. He was a man wearing a mask, so Lennart was not even sure if he was one of the half-trolls or not.
It seemed that the figure was trying to decide what to do with them.
Last edited by Timolas : 01-07-2011 at 03:00 PM.
Join Date: Feb 2009
Kul Tiras, Zul'Dare
Lennart took a moment to clear his throat and then did his best.
"I'm really just a sailor and, well, diplomacy isn't really my thing. But… Uh, who are you guys?"
The sound of Khalabrond facepalming was heard.
Before Ephraim has the time to respond, Khalabrond quickly drags Lennart out of the way with an “Oh for the love of-. Let me handle this!” And starts to speak.
“My dearest gentlemen, I apologize for my colleague’s brutish demeanor and would like to start over by assuring you all that we mean you no harm whatsoever.
In fact I’d like to resolve this misunderstanding, could you perchance direct us towards the leader of this island?”
“Well I am the leader, and you sound like Tirasians. Want to know what we do to Tirasians? Take Middlecreek for example, all who once called it home are dead.”
Before Khalabrond could recover from the shock, Lennart jumps back into action, nervously spitting out his words.
“Yes, we really are Tirasians but we’re not allied with Phorcys! In fact, my lord is leading an attack towards Boralus as we speak.
You could, uh, unless you don’t want to… Maybe help us?”
the Benefactors, Zul'Dare
As Xalmor walked away Garn realized that there was one body on the ground that was not that of an Eel. It was the body of an aristocrat. He picked up the body himself to bring it to camp. He could not find a pulse, but he was no doctor. He signaled to a few of his men who carried torches. The bodies of the Eels and much of their equipment was put to the flame.
The Commodore grimaced. He had joined with the forces of Zul'Dare to prevent the death of innocents. But this Xalmor was proving to be just as brutal as the forces he fought against.
The melting snow watered the plains before the city of Cattania. The land had finally gone quiet. It was an eerie silence that reminded General Leo of the grave, and thus, of Rufus. His horse had been put to rest, just one of many thousands of casualties in the war.
Leo halted before Lady Korgal's tent. A row of peasants were on their knees in a line outside of it. Hareveim stood over them, their magical Harev daggers drawing scars on the backs of their victims. The peasants struggled, but their mouths were held shut by magic.
Disgusted, Leo walked past them and stepped inside. Cenus followed close behind. He immediately saw Lady Korgal standing crouched over a table. She paid him little heed. At her side were several of the fabled Zaramim. These Zaramim had yet to prove themselves as being anything other than petite chosen ones in ceremonial armour. Leo hoped that they were capable of more than show, but they had only just arrived at the encampment. Time would tell their worth.
"Good afternoon, Lady Korgal. Care to explain why there are civilians being tortured outside?"
Lady Avette Korgal ignored him, as her hands shuffled through the papers on her desk. Leo watched and waited, casually noticing the Zaramim staring at him from his peripheral vision. Was it contempt in their gaze? Perhaps they could read his mind.
"Milady, why are you having those people tortured?" he asked again.
Korgal finally looked up at him, her eyebrows furrowed.
"They are being made an example of. Townsfolk who work with the invaders must be punished. But General, that is not what we should be discussing."
Leo raised an eyebrow.
"What did you want to chat about, then? For it seems you wanted to see me, from the sound of it."
Then Leo noticed that there was a man behind Korgal, shielded by the Zaramim. Korgal beckoned for the man to step forward, and he did so. Leo noticed that the stranger was finely dressed, and getting on in years. No doubt such a combination meant that he was a noble.
"General Tiberius Leo; allow me to introduce Lukas Notaras, one of the ministers of Stromgarde's court."
The noble smiled grimly. His hands fidgeted with the buttons of his coat. Leo distrusted such gestures.
"And what is he doing here?"
Lady Korgal allowed herself a predatory smile.
"He comes with news. The King of Stromgarde has been assassinated by rebels. For once, Stromgarde is in chaos. Its armies in Hesperia lie confused and static. Now is the time to strike. But first, we must ensure that they are unable to reorganize."
General Leo managed a deep intake of breath. It was as if the Four Gods themselves had intervened to provide Hesperia with a miraculous victory.
"Then we have but to sweep in and finish them off? I think you underestimate them, milady, though the news is better than we could have dared to hope for."
Then Lukas Notaras stepped further into the torchlight. He cleared his throat and looked Leo directly in the eyes.
"I have come here to ensure that Stromgarde's armies are unable to interfere with the rebellion. To secure the new regime, the Tribunes of the old order must die. They must not be allowed to lead a resistance. Tribune Septim is the greatest amongst them, and thus the greatest threat to me."
General Leo knew the name of Septim. He had met Septim at the Thoradin Wall, before the war had broken out. Septim had been an honourable knight and soldier, despite the threat he had posed. When Stromgarde had withdrawn, Leo had been relieved. Facing Septim on the battlefield would have been a formidable challenge. Leo would not have guessed that Stromgarde would have ended up breaking its neutrality and invading anyway.
"What are you suggesting, minister Notaras?" Leo asked.
"You hold Lord Captain Anderas as a prisoner in the city of Cattania. Use him as bait, General. Promise to Tribune Septim that you will negotiate a ceasefire, and the release of Anderas. Fool Septim into meeting with you, for he trusts you, and believes that you are a man of your word. When Septim comes to rescue Anderas, then you must strike."
The thought bit deeply into Leo. What this snake wanted was for Leo to betray Tribune Septim's trust, and to betray morality and honour.
"The Tribune would not walk blindly into such an obvious trap."
Lady Avette Korgal issued a girlish giggle.
"Oh, naive Leo! Of course, the Tribune would want to parley on safe ground, surrounded by his most trusted men. That is why you will take the Hareveim and the Zaramim with you. The Zaramim will kill the spellcasters protecting the Tribune, and then the Hareveim will teleport you back to safety once the spellcasters are unable to interfere. Before the armies of Stromgarde can descend upon you, you will be safely back amongst us."
Leo turned and saw the expression on Cenus' face.
"Is this necessary, my lord?" he whispered. "If their King is dead, they probably don't want to fight us anyway."
"Silence, worm!" Lukas Notaras hissed at Cenus. "Let the men of worth do the talking, or I will teach you your place."
"Lay a hand on him and you die." Leo said plainly. Lukas Notaras squirmed under the gaze directed at him.
Perhaps General Leo could negotiate with Tribune Septim; but instead of assassinating him, he could instead negotiate a genuine ceasefire between Hesperia and Stromgarde. Then, Stromgarde would withdraw back behind the Thoradin Wall to deal with its own problems.
Yet, Leo knew that if he did that, then the rebellion in Stromgarde would be crushed. If it was crushed, then it was only a matter of time before Stromgarde rebuilt its strength and renewed its invasion plans. Dictator Javali would surely not approve if he let Tribune Septim live if he had a chance to kill him.
All eyes were upon him. He closed his eyes as his mind raced to make some sort of decision.
Dalaran and the Elves
Dictator Javali's legions marched out from the burned out husk of Seashire. They did not find themselves waved off by either the townsfolk or by Count Zartus. When Javali had found Zartus in the town hall, the count had barely acknowledged his presence. It seemed that the city's ruin had driven the man into a depression.
Scouts brought fresh information to Javali by the hour as the legion marched north. General Leo's armies had partially secured the northern frontier at Cattania. The city of Tornio was silent, however, presumably under enemy occupation, though the rumour had it that Tornio was suffering some sort of struggle within its streets. Perhaps Hesperian loyalists were giving the invaders a hard time.
What surprised Javali was that the pagan dwarves from Ironforge had marched right past his forces, when at Seashire, and on towards Dalaran to consult the dwarven ambassador Grog Flintbuckle. The word was that Ironforge had suffered a coup, and planned to withdraw from the war.
Amidst all the bad news, Javali received a letter. It bore the mark of House Benado. He broke the seal and held up the letter. It read:
He was finally contacted via communication stone by Archmage Franek Snowburn, who he had left to manage Dalaran.
"Report, Franek!" Javali commanded.
"My lord." Franek Snowburn said with his usual bout of genuine respect. "Our spies have reported that the King of Stromgarde has been slain by rebels."
"Will that affect my campaign, Franek?"
The Archmage paused to ponder, before continuing.
"We cannot be certain; but if affairs in Stromgarde do not right themselves, the enemy may withdraw completely. They cannot conquer Hesperia if they lose their capital city."
Count Scipio would be crossing the river to try and flank the enemy, and Javali was forming the core of the wedge. Yet, all the while, the enemy legions had just sat there, fighting a defensive war. If he intended to drive the blade home, then it would cost him dearly, but his forces were now in position to continue the fighting, should he command the hammer to fall.
In Seashire, Madreen Chameral was reunited with Alial. The woman was haggard and silent, basking in her failure despite her attempts to hide from his judgement. In truth, Madreen did not blame Alial for the disaster. He had endured enough failures in his youth that he would be a hypocrite to tell her otherwise. Nonetheless, there was much to do. He did not have any forces to his name any longer, but the Dictator was finally moving to victory.
Warester dashed into the mouth of the ziggurat, and was embraced by darkness. The sounds of pursuit soon faded, swallowed by the all-encompassing blackness.
"Where are we going, pea-brain?" Hocus Snood chirped from the void.
"Silence, Snood!" Krasus growled back.
Unable to see anything, Warester followed Krasus, staying behind him to avoid getting separated. Meryl stayed just as close to Warester.
"Why'd you come here, Meryl? And why bring the Egg?"
"This is a sacred place. The place where it all began, Grand Master. I thought the Egg would be safe here, but isolationist Zul'Dare has gone over to the Prophet."
"And the Black Dragons, Meryl. There's still a lot for you to explain before I trust you."
"Now is not the time!" Krasus growled again. He breathed a plume of flame, which momentarily illuminated their surroundings. Warester gasped as he took in the sight. They were in a vast hall, the ceiling too high for them to see. Every step took them further down, for the hall was sloping deep underground. As for the walls, they seemed to be made of bronze, or some other rusty blood-coloured metal. Figures of an unknown language were carved into every inch of them.
"Ah, the history of the Mezejin Imperium." Meryl breathed.
"Too long, didn't read." Hocus Snood replied. "Seriously, enough history already. If you open your dusty mouth one more time, zombie-witch, I'm going to kill you."
Krasus kept the flames going, guiding their way through the giant hall. The hall kept on going down in a straight line, until at last it ended before a massive circular chamber. Warester could see golden steps in the centre of the chamber, leading up to two giant seats, adorned with skulls and pictures of past misdeeds.
"The thrones of Xostheron and Akaerna-Sagai." Meryl breathed. "It is here that the Archivists began. I remember."
Krasus rounded on them and bared his teeth.
"I'm not half as patient as that girly girl version of myself that visited me thousands of years ago. And that means I only want to hear one thing from you, Meryl Winterstorm. I want to know how to get out of here. And afterwards, you're going to tell me your involvement with the Black Dragonflight."
Meryl Winterstorm nodded briskly.
"We can get out of here three ways, dragon. One, we can try and momentarily dampen the magical wards on this place, just long enough to be able to teleport into the forest. That would entail facing our worst nightmares. It will also require blood magic, and thus, sacrificing a part of ourselves."
"You trolling?" Hocus Snood exclaimed.
"Possibility two." Meryl said, two fingers unclenching from his fist. "We activate the Black Iron War Golems in the ziggurat, and hope they fight the Prophet's forces instead of crushing us. But that would also require blood magic."
"Black Dragon instruments!" Krasus hissed. "I'd rather die than allow you to activate what I helped to personally seal away. Is there anything that doesn't require your damned blood magic?"
In Warester's mind, a mental note was taken to avoid telling Krasus about Alterac and the Golems temporarily activated worldwide.
"The final possibility." Meryl said sharply. "Is that you have a better idea."
The undead wizard folded his arms grumpily.
Ravenholdt and Lordaeron
Robere de Changee waited for a reply. It came gruffly.
"I'm not going to tell you my real name, but you can call me Dellyn Paganslayer. It will have to do. As for my personal stake in this, I am of the Esarim, and Alford Menethil is my King; not the abomination, Andol Corin."
Qu's rage was heard in the background, presumably at the infiltration of the network.
"Quiet down, Qu!" Robere sighed. "We'll have to trust you, then, won't we? Now how are we going to do this?"
The voice came again.
"King Alford Menethil and his court wizard, Thomassy, are being held at Snowfold, a lakeside resort in the north owned by Lord Dandred Asher. It is two day's travel from your current location. It will be full this time of year, as nobles flock west, down away from the snowstorms in the mountains. You can disguise yourself and sneak amongst them. King Alford is being held there until ships arrive to bear him to Fenris Isle. As an Esarim, I cannot exactly disguise myself like you assassins can. You need to spring him out of there without violence, because if they find out we are trying to rescue him, they will kill him. Once he is safe, I will bring my strength to bear. Oh, and send Cerzimon my regards."
"Send him whose regards? Dellyn Paganslayer's?" Robere said sceptically.
"No. Just say the chief is keeping an eye on him, and tells him to behave. I know where you seek to go. If your companions refuse to aid our cause, then tell them I can speed you on your way to Shorel'Thalas. It will be quicker to earn my trust and assistance rather than walking the whole damned way."
"How do you know of our mission?" Robere asked.
"I've been listening in for days, you fool." the voice said again. "I just wish you had kept that madman away from the communication stone. You have no idea..."
"Oh, I do, believe me." Robere sighed as he looked at Lucio Benado balancing a coconut on his nose. Robere could not even begin to imagine how the man had gotten one in the first place.
"A bit of madness... never hurts anyone." Lucio Benado muttered quietly enough that none could hear.
Ravenholdt and Stormwind
The armada completely occupied Balor, flushed out any signs of resistance, and then prepared to set sail again. Precious little time was given to take in the sights or appreciate the architecture.
Linus Wrynn soon sent in his officers to drag the soldiers out of the taverns, much to the relief of the locals. The soldiers of Stormwind did not feel entitled to pay a copper. At last, with the looting done, the Stormwind fleet set sail again, leaving only a token force behind to keep Balor secure.
House Alten had been extinguished. Travot felt a tinge of sympathy for them, for whatever wars Kul Tiras fought, the colonists had precious little to do with the politics back home. Regardless, war was war.
The Stormwind fleet sailed for over a week, stopping to resupply at the few coastal towns that existed along the shores of western Khaz Modan. They were mostly neutral ports, or dwarven settlements, though there were precious few dwarves who cared to settle near the ocean. Travot found the places to be largely unmapped and unheard of, and was interested to learn about them. They passed Dun Argath and Tol Ronal and Newman's Landing. Leaving them behind marked the entrance to the northern seas.
It was for that reason that Linus Wrynn called in a meeting of his commanders and lieutenants aboard the Majesty. Travot Ravenholdt had gained an opportunity before the meeting to influence Augustus Fenris, and would thus be able to manipulate the man if it came to any decisions.
"What information we have on the theatres of war is sparse." Linus Wrynn announced during the meeting. "But our good friend and dear, dear ally, Travot Ravenholdt, has shared his intelligence with us. We must now decide how to deploy our armada. A direct assault on Kul Tiras would surely be foolhardy, as their ships remain superior to ours. What we require is a foothold, such as Tol Barad or Crestfall, from which to strike at Boralus."
"Yes, but if we lose the opportunity to launch a surprise attack, we lose our main advantage against them!" one of the captains argued.
"Friends! Countrymen!" one of the men coughed. All eyes turned to him. "Stromgarde is our principal ally in this war, but as we have heard, they have suffered a coup. We must sail to Port Baradin, where members of the royal family are taking refuge, and we must focus on retaking Stromgarde City before the war in Hesperia is lost. If that happens, then we will have to take on all of Hesperia without Stromgarde's assistance."
Travot Ravenholdt wondered what course of action he could encourage, and use Augustus Fenris to promote. There were, of course, courses of action of his own design that he could encourage as well.
Zul'Dare and the Elves
A scream came from Barny's room. Ewe rushed from Anazar and into Barny's room, throwing the door wide open. He found Barny on his knees, clutching at his leg. Blood poured from a giant gash along the half-troll's leg, dribbling across the floor in a pool.
"What in the Outside have you done, Barny?"
"Blood magic. I am getting out of this place, Lord Marsh. I can only get us outside of Boralus, but no further. Take the Scroll and come with me, before it is too late!"
A ripple formed in the air, opening up to form a crimson gateway. Barny began to crawl through it. Yet, if Ewe left, he would lose his chance to meet with Xaxion Drak'eem, and perhaps learn how to better serve Muhar. If one thing remained certain, it was that the Esoteric Order had betrayed Kul Tiras. If they had betrayed Kul Tiras, could they not betray Muhar too?
Ewe had discovered that he would become like Barny; an abomination. That was something he could not forgive. Perhaps Xaxion Drak'eem could prevent the transformation entirely, and then Anazar would not be horrified by him as he slowly turned into a half-troll over the years.
Yet again, freedom lay just a few feet away.
Zul'Dare and Kul Tiras
Lord Ephraim Marsh considered the words of these Outsiders. Perhaps, it would be better to consult the Prophet before making any hasty alliances. Yet again, perhaps the Prophet applauded initiative. Would Ephraim accept the assistance of these Outsiders in an assault on Boralus?
The Benefactors and Kul Phorcys
Xalmor Windrunner and the Stromgarde sailors soon found Ianthe Marsh and some of the remainder of their forces. Reunited, they remained covered by the forest.
"They have Iphis!" Ianthe hissed.
"Well, we have one of their elites." Xalmor said with a grin. "My duty takes me to the forest, but I am sure they will release Iphis if we exchange her for their elite soldier."
Several Stromgarde sailors were sent with the message regarding the prisoner exchange.
Namor Periandrius, Johnnie Jacula and Alan Zadok stood kitted out and prepared for their jungle adventure. The soldiers holding New Barsmouth would cover their retreat. As they set off, news arrived regarding the fate of the Eels. Brutus Armaggon had been captured, and the enemy wanted to exchange him for some prisoner woman that they had gotten a hold of.
Xalmor Windrunner stroked Ianthe's cheek and nodded.
"Mnesthes and Muhar willing, Iphis will be returned to us shortly. But now, milady, I must discover my fate within the woods. I will not be long."
The old forest loomed silent and foreboding, though Xalmor Windrunner did not fear it. He could sense powerful and dark magic as he traversed the ancient paths under the creaking eaves. At last, he came to a clearing, which gradually opened up to reveal a vast city of ziggurats, towers and spires carved of bronze. A cry rose up from behind the buildings. Xalmor saw a transparent kaiju spider rear up and skitter out of sight.
Drawing his sword, he set down towards the streets. As he passed between the buildings, he heard the sound of movement and swung around just in time to come face to face with several half-trolls jumping down from parapets on the ziggurats.
"Hold! He is with the master!" a voice cried. Xalmor craned his neck and saw a human in ragged robes staring down from one of the parapets. "Hail, Lord Benefactor. I am Dartol Caxagord. Welcome to Ythan'alai!"
"What is this place?" Xalmor Windrunner called up to the man. "Why have I been brought here?"
"Brought here?" Dartol laughed. "Ythan'alai has a way with such things. But no matter, Lord Benefactor. We shall meet again soon."
Then the man was gone. Xalmor saw that the half-trolls were on their knees before him, as if having realised the gravity of their mistake.
"Rise!" Xalmor commanded. They complied, but stood awaiting his command.
Then, Xalmor felt a pulling sensation. A voice whispered in his mind.
Xalmor Windrunner braced himself and waited, but nothing happened. He looked across the ziggurats, but they were silent.
"... I gave you life. I am Xaxion Drak'eem. I am the soul of the earth, the spirit of the trees. Why have you disobeyed me?"
"Disobeyed you?" Xalmor hissed. "The Prophet is the son of Mnesthes. You are nothing but a demon!"
The voice chuckled, though to Xalmor it sounded more like the rumble of a waterfall.
"You are much like Men'heva, and nothing like Men'nuth. It is no wonder that the Prophet warps your mind."
With that, Xalmor Windrunner was left with his half-trolls. He knew he could plough Ythan'alai for its secrets if he wished, though the sooner he found Ephraim Marsh and used his half-troll army to retake New Barsmouth, the better.
Namor Periandrius had to keep looking over his shoulder to make sure that Johnnie Jacula was following. The stinky rogue kept tripping over roots and getting lost in the bush, like an amateur.
Alan Zadonk, on the other hand, navigated like an old and grizzled veteran, wrestling giant snakes and chopping at them with his scimitar.
"Are we there yet, Zadonk?" Namor said as he stubbed his toe on a root.
"Madness!" Zadonk replied.
The forest began to grow thicker, and Namor Periandrius held up his hands as he felt a numb sensation beginning to take over. It felt like he had been bitten by a makrura, and the nectar was incapacitating him.
"Sweet texture!" he cried. "This is a forest for drunks."
Suddenly, Alan Zadonk made a lot more sense as a drunkard.
Many revelations later, they stumbled across a gargantuan scrapyard with ancient doodles adorning every surface of the junk. Periandrius could not help but feel creeped out by the looming shadows and general evil aura that the rust emanated, but he was not about to be dissuaded from his mission. Whatever it was.
Johnnie Jacula suddenly went deathly still.
"I haven't felt this - I haven't felt this since... by Brux's beard, dear gods no..."
"What's wrong, Jack?" Namor Periandrius grumbled. "Do you need a bathroom break again? I didn't hire you into my merry crew for fun, Jack. You're like Ishmael Khalabrond. Frail of mind, light of purse. No fun to sing with. What's that smell really?"
The kaiju spider reared up from behind one of the buildings, its beady eyes set on Johnnie Jacula. Namor Periandrius swore that there was fiendish glee and recognition set in those eyes.
"That's not a pony." Zadonk wailed, clawing at his face and jumping up and down in circles. An immense buzzing sound ensued, and a host of bees descended from the heavens.
Lordaeron and The Elves
Marshal James Sherman returned to the Imperial Host with the Perinany Legion behind him. Shortly after the Hesperian and Gilnean ambush had been fought off, General Mattheus Perinany had arrived with the bulk of the Legion. They had brought enough supplies to buy the Imperial Host the time it needed to take Venege.
Back in the command tent, Sherman struggled to stay alert. He was exhausted and wounded from the fighting, and the tainted food had taken its toll on him. Mattheus Perinany stood facing him from across the tent, a man just as tall and bold as him. Mattheus and Sherman had fought many battles together through as equals in the past months, but Sherman could tell the look in General's eyes. Mattheus had watched the Imperial Host splinter, and now he looked into Sherman's eyes and defied his authority. It was as if the General of the Legion blamed Sherman for the Host's failure.
"The Imperial Host stands on the brink of destruction, Marshal." Mattheus Perinany spat. "A mockery has been made of humanity under the Holy Light. Your crusade has crashed against the walls of the enemy and has been rebuked like a wave against a cliff. All the while, your kingdom remains under the Bruxist boot of Andol Corin."
"Spare me your insults, Mattheus." Sherman said with a sigh, massaging his temple. "We must concentrate on overcoming our obstacles, not glorifying them."
At Mattheus Perinany's side, the remainder of the Fist of Humanity stood with hands on the hilts of their weapons, strikingly defiant. Vasgren Haran had removed his helmet, and Sherman looked at him and was unnerved by the man's hairlessness. The dark skinned commander was known to ritually shave himself, down to his eyebrows.
"We must act now, Marshal!" Vasgren Haran bellowed. "The Fist must assume control of the Imperial Host, and we need to launch a full-scale assault upon Venege before we are the ones starved into submission."
"It would be a massacre, and you know it." Sherman shot back.
"Yes, it would." Herubrad Garithos of the Fist added. "But it must be done, else we have already lost."
Mattheus Perinany continued to stare into Sherman's eyes, his gaze beating down spirit and resistance.
"It has been decided." Mattheus began. "The Perinany Legion shall assume command of the Imperial Host. Until you can recover your health and your mind, Marshal Sherman, you have been deemed unfit for your role. We hereby relieve you of your command of the Imperial Host."
Sherman immediately drew his sword. The Fist of Humanity replied, each of the men drawing their own weapons, save for Mattheus Perinany.
"You wouldn't dare." Sherman growled.
"It is over, Marshal." Mattheus Perinany said plainly. "Stand down, or we will withdraw to Raven Keep and leave you to your doom."
A vision of an ancient empire, collapsing under the weight of an invasion. The screams of the dying, from the men to the women and children.
Teliel Zamashen awoke sweating. Her dream was one of a past tragedy. Templar sometimes had such visions. Teliel was certain that a similar fate would befall Hesperia if she failed.
Metellus Cipher sat watching her. The Gilnean bore bloodied marks on his face, as if he had been mauled by a wild cat.
"I am awake, lieutenant." she managed to say. Her throat seemed to burn out of dryness. "What has come to pass?"
Metellus Cipher told her of what had transpired since the ambush. The Imperial Host was launching an attack upon Venege, striking at the city walls day and night from every direction. It was said that the siege would not last another day, and the casualties were horrific on both sides.
After explaining everything, Metellus Cipher left momentarily. He returned with a man at his side, decked in finery, a cape flowing behind him. Teliel Zamashen leaned up in the bed she was in and assessed the newcomer fiercely.
"Milady, this is Count Elrios Kaleiki of Pasata. We are in his encampment, half a day away from Venege and half a day away from Nevezia."
"It is an honour, Count." Teliel Zamashen replied.
The man bowed to her, and Teliel nodded her head as a reply. She let him speak.
"Templar Zamashen, I am pleased to see you awake. I was informed that you bear a tattoo of the Lord D'vorjakque. The men say that you are here to deliver us from destruction, though so far it seems that we are the ones delivering you from such a fate. Nonetheless, I will heed your advice."
The mark of D'vorjakque, Teliel wondered. She had no such tattoo. Perhaps the demigod had intervened after all.
"And why are we not relieving Venege, Count Kaleiki?"
"We are outnumbered. Count Dorian refuses to leave Nevezia, and General Niccolo Marius of Dalaran is fighting a defensive war. Venege is lost, milady. It is inevitable. I am afraid that I am not a military man, but even I know this to be true." he said, closing his eyes. "I am out of my depth, I am afraid. But I will be damned by the Azure Goddess herself if I stand by and let Hesperia fall to invaders. What I can do, I shall do."
The Elves and Stromgarde
Kariel Winthalus left Firael, Andellion and Foruel in Stromgarde to oversee Mallich Vitalion's seizure of power. The three former servants of Rommath would remain out of trouble there, and would be overseen by Haeliel to prevent them misunderstanding any orders, or making mistakes out of possible inexperience.
The days following the coup were bloody and chaotic. Some regions of the nation rose up in revolt, while others rallied as royalists to defeat the rebels. Fighting broke out across the country. In the meanwhile, the Tribunes were busy organizing a resistance, while the invading armies in Hesperia suddenly found themselves deprived of their chain of command.
Lanudal hurried to bring Kariel Winthalus news of where the rest of the Trollbane family had fled to. Reports were varied, as the Trollbanes had covered their tracks well. The only lead Kariel had was that one of the cousins or nephews of the deceased Dorath may have gone to Port Baradin, in the Wetlands, and another to Stonehold, a royalist stronghold in the north of the highlands of Arathi.
For the first time in weeks, Kariel Winthalus was contacted by the Viridian Prophet. The Prophet had little to say to him, other than a congratulations for his part in Stromgarde, and a warning that the time would soon come where Kul Tiras would be under his control, and that Kariel's help would be needed.
Magus Rimtori Sanguinar was called to meet with Andol Corin in a village near the Bruxist host. There, she found him standing before a crowd of villagers. He was midway through a speech, speaking of justice, equality and liberty. Andol Corin spoke of knowing the burdens of the people, of the tyranny of the Witch Hunters and of the Church. Never again, Andol Corin promised, would a king in Lordaeron rule through fear. Lordaeron would have a citizen king.
The people cheered, and Andol Corin walked down to meet with Magus Rimtori.
"Ah, milady. You find me in good spirits."
"It seems that I have, King Corin. And under a clear sky, as well."
Andol Corin accepted a goblet of wine from one of his retainers and took a hearty gulp.
"So then, I presume you will want to hear of my response to your plan to keep the Archbishop alive?"
"Aye, my lord." Magus Rimtori said cordially. "It is of importance to the Benefactors that Marden live to see more sunrises than he deserves."
Andol Corin's expression underwent a transformation. He took on a grim visage, and leaned in closer to Rimtori.
"I will grant you your wish, milady. But not for the Benefactors. I do it for Amron Radiun Malad, because I know he would have respected your wishes."
Magus Rimtori inclined her head.
"And when will we march? I presume you shall attempt to relieve Northridge of its siege."
"I shall send Northridge reinforcements, but I march to the Northern Church, to Marden. If he must live, then he shall do so in chains. He must not be given time to escape, if he has not already. The noose must be drawn tightly."
With his part said, Andol Corin marched off in the direction of the army encampment, tailed by his retainers. Just as Magus Rimtori was about to leave, she saw a band of men leaving the village towards her. At their head was Henrick Balnir.
"Milady, it seems that my path will be joined with yours again, for the time being. I have gotten word that the Shermans have evacuated their estate, and have rallied to defend the Archbishop. Lady Thera Sherman will be there, it seems."
"Then let us make ready." Rimtori replied curtly.
Sorsbrent, Ravenholdt, Lordaeron and the Benefactors
Lordaeron and the Benefactors
Shortly after the death of Mordred Baldanes, Warren Greystone was contacted by Louis Oudinot of the Malachite Hand. Warren remembered that he had seen Louis Oudinot being interrogated in an alley by the Grand Master of Ravenholdt, but he had intervened alongside Zamelean and Louis Oudinot had gone free.
Warren and Oudinot stood together near the Azure mosque, looking down at rabid waves below.
"When I first met you, Mister Greystone, I was undercover as a soldier under Major Richard de Marmont outside Ginchar. You were in the company of two Benefactors, one of which I have killed. Now you have aligned yourself with the surviving one of the two Benefactors. What am I to make of that?"
"The Benefactors are no friends of mine. I serve the Doctrine, just like you." Warren Greystone replied. "But this lady has been misled, like General Mordred was."
"Perhaps she seeks to redeem herself. Perhaps not." Louis Oudinot said with a grunt. "But one thing remains certain. We need to get our hands on Rodin Fornsform. Then, we must take him to Braent, where the Malachite Hand can interrogate him and break him. If Amarian wants to prove her loyalty to us, then she can bring us Rodin Fornsform from the clutches of Sorsbrent."
"You would act against our allies?" Warren asked sceptically. He did not see the wisdom in risking the ire of the new Queen of Gilneas.
"Our allies?" Louis Oudinot said, barking a laugh. "Instead of killing Herman Aranas they protect him! The Queen is no friend of the Hand. Regardless, mister Greystone. Inform Amarian Zeshuwal that she can utilize her talents to bring us Rodin Fornsform."
That evening, Warren and Amarian were walking through the woodlands around Zanzifos, trying to decide what to do next. Warren still did not trust Amarian, though she did not seem to mind too much.
"We could try persuading Jammal Hildebrand to release him into our custody. He certainly owes me a lot as it is."
Warren Greystone and Amarian Zeshuwal stood facing one another. Struggling with his awkwardness, Warren tried to puff out his chest as he talked to the Benefactor, but found it a step too difficult.
"Persuasion. Perhaps." Amarian said with a smile. "Or we could simply cut a few throats and do things my way. That sounds a lot better to me, you naive boy."
"Don't call me naive." Warren grunted.
"Oh so sensitive." Amarian sighed. "But if we are going to get out hands on Rodin Fornsform, then we'll have to follow the army towards Ginchar. Because he is no longer in Zanzifos."
Amarian Zeshuwal suddenly went still. Warren wondered why, then heard a rustling in the trees. He drew the dagger that Amarian had given him, and swung around just in time to see a tree walking towards him.
"Hold!" Amarian said, grabbing Warren by the wrist. "Is that you, Talah?"
The tree-man bowed deeply to the Benefactor.
"Mnesthes öpö." it murmured in a reedy voice.
Richard de Marmont held Painbrand tight, peering out through the shadows and out at the streets. They were empty, and had been for days. Food was scarce, and he found himself using Painbrand to persuade those who had it to offer it up to him.
Several people halted outside the mouth of the alley, and de Marmont's grip on Painbrand tightened. Perhaps they had food. They turned and looked directly at him. Then he realised there was something wrong with them. The strangers lumbered through the alley and down towards him. One of them had eyes shining bright gold.
"Bring him to the citadel!"
Richard de Marmont lashed out, but he was weak, and they restrained him easily. When the one with the golden eyes took Painbrand from him, he kicked and yelled, but then was knocked unconscious.
When he awoke, he was was cold. His eyes fluttered open and he knew then that he was in the accursed throne room out of the darkest of his nightmares. It was here that his sin had been birthed. He began to weep, but was dragged to his feet. Tobijah Kruel towered above him.
"It is time for you to be reborn, my son. To become one of my Esarim. Then you shall have your sword back. And your soul."
The maniac cupped de Marmont's face in his hands, and bent low to kiss him on the forehead. Kruel reeked of death and rotted flesh.
In Sorsbrent, Nicholas Damasus pleaded with Arinre for one thing repeatedly. He begged her to send the fleet of Henlinn to Kul Tiras, to help Janus DeMeza liberate Kul Tiras.
She had lost her fondness for Janus DeMeza since the man had abandoned her at Zanzifos, though stifling admiration for him was not as easy.
Word trickled in from across the country of other matters. Cemal had taken command of Soben with his uncle's death outside Zanzifos. He was now Count Cemal Soben, and pledged his fealty to Queen Arinre Greymane unconditionally.
There was no such pledge of fealty from Braent; the Duke Braent had sailed away with Janus DeMeza to Kul Tiras. In fact, no word at all came from the city.
Eventually, it was brought to Arinre's attention that the pagan army in Silverpine was still fighting against the Holy Light under the banner of General Mordred. It would be a political embarrassment if they continued to do so. Perhaps Herman Aranas could order them to withdraw, though Arinre secretly worried that the High Priest would use such an army against her if the pagans won in the north. Would Dalaran be called in against her if it won its war?
"No, I don't." Barbaria Friendly replied, cutting Magyver's hopes and dreams off cruelly.
They were outside of Ginchar with their agents, having followed the Sorsbrent legions there. The army's presence had turned into a siege against the heretic occupation of the city.
"The Underdeep you speak of will be the the most well-defended entrance to the city now. If Tobijah Kruel made it his home in years past, he will know it better than we. To try and use it to infiltrate the city would be foolhardy. Don't tell me that didn't occur to you, Magyver."
"You don't have much faith in the Mass of McGowan, do you Barbara?"
"They say it's the motion of the ocean, Magyver, not the mass of the ocean. But you've got neither."
"What if we disguise ourselves as heretics? Or converts?" one of the Nightstalker agents chipped in from the side.
"What? Who do you think you are? Actually, I don't think I even know your name." Barbara said, rounding on him. "Do you have one?"
"W-What?" the agent mumbled.
"A name, mother-meeter. Do you have one?"
"Say what again, mook. Say it one Four-godamned more time."
Last edited by Timolas : 01-15-2011 at 10:01 AM.
Ephraim shifted under his highly decorative robes. As much as he wished to assist these men in assaulting Boralus, the Prophet may have other plans. He surveys the landscape, or what parts of it he can see through Zul'Dare's trademark fog. The land he sees before him is covered by a mix of light-gray stones and vividly green shortgrasses. He knew that at the bottom of this subtle slope was inevitably the seashore where these men landed.
"There is someone I must consult with before I aid you. If you would like you may come with me to camp. We have plenty of women for you."
The Tirasi men, Ishmael Khalabrond, Henry Caldwell, Magnus and Lennart McNabb, waited awkwardly in a tent. The flap of the tent was thrust open and two women thrust inside. One of them, obviously much older, was lightly bound and gagged, while the other, younger one had only some rope around her arms. She was crying.
Khalabrond glanced at the others. He wasn't planning to take advantage of these poor women and by the looks on the face of the others they weren't either. He got up ad approached the girl.
"Don't worry. We will do nothing to you," he said as he untied her arms. "What are your names?"
Through her tears the girl managed to explain that her name was Asenath, and that the other women, her mother, was Mia. Khalabrond untied her as well, and she removed her gagging herself. She was a fiesty woman, strong and independent. Mia explained in great detail the fate of Middlecreek.
Ishmael was disgusted. These were not good people. And yet, they did not have to be. This was war, and to defeat monsters perhaps they would need to use monsters.
Ephraim Marsh was hunched over in his tent. He stood over a wide, shallow stone bowl filled with an odd liquid. Taking a knife, he cut his hand and let the blood fall into the bowl. The contents shifted rapidly, before becoming calm once more. With that, Ephraim thrust his head into the pool.
He opened his eyes. Before him stood the Prophet. Of course, Ephraim was not physically here, only spiritually.
"Ephraim Marsh. Speak, 'mon." the Prophet spoke little.
"My lord, men from Kul Tiras have requested our aid in their fight against Phorcys. I am not certain of which path to take. If this attack is successful than our goals are that much closer at hand. But if the attack is a failure and we have sent our soldiers than Phorcys will have the chance to prepare for our half-trolls. The surprise factor they carry will be lost. What say you?"
Zul'Dare and the Elves
Ewe hurried back to Anazar's chambers. This was not a decision he could make on his own. By now, the Zaramim knew to let him in and did not stop him.
"My lady, I have a dilemma. Due to the machinations of my companion Barny I have a way out of here. We could take the Scroll out of here, to safety. But that is up to you. What is more important, Dalaran's loyalty to Kul Tiras or that the Scroll of Lore remains in your hands?"
Last edited by HalfElfDragon : 01-16-2011 at 04:54 PM.
It was the demon again. The liar and the enemy that Xalmor Windrunner had been born to destroy whispered to him once again.
"You dare to speak my name?" Xalmor cried out, drawing his sword. He saw looks of confusion on the faces of the half-trolls. Xalmor knew that they saw nothing but their lord screaming at thin air. Still, he did not care. The voice in his head whispered again.
"My son, my son. How far you have fallen. Child of the earth, student of Yol'tithian. Know you not who I am?"
The words of Xaxion Drak'eem held heresy, though they left Xalmor feeling as if there was something he did not understand. It was as if there was a fundamental misunderstanding that he could not grasp driving him to rage. Rage at failing to be in control. Control, which if he had possessed as a child, would have allowed him to prevent the slaughter of his friends at the hands of Lightists in the monastery of his youth.
"You are the betrayer! You who have forsaken Mnesthes!" Xalmor bellowed again, shaking his sword at the ruins of Ythan'alai. They leered back at him, each ziggurat like a rotten tooth in the earth.
"Your ignorance shall be lifted, and then you shall choose your own path for yourself, templar."
A vision of a marble city, under the violet eaves of a vast forest. The city of Kalidar, the heart of the Kelani Empire of Zinine.
A horde of dark trolls, proud and free. A civilization of respect, honour and loyalty. The children of Mnesthes, born of passion and love.
High above the city of Kalidar, the Princess Aszune kneels under the light of the Blue Child, the azure moon. Beneath her, her city sprawls and lives like a beating heart. She closes her eyes and opens her heart and mind to the goddess. Then he draws near, the brilliance of his presence burning her blood with excitement. When she opens her eyes, she sees him; D'vorjakque, a torrent of lighting and knowledge.
Within the forests of Kalimdor, Men'nuth, the chieftain of the dark trolls, passes away without pain. His son, Men'heva, becomes the warlord of the empire. He is young and afraid, but rises to the challenge to prove his worth and his love for his people. The Prophet has called him to war, and he leads his army against the Kelani Empire.
The dark trolls descend upon Kalidar by nightfall, but the Kelani are prepared. A year of war and carnage passes.
From atop Kalidar, Aszune watches and weeps at the destruction and death.
Outside the city walls, Men'heva questions and prays to Mnesthes, begging to know why so much death and destruction has befallen his tribe. He wonders if his father, Men'nuth, would have been proud to see what he has brought upon his people.
When at long last the dark trolls break into Kalidar and sweep all before them, Princess Aszune prepares herself for death. Within hours, the dark trolls break into her palace and put her to the sword. Her heart is separated from her body, but D'vorjakque preserves it before being overwhelmed in combat. The Heart of Aszune is lost amidst the carnage.
When Men'heva walks the streets of the elven capital city and sees what he has wrought through his will, he despairs. He prays to Mnesthes, and to his Prophet, but no answer arrives. Then at last Men'heva understands. The Prophet intended for his people to die, just as he intended for the Kelani to die. Both sides in the war had been deceived. The bloodshed had been for nothing, to sate the cycle of life and death.
Men'heva vows vengeance, and his cries are heard by D'vorjakque.
They forge a pact, to destroy the Prophet of Mnesthes who had wrought their people such suffering.
Thousands of years later, the Sundering destroys the world. Out of the ruins crawl old names.
A dark troll arrives in the Eastern Kingdoms, claiming to be the Prophet of Mnesthes. He founds Karazhan and preaches the religions of the Four Gods.
His name is Men'heva. Together with D'vorjakque, he forges a false Doctrine. It is a list of beliefs that can be manipulated to control all of pagankind.
From within Karazhan, Men'heva teaches and prepares. Kariel Winthalus and Amron Radiun Malad hear his words and prepare for a Great War, to break history and ensure a pagan dominion to sweep away the Holy Light.
Men'heva, the false Prophet, destroys all who hear the calling of Xaxion Drak'eem. Alongside D'vorjakque, he prepares for the day that he can gain his terrible vengeance upon the Prophet of Mnesthes...
Last edited by Timolas : 01-15-2011 at 09:56 PM.
Join Date: Dec 2007
Ravenholdt, Kul Phorcys
Krasus was silent. He indeed did not have a better idea at the moment. With the mysterious magic-dampening wards in place, he couldn’t even shift into his more burly Dragon-form for an edge in a purely-physical confrontation. Van Dam, on the other hand, was assessing the possibilities.
Warester Van Dam: Dampening the wards, even for a brief instant, probably isn’t a good idea. While it would allow us the use of magic, it would do the same for our enemies. And I fear the Prophet has become too powerful at this point to chance that.
The Prophet’s theft of certain objects of power had made him extremely formidable. His contingent of trolls was also another factor to consider. Warester wondered why they hadn’t pursued them yet. Either the Kaiju distraction worked very well and the trolls didn’t see where they escaped to, or the trolls were for some reason unwilling to enter this ziggurat.
Van Dam’s thoughts slipped to another who had not entered the Ziggeraut. Relfthra. The Grand Master hoped the Councilor would have joined them and lent his power to their own, but he was noticeably absent.
Hocus Snood: So, what? Are you saying we should activate the golems instead?
Krasus: That will not happen…
Warester Van Dam: Relax Big Red, I agree. The golems are entirely too unpredictable. They’d probably work for the Prophet, too.
Krasus: The last thing we need is to compound our disadvantage.
Meryl Winterstorm: Well, then I, for one, am out of ideas.
It fell once more to Van Dam to come up with a plan.
Warester Van Dam: Ythan'alai is a place like none I’ve ever seen, and this right here is the epicenter. This throne room still holds a lot of secrets that we do not know, and like Krol used to say….
Krasus: … Knowing is half the battle. You’re right, young one. Let us see what we can discover in this unholy temple.
Warester Van Dam: First things first, these ancient @$$holes would have needed to see their way around in here too. There must be some kind of illumination mechanism…
Meryl Winterstorm: You’re right, look there!
Meryl pointed to a long-dormant wall-mounted torch. Krasus, following suit, spat his breath of flame towards it. Once ignited, it started a chain reaction that somehow, presumably magically, ignited every wall-mounted torch in the ziggurat. Now they could see.
Warester Van Dam: Ah, the subdued lighting that every proper dungeon needs.
Hocus Snood: Don’t let this mood lighting get you feeling romantic, pretty boy. An erect antennae isn’t a solicitation, I just wake up that way!
Warester Van Dam: Duly noted.
The view was, to say the least, breathtaking in its horror. One grim visage stood out above the rest.
Hocus Snood: Hole-e @#%^! Will you look at the size of that thing?
What they were seeing was a Black Iron Golem cache, not unlike the one under Alterac City. However, the rows and rows of unliving soldiers wasn’t the most horrifying sight. What sat behind them was even more fearsome.
It was an unbelievably enormous golem, though unlike the others in appearance. It was more… ghastly, if it could be described as such. While still vaguely humanoid, its “face” was positioned on its chest and what looked like an enormous canon rested on its neck. And the sheer size of the construct… it dwarfed even those huge Black Iron Golems that Warester had seen in Lordaeron. It was covered in dust, but Van Dam thought he saw writing at its base. As he approached it and wiped away the grime, he saw that what was written there was partially decipherable. Though most of the writing was in an ancient tongue, a number stood out.
Warester Van Dam: 6664332…
Krasus: Yes, the golems used serial numbers to identify themselves in lieu of actual names. This… must have been their ultimate weapon. I don’t remember it ever being active.
Warester Van Dam: If these abominations were indeed powered by blood magic, the sacrifice necessary to empower this behemoth must have been genocidal in scope. The average human body contains about 5 quarts of blood. To empower this might take a whole city of humans…
Meryl Winterstorm: Or several dozen dragons.
Krasus shot Meryl a look of contempt at the suggestion. The red dragon knew of the Black Flight’s plans to slaughter his flight through these mechanical monstrosities. Every dragon’s death would only have fueled the war machines of Xostheron and Akaerna-Sagai.
Warester Van Dam: Yeah… empowering these things in not an option.
Meanwhile, outside of the Ziggurat, the ethereal Kaiju Spider was rampaging. It had scattered the Prophet’s trolls, who were running about powerless to battle the beast without any magic. Jacula recognized it.
Johnnie Jacula: No, Zadok, that is most-certainly not a pony. Not a pony at all…
Jacula flashed back to that day in Jintha’alor, the day he was killed by this beast only to be mysteriously risen again into his current twisted state of undead. The rage in his heart was incalculable. He wanted revenge - and he went after it, without regard to his own life (or lack thereof).
At the same time, a swarm of bees had arrived on the seen, inexplicably seemingly out of nowhere. They appeared to charge behind Johnnie, rushing headlong at the Kaiju - who did the same towards his own target. Yet at the point of impact, the Kaiju dissipated into nothingness. Johnnie and the bees went right through the monster, as if it was made of nothing more than vapor. And then, it was gone entirely. The bees, however, continued to harry the trolls and send them scattering. Oddly, they left Zadok and his companions alone.
Namor Periandrius: That… was unexpected. Those bees your doing, Jack?
Johnnie Jacula: Not at all. I have no idea where they came from.
Namor and Johnnie then both looked askance at Zadok.
Alan Zadok: Best to be moving on then, chums. Admiral Phorcys’ destination was right through there!
He pointed to the Ziggerat that contained the throne of Xostheron and Akaerna-Sagai. Having moved in, the three were surprised to see lit torches adorning the walls.
Namor Periandrius: Someone has been here more recently than Phorcys…
Alan Zadok: Aye. Someone… or some thing!
Namor frowned at the cliché, though here it was completely apropos. Periandrius was unaccustomed to this level of weirdness... and he took orders from a ten foot tall guy with barnacles. He wanted to discover the secret of Phorcys’ empowerment as soon as possible and then wash away the stink of this dingy ancient graveyard with Makrura nectar.
Descending into the corridors, they saw something they had not anticipated.
Johnnie Jacula: Van Dam? What the hell are you doing here!
Warester Van Dam: Jacula? You’re alive? What are you doing with this Kul Tiras scum?
Namor Periandrius: Van Dam?! As in Warester Van Dam?! You @#$%^*@! You killed Thaumas!
Warester Van Dam: And judging by your accoutrements, I’d say you’re Namor Periandrius. Thaumas’ successor and his biggest fanboy.
Namor Periandrius: And also your death!
Namor rushed Van Dam, drawing his cutlass. The Grand Master dodged his attacks, and pushed him away. However, Jacula followed up with a lightening-quick drop-kick that sent Warester to the ground with a thud.
Warester Van Dam: Betraying your Grand Master, eh? That’s not the Johnnie Jacula I remember.
Johnnie Jacula: In case you haven't noticed, I’ve changed.
Jacula drew his dagger and attempted what was know as a ghostly strike, but Warester recognized the technique and was prepared to counter. Van Dam disarmed the undead assassin and strafed to be at Jacula’s back, arm encircling his opponent's neck and then grabbing his own biceps on the other arm.
Warester Van Dam: Sorry, Johnnie. That move only works before you’re in a chokehold.
Johnnie Jacula: Good thing I don’t breathe anymore then, isn‘t it?
Jacula flipped his surprised former-Grand Master over his shoulder. As the two rogues continued to battle it out, Krasus took the opportunity to deck Namor across the face with a solid right hook. It forced the admiral to let loose his blade, but otherwise just enraged him.
Namor Periandrius: You scar-faced sickly mongrel! You dare strike me?
Namor kicked Krasus in the gut and then followed up with a stiff uppercut to the grill. The two partook in furious fisticuffs.
It was odd. Korialstrasz was a scrapper who was well-accustomed to fighting. He had even managed to successfully brawl with Deathwing himself… but that was in his dragon form. As Krasus, he was predominantly a spell-caster and was unaccustomed to hand-to-hand combat without the assistance of magic. However, he chose a pretty buff form (look at Krasus’ guns on the cover of NotD - Gurt) and was therefore no pushover. Yet, as he was getting rocked by Namor’s haymakers, he made a mental note to devote more time to training martial arts in his humanoid form.
While the battles raged, Zadok, Snood, and Meryl stood by. This did not go unnoticed by the others.
Namor Periandrius: Make yourself useful you inebriated imbecile! Get that ghoulie!
With renewed vim and vigor, and the biggest beer-muscles on Zul’Dare, Alan lunged off his lead leg and struck Meryl with a flying punch with his trailing strong hand. A “Ka-Pow” sound effect could be heard as Meryl was TKOed, much to the delight of the Tirasian Admiral in attendance.
Namor Periandrius: Yes! Feel the sting of the Zadonkey Punch!!!
Zadok’s celebratory flexing left him open to a leaping elbow strike that carried deceptive power from the diminutive Hocus Snood. Zadok fell to the floor, half from the blow and half from intoxication.
Hocus Snood: Silly @#$%^! Don’t you know who I am? I’m a grasshopper! Humans develop entire fighting systems around our movements!
Warester Van Dam: Isn’t that praying mantises?
Hocus Snood: Shut up!
Van Dam managed to catch one of Jacula’s kicks and then throw him by the leg into Periandrius, who seemed to momentarily have the upper hand in his contest with Krasus. Both of them were taken off their feet. Van Dam grabbed Jacula’s dagger and Krasus did the same with Namor’s cutlass. The battle was over. With the dagger still pointed at his downed opponents, Warester helped a dazed Meryl to his feet. The undead mage rubbed his chin.
Meryl Winterstorm: Ugh… good thing this jaw detaches.
Namor Periandrius: You best hope your head detaches too, filth! The bees outside won’t hold those trolls off for long!
Warester Van Dam: Bees?
Krasus shrugged. He didn’t know. They both looked at Snood.
Hocus Snood: What, because I’m an insect I should know the thought process of a swarm of bees? I suppose we all must like watermelon too, huh?
Meryl Winterstorm: I dare say the Tirasian is right. We’ve got little time and limited options. I should have never come here…
Xaxion Drak'eem: You are wrong Meryl Winterstorm.
Meryl Winterstorm: Xa… Xaxion?
Xaxion Drak'eem: You and your compatriots were meant to come here. This hallowed ground is the place where my physical form was destroyed, yet where my spirit lingers on. It holds the truth.
Krasus: The truth?
Krasus’ question let Meryl know that he wasn’t hallucinating, that the voice was indeed real, and that the others could hear it too.
Xaxion Drak'eem: You have all been struggling with disparate pieces of history and the players within. I grant you now… divine illumination.
Warester Van Dam: By the Light… what have we just seen?
Hocus Snood: I… did not see that coming.
Warester Van Dam: This cycle of life and death, the dormancy of the Four Gods… it was supposed to happen thousands of years ago. The Kelani and the Mezejin… pagan worshippers… they were meant to die off in ancient times. The resurgence of Paganism, the Doctrine, it was all brought about by Men'heva… all orchestrated as the ultimate act of vengeance. All orchestrated to defy the Four Gods and their Prophet.
Namor Periandrius: “The prophet” is a liar! He’s going to conquer the entire world!
Krasus: You realize what this means. This Great War that Men'heva orchestrated, it never should have happened. It may already be too late. History may already be irreparably broken. We must consult with others more well-versed in temporal mechanics immediately… the Bronze Dragonflight. They may yet know how to avert this grim future. If we can get to my Sanctum, I can contact them!
Warester Van Dam: Easier said than done. I doubt Men'heva’s goons up and left with us still here.
Hocus Snood: Our options haven’t changed, champ. We’re still blood magic bound. (a) Golems, or (b) weakened magic wards.
Warester Van Dam: I think given the urgency of the situation, we’ve got to chance weakening the wards at this point. Just enough to get a ‘port going. Reaching Krasus’ Sanctum is now the number one priority.
Meryl Winterstorm: What of our guests?
Meryl motioned to the three defeated opponents.
Hocus Snood: Kill ‘em. Jacula’s a traitor and Periandrius is an enemy leader.
Krasus: Tread carefully Snood. I don’t believe spilling their blood in here, of all places, would be a prudent course of action.
The group nodded in agreement. The Blood Magic that seemed to permeate Ythan'alai was an unquantifiable element, and they didn’t want to risk feeding it inadvertently. It then occurred to Van Dam that once he was free of this place he would have to get an urgent communiqué to Ravenholdt. The fact that Johnnie Jacula had allied with Kul Tiras, and the fact that he couldn’t kill him right here, meant that his nation’s security was in danger.
Meryl Winterstorm: Yet, we need Blood for the ritual to weaken the wards. It has to be from one of them… or one of us.
Van Dam put his hand on his chin in the universal gesture of thought. Then it hit him.
Warester Van Dam: Use him!
Alan Zadok: Who, me? No!
Warester Van Dam: I can smell it on him. This guys Blood Alcohol content must be at least 0.72% if it’s anything. We use his blood, it might retard the system a bit. It will intoxicate the wards rather than empowering them.
Meryl Winterstorm: That is a strangely plausible idea, Grand Master.
Meryl grabbed the dagger Van Dam had taken from Jacula and approached “the last sane man on Zul’Dare.”
Alan Zadok: Ack, I always knew the bottle would be the death of me…
Without pagentry, the wizard stuck the blade in Alan's gut and his blood poured out like a tap.
Warester Van Dam: Now! Use it!
Krasus and Meryl, pooling their magical efforts, managed to capitalize on the alcohol-saturated blood that spilled out onto the ziggurat floor. They did indeed weaken the anti-magic wards just enough to open a portal. It crackled into existence, a shining escape.
Warester Van Dam: Go! Go! Go!
Warester leapt through, followed closely by Snood.
Namor Periandrius: You cowards are just going to leave us here?
Meryl looked down
Meryl Winterstorm: I was careful to avoid any major organs. Get this man to a healer quickly, and you might be able to save him.
He turned to leave, but before Meryl leapt through he heard a voice. This time it was for his mind only.
Xaxion Drak'eem: Do not fight your destiny, Meryl Winterstorm. Like your bother and sister Archivists, your future lies with the Holy Light.
He paused to contemplate that, but he could only spare a moment. Meryl jumped through the portal - quickly followed by Krasus. Then, just as quickly as it appeared, the portal fizzled out of existence. Namor and Johnnie were left alone with a profusely bleeding Alan Zadok.
Namor Periandrius: Well, this trip was slightly less productive than I’d hoped.
Xaxion Drak'eem: Your trip is not yet concluded, Namor Periandrius. You came here in search of the secrets of the omniscient Phorcys. I am privy to those secrets.
Namor cocked an eyebrow.
Namor Periandrius: Well then, disembodied voice… let’s hear it.
Last edited by Gurtogg_Bloodboil : 01-16-2011 at 11:07 PM.
"At last, you know the truth."
As the vision faded from Xalmor's mind he fell to his knees. He was paralyzed. His entire life, all of it, had been based on lies. The Benefactors, the Hareveim and the Azure Churchs, the Esoteric Order, the Maroon Cult, all lies. Blasphemy. In an instant, his mind had been shattered. And so, Xalmor did something that he had not done since Yol'tithian's spirit had haunted him.
He cried tears of rage, of despair, of loss. He cried because he had lost the only thing that he had left. He had lost himself. But Xalmor had changed since the last time he had lost everything. To wallow in sorrow was not his way any longer. He would have revenge.
Revenge for all the lies, all the illusions. Xalmor resolves to forge a new organization, one that would oppose the heresy of Men'heva. He was no longer a Benefactor. The Benefactors were against Mnesthes. The Benefactors were against him, and his ideals. Xalmor Windrunner was no longer a Benefactor.
He was a Malefactor.
"Xalmor Windrunner is dead. Long live Xalmor Windrunner."
Xalmor's half-troll subordinates were as confused as before. Their master had started shouting at nothing, had paused, then broken into tears, only to start talking to nothing again. They eyed the top edge of the crater Ythan'alai, noticing the places where rock that had been undisturbed for countless years had been knocked out of place.
"At last, my son, you are reborn in mind as well as body. Now you may truly serve our Gods."
"Men'heva is a blasphemer. He must pay for his crimes," Xalmor's voice shook with anger. It was lucky that the half-trolls were ignorant to their Prophet's true name, for else they would have turned on their master after this statement.
"Not yet, my son. His power is too great."
"Then give me power to counter his."
"I have given others power. Phorcys is one such example. Descend into the city and find the one named Namor Periandrius. He is your enemy no longer. Find him, and you will both be given the truth about him."
Xalmor grimaced. Periandrius. Even as allies he wasn't sure if he could stomach the man again. But he would have to.
Ianthe and Garn led their delegation to meet with the forces of Kul Tiras, dragging Brutus behind them. Ianthe's heart lightened when she saw Iphis alive, unharmed. She resolved to herself that when she and Iphis were safe once more that they would retire, for lack of a better term. They would live a life of peace in Grinwillow, in her new domain of Dunwich.
Lordaeron and the Benefactors
Amarian conversed with Talah is a language foreign to Warren. He had no idea where the ent had come from or how Amarian knew it. As one would expect from an ent, conversation was slow on Talah's side.
He sized up Amarian's new outfit. When they had first met she wore a robe that was more subtle about the sex appeal. Suitable to a priestess. All subtlety had been done away with. Now she wore about a fourth of the fabric that she had before. Suitable for the femme fatale assassin she had shown herself to be. It greatly resembled the outfit that she had worn to their "dance lesson"* some months beforehand.
Warren had had that night in the back of his mind ever since he had reunited with Amarian in the Azure Mosque. She had been in terrible condition. She had, by her own account, been lost in the woods of Gilneas for several weeks, with limited food and water. One of her arms was broken and she had a myriad of other injuries. And yet, she had recovered impossibly fast. Elves and their magic. Even still, it would be a while until she was fully recovered.
Amarian had been disappointed to learn the Warren was following the orders of the Malachite Hand instead taking the initiative in hunting down Kruel like Magyver. She had a job to finish. Even still, she was confident that they would eventually turn to the problem of the Mad Cardinal. Warren had been puzzled by her decision to stay with him anyways. Perhaps he was the only one she felt he could trust. He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
As Amarian finished talking to the tree man she thought back to how she had watched Xalmor create him. Xalmor, of course, didn't know that she had watched. He had sent her away like a master sends his servants to run his errands. But she had stayed and watched anyways. She was amazed that Talah had managed to survive. He was not unscathed, but he was still in excellent condition. It was remarkable.
As she understood it, as Xalmor left Gilneas his power over Talah faded. Talah had gained free will, and so was able to escape from the battle when he had realized that his side's loss was certain. When D'vorjakque was banished from the dying body of Mordred Baldanes the ent had felt it and returned to Zanzifos. Talah proceeded to find the closest Mnesthesian he could; Amarian.
But the ent's time alone in Gilneas had not been peaceful or boring. When still he was a tree, and few guard their words in the presence of a tree. He had learned great things. Terrible things, but great. Secrets that some men held close to themselves were now his. And as such, they were now Amarian's.
Their conversation finished, Amarian turned back to Warren. She saw him studying her body, but not in an overtly lustful manner. His eyes rested on her slightly swollen stomach for a half-second before he quickly adverted them.
"My friend Talah here has told me a great many things, Warren. Secrets from all sides here in Gilneas."
"Will any help us get our hands on Fornsform?"
"I do wonder, my dear," Amarian got uncomfortably close to Warren, "Why is it that you are so loyal to this Malachite Hand? Especially when there are much more... pressing matters at hand," With that Amarian gave him a light kiss on the lips and walked away, her hips swaying seductively.
"After all, I thought you'd be as interested as I am in what Talah was learned about the attack on Harrowdale.** It is quite personal, after all." Amarian still faced away from Greystone.
"What do you mean? The attack on Harrowdale was just Kruel's men being wackjobs. It was, wasn't it?"
"I had thought. But apparently it is not so. Apparently, Kruel wanted something out of the attack, something he did not get due to our intervention."
"What did he want?"
"Talah does not know. And in this situation, what Talah does not know I do not know," Amarian paused. She enjoyed toying with Warren. Not only with her words, but with her outfit. She knew that she was appealing from all angles, and intended to prove that to her companion.
"So what do we do now?" Warren inquired.
Amarian turned her head back towards Warren, "My dear, we do what you want to do,"
* All the way back in April 21, 2010!
** All the way back in March 2, 2010!
Last edited by HalfElfDragon : 01-17-2011 at 10:36 PM.
Join Date: Dec 2007
Standing on the mountains that overlooked Snowfold, Robere contemplated the chain of events that had brought him here.
This Dellyn Paganslayer was an unknown element. Apparently one of the Esarim, his transgression was reason for concern. Yet - his information checked out. Spynoculars don’t lie, and there could be no doubt that both King Menethil and Thomassy were being held on Lord Dandred Asher’s estate. The Ashers were well known Chancellor loyalists. His brother Chronokul was a high ranking Assassin-Magi who was recently found dead in Strahnbrad with both his face and his balls burned off. The Alteracii doctors determined that it was natural causes…
Regardless of the boon, Qu was now scrambling to secure Ravenholdt’s communication network. The idea that it had been comprised for weeks without detection was extremely troubling to Ravenholdt’s Quartermaster. Needless to say, the new network would have triple redundancies and much better reception.
Though the damage wasn’t completely unchecked. There were always things that were never said over the magical line - such as Ravenholdt’s exact location. With agents of Alterac searching the mountains, there was no reason to risk making their job easier.
In addition, all transmissions were being meticulously monitored. Dellyn’s information about Benado wasn’t a shock to the Nightslayer commander. He’d known the Flamingo was sneaking access to the communication stone, and he allowed it to happen to see who Benado was contacting. He suspected Lucio might still harbor loyalty to Javali or other nefarious characters. If he did, nothing Robere discovered indicated that. Lucio spent most of his time conversing with sultry-voiced women who wanted to know what he was wearing (hint: It was always purple and sometimes lacey) or making international long-distance stone calls just to shoot the breeze. Seriously, was it necessary to call Tel’Abim only to talk to an old roommate about the weather there? (hint: it was nice)
That being said, the priority shifted to rescue - and a rescue without violence before the King and his wizard were safely absconded away. Their lives were too important to risk. This would be easier said than done, because as they found it, Snowfold was heavily defended. Fortunately, Robere had a plan… a plan that Cerzimon didn’t exactly like. His displeasure was evident as Alterac goons dragged the Esarim into the estate/makeshift prison.
Alterac Guard #1: Not so tough now, are ya glowstick?
Alterac Guard #2: Is this new prisoner?
Alterac Guard #1: Sure is. Valuable too. One ah ‘dem Esarim still loyal to Menethil. Our friends from Lordaeron want him too, when they come for pickup.
Alterac Guard #2: Har-de-har-har! Toss ‘em in with the others! They ain’t going nowhere for now!
Robere smiled. All according to plan. Cerzimon was no good for stealth, but he was well known and he was useful to get a man on the inside. They’d orchestrated his capture nearby, suspecting he’d be brought to Snowfold. They were right. Once inside, he’d clue in the royalty.
Of course, since it was hard to get in, they would have to arrange it so the guards brought the prisoners out. That wasn’t going to happen on its own until the transportation to Fenris Isle arrived - and that would be too late. That’s where Skirvar came in. Once Cerzimon was in and the dark of night settled, the plan was a go.
Robere leapt off the mountain‘s precipice, holding the Dwarven Thane in his hands. The wings from his hang-glider pack, invented by Qu, exploded to either side as they caught the wind. It was dark, so they were but a blur in the sky and went unnoticed by the guards. When in range, Robere swooped in a downward arc and the pyroblast that Skirvar was channeling leapt from his hands and ignited the roof of the Asher estate. The irony of attempting to reduce the Asher Estate to Ashes did not escape either of them.
The fire panicked the guards, who did not see its source. One of them muttered something about faulty torches, but the guard Captain yelled and ordered that the building be cleared. At sword-point, the guards lead out the bound and gagged prisoners - Alford, Thomassy, and Cerzimon. This was what the rescue team was waiting for.
Percy Fayette and Saldor Shallowbrook swooped in using their own glider packs, Saldor’s borrowed of course. Before the Alterac guards were aware what was happening, Alford and Thomassy were snatched up, up, and away. Cerzimon, in kind, seemed to exploded with Holy Light. His restrains burned away as he was blessed with freedom, and huge wings made of solid Light sprouted from his back. He used them to take to the air,* following his compatriots.
Arrows nipped at their heels, but none connected. As predicted, the Alterac guards at Snowfold were not anticipating an aerial rescue operation. With the “precious cargo” in tow, all the rescuers converged on a boat that was docked far away and manned by Perinany Legionnaires Folca Eaconberth and Rinal Sourlan. They could set sail and be confident that they wouldn’t be followed. The only question then was… set sail to where?
* Yes, Cerzimon's wings have been established as functional. -- Gurt
Join Date: Aug 2008
He was crying for the first time in ages, the tears flowed from his eyes like the flow of a river and despite his resistance he couldn’t avoid to start sobbing. After all that had happened in the last months he finally felt relief, the huge weight above his shoulders was lifted, he had earned the right to cry out of relief even if was just for a few minutes. He cleaned his face with the lake’s water while he planned what to do next, now that he didn’t needed to embark in a bizarre journey again he could return to Zul’guazu and propel arrange direct their next step but first he could drop by Ula’tek it had been ages since he went there, and doing an act of presence in the trollish homeland wouldn’t hurt.
He was received with surprise by the guards and by the morning when he wake up crowds of trolls where amassed outside his lodge. Women, children, elders, guards they were all assembled outside expecting to see their leader and hear stories from the front. He saluted them, gave a speech, told them their dreams where close to coming true and declined the offer of a festival in his name. And while the night slowly pushed itself towards the sky at the bottom of the dark lake his regrets and fears drowned and the trollish warlord was reborn.
Three days after Jin’thek left for his new journey at the place that used to be called ‘The Court of the Sun’, inside a huge war tent, Nuvzagal along Gruc’jen where are organizing their next course of actions. Suddenly horns began to sound all over the city and the cheer of trolls where heard in the distance, they quickly exited the tent and there standing in front of them was Jin’thek.
-‘You are back?’Nuvzagal exclaimed dismissing what he saw has a hallucination.
-‘I am my friend but before I explain anything assemble the council, there are many things we must discuss.’ Jin’thek replied.
A few hours later inside one of the spires that were used for important meetings lots of important trolls where gathered, Nuvzagal of the Mosstusks, Maka of the Firetree, Zul’gurumo of the Zandali and Gruc’jen of the Amani. Ha’lin who was away fighting the small pockets of resistance was present though the use of communication stones like the chieftains of the hinterlands.
Those presents looked with intrigue and those who could only listen where eagerly waiting for news, until Jin’thek seeing nobody was missing standed up.
-‘As you know the elders of Zuldazar warned us of the Fon'kaz'kah, the death of time, a event in theory so important that could shape the course of our destinies and this war. For this reason three days ago I departed towards Ula’tek where I hoped to find answers. In way that I cannot explain even to myself I entered the spirit realm again. There I was approached by Zanza the Restless who explained me many things.
The first thing made it clear why Jan’alai managed to do something he never did before during the battle for this city, because we believed in him and our faith gave him the power he needed.
Second of all, he told me the Death of Time hasn’t got a real meaning at all, in his own words its: ‘nothing more than elders talking about one troll strong enough and brave enough to make a difference.’ So going by that line I think something much more bigger than the Fon’kaz’kah is happening I mean look at us!!! We are thousands of trolls brave and strong enough to make a difference. Zanza told me, no told all of us the most important thing we needed to now that you do not need magic or fancy prophecies to change history you just need…. A heart.’
-‘A heart??’ One of the many trolls asked.
Jin’thek just nodded and continued
-‘That leads us to the next revelation just after he shared his wisdom with me. I was approached by the image of the Soulflayer who after provoking me and causing me more pain, disappeared giving place to the whispers of older and more sinister gods. Gods that could eat grilled Soulflayer for breakfast like, their whispers in old and macabre tongues almost turned me insane. However here I am thanks to you because like I said, Zanza told me that the realm of gods is a realm of belief, and the faith you had in me, in our dream made me of that I was a ‘god’ of heart.’
-‘And does this mean you can walk upon water???’ An geniuly intrigued Nuvzagal asked.
-‘Nope, I tried but I just sank. But it was thanks to your faith in me that I was finally able to overcome my own weakness, the dark whispers and also the curse somehow loosened its hold over me. So thanks to you all.’ Said Jin’thek with a bow
The room remained silent for a second until the ones present bursted into cheers.
‘Thank you mon without you we wouldn’t be able to be speaking here now.’ Maka said with tears in his eyes
-‘Well enough sentimentalism if we continue like this Nuvzagal will be right and my name would really mean little girl.’ Said Jin’thek sarcastically provoking the laughs of those present.
-‘But well now we must discuss serious business, we may have won this battle and left the elves incapable of taking this land from our hands again for now. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t be able to do it eventually, even sooner if they look for help.
That’s why we must organize to persevere we must slowly start to repopulate this lands. You Ha’lin will be in charge of the military here while Gruc’jen will deal with the administrative parts. Maka you must coordinate and oversee the rebuilding of this city and prepare its defense, also when the time comes you with Zul’gurumo will lead the landing at the Elven Island. Meanwhile you Zul’gurumo will be in charge of overseeing the salvaging of knowledge in this city, and make sure the scrolls that are useful to us are sent to Ula’tek.’ Said Jin’thek
-‘What about me?’ Nuvzagal asked
-‘You and the new guy are coming with me to the front once we settle things here. And talking about that we must convince the elves that they have no hopes of stopping us, their city has fallen, their army is defeated and their leaders escaped them leaving them alone. If they surrender and swear loyalty we will forgive them, of course this doesn’t save them from an eventual relocation to lands that aren’t useful to us, but first we must stop this foolish resistance.
With all of this said I think I didn’t missed anything, we will meet again every three days. I expect news from all of you. You all know mon what comes next we shatter this world and show it that troll kind is not to be trifled with. We reclaim what was lost and expel our enemies from our lands for once an all.’ Jin’thek said.
After the meeting ended and most of the trolls continued with their business and tasks, Zul’gurumo approached his nephew.
‘Jin’thek I was reluctant to tell you this because I though you weren’t ready, but I think you should meet with one of my trolls. He can probably help you to control this curse.’
Last edited by Zula : 03-19-2011 at 11:33 AM.
Join Date: Feb 2009
The escapees had made camp among some cliffs half a day’s march away from the capital of Boralus.
While there was no way the Tirasians could have known which direction they fled in, everyone was on edge, twitching at any sound that could resemble a search party.
Joachim sat huddled near a spot that would have been perfect for a campfire if they hadn’t been so keen to avoid attention.
The mages were silently discussing matters of great importance amongst each other a distance away, Joachim did not know what they were talking about nor did he care.
He heard steps from behind and quickly turned to see Janus DeMeza, who had returned from a hunting-and-scouting mission.
He threw down a pair of rabbits and seemed to only now realize there was no fire to cook them on. He sat down beside Joachim with a sigh.
“So, Alten, what’s next?”
Joachim took a moment to look at the rogue admiral with an empty stare, seemingly having troubles registering the question.
“Next? There is no next. Did you see what happened? We were like flies against the storm, this whole ordeal accomplished nothing!
You shouldn’t have picked me, Janus, I’m a failure.”
“I picked you because I knew you had the determination to do it. Out of everyone, you were the one who most wanted to dethrone Phorcys and save Kul Tiras.
As soon as you had the chance, you devised a plan to do it and lead the people with confidence. I knew you wouldn’t let something like this stop you.
So I ask you, what’s next?”
Joachim looked at him solemnly; pain and regret were deep in his eyes.
“You say you know me, but you are wrong. I am not fit to lead, my plan was a failure and all I caused was useless deaths. I give up, Janus, I resign. You made a mistake in appointing me.”
Joachim reached around his belt, detached the rogue admiral’s cutlass from his belt and handed it to Janus.
“You can have this back, I never deserved it. And it’s too heavy for me anyway.”
Joachim stared defiantly at Janus for a moment, then turned to walk away, only to realize he had nowhere in particular to go, he then slowly returned to his spot and awkwardly sat down again.
Last edited by devius : 01-18-2011 at 01:18 PM.
The Malefactors and Kul Phorcys
Alan Zadok undulated like a worm, blood creeping across the tiles around him. Johnnie Jacula and Namor Periandrius were looking past him, at the two thrones looming above them. Even the tallest of men would find it difficult to reach up and scramble onto such structures.
"This nightmare fuel. What are we going to do now? We're surrounded!"
"Keep calm, damn you! I'm thinking." Namor Periandrius said through gritted teeth. "Xaxion Drak'eem brought us here with a purpose. Mnesthes willing he will guide us out! My faith is pure. He will deliver."
Then Namor heard a sound, and turned towards the hallway through which they had come. It was the tapping of footsteps. In stepped a tall elf, whom Namor quickly recognized as Xalmor Windrunner.
"At ease, Commodore. Circumstances have changed."
"Indeed they have." a familiar voice rang. All turned to look between the two thrones. A shade stood between them, barely visible, but its voice clearly audible. "But first, rise, Alan Zadok. Rise as one of the everliving as many before you. You shall be as Windrunner and Jacula, a testament to my will."
Namor Periandrius looked down at Zadonk, and saw that the bleeding had stopped. The man gasped suddenly, and clambered to his feet.
"I'm alive!" he said, looking over his hands with awe.
"Now hear me. Phorcys came here in answer to my call. He became the host of my spirit. He was to be my weapon against the false Prophet. But I chose poorly. The death of his son embittered him. He has become a monster, bent on vengeance. His omniscience has turned to madness and paranoia. He acts upon self-fulfilling prophecy, spelling out his own doom."
"The high father is corrupt?" Namor Periandrius gasped. Then he cleared his throat. He sensed opportunity. "And what would you have me do, oh great and wise one?"
"I have manipulated events to bring you here, Periandrius. And similarly, I have done the same to bring Xalmor Windrunner here, preserving him from death. One of you shall become my new manifestation upon this world. But first, Phorcys must be destroyed. Only then can I be free of him."
Xalmor Windrunner heard the Prophet's words. The Prophet needed a new host, and the destruction of his corrupt shell in Boralus. Yet, Xalmor had competition for such a grand honour. Competition from his former enemy. In a fashion, it seemed that the arrogant human was still his rival.
"And how shall it be decided which of us shall be your chosen one, oh lord?" Xalmor Windrunner asked, his sword drawn. "My purpose in this life has been erased. Give me but this new one and I shall serve you unquestioningly."
"That is not for me to decide." Xaxion Drak'eem declared. "Godspeed, my servants. Destroy Phorcys, and destroy Men'heva, so that history shall flow and lead to the true Awakening of Mnesthes. The era of the Four Gods was ended, but it shall come again. It must not be forced, as Men'heva intends. It must come to pass as the Four Gods predicted alone. Go now and bring justice upon the heretics."
Then the shade was gone. Xalmor Windrunner and Namor Periandrius were left facing one another. There was no friendship lost between them. Periandrius watched Xalmor with suspicion. The elf grunted and spoke.
"You're likely to betray me like you betrayed your own kind. You will never fit in amongst we of Kul Tiras."
"Acceptance has nothing to do with this. A worthy life is never easy. I serve Mnesthes, not Kul Tiras." Xalmor Windrunner shot back sharply. "But you will listen to me if you want to live. A half-troll army will descend upon New Barsmouth within days, and your forces shall be laid to waste if that happens."
"And we are trapped. We are surrounded by your minions." Namor Periandrius hissed, hand on the hilt of his sword. "Because of you we are in this tomb!"
"They do not know of my betrayal." Xalmor explained. "I could claim that you are mine. But you would have to trust me. And you would have to stop complaining and shut up."
"How dare you? You don't know what you are talking about! Phorcys is an overpowered demigod. One does not simply sail into Boralus. There is power there that does not sleep!"
The two went silent for the time being, contemplating one another and their new partnership. Namor Periandrius had been asked to turn on his lord and master for a chance at godhood. In the end, Namor wondered if betraying Phorcys was the wisest course of action. If he did that he would not be able to trust a soul, not even his Eels. They would never believe him.
It was then that the sound of marching reverberated through the room. A line of half-trolls entered, weapons readied. At their head was a figure in the ceremonial robes of the Esoteric Order. His face was hidden by a mask.
"Who defiles Ythan'alai?" the man asked. Then he saw Xalmor Windrunner. "Highlord! We were informed you were here. The Prophet has sent us to kill the enemy that escaped within these walls. Are those Outsiders in your midst?"
Xalmor Windrunner recognized the symbols on the man's robe. It was the Duke Elliot.
"Are we going to bluff, or are we going to fight?" Johnnie Jacula whispered, looking between Xalmor Windrunner and Periandrius.
Zul'Dare and Kul Tiras
Ephraim Marsh was on his knees. His spell reached out, and soon the voice of the Viridian Prophet rang in his mind.
"Lord Marsh, you be findin' allies. Lightist allies. Dey be of use to us, so we be usin' them. Accept their alliance, but rememba, mon. When we be finished with them, we kill 'em all. Keep your enemies close, mon. Now go an' prepare da invasion fleet for Kul Tiras. Time be short."
On his knees, Jin'thek watched as blood drained from an incision on his wrist. It flowed freely, draining into a large cup below him. He stared up at the witch doctor Gruc'jen had sent him. The old troll bore many strange tattoos, orange stripes and lines decorating him. One of the tattoos marked him as one of the Zandali trolls.
"Da curse run deep." the old one grumbled. He dipped his finger into the blood, and then brought the finger to his nose to smell it. "Der only be one way dat this curse not gonna kill you in da end, warchief."
"What way?" Jin'thek asked gravely, though he had little hope.
"You must be takin up da mantle of demoniac, mon. A demoniac harness da magic of da enemy, becomin' like da enemy. He fight fire with fire. You gotta become Hakkari, mon."
The idea shook Jin'thek to the core. He would have to become what he hated if he was to survive the tainted blood and live out his natural lifespan.
"And how does one become a demoniac? What will it cost me?"
"It cost you your heart, warchief. You sacrifice who you are, to become like da enemy, to drink from his power and kill him from within. But I do not know how one becomes a demoniac. You gotta seek your own answers, warchief. But look where you think it be likely to find an answer. It be a good place to start."
That night, Jin'thek fell into a deep sleep. His dreams pushed him into a reflection of the elf city of Silvermoon. Burned and empty under an amber sky, it left him feeling empty. He wandered its streets, memories of the dead creeping up at him.
Then Jin'thek found himself on one of the beaches outside the city. It stretched far and wide, waves licking at the sand. A lone troll sat on his knees, looking out towards Quel'Danas.
"The pain. The pain. The pain." the troll kept muttering. His voice was surprisingly light, Jin'thek thought, and not very trollish. Jin'thek walked up to him and sat down next to him. The troll jumped at seeing Jin'thek and began to wave his arms frantically.
"Demon! Destroyer! Murderer!" the troll growled. Jin'thek then noticed that the troll was wearing a crown. It was a crown that Jin'thek knew well. The crown of the elf king of Silvermoon.
"I am a troll. A troll! Get me out of this rotten flesh! What have you done to me, demon?"
Perhaps it was intervention from beyond, but as if by instinct, Jin'thek knew what was happening. Anasterian Sunstrider was not a figment of his imagination. He was dreaming as well. Jin'thek stood face to face with the Sunking.
Lordaeron and Ravenholdt
He tried to open his eyes, but the light of day burned. Keeping his eyes closed, he tried to think and to remember. Memories slowly answered, cropping up one at a time. A kingdom lost to deceit and subterfuge. A son taking up arms against him, and a son separated from him in the chaos that ensued. A betrayal, and Lora, dead under the blades of a man who had once been at his mercy.
Alford Menethil opened his eyes, which had adjusted to the sunlight. He gasped and clawed at the ground.
"At ease!" a man in bright garb said. He went down on his knees and hushed Alford. "You are safe, my king."
Alford recognized the man as one of his Esarim.
"Where is Thomassy?" Alford demanded, rising to his feet. Pain raced through him as he did so.
"My lord, I am here." Thomassy replied, and Alford responded by turning his head. The court wizard was leaning on the rails of the ship, his back to a lake. Alford realised that they must be on the waters of Lordamere.
"How? How did we escape?"
"Thanks to us, King Menethil." a man clad in leather replied. He extended his hand, and Alford shook it. "Robere de Changee, of Ravenholdt's Nightstalkers. You owe the rest of my boys a thanks too."
Two men decked out in heavy armour stood nearby, and a dwarf and an elf with them. Alford then recognized the dwarf as Skirvar Thaurissan.
"Master dwarf. You are one whom I did not expect to see again. And if you are Skirvar Thaurissan, then this Esarim must be Cerzimon."
"It is I, my lord." Cerzimon confirmed.
"And ye owe Saldor Shallowbrook a thanks too. An' ye cannae forget Sourlan an' Eaconberth." Skirvar declared. The two Perinany remained still and unmoving, their eyes unreadable.
"There is one more whom you should meet." Robere de Changee said with a flourish. "Dellyn Paganslayer."
Out of one of the cabins stepped a man very much like Cerzimon, his eyes bright. His garb, however, was dark and brooding. A black hood hid much of his face. The man bowed deeply.
"My king. I feared I'd never see you again."
"Adaen Melrache." Alford Menethil breathed. "By the Light."
"And how then is our journey to Shorel'Thalas sped up by this?" Folca Eaconberth grunted. "That has not yet been explained, Paganslayer."
The Esarim turned and looked Eaconberth up and down.
"It is obvious. We now have a wizard."
Thomassy bowed sarcastically.
"Why, yes. We do have a mage, do we not? Forget his injuries and the weariness of weeks spent in darkness, tending to his king's depression. Let us just use him as a tool!"
"Yes, let us do just that." Eaconberth replied.
"We are forgetting something critically important." Adaen Melrache said, interrupting them. "At Fenris Isle is a Man in a Mithril Mask. Andol Corin holds him prisoner. He must be freed next, before I can lend you any further aid."
"Your aid is not needed." Eaconberth growled. "We must discover if we have been manipulated. We must get to Shorel'Thalas!"
"My king?" Thomassy asked Alford. "What do you think?"
Alford tried to clear his head. There was much to discover about what had transpired since the betrayal of the men of Alterac. He wondered what had happened to Tileot and his kingdom, and how the Imperial Host was faring. The king was free, but he was without a kingdom.
Kul Tiras and Lordaeron
Joachim Alten said nothing as he was joined by Gerard Falrevere and Cyrus Reethe. His friends watched him for a time. Eventually, Gerard put his remaining hand on Joachim's shoulder.
"You've not lost our confidence, my lord. You led us to victory against the navy of Kul Tiras; against the greatest navy in the world. Archibald died for us, and for you, in the end. I won't sit by and let you put yourself down because of Duke Braent's betrayal."
"Don't you see, Gerard? It means Katherine Adai was right. And I was a fool." Joachim sighed.
"Think nothing of it." Cyrus Reethe grunted. "I've followed you through suffering and pain and I learned why your men respect you as I do."
In the meanwhile, the makrura that the company had rescued was having a heated discussion in clicks that only Janus DeMeza could understand. At long last, the rogue admiral returned to Joachim.
"Boy! We finally have some good news. The makrura, Bullba, has declared a Kelp-War against Boralus. It means her entire society will henceforth consider Phorcys to be lumber for their lumberjacks."
"Well, perhaps some of that was lost in translation. But it does not matter. Get to your feet and enough with your self pity!"
Janus DeMeza's two bodyguards flanked him as the rogue admiral stomped off. Joachim rose to his feet shakily and went to stare out across the sea. He was soon joined by Katherine Adai. The woman cleared her throat and Joachim then greeted her.
"I was right about Braent." she said.
"I know. You don't have to emphasize it." Joachim huffed.
"That was not my intention. But what I do intend is to convince you to listen to me this time."
"It seems I should learn my lesson and listen to you, then."
"Then listen here when I say that you are a damn fine man, Alten. I've not met many worthy of my respect before, but you, Gerard and the rest of your crew are the type I would trust with my back in battle, and with my life."
Suddenly a cry arose in the camp. All drew their swords and rushed to the camp's perimeter. There they found two riders, presumably scouts, watching them. Yet, the scouts were not trying to flee. Magical bindings seemed to be holding down the horses of the riders. Kithros, Scavell, Erbag and Elrich stepped forward from the shadows.
"Give us a reason not to kill you." Kithros demanded.
"Stop!" one of the scouts pleaded. "We wouldn't have come into camp if we meant you harm! Please!"
"Leave them be." Joachim managed to speak up. He felt some of his previous authority resurfacing for a moment. "Who sent you then?"
"Regent Xanthus Alverold." one of them replied quickly. "He wishes to parley! He harbours no love for Phorcys. But you must come with us, without weapons to harm him, and you must not know where we are going. No spellcasters or non-humans may be allowed in his presence."
"Funny of you to be making demands, lads!" Janus DeMeza piped up, looking over all the onlookers. "But perhaps we shall have such a meeting. Perhaps. We are ill supplied, and I'd expect anyone we send with you to return with food, as a gesture of good will. But I must convene with my allies first."
The leaders met, and Joachim was quickly suggested as the leader of the delegation. As the baron of House Alten, he already knew Xanthus Alverold, and Janus DeMeza was too precious to risk.
"We must send a spellcaster." Katherine Adai argued. "We can send the Stromgarde mage, Elrich. He is human and he can simply mask his ability to cast magic. We will need a spellcaster to get the delegation to safety if things go wrong."
"Well, Joachim will be the head of the delegation if he accepts. It is up to him to decide who to take with him. I suggest he take Cyrus Reethe, to represent the Lightists of Kul Tiras." Janus DeMeza decided. "Any objections to Joachim making the decisions about his delegation? None? I thought so."
The Lady Anazar folded her arms and stared Lord Ewe down.
"Politics is not my speciality. All I know is that the Scroll of Lore must be kept safe. My Zaramim will protect me whatever happens, Lord Ewe. I think I will stay, unless you can convince me otherwise."
"Then we are staying." Lord Ewe decided.
"But Lord Ewe." Anazar said, fluttering her eyelashes. "Perhaps it is in your best interests if you can go and get help. I will stay behind just in case Kul Tiras has fair intentions. But you can warn Dalaran if things go wrong. And then, the Hareveim will descend upon Kul Tiras to recover the Scroll if I am harmed. What say you?"
Last edited by Timolas : 01-18-2011 at 05:23 PM.
Join Date: Dec 2007
Ravenholdt and Stormwind
The conversation aboard the Majesty, flagship of Stormwind’s Navy, would determine where the southern nation’s full might would be brought to bear. Travot most decidedly had his own ideas.
Kul Tiras was an enemy, and a powerful one at that. However, it was a far removed and isolated island nation. Contrarily, the fall of Stromgarde was an incredible threat to Ravenholdt. The small community of assassins and rogues was positioned in the mountains, treacherously near three kingdoms. It was exceedingly close to Tarren Mill, and therefore, close to hostile Hesperia. It was technically inside Alterac, a country he thought he’d secured a lasting alliance with before Perenolde’s inexplicable betrayal. Travot put that man on the throne… the practical effect of this was that Ravenholdt was the meat in an enemy sandwich. If the Arathi Foothills fell, that would mean Ravenholdt was surrounded on all sides.
No, Stormwind needed to help Stromgarde first and foremost. He used his influence on Fenris to advocate this position, and the Duke pushed hard for it. It didn’t hurt that King Lothar had said that aligning with Stromgarde was their first priority after claiming Balor. Wrynn really could not argue the fact that, with Lordaeron already fallen, stabilizing Stromgarde was critically important to the Lightist cause.
Join Date: Nov 2008
Kariel Winthalus The Elves, Stromgarde
So the Prophet had deemed it necessary to remind Kariel who was in charge. Try as he might to go his own way, the Lord of the Benefactors was bound to the will of another. He loathed it.
Arathi had descended into chaos. Kariel had not anticipated it, had expected the coup to meet with little opposition elsewhere. Vitalian did his best to quell these uprisings. Kariel tries to keep the Benefactors out of it. Their participation in the storming of Stromgarde was one thing; but their active involvement could not be a requirement for Vitalian’s reign to continue. Elves should stand above such Mannish politics. Should.
When word comes through of the possible hiding-places of the late king’s heirs, Kariel suggests that Vitalian learn the truth of these rumours on his own. Once the location of the Arathi resistance was ascertained, then Elves would aid in destroying that fading dynasty. But they would not go about chasing every rumour they heard of.
Of course, it was hardly lost to anyone that the obvious Trollbane in the line of succession was far to the north in Quel’thalas. No common Men knew that Eralas was little more than Anasterian’s co-captive in a grand prison surrounded by Kariel’s army. But soon enough he would have to be dealt with for good. Before Kul Tiras, Eralas Trollbane had to die.
Mathredis Firestar The Elves, Kul Phorcys
His attempts to escape the night of the attack fared poorly. He is soon consigned, once again, to his quarters. He is put under closer guard after showing such feistiness, and has little contact with the other prisoners. He waits for Kariel and the Prophet to invade. Other scouts had no doubt been sent by now, apparently avoiding capture. It could not be long, now.
Madreen Chameral The Elves, Stromgarde, Dalaran
They ride along in the long, trailing tail of the Hesperii army. He deals carefully with Alial, and they do little to exert themselves. They had ridden on a strange quest, those months ago, and strange things had happened since. It felt good to be returning to areas he had so long frequented, to people he knew and whose religion he warded.
Had their efforts succeeded? Had his and Alial’s mission managed to fluster and stall the Stromgarde armies enough to buy the Hesperii time to respond? Had, perhaps, the many lives lost been a pointless waste? Well. They had only been humans, after all, and the loss of life would soon be replenished by new generations. It was ever thus with Men.
Teliel Zamashen The Elves, Lordaeron, Dalaran, The Perinany
So. She had led the last undefeated force of any size against the Butcher, and he had lived up to his name. Yet what was there to do? She was Templar. Zinine’s chosen, watching over the world and the events within it on the Divine’s behest. Ambermill’s fate had shown beyond doubt the horror that would befall the faithful if the Lordaeri were allowed to go about freely.
Count Elrios asked the right question. Yes, what could they do? The Hesperii were shattered, divided, leaderless. She had led the small portion that had been offered to her; that had not been enough. She would need more men. She would need both Marius and Dorian, together.
She urges the Count to make contact with the two armies. They needed to meet and speak with one another; this division was destroying their would-be nation and threatening all that was Zinine. They needed to arrange this council of war soon. She tasks Elrios with making it so.
It was a pity Venege would fall and the Lordaeri be allowed to plunder the city for supplies. Yet what could the Lordaeri hope to accomplish inside the walls they had so bloodily tore down?
Magister Rimtori Sanguinar The Elves, Lordaeron
Both success and disappointment comes from Andol’s acceptance of the request. Most accepted her as the new Maroon Templar without much comment; Malad had been a lofty leader, often shrouding himself in mystique. Few of the Maroon had known Malad; they had known the Maroon Templar. And one elf was as good as another for that.
But Andol Corin was loyal still to Malad; how soon before she could no longer count on Malad’s memory to sway the young king? And sway him she must, eventually. This she broods on during the long hours of their march north. Balnir’s company keep close to her Strattanian followers. Perhaps she would be able to sway the Alteraci king’s underlings to serve a greater cause than chasing a wife for their master. Later, she decides.
Lord Becta - Sorsbrent
The army digs in, clearing out earthworks still in place since their last siege not a month ago. Warming weather made the ground more manageable, but spring rains made it even muddier. Morale is not particularly high.
The garrison that had been left behind when Ercate marched north was under all criticism. To have let the Cardinal and his companies into the city without even a fight – without even a suspicion that something was awry – amounted to little less than treason. Nevertheless, they were now Kruel’s prisoners, and so Becta does his best to speak highly of the captured captains and the garrison of some two hundred men, so as to stir some motivation in his soldiers. Their comrades were beyond those walls, in chains. This siege would, eventually, break open those closed gates. Ginchar had no interest in an extended siege. It was simply a question of time before Kruel would have to come out and surrender control of the city.
Richard de Marmont - Sorsbrent
A moment passes. Then another. Breath caught, straining against the silence for… what? What would happen to him? Could he fight it?
Queen Arinre I of Gilneas, Duchess of Sorsbrent, Heiress of House Greymane - Sorsbrent
A few days pass before they learn of the siege. Becta had defied orders and, it would appear, common sense. Dismay. Feglan fears what this would mean for her army, and appearances in the country. The people of their capital would not welcome a third siege in a year, especially as Ercate, her husband, had stormed the city not a month ago. It was an embarrassment to at all have lost the city; a disaster for both the population and the soldiers, to have to do it again. Arinre considers moving her capital to Greymane City. There, at least, she would not have to deal with embittered traders and famished citizens.
For now, Sorsbrent would do. She sends part of the army back north to help with the siege. Since it was begun, they would need to finish it. Hopefully, the early crops would come soon enough to sustain the army.
Scouts are sent to Braent. That silence did not bode well. With the Duke’s betrayal, it was not impossible his agents had retaken control in the city. Yet another of her husband’s sieges come to naught. Henlinn’s fleet lies unused in the harbour. She might come to need it for a speedy transferral of troops to Braent. Damasus, however, convinces her of the prudence of maintaining an eye at events in Kul Tiras. They were already at war, it would seem; it would only make sense to support the rebels. Two of the larger ships available are given a full complement and sail off under Damasus’ own command.
Finally, the situation in Silverpine is dealt with. It comes as something of a surprise that Mordred had sent a good portion of the old army north under one Metellus Cipher. They still knew far too little of what had happened under the zinine reign; many of the higher-ranking names were dead, missing or not yet interrogated. Cipher was unknown in Sorsbrent’s court. A Hesperii mercenary? Zinine follower? Or simply a loyal, but unheard-of, Gilnean abandoned by Mordred, to fight a war he had promised to wage but had no interest in?
Tricky. Abandon Dalaran, and face repercussions if the Hesperii won; battle and lose against Lordaeron, and little good would come of it. Cipher’s men were Gilneans, and could be well used at home. An message is sent to Cipher; orders from his Queen. The messenger – accompanied by a troop of twenty – would make sure to read the orders aloud to Cipher’s soldiers. They were to abstain from any further conflict until the situation had been properly assessed. Then they would back whoever was winning.
Last edited by Ashenmoon : 01-19-2011 at 01:54 PM.
"I will do as you say, my Prophet." With that, the vision ended, and Ephraim Marsh fell to the floor. Of course, being a tent, the floor was simply stone and dirt. But Ephraim hardly noticed. His Prophet had given him an order, and he would follow it. He donned his robes and exited his tent.
Ephraim surveyed his army. It was still quite sizable, even with all its soldiers. Dukes Elliot and Galmin had left with detachments of their own to New Barsmouth, and Duke Waite had a detachment of his own back in Grinwillow. He hurried quickly to tell his new allies of the decision.
He ducked inside the Tirasi tent.
"The decision has been made. We of Zul'Dare will move with you against Phorcys." He stared at Mia and Asenath. "You may keep the women."
"You bastard!" Mia jumped up and attempted to strike Ephraim. He took the blow without even feeling it. "I knew you would be the one leading this army! You were always the worst of the lords of Grinwillow. I was only a child when you took the position. You sent some soldiers to my village to collect taxes we did not owe, taxes we could not pay."
"My father gathered the men of the village to drive you out, and he succeeded. But you, coward that you are, had him killed as you rode out the village."
Ephraim paused. "I'm sorry, I do not remember your father." Mia was shocked.
"For you, the day Ephraim Marsh graced your village was the most important moment of your life. For me, it was Tuesday." Ephraim turned back to the Tirasi men, "I amend my statement. Keep just the other woman."
Marsh drew a dagger and made a small incision on Mia's arm. It was all the blood he needed. With a wave of his hand Mia was bound and gagged by invisible ropes. Lifting her over his shoulder, he left the tent. With that, he was gone.
Ephraim brought Mia down to a strange stone circle on the beach. He had brought a dozen half-trolls with him. The Prophet had told him to prepare the Invasion Fleet, and so he would. Giving a signal, the half-trolls drew their blades. Mia was laid down in the center of the circle. Ephraim raised his knife, and said a prayer; the second signal. With that, he plunged the knife into Mia. The half-trolls plunged their blades into their own bodies.
It was more than enough power for Ephraim. As he cast the spell the stone circle cracked apart, and the mist of Zul'Dare lifted. And in the now-clear distance was an armada. His armada. For countless years it had been hidden by the mystical fog of the island as it was built and improved. He continued his spell, and the armada came to shore, driven by the blood magic.
The Invasion Fleet was prepared.
"I say it sounds like you're trying to get rid of me," Ewe said grumpily
"Not at all, darling. Merely thinking strategically,"
"As you wish, my lady. Until we meet again," Ewe bowed and hurried away, back to Barny's room. He got through the portal just in time before it closed.
"Any objections to Joachim making the decisions about his delegation? None? I thought so."
Ewe coughed. transport through the portal had not been pleasurable. He was on a cliff and could see the waves crashing below him. He could also see what looked to be a camp of Kul Tiras soldiers.
He crawled, following Barny's trail of blood. He did not know if these Tirasians were friend or foe, but he did not intend to find out.
Ewe found Barnabus on the top of a different peak, huddled under the lone piece of foliage in eyes reach larger than a small shrubbery; a lone cypress tree. Ewe propped himself up on a rock. He was tired and would rest before he made his next move, whatever that would be.
The Malefactors and Kul Phorcys
"Excellent timing, Duke Elliot. I have just taken these men prisoner. They have decided to come willingly after I..." Xalmor gestured towards the bleeding Zadok, "...demonstrated my talents,"
[[OOC: Sorry about the cop-out update for Xalmor here, but I'm feeling rather uninspired]]
Last edited by HalfElfDragon : 01-21-2011 at 02:11 PM.
Join Date: Dec 2007
The blood magic utilized at the expense of Zadok had worked. Krasus’ portal carried them outside the cursed forest, and a subsequent portal carried them to Krasus’ Sanctum.
Hocus Snood: Home sweet home…
Van Dam found himself in a gargantuan oval chamber. To describe Krasus’ Sanctum as stunning would have been an understatement. There were several corridors leading to different wings of what was clearly an immense structure, yet the portal appeared to have opened into the nerve center. It was lavishly decorated with larger-than-life memorabilia, trophies Krasus had kept from past adventures. Weapons and what looked like… suits of armor were on display, drawing Warester’s eyes towards them.
Krasus: There will be time for sight-seeing later. Right now, we have a more pressing concern.
The angry dragon grabbed Meryl by the arm and dragged him down a corridor. Snood and Van Dam followed, only to see Krasus unceremoniously toss the undead mage into a empty vestibule. A purple light flickered into existence, forming an impenetrable barrier between Meryl and the others. It was clearly a magical holding cell of sorts, and Warester suspected that if it was magic employed by Krasus then it was potent stuff. Content with the fact that Meryl wasn’t going anywhere, Krasus moved on - impatient and desperate to attend to other matters.
Meryl Winterstorm: It didn’t have to be this way, Grand Master.
Without saying anything, Van Dam walked away. The undead mage was left alone to contemplate his existence and the motives of Xaxion Drak'eem. Xaxion, a true pagan prophet, was still an enemy of the Holy Light - why would he encourage Meryl to convert? Perhaps a deeper plan was at work…
Meanwhile, Van Dam re-entered the oval chamber. Krasus was fumbling in a corner with a small but elaborately ornamented chest.
Warester Van Dam: What’s that?
Krasus: A doorway… to some place very special.
When he finally cracked the lock, he turned the chest upside down and dumped out what appeared to be sand. It was no ordinary sand, however. Instead of falling to the floor in a pile, it floated in the air and formed a portal of its own.
Krasus: I’m going to attempt to solicit the aid of my bronze brethren. They may be the only ones who can help us unravel the prophesized future and the consequences of the break. I cannot be sure as to how they would react if I brought a non-dragon into their Caverns, so I must ask you to remain here.
Warester Van Dam: For how long?
Krasus: That is difficult to say, Warester. I must communicate with beings who control time itself. I have no idea how long it will take. It could seem as only minutes to me, but last hours or days for you. Please, make yourself at home. All the resources of my Sanctum are at your disposal. Snood, no parties while I am gone.
Hocus Snood: Aww fiddlesticks!
With that, Krasus went through the sand portal.
Hocus Snood: Whelp… kick back and relax, champ. This could take a while. At least Krasus has some pretty sweet digs here, eh? I think there’s some Barleybrew Dark on ice around here somewhere...
Warester Van Dam: Right...
Van Dam’s first priority was to use the Sanctum’s communication system to send a message to Ravenholdt. He’d been incommunicado since Relfthra took him from the Alterac inn and from Alford, and he needed to check in badly. After that, he resolved himself to thoroughly explore the fantastic place he’d found himself a guest in.
The Malefactors and Kul Phorcys
Duke Elliot: Well, that’s good enough for me Highlord!
Xalmor Windrunner: As it should be. Now escort us out of this twisted forest, I’ve had enough of it and there are urgent matters that require my attention.
Duke Elliot: Right away!
As they marched away from Ythan'alai, Xalmor and Periandrius maneuvered themselves close enough to whisper.
Namor Periandrius: Men'heva no doubt remains on this accursed isle. To stay threatens to expose your true loyalties. Zul’Dare is lost to us. We need to get to New Barsmouth immediately. My men can offer us egress.
Xalmor Windrunner: Your men are loyal to Phorcys.
Namor Periandrius: They’re loyal to me. And at least they are men, and not… half-breed abominations.
There was a moment of silence as Namor’s wrinkled nose displayed the contempt he held for his half-troll captors. And yet, he wondered what their women looked like… and how to maneuver around the tusks.
Namor Periandrius: Sailing away from Zul’Dare is the least of our worries. To challenge Phorycs now is folly. He is clairvoyant. To him, the actions of others are clearly written. He need only read them. He may be reading this right now. We can only hope he is otherwise occupied.
Xalmor Windrunner: So then, how can we defeat such an enemy?
Namor Periandrius: Before I sailed off to the damnable engagement with Stromgarde that ultimately landed me here, I had another goal. Phorcys killed the research nerds in my employ when they got too close to the truth about Xaxion, but before his untimely dismemberment, one of them managed to get me what turns out to be even more valuable information from a dusty libram. I believe that properly enchanted helms can render us invisible to Phorcys’ clairvoyance - effectively blocking him from reading our actions from a distance and giving us a fighting chance to conspire against him.
Xalmor Windrunner: And what kind of enchantment is needed?
Namor Periandrius: We will need what is known as an Arcanum of Protection to shield our minds. Very well equipped units sometimes use the Arcanum to magically bolster their ability to avoid attacks, but it’s the side-effect we’re interested in.
Xalmor Windrunner: And you know where we can find such a helm?
Namor Periandrius: As it turns out, Kul Tiras recently outfitted a squad of our Eels with enhanced armor and weapons for a special mission. It was led by Brutus Armaggon, a man who is here on this island. I planned to similarly enchant my own helm, but now a journey back to Kul Tiras for that is dangerous… given what we know. We need Brutus’ helm before we leave this island.
Xalmor was not unfamiliar with man Namor spoke of. He’d just recently bested him in single combat. "I am Brutus Armaggon. Remember that name, wench!” He did. He hadn’t killed the man, and perhaps now that would pay off, but the man and his armor were currently in the custody of the Esoteric Order. How would Xalmor go about retrieving them? And how would he deal with whatever schemes the order had engaged in while he was in Ythan'alai?
Sorsbrent , Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, and the Benefactors
Cardinal Kruel’s kiss had knocked Major Dick to his knees. The pain he felt was excruciating.
Tobijah Kruel: You were nothing, Richard. A piss-ant servitor to the cowardly Ercate. Then, in this very room, you killed a king. Intentionally or not, you clemented your place in history. You existed for a reason. Then, you slew the man who deceived you, and once more you were lost. Now, in the place of your greatest accomplishment, I give you the gift of a reason to exist once more. Arise, and be reborn. Arise, as a mighty Esarim of the Chrurch of Kruel!
Dick rose up, now glowing with the glow all Esarim emitted. He felt power he had never known, but his emotions were conflicted. Did he truly wish to follow this mad man? This fundamentalist extremist? This zealot who inspired such loyalty that his followers would literally die at his command?
He wasn’t given much time to contemplate things, for Ginchar was once again besieged. The sounds of battle reached his ears and drew his attention.
Richard de Marmont: The gates of Ginchar…
Tobijah Kruel: Your fear sickens me. Never experience it again in my presence, or die. Your faith in me must be absolute. My protégé, Bishop Bludd holds the walls until we are ready.
Richard was in the city before, and it broke under siege.
Tobijah Kruel: Come. I will show you why we have nothing to fear.
Dick followed the Cardinal in silence for what seemed like forever as they moved deep into the bowels of Ginchar. Deep into the Underdeep. A place Kruel once called home, before his excommunication. Dick had been here before, and he thought he knew where Kruel was leading them. His suspicions were confirmed.
Tobijah Kruel: Behold, the instruments of our deliverance!
Dick gazed upon row after row of human-sized metal sculptures that seemed to go on for as far as the eye could see. An unliving army. A Black Iron Golem cache. At their forefront, de Marmot noticed an enormous red dragon - dead. He did not know the significance of the dragon’s presence, that it was the reds who locked these golems away, and that it was only they who could free them - whether under duress or voluntarily.
Tobijah Kruel: Smaller than their brethren, but more numerous. Forged by dark winged leviathans in a time long forgotten, infused with the souls of slaughtered Lightist tribesman, and powered by the blood of human sacrifice. We will empower them once again, and bound to my will by ritual, they shall march out and destroy the paltry forces that assail the city’s walls. Then, they shall act as my vanguard while I reforge the world in my image, scouring it of the impure. Do you not see the glory?
Richard de Marmont: To empower them requires… human sacrifice?
Tobijah Kruel: Yes. This city is rich with lambs, and my new world will be baptized in blood!
And then, the slaughter began.
In Sorsbrent, Queen Greymane received word. Her spies inside Ginchar revealed that the mass killing of the captives inside the city walls had begun. Such a slaughter committed within the boundaries of her own Kingdom, by the former allies of her late husband, would not look good to a populous already uncertain of her ability to lead. How would she resolve the situation? Could she?
Adding to her woes, the messengers she sent to Braent returned with news. Braent’s duke had cast his lot with Kul Tiras, and under the orders of Kraven Cobra, Kul Tiras had annexed Braent! The audacity! Foreign troops were fortifying ground within Gilneas, and that was unacceptable.
The new Queen was faced with tough decisions. How to deal with Ginchar and Braent?
Similarly, word of the impending Ginchar massacre reached Amarian. She’d already stumbled upon a mystery as to Kruel’s intentions at Harrowdale. The Cardinal's new, brash action might have something to do with it. She knew that her old traveling partner, Magyver McGowan, was already undertaking a mission to assassinate Kruel and expose his fiendish plots. Could she convince Warren to put the Malachite Hand aside for the moment and cast his lot with the anti-Kruel insurgents? Was it too late?
Last edited by Gurtogg_Bloodboil : 01-22-2011 at 09:26 PM.
As they climbed out of the crater which held the lost city and back into the forest proper Xalmor contemplated his situation silently. Namor's words rung true; his time of Zul'Dare would soon have to come to an end. He would have to spend it wisely.
When they emerged from the forest Duke Elliot's men caught sight of Garn's camp and prepared themselves for battle.
"Call off your men, Duke Elliot. Those Stromgardians are allies for the time being."
"But Highlord, they are Lightists!"
"Tools cannot be used if they are broken. Now, I repeat, call off your men."
Giving a signal, the Duke had his men stand down. They seemed disappointed.
As they entered the camp Xalmor saw the Stromgardians eye the half-trolls with disdain. Xalmor could not blame them. The creatures were not pleasing to the eye. Garn approached him.
"How fared the prisoner exchange, Garn?"
"Surprising well. The Duchess Ianthe is tending to the girl in her camp."
"Good, good. Now tell me, where is the equipment we recovered from the Eels?"
"After learning that it was kept on your orders the Duchess insisted it be taken back with her to her camp." Garn caught a glimpse of Xalmor's 'prisoners'. "By the Light, is that-"
"Namor Periandrius. The one and only. He is my prisoner. Now, if you do excuse me, I have some duties to attend to at my camp."
Iphis and Ianthe huddled together in their tent. Ianthe was pleased that Iphis was receptive of her plan of leaving the order and getting away from the war. And as she huddled close to her love she hoped silently to herself that she could make that dream a reality.
Xalmor was pleased to discover that the armaments of the Eel were easy to recover. The Esoteric Order did not yet know of his defection to the side of Drak'eem. Holding the helm in one hand, he turned to Namor.
"Now, what to do next..."
Sorsbrent , Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, and the Benefactors
It was sundown when Amarian went to Greystone's room. She entered without knocking, and gave Warren a bit of a surprise.
"I assume you've heard about Kruel's actions at Ginchar. It is not too late for us to set aside our plans with the Malachite Hand and help the agents of Ravenholdt in stopping the madman. Even if our place is not at Ginchar I feel we can contribute to the effort by investigating the Harrowdale Incident," Amarian paused, "I'm afraid, my dear Greystone, that the choice is yours to make."
Join Date: Dec 2007
Van Dam had indeed managed to contact Ravenholdt. Much had happened since he fell off the grid, and he needed to be appraised on all of it. He was greatly concerned about Alterac and Perenolde’s betrayal and feared for the Ramrod Legion embedded in the troubled nation. It was also worrisome that Ravenholdt’s communication network had been compromised. Alford’s capture also struck a personal chord with the Grand Master… if he had just stayed with Lordaeron’s king instead of rushing off to Gilneas with Relfthra, he might have been able to prevent it. At least a rescue operation was underway, though it may be too little, too late…
On the other hand, he was pleased at certain developments too. Travot had actually managed to bring the isolationist Stormwind into the War on their side, an amazing act of diplomacy that Warester honestly thought was beyond Travot’s capability. Travot has changed… he was no longer the man who poisoned wells for money. Perhaps the burden of being the Lord of Ravenholdt during the great War had built his character. Van Dam felt a begrudging new respect for the man.
Also, McGowan and Friendly’s team managed to take down the military dictator Mordred Baldanes in Gilneas. It was a great victory, though a sad revelation that Rodin Fornsform was working with the pagan general. Rodin worked for the Council, though he had seemingly gone rogue for a time. This cast aspersions on the entire Counil of Tirisfal and their true loyalties in this great war.
Casting more doubt were the machinations of one Emberstone Sanguinar, member of Dalaran’s own Ruling Council of Six and an elf who supported Javali’s rise to power in furtherance of his own plot to obtain the Prophecies of the Archivists. There was fear that Emberstone and Relfthra were one and the same, or at least in some way related, though admittedly at this point the connection was ambiguous. There was, however, one man who could possibly offer some answers to that question… Krasus.
Krasus’ secret identity as mild, mannered red dragon Korialstrasz was a carefully guarded secret. In his mortal form, Krasus had for some time been endeavoring to build up his political clout in Dalaran - the ultimate goal being to become a member of the Six. From that position of power, he would direct Dalaran with a bent towards truth, justice, and the Azerothian way. His plans were obviously stifled by the dissolution of the Six, though perhaps he had some insight into the true identity of Emberstone…
So now, in Krasus’ enormous Sanctum, Van Dam had no choice but to wait while the Red Dragon endeavored to procure the aid of the only beings who could know if the timeline had already been irreparably destroyed. The numerous trophies of past adventures and other memorabilia that littered the Sanctum in elaborate display cases demanded attention, and one in particular caught his eye. An enormous and elaborated runed weapon.
Hocus Snood: Yeah, that’s the mighty Gungir. Ol’ Wotan’s magical spear. Thing could destroy mountains when charged right, and could create all kinds of vortices and force fields and crap too.
Warester Van Dam: Why is it not with Wotan?
Hocus Snood: Well, I’m not too sure. If I had to venture a guess, I would probably say that its because he’s dead you jack@$$!
Van Dam frowned. Snood did mention something about the fate of the Incorruptibles in Ythan'alai. It saddened him to know the world no longer had such heroes in it.
Warester Van Dam: How did it happen?
Hocus Snood: Look, I ain’t your tour guide, alright pal? I’m just a fist-sized grasshopper with arcane intellect and an attitude. But I’ll tell you what, I got someone who will show you around.
Snood whistled rhythmically, and a small mechanical being made his way into the chamber. The clockwork robot stood moved uneasily, seemingly about to fall apart at any moment.
Hocus Snood: SLAMM, why don’t you give this chump the grand tour?
SLAMM: Affirmative. Initializing Sanctum Grand Tour.exe… Please follow, Grand Master Warester Van Dam.
Warester raised an eyebrow, but Snood gave him a gesture that asked “what are you waiting for?”, so he did as the small robot requested. It was a little awkward.
Warester Van Dam: Okay, lead the way, Slam was it?
SLAMM: My designation is: SLAMM. Specified Limitless Automated Memory Machine.
Warester Van Dam: And where exactly did you come from?
SLAMM: This unit was manufactured in Undermine prior to atrophy of goblin intellect due to kaja’mite depletion.
Warester Van Dam: I see…
The robot didn’t seem like he was much for small talk, probably lacking sufficient personality algorithms or something. There was almost certainly a story about how Krasus acquired this little guy, but that would apparently have to wait. Wasting little time, the mechanical guide proceeded with the tour.
SLAMM: To your right, you will see the one-handed sword known as the Sun-Eater. Please reference the provided inscription for more information.
Warester looked at the strangely radiant sword. The inscription on the plaque which held it read, “Forged in the heart of a dying star, this ethereal blade is feared across the cosmos.” He wanted to ask more about it, but SLAMM had already moved on to the next item.
Truly, the Sanctum held rare and epic treasures that rivaled, or dare he say, even surpassed Ravenholdt’s own fabled armory. He respected the collection as he walked through, tempted to “borrow” some equipment for himself. What was more impressive than the weapon and armor cache, however, was held in the Sanctum’s “zoo” wing. Stretching down the corridor, there were at least a dozen portal-like objects that offered views into beautiful natural vistas.
Warester Van Dam: Amazing… SLAMM, what am I looking at?
SLAMM: Designation: The Zoo. A series of Tesseract Hypercubes.
Warester Van Dam: What the hell are… Tesseract Hypercubes?
SLAMM: Colloquial designation: Small pocket dimensions.
Warester Van Dam: For what purpose?
SLAMM: Initializing Tesseract Hypercube Purpose Explanation.exe… Approximately 9,000 years ago, Korialstrasz utilized a pocket dimension to prevent the extinction of the species draconis caeruleus, colloquial designation: Blue Dragons. Having proven meritorious, Korialstrasz replicated the process on several occasions to preserve other endangered species. As a guardian of life, Korialstrasz considers this process a biological imperative.
Warester Van Dam: Incredible. How does he maintain these pocket dimensions?
SLAMM: Arcane power is redirected from a ley line nexus located directly below this Sanctum.
Van Dam peered into the small dimensions, which were actually magical wildlife preserves. He saw strange creatures within, animals he’d never before witnessed in their natural environments. One dimension sheltered strange looking racoon beasts that SLAMM told him were known as “Tanuki.” Another housed snake-parrot hybrids called “Mbói Tu'i.” Each dimension seemed to host a stranger breed of dubious canonicity. Shockingly, he noticed that the frog-like creatures in one swampy dimension were actually wearing clothing and using tools.
Warester Van Dam: Are those intelligent beings in there?
SLAMM: Correct. Hominis Ranuculus. Colloquiel Designation: The Grippli. One of two sentient species contained within the Zoo.
Warester Van Dam: And Krasus is okay with just imprisoning them like this?
SLAMM: Initializing Grippli Preservation Justification.exe…. Contact with the skin of a Grippli is poisonous to most humanoid species. As a result, Grippli have continually been the victims of aggression and attempted genocide.
Warester Van Dam: Is there truly nowhere for them to go?
SLAMM: The Grippli once inhabited land adjacent to territory occupied by Shadowtooth Trolls. The two species are traditional enemies, and millennia ago the Grippli were beaten to near extinction. In modernity, worshippers of Mnesthes consider the continuing existence of the Grippli to be an affront to their deity, who they presuppose designates the course of life and death. The Grippli have been sentenced to death. The Doctrine commands their eradication.
It struck Van Dam that Men’heva was definitely not above manipulating the Doctrine for personal grudges. Maybe once… if… Men’heva could be beaten, these frogmen could once again experience freedom.
Suddenly, mystic energy began to crackle. Van Dam turned to see that it was a scrying vision. Someone was trying to contact him… someone he didn’t know if he should trust any longer.
Kithros: Warester, do you hear me? We have urgent need of your services in Kul Tiras!
The Malefactors, Zul'Dare, Kul Phorcys, Stromgarde
Namor Periandrius: I have some ideas…
With the enchanted helm procured, there was no reason to stay on Zul’Dare any longer. The false prophet Men’heva had utterly corrupted the populace - and besides, their target, Phorcys, was in Kul Tiras.
Namor Periandrius: Zul’Dare belongs to the prophet now, but Kul Tiras can still be saved. If we cut out the cancer that is Phorcys, we can inherit a nation of true devotion to Mnesthes and his real herald. This helmet will let us get close enough to make it happen.
Xalmor Windrunner: Us? That is one helmet.
Namor Periandrius: We don’t need to actually wear the helmet, you long-eared nincompoop. We just need the Arcanum’s effect on our person.
With a flash of his cutlass, Namor bisected the leather Eel headpiece. He handed one of the halves to Xalmor.
Namor Periandrius: Don’t leave home without it.
Masking themselves from Phorycs’ clairvoyance was only step one of the grand design. Phorcys had to die so that one of them could ascend.
Namor Periandrius: I’ve got full access to the royal palace, and I know where Phorcys likes to dwell. Now that he won’t see us coming, we just have to get there and I can point you at the barnacled wonder himself.
Xalmor Windrunner: Easier said than done.
Namor Periandrius: We need to get to my men. I’ll order them all to pull out of Zul‘Dare and return home, with us of course. I doubt this isle of dung has anything that can catch a Kul tiras ship in open water.
Xalmor Windrunner: For all your character defects, I do not believe you are daft. Surely you realize the Esoteric order would notice such movement and attack New Barsmouth before we could escape.
Namor Periandrius: That’s why we need a distraction, and I know exactly where we can get one. Your blood-thirsty buddy Duke Elliot and his… ahem… men were just itching to attack those Stromgardians. All they needed was an excuse. Give one to them. Make something up, like Garn touched you in an inappropriately private spot or some such. Order them to attack Garn’s camp in retaliation - they’ll do it! Then, we get the hell out of here and can claim our destiny while they are otherwise occupied!
Xalmor considered the proposal. He had no love for Lightists, but would the plan work?
Lord Becta was outside the gates of Ginchar, the commander closest to an atrocity that he was seemingly unable to prevent. Word had reached him from inside the walls - a slaughter was commencing. The captured garrison, as well as innocent civilians unwilling to convert to the Church of Kruel, were being put to the sword. It was a ritualistic orgy of blood-letting perpetrated by Tobijah Kruel, a man his cousin Ercate had foolishly sought to ally with.
Becta made sure that his messengers reached Queen Arinre immediately to inform her of the debacle, but he’d yet to hear back from her highness. The reinforcements she had already sent him were not unwelcome, but they still did not grant him the ability to breach the city.
Screams from within Ginchar reached his ears, and he chaffed in his position of leadership.
Attempts to scale the walls were being foiled by Kruel’s right hand man, Bishop Balthazar Bludd. He and his zealots battled along the ramparts. They were fierce, but Becta held the upper hand with his superior numbers. That is, he held the upper hand until the extremists' tactics turned suicidal. They began charging into Becta’s ranks… and exploding. He had not expected a surge like this, and now the suicide bombers were running towards him and his encampment.
He could cut them down, and sacrifice many of his men in the process, or he could retreat. What would he chose?
Major Dick, the newly christened Esarim, watched with horror. Blood was brought to the Golem Chamber in buckets, collected from the city above, and splattered over the human-sized yet unliving metal constructs with a malicious intent. Kruel muttered a prayer in a tongue Dick did not understand. The specifics of what he said were unimportant however, because the effects were immediately apparent.
The golems began to move. It was subtle, just some of their fingers flexing - as if to grasp. But it was clear, they were alive…
Tobijah Kruel: Yes! Yes! It will not be long now. No, not long at all...
Would Dick allow this to happen? Should he embrace his new destiny as Kruel’s fanatical devotee, or should he fight what may be a hopeless battle?
Join Date: Nov 2008
Queen Arinre I of Gilneas, Duchess of Sorsbrent, Heiress of House Greymane - Sorsbrent
The days after Damasus' departure with his two ships to Kul Tiras are hectic. . Nobles had flocked to Sorsbrent from all across the Gilnean peninsula. Arinre tires quickly, and more than once loses her temper with the courtiers surrounding her. She would soon give birth. A son, and none would dare question her legitimacy. A daughter...
They learn that Braent had risen against Ercate's governor there. Messengers are sent to Soben at once; the young Duke would no doubt relish the opportunity to once again besiege - and this time, hopefully, sack - the city of his line's old rival. A small host begins to assemble in Sorsbrent, preparing to set off to aid Soben.
When news trickle down of Kruel's massacre in Ginchar, she is appalled. She had misjudged him. She had thought he would hold out long enough to strike a favourable deal. Why, after all, would he resist a Queen who walked in the Light? Were the shattered remains of the Azure so detestable to one such as he?
She cannot travel herself, but knows there is little to be done. She urges Becta to try an incite rebellion inside Ginchar; surely, the citizens would see the necessity of deposing Kruel's mad regime now. In either case, Becta's siege would soon be bolstered by the forces she had sent north.
Richard de Marmont - Sorsbrent
Blood drips off the tip of Painbrand. A strange light reflects in the turgid fluid. The dark Esraim turns the blade over, then again. It is soaked in blood, even the hilt. It is fitting, he thinks, but does not know why. It appears he has already made his choice and aided Kruel in his cruel collection.
Lord Becta - Sorsbrent
The madman had massacred his own people! Becta is still stunned. The Cardinal had hardly gained a good reputation after his years of exile from court, yes. His resistance against the Azure during the past year had been fierce, true - but that was for a just cause, and many in Becta's army thought the better of him for it. But these were men and women and soldiers of the Light who Kruel had slaughtered. It made no sense. No more than Kruel's zealots attacking them in suicide waves.
Becta orders a slow retreat before the onrush. Companies of pikers are brought up to the fore, and archers are sent to the flanks. He would not let Kruel break out of the siege, but neither would he order massed ranks of footmen against Bludd's mad charge. Let them break on Becta's earthworks, be impaled on long pikes and shot down by archers. It seemed the fanatics little cared which fate awaited them. With some luck, a great mass of them would charge forward, and allow themselves to be flanked, even encircled.
Join Date: Aug 2008
‘My heart? My soul? No I won’t, I refuse sacrifice what kept my going all this time. Zanza told me is in my heart where my strength lays there must be another way! A way to submit the curse running through my veins to the will of my heart, and not the other way around. And if doesn’t I prefer to keep on living like I did so far, enduring this curse.' Said with an adamintine resolution.
‘I am neither a demon nor the one responsible for your shape. I am merely dreaming like you are, so I guess it means the form you take here comes from one’s mind. Interesting though that your mind choose the form of one of my kind’ Said Jin’thek with a mischievous smile upon his face.
Join Date: Dec 2007
The Zandali witchdoctor shrugged. “If ya be refusin’ to walk da path of da Demoniac, den dere be nothin’ further I can do for ya. I’m afraid Gruc’jen wasted both our time. But know dis, warchief… dis curse will claim ya in the end, sure as I stand before ya now.”
Jin'thek gritted his teeth. The decision had already been made. He’d have rather risked loosing years from his natural lifespan than changing who he was and compromising everything he believed in.
“Then so be it.” Jin’thek walked away, without regret.
“A brave troll,” the witchdoctor muttered to himself and to the cup of corrupted blood. “Too bad his stubbornness will be da death of us all…”
That night, Jin’thek sunk into his perverse dream - or was it a dream? Something inside Jin’thek told him that what he was experiencing was actually very real. Anasterian’s spirit was trapped inside the body of a troll, the Sunking’s most hated enemy. The irony was bitter, as was the Sun King.
“You find this ‘interesting,’ you animal? This is the torture that I cannot escape, even in my subconscious! This is my punishment for allowing the implacable empire of Quel’thalas to be laid low by you moss-covered savages!”
Jin’thek had heard the distain for his kind in the voice of elves before, and he hated it. It made his blood boil almost as much as the curse that assailed him still, even in this dreamscape.
“Surely you know that this is not right,” said the Sun-King-in-a-troll’s-body. He seemed almost defeated. “Quel’thalas was not meant to fall… not like this. Not now. You… were not meant to be as you are, where you are. I can feel it, can you not? There is a universal wrongness that permeates the very air we breathe. Destiny is being raped before our eyes.”
The troll scoffed, remembering what Zanza had told him. “Destiny is what we make it, elf, and nothing more. There is no grand design, and my actions prove that.”
“Your actions will have repercussions, and so will your choices. This war for territory, it is not over. The trollish victory at Quel’thalas was merely a setback! And though I may be trapped now, imprisoned in this vile shape in my dreams and imprisoned by traitorous pawn’s of pagan swine in the waking world, I will escape! I will! And when I am free, I will use you as the instrument of your own destruction! I’ve already seen how to do so!”
Anasterian pointed, and Jin’thek looked down as his bare chest. His veins were dark and visible, even through the mossy covering of his flesh. They seemed to radiate a sinister, sickly aura.
“Your twisted visage betrays you! I will use it to erase you and your entire misbegotten race from the face of Azeroth! Erase you from history itself!”
With that, Anasterian leapt at the warchief. It was trollish hands and an elven mind that gripped at his throat, seeking to squeeze all the life from within…
Sorsbrent , Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, and the Benefactors
The cries of pain and agony from within the walls of Ginchar had ceased some time ago, and so had the waves of fanatical suicide bombers send my Bishop Bludd. Becta’s incremental tactical retreat seemed to have worked, and he inched back towards the city’s walls, careful and cautious. It was quiet… too quiet. Something was amiss.
And then, inexplicably, the gates opened. Was this a surrender? Was this an opportunity to rush into the city and claim it, as Ercate had done when the very same gates were opened by agents who had infiltrated Ginchar during the previous siege?
No. For when they opened, they revealed a small standing army in rigid formation. They marched out from behind the walls, mechanical and regimented. Behind them were glowing, angelic figures - figures whose radiance was not pure, but corrupted somehow. Twisted, in a foul way. And, scurrying around them were several zealots. That was all Becta needed to know. These were enemies.
“Attack!” he ordered. His host, bolstered by reinforcements sent from the Queen, still vastly outnumbered their foes. He suspected this might be a form of suicide by army, that these men were deliberately provoking lethal force. For the crimes that were committed inside Ginchar’s walls, Becta would oblige them.
His archers let loose, arrows finding their marks. Yet, none of these new enemies fell. Instead, the arrows splintered. Squinting, Becta could see that these weren’t men at all. They were not flesh, but metal. Black Iron.
“By the Light… what has Kruel unleashed upon the world…”
The man-sized golems shattered pikes and crushed the unprepared opposition, who were clearly not expecting to face an enemy of this nature. Becta had heard reports that Lordaeron and the Kirin Mora had used nigh-unstoppable Golems against Hesperia to the north. Had Kruel somehow replicated the process?
It mattered little at the moment, because Becta had to react quickly or face death at the hands of these metal gods…
“It is beautiful, is it not, Richard?” Kruel was basking in the glory of what his slaughter had wrought, the slaughter Major Dick has assisted him with. “By the blood spilled here today, these golems are bound to my will. They will march forth and cleanse the land of the impure, pagan and false Lightist alike. Only those that have embraced the true path of the Holy Light deserve life. Only those who embrace the three virtues. Respect, Tenacity… and Power.”
The Cardinal’s words strayed considerably from traditional Lightist teachings. Dick was raised to know that the third virtue was compassion… something the Cardinal clearly lacked.
“What about…” Dick struggled with the words, unsure of anything he was doing anymore. “… what about compassion?”
“One cannot create a bond with the universe through compassion. That has always been the Church’s folly.” The Cardinal almost spat the words. “A bond exists only when a man imposes his will on the world around him. By strengthening personal power, a man can impart greater change. To embrace the true Holy Light, you must develop personal power over the universe. Those who seek no personal power have no reason to exist. Death cannot and should not be withheld from the weak. This, the Church always knew, yet always feared. This is why I was excommunicated.”
It was madness… and yet, in a vile way, it made sense. Richard could understand it.
“That is why I was empowered… to show me the true path…”
“You exerted your will over the universe. You killed a King. But I needed to show you that you could be so much more. If you desired it, as I do.”
“And your desire?”
“Absolute power. Ascension. To achieve complete control over one’s self and the power to transcend death. Know this: A man who ascends becomes invulnerable, invincible and eternal. In essence, he becomes a god. I will be the god of the new age. A new world messiah, to forge the world in the shape of Kruel - and these golems will be my Vangard. My missionaries of death.”
And so there it was. Kruel’s plans laid bare. He wanted to become a god…
Looking at the distant Ginchar through spynoculars, Magyver McGowan lost hope. Not only were the invincible iron men marching out of the city and breaking the Gilnean soldiers before them, but they were also fortifying its walls.
“We’re not getting into that city again. We’ve got no chance of getting close to Kruel while he remains in Ginchar.”
His panther, Kid Gorgeous, let out a disappointed “Growl,” and Barbara Friendly crossed her arms angrily.
“So what now then, oh fearless leader? How can we beat these metal monsters?”
“We can’t.” McGowan covered his face with his palm. His brain was working double time on how to stop them - On their vulnerabilities. They were slower than humans, and certainly slower than the agents of Ravenholdt. That was an advantage, but there were few others. Presumably, they could be melted with enough heat or shattered with enough force. “We’re at a disadvantage as long as Kruel controls them… wait a minute. That’s it! We have to severe the control, free them!”
“Oh! Of course! Why didn’t you just say that in the first place? That should be so incredibly easy to do considering that we have no @#$%ing idea how he’s controlling them!”
“Something like this, you don’t just do on the spur of the moment. Kruel must have been planning it for some time, conspiring to make this happen. Maybe we can retrace his steps? Uncover what he’s been up to?”
“Agreed, Kid. The only chance we’ve got of stopping Kruel is to figure out how he learned to control these Golems…”
Last edited by Gurtogg_Bloodboil : 02-06-2011 at 12:30 PM.
"Very well. I will give the order. The Duke Elliot needs no more excuse than my permission to attack. I will simply tell him that Garn's men have outlived their usefulness. How long will it take for your men to pull out of Zul'Dare?"
"Not long, not long at all."
"Good. Then we leave this island."
"It's about damn time."
Xalmor left the tent and found Duke Elliot. The half-troll lord was more than happy to comply with his Highlord's request. The Stromgardian Lightists would die. The elf hurried back and procured Namor, and together they set out towards New Barsmouth and the Tirasians.
Sorsbrent , Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, and the Benefactors
Amarian was lying relaxed on the bed in Warren's room. Greystone himself had not decided. In time a courier arrived, carrying news; black iron golems were marching from Ginchar under the command of Cardinal Kruel.
"Warren, dear, the longer we wait the more dire the situation with Kruel becomes and the more petty the task the Malachite Hand has laid out for you becomes as well. Surely you have decided by now?"
Last edited by HalfElfDragon : 02-08-2011 at 06:08 PM.
Join Date: Aug 2008
Jin’thek mustering all of his strength standed up and grabbed Anesterian’s arms.
‘You are indeed the king of elfs, in order to suit your selfish and wicked wishes you are willing to risk the fate of the world itself. You even pretend to understand, to control the taint inside me, do you even know it wouldn’t just affect my kind? Jin’thek said while breaking the hold over his neck.
‘Ha-ha what I am even doing attempting to reason with you. You think I am savage but I can see into your soul, I see it inside of you, the hunger. The hunger for power that shattered this world a hunger that drove you into OUR lands.’ The power behind Jin'theks voice had been the power supporting his legs and for a moment he lost his footing, nearly collapsing in front of Anasterian. He regained himself though, tightening his grip around the king's arms and pulling himself closer. He stared deep into Anasterian's eyes and continued.
‘So don’t you try to patronize me you are the real monster here your hands spilled with the blood of generations. But if you are so willing to use the curse I contain feel its pain and behold the horror which made it possible.’ Said Jin’thek while concentrating, if it was a dream then he could make him see the image of Hakkar, make him feel the pain he had to endure. He concentrated into making him feel his own little version of the curse.
Join Date: Nov 2008
Richard de Marmont - Sorsbrent
Heresy! Madness! The voice is faint. Distant. Closer: "A god?"
A pause, then; "I understand it, now. We Esraim... we are but the first step, are we not? And what is the next, if not godhood?"
Power. He could sense it, the radiant, pure Light washing through him. Was light compassionate? Did not the sun burn? Did not the sun, when it so chose, deprive the world of its gentle warmth? Could not light be piercing, unpleasant? Shadows - they were compassionate, comforting, hiding the harshness of reality. But light cares nothing for comfort. It simply is, and forces itself upon all else. Such power it had! Without Light, there was only darkness, and in darkness, chaos reigned.
Yes, the dark Esraim decides. The Cardinal's reasoning was sound. Light was power - evidently so, by its ultimate sway of the world - and it was neither cruel nor kind. It simply was. Power.
"A god," he says again. But it is no longer a question. It is the affirmation of a fact not yet come to be, but by that affirmation, it was assured. For he was Esraim.
Lord Becta - Sorsbrent
He sounds the retreat, but the horn's calls are hardly needed. They flee like whipped dogs, reeling from the monstrous, implacable enemy. The shock of facing so alien an enemy is what breaks them, not the losses taken. Hundreds, thousands, abandon all semblance of order and stream south. Luckily, the iron engines of war are slow hunters, and Becta orders companies of Henrik's cavalry to protect the retreat from the more limber zealots.
By nightfall, a new camp has been set up outside of Brennair, a few hours south of Ginchar. The Tirasi traders Ercate had given governship of the town give Becta and the leaders of the army shelter in a mansion outside the walls, on a ridge overlooking the fields where the army had gathered. Patrols of light cavalry swarm the landscape, looking for signs of the enemy and directing fleeing men to the camp.
Becta does not know what to do. He would not face those... constructs... on the open field again. The encounter had been short, but the lesson had been well learned. Dark magics existed in the world, but mostly, the protective magics of your allies were enough to negate the wizardry of the enemy. Not so this time; Jammal, the court-wizard, is stymied. They begin digging deep ditches around the camp, and send word to the Queen.