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Join Date: Dec 2007
Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, the Benefactors
It was strange, being so diminutive. One didn’t feel any smaller, it was just that everything else felt larger. Of course, being that size made the world much more dangerous in a host of different ways. Take white blood cells, for example. They will aggressively defend a body against microscopic foreign materials, e.g., the heroes attempting to cleanse Magyver from the inside.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Bah, you bloody bastards! I’m not @#$%ing bacteria!
Blades, whip, and claws had put down another wave of the relentless leukocytes, but it was not a victory.
Warren Greystone: We’ve got to hurry. If we kill too many of these defenders, we’ll leave Magyver open to infection.
Amarian quickly contained the offending cells.
Amarian Zeshuwal: We’ve collected all the dragon essence here. Our next stop is the heart.
Disembodied Voice: You might find the heart to be more challenging that the appendix.
Startled, the group sprung to attention.
Kid Gorgeous: Growl!
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Who’s that? Magyver?
A ghost-like entity shimmered into view before them. It was a black dragon.
Atrumarion: Not quite.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: You!
Atrumarion: Yes, me. Now that you’ve aggregated enough of my essence in those wonderful containment devices of yours, I’m able to manifest myself… as a guide.
Predictably, Barb was not receptive to Atrumarion’s assistance.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: We’ve been doing okay so far without any of your help, @##hole.
Atrumarion: Ah, but you’re in for a unique challenge ahead. As you may or may not know, dragons are born with intelligence. It’s… in our blood. At the heart, you’ll face more resistance than mere blood cells. You’ll face dragons fighting as if for their very lives.
Amarian Zeshuwal: Oh, splendid.
Collecting dragon essence as goo was one thing. Collecting dragon essence that had congealed into the forms of dragons was an entirely different matter...
Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, the Collective
Van Dam didn’t think for a second that Lolita, of all people, was being completely candid with New Qu. She was a master manipulator, infiltrating even Ravenholdt, an organization comprised of the world’s foremost infiltrators. Suffice it to say, she was more than slightly skilled in the art of deception.
If she revealed Micaiah’s true destination and the Buffoon’s involvement, then she did so for a reason. It was almost certainly some kind of trap. He ordered a recognizance fly-over of Dun Argath by agents utilizing Qu’s prototype hang glider packs, which had since been finalized by New Qu. He wouldn’t venture there until he had some actual, actionable intelligence.
Ravenholdt, The Amani, Zul'Dare
Saldor Shallowbrook’s warnings were a grim reminder of the trollish advance. The Grand Master was at a loss as to how to effectively combat the troll menace amidst so many other troubles. But not everyone present was similarly bereft of ideas.
Electra Wrathchild: Grand Master, if I might have a word in private.
Warester Van Dam: Of course. Please give me one moment, Saldor.
Walking a discrete distance away, so that even Saldor’s elven ears couldn’t hear them, Greystone offered her insight.
Electra Wrathchild: I may have a solution to the troll problem, though it is a bit… morally grey.
A solution to the “troll problem”? Van Dam doubted there could be such a thing.
Warester Van Dam: Let’s hear it.
Electra Wrathchild: In my time, the trolls were a threat too - and not just to the resistance. Despite being a filthy troll himself, they would not all fall in line quietly behind Men’heva. They were a powerful force then, like now, but that bastard Men’heva developed a way to utterly defeat them. It was ingenuous, really.
Warester Van Dam: What was it?
Electra Wrathchild: A kind of bio weapon. The tolls called it Zutopong’loa, “the betrayal of the gods.” I’m sure you know about the regenerative abilities of trolls.
Warester Van Dam: And half-trolls. All too well.
Electra Wrathchild: Trolls believe it's a gift from their gods. This weapon specifically attacked that regeneration, speeding it up. For everyone who wasn’t a troll, exposure was beneficial. Make you feel ten years younger, or so I heard. For trolls, it super-charged their regeneration and caused them to uncontrollably generate excess tissue. They became absolutely riddled with tumors. Zutopong’loa was used to great effect… it completely wiped out the Amani. The other tribes all surrendered, fast and unequivocally. If we could replicate it, give it to Saldor and the Sunking…
Warester Van Dam: You’re suggesting we produce troll cancer bombs?
Van Dam seemed appalled by the idea.
Electra Wrathchild: I said it was morally grey. But those trolls will show human and elf-kind no mercy. They will literally eat the flesh from our bones. We have to use every resource at our disposal to stop them, even if the genesis of the idea came from Men’heva himself.
There was silence as Van Dam contemplated the proposal.
Warester Van Dam: This… Zutopong’loa weapon, do you believe that New Qu can replicate it?
Electra Wrathchild: I just saw the man shrink my parents down and inject them into my adopted father. I believe there is nothing he cannot do if we supply him with the idea. But of course, he’ll need troll samples to work from…
Van Dam turned and began to walk back to Saldor, who was now in the company of Percy Fayette and Lucio Benado.
Saldor Shallowbrook: Grand Master, if you wouldn’t mind, I would ask that Percy and Lucio accompany me as representatives of Ravenholdt. Our time amongst the companions has… formed a bond.
Lucio Benado: Saldor, you saucy minx! Give Lucio Benado a brofist.
And he did.
Warester Van Dam: I couldn’t think of anyone better to represent Ravenholdt than Percy. And Lucio… is very colorful. There is also the matter of the Heart of Aszune that we discussed.
Saldor had been surprised that Van Dam had discovered the location of the Heart, a closely held secret. He was concerned that Men’heva might discover the same, and upon Van Dam’s urging, he was of the mind to pose a request to his superiors to harness the heart as a weapon.
Warester Van Dam: But before you gentleman head to Caer Darrow... can I interest you in a troll hunt?
Saldor seemed interested as Van Dam explained Greystone’s audacious plan.
Normally one would need to have reservations weeks in advanced. However, being a Malefactor, Donald Redpath had connections. With the help of Melusine, he had gained a dinner reservation for two. He was dressed in the finest clothes, a suit freshly tailored by the island's skilled craftsmen. Of course, he had made sure to hide several weapons within his clothing for security's sake. Stepping out of his carriage, he took the hand of the Lady Anazar, dressed in a elegant azure shoulderless dress, and helped her out to the ground.
They were quite the eye-catching duo, and many heads turned their way and the two walked through the Hotel Flamingo and into the restaurant. The staff was waiting for them, having been notified ahead of time to give them the best seats in the house and to wave all charges, on order of Lady Amorim herself. They were quickly seated at a table by the windows, which were so clear it was as if they weren't even there. A crescent moon hung low over the ocean, reflecting beautifully in the water without obscuring the stars in the sky. The twin constellations of Kari’sus and Uwen were clearly visible.
They were served the finest of wines; Hessrandt pinot noir at Anazar's request and Venege Golden at Redpath's. The meal was prefaced with a salad course, with the two each ordering a goat cheese and roast red beat arugala salad topped with a Andriano-mustard vinaigrette. The main course subsequently arrived. Anazar's dinner was a petrale sole with a white white burre blanc, while Donald Redpath received cedar-roasted bone marrow with a truffled popcorn salad. Dessert was a croissant bread pudding with a raspberry sauce and a simple vanilla gelato from Pellerno itself.
The two were too engrossed in their meal and their conversation to notice the ship approaching from beyond the horizon.
Xalmor Windrunner was at the docks as Quche Havalanio disembarked from his transport ship. At the Malefactor Highlord's side stood Cyrisus, Iolande Eliot and Melusine. All was silent that night, save for a light breeze. The lord of the Malachite Hand approached the Viridina Templar tentatively. He looked about, studying Xalmor's companions, before reaching out a hand. Xalmor shook it, and then spoke.
"Lord Havalanio, welcome to Pellerno," Xalmor said.
"Thank you for hosting me," he replied. "I presume none of your companions are Agent Armaggon."
"Brutus is... in the field at the moment. Do you not know his face?"
"No. He was sent to Kul Tiras at a young age. He had only a few direct contacts within the Hand over the years," Quche responded. "I was not one of them."
"I see. These are my advisors: Iolande Elliot, Ivory Templar; Cyrisus; Lady Amorim of Pellerno's Merchant Council," Xalmor turned back to Quche. "Come, let us go to our base."
Back in the Box, the Malachite Hand representatives were seated around a table. Xalmor sat at the head.
"Now, Lord Windrunner, why did you have me come here?"
"I need to make sure you are fully aware of what we work for, Lord Havalanio," he spoke, raising his hands. "That we see the same... vision."
"I am sure that-" Quche was interrupted as the Truth entered his mind.
"I hope it matches expectations," Xalmor said slyly.
"It- it does," he responded. "Always nice to have more confirmation.
"Now, my friends, you have a great duty to attend to. The Benefactors, servants of Men'heva the Liar, will no doubt try to exploit the chaos in your homeland," Xalmor explained. "I have confidence that the Malachite Hand will do all it can to keep them from gaining power in Gilneas."
"Of course, Lord Windrunner," he replied. "Can we count on Malefactors assistance should it be required."
"Unless otherwise occupied, certainly," Xalmor affirmed. "Now, Lord Havalanio, does the Malachite Hand have anything to tell me?"
The Amani and the Elves
"They what? What do you mean they went raiding? This should not happen. It is not like we have been doing nothing for two years." Maka of the Firetree bellowed, slamming his fist into the palm of his hand. "Why are they so impatient?"
The previous night, several trolls had slipped out of camp and had gone pillaging the farms close to Tyr's Hand. Most of the farms had been abandoned, but some trolls had slipped out to burn everything anyway.
"I don't think they are impatient, chief." the messenger spoke up. "I think they are trying to prove themselves."
It was still unacceptable. The Lebenstraum depended on discipline and loyalty, and in two years since the Summertide, the chieftains had worked very hard to try and ensure centralization.
But Maka knew as well as any other chieftain; mistakes are sometimes made.
"Bring them to me." he commanded. Perhaps he would make an example of them.
And then he would have to turn his attention to the humans in his camp. Several hundred human beggars, farmers and bandits had come to the trolls willingly, asking to join the Atal'jin. The philosophy was spreading. The sight of elves fighting alongside trolls must have roused a fire in their hearts.
But would he accept them?
And further north, Ba'jal watched Sun'jeng the same way Nuvazgal and Ha'lin were watching him.
"You want the Jin'rohk back, don't you?" he said with a smile. Then he turned to Nuvazgal. "What about Ker'ah?"
"What? How did you know about the Jin'rohk, or about Ker'ah?" Ha'lin interrupted suddenly. Nuvazgal put a hand on his friend's shoulder and restrained him. But there was a sick feeling in his stomach.
"Tell me, Ba'jal. How do you know about such things?"
Ba'jal rested his hands on his lap as he spoke slowly.
"Because I was there, in the south, when Jin'thek destroyed the Temple of Atal'Hakkar. And he did it with Hakkar's blood in him. That is why he has Sun'jeng, it is because of his transformation. Sun'jeng and Ker'ah are one and the same. They are the same being."
"I thought so. I knew it!" Ha'lin grumbled.
Nuvazgal silenced him with a glare.
"But how do you know this, Ba'jal? And what about the Jin'rohk?"
"The Prophet sees all. And I served him long enough to learn many things. I could only bring you the Zin'rokh. I could not bring you the Jin'rohk. That is because I have a suspicion about where the Jin'rohk is, but I am not yet sure."
"Where is it, Ba'jal? This is very important. Possibly the most important thing you will ever do in your life. The sword is a symbol..." Nuvazgal said, trying to make sure that his voice was not pleading.
"The Metzli may have it. They were Hakkari worshippers, before the Prophet converted them. Now their religion is a mixture of both faiths. They have spies in Zul'Aman. The Prophet watches you all from the shadows. And the Metzli might have the Jin'rohk... in the Swamp of Sorrows. Listen to me, Nuvazgal. The Prophet is only going to get stronger. He is going to try unite your enemies. You have to stop him, or the Lebenstraum will never be safe."
"But how do we stop him, Ba'jal?"
"We strike at his heart. We strike at Karazhan. We strike at Ulmat Thondr. And we get the Jin'rohk back. Only I can help you do it."
"Does the Malachite Hand have anything to tell you?" Lord Havalanio mimicked. "There is a threat aside from heresy that stirs. I trust you heard of the god of shadows and his defeat at Ginchar?"
"How could I not?" Xalmor asked rhetorically.
Havalanio leaned in across the table as if he had a secret to share.
"An evil stirs, a mighty golem, tied to the god of shadows-"
"Already destroyed it." Xalmor said, stifling a yawn. "Will that be all, Lord Havalanio?"
"Um. Yes." the Malachite lord stated, rising to his feet suddenly. "It seems we are done here. I will leave an ambassador with you, to represent the Hand. A certain Agent Locke."
"You are most kind. I'll show you the way out, Lord Havalanio."
As Xalmor hurried the Malachite through the door and out of the Box, an unexpected interruption hit them. Herman Aranas walked up to them, a grim look on the old man's face.
"The Malachite Hand."
Xalmor tensed slightly. He knew of the animosity between the Azure Church and the Malachites.
"Herman Aranas, I heard a lot about you." Havalanio said coldly. "You were a mastermind behind the Azure Revolution. You are responsible for-"
"Don't blame me for what has befallen Gilneas." Herman snapped. There was fear and regret in his eyes. "Malachite, I come to you in peace. I wish for the Azure Church to help rebuild Gilneas. Please, let there be peace."
Xalmor watched in surprise as Herman Aranas stuck out his hand. Lord Havalanio hesitated for a moment. But then his shoulders slumped, and he shook Herman's hand.
"For now, there will be peace. Pray to your goddess that you are never again blinded by heresy, or peace will be short-lived."
Herman Aranas turned on his heel, and looked Xalmor dead on.
"My Highlord. What do you wish of me?"
"What do you mean, Aranas? What do I want from you aside from your loyalty and your service?"
The Azure priest looked out across the sea beyond Pellerno, in the direction of Gilneas.
"How shall I serve you, Highlord? My time is ill-spent in the Box. I am no fighter."
Xalmor watched Herman Aranas closely. The old man was thinking of something specific.
"Out with it, Aranas."
"Return with me to Zanzifos, Highlord. I am just an old man, distrusted by many. But you, you are Templar. Let us reunite the Azure Church of Gilneas, Highlord. Together, for I cannot do it alone. I cannot."
"I heard that you took the Scroll of Lore to Dalaran. With Phorcys."
Anazar had been cornered by Sinéad Bansal during her training. The chamber was cold and empty, and Anazar felt very uncomfortable being confronted by the leader of the Daughters of Pontus. It was said that Sinéad Bansal was the daughter of Thaumas Proudmoore; her motivations were obvious.
She was looking for her grandfather.
"Yes, if you heard that much, you know the rest of the story too, Lady Proudmoore."
"Don't call me that, please." Sinéad Bansal stated. She clearly did not mean the please. "There are holes in your story, Anazar. You were with him in Firezne, after the Lady Gianata rescued you. So what happened to Phorcys? Where is he?"
Anazar could freely admit one thing.
"I don't know."
Sinéad Bansal suddenly grabbed Anazar below the neck. There was hatred in her eyes.
"I will find Phorcys. And you are going to help me find him. I hold you responsible for this, Hareveim witch."
"Get-your-hands-off-me" Anazar warned.
But Sinéad Bansal was not listening any more.
Last edited by Timolas : 05-27-2012 at 08:53 PM.
Join Date: Apr 2006
I break contact before she can respond, and put the communication stone in my pocket. Taking a calming breath, I turn and walk back toward the tent of the generals. I find them within, arguing their respective opinions about what the army should do. As I enter, Commander DeLuca has his back turned toward me and is saying: “Unless we can rein in that arrogant manchild, survival is out of the window, not to mention conquest!”
I smile as the others turn pale at the sight of me behind the cavalryman. He laughs a little, thinking they are merely shocked by his words. “Come now, friends, surely-” He doesn't have time to say much more.
I can't make my hand stop shaking, as I stare at the cloud of vaporised DeLuca before myself. The others gasp and shout in shock. I take a deep breath, tasting the blood in the air.
I turn next to Korgal. “By the way, I know you are allied to the traitor Gianata. I was going to interrogate you tomorrow but I found out her whereabouts without having to go for that long shot.” She blinks her eyes, her face twisting between expressions as she's somehow still not over DeLuca's fate.
I step forward and lift her by her neck with a band of hard air. “Any last words, milady?”
I stare into her eyes as she claws at her neck and gasps for breath. The two men left sitting at the table are simply staring, paralysed by the scene before them. She doesn't seem to be saying anything, so I shrug. “Before you join DeLuca in the abyss, I'd like to thank you for all the loving. It was kind of cute to see you believe I had ceased thought the moment I let you in my bed.” And with that, I cut off her head. I use a blade of fire for the task to prevent blood from spilling everywhere. Grabbing the head mid-fall by its hair, I turn to Meracci and Scipio.
“I am going now and I do not think I'll come back. As the higher-standing military officer, General Meracci will lead the army whichever way he wishes. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavours, gentlemen.” I smile at them a little, waiting for them to return it. They don't, so I turn and create a portal to Dalaran. I'm still holding Korgal's head. I'm going to need that later.
I step through the portal and close it behind myself. My hand is still shaking. Shouldn't have channelled that much magic through it at once. Still, worth it just so I can one day intimidate someone by saying: The last man who made me angry? I took a good breath of him when I was done.
I ignore the gasps of the magi who run the portal wing of the Violet Citadel, and walk toward the doors. Luckily, Zinizar walks through just as I am about to go look for her. She looks as lovely and deadly as ever. Instead of telling her that, I just grunt and nod my head. “How many sisters did you bring?”
I step out of the way and watch the women following her. I recognise none. “Five”, she answers, despite the women being right before me. I guess it was a stupid question.
“I alone will defeat Gianata”, I announce to everyone. “If anyone else kills her...” I drift off and look down at Korgal's head. The Hareveim notice it for the first time and gasp in shock. In truth, I have no real need to be the one to kill the traitor. She'll have the Scroll, and I'm not going to let some blue-robed hussy steal that away instead of giving it to me.
I turn my back to the women and say: “Let's go.”
Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
Last edited by Kerrah : 05-28-2012 at 03:50 PM.
Ravenholdt, The Amani, Zul'Dare“That’s an eXtreme measure, man,” New Qu responded. “You sure you want me to make this?”
“Can you make it?” Warester shot back.
“Get me some troll samples to work with,” he replied. “It’ll need a new name, one fitting the gravity of the situation. Blooddeath, Killwynd...”
“You’ll get some shortly,”
“If I may, Grand Master,” a voice came from the shadows. “We might not have to leave the island to get trollish blood to work with.”
“What do you mean, Doctor Orochi?” Warester inquired.
“It appears that one of our guests has the most remarkably convenient of secrets...”
“So, Doc, explain again to me what you’re doing?”
Ewe’s voice echoed about. The room was large and rather empty, save for the equipment that Orochi and New Qu had rigged up. Ewe had not needed much encouragement to agree to help. He was not exactly a massive fan of the product the research would try to create, he recognized that they might have few other options. Countless people would die either way, and he would prefer it be in the name of peace rather than of war. Qu had strapped him to a large table
“All trolls have regeneration Ewe, half-troll included. What we’re trying to do is see if this procedure can enhance the strength of that regeneration.” Doctor Orochi explained. “We believe that with the right direction this will manifest as an increased muscle mass.”
“Right. And you’ve got me strapped to a table why again?”
“In case you experience any spasms during the process. We don’t want you hurting yourself.”
“That would be definitely non-radical,” New Qu affirmed. “Okay, we’ve injected you with our little potion, we’ll begin arcanocathexification in thirty seconds.
“We’re using magic to accelerate the regeneration.” Orochi replied. “If this works like theorized, then we’ll have not only unlocked the key to defeating the trolls, but even perhaps the secret to creating a super-soldier.”
“One step at a time, Orochi,” New Qu ordered. “Initiating...”
As he spoke, he pressed several buttons on the machine, and the gizmo whirred to life. Glass circles began to glow with arcane blue energy. They spun around Ewe, irradiating him with pure magical energy. The transfer agent that had been injected into him in combination with the magical power would, in theory, allow them to inflame Ewe’s regeneration without having it progress to Zutopong’loa, and would concentrate it in his muscular system. The result would potentially push Ewekapu into a Úlfhéðinn state.
Ewe groaned and clenched his teeth as he felt the onset of the transformation. Before their very eyes Orochi and Qu saw his muscles grow, slowly at first. It progressively sped up. His skeleton began expanding to compensate as well. It was quite remarkable, especially to Orochi’s eyes. Qu dealt with weird stuff all the time in his experiments and inventions. Orochi was just a doctor.
“Very good! Berserker stage reached. Very good.” he announced. “Shutting down the machine...”
“Berserker?” Ewe growled, still is pain. “Gah!”
“He- he’s not stopping!” Qu shouted, alarmed. “Growth should’ve stopped when the arcanocathexis engine was shut down!”
But, indeed, it did not. Ewe roared, half in pain and half in rage, as his body continued to grow. His skin was drawn tight over the explosion of muscle mass. The binds that held him to the table snapped, too small for his enhanced size. The table broke as well. He thrashed about mindlessly. He was beyond a Úlfhéðinn now; he was enormous. Proportionally small task had sprouted from his mouth. No thoughts filled his head - only instinct and rage. He punched the ground, and it cracked. He stumbled about, each step booming.
“Berserker...” he growled, his back pressed against the ceiling. He had stopped growing at last. He approached the door..
“Stop!” Orochi yelled, worry in his voice. “What are you doing?”
He charged straight through the wall, breaking it like it was paper. Not slowing, he broke through several more walls before emerging into the central courtyard. Ravenholdt agents circled him. With a great leap, he landed on top of the keep. He grasped a giant decorative gargoyle with one hand and picked it up. He slammed it down, and agents dived out of the way. He jumped back down with a boom, slamming his fist into the ground and roaring, as if it were a challenge.
The drums beat in unison. Each strike of the drum was followed by a solid thud of marching men.
"Hold steady." Eldengar growled, his breath coming out in mist. He dared speak aloud because the clansmen would never hear him. Not over the sound of their marching. But he was still careful. His men were so quiet that he was almost worried that they had forgotten how to breathe.
"When I give the signal." Eldengar stated, drawing his sword. He crawled up the hillside and looked down onto the road below. Lines of clansmen were visible on the road. Only their torches gave any light. Even the stars and moon were hidden by winter clouds.
One of the clansmen turned his head and broke rank. He squinted into the darkness, in Eldengar's direction. Eldengar held dead still, as the clansman walked away from his marching cohorts and towards him.
It was now or never. Eldengar leapt over the ridge and drove his sword through the clansman's belly.
"Thoradin's blood!" Eldengar bellowed. "Blood and light!"
Behind him, a hundred voices answered.
"Blood and light!"
And a hundred royalist soldiers followed him over the ridge.
The clansmen were marching in a line of two men at a time; they were not prepared for an ambush. Spears and axes met the royalists, but the clansmen stood no chance. Their marching line was cut in two, with Eldengar's men between them.
"Kill them all!" Eldengar commanded, driving his sword through the throat of a clansman. "For the Holy Light!"
A clansman' shout rang behind Eldengar. Before he could turn, a searing pain tore into his leg. He fell to one knee, groaning with hate. The pagan behind him grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head back. But his grip went loose, and Eldengar was free. Captain Aledar pulled his spear free from the pagan's corpse and helped Eldengar to his feet. Eldengar had to lean on Aledar for support. The Captain dragged him to the sidelines.
"They are in full retreat, my King."
Eldengar spat into the highland grass.
"Don't chase them, Captain. Get the men back."
"Yes, my King. Thales! Look after the King until I return."
As Eldengar lay on the grass, staring up at the pitch black sky, he remembered the past months.
They had reached Strom's Hand after fleeing the Montane. The city had welcomed him, and he had prepared his forces there. But Strom's Hand was not to be a safe place for long. The pagans sent their armies to crush him.
Eldengar made a choice. He pulled his armies into the Montane, to spare Strom's Hand. Madreen Chameral had come after him, but something unexpected and unexplained had happened a week ago, and for some reason, the Ivory elf was dead.
But the pagans were still looking for him. And they would never stop until he was dead.
"We'll get you back to camp, my King." Thales said wearily. The boy had changed a lot since Stonehold. He was a man now. And maybe a friend.
"No. I'll get back when my men get back. I can't let Brightmore see me like this."
Once back in camp, his men rallied for a feast. They had brought back the banner of Clan Vereka with them, and the supplies the pagans had abandoned in their flight. As they feasted, Eldengar had his wounds attended to by Thales and the elf, Liera.
"You are going to get yourself killed someday, Eldengar." Liera said, shaking her head.
"Not as long as I have you and Thales to patch up my wounds, Honey Buttocks."
They were interrupted when a man in a red robe entered the tent. It was the Crimson Cabalist, Elrich.
"It has been a long time, Mage. You have been busy, no doubt. And you shall address me as King."
Elrich did not seem amused.
"I have been busy, yes. I have just returned from Amberport. You remember Commodore Garn, do you not?"
"I remember the man. What of him?" Eldengar replied, wincing as he did so due to the pain of the stitches going through his leg.
"He has information. Your cousin, Tatiana Trollbane, is planning an attack on the city of Stromgarde. For King Vitalian and his bride, Katerina, are going to Dalaran. And in their absence, your cousin hopes to seize the Eagle Throne."
"The Eagle Throne is mine." Eldengar growled, ignoring the pain. He pushed Thales away and stood on his own two feet, gritting his teeth. "I am the rightful King of Stromgarde."
"Try telling that to your cousins, Eldengar." Elrich said a raised eyebrow. "I'm going to make this easy for you, Eldengar. Garn relayed an offer that I deliver to you now. Help Tatiana retake the city of Stromgarde. Marry her and rule jointly as her consort beside the Eagle Throne. This is an offer Tatiana presents to you once, and once only."
"And if I refuse, Elrich? She is asking me to compromise my ideals. Mankind has compromised itself enough already. And enough Kings have sped up the decline."
"You will rot in this barren wasteland until the Vitalins have you hunted down like a dog if you refuse, Eldengar."
Or I refuse Tatiana's proposal and take the city before she does, Eldengar thought.
Lordaeron, Ravenholdt and Zul'Dare
"And that is what was revealed to us in Shorel'Thalas." Percy finished explaining, his hands clasped before him. The Grand Master had finally given him permission to disclose everything to the men and women of Lordaeron in Fenris Keep.
Marshal James Sherman sat with legs crossed and one hand on his knee. He had said nothing until Percy had finished. But Percy had finished.
"My father was there, with Vandermar Menethil? And Thomas Marden?"
"Yes. They committed themselves to a pagan genocide. I am sorry." Percy said, releasing all the air from his lungs in one gust. "They did what they thought was right, no doubt. Arronax deceived us all."
Marshal James Sherman stroked his chin with a semblance of self-control. But the tightness around his eyes revealed something else was going on.
"Thank you, Agent Fayette. Unless you have anything else to add, you are dismissed."
With a respectful bow, Percy turned and left.
Katherine Adai watched Marshal Sherman's expression with a growing sense of discomfort and unease. There was a ledge that the man had come across in his mind. It was a ledge that led to an abrupt drop; an abyss. And he just needed a slight nudge to tumble over the edge. What came next, she was not sure.
This accursed keep had seen far too many dark moments. The very Lake Lordamere had become a graveyard, and even her flagship rested on its muddy bottom.
Her attention turned to the three men behind her. Alford Menethil's face was unreadable under his Mithril Mask. Whatever Sherman was feeling, he was probably suffering far worse.
"It finally makes sense." Alford said, his voice unhinged. "What Bauros told me."
Bauros Menethil, rotting beneath Fenris Keep. The man had told something to Alford, and to nobody else. And Alford had not revealed what.
"It's time you let those demons out, Alford." Thomassy said, rounding on the man. He grasped him by both shoulders. "Please, Alford. My friend. My King."
Alford put a hand to his face and gently removed the Mithril Mask. Katherine Adai stifled a gasp. Alford looked ten years older, his hair greying at the roots.
"My brother told me that I was just a tool. That my father Vandermar always intended for me to drive Lordaeron into the ground; that Lordaeron had to be destroyed, so that it could be reborn. Reborn in the fire of a Bright Lord. Only now do the pieces come together and make sense with what we have been told."
"Bauros lies." Thomassy grated. "He wants to break you."
"No, don't you see?" Alford said, throwing the mask to the ground with a clang. "Bauros vanished and helped engineer the civil war. The Perfectibilists used me as part of their plan. My own father thought I was too weak to include in his plans. I've been manipulated. By Archbishop Marden. By my brother. And by my own father."
Katherine Adai reached out and stroked Alford's cheek. There was a time she would have been too afraid to do that. But he was no longer merely her King. He was a man now as well; and a wounded man.
"If you blame yourself for the Great War, you will destroy yourself."
"It is what I deserve. My only redemption lies in death." Alford stated, turning away.
Marshal Sherman rose slowly, visible in the corner of Katherine's eye. She could not have predicted what the Marshal did next.
He grabbed Adaen Melrache by the throat and slammed the man into the wall. The Esarim flared brightly, but did not resist.
"You were Commander of the Witch Hunters. Chosen by Marden to be Esarim." Sherman bellowed. "What-do-you-know?"
The Esarim was motionless for a moment. Then he burned brightly, causing Sherman to stagger back shielding his eyes. Adaen spoke, his voice suddenly bearing the familiar echo that was trademark of an unrestrained Esarim.
"We come to a crossroads, Marshal. A crossroads I have awaited a long time."
"What are you talking about?"
Adaen Melrache's wings suddenly burst into sight in a wreath of golden fire.
"You are the one who fulfilled the prophecy's criteria. A child orphaned by the seeds of the conflict that was foreseen."
James Sherman was shaking his head.
"You are the Bright Lord." Adaen Melrache fell to his knees before James Sherman. "Accept your destiny and liberate the Holy Light from its place beneath the iron boot of paganism. Purge this world clean."
Katherine Adai saw it happen.
The ledge that James Sherman had stood on before crumbled. James Sherman tumbled into the abyss. She had not known what would happen. She could not have predicted it.
But she saw it happen.
"You hold within you the power to save all that you love." Adaen said, emanating raw emotion, burning like the sun. "You can be clean again. Free. And happy. Choose rebirth, Sherman."
James Sherman's face changed. He made a choice.
"I choose to be reborn in fire." he stated. "I shall be your Bright Lord."
"No, James!" Alford yelled, reaching out with one hand. "You'll regret it if you do this, I swear it! Don't do this, please!"
"What else would you have me do, Alford?" James Sherman's voice was deafening as it broke. His eyes were red with suppressed tears. "Our entire lives, Alford, were built around this moment. This is destiny. It was prophecied. I have nothing else."
"You are like a brother to me, James. I am begging you. We can still fix this and go home. This war need not go on."
"Our home? We have no home. Andol took it from us. And I will take it back. And if you will not be King of Lordaeron, then so be it. As Lord of the Light, I strip you of your authority and exile you from Lordaeron. Perhaps your son shall be the man Bauros probably raised him to be."
Without another word, Alford Menethil walked past Sherman slowly. He picked up the Mithril Mask and put it back on. And then he walked out of the door, out of sight. Thomassy followed him out.
"Silverpine is still under our control." Sherman said, taking a deep breath. "I hereby declare Silverpine's independence as a holy protectorate, until Lordaeron is liberated."
"Have you gone mad, Sherman?" Katherine asked, taking a step back.
"It is done." Sherman said in a more composed voice. "And you have a choice to make as well, Admiral."
Last edited by Timolas : 05-29-2012 at 06:39 AM.
Brutus pushed himself up, and leaned against the wall of the cave. The old Tribune took notice of him.
"Ah! You awake at last," the old man spoke gleefully. "You must have many questions, friend. First let you know this: my name is Garrius Septim."
"Brutus Armaggon," the Eel replied. "What brings a Tribune of Stromgarde to live so humbly?"
"Former Tribune, my friend. A general without an army is no general at all, let alone a general without a nation," his voice was weary with age but had a certain happiness to it. "No, I am not friend to those who call themselves Stromgarde in these days. Even were I to be, age has at last robbed me of my quick thinking. Command would suit me ill."
"I see. Well, I-" he replied, standing up. "By the stars above, my wounds have been healed!"
"Ah, yes, Onuava saw to that. We could not let a guest stay in such a state!"
"Then give my thanks to this Onuava."
"You can't give them yourself, friend. She returns shortly," the old man said. "I have many tales to entertain you with in the meantime."
"And I depart immediately. I have business to which I must attend,"
"Nonsense! Stay awhile, and listen," he insisted, holding his cane over the exit of the cave. "Your business will wait for you."
"Keepin' our guests captive now, are ya' Garrius?" the voice came from outside the cave.
"Why, Onuava, you're back early!" he said, lowering the cane and allowing the woman to step inside. Immediately, she struck Brutus for two reasons. Firstly, she was a troll. Secondly, a wrapping covered her eyes.
"The swell of tha river overflowed into a crevasse nearby. Much quicker to get tha water."
"Excellent!" Septim exclaimed. "Now, Brutus, I am sure you are interested to the story behind this. Stay, and we shall tell you."
"...Fine. I shall stay." Brutus said, sitting back down. "But only for the night."
"Very good. As I am sure you know, Stromgarde has a long history with the trolls. Mostly in warring against them," he began. "Our tale began no differently."
"My tribe, the Witherbark, sent warriors to fight those that Stromgarde had martialed." Onuava continued. "I was brought with them, to heal them with my shamanistic powers."
"I was not yet Tribune in those days. Alongside the other soldiers, I fought the Witherbarks to the last. We we're victorious," Septim spoke. "I found Onuava amongst the ruins of the trollish encampment."
"I had spoke out against the tribe's warmongering ways. We fought without cause or purpose. It was wrong, a senseless waste of life," the troll said. "The tribe did not take my words kindly. With hot coals, the head warrior burned out my eyes, trying to make me as blind as the rest. He failed."
"When Onuava told her tale to me, I understood the sincerity of her story. But my fellows did not believe her, seeing her only as another deceitful monster that would cut their throats at a moment's notice." he continued. "They scheduled an execution. Being the young, brash soldier I was, I decided to not let that happen."
"The night before the day I was to die, he spirited me away into the countryside in secret. We spent many weeks, traveling, searching for some place I could hide. The elements gave me boons enough for compensate for my lost eyes." Onuava said. "As we searched, Garrius and I got to know each other. Very well."
"Eventually, we found the place we are now. Our little paradise. Part of me wanted to stay with her, but I knew I had a duty to Stromgarde and her people." Septim said. "I returned here so many decades later, my duty failed."
"Don't be so hard on yourself, Garrius. You did all you could."
"I know, I know..." he paused somberly. "What about you, friend Brutus? You do not seem to be a mere stranded traveler."
"I am but one, in my own way. I fight those who would pervert my faith." Brutus spoke strongly. "The Benefactor filth that control modern Stromgarde are such people. I came to this land with some compatriots to slay one in particular, the one named Madreen Chameral. I presume our mission successful, but regardless of outcome I was left for dead. I likely would have been as such if not for your help. You have my deepest gratitude."
"It seems that our motives are in alignment then. While I am old and shall not leave this place, I would still see the false king Mallick Vitalian deposed. No one knows Stromgarde, its lands and cities, such as I. I have notes, plans and maps of great detail that I would have delivered to Eldengar Trollbane, who fights Vitalian." Septim spoke. "Stay here in Paradise for a while, and when you feel the need to leave I would appreciate it if you would deliver this package to Eldengar. They should prove of great worth in his fight against the usurper regime."
"I shall deliver them, Tribune."
Brutus Armaggon stayed the night in Paradise. And the next. Gradually, his sojourn was extended. He listened to tales from Septim, of military exploits and diplomatic incidents, from Onuava of raising their children and caring for herself for many years. He was enthralled by the peacefulness that came with living there. But in his heart he knew it was not for him. After ten days, he departed from Paradise. With him he carried Septim's package, a decent amount of supplies, and Septim's Tribunal Blade. He had confided in Brutus the existence of a twin grandchildren in Strom's Hand, a girl and boy, whom he wished to know his legacy. The blade was to be his last gift to them.
With Garrius' direction, Brutus set off for Strom's Hand to find Eldengar Trollbane and, with luck, a way back to the Malefactors.
Lordaeron, Ravenholdt, Zul'Dare and the Benefactors
The congealed-blood dragon separated into two, cloven in twain by Barbara. Another replaced it, but Barbara dodged and lacerated it from underneath.
"Who knew that blood could bleed?"
"Madame." Atrumarion's voice resounded. "If only you had been familiar with my fluids earlier. It's such a shame about that eye."
It was fortunate that Barbara had brought back-up. The infestation was being driven back.
"Oh no!" somebody behind her wailed. She spun around, just in time to see one of the Ravenholdt agents being ripped to pieces. "Oh the irony!"
That terrible pun of death is going to be on Magyver's conscience, she thought.
"Ok, we've cleared this place out! Let's get out of here!" she reported minutes later.
An awkward cough. Somebody checking their sun dial for the time.
As the medical team sat around waiting, Drakgyver's body often convulsed in weird ways and tiny voices came out of his orifices. It was creepy to watch. One of the guards walked out and could be heard vomiting as he cried.
"Ah, they are finished." Doctor Orochi reported suddenly. "Get them out, Qu. And time it right, please, else Drakygver will be dead and I will be depressed and shocked."
"Right man, I've got this."
In the background, the chained up dragon cultist made lewd gestures.
Earlier, in Alterakc
Alric sat across from Owen, looking stiff and formal, as he always seemed to do. He leaned in slightly towards Owen when he spoke.
"So, regent, you wish to know who I am? What does that entail, really? Where I was born? What hobbies I had as a child?"
"Don't make a fool of me, Alric. You know full well what I mean. Let's not waste any more time."
The Dragonslayer formed a little smile at the corner of his mouth. Was he making a fool of Owen?
"I hardly know who you are, regent Zverenhoff. And it isn't even you who gave me your name. I had to ask one of your henchmen for it."
Owen wondered what he could tell the man about his own life. Suddenly, he was back in the swamps, his father looking down at him with a straw in his mouth.
"Ye dun goof'd, kid! Ye sure are ignert, wrestlin' dem crocolisks. Ye might end up DID like ya stoopid ma! Now come help yer pappi put a saddle on Aunt Betsy 'cause I'm tarred. But first, a sip o likker!"
Groggily, Owen shook his head and wiped the cold sweat off his forehead.
"You don't want to hear my story, kid. I come from the far, far south. You're better of remaining ignert... I meant ignorant, of it."
"I'm no lord, kid."
Alric tapped his fingers on the table impatiently.
"What you want to know is how I stayed alive so long, Zverenhoff. And I'll tell you one thing. I didn't survive telling everybody everything about me. If I have family, revealing the first damn thing about myself puts them in danger. It turns them into a weapon against me."
"But you don't have family, do you?" Owen asked, standing up suddenly. He put his fists on the table and leaned over towards Alric. "And you want to know how I can tell? Well, there's another story you don't want to hear. I've raised orphans. Orphans who came to me to become Ramrod Legionnaires. And I've raised enough of them for me to know. I bet your ma and pa were killed by dragons, and this is all some quest for vengeance. Is that it?"
Alric went silent, staring blankly into space. His mouth became a thin line. Then he looked up at Owen towering above him without blinking once.
"Let's get to Snowfold, Zverenhoff. I'll show you how it's done. And maybe someday I'll tell you why."
Meanwhile, in Alterakc
"Make it stop!" Bazil groaned, stuffing his fingers into his ears. Outside his cell, a ragtag band of bards played the same repetitive and highly annoying tune of music over and over again to torture him.
"This being my favourite part!" Dandred Asher felt obliged to explain from the sidelines, whilst eating some sweets. "Where be your Brux now?"
A bell rang suddenly, and the bards ceased their twisted tune. Dandred Asher made an 'O' of surprise with his mouth.
"It is time! Time to strike at Fenris Isle! Hooray! Looks like we no longer have any use for you, Brazil..."
Several leagues away in the hills above Snowfold, the Ramrod detachment awaited Alric's signal.
Kul Tiras, the Elves and Ravenholdt
Joachim Alten had been released onto the beach for a walk for the time he was given to consider Seranidan's offer. Of course, he was accompanied by soldiers as he did so. Soldiers and the elven woman who had bathed him.
"You are my responsibility. If you try run away, I shall be punished. And don't think you won't suffer for it either." she reminded him for the second time.
"Can't a man enjoy a sunset?" Joachim huffed, creasing his brow into several worry-lines. "What will it take? Must I spit wine on you too to end this conversation prematurely?"
The elf lady did the weird eye-roll thing again, and Joachim got back to his considerations.
A horn interrupted his brooding. Something had disturbed the calm of Patmos.
"I thought you didn't want to talk." Cyssia said with a pout.
"It's the alarm." the priestess admitted suddenly, as if remembering the importance of what had just happened. "We're under attack."
"Attack? By who?" Joachim gasped, suddenly beginning to panic.
Cyssia pointed off towards the horizon. Distracted by the sunset, Joachim had failed to notice the black shapes approaching from the part of the sea that meets the sky.
"Presumably, Stormwind. They've tried it once before, you know. To drive us from Patmos. But we kidnapped their General and called off the attack. But if they ignored us in Boralus, it's no surprise they're coming to finish the job."
"You sound very casual about it, milady."
The priestess motioned to the guards, who nodded in response. They began walking off back towards the mansion on the hill that served as headquarters. All around them, the elven encampment was springing into life. Tents were vacated of their occupants, who were busy dressing into armour and arming themselves.
"Casual? Recently the Kingdom of Quel'Thalas was burned to the ground, human. Tens of thousands died. The rest fled into the human kingdoms, or came here to Patmos. And you expect me to be upset about a few ships?"
As they hurried up the hill, Joachim remembered when Tanilias Starseeker had first heard the news of the Fall. He had heard it from Seranidan. They had been preparing to attack Boralus. Janus DeMeza had still been alive back then.
"I lost my home as well, milady. And my family. If it's any comfort."
"Your loss does not lessen mine, human. And stop calling me milady. Now go get your things. We're leaving."
"My things? Are you being serious?" Joachim asked, throwing his hands up into the air. "You think I packed my bags before I came here bleeding to death?"
The guards jostled him down into the dungeon beneath the manor. There, they found several elven bodies. One of the bodies was still moving.
And the cell where Harald, Lennart and Wotan had been was empty.
"Dog!" one of his guards cried, grabbing Joachim by the collar. "How dare you?"
"You think I had anything to do with this?" Joachim rasped as he was nearly lifted off the ground.
The elf dropped him, and joined his friend tending to the survivor. The survivor gobbled to them in chicken-speak Thalassian, and then died.
"When the giant heard the ships were coming, he broke free." the elf explained to Joachim. "You are not to blame. Come with us."
Like I have any choice.
He was led to the edge of the woods, where Seranidan was busy shouting orders to a group of his underlings. The imposing elf lord was already dressed in his armour. A pair of gauntlets studded with blades adorned his hands. Seranidan turned to Joachim with a look of disdain.
"Baron, it looks like our little discussion will have to be postponed."
"How sad!" Joachim blurted. He suddenly realised how sarcastic it sounded. "No, I mean it! I mean, having dinner with you was nice. If I was a woman-"
"Enough." Seranidan stated, turning to the guards. "The timetable has changed, and our relocation must happen now. You, send word to begin the evacuation. And you two, watch over the Baron."
Then Seranidan stormed off, and one of the guards left to perform his duties. That left Joachim shifting uncomfortably with the remaining elf and Cyssia.
"Know any jokes?"
"Kim'jael." the elf guard said. It didn't sound friendly.
While they waited, Joachim hearing something from the trees behind him.
It was not someone pissing, he realised, but it was in fact Lennart, motioning from the shadows.
"Over here, Joachim. Come, we've got to get out of here."
"No, Lennart." Joachim tried to whisper back, his voice sounding hoarse. "I-have-a-plan-Seran-i-dan-is-going-to-help-me-get-Balor-back."
"Don't be a fool."
Joachim suddenly realised that the elf guard was looking at him.
"Hey, what are you doing?"
"Got something stuck in my throat." Joachim said apologetically. "Huh-huh-I-have-a-thing-stuck-in-my-throat-help-me-get-it-back-out."
As Joachim made funny sounds his mind was speedily trying to come to a decision. The Benefactors could help him drive Stormwind from Balor forever. If he ran, his homeland would be lost.
He was glad that Lennart had escaped, but could he afford to do the same?
"Ho, child. At ease." Wotan said, patting Harald's hair. "To the city of Rhodos we go! And then, to freedom! I shall rejoin my compatriots, and you may come with me if you so wish! You shall be raised to be a barbarian!"
The young man made a funny face.
"Barbarism is for the mighty! If you choose such a path you shall excel, this I promise! You have the makings of a true barbarian!"
Lennart stopped them.
"I have to go back for Joachim. Go on ahead to Rhodos. I'll join you there if I can. Thank you, Wotan, for breaking us out of there. Keep safe, Harald."
Last edited by Timolas : 11-22-2012 at 06:52 AM.
Xalmor was disappointed by what Aranas had to say.
"Reunite the Azure Church?" he parroted back. "We fight so that our religions will die, as is the will of the gods, and you ask me to help bring back one from the brink?"
The Malachites had left them alone in the room, but it did not feel empty. The enraged Xalmor seemed giant to Aranas, and his presence dominated the room. It has not just his elven height, though that was a factor. Nor was it Aranas' slumped posture that had come with his old age. No, the Viridian Templar's authority was what did it, his authority and his reputation. Aranas cowered in response.
"My lord, I-" he was barely able to spit his words out.
"The only good Azure Church is a dead one, and a united Church will perish more easily than the shattered Gilnean one shall." Xalmor growled.
"Highlord, please-" he begged.
"Enough!" Windrunner shouted. "I have heard enough. There is a kernel of wisdom in what you say. Without the right leadership, the Azure Church in Gilneas could easily fall back in to heresy."
"So, you shall return with me?" Herman was hopeful.
"No. I have grand plans to tend to," Xalmor paused. "The Ivory Templar shall accompany you. The Viridian and the Azure have given the people of Gilneas much reason to distrust them. Perhaps the Ivory will fair better."
"Lady Eliot is untested, my lord."
"We all were, once." the elf said. "Let this be the true display of her capabilities. Let this earn her the reputation she will need as Templar."
"Yes, Highlord Windrunner."
"Good. You may leave whenever you wish."
Zanzifos had seen better days, but for the first time in what felt like years it was in a peacetime era. No armies threatened to tear it to the ground. Nor did they intend to use it as a stronghold. Gilneas had exhausted all the fuel it had for war. It was left a tired nation, but a calm one.
Not all was well, however. Many cities had been destroyed by the Void God and many of the untold masses were left with no homes. Ginchar too was gone, with no more than ten buildings remaining. The rest had been sucked away, leaving a vast and empty crater. With the storied city gone, the refugees traveled to the nearest city instead. Zanzifos was now host to a crowd of those displaced by the wars that had afflicted the nation.
New Fairmill was being constructed as a home for those refugees, but progress could only go so fast. Most still formed around the walls of the Sapphire City, hoping the Azure Church would be kind enough to help them. Religion had little to do with it. It was this problem that faced Iolande Elliot as she made herself comfortable in in Zanzifos. The refugees would, in all likelihood, not stay peaceful for long.
The Ivory Templar would have work to rebuild the Gilnean nation from the ashes. How fortunate that Muhar, her patron, was god of civilization. If she could form a Muharist social structure properly in the new Gilneas that was before her, it would know peace. Easier said than done. She was a long way from her home. But true nobility knew no borders.
All of Ironforge wore black, for on that day was the funeral of Skirvar Thaurissan. Thane, friend, sorcerer and freedom fighter, he had garnered an incredibly devoted following. That following had been galvanized by the Thane’s shocking death at the hands of Dalaran’s Hareveim. No corpse had been left for them to entomb, so instead it was decided to bury his favored possession, a carefully wrought stave. Planning for the funeral procession had taken months.
Woman and men alike weeped as the empty casket passed by them. Carrying it were six dwarves. Cagrelm Flamebeard, stalwart guard of the High Thane and ally of the Dark Iron dwarf leader. Grog Flintbuckle, former ambassador to Dalaran who had survived a botched execution attempt by Teliel Zamashen at the Hareveim’s command. Kurgen Featherbeard, Wildhammer Thane and friend of Skirvar. Bolverk Bronzebeard, Bronzebeard Thane who was the one time rival and enemy of Thaurissan turned steadfast admirer. Amercia Wildhammer, next-in-line to the Wildhammer Thane position. Siolfor Blackhammer, son of Skirvar’s also deceased mortal enemy Voutgar ‘Silverbeard’.
When the coffin reached the end of the procession, the elite of the crowd were seated. Speeches were given. The final one was given by High Thane Relgast Anvilmar himself, who had fond memories of Skirvar, the man that had saved him in more than one way. During the speak, the very pregnant Cadela Bronzebeard broke out into tears. She was comforted by both Flintbuckle and Flamebeard, who stood on either side of her. The former was her betrothed, the latter her old friend. Skirvar had always been kind to her.
After the High Thane’s speech was over, the Dark Iron Clan convened in private. The feeling of mourning was replaced by one of frustration and panic. Skirvar had no family, no children, no heir. Nobody had any idea who would be the new Thane of the Clan. Numerous members of the clan desired the position but were hesitant to speak out, bad memories of Silverbeard’s coup from over a year before still fresh in their minds. The discussion grew loud and directionless.
“Are we certain he had no children?”
“He wasn’t married. He has no heir.”
“Why does he have to be married to sire children? We all know that Skirvar liked his women.”
“There’s that barmaid in Dalaran...”
“I’m not saying he couldn’t have children, but any children would be illegitimate! If we put a crown on a bastard, all of his type will be thinking themselves heirs.”
“The discussion is pointless, anyways. We’ve been looking. No bastards, far as we can tell.”
“What about the rest of his family?”
“Parents, Lofas and Nala, both deceased. No siblings.”
“Few to speak of, all dead.”
“There is,” a voice rang out, clear and loud. “one cousin.”
“What do you mean, Siolfor?”
“Skirvar had one cousin, one who lives to this day.” Blackhammer continued.
“She was disowned,”
“No, no she was not. Shunned, shut off, damn near exiled, yes, but not disowned.” he continued. “Not formally, not legally.”
“And where is this cousin now?”
“Why, here in Ironforge!” Siolfor announced, to the surprise of the crowd. “Ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to my wife, Oneida Thaurissan, and our son Joldir.”
“Why did we not know of this?”
“Because until recently, you idiots had closed the iron curtain on us,” he said angrily. “Now, Oneida agrees with me that she is not fit to rule, but neither is my son.”
“Are you proposing that you-”
“Therefore, I say that my son be crowned Thane, and that I be allowed to serve as his Thane Regent until he is old enough to rule himself.” Siolfor said firmly.
“He’s a Blackhammer! He cannot be trusted!”
“He’s doing the same as his father!”
“My father was a power-mad lunatic! I no more follow his path than any of you!” Siolfor exclaimed. “I swear, I will do my best to honor Skirvar with every action I take.”
“And what if we decline?”
“Quite simply, what other options are there?”
“Cower before the power of Julia van Bludstein!”
The mad witch floated above the street, lashing about with lightning magic. Quinton Stone yawned. All the villains that Facade had let out of Ironsong Prison had been keeping him very busy. The town was in a sorry state of affairs because of it. Jack Turpin essentially ran the town after Hogul Brightletter killed Ignal Ironroot in a murder-suicide. Given all the villains he had taken down over the past few weeks, one electric woman was hardly a worrisome foe.
He stepped out into the streets, and immediately caught the attention of van Bludstein. Her lightning powers proved ineffective, as Meaghan Raines had seen fit to gear Stone with a uniform which was both insulated and anti-magical. A few arcane bombs set the lightning woman into a daze. Stone walked up and clocked her across the face, ending her terrorist attack with minimal effort. Wiping his hands off and making sure that Turpin’s police force was on their way to collect her, the Vigilante departed back into the shadows.
It felt good to have people to confide his secrets with. Especially people like Turpin and Raines, with whom he could plan his vigilante activities. They had become a very effective trio, and not a moment too soon. The Ironsong Prison Break could not have come at a worse time for the city. The trio had been tested almost immediately after forming, and they had grown close because of it.
In a dark alley, he removed his mask and retrieve his civilian garb. After all, he could not simply walk around in his crime-fighting gear. To do so would seriously risk exposing his secret identity. He walked back onto the open streets, and no one was the wiser. As he turned onto the lane that he and Kargkul lived on, he saw a troubling sight. A great plume of smoke rose to the sky. Running along, he was alarmed to see that it was his very home that was ablaze! Fire raged within it; he could tell that it was already beyond saving.
“Kargkul,” Stone whispered to himself. Looking around, he saw no sight of his elderly friend.
With great speed, he ran inside the burning building, the protests of the fire chief falling on deaf ears. He shouted out his friend’s name, hoping for a response. He heard none. The inferno consumed the house around him, and he could tell that it would not be long until the structure was compromised. Turning a corner, he entered the hall leading to the living room. He saw Kargkul passed out in a chair, and ran towards his friend.
Only to be sent flying off to the side and through a wall. He skidded to a stop and looked up through the hole in the wall. He saw before him the unmistakable form of Hogar, the Walking Inferno. The blazing giant grinned maniacally as flame arced off his finger tips. Luckily, Stone’s uniform has absorbed the brunt of the blow. But it was not any wound that troubled Quinton Stone, but Hogar’s presence itself. Could the villain had merely chosen poorly?
“Looks like the Vigilante finally came to play,” Hogar said with a deep laugh.
Evidently not. Stone’s worst fears were confirmed: his identity had been compromised. But how? Neither Turpin nor Raines would have given him away purposefully. One of them must have slipped up, and now he was paying the price. Hogar stopped waiting for him and threw another fireball. This time, Stone was ready and easily dodged the attack. Drawing his knife, he tackled Hogar to the ground.
“What do you want from me?” he yelled his demand at Hogar’s face.
“Facade sends his regards,” Hogar said, chuckling.
Stone had no time to deal with the burning giant properly, and so dispatched him with a slash of the dagger. He regretted it, but Kargkul was his priority. Facade would have to wait. Picking himself up, he ran into the living room to his friend. Lifting the dwarf onto his back, Quinton made his way out of the building. More than once a beam or section of ceiling would collapse in front of him.
He soon made it out without lighting himself on fire. He put the old dwarf down gently and checked his pulse. It was faint but steady. He excused himself and let the emergency medical workers take care of him. Medicine was not his field of expertise. Swiftly, he walked back into the alley and tore off what remained of his civilian clothes. Stone pulled the Vigilante mask back over his head and grimaced.
“I know a secret, friends,”
Facade’s voice, with its unnaturally metallic undertones, easily caught the attention of crowd. They were criminals, thugs mostly. A number of them had been released from Ironsong Prison by Facade’s own hand. By now, all knew of the power of the mirrored man. He floated above them, the Ancient Oculus in his grasp. It glew with a bright glow, due to the work of Lunarus. Its power was his.
“Over the past half-year, one man has vexed us more than any other. The Vigilante,” he announced. “But he has now lost his prime advantage. I know who he is. No more shall the veil of anonymity protect him!”
Port Baradin’s criminal elite were also in attendance. Jackie Ketkhin and his Mercenaries. The whole of the Morani Family, from Sendent to Tweed Sorvino. Quincy Caldwell, Junno Flyntrock, Big Icy, the Swine and Emorva, Eyeball Emancipator, were present as well. Dahlia Sayre and the Toucan stood off to the side. Osric Greystone was notably absent, though Facade paid little mind to that. The crowd grew loud with cheers at Facade’s announcement.
“The hour of our triumph draws near. But to destroy the Vigilante, we must first break him,” the mirrored man explained. “We shall put him through the gauntlet. We shall strike at his heart. And when his will shatters, we shall have the sweetest victory of all.”
“When shall we begin these trials?” Caldwell inquired.
“Why, Quincy,” Facade said devilishly. “They have already begun...”
Osric Greystone pulled his cloak around him as the cold breeze battered him. The twilight wind had a way of chilling the townsfolk to the bone, and Osric was no except. It was times like these when he began to regret leaving Andorhal. As he approached the building he noticed how small the steps to the door were. Built for dwarves, not for humans. He pushed the door open and quickly stepped inside.
The station was filled with police officers. As soon as they saw him, their hands went to their weapons. They were ready for a tough fight, as Osric had a reputation for being quite skilled at matters of combat. However, he raised his hands in a gesture of peace. The officers relaxed only the slightest bit. Osric opened his mouth and spoke.
“Be still, friends. I come not to fight,” he said. “I wish to turn myself in.”
“Why the change of heart, Greystone?” Commissioner Turpin asked.
“I wouldn’t call it a change of heart. Merely a continued dedication to principle,” Osric explained. “I have always considered myself a man of honor and have sought to operate in such ways. Facade’s new regime is quickly making that an impossibility.”
“Only for criminals,” the voice came from behind Greystone. The Vigilante appeared from the shadows. “If you’re on our side then you can always work with honor.”
“That’s the idea,” he replied. “Now, are you going to take me to a secure cell or not? I am ready to be interrogated.”
Turpin waved to two officers who took him away. Turning back to the Vigilante, he noticed a body strung across his back. The half-elf laid him on the ground. It was Emorva, Eyeball Emancipator. He was covered in blood, and it was not his own. Turpin felt bile at the back of his throat.
“He killed the baker and his family. They barely had time to call for help,” the Vigilante explained. “Turpin, Facade know who I am. He knows. He knows, and he’s killing my friends to prove it.”
“Damn it. How did he find out?”
“He must have a man in your office. It’s the only way.”
Just then, they heard a sobbing sound. Turning, they saw one officer with a pained expression on his face and a tear dripping down. He was obviously a nervous wreck. This, they knew, was the traitor. But it was not the face of an evil man, of a criminal. It was the face of man who feared for his life.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. He- he threatened me. Threatened my family. Wanted inside knowledge on your partnership,” the traitor said been sobs. “I knew about the Communication Stones, so I listened in when he and the girl were talking. I’m sorry, Mr. Stone, I’m sorry...”
“It’s okay, son,” Turpin said, motioning to two other officers. “Put him away,”
“I need to go,” Stone turned and began to walk away.
“What you need is rest. Look at you. You’re exhausted. These past few weeks you’ve been overworking yourself.” Turpin insisted. “You need to rest.”
“And let my friends die at Facade’s hands?” Stone growled in response. “I can’t afford to rest. I need to warn them, to help them, to save them. I need to stop Facade. No matter the cost to myself.”
“...Your new Thane, Joldir Thaurissan!”
Siolfor and his son were presented before the assembled crowd. It was more than just the Dark Irons. The Bronzebeard and Wildhammer were in attendance as well. The crowd was not as large as it had been for Skirvar’s funeral, but it was large indeed. Above them all sat High Thane Relgast Anvilmar. Siolfor stepped forward to speak.
“My name is Siolfor Blackhammer. I am proud to serve you, the Dark Iron people, as my son’s Regent until he is of age,” his voice was loudly and strong. “I know that some of you will be worried that I will follow in my father’s footsteps. But rest assured, the only path I will follow is the path laid out by the great Skirvar!”
Cheers went up from the audience.
“To that end, I dedicate my clan to Skirvar’s legacy. We shall fight the same fight that he did!” Emotion was readily apparent in his voice. “The Dark Iron Clan shall avenge the death of our great Thane! We shall aid Baron Rogni’s quest of making Dalaran pay for its crimes. The Dark Iron Clan goes to war!”
“As does the Bronzebeard Clan!” Bolverk shouted, standing up. “We shall show them the wrath of Ironforge and her people!”
“And what says you, Thane Featherbeard?” the High Thane asked.
“I am not predisposed towards violence, but I am in accordance with my fellow Thanes,” Kurgen said firmly. “Wildhammer Clan goes to war!”
“I know where my heart lies. When we learned of Skirvar’s death, I refused the call to war. We were frantic and brash. We could not make a proper decision,” the High Thane spoke. “But now, we are calm and collected. We can make the right call. On behalf of Ironforge, I declare war!”
"What do you mean, he is dead?"
Spittle flew from the Exalted Lanudal's mouth as he spoke. Mere days ago the seeming immortality of Madreen Chameral was a topic of conversation. But the Ivory Templar was dead. Murdered. The laws of the world had been broken in the process. Normality had been executed with him.
If the clansmen were to be believed, a Blue Dragon had been involved. Perhaps it was an isolated vendetta; an ancient enemy Madreen made during his long life. But Lanudal's intuition told him otherwise.
The young elf standing with head bowed affirmed his statement in a shaky voice.
"The clansmen burned his body on a funeral pyre. The highlands are alive with song to remember the one they called the Old Hawk."
When word got out... There would be trouble. Somebody would pay.
"You are dismissed, young one."
With a heel-turn, Lanudal retired to his chamber in the upper floor of the palace. He reclined on a cushioned armchair, warding off the cold of the new winter with a couple of magical cantrips.
As he sat back and shut his eyes, the breeze outside whistled past the palace towers. He had spent long enough in Stromgarde to be able to ignore the winds. But tonight, for some reason, things were different. He heard every servant's cough, every rat's squeak. There was no doubt that he would have the nightmares again. Nightmares of the Fall.
Suddenly, Lanudal's cantrips winked out. With a rush, the cold invaded his room.
And somebody was in the room with him.
He fumbled for his blade, but he had left it in the hall of the Open Council. And so Madreen's assassin had come for him as well. A Blue Dragon. He too would die, far from the soil of Quel'Thalas.
"Rise, Exalted." A woman's voice.
A flare of light erupted from the palm of Lanudal's hand and floated above it. Before him stood a woman dressed in plain black. A human woman, but one who radiated considerable power. The others had told him something of her. She had to be the Seneschal.
"The Ivory Templar is slain."
"Milady." Lanudal mumbled, eyes wide. She could not possibly punish him for the loss; could she? Besides, what authority did a human woman have over an Exalted? "He is dead, yes. What more do you truly expect me to tell you?"
"I expect you to tell me nothing. I asked no questions. Ready yourself, Lanudal. The Prophet calls upon his faithful. The time of vengeance is at hand. We strike at the heretics."
"The heretics?" So Lanudal's suspicions were confirmed. Madreen's death had been related to the war of religion. "It is known where they are?"
"Yes." the Seneschal stated plainly. "Thanks to Mathredis. Come, Exalted. Let us avenge Ticharamir."
Storm clouds brewed over the enemy base. Its occupants were unsuspecting. They had not seen the Prophet and his flock in the hills above, by the wood's edge.
Lanudal shivered as a gust of sea breeze swept through his robes. In the distance, the faint roaring of waves could be heard, carried on the wind. The Prophet himself stood within arm's reach, surrounded by faces familiar and foreign.
Mathredis had come, and with him was Foruel, one of the Sixteen. The Seneschal was not the only representative of the lesser races. Another human stood by her side. Lanudal presumed it was Caxagord, once Chancellor of Alterac. There were others as well, hidden behind twisted masks and robes. The Prophet's allies were not all known to him.
Of Zamashen and Rimtori there was no sign.
The Prophet extended his arms wide, a relics and beads clutched in each hand. He began to croak and chant in a language alien to Lanudal. The Seneschal joined in, as did Caxagord and one by one, the elves and then the masked ones.
He felt it happening. A rift opened in the black clouds above the rebel fortress. An eerie warmth emanated from the rift, and continued to intensify. A cry of alarm rose from the keep, but it was too late.
A gigantic column of fire descended from the sky, pouring over the fortifications. Within seconds, the keep had been engulfed. Once the clouds had closed again, the keep was entirely ablaze. Very few ran from its confines alive.
One of the fools rushed from the gates, unscathed.
"Bring him to me." the Prophet commanded. None moved in answer; the Prophet's eyes rested on Lanudal.
Lanudal hurried down the hillside and threw himself upon the fleeing rebel. They tumbled and rolled together. The Prophet was only seconds away, and arrived towering over him like an obsidian skinned statue.
"Grinwillow burns. The insurgents against the Doctrine have been destroyed!" proclaimed the Prophet. "Except for you." he hissed, prodding the surviving rebel with his staff.
As Lanudal climbed to his feet, he could tell that the rebel was delirious. His eyes were rolled into the back of his head, and he squirmed like a worm beneath the Prophet's staff. In the background he could hear the sound of stone crackling and melting.
"Heal him." the Prophet commanded.
The Seneschal bent to her knees and waved her hands over the man, who then went still.
The man was sobbing.
"William... William Olmstead."
The Prophet bent down and put his head next to the man's. And he whispered.
"You killed my Templar. Where is Xalmor Windrunner?"
"I-I did no such thing." the man's eyes were racing, darting to and fro as if looking for an escape. They rested on Lanudal, chilling him to the bone. It was as if the man was begging Lanudal for help. "I don't know, don't know where he is. It-it wasn't us. We had nothing, nothing to do-"
Standing up suddenly, the Prophet turned to Mathredis.
"He is not here. You said he would be here."
Lanudal could see the horror in Mathredis Firestar's eyes.
"My Prophet. My Path. My Light. They must have relocated."
The Prophet grabbed Mathredis by the face, his fingers pressing into the young elf's cheeks like a grandfather fussing over a child.
"You will find him for me."
"What shall we do with him, my Lord Prophet?" Foruel asked, overstepping his station by addressing the Prophet so directly.
"Take him to Karazhan and imprison him with the rest. Torture him, see what he knows. The rest of you, search these islands. We must trace the movements of the heretic Templar. Search in the city, search in towns and in the woods. And I shall be paying a visit to Ythan'alai. Do not follow or disturb me. Sanguinar, you come with me."
As the party broke up, Lanudal was left wondering what was required of him. It was Mathredis who approached him.
"We are dismissed, Lanudal. Prepare King Vitalian and bring him to Dalaran."
"The King has never travelled by portal before. He refuses. He is afraid of such magic. And dwarves are set to-"
"Well, make him, Exalted. Did the Prophet not command you to do so in person? Do not disappoint him. He is in a foul mood." Mathredis stated coldly. "I will be seeing you in Dalaran, soon. By the Light of the Sun."
When Xalmor Windrunner heard about what transpired across the Zul'Dari Islands, to say that he was upset was an understatement.
"We are fortunate, Highlord, that they struck only at Grinwillow directly. They overlooked the Conclave at Maz'asi, though their agents have been snooping around the island as well. They were looking for you."
"Do not interfere, Ichabod. If you do, they will kill you. Hide if you must. Wait until help from Stormwind arrives."
They were there because of me, Xalmor thought. And if he had remained on Zul'Dare, it was possible that he would be dead. He did not know just how powerful the False Prophet was, but it was not unlikely that for now, he was too powerful to handle without more allies.
"He is hunting you, Highlord. Pray he doesn't pick up your trail."
Vitalian's forces met unlikely allies in their attempts to halt the dwarven advance across the Span. The hills just north of the Span were Morneriver territory, and all knew that the Clan Morneriver was hostile to all who transgressed within their domain.
Not even under the Trollbanes had the Morneriver been considered subjects of the King. None disputed their freedom. The Morneriver had not even aided the Freedom Movement. Nor had they hindered it.
And the dwarves had wandered blindly into their hills.
Poisoned traps, darts and spears in the night harassed the dwarves, dispersing them into the farmlands further north, or forcing them to retreat back into the south.
And then the Thandol Span was destroyed. Who was responsible for it was unclear. But henceforth, it was considered inevitable that their assault would splinter uselessly.
Not long after the Span's destruction, Vitalian's generals got word from their scouts along the southern shore. The Stormwind fleet had dispatched a contingent of ships which sailed eastwards along Stromgarde's coast. Unchallenged, the Stormwind ships continued to anchor just off the beaches west of the Thandol Span.
Within a week of anchoring, Stormwind and the dwarves had negotiated an uncanny deal, the details of which were unknown. The dwarves boarded the ships of Stormwind. Not all managed it, of course. Hundreds of dwarves were still lost in the highlands.
But for those, the Stormwind fleet would not wait.
Last edited by Timolas : 05-31-2012 at 06:34 PM.
Join Date: Dec 2007
Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, the Benefactors
The team of miniscule heroes found daylight again, emerging from McGowan’s nostril.
Warren Greystone: See? I knew this was the right way. We definitely didn’t want to go the other direction.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Yeah, so navigating the human circulatory system isn’t exactly my specialty, okay?
As they stepped out, the “ground” beneath their feet wasn’t hard and black. It was soft and pink. The dragon scales had receded. Crouching down to touch the restored skin, Amarian smiled.
Amarian Zeshuwal: Looks like we were successful.
Kid Gorgeous: Growl!
An enormous metal platform descended from the heavens, and a booming voice, like that of a god, followed.
New Qu: Hop on the tip of my scalpel, broskis. I’ll move you to where we can get your super-size on.
And so they did. Secure on the tip of the high graded stainless steel instrument, they were lifted impossibly high in the air. The sensation of being so far from the earth below made Barb and her crew a bit light-headed, but within moments they were stationary again. They were set down in the middle of the floor of the Research and Development Wing of Fenris Keep. From their perspective, the crowded room was a vast expanse of nothingness.
New Qu: Okay, get ready!
In a flash of light, they were back. New Qu’s device had worked, but the process was completely disorienting. All of the newly enlarged posse stumbled a bit, and New Qu’s lab was the wrong place to do that. There were experimental prototypes everywhere, not to mention vats of alchemical mixtures.
New Qu: Whoa, whoaaa! Careful now, don’t want you bumping into anything.
Atrumarion: Yes, please take a moment to regain your balance.
New Qu: Gah!!
The spectral form of Atrumarion that plagued the heroes while inside McGowan had recoalesced itself in the full-sized world. This was, obviously, a shock to new Qu and the others in the room who hadn’t yet encountered him. The dragoon cultist, however, seemed extremely enthused.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Relax, brain-boy. He’s a friendly ghost.
New Qu: Right… sure.
Looking over at the examination table, Barb saw that Drakgyver was no more. Magyver McGowan was laying there, unconscious, but returned to form.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: How is he?
Kai Orochi: The strain of the transformation was great. His convulsions probably felt like tremors to you while you were inside. He lost consciousness, but as far as I can tell he’s in good condition. All of the dragon essence has been removed.
Atrumarion: Yes, it has. And I believe, Ms. Friendly, you know what to do with it.
Barb unstrapped the containment device she wore on her back. The others followed suit, handing their share of the essence over to Barb. The dragon cultist visually convulsed in anticipation as she approached him.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Yeah… I know exactly what to do with it.
With a flick of her wrist, the dragon cultist’s head hit the floor. His body followed shortly thereafter, oozing blood cells that Barb was glad she would not have to fight. The spectral Atrumarion became incensed.
Atrumarion: What are you doing, you foul harlot! You were supposed to inject my essence into him! I helped you in the Shadow Realm! You gave me your word!
Barb dragged the essence containment devices by their straps over to a vat of larval acid, which New Qu used to craft and enchant some of Ravenholdt’s famed equipment.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: I lied.
Atrumarion: You bitch! I’ll rip you in half!
As Barb raised the essence containers above the vat, Atrumarion lunged at her. Helpless in his spectral form, he passed right through. Barb smiled, because she knew she never had any intention of honoring her word to Atrumarion, not from the moment she made the promise to him. But she needed to cleanse Magyver of his taint, and the process would be a lot easier if she wasn’t met with resistance. So she deceived the dragon to get her way. And she didn’t regret a light-damned thing about it.
“Cruel Barb” Friendly: See you in the Nether, lizard.
The containers dropped and the acid ate away the essence inside them. Atrumarion’s ghostly formed roared in agony.
Atrumarion: No! Nooooooo!!!!
He exploded into bits of incorporeal light. Atrumarion, the black dragon with ambition to overthrow his father, who deceived the other dragon flights, manipulated the Chancellors, and controlled the Black Iron Golems, who murdered Ashastrasz and Lamar Daedran, who corrupted and possessed Magyver's body… was finally no more, his very essence melted away.
As Barb admired her handiwork, Filbert de Niglac watched in horror and in rage.
Join Date: Apr 2006
I dust my robes as the Hareveim step out of the portal behind me. ”Lend me a mana potion, will you?” I ask Zinizar as she looks around us. She hands one to me and asks where we are.
”I took us half a mile away from their hideout, out of the range of any portal-wards unless they are as paranoid as they should be”, I say and climb on a nearby rock to peek over the pine trees we are surrounded by. I see that manor in the distance. Its dirty shade of white offends me. I think I'll paint it red.
I see her stretching her neck a little to see what I see. She wants to maintain her dignity, though, so she does not climb atop the rock with me. I don't really feel I need to protect my dignity right now. Practical godhood is only an hour away. I can just kill anyone who saw me climb atop a rock like a young boy once that's done with.
I jump down and smile at my wife. ”Let's get going, dear.” I impulsively kiss her on the cheek and walk toward the mansion. In the corner of my vision, I see the red eyes of the other Hareveim exchange glances. Let them think what they will. I am vaguely aware I'm having a nervous breakdown right now. It feels kind of liberating, having an excuse to act like I don't care what anyone thinks.
I drink the mana potion, strengthening and revigorating my arcane powers. I start scanning ahead for enemy wards.
”I can't help but ask whether you have an actual strategy, husband”, Zinizar asks behind me. “Do you know how many enemies we can expect?”
I ponder for a moment before answering: “Somewhere between one and a hundred. My strategy depends on their numbers and talents. If they have more than ten magi, we'll return to Dalaran for reinforcements. I doubt they do, though, or we'd already have heard of them doing hit-and-run attacks somewhere. With the Scroll, they could have done a lot of damage to us already if they wanted and had more than five people. Or maybe they do have the resources, but their leader is even dumber than she seems.”
I walk past an old, bent oak as Zinizar starts to lecture: “Do not underestimate Gianata. She is one of the most influential Hareveim in the past century, and arguably the strongest. She-”
“I know something you don't”, I say simply, and start to smile. “Just relax, and let me handle her. Last time, she had to run from me. This time, there's nowhere to escape.”
Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
Join Date: Feb 2009
Joachim made his choice. If he was going to retake Balor it would be on his terms, not as part of some strange conspiracy. Besides, Seranidan was really starting to freak him out.
He turned to the guard.
"So, have you heard the one about the elf and the noble?"
The guard snarled. "Thala'mar Dorin, human! I told you I don't want to hear your-"
Joachim cut him off. "It kind of goes like THIS." And proceeded to punch him square in the face.
The guard was taken completely by surprise and was knocked out cold. Joachim didn't waste a second and immediately made a dash for the woods.
He got about two trees in before Cyssia had caught up with him and subsequently brought a knife to his throat.
"What you just did was very stupid, not that I've come to expect any different. If you have some sensibility left between those tiny ears of yours, you will walk back with me without struggling and pray that guard you knocked out can be bribed to silence."
She started to motion him to turn and start walking when suddenly Lennart jumped out from his hiding place, he managed to force the knife out of her grip and soon Cyssia was in a position embarassingly similar to the one of Joachim just moments before.
"Make a sound and your life is forfeit." Lennart said smugly.
Cyssia's eyes were burning with fury, Joachim did his best to ignore her gaze and focus on Lennart behind her. "So uh... Let's move before anyone sees us." He said dryly.
As they started walking, Lennart asked: "Well what do we do about, uh, this?" Due to a lack of free hands, he nodded meaningfully at the elf woman currently in his grip.
Joachim frowned, cowering his face with a hand to avoid Cyssia's firey stare.
"Yeah, about that... She's not really nice but it's not by her own choice. It would be wrong to kill her."
Lennart raised an eyebrow. "That was never really on the cards. Chivalry and all that, you know?"
Joachim shrugged. "Once a few women have made done their best to make your life hell, chivalry starts to seem a bit naïve."
Lennart looked like he was about to object, but thought better of it. "So back to the matter at hands, what do we do with her? Tie her up and leave her by a tree?"
"That could work. Do you have any rope
Lennart looked down. "No..." He admitted.
Joachim pondered. "Perhaps if we used our clothes we could.." But Lennart cut him off.
"Uh, we're probably gonna need those... And she started to struggle the moment you said that, despite the knife I've got to her throat."
Joachim dared a peek at Cyssia's face, found it even more furious than before and quickly looked away again. "That's odd, considering she wouldn't be seeing anything she-" Joachim realized what he was saying and red embarassment exploded over his face.
Lennart did his best to pretend he hadn't just heard that. "You know what let's leave it for now and decide on this later, shall we?" He said monotonously.
"Yes I think that's for the best." Joachim said quietly.
They walked on in silence.
Join Date: Aug 2008
You are not here tonight.
Ba’jal words confirmed their worst suspicions: The mysterious Prophet of Mnethes was the one behind the coalition of humans and elves who had just invaded Atalm. His involvement, the invasion, could only mean one thing: Ba’jal had confirmed Jin’thek’s warnings; it was the Prophet then who was probably moving the wires of his puppets, spread about the continent, in an attempt to rally them against the Lebenstraum.
‘Jin’thek warned us of this mon, he told us someone would attempt to rally our enemies against us’ Ha’lin said to the Kaizar.
‘Indeed hi did Ha’lin, indeed he did. But what can we do to stop him?’ Nuvzagal said somberly
‘I don’t know but I will tell you something, we can at least take the Jin’rokh from him. And severely hinder their plans, just give me a ship to return to the swamp and hundred warriors and I will do the rest, I know Ulmat Thondr.’ Ba’jal said pleading
‘We cannot take the risk of sending you just with one ship Ba’jal, what if it sink in a storm? You could get stranded in the middle of nowhere or worse in the middle of a battlefield. If we do send you we would have to send an entire fleet to escort you.’
‘Ha’lin we can’t spare ships right now, you know it, and less for such a long expedition. Even if we did… it would take him ages to get there and we need to stop this bloody prophet as fast as we can.’
‘So you plan on send me swimming?’ Ba’jal added sarcastically
‘Don’t provoke me as far it concerns me you are still a traitor.’ Nuzvagal said with contempt still in his eyes but Ba’jal just remained in silence looking down at the ground, saying nothing. Meanwhile the other two trolls also remained in silence, thinking of possible ways of sending him.
‘I saw him too you know, during the battle.’ Finally said Ba’jal breaking the silence. ‘It was dim, and I am not sure of what I heard, but I saw him.’
The two just looked at him mildly surprised by the confession; they had no real way of knowing if he was telling the truth, but Sung’jen remained there motionless looking at him. The silence endured for a while, until finally Nuvzagal approached him and with a hand over his shoulder he spoke. ‘Listen to me Ba’jal I don’t know if I can trust you, as far I know you are traitor. But I know Jin’thek raised you, I still remember the day you came with him to the hills to bring us our dead. I don’t know what lies the Prophet told you to betray him, but listen to me he there was no one more devout to our cause than him. So if you really want to redeem yourself and prove your loyalty this is your one and only chance to do so. There is no other thing you could do in the world that could convince us.’
‘There is a way to send you to the Swamps of Sorrows in less than week, but before we explain to you your mission which will not only consist of retaking the Jin’rokh. Before you tell us which are the Prophet’s spies, before you say anything else tell us: Why do you want to do this?’ Ha’lin said looking straight into Ba’jal eyes.
Meanwhile the night covered the camp and fires began to be lit, Maka of the Firetree walked towards were the humans had been gathered by his trolls. Along his side one of his sons followed, he was about twenty years old and one of his youngest. Maka was already well in his forties and so he had many wives and sons in his life; he fathered around twenty sons already. Yet he was particularly fond of this one, mainly because he was one of the few still alive, around fifteen of his sons had already died before him. The life of a troll was harsh, sickness, hunger, war; elves and wild animals could end the life of a troll at any moment, not to speak of a newborn. And if you lived near elven lands it was all much worse, especially the war and the elves were something much more frequent. Yet thankfully five of his sons still lived, one of them was left the village, two were about to make their own settlements in Zu’guazu and finally the other two serves as officers in the Grand Army. He had no daughters sadly, at least alive since child bringing was also a risk two of his wives went that way along three of his daughters.
While he walked his trolls saluted him with respect most of them recognized him by face and those who not could not mistake him. He was fully clad in his armor, made out from elven steel, there were few in his regiment which had a similar armor. After the first battle for Atalm he ordered his blacksmith to make armor with the metal he took from those elves had killed. He was proud of it, it was his trophy, his remainder since the elves who used to wear the meta now he did, were the ones who had killed two of his sons during the battle.
They were nearing the humans when his son spoke up
‘Father? What will you do with them?’
‘What would I do? Well it depends on what they are.’ He answered
‘What they are? They are humans!’ His son replied
‘Yes, indeed they are, but that doesn’t tell us anything of what they are and what they want. Tell me my son, are they cowards for betraying their lords before we even struck hard? Are they opportunists? Or do they truly and sincerely want to be part of a Lebenstraum they never heard of until now?’
His son remained silent for a few steps until finally ‘Traitors?’ he spoke with shyness.
‘Of course they are traitors so do we need traitors Shango?’
‘No, no we don’t!!!’ Shango replied
‘Exactly, so if we don’t need traitors we I didn’t had them killed already?’
Shango looked at him with blank eyes trying to understand the meaning of his words. He was good at fighting this one, but he lacked the wits he would like.
‘Why don’t you kill them then?’ He finally asked confused, yet it was a good question.
‘Because we can’t kill them’ He answered
‘So you are going to let them go?’
‘We can’t let them go either.’ He answered once again
‘Then what father? If we can’t kill them or let them go, and we don’t need traitors then what???’ His son asked visibly troubled.
Maka wasn’t the brightest or the best diplomat there was, he was rough and stubborn he was a warrior of the firetree most of all. But he was also a chieftain and so he knew how to see the value in people, his son yet didn’t grasped yet that to see the value of people you don’t have to see them for what they can or can’t do for you but for what they really are.
‘You see son we can’t kill them, because they have yielded they came out of their own wills here not knowing what we would do to them. It takes a certain courage to betray like this, so they are not entirely cowards. Yet like I told you we don’t need for traitors.’
‘So why can’t we let them go?’ His son asked
‘Well, tell me why they all came here.’
‘To be like the Atal’jin.’ His son replied
‘Yes, yet they do not know what an Atal’jin is, do they? They have just seen elves fighting by our side, not Atal’jin. They do not know the sacrifice they had to do in order to become one. So since they see only elves, they think we merely spared their lives and let them join us, they know nothing.’ He answered while they arrived finally at the place where they were the humans were being kept under guard ‘Like the Atal’jin before them we will give them a chance to get what they beg for, but just like them they will have to pay a cost to do so.’ And so he entered a small valley, just below the camp, where the humans were being held. According to his instructions they had been asked a simply question ‘What do you want’ and divided according to what they had answered. He approached a makeshift dais his trolls built, looked towards at the three groups and cleared his throat to speak the best human tongue he could.
‘Humans ya came here wanting to live, wanting to be like da elves. But ya don’t know what they are, ya don’t know what we are, ya don’t know what the Lebenstraum is. Yet you came here begging, we know who ya are, what you are mon. You are all weak, traitors, you be da scum of mankind that came here before ya castles smoke, came here before ya king is dead. Ya all be cowards, craven yet you need some courage to come here not knowing if we would kill you or not. I give you that, you got ball to betray, that’s the problem and ya salvation.
You can choose to be killed now by us, or ya can choose to die and be reborn as something new. You can’t be Atal’jin because you don’t know who Jin’thek is, and also da Atal’jin be over you now. They have proved their loyalty many times they earned their place in da Lebenstraum. Yet you can attempt to earn place as Atal’kaizar, and to do so you gotta die first and pay da blood price for what you want.’ Maka said trying to be as clear as he could in the tongue of men.
‘You over there came here begging for life, we troll don’t beg we take what is ours. But yet despite you did not have da strength to get what was yours before, you came so we are going to give you a chance. A chance to earn your life, we won’t give you da right to live, you gotta take it from da dead warm hands of those who oppose da Lebenstraum.’ He said while pointing towards one of the three groups of humans.
‘Then you!’ He said pointing towards another group ‘You are farmers, so I know da only thing you want is land, land and peace to work it. But you don’t have rights to this land mon, this is our land, trollish land. Your kind occupied and took it from us, so you gotta choose mon. If you wanna earn the chance to plead for land you gotta fertilize it with the blood of your former lords, and fellowmen. And if you don’t worry not you shall stay with it forever, we gonna bury you there.’
‘And finally’ He said while pointing to the last remaining group. ‘You be da scum of da scum, you are sellswords, bandits, thieves! You are da vultures flying over the corpse of da kingdom. You can see the legs of it failing about to collapse so you decided to join the winning side, we got no reason to trust ya. Traitors even during peace time, you don’t respect da law of ya own, why would you obey ours? You only want blood and glory for yourselves, and we won’t give it to you there is no glory for yourself in the Lebenstraum. If we give you a chance to fight is for the glory of the lebenstraum and nothing else, if it was for me I would have you all killed. But Jin’thek would smite me for doing so, you came here despite you had other choices. You could had kept for yourselves in the woods and hoping for the storm to pass, you could had fled yet here you are. We will give you a chance to fight for the Lebenstraum, but we will cut your little fingers and brand your faces. ‘ He took a deep breath and tried to look towards the center, so they all understood he was speaking to all of them.
‘In truth you all will be branded somehow, to mark what you used to be, and what you will be. Because there is no going back from here mon, but there is something else, this is an offer you can’t take individually. If you take it you take it as a whole group, even if one of you refuses you will be all killed. Its up to yourselves to choose your fate: will you choose our offer? Will you swear loyalty to the Kaizar, to Jin’thek and Loas, and finally to the Lebenstraum? Or will you all sacrifice yourselves for the selfishness of one of you? You got until noon to decide.’ And with that he left, leaving the humans to ponder on their fate, and thinking how much he hated to speak in their tounge.
Join Date: Dec 2007
Ravenholdt, The Amani, Zul'Dare, Lordaeron
Densely packed snow gave way beneath the bare feet of the troll. He was used to it. After all, his people had voraciously defended their small patch of perpetually frigid mountain for generations. Until, that is, they got greedy. The Winterax were still desperately attempting to recover from the massive loses incurred in their failed attempt to sack Alterac. Yet, even in this time of strife, they were utterly inhospitable to outsiders.
The Winterax Hunter was patrolling the outskirts of his territory when he heard a feint sound coming from the Snowfall Hilltop.
Readying his ice-barbed spear, he approached with caution as the sound grew louder. Its source was a strange mound of snow.
Slowly, the hunter inched towards the pile from whence the strange sound was emanating. Suddenly, the snow beneath his own feet rose up around him. As his spear slipped from his grasp and fell off the high cliff, he found himself helplessly caught in a net. The troll thought he'd been drugged, because from the pile of snow exploded a human wearing purple and zherva-stripes.
Lucio Benado: Bwaaah hah! And that, fellow night rangers, concludes Professor Lucio Benado’s Troll Hunting 101 introductory lecture! I hope you were taking notes, there will be an exam later!
Lucio’s students stepped out from their own hiding places, clearly impressed.
Saldor Shallowbrook: I must admit, your methods are unorthodox… but affective. Three trolls in as many hours.
Lucio Benado: That’s how mama did it in the old country!
Percy Fayette: And that’s our quota. We need to drag these trolls back to Fenris Isle ASAP.
Lucio Benado: You speak truly. There is no time to waste! Every moment this blue beast gives Lucio Benado the stink eye makes Lucio want to slit its throat with his own cold-induced erect nipple.
Percy Fayette: As nice as that visual image is, let’s get going.
New Qu: I am become death, destroyer of trolls.
In what seemed like no time at all, New Qu had plied his genius once more. Truly, he’d surpassed even his mentor.
Warester Van Dam: I take it the Zutopong’loa testing was successful.
New Qu: Yeah, it did a number on those Winterax. They’re totally wrecked.
Warester Van Dam: Good. Now, Saldor, we give the recipe to you. You pass it on to the remnants of Quel’thalas for mass production - and we take back the north.
Saldor Shallowbrook: I appreciate your help. I know the Sun King himself will smile upon you for this.
Warester Van Dam: Right… Good luck.
Saldor seemed to lack any mercy for the monsters who destroyed his homeland and ate his people, such was the ancient enmity between the two races. Warester’s own misgivings about the weapon were more obvious. As Saldor turned away to at last return to Caer Darrow with Lucio and Percy in tow, Electra placed a hand on Warester’s shoulder.
Electra Wrathchild: It has to be done. For the future.
Warester was silent with his thoughts.
New Qu: Well hey, giving trolls cancer isn’t all we can do with this approach. I’ve got another idea that is pretty exciting.
Warester Van Dam: Oh? And what is that?
Warester Van Dam: What. Was. That!?
Van Dam was staring at the gaping hole in his keep’s wall that a super-muscled Ewe Marsh just smashed his way through.
New Qu: Uhhh… Unintended side effect?
Warester Van Dam: Come on, we have to stop him before he brings down the whole Keep! Grab what you need to turn him back and follow me!
New Qu: Science, hooooo!!!!
Katherine Adai: Are you insane? The “prophecy” is bull@#$ and you know it! He just flat out told you that Men’heva made it up to instigate the Great War! You’re fools to cling to that idea! It’s exactly what Oran and Arronax want!
Adaen Melrache: Mind you tongue, woman! You speak to the Bright Lord!
Katherine Adai: I’m the Grand Admiral of Lordaeron’s Navy! Neither of you outrank me, and I’m not going to put up with any more of your @#$%! This guy has an agenda, Sherman! Think rationally… “A child orphaned by the seeds of the conflict” - half the people in the Great War fit that description! This prophecy is a sham!
James Sherman: I no longer need to countenance you, Adai.
Tileot Menethil: Then perhaps you’ll countenance me, Bright Lord.
The ruckus that erupted from what was originally a small gathering of elites had attracted attention. The tension in the air could be cut with a knife. The on-lookers didn’t know whether the new “Bright Lord” would listen to the man who would be king.
Tileot Menethil: My father is dead. Archbishop Marden is dead. There will be a new Lordaeron, and there is a new Church of the Holy Light. Archbishop Shadowbreaker is not his predecessor, and he will not spread the Light by the sword. There will be no more genocide. Our faith will triumph because it is real and worthwhile. Already the truth about paganism is spreading, after what our friends… after what Adai did in Kul Tiras! It’s a lie, and it will lose out in the marketplace of ideas. A thousand years from now, it will be utterly forgotten. Unless, that is, fools like you galvanize the existing pagans by attempting to slaughter them all!
Melranche flared with divine energy.
Adaen Melrache: Who are you to lecture us, bastard prince? You’re no one! The son of a pagan whore, may she rot in the nether! Your whole life was a lie!
Tileot Menethil: Perhaps. But now, I am living for truth and you are the one deceiving yourself, you gutless child-killer.
James Sherman: Enough!
James Sherman surged forward, unleashing a powerful gauntleted backhand to Tileot and sending him to the ground. Adai drew her cutlass in his defense, but Melranche stepped in and struck at her with holy vengeance. His enhancements gave him a definitive edge, and he knocked away her weapon before knocking her off her feet with a straight kick. Tileot attempted to get up, but was struck in the face with the hilt of Sherman’s weapon. Face in the dirt, the prince spat blood.
James Sherman: I had high hopes for you, boy. But you disappoint me, just as your father did.
Tileot forced himself to his feet, barely able to hold his sword. James expertly disarmed the youth and, with devastating force, struck him with the broad end of his sword.
James Sherman: Bah! You’re weak! Far too weak too ever lead! The Holy Light respects strength, and I am the strongest one there is!
With an enormous thud, Ewe Marsh landed behind Sherman after having jumped from the main courtyard. The once modest man was now a hulking monstrosity, breathing heavily and completely enraged.
Ewe Marsh: RAHHHHHHH!!!
Sherman was undaunted, defiantly standing his ground as Ewe roared in his face.
James Sherman: You… dare? I am the Bright Lord, you dull creature, and I will not be…
Snatching Sherman by the legs, Ewe proceeded to repeatedly smash him into the ground, effectively beating the bejesus out of the “Bright Lord.” When he was finished, Sherman was still and unmoving. Ewe delivered a forceful front kick to Melranche, not unlike the one the Esarim had delivered to Adai, but this kick sent Melranche hurdling directly backward at an extreme speed until splattering against the keep’s wall.
Adai looked up from the ground and saw an enormous red dragon descend from the heavens to confront the monster, only to be punched in the face and knocked into Lordamere Lake. The Grand Master and his retinue had arrived to contain the problem, but they were equally ineffective and were swatted away. Without time to empower the Guardian, the spells of the Councilors of Tirisal were shrugged off.
Erbag: Blathering’ blatherskite! What is this fiend?
Hocus Snood: Welllp... He just @#$%ing punched out a dragon, so yeah, I’m gonna sit this one out. Good luck guys.
As Ewe pounded on the mana shield of Scavell, it was Erbag’s daughter who confronted the raging behemoth.
Shortee Fizzlebang: Ewe! Stop! You have to stop this!
Ewe Marsh: Shor…tee?
Ravenholdt, Zul'Dare and Lordaeron
Who was that girl, who had fought the hulking beast so efficiently? Before he had punched a dragon in the face, the hulking monster had been delayed by a young woman, flirting between his blows.
Her fighting style was spectacular. Somewhat like his own.
In fact, it was his fighting style.
But was it possible? Magyver had only ever trained one apprentice, and Jason Redleaf had died in Jintha'alor.
"Shor…tee?" Just as suddenly as the rampage had begun, it ended.
As the hulking beast began to shrink down to human size, a hand rested on Magyver's shoulder.
"You should be lying down, Magyver. You've only just-"
"Nonsense, Miss Friendly. I'm healthy as all-hell, dig?" But he winced in sudden pain that hit him all over. "Is my?"
"That shrunk back down to size too. I'm sorry Magyver."
"I was talking bout' my pussycat, damnit."
"Kid Gorgeous is fine." Barbara said, turning her gaze back onto the spectacle of destruction. "Can't say the same for some good men who died because of you."
"Because of Drakgyver, you dig? Not because of me." Magyver felt the walls closing in on him. "I tell you what, Miss Friendly. Send me some Coconut Rum and then Agent de Changee can debrief me. But afterwards I'm sleeping for a week."
"Agent de Changee is dead. And we don't have a week." she stated. Then she paused, as if reconsidering her next words. But she said them anyway, and she did so tentatively. "And we're out of Cocunut Rum."
"Atrumarion is dead. Dead. We're finished!" Filbert wailed into his communication stone. He kicked the wall, and stubbed his toe. "Ouch! Curses!"
"Whut?" Dandred Asher repeated over the line. "What you say?"
"You heard me, you cotton-brained buffoon! Dismantle the establishment! Retreat! Undo the undesirable! Relent to the relentless!"
He had to leave. He had to disappear. The Kirin Mora would start to trace everything back to him, soon. There would be questions about the missing Black Iron Golems. There would be questions about a great many things.
Filbert de Niglac was about to throw the communication stone out the window when a dark voice chilled him.
"Belay that order, Lord Asher."
"Arithion?" Filbert stuttered, suddenly remembering one of Atrumarion's two lieutenants. The Blacks were not yet entirely finished.
"Yes, human mage. The plan proceeds. Open the portal, or you will be hunted till the ending of the world."
"Y-yes, my lord."
As relative calm descended over Fenris Isle, only Zero-Nine clanked into action.
"I sense several more of my brethren." the golem declared, walking up behind Warester Van Dam. The Grand Master was busy examining Eweakpu, who had just shrunk down to size. "Grand Master."
Van Dam responded to the incessant tapping on his shoulder.
"Zero-Zero-Nine, what are you talking about?"
"I sense eight Black Iron Golems, Grand Master. In the keep's dungeon. The presence was not there until a minute ago. I believe we are under attack."
The Grand Master's expression hardened.
"Damn you, Xie."
"Grand Master." Zero-Nine continued. "I believe I can free those eight golems."
Dalaran and the Malefactors
A city of marble stretched out before her. There were waterfalls and gardens and all manner of creatures she had never seen before. Some of the beasts were familiar to her, however, such as the proud hippogryph, illustrated in an ancient book she had once read in Dalaran.
This is indeed Kalidar, she thought. Home of the Kelani Empire.
The streets were filled with purple-skinned elves, furry humanoids that resembled bears, hoofed-cow people with mighty horns and even some trolls. All trotted to and fro, minding their own unfathomably strange and alien business.
A pulse of power caused her to turn. She looked up, to the highest temple peak in the centre of the city. There a maelstrom of light and magic reigned - D'vorjakque, the Emperor Sorcerer. He was the very demigod who had turned heretic, who she now fought to stop. How the mighty had fallen.
So this is what once was, under the light of the Blue Child.
I am done here, she thought. Gianata called for the power of the Scroll of Lore, and it responded with a warm familiar glow. It made her wonder how she had ever lived without it. Then she began to think. If the Scroll had the power to piece together what once was, perhaps it could create what could have been; or what could yet be.
In a flash, Kalidar and the Kelani Empire vanished.
She was in Dalaran. She was Archareveim. A huge crowd of people addressed her with cheers and prayers. Standing on what had become the Dictator's Balcony, Gianata spread her arms out before her people. They responded with jubilation.
Several years ago she had disembowelled Zinizar and restored Dalaran to its former glory. She was the most famous and beloved Archareveim in history.
"Milady." it was her handmaiden, Avette Korgal. "The kings await your wisdom in the dining hall. You should not leave them waiting."
Gianata stepped back from the balcony, the sunlight leaving her face. When she turned around, she was back in Kindred's Nave. The illusion had passed. Judging from the light outside, she had spent several hours in dreamland. She could afford one more. She channelled more power into the Scroll. Kindred's Nave vanished.
Show me what could have been, she thought.
She was in a forest, outside a ramshackle old lodge. Where had the Scroll taken her?
The sound of singing came from the lodge behind her. And it was a hauntingly familiar tune, in a voice that niggled at her memory.
Just as she was about to walk into the lodge, a splintering crash jolted Gianata out of her reverie. A moment later she was back in Kindred's Nave, looking down at the Scroll of Lore in her lap. She searched for the source of the noise, half-expecting Javali to step in at any moment. But it was not Javali.
"Damn it, girl, are you trying to give me a heart-attack?"
Sister Jenoa stood in the doorway, amidst broken porcelain and spilled tea.
"I'm sorry, Sister. The wind caused something to slam. I was frightened."
Gianata rolled her eyes.
"Well, aren't you going to clean it up?"
Sister Jenoa's fists clenched temperamentally.
"I just might, Sister. But I confess I'm rather tired of being your servant. And I am starting wonder what we are doing wasting our time here. You spend your days toying with that Scroll not doing anything."
Gianata stood to her feet slowly and deliberately. Sister Jenoa met her eyes as she did so, defiance plain within them.
"Watch your tone, little one. You are young still, and fragile, like the porcelain at your feet. You may be a pretty teacup, but a pretty teacup breaks just as easily as any other."
The young Jenoa was suddenly afraid. Just as it was impossible to hide the truth from a Hareveim, it was often just as difficult to hide emotion. And even a Hareveim can sometimes struggle to conceal her mind from another. Gianata pointed to the ground with one finger.
"Clean it up. And then go into the cellar and wait for me. I will come and discipline you when I decide you have waited long enough."
"Where is Sister Jenoa?" Sister Harriet asked, flanked by Sister Yintara as they entered the building. They began to remove their cloaks, which were as ugly as they were heavy; remnants of a fashion trend long since dead.
"Close the door." Gianata said with a sigh, not looking up from her knitting. "Don't let all the warm air out. This is going to be a long winter."
Sister Harriet automatically went to make tea, while Sister Yintara came and sat down next to Gianata, with concern in her eyes.
"Mistress." Yintara intoned with her usual respect. She was a good girl. "Food is scarce. The farmers starve, because the Perinany have taken everything for themselves. And I have word that a council of kings has been called in Dalaran."
Gianata said nothing. She resumed her knitting.
"Milady?" Yintara asked, concerned. "We can't just hide here forever. You have the Scroll. We can strike at the Archareveim..."
"No." Gianata pouted. "I-"
"Milady!" it was Sister Harriet. "You have visitors."
It was probably some of those Malefactors again.
"Let them in."
A minute later, a huge man stepped into the room. Despite his size, he had a gentle face and soft eyes. A couple of streaks of grey ran through his hair. He had recently shaven, but he had done so badly. A huge fur coat hid his frame. He did not remove it.
A second figure stepped into the room. This time, it was an elf. He had light hair and was as well-built as the human male at his side. But he was nowhere near as tall or imposing.
"Sister Gianata." the elf said with a bow. "My name is Xalmor Windrunner. I am Viridian Templar, and Highlord of the Malefactors."
"Yes, I remember Anazar mentioned your name during our short time together in my home." Gianata said dismissively. She was about to resume her knitting, when the elf responded.
"Speaking of Sister Anazar, she sends you her greetings. She had nothing but warm words for you."
He was lying.
"Sister Anazar?" Gianata spat contemptuously. She had not even risen from her chair yet. "She is no Hareveim. A Hareveim does not offer allegiance to a Viridian."
"No, she is not a Hareveim any longer." Xalmor said, liberally taking a seat opposite of Gianata. "But I'm not here to discuss Anazar. I am here to discuss you, Sister. You are aware of my organization and its goals?"
Gianata raised an eyebrow. Her face revealed mild frustration but her palms revealed bloodied fingernails and anger.
"I don't care about your organization or its goals, elf. If you are here to offer me membership, I decline in advance, thank you kindly. I am Hareveim."
"Our goals are-"
"Get out, master elf." Gianata said, the tension leaving her hands. "This is my home, and I did not invite you. Get out. And if send your cronies to spy on me I will return them to you in pieces."
The elf bit his lip, clearly surprised at the turn of events. He rose and looked down at Gianata with the shake of his head.
"Such a shame, Sister. We could have used the likes of you. But don't think we are finished, you and I. The Scroll is a valuable tool. It must be used to bring down the heresies, remember that. Come, Gardham, we are leaving."
Gardham. Gardham. Gardham.
The burly human male was about to follow the elf out of the door, when Gianata shouted.
"Milady?" the elf asked, likely hoping she had reconsidered.
"Leave Gardham with me. I must have words with him."
The elf nodded and walked out of the door. Gianata and Gardham were left alone.
"Yintara, Harriet, out!" she commanded. Once they were alone, she turned to the man, who was standing awkwardly with only half his body in the room. "What is your name?"
"Kraus, milady. Kraus Gardham. Zaramim, defender of the Lady Anazar."
Anazar again. Gianata massaged her forehead with one hand, the tension still gripping her. She felt a cold wet smear as she did so, and realised she had just wiped blood from her palms all over her face. Ignoring it, she looked to Kraus Gardham. The man looked shocked, transfixed by what he no doubt saw as a crazy woman painting herself with blood.
"Take a seat, Kraus."
Last edited by Timolas : 06-06-2012 at 08:52 AM.
"Sinéad, think clearly," Anazar said firmly. "You are above this. You are a princess of Kul Tiras."
"I- I am sorry," Sinéad Proudmoore replied. "It has been so long since I had to abandon my royal station. I forget my place."
"Now, are you prepared to listen?"
"Yes, Lady Anazar."
"Good. I shall be frank with you. Phocys and I were cornered by the Hareveim and Dalarani forces. He was weak; there was no way I could escape with him," she explained. "And so, I made him useful. I put him to sleep."
"You euthanized my grandfather?!"
"No, I put him to sleep, in the most literal sense of the term." Anazar corrected. "A coma, more like. Magically induced. I imprisoned the mind of that Hareveim that hunted me in his tormented psyche and then made my escape."
"So, where is he?"
"I can't say that I know, but no doubt Javali has him somewhere," Anazar explained. "Don't think of going after him right now. We both know such an action to be suicide."
"You are right," Proudmoore responded. "I doubt that Lord Windrunner would be pleased to learn this,"
"Learn it? I've already told him some time ago. I've hardly made a secret of it," she replied. "If you hadn't acted so rashly, you might have learned it and this mess could've been avoided."
With a flick of her wrist, Lady Anazar sent Proudmoore flying back into a cabinet. The contents of it spilled out over Sinéad and onto the floor. Conjuring an arcane whip, Anazar snagged the bald cult leader's leg and flung her across the room, knocking down several training station. She moaned in pain and unsuccessfully tried to push herself up. Anazar walked over and stood above her.
"Never lay your hands on me again, you lunatic bitch," she said angrily. "That concludes today's training exercises."
Join Date: Nov 2008
The shaman walks past, swinging his censer down the row of waiting men. The trail of scented clouds seems almost odourless, then… tar. Walking past the shipyards on the way to the scribes’ hall, salt in the air, white gulls laughing above. Isault, waiting there at the docks, stolen kisses. Resin – the tall dark pines in the deep forests of the north, alone with a circle bearded faces huddled close to a single fire.
Eistan plunges his hands deeper into the soil. Trodden earth, but pliable to his touch. Dark, almost black. But red. As he had remembered it. The road beyond the shaman leads up, up to the gates of Tyr’s Hand. His home, fifteen years ago. A lifetime.
A scribe! Had his family had their way, he would have been shut behind stone walls for the rest of his life. A learned man sitting at a desk, staring at parchments until his sight wore out. Away from Isault. That was no life.
“My love,” he whispers. And looks down at his hands in the shifting firelight.
Dirty. Scarred. The softness of his schooling only a memory. Isault had loved those hands. But that gentleness was buried underneath weatherworn calluses. A scribe no longer. A warrior’s hands, a warrior of the Maroon March.
Will you recognize me? Isault, after so long… will I recognize you? Eistan stares longingly at the smudged promise of the city crouched behind those walls. If she even was alive, she would be old, worn and tired. Long ago wed away to some stranger in a church of the Light, to live in the prison she had chosen over him. Over me. And he would be just another Maroon.
“I have said it before, and I will say it again. The mountains are our weakness. The Troll will simply surround us! And then where will we be? Ten thousand Maroon berserkers shut in a city half that size!”
William shook his head. “And if the troops are spread too thin, the Trolls are going to storm the city. We must hold this point until reinforcements can arrive.” A second sacking of Tyr’s Hand would be disastrous. The city would never recover.
“What reinforcements? More Maroon savages? The strength of the March died at Stratholme with Wiglaf Folles. King Andol’s levies are a bad joke,” muttered Arthel Durand. “Tyr’s Hand and its people – they will show these Trolls what they have gotten themselves into.”
“Enough!” came the voice of the Red Templar. The council quieted. “There is no point in waiting for reinforcements. More Trolls will arrive just as quickly as more Men. The Dukes of Avalon made an admirable effort in defending against the invasion so far, but to no avail. Ordinary strategies are of no use here.”
“What is it you are saying? Surrender?” shot Arthel back, voice dripping with irony. “Has the Bloody Templar tired of fighting the trolls and wish to join those… atal’jin cretin?”
“Not surrender. Attack.”
“The strength of the Troll broke at Silvermoon and the Isle. Their great warlord died there. You should simply march out and meet them in battle. Be done with it, then return south! The Prophet calls us!” Alanassori’s voice cracked from the communication stone.
“Do not underestimate the Trolls’ devotion to their newfound Loa,” warned Hanthal. “They chant the name of Jin’thek through the night. They are led by Nuvazgal, the general who led Jin’thek’s armies. Even if he is bereft of the veterans who fought in the north, he is still a dangerous foe.”
“The Prophet sends orders and calls us hither and thither,” complained Myrial. She was one of Rimtori’s youngest aides. “To be Viridian is to be free! To be Maroon is to defend it!”
“Do not twist your faith to fit your conception of it, Myrial. Mnesthes is the god of life. Life adapts, does what is necessary. As must we now. Unite all the virtues of the Four, all the peoples of Lordaeron. And learn. We fought the trolls in every way we knew. It is time we fought them in new ways – their own ways. I will take a small force into Avalon, and we will hunt down the troll contingencies farthest from Nuvazgal himself. And destroy them, one by one.”
“That seems… risky. Like fumbling in the dark, hoping not to stumble into the sharpened blade concealed in the room. How will you manage that dance?”
“The Benefactors have eyes and ears everywhere, Hanthal. It is time you learned that. While I lead this expedition, you will go to Caer Darrow. Meet with the last scion of the Sunstriders.”
“And why am I going to see Kael’thas?”
“Seranidan’s ploys to deprive me of power are tiresome. Tell the prince it is time the Elves once more have a king.”
The trees were dark silhouettes against a slowly lightening sky. Bremen walked down the path at a steady pace. He knew this way like the back of his hand, and needed no light to show him the way. He had hunted here since childhood. The same went for near every patch of land between the shores of the Forbidding Sea and the mountains of the Wall. If the Trolls thought they knew this country, Bremen the Tracker was the one to prove them wrong, yes, sir!
To his side, a low growl. Bremen froze. The gnoll slid onto the path, then shuffled ahead a few steps. It sniffed the air, then turned around. Almost imperceptibly, it nodded.
Light! How those beasts had been tamed by those damned Maroon madmen, he had no idea. He did not want to know. Need to know basis sometimes was a damned relief.
Bremen got on the ground and crawled up to the top of the hill ahead. He was a tracker. Tracking things is what he did. But the description the Templar had given didn’t need much tracking. Trollish shapes moving between fires, though the camp itself was orderly enough. That was all he needed to see. Job done. It was time for other people to take over.
While walking back to the soldiers, he could not help but reflect on the uses of an intelligent hunting dog. Perhaps he could talk to one of the Maroons…
It was a ugly bastard, this Troll. A huge big one, dressed all in stinking, half-tanned furs and a bit of rusted chain-mail, more ornament than protection. They held each other tight, wrestling and blind to everything around them. They lumbered back and forward, lurching like feuding drunkards. They tugged and pulled and pushed. They big and gouged, gripped and tore, strained in frozen fury. Ugly was strong. Ugly was big. But by the Light, he was not going to die! Not here! Not like this!
Inch by painful inch, the troll pushed him back. And down. Suddenly he was on one knee, flinty dagger hovering towards his face. He peered up at it, cross-eyed, trying to think of something to do. Some way out that didn’t end up worse than this. If it could.
Ugly gurgled, then toppled over. A savage-looking fellow replaced him, reached down and pulled Arthel up. “Thanks,” he murmured, but the man was already sprinting off.
Firelight shed chaotic shadows over the scene. Overturned tents were taking flame, somewhere horses were neighing. Everywhere men were screaming, shouting encouragement, cursing, howling, sobbing, shrieking in pain. Closer, someone was moaning softly. The only sound he didn’t hear was those of weapons at work. It seemed it was over. People just hadn't realized it yet.
He stumbled over to where the moans were coming from. Just whimpers, now, and fading fast. Found a man – another Maroon, by the looks of him. Eyes huge and round and white. Oddly effeminate hands clutching… what?
A lock of hair?
Three ambushes in the span of a few nights. Hundreds of trolls killed, stockpiled supplies destroyed. Not without a cost. They had almost been caught this morning. The Troll learned fast – the time for easy pickings was over. They would not be surprised again.
No matter. Time had run out, for now. A new strategy would have to be devised. Rimtori led the expedition back to the walls of Tyr’s Hand. The message had been sent. To the trolls. But more so, to the people of Tyr’s Hand. They were in this together.
Waiting for them at the east gate of Tyr’s Hand was a single unicorn rider.
Last edited by Ashenmoon : 06-06-2012 at 09:28 PM.
Saldor Shallowbrook had come home. And with him were Lucio Benado and Percy Fayette. As the trio climbed out of their rowing boat, they were greeted by several drawn bows and notched arrows.
"Anaria shola, strangers." one of the rangers asked.
"Hold, friends." Saldor shouted, his hand shooting into the air. "Anar'alah, it is I, Saldor. I bring allies."
The elven rangers looked to one another in a confused fashion.
"We know no Saldor."
Saldor nodded but continued to help Percy and Lucio out of the rowing boat anyway.
"I am Ranger-Captain of Quel'Danil. You must be from Silvermoon, else you would recognize my name."
"Forgive us." one of the rangers said, lowering his bow. "We can never be too sure who is friend or foe with the Benefactors on the mainland. Come with us. We shall take you to the peak."
"Welcome to Quel'Danas." Fenthelan, Cloudcaller's Heir, declared. Percy and Lucio bowed before the lord of the Druids.
At the Druid's side was Grand Magister Rommath of the royalist elves, and Tanilias Starseeker, who had fought in the Battle of Boralus.
"How fares Warester Van Dam?" Tanilias asked, a distant look in his eyes.
"As well as one can expect." Percy said as he shifted awkwardly. "I'm sure he would have sent his regards if he had known you were here."
Rommath interrupted their pleasantries. He towered above them, malice in his voice.
"Explain what you want from us. We assembled because we believed you had a matter of great importance to discuss with us."
"Yes, as a matter of fact there is a matter of great importance we must discuss." Percy made abundantly clear as he reached into his pocket. He grasped something stiff as he did so. The sample of plague. "We know how dire the trollish threat is. We want to help. But we also need something that you have. Something that will help us stop the one who is behind this disastrous war."
"And what, pray tell, would that be?" Rommath asked quizzically.
"The Heart of Aszune."
The elves froze, their breath paused. Fenthelan leaned in towards Percy, surprise clear on his face.
"How did you come to know of such a thing? What makes you think that we have it?"
"That is a long story." Percy said, reluctant to tell it all.
"Lucio Benado shall explain!" and so, the purple-garbed performer performed, telling them his second-hand account of what had been learned from the Age of Men'heva. When he was done, the elves began to speak to one another in Thalassian. At last, Fenthelan called for silence.
"The Heart of Aszune is known to us by another name. Here it is known as the Heart of Aether. And you are not the first to come looking for it. The Prophet himself attacked Caer Darrow to try and claim it. Amron Radiun Malad died before he could hew it from the runestone."
"The runestone?" Percy was startled by the notion. "Pardon, great Druid, but why would the heart of the Kelani princess be inside the runestone?"
"That is not for you to know." Fenthelan said with a sense of resignation in his voice. "I am sorry."
Rommath took the opportunity to step in front of Fenthelan and menace Percy once again.
"What did you think to offer us in return for it?"
"They will not have it, Rommath. I will not allow it-"
But Fenthelan did not get another word in. Rommath rounded on him coldly.
"Spare us your qualms. The elven race is at stake. The trollish hordes are hours away from the walls of Tyr's Hand and you squabble with me like this?" Then Rommath turned back to Percy. "What do you have to offer us in exchange for the Heart, humans?"
"A plague." Percy confessed. "A plague that will drive the trolls to extinction."
Rommath's eyes gleamed.
"Give it to us."
"No, Rommath!" Fenthelan pleaded. "Such a plague would be an abomination against nature! The crime of genocide is unforgivable! Inexcusable!"
The Grand Magister's hands burst into flames. He pointed at Fenthelan with a burning finger.
"We will reclaim the High Home, even if it takes a hundred generations. With or without your druids. There must be a Reconquista."
Shifting awkwardly on his feet, Percy began to consider his escape routes. The Grand Magister was starting to give him the willies.
"Calm yourself, Rommath. We are guests on Caer Darrow." Tanilias tried injecting reason back into the conversation.
To no avail. The grass around Rommath began to singe and blacken.
"Give me the plague!"
Rommath dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes. Lucio Benado was left standing above his body, his elbow poised monstrously where Rommath's head had been seconds earlier.
Fenthelan sighed. He shut his eyes, looking deeply pained.
"Give me the plague. Please."
"It must be studied and harnessed. Perhaps... perhaps it can indeed be used as a weapon. But not a weapon of genocide. Never that. And forgive me if I doubt its creator's abilities; but the last thing this world needs is a plague that runs rampant through human, elf and troll populations because of some minor miscalculation. Give it to me."
"Please, allow me some time to think this over. I'll need to contact headquarters."
Fenthelan folded his arms behind his back.
"Very well. Come with me, before Rommath wakes."
Once in private, Percy contacted Ravenholdt. He managed to get Doctor Orochi to agree to travel to Caer Darrow, and plead the case for the use of the plague.
And finally, Percy Fayette and Lucio Benado stood before a sheer cliff, looking out towards the east. There they stood alongside Prince Kael'thas Sunstrider, Tanilias Starseeker and Fenthelan Swiftwind.
The Amani, the Elves and Ravenholdt
A storm was coming - it had followed the elves from the ashes of Quel'Thalas. And it would not rest until they were all dead.
The trolls were marching on Tyr's Hand, and on all of Strattania.
Tanilias Starseeker inhaled the scent on the wind and began to speak.
"The power of the enemy is growing. The trolls will destroy the people of Lordaeron. Zul'Aman has been unleashed. The trolls now march on the free kingdoms of men. Their war on Lordaeron will come swiftly. The strength of mankind is failing. The point of no return draws close. For the Amani will have dominion over all life on Azeroth, even unto the ending of the world. The time of the elves is over. Do we leave Lordaeron to its fate? Do we let them stand alone?"
The Battle of Strattania
The council of nobles sat assembled once again. Twenty brows were furrowed above twenty grey beards.
Arthel Durand addressed them, the scent of blood still heavy in his nose after the last raid against the trolls in Avalon.
"Ten thousand strong at least."
"Ten thousand?" William gasped, clutching the edge of his seat in a death-grip.
"And that is just the vanguard. It is an army bred for a single purpose: to destroy the world of men. They will be here by nightfall."
It was not the trolls who came first to the walls of Tyr's Hand. It was refugees who first threw themselves at the gates, begging to be let in. The gates were opened, though Arthel Durand quickly regretted opening them, for some of the peasants had been sent with a message from the troll chieftain.
The message was thus; if the people of Tyr's Hand open the gates to the trolls, they would be spared.
If nothing else, it was a blow to morale.
"Hang them." Durand commanded, pacing along the battlements. "Hang all of them."
"What's in them barrels?" one of the soldiers asked, rifling through the belongings of the refugees.
"You hear that?" another said, prying open one of the barrels. A torrent of frogs poured out onto the street. "This don't make no sense."
"They must be trying to mess with our heads." the first soldier said, stepping on one of the frogs and crushing it under his boot. "Bloody trolls and bloody ashes. Do you think there'll be a sunrise for us?"
Before his friend could answer, a trumpet resounded in the distance.
"No." the other soldier said. "Not trumpets. Vuvuzelas."
"To your stations!" the call went up. "To your stations! For Lordaeron! For Lordaeron!"
Maka of the Firetree stood above his armies, scimitar in hand. His thousands streamed past him towards the walls of Tyr's Hand under the cover of night.
"This night the land will be stained with the blood of men! To Tyr's Hand. To war!"
"Hold your fire!" Hanthal commanded in elvish. His Benefactor archers lined the battlements alongside the Mannish warriors. "Hold! Hold!"
The trolls cascaded over the hills, numberless and uncountable. Hanthal's lips trembled in a suppressed whimper as they came. It was like he was in Silvermoon again, seeing the trolls come for the first time. He could not give the order. He could not.
Rimtori the Red saw his hesitation and knocked him out of the way. She pointed her sword at the oncoming tide.
You are not Rimtori the Red, Hanthal thought, as he crawled along the battlements. You are Rimtori the Black, for you shall lead us to our deaths.
The Wall was silent in the north. It had no right being so silent.
So thought its sentries.
"Something is wrong."
Then the sentries heard it. A chanting, down in the distance. The elven forests were alive with it. It was chanting in the tongue of the trolls.
"But- but they were attacking Tyr's Hand." the captain of the guard stuttered. "They have no business, no business here!"
His men panicked. The Wall was thinly defended, a pathetic line of ill-equipped soldiers spanning the distance between the Elfgate and Tyr's Hand.
"Light the beacons! Light the beacons!"
And an old grizzled veteran, one who had hunted the trolls and spoke their tongue, understood their song.
‘The elven army and the Farstriders! Are preparing their extermination of our kind!
But from the forest of Zul’aman to the Great Sea!
The Amanshi Army is the strongest!
So let the trolls
Grip with power their axes with callous hands!!!’
‘So all of us have to go
To this last mortal battle
Let's show them why from the forest of Zul’aman to the Great Sea!
The Amanshi Army is the Strongest!!!’
‘March, march forward!!
The Jin’rokh sends us to battle!!!’
Further north still, the Kaizar, Nuvazgal stood at the prow of his flagship. Hidden by fog, his fleet sailed completely undetected. Slowly and with purpose, the ships ran aground just north of the city of Stratholme.
"We will fall upon them without mercy. We will reclaim Jobal'kan from right under their feet!"
Nuvazgal sprang overboard and vanished into the fog, spear in hand. He splashed into the water, landing waist deep. He heard another splash at his side; Ha'lin. And seconds later, a hundred more.
His hundred was not the only hundred; all along the coast they landed.
In silence, they advanced on the city of Stratholme. The city gate would be open; compromised by Atal'jin assassins under the White-Haired Wolf himself.
The city would fall.
And the trolls would sweep into Strattania from three directions; from Stratholme, from the weakened Wall, and from Tyr's Hand.
And Strattania would burn. And it would be reborn as Jobal'kan, as it once had been called by its people.
In Tyr's Hand, the frogs that had been hidden amongst the refugees' supplies gathered in dark alleys. One by one, the Hex spells on the frogs wore off. Where frogs had once been stood Shadow Hunters.
Lez'li counted his men, and decided he had enough to go ahead with his objective. In the distance, the sound of fighting drowned out any sounds he himself made talking to his warriors.
"We open the gates. If we are confronted, we fight unless we are outnumbered. We strike quickly, like a serpent, and then pull back, to strike again."
"For the Lebenstraum. For Jin'thek."
Arthel Durand brought his longsword up in a desperate thrust, impaling the berserker that had just climbed the nearest siege ladder.
The trolls were pouring onto the walls, completely overwhelming the meagre numbers of defenders that had held their ground.
"Cowards!" Durand yelled, as the weak-willed peeled off from the fighting like children. He was suddenly hit by an immense force, and thudded into the wall, nearly flying over it. Dizzied, he looked up at the troll warrior charging at him.
Where was his sword? Bellowing, he charged at the troll, his fist breaking its skull. They went down together.
"Durand!" Rimtori the Red called over the fighting. "The gates! The gates!"
But it was too late.
Durand saw that somehow, trolls had infiltrated the city. They were cleaving through the gate guards, and the gates were already swinging open.
"Fall back! Fall back!" William screeched, ignorant of the fact that there was nowhere to fall back to. "All hope is lost! King Andol has abandoned us! Flee! Abandon your posts!"
On the other end of Tyr's Hand, the gates leading into Strattania were wide open. But they were not open because of deception.
It was because an elven army had assembled outside. At its head, Percy Fayette, Lucio Benado and Saldor Shallowbrook, alongside members of the royalist Convocation.
"It's time we saw this trollish threat for ourselves." Percy had said.
Do we let them stand alone?
The answer, after all, had been no.
"For Quel'Thalas! Sunstrider! Sunstrider! Sunstrider!"
Maka of the Firetree walked through the gates of Tyr's Hand. A fist of berserkers accompanied him, protecting him. The humans and elves were falling back into the city when the news arrived that reinforcements were entering the city from the other side.
"Press the attack!"
Percy had not killed a troll in a very long time. And these forest trolls were no Winterax. For one, they were green. And they fought like organized regimental units. These trolls fought with true purpose.
It was evident that the elven battle lines were not made for fighting in city streets. But then again, neither were trollish battle lines.
Throughout the city the streets surged back and forth with killing. In some quarters, the bodies began to pile so high that the fighting spilled onto rooftops.
Percy gutted a troll as it rushed at him, and danced under the axe swing of another, cutting its legs out from under it.
But all of a sudden Percy found himself surrounded, back to a building. A troll lifted a spear to pin Percy to the wall, when a very distracting noise interrupted the party.
It bought Percy the time he needed. He smashed the nearest window and threw himself into the building he had been cornered against.
He found himself face to face with a frightened family.
"We have to evacuate this city." he said to himself. "Damn it."
"This be a human who opened one of the gates for us, chieftain." one of the Shadow Hunters announced to Maka as Maka walked amongst his troops.
The human in question had an eye-patch, but was otherwise unremarkable. Maka addressed him in broken Common.
"You wanna be Atal'kaizar, mon? What be your name?"
"Einon." the man stated. "Einon Blackthorn is my name."
It was hopeless. Thousands of innocent people were going to die unless something changed. Percy had to do something.
The family he had led out of the house through a back-door huddled behind him as he scanned his options. To the left, trolls and elves fighting. To the right, trolls and humans. Behind him, a dead-end.
There had to be a way. Then he remembered; the plague sample in his pocket. Could it work?
"Chieftain!" one of the Firetree lieutenants cried, throwing himself at Maka's feet. "Some devilry is at work! Our soldiers are becoming deformed! It must be elf magic!"
Maka saw several trolls hobbling out of the battle with their bodies twisted and deformed. And whatever it was, it was spreading.
If the elves were not going to give up this city, he was going to burn it. And whatever foul play they had concocted would end here - the evil would be purged.
"Pull the soldiers out of the city."
"We are retreating?"
"No." Maka said. "It's time to call in the artillery."
He walked out of the city gates and called out as he did so.
Streams of refugees took the opportunity to mass for the western city gate, fleeing into the countryside. The elves held the breaches open long enough to allow them to pass through. It would not have been possible without the plague.
But Percy saw what it had done to them. He was disgusted with himself. The trolls died as less than animals. They died as abominations, in immense pain.
He wandered almost aimlessly through the streets, watching the trolls writhe around him. Then suddenly he was flying through the air.
His ears were ringing. He rolled over and saw fire. Fire everywhere.
Black shapes fluttered through the sky above him. Bats. Giant bats.
"Bat riders! Archers, look to the skies!" one of the elves called.
As Percy hobbled away from the searing heat, he felt an itchy pain on his hands. Little growths had sprouted on his skin. The plague, he realised with shock and horror. It was the plague.
He vomited onto the ground as another explosion rocked the city. But he did not die. The plague stopped, somehow. Imperfect as it was, it had affected him when it should not have done so; but only to a limited extent, he realised. He was glad he did not have troll regenerative abilities.
Lucio Benado appeared above him, and grabbed him by the shoulders.
"Lucio Benado gonna get you to safety! Hold tight, Lafayette!"
One of the last things he saw was more fire was raining down over the city, rendering it into a hellish inferno.
Before they could get any further, trolls surrounded them and wrestled Lucio Benado to the ground.
And so, the city of Tyr's Hand was lost.
If there was any hope in the Nether of finding Brutus Armaggon, Andrael figured that he could begin his search in the nearest population centre; the city of Strom's Hand.
He figured that if Brutus was alive, he would make his own way back to the Malefactors. All Andrael had to do was make a show of looking for him.
So that is what he did. He walked through the Merchant's Gate of Strom's Hand with a hood over his head to hide his obviously elven features. Huddled amongst a stream of tradesmen and their wagons, the gate guards let him pass unchallenged.
Once inside the city proper, he went to the largest inn he could find and asked for rumours. Much to his disappointment, the innkeeper laughed at him and told him to go away.
Feeling lost, Andrael decided it would be wise to drink more Absinthe. Absinthe solved problems.
Halfway through his drink, he began to cry. He began to cry because he mad murdered his master and he had thrown his lot in with strangers who were probably insane heretics, like he had been told.
After a few more drinks, Andrael stumbled into the street, disorientated. Wandering through the crowds aimlessly, he was suddenly grabbed from behind. A bag was thrown over his head. He was jostled about in darkness for what seemed like forever.
When the bag finally came off, he was sitting in a room with only a candle for light. A man sat across from him. He was grizzled, with several scars running across his face. His hair was golden, like his stubble. And he was picking his teeth with a knife.
"Do I know you?" Andrael whimpered.
"You and I, we are going to be friends." the man explained, throwing the knife against the wall. It landed with a suggestive crack. "I can recognize an elf anywhere. And there's one thing about elves in Arathor that I've come to find holds pretty much true no matter what."
"That all elves in Arathor are filthy pagan spies, and murderers."
Andrael began to sweat. Light flooded into the room as another man walked in. And he was holding the dismembered head of Madreen Chameral.
"Is this some kind of sick joke?" the newcomer screamed at him, spittle flying from his mouth.
"Uhh." was all Andrael could force out of his mouth. His mind was racing; who were these men? Royalists, clansmen, rebels? "Please. Please?"
The grizzled man who had been interrogating Andrael jumped out of his seat, knocking it over.
"That is Madreen Chameral's head." he gasped. He turned to Andrael with a sense of awe. "Who in the Nether are you? Did you kill that Light-damned bastard?"
"I'm Andrael." said Andrael.
The two men looked at one another questioningly, and then settled their gazes back on Andrael.
"And we are of the Brotherhood of Strom. If you were an enemy of Madreen, you are a friend of ours."
"That's... a relief." Andrael sighed, his body sagging into the chair as his muscles relaxed. "Oh gods. Oh gods."
"What are you doing here, elf?" one of the Brothers asked, sitting back down.
"Looking for somebody who helped me kill Madreen Chameral. Can you help me find him?"
The Brothers shared another look.
"This is unorthodox. I don't know what to do with him."
"We need to contact Elrich, Septim."
They both seemed to have reached an agreement. Andrael was freed, but was not allowed to leave the room. They gave him some water and one of them remained behind to watch over him.
An hour later, a man in a red robe walked into the room. He had the presence of a demigod, much like Madreen once had. A large ego did that to people.
"You must be a Malefactor."
"Oh hells, how'd you know?" Andrael panted, unsure whether to be afraid or relieved.
"My name is Elrich. I was told you were looking for someone. Was that someone carrying a Tribunal Blade, by any chance?"
"I really don't know. I don't think so?"
"Well, there is somebody who caused quite the commotion in the city earlier today. And he's in a lot of trouble, I'm afraid."
Brutus Armaggon had asked for directions in the city, and followed them to arrive at a humble residence in the Artisan's Corner. There, the grandchildren of Garrius Septim resided. Supposedly.
But he found the house abandoned. Nobody answered the door, and it the whole place had the look of being uninhabited. He realised that he was not surprised. The grandchildren of one of the foremost Lightists of the nation would have been easy targets for the Vitalian regime. The children had probably fled.
Just as Brutus turned to leave, he heard movement on one of the rooftops nearby.
His training kicked in. The house was probably being watched. His hand went to the Tribunal Blade Septim had given him, and he began moving. If he could lose whoever it was... There was more than one of them. Multiple footsteps.
Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, the Collective
"Rodin Fornsform, you stand before us to bring clarity to that which has been hidden in darkness."
Scavell, Relfthra and Erbag stood with Rodin Fornsform at their feet. The wretched personal wizard had finally been brought home intact.
"I shall tell you what happened." the man said with pain clear on his face. 'And why."
"Rodin Fornsform, why did you conspire to bring D'vorjakque into this world? Why did you consort with the Azure Church?"
Rodin Fornsform hobbled to his feet. He gritted his teeth.
"Because I was deceived."
The Tirisfalen looked troubled.
"Arronax impersonated Relfthra, and I believed I was receiving my orders directly from the council. It was Meryl who told me the truth. But it was far too late by then. Far too late to stop what was happening."
It was Relfthra's turn to appear ashamed. But Rodin did not look dispirited. He clutched at Scavell's robes and hissed.
"But they didn't realise I was smarter than I looked. I got information, Scavell. I know things. A lot of things. Things that no man who wishes to sleep soundly should know."
"Like what, Rodin?" Erbag piped up, offering a comforting hand to the personal wizard. They all began to realise that their old friend had not betrayed them after all.
"Arronax... Arronax is part of some sick death cult." Rodin said with a pained expression on his face. His eyes watered as he said it. "Necromancy. An entire underground network, transporting bodies... disguised as something else..."
"Raising the dead? Demon magic?" Erbag pressed. If there was one thing that made a Tirisfalen excited, it was demons. It was, after all, what they had been created to fight.
"Not demons. Not even fel magic." Rodin mumbled. "At least, not what Arronax was involved in. No, this is something else... something far stranger."
When Namor's forces burst into Dun Argath, they found that it was deserted. It was entirely empty of all life.
"This is shitty." Namor declared. "Kraven!"
Kraven Cobra scurried up to him and got a punch in the face.
"I told you not to call me that."
"But everybody else calls you that!" Kraven wailed, rubbing his face. "You even tell them to!"
"It doesn't mean you can. I am a whimsical man, Kraven. Entertain my whimsies."
A cry went up from somewhere in the city. It was sadly not the sound of a woman, but it was in fact the sound of a man, and therefore Namor did not feel jubilation.
Minutes later, a member of Namor's crew was dragged into the open. He had part of his face missing, and kept babbling in a strange language.
"Explain, Rodin. Please."
"Arronax got involved with some cult. They're creating things; constructs? I don't know. They're trying to create weapons out of flesh and crystal, things that are neither living nor dead. Fel magic or no. They've got the Collective in it as a cover operation. The Azure Church was involved."
"The Azure Church?"
"Yes. This is Men'heva's doing."
"Search this ^&%$#@ city. I want whatever did that out in the open." Namor yelled, waving his cutlass.
He turned back in towards his ship, but saw that there were things in the road blocking the way. They looked like husks; skeletons, almost. But without legs, arms or eyes, or noses or anything remotely human. Just the husks, floating in the air, attached to chains. And attached to the chains were crystals.
On Plunder Isle, the Collective lords awaited the return of Namor Periandrius. One amongst them in particular; a certain Crystal Ball, had brought with her a cache of her latest creations.
She had many names; many aliases. Crystal Ball was but one of them.
Another was Seneschal. Seneschal of Karazhan. The Collective was the ultimate artifact collecting agency, and her master used it well. But sometimes, the Collective could step out of line. Micaiah had caught wind of what was happening, and tried to stop it. The pitiful fool and his dreams of revolution.
At times like this, the ranks always need a purge. She smiled.
The Malefactors and Stormwind
A visit was paid to the Malefactors in the Box that day.
It was a visit from none other than Relfthra, who the Malefactors had rescued from the Core. The elf had used their mutual contacts in Stormwind to trace the Malefactors.
"I've come to extend an invitation, Highlord. An invitation to the second Fenris Summit."
"And why would I go there, Relfthra?"
"Because the Summit will not be one of peace, but one of war. We plan to strike at Dalaran, Highlord. We plan to strike at the Dictator. And to do that, we are going to need firepower."
"Your kind betrayed me once before, Relfthra. In Boralus, you attempted to steal the Scroll of Lore from the Lady Anazar, forcing her into the arms of her enemies."
"That is one reason we must strike at Dalaran. If the Lady Anazar took it to Dalaran, there is no telling what Javali will do with it - he may even attempt to summon D'vorjakque. It was nearly done once before already, in Zanzifos."
So, they did not know that the Scroll of Lore had been recovered. It was safe in Kindred's Nave, far from Dalaran.
"What you say is true." Xalmor lied.
Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, the Benefactors, Stormwind and the Malefactors
It was Daevin Shadowbreaker who brought word to Fenris Isle that King Andol Corin was going to Dalaran. And from there, the intelligence gathering took on a new dimension. It became apparent that the pagan kings and the Dictator had called a council in the Violet Citadel.
Three of Azeroth's greatest obstacles to the triumph of the Holy Light, all in one place. It was an assassin's dream.
And the added incentive that the Scroll of Lore had last been traced to Dalaran helped set the discussions in motion.
General Mattheus Perinany came to Fenris in person, accompanied by the Fist of Humanity. Duke Augustus Fenris came as well, meeting with Marshal Sherman, Tribune Ethgan of Stromgarde and Grigori Dosantos of the Kirin Mora. The Tirisfalen stood alongside the agents of Ravenholdt, and united, it made for a gathering the likes of which had not been seen since the Fenris Summit. They were also joined by representatives of the Malefactors.
In effect, it was the second Fenris Summit.
And what was discussed was a plan to cut the head off the serpent; to strike at Dalaran itself, and assassinate the Dictator and if possible, Kings Andol and Vitalian.
But it was understood that an assassination attempt would fail miserably on its own. The Violet Citadel was the most difficult place to infiltrate on the face of Azeroth, and during a meeting of three kings, it could not be more well guarded.
So the Lightists hatched a plan. With the armies of Hesperia focused on the Stormwind legions in the south, the Perinany and Lordaeron Remnant had been forgotten in Silverpine.
General Mattheus Perinany and Marshal Sherman proposed to lead a lightning assault on the city of Dalaran with their armies, reinforced by the Stromgarde soldiers of Tribune Ethgan who were camped in the west Alterac mountains. The three armies would descend on Dalaran and lay siege to it.
The siege would not be designed to be successful; it was merely a distraction. A distraction, that with the help of 'General' Marius, would allow a team of assassins to sneak into the Violet Citadel and end the reign of the Dictator once and for all.
And to do that, all they needed was a Morrow Stone.
Kul Tiras and the Elves
The only way off the island was through a harbour, and so the unlikely band headed to Rhodos City. Due to the Stormwind attack on Patmos, however, the city was on high alert.
And a giant barbarian, an elven woman, a child and two awkward men stood out painfully. It was for that reason that the militia cornered Joachim's party of misfits. They were soon joined by the mayor of Rhodos himself.
"Who the hell are you?" the mayor asked politely. He was a bearish figure, and Joachim felt that he would be happy to answer all questions asked.
"Welcome to Rhodos, Joe. I'm Theodoros Haal. And I'm mighty interested in why you're coming from the direction of the Benefactor shit-pile that is Patmos."
"Right you bloody well are you're escaping. But not from me. So what am I supposed to do with you, eh? Benefactor spies."
"Ho, friend." Wotan stated, extending a massive palm outwards. "We are no friends of the wicked witch elves."
"And yet, one of them accompanies you." Haal pointed out, looking at Cyssia.
"She's... my prisoner?" Joachim added helpfully.
"Tell you what. Uncle Haal is a generous man. He'll hand you over to the Stormwind fleet, and they'll decide what to do with you. Good day."
"No... I'd rather not?"
The spectacle was interrupted by a company of Stormwind soldiers walking into the square. Joachim's heart began beating twice as fast. He was not sure if he wanted to kill them or if he even cared any longer.
"What's this, Haal?" the leader of the company asked.
"Those are no spies. That is Wotan, Haal. A friend of Duke Augustus Fenris, and rescuer of the Princess Tatiana, whom you so kindly hosted in your city."
"As if I could forget that woman." Haal said, rolling his eyes. "Fine. I'll leave you with them then. When Patmos is purged of pagans, please be sure to tell me."
Joachim was left with the Stormwind captain and his men. He thought back to when the Stormwind soldiers in Boralus sat by and watched as Deke Dio nearly killed him. Men like this had taken Balor from him.
"I'm Commander Francis Germaine."
"I'm." Joachim began, and then finally gave in. He no longer cared. "I am Joachim Alten, Baron of Balor."
Francis Germaine bowed slightly, though his eyes did not leave Joachim as he did so.
"I see. I had a funny feeling you were. Everyone heard what happened in Boralus. They have been searching for you. We suspected you would be in Patmos."
"So, are you going to arrest me?"
"No, Baron Alten." Francis Germaine said plainly. "I have orders that in the unlikely event I came across you, I was to pass on a message to you from Duke Augustus Fenris. One - You are not guilty of any crimes in the eyes of King Lothar. Two - You are invited to speak with Duke Augustus Fenris. He will offer you a chance to resume your position as Baron of Balor, as long as you accept Silas Lothar as your sovereign lord. Three - Justice for your family shall be delivered if you accept."
"J-justice?" Joachim asked, trying to wrap his head around the thought of Stormwind suddenly jumping onto the other side of the fence.
"Yes, Baron." Francis Germaine continued. "There is a... struggle for power going on right now. General Linus Wrynn is the man responsible for the murder of your family. Duke Fenris seeks to have him brought in for treason."
"And you stand with Duke Fenris, clearly."
"I do." Francis Germaine admitted candidly. "So here's what we can do, Baron. I can take you to Fenris Isle, to meet with Duke Augustus. And to meet with your friend, Gerard Falrevere, who is with him now. Or I can pretend we never met, and you can go on your way. Just like that."
Last edited by Timolas : 06-07-2012 at 10:38 PM.
Join Date: Aug 2008
The city burned behind him and his troops while they retreated and hoped the fire to finish burning. Huge sways of human refugees left the city, but not all of them escaped with the elves, a group far from small had chosen to leave with the trolls. But Maka could not concentrate on that his eyes were fixated on the image of his trolls turning into disgusting blobs of flesh, and how that wicked sorcery began to spread. Not even the blood curse that had afflicted Jin’thek worked in such grotesque and unnatural ways, it was the horror, the real horror and he had seen it. The fires of the Hand of Tyr burned high into the night sky, the screams slowly fading away while he finally found his communication stone in the battle pavilion. He had to contact the Kaizar or his hand, he had to tell him what he seen. He attempted to contact Nuvzagal but it was to no use, maybe he had already arrived to great city of Jobal’kan? There was no time to ponder, he prepared to contact Ha’lin when suddenly Shango came into the tent, ‘father ‘ he screamed ‘we got two prisioners’
He looked towards his son his eyes still looking into the horror, ‘Kill them, set them free, give them to the Atal’Kaizar it does not matter, I gotta tell the Hand of what we have seen my son.’ He said frenetically ‘WE HAVE TO TELL THEM.’
But suddenly and to his greatest surprise his son slapped him, he remained motionless for a second until his son spoke again’ You do not understand father, one of our trolls says that one of them opened a flask of sorts before his comrades began to….’ He stopped for a second also remembering the horror, ‘before they began to turn into those abominations and die.’
Tears flowed out of Maka’s face; Jin’thek had been good to them.
The two humans were dirty and naked, both with their legs and arms tied. They had been stripped of every piece of clothing they had by the witch doctors, just in case they had more of that wicked magic with them.
Maka looked straight into the face of the two while he asked the soldier in zandali ‘Which was it?’ and so obediently and quietly the troll pointed towards one of them. Maka couldn’t contain himself he jammed his leg into his ribs, the human crying out in pain.
‘Did ya had the flask which had the bad mojo human.’ He asked in his best common, yet the human remained there motionless without saying anything.
So he kicked him again, and once again he screamed, but that was the only sound he made. He looked straight into his eyes, and he saw nothing, the man was prepared for pain. He felt like he could kick him a hundred times, and he would say nothing. But his anger was too great, so he kicked him again. But this time after he kicked him he asked no question, he drew his dirk and put it straight next his throat ‘You wanna die mon?’ And the human said nothing, like he expected so he put the dirk right into the throat of the other one, letting the metal touch his skin ‘Do you think he wanna die mon¨?’ The human remained silent once again but his eyes gave him away, something deep behind the wall of ice that covered them something moved. He cared about this one.
‘Do you think Vol’chek wanted to die a mass of death? He wanted to be a legend mon, he wanted to be a hero even if it meant dying like one. But the death you gave him had nothing of that.’ He said while strengthening his hold over the dirk, pushing it slightly closer to the other human’s throat, and there he could see it clearly the silent one cared for this one.
‘So tell me mon, what in Jin’thek names did that flask had? Or I kill him, slowly and painfully like you killed my trolls.’ His voice cold as ice, and full of anger and sorrow.
‘You saw what did.’
‘Death, for us
and only us’ Maka answered, the human just nodded. ‘That’s what I wanted to know.’ He said while he punched him in the face.
He left the humans under heavy guard and entered his tent again, his son behind him.
‘We should torture them father, slowly and painfully. We should make him drink the mojo he brought upon us, he was sick didn’t you noticed? It seems it affected him somehow too.’
‘I noticed son, but we are not going to torture him not now, first I must speak with the hand.’
The communication stone warmed upon his hand and then he could hear Ha’lin voice in his head.
‘Maka, did the Hand of Tyr fell already? Did the humans proved faithful?’ The voice said
‘Yes our humans proved faithful and the elven and human armies in retreat.’
‘Excellent I suppose you hold the city now, but your voice Maka did something happen?’
‘We did not took the city, I had to burn it. The humans Ha’lin the humans have conceived something as terrifying as the Soulflayer himself.’
Maka explained everything about the battle and the horror he witnessed, about the mojo, about the human he told him everything as Ha’lin remained silent, listening to his words. Until his voice finally spoke ‘The horror.’
‘Yes’ Maka replied ‘The horror, a proper name for a proper monster.’
‘If this mojo does what we think it does mon, then it means.’ Ha’lin spoke
‘They want to wipe us out the map mon, they want to end us like the cowards they are.’
‘No mon, they are not cowards, they are demons, monsters. But do you know what it means mon, the implications of it.’
‘Yes Hand, they cannot look to the other side not anymore.’
‘I am going to send word to the great temple of Ula’tek and Jintha’alor. I am going to inform every chief of this, and regarding the humans you know what to do.’
‘Aye, I do and I shall not delay.’ He answered while finishing the communication, and looking towards his son. ‘Thanks to Jin’thek you weren’t there.’ He said tears almost falling from his eyes
‘Thanks to Jin’thek you weren’t there father’ Shango answered while embracing his father fraternally.
‘Now now, enough sentimentalities.’ Maka said cutting the moment, his son moved back a few steps and asked his father ‘What are we going to do with the Horror?’
‘What do you when you have a monster so terribly, so dark and so evil that it could consume the world itself?’ Maka said cryptically,
‘You pray to the Loa for guidance and protection.’ His son answered dutifully
‘Yes Shango we shall pray, but prayer alone is not enough.’ Maka answered with a small smile on his face ‘When the monster is too great, to terrible and to dangerous you go for help. And to whom may the Lebenstraum go for help?’
His son remained quiet thinking for a while until finally he lifted up his head realizing what his father was implying. ‘You mean like Jin’thek did?’
‘Yes like Jin’thek did, this monster has a meeting to attend, a very important meeting.’
Last edited by Zula : 06-07-2012 at 08:55 PM.
The caravan headed steadily north, through the snowy mountains and rocky tunnels of Khaz Modan. It had been nearly a month since Joldir Thaurissan’s coronation, and Thane Regent Siolfor Blackhammer had been quick to jump on any opportunities to please his compatriots. He had also accepted an invitation from the group known as Ravenholdt to have an ambassador attend a meeting of sorts at Fenris Isle. Grog Flintbuckle had declined the position, weary from what happened the last time he was an ambassador. And so Siolfor had chosen Mikel Pillaclencher, a rising star and grandson of Kargkul Pillaclencher. He was one of many dwarves that had idolized Skirvar.
Seeking to impress his fellows, Siolfor had invited Thanes Kurgen Featherbeard and Bolverk Bronzebeard to join him for a week in Port Baradin. It was to be both a display of kindness and of wealth. He had the utmost faith in Jack Turpin to clean the city up in time for the royal arrivals. The man had kept the city safe from crime, relatively speaking, even during Voutgar’s reign as Baron. As far as Blackhammer was concerned the man was nothing short of a miracle worker. Even with Facade exercising his muscle, he knew that Turpin would at least be able to make the city presentable. They had a few weeks until arrival to do so.
---Seven Months Earlier---
For a wretched hive of scum and villainy, Port Baradin had a lively charity scene. True, many charities were used launder the dirty money of the criminals in town with a mere pitence going to those actually in need, but some were truly legitimate organizations. Some gathered money for the sick or hungry. Other, for the purposes of improving the city of Port Baradin. The Dinner Event hosted that nightwas in the honor of one such charity. And in the honor of one specific man.
The crowd milled about before the presentation ceremony began. They searched for their seats, searched for their food and their drinks. They mingled and talked amongst each other, meeting new people and getting reacquainted with the old. No one truly stuck out amongst the crowd, but if one had to choose a single individual to do so it would have been Quinton Stone. The tall and fit half-elf stood above the various humans in the room. But the number of dwarves was so significant that such a small height difference was negligible.
Picking up a glass of Verrall Chardonnay wine, Stone made his way through the crowd. He made small talk with those who wished to, but soon excused himself. He was looking for a certain man. Finishing his glass, he set it down on a nearby table and turned away. Before him stood the man he had been searching for; behind the man was a familiar, and much younger, woman. Stone held out his hand.
“Commissioner Jack Turpin. An honor to finally meet you,” he said with a smile. “My name is Stone. Quinton Stone.”
“You praise me too much, Mr. Stone,” Turpin replied humbly. “I’m glad to finally meet you. I’ve heard you’ve been volunteering at the station.”
“Not as often as I’d like, I’m afraid,” he said. “But enough talk of me. You’re the man of the hour.”
“I’m not very interesting to talk about,” Turpin responded, turning aside and gesturing to the woman by his side. “I’m aware that you’ve got a history with Ms. Raines here,”
“Something like that, yes,” Stone replied. “Nice to see you again, Meaghan.”
“A pleasure, Quinton,”
“If by ‘something’ you mean a rescue worthy of a hero from the old stories, then you’re speaking honestly.”
“Please, it was nothing. You’re the real hero, keeping this law in order in this town for so many years, with so much resistance.”
“I’m sure Ms. Raines wouldn’t call that nothing,” Turpin said firmly. “I’m not the hero here. My boys are the heroes. I just tell people what to do,”
“And you do so spectacularly,” he insisted. “I don’t know what this city would do without you,”
“Here’s to hoping the we don’t have to find you anytime soon,” Meaghan said, raising her glass of Lordamere Spätlese.
“I’ll drink to that,” Turpin replied with a chuckle.
Quinton Stone, the Vigilante, raced across the Port Baradin skyline. He jumped from rooftop to rooftop with the parkour skills of an over-qualified Ravenholdt intern, the kind of intern who really has no business being an intern. His destination was the Hromith Morani Memorial Bank, which had been renamed in the year since Facade had made his murderous arrival there. Stone had no love for the Morani family, but reports said that Twirl and Möbius, aka the Sapphic Slayers, were in the midst of conducting a robbery there. He had been hunting them ever since they had escaped from Ironsong Prison.
Stone jumped from the rooftop and landed on his feet in front of the bank. The doors had been torn open and tossed aside. Standing up, he rushed inside. The bank was quite like how he had remember it after investigating the crime scene after Facade had arrived. Too much like it, in fact. It was awful empty for a bank robbery. There was no sight of any personnel at all. He had a bad feeling about this.
“Damn it, Möbius, looks like its the Vigilante that showed up after all,” came a whiny female voice from above. “I was hoping for that sexy little Vigilantress. Rawr.”
“Shouldn’t have gotten your hopes up, Twirl. She hasn’t been seen in months,” came another woman’s voice in response. The Sapphic Slayers leapt from above and posed in front of Stone.
“I’m not in the mood for games,” the Vigilante growled, charging at them. However, he was blindsided by frigid magical blast.
“You need to chill out, dawg,” Big Icy said with a diamond smile as he walked in from a side room.
“Three of you,” Stone whispered as he pushed himself up. His anti-magic suit had prevented him from becoming a Stonesicle. “This complicates matters,”
Quickly, he drew two arcane bombs from his belt and flung them at the trio of villains. Stone had commissioned his belt specially from Raines, who had based it on the design of the Esoteric Order Utility Belt™ that Ewekapu Marsh had given to Stone. Möbius and Big Icy were the ones most affected, as the bombs had drawn on their mana to power the explosion. The warrior Twirl was only knocked back. She began to demonstrate her namesake as she twirled around with blades outstretched in a Whirlwind of blades.
He leapt over her outstretched arms, expertly dodging her strikes, and grabbed her by the head whilst still upside-down above her. Stone landed on his feet, and Twirl painfully struck the ground with a loud thud. Not yet finished, Stone back-flipped a few times over to Big Icy and engaged him in fisticuffs. The frost mage, drained of magical power, was no matched for stop. But as he turned to engage Möbius, a fist collided with his face.
“Keep ya self aware of surroundings, mon,” Swine taunted, standing over him.
“You should heed your own advice,” the Vigilante growled, knockin the half-troll half-dwarf off her feet with a sweep of his legs. He stood with a start, but felt a sharp pain in his side. A dagger had been lodged in his flesh. “Gah-!”
“Oh, it feels good to be back in the action,” Tweed Sorvino drawled. “Doesn’t it, Davey?”
“Sure does,” his brother replied.
“What the hell is this, the Circus?” Stone asked sarcastically.
“We’re called the Sadistic Seven, bub,” Tweed announced proudly.
“You’re not exactly bright, are you?”
“There are only six of you,” He explained. “Sadistic Six.”
“Jokes on you!” Twirl said with glee. “Junno isn’t here yet!”
“Well, then,” Stone said, drawing the dagger from his side and throwing it. It impacted in Davey Sorvino’s forehead, and his dead body slumped to the ground. “Now you’re the Sadistic Six.”
“You son of a bitch-” Tweed said, charging at him.
Even with a stab wound, Stone was a force to be reckoned with. He jumped over Sorvino’s head, flying through the air with the greatest of ease. Grabbing the half-dwarf’s shirt, he lifted him into the air and threw him at Möbius, knocking her to the ground. Twisting around, he dodged a frostbolt that Big Icy had fired, and it hit Swine instead. As he moved to take care of the frost mage/hip-hop artist, however, Twirl smacked him with the flat of one of her blades.
“Remember, Facade wants him alive!” she shouted.
He was crouched on the floor, and as he looked up he saw a veritable cavalcade of criminal goons and thugs fill the bank. The Sadistic Six had back-up, and quite a bit of it. As he attempted to rise he was struck on the back and fell to the floor. Somebody kicked him in the stomach three times. Sheer numbers overwhelmed his superior skill, and he was painfully beaten into submission.
Suddenly, the crowd and hubbub paused for a split second. Then came a new sound. It was not the sound of cheers of victory that had been present before the pause. This was the sound of battle, of violence. The crowd charge toward the entrance, Sadistic Six included, with the Vigilante forgotten and trampled underneath. He crawl out and observed the brawl. It was Jack Turpin’s Police Force. He saw Turpin himself through the windows, shouting orders. Stone smiled.
---Many Years Earlier---
Voutgar Blackhammer smiled as he handled the bottle. Finally, the cork gave way. A loud popping noise was let loose as the stopper was released. Some of the Strattania Sekt bubbled out onto the floor. The Silverbeard quickly had two glasses brought over and filled them. He handed one to the Gimp and took one for himself.
“To business!” he toasted. His associate downed the drink in one hasty gulp.
“It is a good day. Now my empire is complete. Khaz Modan is mine,” the Gimp said proudly.
“Ours, my friend,”
“Now, there is one thing you must know about Port Baradin,” Voutgar said, sitting down. He motioned for the Gimp to do the same, to no response. “You’ll find the law only so willing to bend.”
“What is that supposed to mean?”
“No doubt in your other territories the police have fallen into your pocket. Our Commissioner will not,” Voutgar explained. “Criminality thrives in Port Baradin, but Jack Turpin fights it nonetheless,”
“We should crush him. Like an ant,”
“We could, yes, but this is a remarkable man. To fight against such overwhelming odds and to fare so well is impressive,” Silverbeard elaborated. “He and the Police Force are one, however. We take him out, the force dies too. So key a figure is he,”
“We need the law, my friend. Some of it,” Voutgar said firmly. “We are criminals, not anarchists. And without Turpin, I’m afraid that anarchy is all we’ll have in Port Baradin,”
The battle was waged fiercely, neither side willing to give up an inch. The criminals, lead by the Sadistic Six, attacked brutally and relentlessly. The police, under Commissioner Jack Turpin’s command, fought effectively and steadily. The criminals obviously had raw power of their side. However, the police made up for inferior strength with superior planning. The criminals were a chaotic mess, hurting themselves almost as much as the police.
With a surge, the criminals rushed out of the bank into the square. With a groan, pushed himself up and followed. He was worse for the wear, but he could still fight effectively on even footing. When he stumbled outside, Turpin was there to greet him. The Commissioner slapped Stone on the shoulder as he walked up.
“There you are. Good to see you made it out in one piece,” he said warmly. “Maybe you should sit this one out. The boys can handle it.”
“Not my style,” Quinton said with a forced smile. He rushed out, running into the melee.
The Vigilante jumped back into the fray just as the tide was turned. It became clearly evident that the criminal element was being beaten back. Stone was astonished by how vigorously the policemen fought under Turpin’s command. Steadily, the thugs fell, though the Sadistic Six remained. Suddenly, a horrible metallic noise made everyone reach to over their ears. In a flash of light, Facade appeared. He hovered above the crowd, Ancient Oculus floating before him.
“Enough!” he said with a shout. “I’ve had enough of this!”
“We tried to stick to the plan, sir!” Tweed shouted.
“And you failed, you miserable little creature,” Facade roared. Turning, he pointed at Jack Turpin. “You. You are responsible for this.”
“Yes, I suppose I am,” he stopped speaking, but continued mouthing a word. Stone understood it. “Run.”
“Very well,” the God in a Cave said calmly, before raising his hand. A blast of magic tore through Turpin, killing him instantly.
Stone followed the advice his friend had given him with his last actions. There was not time to scream in anguish, to mourn openly. Instead, he had to choke down his world and his tears and he ran away in the chaos. Behind him, the disillusioned police force fell to the renewed onslaught of the criminals. As soon as he was a safe distance away, Quinton Stone stopped and gasped for breath. He tore the Vigilante mask from his head and tossed it to the side with a shout. He had failed, failed his friend when it mattered most. He had failed Kargkul, the Baker. He had failed so many. Ultimately, he never do anything but fail. There was no point to it.
He was Vigilante no more.
Join Date: Dec 2007
The following events take place before the Summit…
Faldren Darafel: You know Nibbles, I’m beginning to think that these dungeons are positively the least protective environment on Azeroth.
Nibbles: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
The salivating gnoll vigorously agreed as Warester Van Dam personally unlocked their cells.
Warester Van Dam: You’re right, my friends. It was a mistake to keep you here. You’re free. But as of now, this Isle is the safest place I can imagine for you. And I think you’ll want to stick around if what Travot is planning comes to fruition.
Faldren Darafel: Oh, how delightful. Next time my life is narrowly saved, I’ll be surrounded by much cheerier ambiance.
Flanked by his gnoll chef, Faldren happily exited his cell before matching eyes with one of the dozen Dark Iron Golem invaders and then slowly backing his way out of the room. Whatever the Golems purpose was on Fenris, they’d been stopped by Zero-Zero-Nine. Now freed, many of them were tearlessly weeping or otherwise experiencing emotional trauma as their liberator attended them.
Warester Van Dam: Have you been able to find out why they’re here? Or how they got here?
Zero-Zero-Nine: Negative. These golems retain no memories of their possession. Like me, their cores are comprised of amalgamated ancient souls. They are now, for the first time, free to feel the pain of their subjugation. Fighting them would have been even more costly.
Warester Van Dam: I can’t even imagine…
Zero-Zero-Nine: No, you cannot.
It was a stroke of fortune that Zero-Zero-Nine was present. Without his gifts, these golems could have reaped untold destruction. Three human priests died to liberate Zero-Zero-Nine, and Van Dam didn’t have the priests to spare.
Warester Van Dam: Tend to your people. See what else you can uncover, and keep me appraised.
Van Dam exited the dungeons, uneasy. With Travot organizing a second Summit, this was not the time to have a security breach of this magnitude. Several large golems didn’t just saunter in unannounced, and Ravenholdt’s magical countermeasures should have redirected any incoming portals. If they did arrived by portal, it would have had to have been opened within the Keep itself…
And somewhere, Filbert de Niglac cursed.
When Adaen Melrache woke up, he was staring up at the cutlass of Admiral Katherine Adai.
Katherine Adai: When did they turn you?
Adaen struggled to get to his feet, but Katherine’s boot on his cheat kept him down.
Adaen Melrache : What are you talking about, woman?
Katherine Adai: You persisted with that Bright Lord hogwash when you knew it was a lie. You manipulated poor Sherman into believing it. Either your years as a Witch Hunter have left you completely insane, or you’re another pawn of Men’heva.
Adaen Melrache: How dare you impugn my integrity!
Tileot Menethil: There are monsters in this world, Melrache, and you focus on slaughtering other men. I think you revel in it too much. I’ll grant you tenacity, but you’ve completely forsaken the other two virtues of the Holy Light. Where is your respect? Where is your compassion?
The bloodied Tileot had recovered from his beating, earning the respect of the assembled forces. One might not have expected such heart from a pampered “nephew” of the king.
Adaen Melrache: You… would lecture me?
Enraged, Melrache’s vigor returned. He surged with light, his luminous wings batting and carrying him from the ground. Adai was knocked away as Adaen took flight, something only one other Esarim had managed to do as their wings were normally non-functional. He soared over the Keep’s walls.
Katherine Adai: That son of a bitch! Fall in, troops! We’re going after him!
Tileot Menethil: No. Let him go. We can’t expend resources hunting him down. Besides, I’m expecting word from the Archbishop…
Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, Zul'Dare, the Benefactors, Stormwind and the Malefactors
The following events take place before the Summit. But after the events that Gurt detailed. Probably. Confusing timeline! After the events in Arathi, obviously.
The arrival of the Malefactors created quite the commotion on Fenris Isle. The reasons were quite simple: enemies of Men’heva as they were, they were still pagan. Fanatically so. They arrived nearly in full; their ranks were not large, but were filled with the most powerful and the most tested of all the world. The presence of such an imposing pagan force left the Lightist majority uneasy, even if there were allies.
More than just that, the ranks of the Malefactors were filled with individuals from around the world, many with much blood on their hands. There was Melusine, former member of the Maroon Cult who had slaughtered many members of Baron Joachim Alten’s family. Brutus Armaggon, former leader of the Eels who had killed many under Commodore Namor Periandrius’ command. Sinéad Proudmoore, the Tirasi Princess whose father had been killed by Grand Master Warester Van Dam at the first conference. Donald Redpath, whose only son had been slain by Dark Iron Thane Skirvar Thaurissan. Anazar, former apprentice to Archareveim Zinizar herself, and her Zaramim guard. Andrael, the man who had vanquished Madreen Chameral, the Ivory Templar.
However, the most controversial guest was the Malefactor leader himself; Highlord Xalmor Windrunner. The Viridian Templar had been a long standing and important leader of the Benefactors before his defection. His reputation for zealotry only thinly surpassed his reputation for brutality and painful pragmatism. His more recent exploits in Gilneas were well known, and word of the Siege of Middlecreek had spread. But most had heard of him following the Battle of Boralus, after he publicly revealed the Malefactors and their intentions. All knew him to be a valuable ally and a dangerous foe, and someone who could potentially change from one to the other at a moment’s notice.
‘Electra Wrathchild’ disappeared after the Malefactor’s arrival. When Warester finally found her, she was in a small, easily missed room. She looked quite shaken.
“Are you alright, Greystone?” he asked.
“If you had the chance to kill Men’heva before he became the monster, would you?” Greystone replied cryptically. “Would you execute a man for crimes he has not yet committed?”
“Xalmor Windrunner killed my parents. He made me an orphan. But Sylvanas robbed me of my vengeance,” she said bitterly. “Now he is here, in my home.”
“That isn’t the man who killed your parents. He died back in the Age of Men’heva.” He turned his head to the door as he heard a knock. “Err, come in,”
“Grand Master?” it was an elf on the other side of the door. “Operative Joleera reporting in. Would you like to debrief me?”
His Malefactors had scattered. Donald Redpath had gone with Anazar to exchange words with Mikel Pillaclencher, Dark Iron Ambassador, over the late Skirvar Thaurissan. Brutus was trailing Sinéad to make sure she stayed in order. Melusine was back in Pellerno, tending to her duties as Lady Amorim. Xalmor Windrunner had only Andrael at his side as he traversed the halls of Fenris Keep. It was a good, sturdy construction, fit for a headquarters. However, he had no doubts that Ravenholdt had chosen the location for purely symbolic reasons. They kept their secrets close, and would not hold an international conference at their secret headquarters.
At the Grand Master’s suggestion he was off to see the one they called New Qu. He had heard that this man of science had developed a devious weapon. If it worked as was claimed, it could turn the tide of the conflict. He and Andrael walked down a dark corridor and soon reached the lab. Upon entering the room, he found three men. One was lying on a table, the others seemed to be studying him.
“Are you the one named Qu?” the Highlord asked.
“Oh, come on! You?” the man on the table shouted. “What are you doing here?”
“Keep calm, Ewe,” one of the doctors cautioned. Xalmor wondered how Ewekapu Marsh had ended up on Fenris.
“I am, elf man,” the other doctor answered. “Who are you?”
“I am Xalmor Windrunner, Viridian Templar and Highlord of the Malefactors,” he replied. “A pleasure to see you again too, Lord Marsh.”
“Oh! That guy. The Grand Master warned- umm, told me about you,” New Qu said. “You looking for something?”
“I am, actually,” Xalmor spoke. “I believe you call it Zutopong’loa...”
Join Date: Dec 2007
The following events take place before the Summit and before the Council‘s interrogation of Rodin Fornsform…
Ravenholdt, Lordaeron, Plunder Isle, the Collective
Relfthra had expected a cold reception from his fellow Councilors… and he got it. He sensed a biting resentment that Relfthra knew he deserved. While the others had battled Men’heva personally, with the scars to prove it, Relfthra had been otherwise engaged in what he now realized was a futile effort to redeem and cover-up his son's misdeeds. That effort culminated in Arronax destroying the Council of Tirisfal’s headquarters and murdering, among others, the esteemed Kithros.
Erbag: You’ve got a lot to answer for, Relfthra.
Relfthra: I know, and I cannot apologize enough for the folly of my ways. I was blinded by the love a father has for his son. I… I thought I could save him.
Erbag and Scavell stood with crossed arms.
Scavell: What are Arronax’s intentions with Men’heva? What’s his endgame?
Scavell touched his torso, where under his simple robes there was a massive scar he received from the Zin'rokh. It was Kithros who dove into the water and saved him that day, and now Kithros was dead. He couldn't save his friend, but he would damn sure avenge him.
Relfthra: I can only extrapolate, but from inference… it isn’t good.
Cerzimon hung upside-down. He didn’t know for how long. He was only awoken by the approaching sound of mechanical, heavy breathing.
Arronax: Good evening, Cerzimon.
The elf had, unfortunately in Cerzimon’s estimation, survived the near-fatal wound to his neck - but not without a cost. He was wearing some kind of breathing apparatus, covering his throat and mouth and seemingly powered by a pulsating crystal affixed to the faceguard. Cerzimon had never seen anything like it, but he didn’t know what kind of devilish instruments Men’heva and his ilk had at their disposal.
Arronax: I do hope that you’re finding Karazhan… hospitable.
With a dry mouth, the weakened Esarim attempted to speak.
Cerzimon: You… betrayed your father… betrayed your people… your religion…
Arronax viciously backhanded his captive, sending him swinging to and fro.
Arronax: Bah! My religion…
Relfthra: As you know, I am a Lightist. Arronax’s mother… was not. I encouraged him to analyze the merits of the various faiths; to make his own decisions. Perhaps that was ill advised. He chose none, eschewing “faith” altogether.
Scavell: What are you saying? That he’s some kind of… atheist? The last person I knew that took that position was mad King Xie.
Relfthra: My son sees the various faiths as fraudulent myths built up surrounding ambient powers, powers both in the universe and in the mortal psyche. Belief, to Arronax, is a placebo, and harnessing the powers of the pagan gods, for example, is nothing more than a matter of having the willpower to do so.
Erbag: A novel approach, though it seems to homogenize the world a bit.
Scavell: So, what? He thinks all the pagans got it wrong?
Arronax: “Pagans.” Their pathetic and uneducated need to anthropomorphize the world around them sickens me. Even those who believe their gods have abandoned them don’t question the fact that, if their gods are gone, where then are their magical powers coming from? The ignorant fools. Leave it to humans like you to invent these “sky daddies” to account for natural phenomena. I’m literally shocked your kind haven’t formed a religion around the arcane, though perhaps we elves taught it to you only too recently.
Cerzimon: Not… just… humans.
Arronax: Hrmph. No. Sadly, you’re right. Like a virus, your human ignorance has spread to elf kind. How any denizen of Quel’thalas could believe such rubbish is completely beyond me. I thought we’d left that kind of hooky superstition behind when we abandoned our progenitors and their “Elune.”
Cerzimon: I’m not pagan…
Arronax: Your Light is much the same. Though to your credit you haven’t fabricated any deities, you still ascribe a philosophy to this power that is utterly baseless.
Relfthra: Men’heva is a believer. He legitimately seeks “the Awakening.” However, Men’heva had no compunctions with leveraging and exploiting religiosity to suit his own ends. That is something Arronax respects. That is something he wanted to be a part of.
Erbag: Relfthra… you really suck at parenting.
Relfthra: Yes, I am aware. Arronax is riding Men’heva’s coattails so that he can achieve his own devious plans. I just haven’t figured out exactly what they are yet, but I suspect he was active in Gilneas for a time before he resurfaced at Shorel’thalas. This is one of the reasons I prioritized investigation of Rodin Fornsform’s disappearance.
Scavell: Then perhaps we should speak to Rodin…
Cerzimon: Why… are you telling me this?
Arronax: I like a captive audience. But also because you’re an integral part in the next stage of my plan.
Arronax pulled a large crystal from the inside of his robe. He held it up to Cerzimon, and it’s mere presence caused his Esarim powers to flare up. But this time, they didn’t linger. Instead, the radiance was stripped from him and absorbed by the strange crystal. Within its confines, the energy turned from a beautiful luminescence into a perverted, bleak darkness.
Arronax: Though it shames him to admit, Men’heva’s plans have gone somewhat awry recently. In his desperation, he has become more receptive to my suggestions. I have devised something truly “unholy,” to spite you all. Words do it little justice. Perhaps a demonstration is in order. Bring them in!
On the elf’s command, two of his goons entered the room. Between them, they were dragging two bodies. When they tossed them to the ground, Cerzimon’s eyes widened in horror and recognition. Holding the crystal over the corpse, Arronax issued a frightful command.
Arronax: Robere de Changee of Ravenholdt. Kithros of Quel'thalas. Rise!