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  #26  
Old 08-24-2010, 08:08 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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As usual, I want to tell you how much I appreciate seeing your feedback here, Tim.



I'm determined to finish this fic before the end of my 6-month employment. Even if it kills me.
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  #27  
Old 08-24-2010, 08:20 AM
Wulfang Wulfang is offline

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Even though I already said it on MSN, I'm saying it again here.

I loved the chapter. It was good to see so many callbacks to your previous works and they geniunely made me smile.

The whole plot around Druj, Hiraxen and their followers thickens and I can certainly say you've managed to get me hooked up on this. I want to know what this is all about.

And yes, as Tim said, the story flowed amazingly well and you even managed to make me care for the nameless and probably never-seen-again prisoner.

As always, good job.
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  #28  
Old 03-01-2011, 12:04 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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I've now begun work on HSH ch. 6.

I may need to make the fic shorter than I intended, because I work so slowly nowadays. I'll try to not cut anything important out of it, though...
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  #29  
Old 06-21-2011, 02:55 AM
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I do not think it was nearly as good as the first one. There were several things I'll point out that bothered me; such as the dialogue coming from Kra'osha and how Sven reacted to the two companions. I loved how he reacted to Laterbrus and his exchange over his parents... the demonology part was especially touching.
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Old 09-29-2011, 01:57 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Hey! Remember when I said nine months ago that I'd started work on HSH, ch. 6?

Apparently, it takes as long for these things to be finished as it does for a human being to become fully formed inside their mother's uterus...

I really hope that people remember roughly where we were in this fic...

Quote:
Chapter 6


Sven knelt down to survey the scene. There was smoke rising all around him, and the slain bodies of soldiers dotted the ground. His brother and the others were spread around, exploring the area for survivors. Thus far, they had found none.

The air was thick with the smell of people burned alive. Most of the corpses were charred beyond recognition, but their armour told they were a small unit of Alliance mercenaries returning from Outland. Before Sven's eyes, the sword of a young warrior was stained with dark blood, or perhaps ichor. “Where are the corpses of their foes...” He asked himself, rubbing his chin.

In the back of his mind, he felt the dread of what he'd seen two nights ago crawl forth. Him, Eric, Windfarer and Kra'osha had been camped on a cliff overlooking the road that leads east from Darkshire. When sitting outside the tent, on watch, Sven had first seen the distant light of fires in the direction of the town, and then a lonely figure riding along the road, his horse at full gallop in a race east.

Fire in Darkshire, and a fleeing figure. Now, in the direction that person had been going, soldiers burned to death by the dozens. Though not everyone. Some of the corpses had the marks of weapons on them, and a few held no signs of fire. The ground, even at parts where it had been charred deeply, was full of hoofprints. Whatever had taken place here, dozens of people had ridden away from the scene. The wizard responsible had accomplices...

“Riders...” He muttered to himself. The words from Jitters' journal flashed through his mind. Words describing the creatures that had killed his wife and children. Standing up, he spat on the ground.

The others were gathering up to compare notes. Approaching them, Sven heard what they were saying. Apparently, they could sense a something or the other of magic that let them know which way the wizard who did this had gone. They didn't seem to notice that the person was not alone. Standing a little away from them, Sven folded his hands and listened.

“I hope they catch the one responsible”, Eric said. “But we should get moving. There's nothing more we can accomplish here.”

“Shouldn't we follow that trail?” The orc, Kra'osha, said. Though she sounded honest, she looked like she didn't expect that they would.

Eric shook his head and answered: “It's none of our problem.”

Sven grimaced fiercely but before he could butt in, Windfarer put a hand in front of his lolling tongue and spoke in that artificial voice: “We should bury the dead.

“What? Why” Eric seemed genuinely surprised by the thought. Everyone stared at him for a moment, making him blush a bit and ask: “Why do you care, Dab'ra? You were in the Septim! You did much worse things than this to Alliance soldiers, and I doubt you stopped to bury them!”

The wizard did not hesitate in his answer. “An alliance soldier who tries to attack my people to kill them because of who they are deserves this. An alliance soldier who goes to Outland to fight the Legion or the mad despot Illidan does not.

“Fine! Let's bury them”, Eric said, throwing his hands in the air angrily. “But as soon as we're done, we're going to find a camp site so we can get a good rest. We'll be arriving in Karazhan tomorrow.” Sven was pretty sure his brother was not usually the type to act like this, but the two of them had had enough arguments in the past few days to make Eric abnormally irate. Sven knew for a fact that he himself was being distant and gloomy right now, but he couldn't make himself care. If Eric wasn't going to try to restrain himself,

The brothers and the orc got to gathering the bodies while Windfarer used his magic to dig a hole. He was waving his bony hands in a pattern while gurgling something past his swollen tongue, which looked anything but elegant but created pure green tendrils of energy. For a moment he seemed content with simply conjuring the things, but then with a simple change of his hands' position, he sent them digging into the ground, burying deep within and them starting to lift the chunk of soil into the air to leave a hole.

When they'd managed to throw almost half of the bodies in the grave, Sven heard sounds in the distance. Continuing to act inconspicuously, he saw approaching riders in the west from the corner of his eye. “Prepare to defend yourselves”, he said softly, and found the others looking around, frightened and on alert. There went the element of surprise.

He drew his sword, and watched the newcomers. One of them was flying the banner of the Horde. It made him uneasy, even though the last he'd heard, the Horde had sworn to move their forces away from the Dark Portal without attacking anyone on the way.

Eric, Kra'osha and Windfarer soon realised what was coming and gathered behind Sven. The riders spread out and moved in as an arc, watching the little group warily. They were a varied group, little more than two dozen in their numbers. There was an elf amongst them, whose eyes shone green. Not a good sign, or so Sven had heard.

A large orc rode forth, the banner jutting from his back, shouting: “Who are you and what happened here?” There was a large lance attached to the saddle of his wolf, and he was holding its handle.

“We're just travellers passing by here. We found the battle site scant more than an hour ago”, Sven answered sternly. “A group of alliance mercenaries got slaughtered here yesterday. We are burying them before we move on.” He held onto his sword, and met this orc's gaze.

The soldiers exchanged glances and started dismounting. All their weapons were still sheathed. “I'm Lieutenant Gurtarg”, the commander said. “I'm leading this force through Azeroth to make sure there will be no fighting between us and the locals.”

“Sven Yorgen”, the farmer said. He put his sword away and offered his hand. “Just a man with nothing left back home.” They shook hands. The orc's grip was strong, and his eyes sharp.

“Do you need help?” The officer asked, looking around as they broke their handshake. “That's a lot of bodies for just four people.”

“We do not need help, but it would be appreciated”, Sven answered. He was a little put off by the orc's very good Common.

The leader hesitantly looked at the people behind Sven's back and asked: “Who are your accomplices?”

Sven stepped out of the way and let them introduce themselves. They all used their real names. Lieutenant Gurtarg nodded at each, and said he was pleased to meet them. “I'm afraid my men are a bit too numerous for me to introduce them all. I'm going to get our camp started on that opening ahead, and assign some of my men to help you with the bodies.”

“Much appreciated”, Sven said and bowed to the officer. From the corner of his eye, he saw his companions mostly just nodding their heads.

Gurtarg rode to his men and spoke orders to them in soft tones. From among them, nine parted and approached Sven, while the rest rode on to establish the camp. First among the group was the blood elf, his green eyes looking at Sven with a curiosity. “Well met, stranger. I am Daladun...” He proceeded to introduce the others who had come to help with the grave.

There was Zulaman the forest troll (“just a nickname that stuck”, he protested jokingly), Wolf the tauren woodsman and his bear companion Kax, a devious-looking orc called Joe, a white-robed goblin nicknamed Spook, an scar-faced orc dubbed Grash (“don't cross him, he's vicious”, Daladun added offhandedly), two troll brothers called Rowanr and Inquisoh...

“And that's Kerrah”, Daladun concluded, pointing at an elderly orc in a worn coat. “He's not a mercenary, like the rest of us. He was hired as a special consultant, since he knows the terrain of Old Draenor.” The orc nodded his head and walked off to inspect the bodies. Despite supposedly not being a warrior, he wore a sword at his hip.

Sven introduced himself and his companions, and they got to work on hauling the bodies and their possessions into the mass grave. Except for the grizzled orc, who revealed that he was missing one hand, and used it as an excuse to mostly stand around and give others approving nods as they worked.



As the sun was setting, Laterbrus walked through the camp, frowning. Was this really necessary? They were wasting good time they could be hunting for the Scythe, first hauling bodies into a hole and then sharing a camp with this bunch. Sven was doing this on purpose. Anything to get in his way.
I guess there's no point in even pretending that he doesn't hate my guts.
He shook his head, and to get his mind off the subject, he muttered to himself: “Three crescent moons of bronze... nails sharper than midwinter winds... a voice like slime coated in honey... eyes that never seem to blink... he speaks, and when men listen, they fall... he moves, and where he goes, death follows... he watches, and no sin can stay hidden... he hates, and his spite is like venom...”

“Who's that?” Someone asked, and Laterbrus almost jumped out of his boots in startlement. It was that tauren he had worked with earlier, leaning on a tent and watching him curiously.

Laterbrus flicked a hand dismissively. “It's just a poem I read on a scroll once. It stuck in my head for some reason.” He could almost feel the weight of the ancient parchment in his backpack.
It makes one reconsider the wisdom of ancient poems when the thing described in them possesses one's master and tries to destroy the world.
“Very well, Laterbrus”, the tauren said. “It is said that troubled men like to speak of dark subjects, to make their own worries seem smaller in comparison.” His large, watery eyes looked all to sharp right then.

Laterbrus couldn't remember what the mercenary was called. “It's just a little quarrel. It'll pass.” He turned to leave, only to find that the next words spoken froze him on his tracks.

“Sven is your brother, is he not?” The tauren asked. “You two look very alike, and yet, when he looks at you... I think 'quarrel' may be understating it.” Laterbrus stood still and squeezed his hands into fists.
It's that obvious, then? I have a sign hanging over my head that only I can't see, which declares: “Please solve my problems for me.”
“It's none of your business, and if you pester me about it again, I'm going to make you mute to ensure I don't have to hear your sympathies again in my life”, he said and walked off.

He left the camp and walked out of view before stopping. He felt like punching something. Why must everyone talk about this... business between him and Sven? He was all right with how things were right then and there. If Sven wanted to hate him, he was free to, so long as he didn't get in his way. Besides, he was being unfair, and contradictory.

Back when they were kids, Laterbrus (or rather, Eric) had asked Sven to climb a tree to fetch a bird's nest he couldn't reach. Sven fell when trying, and got hurt. Laterbrus still remembered seeing Sven fall, and the feeling of his stomach losing its bottom from worry. However, his big brother had said there was nothing to apologise for, because he hadn't meant for it to happen.

Had Laterbrus meant for Father to die? Had he meant for... anything to happen? Slamming a palm against the trunk of a nearby, almost-dead tree, he thoughtlessly cast a spell which made its trunk split from the force. Seeing splinters fly everywhere, he felt a little better. “Why can't I just... be who I am? Why can't people just leave me alone?” He asked under his breath and headed in a random direction. He didn't feel like he could get back into the camp yet.
For all I care, all of those mercenaries can drown on their boat trip back home...
He passed by some more gnarled trees and came across a cliff. His footsteps grew slower and softer as he saw someone sitting there. Sven's old leather coat was unmistakable.

Taking a breath, he slowly approached his brother. Time to put this issue behind them once and for all. “Sven”, he started.

His brother gave a startled gasp and tried to turn around. However, sitting on a ledge, that was not the smartest move. Sven slid down, out of Laterbrus' view.

He felt that feeling of his stomach losing it bottom. Running to the ledge, he looked down, and saw that there was only a small drop down to a gravelly hillside, and his brother was fine. Laughing with relief, he reached a hand down to help Sven up.

Sven wiped his face to get rid of dust and angrily shouted: “What are you here for? Killing one family member isn't enough for you?”

Laterbrus blinked his eyes. “What?”

“You heard what I said”, Sven growled and climbed up past his brother. “Just... get out of my sight.” He walked off, leaving Laterbrus alone, again.

He truly felt more alone than he had in quite some time.
Told you so...


Sven left the camp, smiling slightly. Damn, that had been some good stew. He couldn't stand the noise these mercenaries were making, though. He'd never been much for towns and other places with many people. He preferred his own home, with the fireplace lit. Just him and the fami-

The smile died on his lips. Climbing up a hill, he looked at the surrounding terrain. It looked dead. Even worse than Duskwood. He remembered when Duskwood hadn't been... dusky. Karl and Tobias had never seen it like that, or visited another place. Their world had been just that: gloomy trees and perpetual dimness.

Anna had once suggested moving away, to a place where their family would be more safe. Sven felt a sting in his heart at the memory. Would they still be alive in Elwynn?

He sat on a nearby ledge, dangling his feet over the hillside below. After losing them, he had been a wreck, but taking revenge by helping destroy the evils besieging Duskwood had helped him get over it, and given direction to a life that seemed otherwise empty. And after that was done, he'd focused on rebuilding the house, and now...

Being around Eric reminded him of all the good times they'd had when they were young, and how he'd lost those, too. He'd lost father, he'd lost mother, he'd lost Anna, Tobias and Karl... and seeing Eric again only reminded him that he had apparently lost his brother too. He wanted it to be otherwise, but Eric didn't care less, or so it seemed.

Realising that he was crying, Sven leaned forward. He seemed to be doing that all too often, ever since Eric came back to his life...

“Sven...” A voice spoke behind him. He hadn't heard anyone approach. Yelping a little, he turned around and saw Eric for a moment before tumbling down the cliff into the rubble below.

WHAM! He fell onto his stomach, which drove the wind out of him, and scraped his knee against a rough stone. Moaning a little, he started to pick himself up, and this time heard Eric walk to the ledge. He laughed.

Sven felt his blood boil. As a child, Eric had never laughed at others' misfortune. He stealthily wiped the tears off his face and shouted: “What are you here for? Killing one family member isn't enough for you?” The word came to his mind before he thought of them. He was too angry to care that they didn't make sense.

Eric made an expression like he didn't know why Sven was angry, and asked: “What?” Sven hated it when someone played dumb to get out of trouble.

Climbing up, he spat out: “You heard what I said. Just... get out of my sight.” He rushed past his brother, keeping his face down to hide his trembling lip. He walked for a few minutes, his mind focused on nothing but getting far from Eric, and then he stopped.

Panting, he leaned on a tree. Tomorrow, they'd leave to Karazhan. The Scythe had best be there. He wasn't sure he could take this for much longer...
I really intend to establish some kind of a rhythm of updates again. If you want to help motivate me, please please please give me feedback! The worst thing to make me not care is the thought that I'm only writing for myself.
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True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

Last edited by Kerrah; 09-29-2011 at 02:03 PM..
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  #31  
Old 09-29-2011, 03:47 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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Very interesting Kerrah, very interesting. I am really looking forward on how this continues, by the way I loved the cameo.

I would have never though four (or was it three?) years ago when I began to read your work that one day I would have a cameo.

Funny things.

Keep up the good work!
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Old 09-29-2011, 03:50 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Thanks for the tributes to us. It was nice to see Daladun. Although Daladun is an anti-Horde, pro-Alliance fellow, there could be any number of reasons he would be with some Horde soldiers, I suppose.

I enjoyed the new chapter and ended up with some more respect for the Horde because of the offer to help bury the Alliance soldiers.

I'm also thrilled to be nearing Karazhan. And one of the best parts of HSH is that you linked the story with the past so well by making Laterbrus be Sven's brother.
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  #33  
Old 10-01-2011, 04:31 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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I was originally going to tone down the hostility between Sven and Laterbrus, feeling that I had already said what needed to be said on the subject. However, last week I had a days-long argument with my little brother, which inspired much of this chapter.

I guess it's another step forward in some artistic regard that I have just used my story to express my feelings about something personal that happened to me in real life.
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Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 10-02-2011, 09:15 AM
Zula Zula is offline

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Originally Posted by Kerrah View Post
I was originally going to tone down the hostility between Sven and Laterbrus, feeling that I had already said what needed to be said on the subject. However, last week I had a days-long argument with my little brother, which inspired much of this chapter.

I guess it's another step forward in some artistic regard that I have just used my story to express my feelings about something personal that happened to me in real life.
Kerrah 60% of all the texts I have written, including my stand up monologues have the same purpose to me. Using artistic regard to express my feelings about something personal that happened to me, I think every writer does that to some degree.
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  #35  
Old 10-17-2011, 11:07 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 7


Sven rubbed his eyes as they crossed the turn of the road and came across Karazhan. The black stone spire reached upward from the bottom of the valley, as if trying to compete with the surrounding mountains. It did not reach higher than them, but it was impressive on its own right. The balconies and parapets stuck out at seemingly random places, and the top of the tower was shaped oddly. It was not a beautiful structure, but whoever had built it probably hadn't meant for it to be beautiful. Imposing, though, now that was getting somewhere.

Petting the mane of his horse, Sven eyed the mountain path leading into the valley. Grandfather Åke had once told him that a lot of people used to live down there, and even grew their own food. If they had, they must not have travelled out often, because this road was not convenient to use...

“Everyone, be cautious. If the Scythe is here, then so are the Dark Riders”, Eric said loudly. Sven was the only out out of the reach of his inside voice, but the two of them had been making a point of not speaking directly to each other since last night.

Sven nodded his head the slightest bit. A cold wind from down in the valley caught him, and he realised that his ears were freezing. Turning around, he pushed his hand into one of the bags hanging from his horse's saddle and pulled out a wide-brimmed hat. With it on, he continued downward.

Throughout the way down, he could feel the others staring at his back. He hadn't had much chance to talk to Eric's companions, but they seemed like decent enough people. What Windfarer had said about burying the alliance soldiers had been especially moving. However, right now they were sticking with their friend, which left Sven alone. Except for the horse. Sighing, he once again patted it.

In the valley lie the ruined remains of a town, and a dried-up river splitting it in half. Karazhan itself is located on an island between two banks of the river, and has ancient stonework bridges leading to its two gates. “I think we should leave the horses here”, Eric says in a much softer tone than before. His allies seem to agree. Sven pulls over next to a mouldy stable and dismounts.

The orc, Kra'osha, clears her throat. “I think we also need to leave someone to guard our mounts and possessions. We're still not sure there's anything inside there, but there are all kinds of types moving past this land, who wouldn't mind a few free horses.”

“Good point”, Eric says seriously while getting off his horse. “You should stay here. If something serious happens like... I don't know, the Dark Riders come down into the valley down the road we came, just run into the tower and use a strong enough spell to get our attention.”

For some reason, Sven kept forgetting that the girl was a magician. Not a wizard, mind you, but... He shook his head and grabbed the essentials with him to go explore the tower, but left his hat behind. For some reason, he really didn't feel like there was going to be anything there. Something about the mood just wasn't right. It was hard to imagine facing the Dark Riders and finding the Scythe of Elune today.

He walked off toward the rusted gates at the tower's base. He heard the others exchange something hushed behind his back, and sighed.

By the time he reached the gates, Eric and Windfarer had caught up with him. “Well, do you sense magic abound with this place?” He asked. If they expected to sense the orc walking into the entrance and casting a spell, it figured they'd sense in advance if this place was the headquarters of some evil group of... whatever the Dark Riders were.

“Hmm... no”, Eric said. Sven walked on. Figures that the eggheads would not sense anything. He fingered the pommel of his sword sticking out over his shoulder and entered the tower.

“Excuse me”, a familiarly artificial voice said behind him. “Where did you get that sword? It is enchanted. Powerful.” This Windfarer seemed to have curiosity aplenty, but he never really seemed to get nosy. When he asked to be told something he didn't yet know, he was in his element.

Sven crossed under the open gate and watched the identical one on the opposite side of the entry yard. It was hanging in a dangerous-looking way, like it was going to fall down any moment now. “This is the blade of one Morgan Ladimore”, he said without looking back. “I personally took it from the hands of his undead corpse.” Neither of the men behind him spoke in response. Ladimore wasn't exactly famous, but Sven figured Eric at least remembered hearing of him and his tragedy.

There were two great doors leading inside the tower proper, one at the left and one at the right. Sven picked one at random. It was already open, probably left so by the previous visitor. “This place has been looted at least fifty times since the last inhabitant died”, he said and pointed at the damage in the masonry and furniture as they entered. “First by orcs seeking to discover the secrets of human magic, and then by humans looking for something valuable...”

They arrived in a small corridor leading to a great dining hall, with a staircase at the left and a large blood stain on the right. “So... do we just look around randomly and hope one of them jumps out from behind a corner?” He asked without directing it at anyone in particular, and then finally turned to face his current companions.

Windfarer dug a pouch at his belt for a moment and produced a blue crystal. When he held it aloft, it started to glow. “This will reveal hidden entrances. Let us search each room. Will take time, but we are not in hurry.”

“Yeah, I guess”, Sven said and sighed as he let them walk ahead into the dining hall while he stuck behind...



"So far away from my home, sweet home
Day by day, from land to land I roam
Though told by the wind which way to go
Oh, how I long for my home, sweet home"


Laterbrus finally lost his temper when Sven started singing that song. Since last night, the two of them had been coolly ignoring each other, making sure the business between the two of them didn't get in the way of this expedition. Now, though... that was just baiting. Sven knew that even as a kid, Laterbrus couldn't stand his singing. “Cut that out. It's annoying.”

Sven did quit singing, but instead glared at his brother. “Okay, Laterbrus. If hearing something that reminds you of your mother is so bad, I can stop." Once again, he said Laterbrus' name with disgust.

The young mage threw up his hands and turned away. "Oh please. Can't you stop whining about that for two seconds? We're trying to find out clues about the Scythe of Elune and the Dark Riders here and your singing is really inappropriate."
Mother... I hardly even remember what what she looks like.
He saw that Dab'ra was busy ignoring them and circling around the room, checking all its corners for hidden things with his sensestone. "There's nothing here either, let's move on”, he said with his speech spell.

As they turned to return to the door and enter the hallway once more, Sven said: ”I have the right to sing if I want to.”

”No you don't. Your singing voice is dreadful”, Laterbrus said irritably. He felt his magic coil. He wanted to strike at something again, like he did to that tree last night.

Sven just shook his head. ”There's nothing here. I'm going outside.” He headed to the staircase, his footsteps echoing in the corridor. Laterbrus stared at him, and for the shortest time felt an impulse to hurt his brother. Badly.
If I pushed him down the stairs, right now, I don't think Dab'ra and Kra'osha would make that big a deal about it...
He restrained himself until Sven was down the stairs, and then counted to ten before turning and unleashing his force at a table standing nearby. It split neatly in two halves, which were sent flying in opposite directions, and then broke to pieces upon hitting the walls.

Dab'ra raised his hand to his mouth. Laterbrus shook his head and said: “No, please. Let's talk about anything else. Pick any topic.”

The undead wizard hesitated before raising his hand all the way and voicing: “He is right. About there being nothing here. Is is suspicious. A place of great magic can not naturally become so sterile.”

Laterbrus exhaled and let his hands fall to his sides. He made himself think about the tower. “Yeah, it makes no sense... even if all the artefacts and whatnot were long-gone, all the spells worn out or dispelled, there would be some kind of residue. Yet... nothing. The tower is cold, dead stone. I can't imagine what could have done this sort of thing.”

“And when it happened”, Dab'ra said enigmatically. Laterbrus shot him a questioning gaze and sat down on a mouldy chair. His old friend crossed his arms over his chest in a cocky way. “I read a book about Karazhan, once. This place was very thoroughly searched by Kirin Tor agents after the Second War. They saved all of Medivh's items that the orcs had missed. However, they never mentioned that the magic residue was missing from here. Whatever did this, it happened at some point between then and now.”

Laterbrus was amazed. Dab'ra normally only spoke short sentences, and got straight to the point. This was the first time he'd gotten conversational. It was almost like old times. He had to try to keep this up. Coughing, he stood up again. “I know, it's really weird. If the Dark Riders were hiding here, though, why would they do this? It just makes any passing-by mage suspicious.”

Dab'ra shrugged and headed to the nearest unchecked room. He kept his laid-back, talkative nature, seeming unaware about how different it was from his usual bearing. “Once we are done with this spire, I have something to tell you. It may be a long shot, but it's still a chance.”

While they checked the room, Laterbrus furrowed his brow and wondered what it could be. He didn't want to press the issue, though, so he switched topics. “Do you ever think it's weird that you were always the prankster and I was the teachers' pet, and yet you made it as a wizard and I... didn't?” He knew it was a bad pick the moment he started talking, but for some reason, he didn't stop.

Dab'ra hesitated, and suddenly lost his energetic nature. His speech spell sounded more artificial than a moment ago. “I am sorry about what happened. I was weak.” He was avoiding meeting Laterbrus' eyes. Shaking his head, the warlock tried to think of something to say.
“It wasn't not your fault”? It was. “I forgive you”? I don't think I do. My own best friend is the one who had me kicked out of Dalaran in his stead. What does that say about me?
“I... just forget I mentioned it. I'm so tired, I shouldn't have...” He trailed off and idly kicked a little pewter cup on the floor.

Dab'ra held the sensestone aloft and asked: “You slept badly again?”

“Yes”, Laterbrus answered. “I don't think I've had a real, good night's sleep in half a month.” He rubbed his eyes idly. He envied his friend, who didn't have to sleep at all.

The undead wizard put a hand on his shoulder. “I worry about you.”

“Me too, pal. Me too.”



Sven walked out of Karazhan, shaking his head. Pointless. So utterly, completely pointless. There wasn't a rat in that tower, much less a bunch of Dark Riders. No one would pick such an obvious spot as their hideout, anyhow.

These mountains were full of old, ruined forts and watchtowers, and abandoned mines. There were dozens of places where the riders could be hiding, if they were even here.

As he crossed the bridge, Sven saw that the orc warlock had already set up a campfire next to the stables. She was feeding the horses, patting their manes and saying something. He slowed down his walk, looking at her curiously.

When he was about ten paces away, she turned to look at him and asked: “Where are the others?”

Sven hesitated before answering: “There's obviously nothing there. Might as well not cramp my feet with all those stairs.” She seemed to accept his answer, and turned back to the horses. She no longer spoke, though. Sven sat on an old crate she'd set up as a seat next to the fire. “You speak excellent Common, by the way.”

“I learned it as a child, alongside Orcish. In the concentration camp.” Her answer made Sven freeze. He had heard of those things, and never thought of them any deeper, but somehow the idea of a child there, among prisoners of war... She continued: “Some of the prisoners at my camp were found to be holding onto valuables they'd smuggled in, so the guards suddenly got very interested in keeping a close eye on us. Mostly they just held random raids, but a few pretended to be our friends. When they discovered we didn't have anything, though, they would get violent.”

Something about her voice told Sven that she had never spoken of this before. Yet, the wording sounded like she'd rehearsed it. “That was how I got into demonology in the first place. On the second-to-last year of imprisonment, I was growing old enough that the guards could suddenly threaten me in ways they couldn't threaten my brothers. When I was told that I could wield powers that would keep them away, I jumped at the chance. I never got to curse any guards, but I can't say that being the apprentice of a warlock didn't come in handy during the rest of my days at the camp, as well as during the voyage to Kalimdor.”

Sven realised that she was still looking at the horses, petting them, while she spoke. She had practised this tale on them. Probably more than once. “Of course, when my brothers found out, they stopped talking to me. Thankfully, they didn't tell anyone. However, by the time everyone settled down and Durotar was founded, I realised I was stuck. I had been a warlock for so long, and partaken in so many illegal actions, that if I left my master's service, he could easily make me an outlaw without endangering his own self.”

She seemed to stop there. Sven warmed his hands over the fire and hesitantly said. “So, you're not here by his behest, then?”

“No”, she answered. “He sent me to Silverpine to gather information on the warlocks among the Forsaken, under the pretence of fighting Archmage Arugal. That's where I was swept along Laterbrus and... well, all the chaos that took place was a convenient excuse to vanish.”

Sven felt the cold wind on his ears again, and walked over to get his hat. “So... you can't return home?” Putting the hat on, he made sure to fasten it well.

She simply shrugged, finally taking her hands off the horses and turning to face him. “I think I can show up and say that I got caught up in craziness and it took me this long to get back. Though, then I'll be a prisoner once more...”

He looked into her eyes for a while before turning to return to the box. “If you don't mind me switching the topic, you seem good with the animals. Your companions treat theirs like machines.”

She reached a hand and ran it through the mane of Eric's horse. “Well, your brother may have grown up on a farm as a child, but after that he's spent his life in cities, libraries and cellars, while Dab'ra probably didn't visit the countryside until he was a full-grown man. Compared to them, anyone can be a good equestrian.”

“I see...” Sven said. He was sort of awestruck. This orc had been nothing but a face and a voice to him before, an extra in a play. Finding out that she had a past, goals, was slightly overwhelming.

She walked over to the campfire and squatted across from him. “My turn to ask a question. Do you have any friends in Darkshire, or in the other farms of Duskwood?”

“Well”, he started awkwardly, torn out of his thoughts by the sudden query. “Many people whose families have been around since my grandfather's time have died, or moved away, but I also made some new pals in the past few years, fighting the undead. There's my partner Lars, and his cousin's family the Torssons, and...”

Half a dozen questions later, Eric and his wizard friend emerged from the tower, and Sven closed his mouth. For some reason, he didn't like the idea of his brother seeing him having fun, socialising with the orc. He gave her a little apologetic cough and fastened the hat on his head.

“We've searched the tower. There's nothing there, no room to hide anyone, and no magic to hold a portal elsewhere”, Eric said, looking at Kra'osha, speaking past Sven. “However, apparently that's not all of Karazhan.”

She frowned, alternately looking between the two men. “What do you mean? The tower... is Karazhan.”

Dab'ra put a hand before his face. His artificial voice sounded a little less emotionless than usual. “I read a book on Karazhan once. In Dalaran. They had interviewed Khadgar for it. Before he went to Draenor. They wanted secrets, but he was tight-lipped. Didn't say where he fought Medivh, but said that he carried the body up to bury it.”

“Up?” The orc asked. “And there's no cellar?”

Eric smiled a little. He looked anxious, antsy. “No obvious cellar, but a hidden one, yes. We just found the entrance.”

Sven just barely held himself from standing up and exclaiming in surprise. Kra'osha blinked her eyes in disbelief. “What? How? Where?”

“Well, we knew it had to be in the first floor, so we just explored that level extra-carefully”, Eric said in a proud tone. “The tower itself is as dead as stone, but a cellar is another thing entirely. I say we all head down together. There's no telling what's down there.” He was very definitely not speaking to Sven, and yet including him as one of them all.

Sven stood up and set his hat down as Kra'osha agreed. “I think we can leave the horses unsupervised for a little while.” She looked torn for a little bit before adding: “Before we go, I need to talk to Sven alone for a moment more.”

Eric and Windfarer shared a look before hesitantly walking toward Karazhan. When they were out of earshot, the orc turned to Sven. Her eyes looked abnormally small, this close. “Look”, she began, considering every word before speaking it. “You have every reason to hate your brother, going by what I've heard of you two. However, I want you to know that he's still a good man. Months ago, he saved all of Dalaran... if not all of Azeroth, from something.”

Sven shook his head. Something was awfully vague, but he didn't feel like asking for more detailed information. “Let's talk about this some other time, all right? We've got bigger issues right now.” He walked past her, toward the tower, and to his relief he heard her start to follow him. He was afraid she wouldn't let him dismiss the topic that easily.

As they approached the bridge where the other two were waiting, Kra'osha asked: “Why are you taking off your hat whenever you leave camp?”

Sven blinked his eyes. He hadn't thought of the matter. “Well, we're going into the tower.” She remained silent, obviously not understanding his point. Sven felt his cheeks blush a bit as he muttered: “Father always said to take off my hat when I go indoors.”

Thankfully, Eric didn't hear the last part, and the orc didn't continue the discussion after the whole group started walking together again. She did smile in an amused way all the way into the entrance hall of Karazhan, though.

Inside, Sven immediately saw the entrance to the cellars. It was where that large arc-shaped blood stain had been. He couldn't quite figure how it had been opened. Probably with magic. Behind it was a dark staircase. Very dark. He looked around to get a table-leg and an old cloth to make a torch, only to see the undead wizard create a glowing orb that would illuminate his surroundings. Magic came handy at times, Sven had to admit in his head.

“Let's go”, Eric said and walked in first, making his own light source. His was reddish, where Windfarer's was pale blue. Sven felt a bit curious what Kra'osha's looked like, but the light given by the two was quite enough, it turned out. She went in second, Sven after her, and Windfarer last.

It was hard to see one's feet at times, but everyone made it down the cirular staircase without tripping. Below, they arrived in a large hall. It appeared untouched by thieves and adventurers. There was little to no furniture, but all of it was carved from dark grey stone. All the walls were so smooth, they reflected light despite being black. Sven couldn't help but smile and reach a hand to touch his sword at the sight. Now this looked more like something that might hold the hiding place of the Dark Riders.

Everyone spread out lightly, approaching what looked like a large doorway at the end of the hall. However, when they got there, they were met with a surprise. “These aren't actual doors”, Kra'osha said, leaning close to look at the wall. “The wall has been carved to look like there's a door here, but it's actually solid stone.” It was hard to tell in the faint lighting, but after some peering, Sven saw what she meant. It was most peculiar.

They turned around and went to the other end of the hall, past the way up. There, they found two stairways leading further down. Windfarer furrowed his eyebrows and mumbled something past his tongue, looking at the two stairways. However, Eric pointed at a bluish line in the stone, running above the entrances and down into them. “I'm pretty sure that used to be a magic conduit before this tower's magic was all removed forcibly. The fact that it's dead now means that whoever or whatever dispelled the whole tower knew of a basement...”

The group went further down one of the staircases, and explored the second subterranean floor. It was full of mostly empty black rooms and long corridors. There was a stairway leading even further down, and another going up. Checking that one out took the group to a room almost identical to the first hall of the cellars, except without a way to the surface. There was no sign yet that anyone had been here in the past twenty years, but Sven felt like he was being watched constantly. He wished there was more light.

When they were about to descend to the third floor of the cellars, Windfarer stopped everyone and used the spell which allowed him to speak. “At first I was not sure. Now it is clear. This cellar is the same as the tower, only upside down.”

The others took a moment to think of this. Sven had to admit that it made sense. The first floor of Karazhan was split into two entrance halls on either side of the courtyard. Similarly, there were two great halls in the first floor of the dungeon under it, with those fake doors standing out for the exits of the actual tower... Eric and Kra'osha nodded their heads, also seeing it now.

“Keep vigilant”, the wizard said and shook his rotten hair a bit. “We have many floors to go...”

He was right. There were more empty, black corridors and slightly less empty rooms here than Sven had ever thought he'd see in his whole life. At first the group explored them all, just to make sure they didn't bypass something, but by the time the ninth floor rolled by, their focus started to lapse and they only checked the larger rooms. All the while, those blue lines Eric had pointed out ran through the ceiling, into every room.

They found nothing noteworthy until they arrived to the very bottom of the reverse-tower. By then, the air had grown very cold, and Sven told himself to bring his hat with to the next dungeon he'd be exploring. The bottommost room of the cellar was a large reverse-dome, with a flat ceiling but a curved floor. “This is the astronomy dome on the tip of the tower”, Eric said as they slowly walked to the bottom of the thing. It was empty, except for a very dark stain on the floor. “You don't think that's...”

“Medivh's”, Windfarer gravely said. He looked around, and increased the illumination of his sphere momentarily to make sure there wasn't another exit from the room. “There is nothing here.”

“Wait”, Sven said, his eyes going wide. “Do that again. I think I saw something...” He had barely gotten the words out of his mouth when both Eric and Windfarer's light orbs grew three times brighter. He had to cover his eyes to prevent them from stinging. Thankfully, both of them regulated their light to make the change less radical.

The increased illumination showed to the others what Sven had seen in a glimpse. Circling the walls of the room, there were three great paintings, showing a chain of events.

The first picture showed a large group of people, humans, walking away from a castle on a cliff, their heads downcast. Only the four people at the lead, all painted with the utmost detail, seemed optimistic. Their heads were bent close to each other in discussion, and each one's left hand was pointing away from the castle, toward a floating figure. The floating being was depicted with an aura of light, and appeared larger than the humans. It was a large man with talons at his feet and claws in his hands, with an inhuman face and three horns growing from his forehead, and a large mane of grey hair.

The second picture depicted the four leaders standing on a hill, with their still-glowing patron floating above them. The followers were down below, gathered around a river, building a great, black tower. One of the leaders was holding a parchment with the tower sketched on it, and it appeared that the spirit above them was pointing a finger at the sketch, as if giving them instructions about the building plans.

The third picture depicted the leaders kneeling down, looking defeated. They were clearly in this bottom room of the Karazhan cellar, and all the floors above them were drawn with surprising detail, though much smaller in comparison. A beam of light was shooting out from the middle of the four figures, and running through all the rooms of the tower. It was blue below ground, and red above ground. The glowing spirit looked at the leaders' failure, whatever it was, in disgust, his body half-vanished.

After watching at each painting in turn, Sven opened his mouth to speak, only to find that Eric, Windfarer and Kra'osha were all staring at the glowing figure in each picture. Eric looked concerned, while the other two looked surprised. They recognised that thing, whatever it was. Sven cleared his throat, but didn't say anything.

“This is big”, Eric said and finally turned his eyes off the paintings. “Karazhan was built for a reason. Look at the third picture. The whole tower, both above and below the ground, is a schematic for a summoning spell to bring that... thing into this world. And it failed.”

Windfarer used his speaking spell without bringing a hand to his mouth. He was too agitated to do that gesture, or to speak shortly, apparently. “Yes... the magic conduits running through the corridors down below... the wizards of Dalaran noted that the layout of Karazhan's rooms looked like a spell schematic, but they concluded it was probably a coincidence because there were no magic conduits anywhere and the schematic would have been incomplete. These people must have removed the above-ground conduits before the tower was discovered...”

“No”, Kra'osha interrupted and pointed at the painting. “Look, the magic in the tower itself is red. That's blood magic. It's like a summoning circle drawn in blood, but at a larger scale.”

“What?” Sven asked in shock. He hadn't understood most of that, but this much he thought he did. “They killed people and painted the whole tower's inside with their blood?”

The orc laughed a little and flicked a hand dismissively. “No, no, no. Blood magic doesn't work because of the violence of letting blood. Blood is good for summoning spells, because it holds the very being of the world in it. Take an Azerothian's blood, and you have the perfect reagent to summon something into Azeroth.” Sven blinked his eyes, not understanding. In a more straightforward tone, she explained: “They didn't have to kill anyone. Just having people walking the corridors works as a blood conduit, on this large scale.”

“Yes”, Eric said and rubbed his chin. “It makes sense. Two identical half-schematics. One with regular conduits, one with blood magic. Judging by the picture, the spell was activated in this room... so why didn't it work?”

There was no answer uttered. For half a minute, everyone just looked at the paintings. “This is all nice and good, but I don't think it helps us find the Dark Riders and the Scythe of Elune”, Sven said, sorry to burst the others' bubble.

“Well, not quite”, Windfarer said, still not putting his hand in front of his face. “This creature they tried to summon is related to the Scythe in some way. We're not quite clear on how, but we can be sure that any information on it can come useful in finding the Scythe.”

Sven nodded a little. “I see. I hope that is so. However, I think we should check all those rooms we skipped on the way, and then go back to have lunch. I'm starting to get hungry, already.”

“I'm afraid we can't let you do that”, a voice suddenly spoke from the entrance of the room.

Everyone spun around to look at the circular staircase. Sven felt his hand fly to the hilt of his sword on its own accord when he saw half a dozen men in dark cloaks walk down, their heavy boots shaking the stairs as they descended. Past the flowing, dark fabric, he saw a skeletal hand grasp the handle of some weapon.

He hadn't found the Dark Riders. The Dark Riders had found him.
Wow, this chapter sure turned out long.
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  #36  
Old 10-17-2011, 11:32 AM
Zula Zula is offline

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That was just, well, I think the best way to express what I feel is this way.

Looking forward to chapter 8.
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Old 10-17-2011, 02:48 PM
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The characterization was fantastic in this. Great to see lesser characters fleshed out like that. Also, it ended on a great note. Can't wait for chapter 8.
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Old 10-18-2011, 02:20 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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I wonder how many negative badass points Sven earned by uttering the phrase "Father always said to take off my hat when I go indoors."

Whatever. It was worth it for the cute character moment.

Someone will yet end up asking me: "So what dispelled all of Karazhan? You never revealed it in your fic." And I will look down and whisper: "Read The Last Guardian, you noob."
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Old 11-09-2011, 11:27 AM
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So hows the new chapter of 'Home Sweet Home' going??


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Someone will yet end up asking me: "So what dispelled all of Karazhan? You never revealed it in your fic." And I will look down and whisper: "Read The Last Guardian, you noob."
*Feels like a noob*
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Old 11-13-2011, 02:28 PM
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Chapter 8


”It's the dark riders!” Eric exclaimed, pointing out the obvious. Sven drew out his sword, trying to remind himself of the swordfighting techniques he'd been taught after he became a soldier. He could see the others beside him become alert and tense, preparing for battle.

There was no exchange of pleasantries, no diplomacy, no begging. Windfarer flung a ball of light at the circular staircase just as the first of the enemies stepped off it. The others jumped off the stairs just in time to avoid the spell, which flew into the back wall of the room and exploded into a flash.

The rider who didn't have to dodge was charging toward the magicians. Sven felt the reflex to position himself between it and them, but fought it and instead sought to flank the attacker when it got close enough. It skidded to a halt and turned to face him, its cloak billowing to reveal an armoured skeletal figure within. It held a mace in its hand.

Sven didn't have time to fight the skeletal menace. Kra'osha and Eric thrust their hands at it simultaneously, causing it to be set on flames and pushed away violently. The flames were mostly put out my the sudden movement, and were completely gone when the victim rolled through the ground.

Sven saw the others starting to move toward him from the stairs. There were seven of them in total. One was down for now, but not damaged to any substantial extent. This wasn't boding well, unless those casters started pulling out the heavy stuff...

Truthfully, Sven had never been that good a fighter. He was a farmer, and had only had cause to defend himself with a weapon for the past four or so years, since evil invaded the country. The Night Watch had given him a short sword and a shield, but he had decided to switch to this larger blade in honour of Ladimore. The problem was, switching weapons had forced him to relearn swordfighting entirely. When wielding one of these things, attack was the best defence.

”Don't let them gang up!” He yelled in the familiar voice he'd used when commanding civilians as a nightwatchman. ”Keep them separated, no matter what.” And with that, he ran out from the middle of the two groups and circled to the edge of the round room. Two riders broke up from the group to face him. He saw magic being cast from the corner of his eye, but he didn't have time to watch what it was.

One of the riders brought up a hand and removed its cloak, while the other continued forward uninterrupted. To someone who had fought the undead extensively, that told that they still held identities, and perhaps intelligence. One of them had certainly spoken, when they entered. The rider at the front held a short, serrated sword, designed to look intimidating, not fit for battle. Sven swung at it in a steep angle, trying to use his blade's weight advantage to disarm the enemy.

The skeleton was fast. It pulled its hand back at the last possible moment and made a stab at Sven's neck. The farmer pulled the pommel of his sword high to parry the blow. Their blades met, and there was a bright flash. Sven knew to close his eyes beforehand, while the enemy was caught by surprise. An invisible force made it stagger, and Sven used his advantage to make a deep cut which severed its head from the rest of it.

The cloakless rider halted, out of Sven's reach. The little flares in its eye sockets flickered in recognition. “Arhceus”, it spoke in a raspy voice. Sven did not confirm the name (he honestly could not remember what the sword was called; he was never any good with Elvish names), but launched himself toward the awestruck creature.

Now aware of the danger Sven's weapon possessed, the skeleton danced backward and held its spiked mace carefully. A faint blue light lit around its left hand. Sven cursed in his mind. He had forgotten that Jitters' journal said they possessed magic. He took another long step forward, keeping Ladimore's blade between himself and the rider, and pressed the assault.

The rider raised its left hand and pointed a finger. Sven ducked, but too late. He felt as if he was dangling upside down, his head dizzy and his muscles aching. It was an illusion, he told himself, and tried to focus on his senses. A heavy step as the rider took a step toward him. He lashed that way with his sword.

There was a blinding light at the corner of Sven's vision, and simultaneously a sharp pain in the side of his neck. He felt himself fall into the ground, dimly aware that whatever spell had been scrambling his senses had come to an end.

When he finally got his bearings straight and started to hastily climb to his feet, he saw that the rider who had attacked him was in a pile of bones, armour and cloth on the ground, its mace turned to black dust that somehow seemed even darker than the obsidian stone it lay on. However, the other – headless – rider was climbing back on its feet!

“Their souls aren't in their skulls...” he mumbled while trying to steady himself. He felt something warm against his shoulder. The rider picked up its skull from the ground and held it in its left hand while brandishing its sword with the other one. There were no little sparks of fire in its eye sockets, but it didn't seem to have trouble seeing.

Sven wasn't sure he could keep himself from falling over if he even started walking – that spell had been something fierce – but he didn't have a choice right now. Keeping his distance had been a very bad idea before, so he rushed toward the remaining skeleton, screaming in desperation.

The rider parried his blow easily, but it didn't have anything to keep his tackle from succeeding. Despite the armour, it was a fourth of Sven's weight, and was sent tumbling when he crashed into it. Its sword landed on the floor next to Sven, who fell onto his knees, still disoriented.

From the corner of his eye, he saw the rider hastily climb back on its feet. Even though it didn't need to look to see, apparently, its attention seemed to be on its lost sword. It had magic, though. It was cautiously approaching the weapon, despite having a chance to zap Sven right now. That didn't ring right...

Battle is always a gamble. That's what Lars had said once. Sometimes more than just a little, it seemed. Sven fastened his hold onto his sword and without getting on his feet, struck at the serrated sword on the ground. He was wide open to attack from the rider right now...

There was a flash, like the time those two blades had touched each other in battle, and the rider recoiled. It seemed to be in pain, and its movement slowed. Sven touched Ladimore's blade against this dark one, only holding it there, and a steady glow appeared, like sparks from steel clashing on steel. The rider fell on its knees.

“Their souls are in the weapons!” Sven yelled triumphantly and climbed onto his feet, careful to keep the blades connected. “Destroy the weapons and you destroy the riders!” Steeling himself, he pulled the two-handed sword up and brought it down in a finishing strike. True enough, there was a great flash, and the sword turned to dust. Simultaneously, the rider collapsed.

With a sigh of relief, he looked over his shoulder. To his mild surprise, everyone seemed to be alive for now. There were several destroyed riders lying around, though a few seemed to still have intact weapons so they might just be faking it. Spells were flying around. Eric, Kra'osha and Windfarer backed away from advancing foes while trying to stop them with magic. However, at the moment it looked pretty clear that the riders weren't going to win this fight.

A pulse of pain shot through Sven's body. He brought a hand to his neck, and found it stained in something warm and wet. One of the spikes on the mace must have cut him before he blindly destroyed it. “Worry about that later”, he muttered and walked toward a nearby felled raider, hitting Ladimore's blade against its sickle-looking weapon. The weapon crumbled, and the skeleton it was next to lost its posture, the bones rolling aside a little as no magic held them attached to each other any more. His feet and arms felt heavy.

When he lifted his head to look for another one to slay, he saw that two riders were running to the staircase, escaping, while none other stood. Eric shot some blue fire after them, but missed. They two ran up and left the room. Kra'osha looked ready to run after them, but Sven said: “I'm wounded. Everyone else all right?”

The others mumbled that they were, patting their bodies with hands to make sure. While Eric and the orc exchanged some hushed words, Windfarer approached Sven a little anxiously. Something about his body language made him nervous. Rising a hand to his mouth, the wizard spoke through his spell: “You said souls are in the weapons?”

“Yeah”, Sven said. His feet felt weak, so he sat down on the dark floor. “I need to rest a moment. While I put a bandage on, can you take my sword and destroy all of them lying on the floor...” He started to dig around for his wound-cloth, only to realise that his hands were shaking uncontrollably.

Suddenly he fell onto his back. It felt like something was about to burst out of him. He felt the wizard's bony arms grab him, and heard him call for help.

Sven was having a hard time breathing. He was about to suffocate on his own tongue. The wound on his neck kept growing more and more painful, until it absorbed all sensation and became his sole anchor to reality. There could be nothing worse...

The physical pain vanished in the blink of an eye, and his senses returned to him, but instead he was overcome by... it could only be described as pain of the soul. He grew rigid and stared at Kra'osha, who was bent over him, her hands over the wound and her eyes glowing bright purple.

It only lasted for a second. The orc took her hands off him, and the pain ended. Sven fell back, as limp as a boneless fish, panting like he'd just done a week's farmwork in an hour. Eric helped Kra'osha on her feet. She muttered: “He'll be fine. Whatever infected him never got far...”

To his surprise, Sven didn't really feel physically weak. His muscles didn't ache, he wasn't dizzy... it was strange. He slowly sat up. To his surprise, Windfarer was following his request, going from downed rider to downer rider, pulverising their weapons with Ladimore's sword.

Eric left the orc sitting at the bottom of the spiral stairs and started to run them up without a word. Sven got in his feet and approached her. “I... thank you.” He found his voice to be wooden, emotionless.

“You're welcome”, she said with a nod and a slight smile. “I haven't done that before: stopped a possession as a third party. Sorry if my technique was a little... rough.”

“I'm just happy to be alive”, Sven said blandly and stood before her, not quite meeting her eyes. “What... what is up with me? I feel... reduced, like I am not completely myself any more.”

She frowned, concerned. He had no way of knowing, but he was pretty sure she put her magic on standby. “Is someone influencing you?”

“No, not like that”, he said and flicked his hand. “Not like I am someone else, but that everything I am, I am less now.” He tried to put emotion into his voice, but he couldn't.

She nodded with a relieved sigh. “Your soul was strained by the encounter. Give it a few hours, and you'll be right as rain. It happened to me once, when I had to fight a demon's possession attempt off. I know it feels weird.”

Windfarer returned to them, having broken every weapon in the room. “Laterbrus chased the other two? You fine to go after him, or need rest?”

“I'm fine. Just a little shaken”, the orc said, and Sven just nodded as they stood up. The three of them started climbing up the stairs. Despite her words, Kra'Osha walked a little too straight, very clearly working hard to not show any weakness, which just came to prove that she was tired from curing Sven.

It only dawned to Sven now that it was quite a long way from the bottom of the basement to the base of the tower. Even he felt quite tired by the time they walked out of that secret door once more. The orc wasn't even trying to hide her exhaustion any more. “If anyone left anything down there, I'm not coming with you to get it”, she muttered. Sven would normally have chuckled, but the reaction just didn't happen.

Eric was waiting for them, leaning against the great double doors leading out of the courtyard. “They got away, which is perfect. They're leading us right to their real hideout.”

Sven just remained silent and followed the others as they started to exchange information and debate why they'd been underestimated by the riders. He didn't really feel like contributing. Just like them, he was quite surprised to find that the horses had been left alive and unmolested, but he didn't contribute in the discussion, instead just grabbing his hat, gearing up and climbing onto his saddle.

“One of the escaping riders was the one we hit with our first spells. We can track the very distinctive trail left by the two mixed magics on its body”, Eric explained when Sven pointed out that there were no tracks to follow. “Haven't you been listening?” Sven just shrugged and waited for them to get going.

As they rode north, Sven finally started to feel something. A little tingle of nervousness. The Dark Riders knew of them... and considered them enough of a threat to try to kill them.

It only now occurred to him that he'd destroyed several of the riders just now. Maybe it was his soul being weakened or whatever, but he didn't feel particularly accomplished. He'd always thought this would be more climactic.

Well, something told him that there would be plenty more to face.



I know you're out there, you know.

Oh? So you finally wisened up.

Yes, I did. Now tell me why you're here in the first place.

That's not important. Neither is my identity. The important thing is that we both get what we want.

I know who you are, all right. I'm not stupid.

Heh. I guess it was obvious.

Now answer my question. Why?

Let's just say that I like to keep a close eye on my... investments.

Figures. I assume we're going to meet face-to-face, soon.

You can bet on it.

Very well, then.



“There was an extremely powerful magic spike outside the city. Suddenly, all the towers were collapsing at once. Thousands of people died in minutes. The Third War was rough on everyone in Lordaeron and Kalimdor, but I don't think any city suffered as many civilian casualties as Dalaran. Well, maybe Silvermoon. Most of the people in Lordaeron managed to escape between the King's death and the mass Scourge assault.”

Sven nodded, chewing on the salted meat between his jaws. This discussion was fairly awkward, but having his feelings rush back into him convinced him to not shy away from it. “So you, uh... died that day?”

“Yes”, Windfarer said, nodding. His voice sounded way more... human, now that he was wrapped up in a discussion, and his vocabulary was more standard. “And then woke up roughly a year later. It was as if one second I was watching the rubble fall down and the next, I was standing amongst a mass of undead soldiers, all of them blinking their eyes and groaning in confusion. The Wakening happened gradually to some people, with them becoming aware of themselves before they regained control, but I have never gotten back any memories of when I was a puppet. I guess I am lucky. Better off not knowing what these hands have done.” He did not sound particularly tormented, but there was a certain tone of melancholy.

Yawning a little, Sven nodded again. “Us down south were really lucky we were spared that war. Anyhow, we're moving again in fifteen minutes, right? The horses should be rested by now.”

“You're the expert on that”, the wizard told him. “Let's wake Kra and Laterbrus up so they can clear their heads before we head out.”

In almost no time at all, everyone was back atop their mounts, and following that invisible trail once more. The two hours' stop had not helped that much, but at least Sven's soul had rested up, or whatever, and the casters would be better-prepared for more fighting.

They rode through some more gorges, up a hill, through a ravine, under a stone arc... and to the entrance of a cave.

“Really? They went into a cave?” Sven couldn't help but keep the scepticism out of his voice.

“The trail has gotten rather faint...” Eric admitted. “But it leads inside. They have passed here about three hours ago.” Sven looked at the sky. The sun was about to set.

“So they'll be alert”, Kra'osha said grimly. “They may not know we're following them, but that's a gamble. We should go in carefully.”

Everyone agreed. They found a little cliff with some bushes nearby, and left their horses there before returning to the cave's entrance. Though they left behind everything they hadn't taken into Karazhan, this time Sven left his hat on. Kra'osha gave him a wink.

Returning to the cave, everyone paused. Eric was opening his mouth, looking indecisive. He obviously had something to say. “Whatever is inside...” he started, but then trailed off and walked ahead of the others, conjuring a small ball of light on his palm.

At first, the cave looked very unpromising. If the riders had really rode their horses in, they must have had a hard time in such a cramped and uneven tunnel. There were a lot of turns, but Eric could always point which direction the trail was headed.

Then, suddenly, the ceiling above them opened into a wide cavern. Ahead were two bright sources of light that at first blinded Sven. He blinked his eyes, and rubbed them, and when he could see the thing illuminated by the two large torches, his jaw dropped.

A massive skeleton, like a human the height of a tower, was propped up, lying on the floor of the cave, its dead eyes staring past the four adventurers. Its right hand was holding a giant rod made from the trunk of a tree, and its left was supporting its weight. Its mouth was wide agape, holding the entrance of some tunnel leading downward. Heavy golden jewelry hung from the bones, decorating the ghastly sight, and the stones around it were decorated with large orcish runes.

Kra'osha stepped past Eric, her face blank. “A Draenor giant? That would make this a Temple of the Damned. Which would make the Dark Riders...”

“Death Knights. The original bunch.” Windfarer stepped forward. “I knew I had heard of souls bound into weapons before. This must have sat here ever since the Second War. I don't think any others survived.”

Sven shook his head. Death Knights? It made sense, but this was not the time to stop and gape. “Let's go in. No turning back now.”
Not one of my strongest ones, I think. This is where the fun begins, though.
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Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.

Last edited by Kerrah; 11-13-2011 at 03:05 PM..
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  #41  
Old 11-13-2011, 02:55 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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Wow I at times like this I cannot avoid to think that I am like your number one fangirl, I mean you say this update wasn't one of your best but I still bloody loved it.

I had forgotten about those guys, now I am more than intrigued about what will happen.
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Old 11-17-2011, 03:25 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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As an excuse to bump this thread, here's some commentary:

- I had to edit the chapter after its initial posting to add the part where Sven takes his hat with him to the cave. You're free to make your own conclusions from this fact.
- In that April Fools' chapter some one and a half years ago (damn this fic is slow), I made a gag about Sven and Kra'osha falling in love suddenly. This chapter had my brain gravitate in that direction with seriousness, so I had to bitchslap it to get it back in line.
- Zula now has a twofer going on the "first one to read the new chapter" championships. When will his reign end?
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Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 11-17-2011, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerrah View Post
- Zula now has a twofer going on the "first one to read the new chapter" championships. When will his reign end?
Never!!!!!! muhahahahaahahahahahaah!!!!
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Old 11-20-2011, 09:00 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Death Knights. I just levelled up several ranks in my Fanboi class.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:42 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Interlude
(so non-canon it hurts)


Laterbrus sings to Sven about the possibility of changing the past... with cooking-based magic.

Quote:
I'll cook up a solution with the knowledge I've accrued
They say a well-cast spell saves lives – well I am saving two
I've gathered the ingredients to return to that day
There's hardly room for seconds when the seconds melt away!

Watch as I work my demon magic
Eye of a newt and cinnamon
Watch as the matter turns to batter
Open the portal, jump in!


Crude stew, do you fear it brother mine?
Sometimes life is not a cake walk, served up with a chilled wine
Toss a fig and
Set the date and

Bread and butter, chant and mutter,
Marination, incantation,
Chocolate icing, time-line splicing,
Yeast is rising, rectifying


”Eric, if you're hearing this it means we're dead and gone
Please don't make a portal; just accept it and move on”
My cauldron is pre-heated and time is falling apart
Let's beat these yolks and save our folks, just one more gargoyle heart!

Watch as I work my demon magic
Murlock tears and provolone
Light help the outcast with his witchcraft
Someday I'm gonna go home

Someday, I'm gonna go home
*sigh*
Feel free to ignore this.
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True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 11-23-2011, 12:45 PM
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Quote:
Murlock tears and provolone
That sentence is as random as the whole interlude.

But I aprove, as the fangirl I am.
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Old 12-04-2011, 02:51 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Quote:
Chapter 9


As the group slowly approached the ghastly entrance, Kra'osha suddenly pointed to the left, toward a little wooden structure that had been blocked off by a large boulder until then. “Their stables are over there.” And true enough, a simple stable stood there, holding half a dozen skeletal horses. The undead animals stood completely still. They could have been mistaken for being lifeless if small orbs of fire hadn't shone inside their skulls, visible through the eye sockets.

“Six”, Windfarer said. “Seven riders in the tower. Means the two that escaped only brought own horses here.”

“Which means we can expect at least four other riders down here”, Sven summed up, bringing a hand up to nervously finger the sword handle sticking over his shoulder.

Eric nodded his head and opened his mouth to say something, only for his eyes to widen before he had the time. Suddenly, everyone else ducked into the ground, pulling Sven down with them. Less than a second after they fell down, there was a blinding light and the stables they'd stood next to disintegrated, turning into ashes. All the skeletal horses were destroyed, and what remained of the stables were some of the corners, which had razor-sharp, blackened edges cut by the spell. The stone wall behind the table had a large round red mark, some molten stone dripping off it.

Sven turned his read to the entrance of the Temple. A hooded figure wrapped in dark robes stood there, just lowering his hand back into the folds of the dark cloth. He swayed a little on his feet, obviously having used a lot of energy on that attack.

The others hastily climbed onto their feet, spreading out to give his spells fewer clumped up targets. Sven simply picked himself up and unsheathed his blade, taking slow steps toward this enemy. Behind himself, he heard Windfarer call out: “You are no Dark Rider. Identify yourself.”

The stranger spoke, and it was strange. Aside from a faint accent, the voice sounded entirely natural, but it seemed to come from his midsection rather than his obscured face. He said: “You may call me Atar. I am in service of Master Hiraxen, whose home you are trespassing. The flames of your lives will be put out.”

“Sorry, I like to keep mine lit”, Kra'osha called out and sent some kind of purple spell at Atar, who was struck back a pace but didn't seem hurt. Sven ran sideways to make sure he wasn't caught between the mage duel. Maybe he could sneak up behind this enemy while the others kept him busy with their spells....

A snake made of bright red fire burst out of the cave floor right in front of Sven, snapping its jaws at him. He jumped backwards, letting out a startled yell. The thing eyed him with black eyes, but luckily didn't seem able of chasing him outside its neck's reach. A series of flashes and lights erupted next to them, as the magic users started throwing spells at each other. Atar seemed to only use fire of various shapes and colours.

“Pyromancer, huh?” He muttered as he saw Eric block off a dangerous burst of flames with an ethereal shield. Rising his sword, he swung it at the snake standing in his way. It dodged his blow and tried to reach for his hands, but he shifted his hold and moved the blade sideways, cutting through the snake's extended neck. The blade glowed, like it did when meeting the Dark Riders' weapons, and the snake withdrew in apparent pain, but it didn't disappear like Sven had been hoping it would.

Atar started to walk forward, all of the sudden, swinging his hands wildly while pummelling the others' defences. His cloak was wrapped around him, not baring an inch of his skin. It was really mysterious and all... Sven let go of his sword with his left hand and instead took his belt knife, throwing it at the man.

The blade stuck into Atar's left side. He cried out in pain without actually flinching or stopping his casting. In fact, his left hand turned to Sven and...



Jeremiah Windfarer, or Dab'ra as he often thought of himself nowadays, gave a gasp past his swollen tongue as the burst of flames hit Sven Yorgen's chest and knocked him into the ground. Lifting a hand, Dab'ra tried to knock some loose stones off the ceiling and hit them against this “Atar”, but found his magic snapped and dispelled as soon as he started the attempt. Whoever this person was, he was a fantastic wizard! He could continuously thwart three people's attempts at attacking him. That knife did still stick out from his side, though...

The enemy lowered his hand and yanked the blade off. It was stained with red. He still kept fighting the three of them off, even while discarding the knife and then touching that wound tenderly. Dab'ra waved his hand and sent out a rotating blade of hard air, aimed to cut off the man's hand. The wound seemed to have him distracted enough to not notice this particular projectile in time to stop it. Instead, he drew his hand away, and the blade cut off a large slice of his torso, as well as a large portion of his cloak. Again, the yell of pain, and again, not even a flinch.

The cloak started to fall of the man, missing such a huge part. At first it looked like he was going to grab its folds to hold them together, but then abandoned the attempt. As the dark fabric fell off him, it revealed horribly burned, deformed skin. It looked wavy and glistened in the light of the torches, like a half-melted wax figure. His frame was freakishly thin, the bones clearly visible at his limbs and chest. And most disturbing of all: he bore no distinguishing features whatsoever. He wore the basic shape of a human being, but with nothing... nothing on him. No face, just crumpled skin. No hair, just a charred scalp. No fingernails. Nothing between his legs...

Dab'ra heard Laterbrus retch, about to vomit, and didn't blame him. He felt paralysed by this vision before him: he had seen plenty of disgusting, freakish displays of human anatomy in his time as one of the Forsaken, but never anything like this. How this thing still lived was beyond him.

A little spark of fire flew across Atar's skin, stopping at his side, on the open wound bleeding severely, with a rib sticking out. A little blanket of fire spread out, burning the wound closed and creating a new layer of waxy skin atop it. The spark then rose alongside the man's skin to his face, where it stopped. When he spoke, the voice very clearly came from the flame. “Yes, this is the utmost limit to which a pyromancer can reach. I am alive because I am in control with the flame of my own life. I will not let it extinguish, and therefore I can not die. I see, hear and speak through this fire elemental. No wound can kill me. I am invincible.”

“I don't think so”, Eric said sceptically. “If you are keeping yourself from dying with magic, then exhausting your mana, or disrupting the spell, should kill you.” Dab'ra agreed, but wouldn't have spoken that aloud, himself.

“Then kill me if you can!” The fire elemental's voice shrieked as it skittered behind Atar's back. “Many have tried!” Both the pyromancer's hands shot out toward the three of them, and his whole body was set aflame. Past the flames, Dab'ra could see his skin start to boil and melt from the heat, but he did not seem to mind.

The pyromancer shot out a hand-thick beam of pure-white right at the undead wizard, who steeled himself, trying to strengthen the shield of magic in front of himself if it was possible. When the spell connected, it felt like he was standing on an enormous gong that had just been hit with a gigantic hammer. The beam reflected and hit the cave's floor nearby (setting the stone on fire... somehow), and Dab'ra felt all his bones shake uncontrollably. His shield fell, and trying to grasp his magic was like taking water from a flowing river with his bony hands...

Meanwhile, Laterbrus sent out a bright blue beam that connected with Atar. Nothing seemed to happen, except for a strange shift in magic. Kra'osha wasted an opportunity to attack, instead taking a deep breath and marshalling her power. “No...” Dab'ra gurgled past his tongue. It was too dangerous...

The flames surrounding Atar seemed to shift, and changed into a darker red. The orc's channelling was snapped short, counterspelled by Atar, and she shuddered a little physically from the feedback of the energy she'd been trying to gather. The stone floor under the pyromancer's feet was turning red from the heat. He turned slightly, and started to raise a hand. Dab'ra tried to get his strength back up, but found himself still unable to do it. This left defending them to Laterbrus, who seemed unconcerned. Stepping forward, he spread his hands and said: “Get behind me.”

Dab'ra and Kra'osha did not need to be told twice. There was a short pause, followed by a flash as a wall of fire shot toward Laterbrus.

Whatever the warlock did to defend himself was beyond even Dab'ra. He thought he saw some kind of shield woven, but it happened so fast. One second, the fire was moving toward Laterbrus, and the next it split into two streaks that shot sideways. In a blink, inspiration hit Dab'ra, who stepped out from behind his friend and forced his magic to yield. A jet of water shot at Atar from his palm, at speeds and pressures that would knock a normal man unconscious. In this case, it only vaporised upon reaching the flames covering the target.

“What are you going?” Laterbrus asked as a large cloud of steam started to spread outward around their enemy.

Dab'ra did not stop the conjuration, sending torrents of liquid toward the fiery foe. “When you can not defeat an enemy in a straight fight, you have to think outside the box. The steam will block his vision. Once it fills the whole space, go into the temple. Me and Kra will handle him.”

Laterbrus hesitated for a moment, but then nodded. The steam spread outwards, and Atar was only visible as a dark red glow in it. “He's at a disadvantage, the beacon he is.”

A jet of fire shot toward the trio, barely missing Kra'osha's head. The voice of Atar's mouthpiece elemental cried out: “TIME TO DIE!” The red glow began to grew larger as it moved toward them. Without a word, Laterbrus ran off, leaving his two friends to fend for themselves, as agreed.

Dab'ra stopped the water conjuration, took Kra's hand and ran sideways, trying to make as little noise as possible. He dampened his magic, and felt her do so as well. A new fire-stream flew through the air, somewhere to the left. Atar was shooting blind, trying to get them.

The tunnel leading outside was right beside them. Dab'ra stopped and pointed at it. He couldn't speak without giving away their location with his speech spell... Kra looked at him for a moment, and then nodded, running into the tunnel.

The fire elemental's voice echoed around once again: “YOU CAN NOT HIDE FOREVER! SOONER OR LATER, YOU WILL DIE!”

Alone, Dab'ra, once an enforcer of the Septim, stood tall. He moved sideways, looking at that moving red glow in the steam. The chances of dying seemed high, at the moment. If this was to be the last thing he did in this world, then let it be remembered as something worthwhile. For all he knew, he could be the last of the Forsaken. His people's short history had been one of tragedy, and strife. Marked by great acts of malevolence, all justified by the war against the Scourge. A war they had lost. All the 'necessary' evil... for naught.

Carefully, he lowered the suppression on his magic to cast a spell without his location being given out a moment before. A large bubble of water appeared above that red glow in the mist, and there was a loud hiss, and a fireball flew outward, half-aimed. Dab'ra couldn't help but laugh past his rotting tongue as he dashed into the corridor, making sure to hit his bony feet against the floor as noisily as possible. Truly enough, he could feel the fire magics behind him closing in, chasing him down the tunnel.

He couldn't help but be reminded of his youth in the academy, up to some mischief, running down the corridors to evade capture by the teachers.

In the tunnel, the steam grew thinner, and the threat of being caught in the back with a fireball became imminent. Dab'ra turned around and gathered what energy he had left to create a wall of water, which sprung out of the ground some fifteen paces behind him. His estimate had been right, for he heard that hiss once more, and Atar's elemental shouted its master's threats. “I WILL SCORCH YOUR SOUL!” More steam spread outwards, covering Dab'ra's escape for a bit further, but he was not sure he could cast much more in the next few minutes. Blocking that beam earlier had really tired him mentally more than he liked to admit.

He ran past a crack in the wall, and saw a robed figure hiding within. Stopping for just a moment to nod at her, he ran forward and stopped trying to hide his magical aura. He had to distract Atar so he wouldn't sense Kra...

Apparently, he had enough mana to use his speech spell yet. “Surely you are the greatest mage of our era, Atar! You have reached the secret of immortality, only, you can not enjoy it! Unless you count living in a cave with a bunch of corpses as living life to its fullest!”

He knew he'd chosen his words well when a half-blind streak of fire flew past him. Atar's elemental spoke out for him: “At least I get to enjoy killing you, cretin!”

Dab'ra turned around and walked backwards, watching the scorched figure emerge from the steam. He was still on fire, but he seemed to have turned down the heat, which made his body more visible. Parts of his flesh seemed to have dripped off, and his skull was partially visible at the top of his head. Each of his steps was leaving little puddles of melted skin on the stone below.

He thrust forward a hand, and a beam of fire shot out. Dab'ra jumped out of the way at the last moment, dodging it. He took a few steps backwards, and prepared himself for another one...

Atar stopped, and looked to his left. Kra'osha stepped out of the crevice she'd been crouching in, holding her hands in front of her. Power was cracking around her, creating a maelstrom which she was binding into a singular force. It was too late to stop her without having the whole thing blow up on all their faces...

“NO!” The pyromancer cried and reached a hand to grab her and kill her. However, what she was up against took less than the blink of an eye. In the space of a single thought, she cast the spell.

From the orc's hands shot out a tendril of pure darkness. It moved forward and branched, evolving into a spider-web pattern. Some of the advancing tendrils moved past Atar's stretched hand, cutting off his bony fingers as they went through them. His elemental screamed, and past the scream, Kra'osha shouted: “Embrace the stillness of eternity, you freak!”

Darkning lanced forward, enveloping the pyromancer. Blacker than the concept of 'pure black', darker than the darkest depths of Azeroth, it seemed to absorb the light out of the room by its mere presence. The flames covering the victim vanished into the Void and died out. Even the steam in the air was destroyed.

For a short moment, Atar was pierced by the spell, and then he vanished. The Darkning had created no noise whatsoever, but still its aftermath felt too silent... almost as if the sounds of the space had vanished into the Void alongside a certain pyromancer.

Dab'ra groaned and walked toward the orc. He hadn't been physically harmed in the fight, but he'd still been inches away from dying.

Kra'osha smirked a bit, but then frowned toward the temple. “Let's try to catch up to Lat. He's going to need us.”



Sven blinked his eyes and sat up. Why was he surrounded by steam? The last thing he remembered was being hit by...

His hand shot down to his chest. His coat was charred at the front, but why wasn't he injured? Opening the coat up, he saw that the shirt underneath, along with his skin, were perfectly intact.

He looked around. He couldn't see anyone in this fog, just the vague shapes of the cave around himself...

“I WILL SCORCH YOUR SOUL!” An ominous sound shouted at the back left. Sven jumped onto his feet and grabbed his sword. After a second's hesitation, he ran toward the main entrance of the temple, leaving his coat on the ground.

While running, he checked around himself, as if trying to find the missing injury. While he didn't find one, he noticed a large black spot on the hilt of Ladimore's sword. That made a surprising lot of sense.

Climbing in through the mouth of the Draenor Giant, he sped downward through a well-lit tunnel. His eyes were peeled for any Dark Riders who chose this moment to jump out from some crevice, but none did. This temple seemed well-made, but rather simplistic. There were some old, rotten cloths hanging on the walls of lying on the floor, long since destroyed by age and mould.

At the end of the tunnel, he was faced with a choice between the left and right. There was no helpful sign telling him where everything was, so he chose the right corridor. Still seeing no sign of the inhabitants... or his allies, he slowed down his jog into a fast walk.

There were a bunch of doors at the left and the right in this corridor. Sven slowed down his steps and continued forward. He couldn't help looking down at the sword again. He ran his finger over the black smudge, but it didn't feel any different than the material surrounding it, and definitely didn't rub off. Just like before.

In the fight against Morbent Fel, Sven had been caught by a spell, and had somehow survived unharmed. A similar stain had appeared on the blade of the sword, and had faded away over the period of a week. It must be enchanted to protect its wielder from magical attacks... though it hadn't interfered when his head had been scrambled by the Dark Riders in Karazhan...

Putting that aside, Sven crept onward. There was a left turn, and then he came across a large stone door, with skulls carved onto it. “This looks promising”, he mumbled under his breath and cautiously reached to open it.

The thing turned out to be too heavy for him to open with just one hand, so he had to put his sword against the wall for a moment as he worked on it. He could have turned around and went through any of those smaller, wooden doors... but he'd never seen a door this big, except at Karazhan. Whatever was behind this had to be worth it.

He cringed at the sound the door made when he dragged it open enough to pass through. Immediately after letting go, he grabbed his sword and paused to listen for the sounds of incoming guards. He could hear none, though, so he sneaked forward.

Beyond the doors was a large two-floor library. All the walls were lined with bookshelves full of dusty tomes, above which were ledges that gave access to a second set of shelves. Two small sets of circular stairs led to said ledges. In the middle of the round room were several tables with dozens of books piled atop them. At first the room looked like a dead end, but then Sven saw a door which had been partially blocked by a table from his initial point of view. He started to slowly advance toward it.

Suddenly, a melody started playing above him. The unmistakeable sound of a music box. Sven fell down into a battle-ready posture and looked up. A strange man was crouching on one of the railings, looking down on him, with a music box in hand.

He was a very muscular man, with overly broad shoulders and a bushy, greyish red beard that made his head look small. His head was bald, and his skin looked flaky. He wore a strange ensemble of old, patchy furs and chainmail, with a some kind of insignia painted to his left shoulder in red. The strangest part of him were the dozens of weapons hanging from his large belt. Some were only strapped on to him, while others had pommels.

“Are you Yorgen? I didn't expect you to look like that”, he said in a gruff voice and dropped down from the railing. All the weapons clattered against each other. He landed gracefully and stood up, snapping the music box closed and stashing it somewhere into his person. He was a very tall man, it turned out.

“I'm Yorgen, yes”, Sven answered. “But I didn't know I was expected at all.” He took a cautious step back.

“Well, you were”, the armoured man said and crossed his hands. “Are. Now, are you going to come and be our guest voluntarily, or do I have to beat you senseless and tie you up?”

“Where are my friends?” Sven asked determinedly, trying to stare the brute down. It was hard, when he was half a head shorter than the other man.

The thug shrugged. “Dunno. We've only got one prisoner. He's right there”, he pointed at the door Sven had been heading for. “Don't know if he's alive any more, though.”

Sven felt a tightening in his guts. Could that be Eric they'd captured? He must have really been roughed up, if the captor didn't even know whether he was alive... “Who are you?”

“I'm Dorn, the last of the Northmen”, the man said proudly, and smiled a little upon seeing Sven's sceptic frown. “It's true. I was spared by the King of Death in exchange for guiding some dwarves to a sword he'd set up in a cave, and telling them it was a powerful, legendary artefact from my people's history.”

“Whatever”, Sven said, shaking his head. “I'm not here to hear your life story. I'm going to free my friend now.” He started walking toward that door, very alert to defend himself from the Northman.

“Sorry, not an option”, Dorn said, and from the corner of his eye, Sven saw him grab a sword from his belt.

He couldn't help but chuckle a bit. He pretended not to see the grunt's slow approach, so he would get within hitting distance. “Figured as much.”

The Northman took a bold step forward. Sven spun around with a shout, swinging Ladimore's blade toward his throat.
There we go.

I was having so much trouble making the fight against Atar interesting before I got that steam idea. That inspiration basically wrote the rest of the chapter, and some of the following ones, for me, because splitting the party works so much better to get things done and give all the characters some spotlight.
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Last edited by Kerrah; 12-26-2011 at 11:56 AM..
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Old 12-04-2011, 03:03 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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Nice to see Atar back, even if it was for him to meet his inevitable demise.

Looking forward to what happens.
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Old 12-26-2011, 11:53 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 10


With his yell still echoing in the library, Sven swung his sword around toward the Northman, who danced back and then rushed forward, punching the farmer's kidney with a hand squeezing a short sword's hilt. Sven cried out and instinctively brought his left hand down from the sword's pommel to grasp his side. His opponent reached up to yank the weapon out of his hands.

In a moment of clarity that he later had a hard time believing, Sven brought his hand further down, grabbed a sword from Dorn's belt, and pulled it upward, trying to stab it into his stomach.

The Northman cried out and jumped back when his skin was punctured. Cautiously stepping backward, he looked down at his belly. His chainmail was stained red, but he couldn't have been too injured, for he started to chuckle. “Well, well... I guess this lynx is dangerous when...” He had to quit the chatter when Sven threw his sword at him. It hit his chest sideways, causing him to flinch but resulting in no damage.

“Swords aren't made for throwing”, he said and casually kicked the sword off the ground, snatching it in mid-air. He was now holding two blades in his right hand and one in his left. He started to slide one into a leather loop to add it back to his steel collection, so Sven charged forward and made a crooked thrust with Ladimore's sword.

Dorn threw the third sword into the air and parried Sven's attack with the remaining ones. Sven tried to overcome his defences, only to be taken by surprise when the Northman let go of one of his swords. Then the one in the air dropped into his reach, he caught it, and started to bring it down toward the farmer.

Sven rolled backwards just in time, and almost lost his weapon. “I have to admit, you are better at this than I thought, Yorgen”, Dorn's voice spoke ahead of him. “A mage with a big sword... who knew that he'd actually be halfway handy with that thing? I'm kind of disappointed that I haven't knocked you out yet, though. Lack of practise, I guess.”

The farmer blinked his eyes. Mage? Yorgen... The Northman thought he was Eric!

Sven started to stand up, seeing Dorn's muscles tense, ready for combat. Then he spoke up: “Blame the lack of practise if you wish. The truth is much simpler. I cursed you.”

He saw his opponent frown in confusion. “Curse?”

“Yes. A simple one, to make your weaker. I want to defeat you physically, to save my magic against Hiraxen”, Sven made up as he went. He remembered that pyromancer mentioning a 'master Hiraxen'. “You must feel it already: your hands shaking a little, your thoughts and reactions slow...” In the Night Watch, he'd been the cardsharp of the bunch, his face unreadable. He prayed it remained so now.

The Northman growled. “You'll pay for this!” He charged toward Sven, who cursed under his breath, dancing backward and using his sword to keep the enemy at bay. To his mild surprise, though, Dorn served to be a much easier foe, now that he was 'cursed'. He fought with rage, sloppily swinging his weapons and always pressing the attack. It was tough to keep his pace, but Sven no longer felt outclassed... they were now on equal ground.

Problem is, a two-handed sword is not very good for defence.

Sven wasn't feeling very optimistic about this fight, even after his ruse. He kept stepping back, parrying and dodging as he went. His muscles were starting to ache, but he saw no fatigue in his opponent.

Suddenly, the knowledge that Dorn was no longer trying to speak became eerie. There was no more play to this for him. Sven turned around and rolled under a table, sliding his sword ahead of himself and standing up on the other side. He picked up the blade and took a deep breath, watching the Northman stop for a moment.

Instinctively, Sven reached down to his belt, but found the knife he kept there missing. He'd thrown it at the pyromancer. Before he could formate a new plan, though, he saw Dorn slam a hand down, cutting the table between them in two and sending books and splintered wood flying everywhere.

Sven ran forward, bringing his left hand up to grab a book from midair. He threw it toward the Northman, and watched it slam against his face. He brought up his sword and cried out.

Everything after that happened in a rush. Sven felt a force against the blade of his weapon, then he collided against Dorn's steely bulk, then he was thrown off... He found himself kneeling on the floor, missing Ladimore's sword.

The Northman stood a few paces ahead of him, holding his gut with a hand. Next to the red stain from his first injury, there was a new, large gash. “You...” He started and slowly extracted his bloodstained hand. He grabbed an axe from his belt, and threw it toward Sven, who jumped aside as the weapon clattered past him, breaking as it hit a pillar. “Lucky bastard.”

“I doubt those are made for throwing, you know”, Sven said and looked around for his sword. He spotted it under Dorn's feet, and cursed under his breath.

His foe grabbed a short sword and threw it. Sven sidestepped, barely dodging, and heard it fall on the floor behind him. He had his chance now...

Before he could make the choice, Dorn took an ugly-looking blade from his belt, and cried out in rage, running toward the farmer despite his injury. His eyes looked misty, and his knuckles were white around the pommel of the weapon. Sven ran backward and grabbed the cleaver-like blade that had fallen on the floor. He turned around, his back against a bookcase, and tried to parry.

The Northman's blade cut through his easily, not even shattering it. With a triumphant yell, he started to bring the weapon down to kill Sven, all thought of capture forgotten by now. Sven brought his knee up and kicked the larger of the two wounds on his abdomen, causing a flinch which just barely saved him from the sword, which instead seemed to cut the shelf next to him in two.

Sven grabbed Dorn's head and pulled it down, smashing it against his raised knee. The Northman cried out and took a few steps forward. With an air of finality, Sven took the severed sword from the ground and jumped forward, burying it into the man's throat.

Sven had to back away from the fountain of blood, watching Dorn spasm and fall down. There was no more talk, and no more fighting. He'd won.

Leaning on a pillar, he closed his eyes and tried to ignore the sick, wet sounds caused by his handiwork. He'd never killed a living man before. Only undead. He was less disturbed than he had reason to be, honestly, but he still preferred to wait until the Northman was dead for good.

After about half a minute silence fell into the library and he opened his eyes, only to nearly jump out of his boots at the sight of the body right before his feet. Dorn had crawled to him for a good ten paces, a sword sticking out of his neck, leaving a bloody trail behind him, only to die before him.

Sven stepped away from the corpse and slowly headed for his sword. If he'd been mistaken for Eric, then Eric couldn't be the prisoner they had. Maybe it was Windfarer? He picked up the weapon and looked around. He wasn't wearing his hat right now. Where did it fall off? After a few moments of looking, he discovered it near the entrance. After taking it and putting it back on, he uncertainly walked toward the back door.

He found himself in a cramped corridor, which led to a left turn and a wooden door. The prison must be behind it. Opening it slightly, he peeked in.

Beyond was a large room split in two by bars. At first he thought it was empty, aside from a skeleton lying on his side of the bars, but then he saw a dusty figure leaning against the back wall.

Opening the door fully, he stepped in and cleared his throat. Ever so slowly, the figure moved. It was a man, and his head was moving.

Sven almost dropped his sword in surprise. After a short hesitation, he closed the door behind himself and immediately regretted it. They were in pitch darkness now. He hated darkness.

“Who are you?” A surprisingly clear voice called out ahead of him.

“You first”, Sven said, holding the handle of the door as if it was the only thing keeping him from falling into a bottomless pit. “You're the one locked up.”

A short pause, and then the voice spoke. “I'm a traveller. I was going to the Outland, but I ran into this place and was captured.” Sven remained meaningfully silent, so the prisoner continued, grudgingly. “My name is Hank Telithion.”

Sven spoke his own name, and said: “I'm here with a couple of others, who are searching for the Scythe of Elune.”

He could almost hear the man in the darkness shrug before groaning: “I have been here for long. Can you free me? I will seek my own way out, while you continue searching for this scythe.”

Sven hesitated. “I... very well.” With a breath of relief, he opened the door and let in light to see. Nothing in the room had changed. The prisoner had not even stood up yet. “I'm sorry, but I don't have any food or water on me to give to you.”

“It is all right, I can last a little while longer”, Hank muttered and watched as Sven inspected the locked chain holding the bars closed. Sven put his sword against the chain, and used it as a lever to break the old and rusty thing. The barred door swung open.

“Thank you”, the prisoner said and slowly picked himself up. It was hard to tell what his hair and clothes looked under all that dirt. Sven walked up to him and gave him a hand to help him into the corridor. “I... there's a man here, a Northman. He took something that belongs to me...”

“He's dead”, Sven said curtly. “I'll take you to him, and then leave to find my friends.”

“I am in your debt”, Hank whispered and walked beside Sven, who realised that the man did not feel like he was weak from imprisonment and lack of nourishment. He stood upright, and did not need the support to walk. He squeezed his sword in his other hand tight, fearing the worst.

They got to the library door, and Sven stopped, taking his hand back to himself. “He's in there. I hope you find your way to safety. Maybe we will meet again.”

“I doubt it, but if we do, I promise to pay back what I owe”, Hank said, and for the first time, Sven heard a very distinct Lordaeron accent in his voice.

The ex-prisoner walked into the library, and Sven headed the other way, to see the rest of the corridor. He had to find Eric.



An endless field of flowers, reaching to the horizon in every direction. Rolling hills, and a gentle winds flowing in between them. Some kind of animals are walking among the plants, grazing. I stand still and look around myself. In the sky, I see the sun, and a barely visible blue globe next to it.

For the shortest of moments, a perfect peace envelops me.

Then, the ground trembles, and I fall on my knees. The flowers wilt, and the sky darkens. The animals try to run away, only to be caught by predators that suddenly leap from amongst the dying plants. I feel the very ground writhe in pain.

Then I see that I am kneeling in the shadow of something standing right behind me. I turn to face it and-




Laterbrus walked deeper into the Temple of the Damned, his back straight and his head held high. He kept his course, sure that he'd reach his destination soon.
It's about time to end this farce.
A door ahead of him was open, and led into a large hall. He walked to it. Four Dark Riders stood inside, with a wizard in the middle. Laterbrus stopped in the doorway, making the slightest gesture with his hand, and stared them down.

“Welcome, Mr. Yorgen”, the wizard said. “Step in, won't you.”
“Mr. Yorgen?” Who does he think he is, my instructor from the academy?
“I prefer it here for now. You know my name, but unfortunately, I don't know yours”, Laterbrus spoke, keeping his eyes right on the middle-aged man. He looked boring, to put it simply. For someone who apparently commanded the Dark Riders, he lacked any real distinguishing visual characteristics.

“I am called Hiraxen. I trust the name is not familiar. I have not gone out to make myself famous, unlike your ill-fated master.”

Laterbrus couldn't help but give a bark of laughter at the blatant attempt to bait him. “You are correct. I've never heard of you. I'm surprised to find a mortal human behind the Dark Riders. My first guess was Teron Gorefiend. Or is he here, among your cronies?”

“No, he's not”, Hiraxen answered. “I found these Death Knights here years ago. They had fled from a group of magi during the Second War, and managed to escape to this hidden temple. However, some kind of disruptive spell they'd been struck with caused them to fall into a stupor, unable to act but still connected to their weapons.”

“And you refreshed their animation spells, I assume”, Laterbrus said thoughtfully. “Are they working for you voluntarily, or are they under your power?”

“I made them all swear unbreakable oaths to serve me before I re-reanimated them, of course”, Hiraxen said dismissively. “They are crude, and not terribly good company, but make very good enforcers.”

“I understand”, the youth said with a nod. “You have the Scythe, don't you?”

“Yes, I do. It's right there”, Hiraxen said, stepping a little aside to point at the back of the room, where a gnarled piece of wood stood against the back wall, on a pedestal. “But that's not what this is about. You know that, don't you? A little bird told me you've been to Ashenvale and talked to the Night Elves. The scythe alone isn't enough.”
It's not. And neither is the other half. I need them both.
Laterbrus simply nodded. “Yes, I understand why you haven't used it yet. Don't want to cast a spell until you know you can handle it.”

A slight tic of irritation ran across Hiraxen's face. “Which must also be why you originally came here. Though that has changed by now, hasn't it.”

The young warlock shrugged. “Not really.”

“What?” The elder wizard froze. He had not been expecting this.

“Despite what that little bird of yours may have said, I'm not here to give you what Arugal created. I'm here to take that Scythe”, Laterbrus said and readied his magic. He snapped his fingers.

Before the wizard or his Dark Riders could react, a great, dark-red shape sped past him, launching itself at one of the skeletal warriors.

“No! A-” Hiraxen started, raising a hand with a dispel enchantment ready.

“Yes, a!” Laterbrus responded, counterspelling the attempt. The humongous felhound he'd summoned earlier latched its tentacle-like mandibles on the Dark Rider and drained the spells that made it animate, leaving nothing but a lifeless skeleton.

Laterbrus had to take a few running steps away from the other riders, laughing as they charged toward him. The demon roared and grabbed another of them, feasting on its essence before discarding it. Hiraxen threw a huge lance of ice toward it, impaling its body but not hindering it in the least.

The felhound positioned itself between its summoner and the charging undead warriors, who hastily stopped and swung their weapons at it. Bad idea. It grabbed a mace between its jaws and started to drain it of its enchantments while shaking its claw at the other rider, sending him into a wall.

Laterbrus turned to Hiraxen in time to dodge a huge fireball thrown at him. He felt the taint that had come from summoning this beast inside himself, and felt it grow as he tapped into the powers of the Twisting Nether once more. He placed a curse on the wizard, feeling the spell pass all of his mental defences like a hot knife cutting butter. Hiraxen froze, feeling his arcane powers melt away within himself. “No, this was not supposed to happen!” He cried out and cast some feeble spell, which Laterbrus easily parried.

The youth said nothing. He sent out a small spike of hardened air, which went in through the wizard's forehead, and came out from the back. Hiraxen collapsed, and lived no more.
Now, it's time to-
“Mortal”, a deep voice spoke behind Laterbrus. He turned around to face the felhound. With it staring down on him, he truly felt its sheer size for the first time. It was at least as tall as two bears, and its claws were wider than his forearms.

“I am Ghi'zhah, the Spirit of Voracity. I have done the task you called me to do. Now for your payment. Give me your soul.” The voice echoed straight into Laterbrus' mind through the link that had been formed when he had summoned this creature. For a moment, he felt all thought cease, his will surrendering to the creature.

Then something reared inside him, and the demon's control vanished in the blink of an eye.
I've come too far to be stopped by a traitorous pooch.
“No”, he spoke out loud and lifted a hand, casting the foul magic again. Ghi'zhah, the Spirit of Voracity, evaporated before his eyes, sent back into the Nether, where it belonged.

He took a deep breath and was about to start walking toward the Scythe when he heard a door open in the hallway. Someone was coming! Turning around, he prepared to deal with whatever it was, only to see his brother peek through the doorway.
This just got very, very awkward.
“Where are the others?” He asked hesitantly, while Sven was looking around, checking the room for threats.

“I don't know”, Sven said, counting the Dark Riders and then watching the crumpled wizard. “I thought they were with you.”

“I thought they were with you”, Laterbrus retorted quite rudely, annoyed at the interruption. He looked at the Scythe over his shoulder.

“Maybe we should go look for them”, Sven said, looking at his brother with some worry in his eyes.

Laterbrus sighed and shook his head. “You go. I need to stay here.” His brother didn't budge, so he felt his temper rise and cried out: “Just get out already, you twit!”

There was a deep silence. The two of them looked at each other. The air was thick with suspicion. For a short moment, the warlock felt himself flex his magic, as if ready to knock his brother out. He shook his head, instead, not knowing what to say or do.

Before either had time to break the silence, another voice spoke. “Oh, brotherly love. Something I know all too well.”

Both the brothers almost jumped out of their boots, turning to look at the being that had soundlessly appeared next to them.

Laterbrus remembered the appearance of that thing all too well. The unnatural length, the talons seemingly forged of bronze, the long mane of hair, the staring, bottomless eyes, and the three horns.

“You've finally made it here and triumphed over all that stands between you and the Scythe, Laterbrus! Well, except for yours truly, of course”, the creature added with a insufferable sense of arrogance in his voice.

“I know”, Laterbrus said. He saw Sven start to circle to the side, preparing to flank the devil. “And you can not be defeated, I assume.”

The creature flashed a toothy smile and made a gesture of faux bashfulness. “Correct, I must admit.”

The young man closed his eyes, feeling the fatigue of the past few days weigh down on him.
It has to be done. It may not be pretty, but it's the only way.
“Then we'll trade”, he said. “A deal, to satisfy both sides.” He opened his eyes and saw a satisfied smile on the face of the devil, and a look of shock on his brother.
There we go. Merry Christmas, I guess. Next chapter is one of epic revalations. I really hope anyone is actually there to read them.

Here's a cool background theme for the Laterbrus vs. Hiraxen fight. I know I don't really do these anymore, but this one has such a cool opening riff that it's worth it. Shame about the vocalist.
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Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

Last edited by Kerrah; 12-26-2011 at 11:59 AM..
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Old 12-28-2011, 09:25 AM
Zula Zula is offline

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Holy fuck thats was awesome, REALLY looking forward to the next chapter.

EDIT: One of the best christmas presents ever.
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