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Old 03-20-2011, 02:17 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Zul'Dare

Ewekapu was awoken by screaming. He rolled out of bed, groping for his sword. The door burst open and Barny hobbled in, hands flailing.
"We've got to get out of here, Ewe!"
"What's going on, Muhar dammit!"
Barny's mask prevented Ewe from reading the man's expression, but the terror in his voice was palpable enough.
"I don't know, Ewe. Maybe it's Phorcys come to drag us back. But we have to flee!"

The Nidhogg had provided them with a way out, but the corridor of opportunity was shrinking around them. Dressing himself with all haste and with sword in hand, Ewe pushed past Barny and thundered into the streets. It was still night, and the streets were mostly deserted.

Deserted, save for the rabble of soldiers fighting the town guard along the streets. Ewe rushed towards the docks, tailed by a panting Barny. They reached the Nidhogg, recognizing it by the description that they had been provided with. The deck was alive with crew members, and Ewe could hear Captain Dampwallace aboard shouting orders.
"To your stations, or it'll be to your deaths with you!"
"Captain Dampwallance! It's Ewekapu!" Ewe shouted up. "Let us aboard, quickly!"
The Captain had the plank extended to let Ewe and Barny aboard, and soon they were reunited with the crew.
"What's going on, Captain?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing, Ewe. I suspect it's the rebels."
"Rebels, Captain?" Ewe asked raising his eyebrows.
"Janus DeMeza and his rebels. They attacked Boralus from Gilneas several days ago, then scattered into the hills. Truth is, Ewe, Kul Tiras is a bad place to be right now. That is one reason I want to get my men to Hesperia. Drisburg is no longer safe. We're making an early exit."

Ewe had found a way for Anazar to get back home, but he did not have Anazar with him. Could he convince Dampwallace to take them to Boralus? Disguised, he could break Anazar out of the royal palace. She would be eternally grateful to him. Otherwise, he was not sure what he was going to do in Hesperia, except perhaps, warn the Hareveim there and tell them where they could rescue Anazar.

Lastly, he knew that the Esoteric Order would never forget him. It would never stop searching for him. It was in the code, and they would seek him out to rescue him, or if he had betrayed them, to kill him. Even if they never found him, Ewe knew that he would transform into one of the half-trolls. He would become a monster, like Barny, unless he could find a way to halt the process. Perhaps the wizards of Dalaran could help.

"Brace yourselves!" Captain Dampwallace roared. Rebels were running up the docks towards the Nidhogg. One of them wore red robes, and he bore a symbol that stirred Ewe's memory. It was the symbol of the men of Stromgarde, who had attacked New Barsmouth. The man was holding a ball of fire - he was a mage.

---

The Malefactors and Kul Periandrius

Xalmor Windrunner had found himself in the company of former enemies, and it unnerved him. The residence that he was residing in was tended by a few servants from the palace, but it was nothing lavish. Nonetheless, it was better than a tent or sleeping out in the open, as he had done with Amarian and the two performers they had met in Harrowdale.

It had been necessary to abandon Amarian, just as it had been necessary to abandon Zanzifos. That is what Xalmor kept telling himself. Still, sometimes he wondered how is student was doing, if she still lived. Had the pagans won at Zanzifos? He would have to find out, someday.

A knock came at the door to his room. Xalmor was sitting on his bed, gazing into his mirror silently. He cleared his throat and rose to his feet, his sword within arm's reach against the wall. The door opened and in stepped Alan Zadok, the madman who Xaxion had saved from death in Ythan'alai. His scraggly beard was gone and his hair neat. The drunkard had been dressed in finery, though there was still a distant look of madness in his eyes.

Alan Zadok had been present at Ythan'alai with Phorcys, when Phorcys had gained the power of Xaxion Drak'eem. His return to Boralus had created a sensation. He had received a request for an audience with Phorcys. Alan Zadok would be one of the first men outside the palace to see Phorcys in months.

"What do you want, Zadok?"
"The plan will be set in motion soon, my lord. The Commodore reminds you that when the bell tolls three times, you are to cause the distraction at the city's western gate. Then he will steal the Scroll of Lore from the Lady Anazar, who is kept prisoner in the royal palace."
"Of course." Xalmor said in a bored fashion. "Is that all, Zadok?"
"Yes, my lord. Best of luck to you. Mnesthes ftang."
"Mnesthes ftang."

The door closed again. Xalmor seethed silently. Commodore Periandrius was a shallow fool. He had ordered Xalmor to create a distraction, and then to go to the royal palace to await further orders. It was, however, painfully obvious that Periandrius just wanted him out of the way. So that he could claim Xaxion Drak'eem's power for himself!

But, Xalmor mused, what if he let Periandrius rush into danger? What if he created the distraction and let Periandrius get himself killed? Or even to betray Periandrius, and gain Phorcys' trust, and then strike when the demigod least expected it.

It was the way of the Benefactors to deceive and plot. It was up to Xalmor how to do that. If he could find allies in the city, or make them in the royal palace, he would have the power he needed to do what he wished and become a living god. Perhaps Xaxion Drak'eem's power going to either Xalmor or Periandrius depended on which one was cunning enough to kill the other first... Death was the art of Mnesthes, after all. But if he acted treacherous, than he was no more than a snake, and perhaps it would be he who would die.

Either way, the fleet from Zul'Dare was coming. As long as the Esoteric Order was concerned, he was still Highlord. When they came, he could destroy Men'heva with Xaxion Drak'eem's power, and teach them the truth. Then he would have his army and then all would convert or die.

---

"Please my lord, let me finish him. You can't trust him."
Brutus Armaggon stood behind Namor Periandrius in the royal palace as they awaited a meeting with Xanthus Alverold.
"Just because he cut your hand off doesn't make him any less useful a tool. Learn your place."

A herald walked into the corridor, his head bowed.
"The regent is away, my lord. He is on an errand in the countryside."
"Is he bothering with DeMeza and those rebels?" Periandrius hissed.
"Presumably, my lord. May I ask, my lord, why you are not hunting DeMeza yourself? Was he not your arch-enemy?"
Periandrius panicked for a second. Then he backhanded the herald, sending him sprawling.
"Do not question me! Zul'Dare sails against us and you speak of petty rabble in the forest?"

He had gotten what he wanted. It was confirmation that Xanthus would not interfere. All he had to do was wait for Xalmor to create a distraction. He would send Zadok to tell Xalmor to get ready.

The question was, would he take Thaumas Proudmoore's daughter hostage? She was wife to Xanthus, and he could have her taken into his custody subtly, with a pretence. She might be stupid enough to listen, or trust in his good looks. Then, even if his plot was discovered, he would be safe for a time. That little witch bore the heir to the throne in her belly after all.

He just hoped he could get it all done in time before the fleet from Zul'Dare arrived to kill everyone and everything. Details could be troublesome. These were no mere details.


---


Ravenholdt and Stormwind


Wotan shut his eyes and bared his teeth. His forehead rippled, wrinkles swimming with scars.
"How should I know who she is? She came into the port a few days ago, as far as I know. Keeping a low profile. But it's hard to keep a low profile when you look as fine as that."
"Understandable. I fished out this lady from Andriano and let me tell you... ah. Seems my mind is wandering. Excuse me."
Wotan took a sip of his black coffee and he grimaced as if in great pain.
"Who brewed this garbage? Were it the old days I would hunt him down with my weapon, the winds howling my vengeance!" the hulk slumped in his chair once again. "Sometimes I grow so weary. Who are these mutual acquaintances you speak of?"
"We'll get to that." Travot promised. "But this girl, she's very important."
"I thought so too. I thought she'd fill the void, the husk, with fire like battle once did!"

Over the next few minutes, Travot managed to pry out of Wotan that the barbarian had awoken in some mountains, unsure of how he had gotten there. Memories flooded back eventually, warning him that he had failed his friends and that they had fallen in battle. He had come to Port Baradin, to become a mercenary for its Baron Voutgar Blackhammer. The baron had gone off to Ironforge and had not returned.

"And you never tried to get hold of your old contacts? Why are you so certain they died?" Travot pressed.

"I- I don't know." Wotan grumbled, massaging his forehead. "These past weeks it's like a weight has been lifted from my mind. I've been in darkness for years and only now I see what has become of me."

Had Voutgar Blackhammer hexxed Wotan and turned him into an unwitting mook? Travot had heard of the baron's death weeks ago. If his death had freed Wotan, then it would explain why the barbarian had come awake in misery. Why had Krol not searched for Wotan? There were answers to be sought.

Then a cry of alarm was heard outside. Travot rushed into the street to find two elves doing battle with the lady and her retinue.

---

Ravenholdt

Barbara Friendly shambled through the gates of Ginchar making what she felt were monkey noises. In those moments as the barbarians eyed her up and down and grumbled what may have either been obscenities or prayers, Barbara felt that fate was reminding her that she had already tried and failed to become an actress.

She wandered the streets, which stank of death and had become encrusted with blood. The holy crusade in Ginchar had been nothing but a slaughter. Conversions had come by the sword. Every so often, screams were heard as survivors were found hiding in the city. Heretics milled about drunk with alcohol and religious fanaticism.
"GarbleGARBLE!" one of them murmured pointing at her. He began to follow her, drawing attention from other heretics. Soon, Barbara was being tailed by a crowd. More and more of the heretics were peeling off from the ruins and streets, murmuring like the dead.

She broke into a run. The heretics began to screech and sprint after her.
"To the abyss with you, piss-drinking pig-stinking garbage-guzzling-"
Like hitting a wall she crashed against something. She looked up into the dark eyes of a man with brown skin. Robes were clipped about him like serpents and muscular arms wrapped around her like a vice. The heretics stopped their charge, howling at the man with frustration. Barbara panicked, held by the man and unable to break free even if she tried.

"Back, devils. To your rat-holes!" the man bellowed. They began to slink away. Then the man bared a magnificent smile.
"Milady, who are you? You may stink and your mannerisms are visibly crude, but you are no heretic and you are no beggar. Then what are you?"
"I might ask the same."
"My name is Atarum." the man said, glee in his eyes. "A humble and proven convert of the Church of Kruel, fortunate enough to have the Cardinal's protection. I am above this rabble, and they obey, as you can see. So do not fear them as long as you are with me. I am at your service."
There was something not quite right about this man. Barbara's suspicions drove a wedge of fear into her. Was this a man, or a Black Dragon?

He noticed the fear in her eyes. Atarum tried to smile comfortingly.
"Fear not. You would be beautiful if not for the filth you've smeared on your face to keep those dogs away. There are few beautiful women amongst the heretics. Most are put to the sword for tempting men. Such a shame, if you ask me."
Atarum wiped Barbara's cheeks with his thumb, scrubbing dirt away without hurting her. If anyone touched her like that in any other circumstances they would already be dead, she swore. Even if they were as powerful and good-looking as this man.

Last edited by Timolas; 03-20-2011 at 04:02 PM..
  #927  
Old 03-20-2011, 07:47 PM
Wulfang Wulfang is offline

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Originally Posted by HalfElfDragon View Post
Lordaeron and the Benefactors

Amarian pondered the situation. The offer was one worth considering, even if the terms were puzzling. It was not one she would have much trouble fulfilling. Killing had become second nature to her, and she doubted that the people of Harrowdale were worthy saving a second time. But Warren, on the other hand... Warren was still a good man, Amarian thought. Not innocent, not wide-eyed or naive, but good in the common sense of the term. Despite his combat prowess he was no killer, no murder, not like she was. He was conflicted enough as it was. She was not sure he could handle this without breaking, and she did not wish to find out.

"Why end Harrowdale?" Amarian started to fish for information.
"My reasons are my own. Perhaps you will find out in time. Perhaps not."

Amarian stared at Minerva. She spoke without even thinking about what she was going to say.
"I will join you and your men in the slaughter. My companion will not."
"I see." Minerva arched her eyebrows. "And why is that?"
"As you know, he was instrumental in the death of Mordred Baldanes. Such a momentous task left him drained. Our journey here was long and tiring, even for an elf such as myself. He is in no condition to fight anyone."
"Is that so?" She turned to Warren, who had so far stayed silent.
"Yes- Yes, yes, yes it is."

Minerva laughed.
"I see you did not exaggerated. He's too tired to even make a coherent answer! The conditions are accepted. You will can have a room here in the meantime. Prepare yourself, elf."

---

Amarian and Warren sat solemnly in their room. Warren didn't know what to say, and Amarian was to busy contemplating what was to come to speak.
After staring at the floor in contemplation for what seemed like an eternity, Warren rose from his chair and, in a few decided strides, reached for his travelling bag and emptied it on the bed. Quickly rummaging through his supplies, Warren produced a small object tightly wrapped in cloth. Under Amarian's inquisitive but silent gaze, Warren undid the wrapping to reveal the strange dagger he had used to weaken Mordred at Zanzifos.

Warren paused to contemplate the ornate blade for a moment before strapping it beneath the belt across his chest, its presence near his heart oddly reassuring. What he was about to do could end very very badly, but just having the dagger with him made him feel safer, protected.

Amarian: What are you doing?

Amarian's voice snapping him back to reality, Warren turned and looked her straight in the eye, a confidence in his stare the likes she had only seen him take during the battle at Zanzifos.

Warren: I can't let this massacre go down, Amarian. I can't let so many innocents die just because we have a hunch there may be something in this town that can help us stop Kruel.

Amarian: And what are you going to do about it? Make a martyr of yourself and go down killing as many heretics as you can?

Warren: No, I'm going to help as many villagers as I can to escape the town before dawn comes and Minerva's goons start their bloodbath.

Amarian: If you get caught, we lose our chances of finding out what Kruel was after. And our heads too, most likely.

Warren: Maybe we do, maybe we don't. There's got to be a reason Minerva didn't kill us on sight. Anyhow, I'm going. You're free to stay or to come and help me. It's up to you.

And with that, Warren turned his back to Amarian and exited the room, the elf's eyes stuck on the door as she considered their chances of being alive by the next sunrise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Timolas View Post
Lordaeron

Daevin Shadowbreaker was surveying his siege encampment around Northridge when the inevitably unexpected took place.

As the sun was setting over Northridge, Daevin Shadowbreaker considered his options. That naturally left him with no solutions, and the cycle repeated itself. Stepping away from the tents and his clamouring men, he walked into the woods to find a moment of solitude.

Sitting on a tree-stump with his head resting on his fist, he took a deep breath. It was then that something cold pressed into the back of his head.
"You breathe so loud we could have shot you in the dark."
He reached for his sword, but the point pressed deeper, wetness spreading across Daevin's neck. Were they going to dig out his brain and put it on a spear? Daevin would not allow it.

He spun around and faced Einon Blackthorn, the last man he had expected to see alive.
The man stared him down defiantly, amused at his confusion. To find this man, here, now, was a cruel twist of fate. Nothing could have prepared Daevin for this confrontation, but somehow it seemed to have been coming for ages. The look of absolute confusion on his face certainly didn't help him retain any control of the situation.

Blackthorn: Long time no see, General.

Daevin: Blackthorn... what in the Nether are you doing here?!

Blackthorn: The same as you, I'd guess: eliminating Barov.

Daevin: Don't play games with me, Blackthorn. You turned your back on your country in its hour of need and now you expect me to believe you want to save it?

Blackthorn: Don’t be so melodramatic, General. The way I see it, I simply stopped fighting a battle that wasn’t mine in the first place.

Daevin: You were an officer! The mass desertion you instigated let the Maroon March ravage half the country! The massacre of Tyr’s Hand happened because you crippled the Eastern Legion!

Blackthorn: Funny of you to mention massacres, General. I don’t see you pointing your finger at the likes of Sherman or Marden when they’ve spearheaded what pretty much amounts to a pagan genocide. I guess that code of yours only applies to Lightists…

Daevin: Don’t you dare insult the Old Code, Blackthorn!

Blackthorn: Why not?! What good has it done to you, General? You’re the willing slave to a tyrant and the puppet of a mass murderer because you’re too enamored with that code to think for yourself!

Daevin’s contained emotions exploded. He flew at the young upstart, disarming him with a deft twist of his sword and throwing him off his feet with a kick to the stomach. Before Blackthorn could even begin to be surprised, he was lying on the ground with the tip of Daevin’s blade caressing his throat, the man’s eyes filled with silent rage.

Blackthorn: Yes, that’s it General! Prove me wrong! Show me you’ve got the guts to actually kill a man in cold blood!

Daevin stood impassive, stiff as a statue. Einon had been a skilled combatant, a promising officer, an exemplary student. Daevin had taken him under his wing, mentoring him in the old ways of chivalry and knighthood, the Old Code of Thoradin he revered above all else. Until one night he left, taking with him more than half of the Eastern Legion’s standing forces. Daevin had been left as a General with no army, the rest of his soldiers gradually leaving over the following days. Even though Daevin had maintained a high rank in the army through becoming the new Witch Hunter Commander, his failure during the Maroon Rebellion still stained his honor. How could he have done it? Why had he done it?

Daevin: Tell me why, Einon. Just tell me why.

Blackthorn: There were many reasons, General. I'd realized long ago that this kingdom was falling apart. But what really opened my eyes was Redwind's death.

Daevin: Erik Redwind?!

Blackthorn: Nice of you to remember his name. You'll also remember Redwind was like a brother to me, my greatest friend.

Daevin: Is that what this is about? You did all this because a friend of yours died? Do you think I haven't lost loved ones in battle?!

Blackthorn: Redwind was a pagan! A pagan who fought for you and a king who wanted him dead! A pagan who had to slay his own kind so his family wouldn’t be taken away by the Inquisition! He was a great man, a loyal friend and a dutiful son, and his comrades turned their backs on him without a second thought! So don’t you dare look down on him.

Stunned, Daevin pulled his blade back. As if nothing had happened moments prior, Blackthorn rose to his feet and looked at Daevin with the same teasing smile he had greeted him with.

Blackthorn: Well, we’ve reminisced about the past long enough. Let’s deal with the present now, shall we?

Daevin: What did you mean when you said you also wanted to take down Barov?

Blackthorn: See General, I lead a group of people who aren’t very interested in having some pagan bastard consolidate his power over Lordaeron, and Duke Barov is well on his way to handing a pagan Midland over to Andol.

Blackthorn: Let’s say I believe you: how can you help me, then?

Blackthorn: Me and my associates have managed to infiltrate Barov’s forces. It was delightfully easy. All I needed to do was say I was Einon Blackthorn and they opened their gates for us. Funny how telling the truth worked out for me, huh? Guess crippling half the military of a major Lightist kingdom will land you in the good graces of most pagans.

Daevin: Get to the point, Einon!

Blackthorn: Alright, alright. Since Barov loves me so much and truly believes me and my men are here to fight for him, we have pretty much unrestrained access to all of Northridge. But we’re short on numbers. Sure, we could devise some complex strategy of hide and seek inside the fortress and use the element of surprise and our superior training to defeat their greater numbers in a really heroic way, but why bother when we have the Witch Hunter Commander and his pretty decent army right at our doorstep?!

Daevin: What are you proposing?

Blackthorn: We’ll open the gates for you. You and your forces enter, Barov tries to stop you, in the confusion my troops turn on his and we crush him between our combined might, minimizing casualties for both our sides. That sound like a plan to you?

Daevin: … what do you want in return?

Blackthorn: A pretty smile from my favorite general?!

Daevin’s expression remained unchanged.

Blackthorn: No? Thought so. A pity. The enemy of your enemy is your friend, General. I don’t like Barov and Andol, you don’t like them either, so we gang up on them everyone’s happy. Deal?

Blackthorn extended his hand towards Daevin, his ever teasing smile wider than ever. Daevin looked tensely at the hand, feeling unsure and uneasy about the entire situation.

Daevin: Why are you doing this, Einon?

Blackthorn: That’s a secret, General. A secret you don’t need to know because you know as well as I do that accepting my help is your only choice.

Daevin closed his eyes, resigned. As their hands met, Blackthorn’s smile opened even wider, his eyes gleaming with anticipation of the bloodshed to come.
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Last edited by Wulfang; 03-20-2011 at 08:26 PM..
  #928  
Old 03-21-2011, 06:17 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Dalaran

Tribune Septim's chest heaved and his breath came out as mist in the cold.
"I want Lord Captain Anderas in my custody within the week. My response shall follow thereafter. It will be no good trying to put down a rebellion at home if I must stand alone."

The Tribune did not bother to wait for a reply. He wheeled his horse, fist shooting in the air, as he trotted south. His men responded to the signal and reined in. They followed at a steady pace. For several minutes, Leo watched them go. Then he turned as well, falling in beside Risotto and the rest of the guard. The Lady Korgal would not be pleased.
“What happened?” Risotto asked angrily. “You let him go!”

“I tried to talk him into retreating back to Stromgarde”, Leo spoke gloomily. “He wants Lord Captain Anderas in exchange for such a thing.”

“What?” The major said, his eyes going wide. It looked like they were going to drop out of his head. It was a disgusting sight.

“I think that means the war will continue”, Leo said, ignoring the other man's rage. “Hesperia won't give up the man who was in charge of the occupation of Cattana.” He mounted the horse he had lent and eyed the others questioningly. The Zaramim looked stoic, if a bit tense.

Risotto did not mount his horse. Instead, he drew his sword. “You idiot! This was our chance! Our one chance!” He took an angry step toward the general, who reacted instantly.

Leo dismounted swiftly, swinging his leg in an arc that hit the major in the face. After landing on his feet, he grabbed Risotto's sword-hand twisted it behind the man's back. The others reached for their weapons, but looked unsure whether to use them or not.

“Control yourself, for the Gods' sake!” Leo said, pulling the sword away from the restrained man. He threw it into the grass some distance away before pushing Risotto away from himself. “I will answer for my actions to the legal authority of Hesperia, not to a rash barbarian who uses his blade instead of his head or heart.”

The major turned around and flared at Leo. Without a word, he walked over to get his sword and mounted his horse, riding back toward the army camp. Everyone followed his lead, with the general riding at the very back. “We'll wait for Grand Archmage Javali's army to catch up to us, and we'll join him”, he spoke to no one in particular. “Our united forces will be enough to drive the enemy away for good.” It would probably only take a few days. He'd have to bear Korgal and Risotto until then.
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  #929  
Old 03-21-2011, 09:49 PM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt

It was exceedingly frustrating that Barb found herself in this position. She was an agent of Ravenholdt, a master of infiltration and assimilation. She’d effortlessly blended into gatherings of nobles and assemblages of wizards in the past. But these extremists that occupied Ginchar… they presented a new and entirely different challenge - one that Barb had obviously failed. Now she had to explain herself to this handsome reptile…

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: I… I’m a recent convert. I’ve followed the Light my whole life, but I hadn’t heard the word of Kruel until his horde took the city.

Atarum: And you’re having trouble…. acclimating?

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Could you tell?

Atrum smiled, flashing his devilishly white teeth.

Atarum: What’s your name, my dear?

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Jaclyn, but they call me One-Eyed Jackie… on account of the eye patch.

Atarum: I shall call you Jaclyn then. It would be a crime to define you by your one imperfection.

This guy was laying it on thick. If he used these lines on the local women, they’d probably be throwing their panties at him already. But Barb wasn’t a local woman, and she had the advantage of being totally angry all the time. Plus, she also knew that this stud muffin wouldn’t look as cute without his shape-shifting spell. Twenty-five foot tall, scaled lizards just weren’t her thing.

She was getting good at spotting these magical disguises that dragons were so fond of using. There was always something… slightly off. You have to be very distinguishing to notice the minor imperfections though.

She knew what he was, but it raised the question… did he know what she was? Was this some kind of an elaborate game before he struck? Or did he have no idea about her true allegiance? Maybe he was just trying to seduce her. Dragons, particularly Black ones, were known for their love of white humans. (Especially if they’re written by Richard A. Knaak). Was it true what they said, that once you go Black Dragon you never go back? Barb smiled a bit as she thought about how much that would piss off her father, but then she cast the thought from her mind.

She was there for a very specific reason. Kruel had somehow harnessed a heretofore unknown divine spell that essentially enabled him and his followers to mind control and enslave the army of golems. This kind of ability was unknown to the Light. More information was needed to find out how to properly shield the golems and sever their contact with Kruel. If Kruel had a new power source that he’d tapped into via his new philosophy, Barb needed to find out what it was so countermeasures could be implemented. Maybe she could get some of this information from this dragon.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: You said you were a convert too? I’m trying to understand the new Word of Kruel, but its different from what I’m used to. Perhaps you could help to enlighten me?

Atarum: Nothing would give me more pleasure, Jaclyn. The teachings of Kruel are not so different from those of the Church of the Holy Light, many of the “virtues” remains the same. The difference is that Kruel, in his divine wisdom, has learned that the path to enlightenment must be one centered wholly on self-empowerment.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: I see, it’s all so obvious! I can’t believe nobody ever thought of that before!

Atarum: You may be surprised at how obvious innovation can be, but it takes a true man of genius to reach out and snatch that knowledge from the ether. Kruel is such a man. Another of his pioneering ideas that seems obvious: Every force must have a corresponding and opposite force, correct? One is incomplete without the other, but they’re both just parts of the same whole. So while the Holy Light clearly exists, it is apparent that there must also be… a forgotten shadow.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: That makes so much sense! Please, tell me more…

______________________________

Ravenholdt and Stormwind

Travot wasn’t a student of ancient mythology, but he thought he’d recalled something from the old stories about Wotan…

---
The Scrolls of Tyr, Chapter Fifteen: The Sheppard with the Silver Hand

In the time before recorded time, there existed a great leader, a paragon of order and justice, who sacrificed his right hand in a fight against an unfathomable evil. Although it was within this hero's power to fix his hand after the fighting had ended, the hero instead chose to replace it with a closed fist made of the purest silver. In this way, the hero impressed upon those who followed him that true order and justice can only be accomplished through personal sacrifice.

When the first humans were cast out of their paradise for their imperfection, Tyr chose to Sheppard these nascent “Azotha” to the safety of the southern lands. He did this for primarily one reason: his son was afflicted with the curse of humanity. Uncomfortable with how weak his progeny had become, Tyr gifted his curse-addled son, Wotan, with a legendary weapon of unfathomable power: Gungir, the Spear of the Order. So long as Wotan kept personal contact with this spear, he would receive its gifts of immortality, strength, and nigh invulnerability. If he lost contact with Gungir for too long, Wotan would lose his gifts and be indistinguishable from any other mortal man.

The spear itself possessed its own magical capabilities, such as the ability to fire bolts of lightening, create vortices and force fields, and summon forth the amazing six-legged flying steed Sleepnear. The astounding Gungir would need to recharge for one hundred years every time its power source was fully expended, and Wotan was fated to lay dormant and sleeping with it for the duration of the century until he awoke, fully empowered. To ensure that this weapon would never fall into the wrong hands, Tyr had it enchanted so that none but the worthy could lift it.

---

If only there was something, anything that Travot could remember about Wotan that could help him here. But there just wasn’t. Ancient mythology wasn’t really a practical subject to study and, in Travot’s estimation, was one best left to dweebs and nerds. Even if he could recall what those stories said, it was almost certainly all bull$@#% anyway.

What mattered was that somehow this Wotan was thought killed, but instead woke up a blank slate in the mountains, where he was easily susceptible to Blackhammer‘s whammy. Travot thought it best to keep his new friend by his side, since he merited further investigation…. And he was pretty huge and could probably kick anyone’s ass if Travot manipulated him to do so.

As for the immediate situation at hand, he saw Elves harranging the lady he was questioning Tyr about. Was that woman even the trollbane he was looking for though? He didn’t even know if it the Trollbane in question was a woman. He’d be taking a gamble.

Then again, elves in this area probably meant Benefactors… and he hated those assholes.

Travot Ravenholdt: Hey big guy, lets give the lady a hand, shall we?

With that, they lunged at the attacking elves.
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Old 03-25-2011, 01:12 PM
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Zul'Dare

"What's going on, Captain?"
"I was going to ask you the same thing, Ewe. I suspect it's the rebels."
"Rebels, Captain?" Ewe asked raising his eyebrows.
"Janus DeMeza and his rebels. They attacked Boralus from Gilneas several days ago, then scattered into the hills. Truth is, Ewe, Kul Tiras is a bad place to be right now. That is one reason I want to get my men to Hesperia. Drisburg is no longer safe. We're making an early exit."

Ewe had found a way for Anazar to get back home, but he did not have Anazar with him. Could he convince Dampwallace to take them to Boralus? Disguised, he could break Anazar out of the royal palace. She would be eternally grateful to him. Otherwise, he was not sure what he was going to do in Hesperia, except perhaps, warn the Hareveim there and tell them where they could rescue Anazar.

Lastly, he knew that the Esoteric Order would never forget him. It would never stop searching for him. It was in the code, and they would seek him out to rescue him, or if he had betrayed them, to kill him. Even if they never found him, Ewe knew that he would transform into one of the half-trolls. He would become a monster, like Barny, unless he could find a way to halt the process. Perhaps the wizards of Dalaran could help.

"Brace yourselves!" Captain Dampwallace roared. Rebels were running up the docks towards the Nidhogg. One of them wore red robes, and he bore a symbol that stirred Ewe's memory. It was the symbol of the men of Stromgarde, who had attacked New Barsmouth. The man was holding a ball of fire - he was a mage.

Ewe leaped instinctively, without even thinking about what he was doing. Pulling out his knife mid-air, he plunged it into the mages chest. But not fast enough. The ball of fire exploded, engulfing the dock and Ewe with it. The crew of the Nidhogg stood in silent astonishment as they watched the man who had just met them sacrificed his life for them. As the smoke cleared it became apparent that the dock had been destroyed. Debris and ash floated in the water. As did bodies. Most of them were rebels. But among them Captain Dampwallace spied one of his.

"Get his body! Damn it, somebody get his body! He died for us, he deserves better than to have his body rot in Drisburg's harbor!"

A deckhand, whom everyone know as 'Lucky' Hunter Kington, dove off of the ship into the murky blue sea. The water was as tumultuous as the chaos that was happening on-shore. Bits of wood and dead rebels floated past Kington as he swam through to his crew's savior. A morbid task, one that would have been too much for Kington when he had a clear head. But adrenaline had overtaken his sense, and so he was off to take the hero's body back to the deck. He found Ewe floating in the very center of the debris, his hand still grasping the now twisted knife. Most of his clothes had been blown off and his skin was charred. He was almost unrecognizable, but he was recognizable enough. Hunter grabbed him by the waist and pulled him back to the boat. Hailing the sailors on-board he was thrown a rope and pulled up.

"Set sail, friends. Our stay in Drisburg has ended." Captain Dampwallace solemnly gave his orders and the crew that could be spared gathered around the body of Ewekapu Marsh.
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:06 PM
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Katyusha

‘I had very rough night Ha’lin, dreams and nightmares mixed themselves with visions and a message from the Prophet of Mueh’zala. So tell me you are not joking, because if you are I assure you will be in charge of cleaning Devilsaur excrement for the next thirty years.’ Said a tired and distressed Jin’thek.

‘No I am not my warlord, even more I sent for them to be brought to the outskirts of the city. They surrendered their arms and asked to meet with you.’ Replied Ha’lin.

‘We also took measures to prevent them from seeing any of our important military positions on the way here.’ Added Kirio, hoping to cheer up the Warlord.

‘Fantastic mon I shall meet them when they arrive’ Jin’thek replied obviously surprised by the situation, he did offered the elves the option of surrender but really didn’t think any of them would actually comply. But well he was a troll of his word, if they accepted the terms of their surrender then they would be allowed a place in the trollish lebenstraum. And if they didn’t they could always choose between leaving Zul’guazu or if they really wanted to stay, they could stay there forever. Anyways there were other things to discuss, Ba’jal said the island was free to take but what did he meant? Did the elves escaped? He explained to his lieutenants how he had received a message in his dreams telling him the island was free to take, but he didn’t wanted to take any chances it could very well be a trap. So he decided to go and find his uncle and Maka whom being in charge of planning and organizing the trollish landfall at the island it was also their duty to keep an eye on any strange movements.

Once he arrived to the small tent in the docks, he once again explained how he was contacted in his dreams. But both trolls explained him ship movement was sighted since the battle for the city; so if the elves left the island they did so by other means. Maka suggested they could send a small group of trolls could probably go to the island during the night, probably on bat to check if the situation on the island. It was an interesting idea, so far the bat riders limited themselves to scouting the island from the sky during the night, which didn’t yielded much information. Jin’thek complied and asked them to assemble a very small group and report to him before carrying the mission.

He had one last thing to do before meeting with the elves, which were probably by then arriving, he went out to search for Gruc’jen he had to discuss the strange dreamt he had, he wanted to know if he really met the elven king in his dream and if so how and why.
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Old 03-27-2011, 01:35 PM
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Zul'Dare

A rush of flame, searing heat. Then nothing, nothing but black.
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After staring at the floor in contemplation for what seemed like an eternity, Warren rose from his chair and, in a few decided strides, reached for his travelling bag and emptied it on the bed. Quickly rummaging through his supplies, Warren produced a small object tightly wrapped in cloth. Under Amarian's inquisitive but silent gaze, Warren undid the wrapping to reveal the strange dagger he had used to weaken Mordred at Zanzifos.

Warren paused to contemplate the ornate blade for a moment before strapping it beneath the belt across his chest, its presence near his heart oddly reassuring. What he was about to do could end very very badly, but just having the dagger with him made him feel safer, protected.

Amarian: What are you doing?

Amarian's voice snapping him back to reality, Warren turned and looked her straight in the eye, a confidence in his stare the likes she had only seen him take during the battle at Zanzifos.

Warren: I can't let this massacre go down, Amarian. I can't let so many innocents die just because we have a hunch there may be something in this town that can help us stop Kruel.

Amarian: And what are you going to do about it? Make a martyr of yourself and go down killing as many heretics as you can?

Warren: No, I'm going to help as many villagers as I can to escape the town before dawn comes and Minerva's goons start their bloodbath.

Amarian: If you get caught, we lose our chances of finding out what Kruel was after. And our heads too, most likely.

Warren: Maybe we do, maybe we don't. There's got to be a reason Minerva didn't kill us on sight. Anyhow, I'm going. You're free to stay or to come and help me. It's up to you.

And with that, Warren turned his back to Amarian and exited the room, the elf's eyes stuck on the door as she considered their chances of being alive by the next sunrise.
Lordaeron and the Benefactors

"The fool." Amarian thought to herself. "All Warren is going to do is get himself killed!"

Amarian cursed Greystone's self-righteousness and this new-found confidence that fueled it. No, not new. The confidence had always been there, buried under the weight of guilt and whatever thoughts had been put into his head. In a way it reminded her of Xalmor. Except Xalmor wouldn't have been so foolish, Amarian could at least give the bastard that. But as Amarian turned to go back into the room and wait for sunrise she found herself unable to do so. Some part of her was convince that her destiny was with Warren. She got up, gathering what little things she had to gather, and hurried after him.

She found him walking at a brisk pace. Not overly fast but he definitely wasn't taking his time.

"Greystone." Amarian hissed at him. Warren did nothing. "Stop. Greystone, stop." Amarian's voice got a bit louder. Warren still did not stop. "Damn it, Warren, stop!" Her voice was louder still, and yet it seemed not to affect the pace of Greystone, her he continued to march onward.

This frustrated Amarian to no end. Without thinking much about it, she sprinted up in front of Greystone, and started to kiss him. This finally stopped him. Amarian broke off the kiss.

"What was tha-" Warren started.

"There. Finally you stop." Amarian interjected.

"Amarian, you cannot dissuade me. I will help the people of this village."

"You think I don't know that, Warren? I'm not here to stop you, I'm here to help you. Go, lead on. I do hope you have a plan, darling." Amarian stared at Warren expectantly.
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  #933  
Old 03-28-2011, 02:36 PM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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Sorsbrent

Queen Arinre I of Gilneas, Duchess of Sorsbrent, Heiress of House Greymane - Sorsbrent
Wide, pale lips quivering with unspoken rage. Frail figure, heavy with child, clad in white and cloaked in Sorsbrent-blood. Flaxen hair draped loose over thin shoulders, gem-studded circlet on her brow. Proud, calculating eyes, colder than expected. Yet still young. A few moments pass. Sevila, the Greymane handmaiden, hovers in the background, no longer in her Queen’s favour. Damasus, who all know to be her only confidant, stand quietly by her side. She speaks, and when she is done, the emissaries are ushered away, swept into a second room, to speak with Arinre’s representatives. But the message she had given them was clear.

The Stormwinders were welcome. If they could bring Kruel to heel. For what could be more damaging to the cause of the Light, than a dangerous heresy blooming in their midst? Let the Stormwinders begin their crusade in Ginchar, and show their earnest intent by repairing the schism which still tore Arinre’s realm asunder. Then, and only then, could the forces of the Light stand side by side, with no fear or distrust separating them.

Riders are dispatched within the hour. Becta and his host is summoned to relieve the Azures of the duty to guard Sorsbrent. The Azures wait in their camp northwest of the city, until Becta’s arrival was assured. Then they would march across the Gil range, and join the campaign against Braent. If the Lightists were to deal with their Lightist brethren, then the followers of the Four could do the same. Meanwhile, it was foolish to tempt the southerners' sensibilities by keeping Azure legions in Sorsbrent's barracks. So did the young Queen decree.

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Old 03-28-2011, 03:48 PM
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Zul'Dare

Cold as ice. Floating free, weightless. Then a pull, and suddenly there is air.


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The Malefactors and Kul Periandrius

Xalmor Windrunner had found himself in the company of former enemies, and it unnerved him. The residence that he was residing in was tended by a few servants from the palace, but it was nothing lavish. Nonetheless, it was better than a tent or sleeping out in the open, as he had done with Amarian and the two performers they had met in Harrowdale.

It had been necessary to abandon Amarian, just as it had been necessary to abandon Zanzifos. That is what Xalmor kept telling himself. Still, sometimes he wondered how is student was doing, if she still lived. Had the pagans won at Zanzifos? He would have to find out, someday.

A knock came at the door to his room. Xalmor was sitting on his bed, gazing into his mirror silently. He cleared his throat and rose to his feet, his sword within arm's reach against the wall. The door opened and in stepped Alan Zadok, the madman who Xaxion had saved from death in Ythan'alai. His scraggly beard was gone and his hair neat. The drunkard had been dressed in finery, though there was still a distant look of madness in his eyes.

Alan Zadok had been present at Ythan'alai with Phorcys, when Phorcys had gained the power of Xaxion Drak'eem. His return to Boralus had created a sensation. He had received a request for an audience with Phorcys. Alan Zadok would be one of the first men outside the palace to see Phorcys in months.

"What do you want, Zadok?"
"The plan will be set in motion soon, my lord. The Commodore reminds you that when the bell tolls three times, you are to cause the distraction at the city's western gate. Then he will steal the Scroll of Lore from the Lady Anazar, who is kept prisoner in the royal palace."
"Of course." Xalmor said in a bored fashion. "Is that all, Zadok?"
"Yes, my lord. Best of luck to you. Mnesthes ftang."
"Mnesthes ftang."

The door closed again. Xalmor seethed silently. Commodore Periandrius was a shallow fool. He had ordered Xalmor to create a distraction, and then to go to the royal palace to await further orders. It was, however, painfully obvious that Periandrius just wanted him out of the way. So that he could claim Xaxion Drak'eem's power for himself!

But, Xalmor mused, what if he let Periandrius rush into danger? What if he created the distraction and let Periandrius get himself killed? Or even to betray Periandrius, and gain Phorcys' trust, and then strike when the demigod least expected it.

It was the way of the Benefactors to deceive and plot. It was up to Xalmor how to do that. If he could find allies in the city, or make them in the royal palace, he would have the power he needed to do what he wished and become a living god. Perhaps Xaxion Drak'eem's power going to either Xalmor or Periandrius depended on which one was cunning enough to kill the other first... Death was the art of Mnesthes, after all. But if he acted treacherous, than he was no more than a snake, and perhaps it would be he who would die.

Either way, the fleet from Zul'Dare was coming. As long as the Esoteric Order was concerned, he was still Highlord. When they came, he could destroy Men'heva with Xaxion Drak'eem's power, and teach them the truth. Then he would have his army and then all would convert or die.
The Malefactors and Kul Periandrius

Xalmor looked inside of himself and saw the answer. Phorcys would die. Namor would died. Men'heva would die. The Esoteric Order would fall. Kul Tiras would fall. And from the ruins of these would come something even greater. From the ruins would come the Malefactors. Xalmor prepared himself, donning once more his viridian armor. He felt his energy flow through him, through every nerve and every vein. Such power was nothing compared to the power he would hold. Just then, he heard the bells beginning to toll.

It was time.

Dalaran, The Elves, Kul Phorcys

Anazar grew bored and lonesome. She had her guards but their orders were to do just that, guard, not to converse or to keep her company. And with Ewekapu gone she was alone. No, not alone. There was another prisoner, an elf. Perhaps he could give her some company. She got dressed and, motioning to her guards, left her room. There were guards outside the elf's room, but she was able to 'persuade' them into letting her in. The elf looked up at her.

"Lady Anazar of Dalaran."

"A pleasure to finally meet you properly, milady. I am Mathredis Firestar. What business brings you here?"

"I tire of being alone. I sought a companion."

Just then, the bell began to toll.
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Old 03-29-2011, 03:35 PM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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Sorsbrent

Lord Becta - Sorsbrent
Curse his cousin for his sudden death. Becta was a soldier; the scheming of lords had always been dealt with by Ercate. How had this letter so conveniently come into Amondr’s possession, he wonders? The flight from Ginchar had been chaotic. Had Amondr’s men taken the opportunity to loot their own camp? Or had the letter, perhaps, been given to the count intentionally? Had some unknown powerplay sent one of Henrik’s agents into Amondr’s clutches?

The alliance which Ercate had held together was falling apart more rapidly than Becta had imagined. But was it because of warlords’ squabbles over the spoils of war, or because of Arinre’s… questionable allies? The girl had changed, no doubt. A year ago, she had been an innocent, timid thing, devout follower of the Light. The creature which now sat in Sorsbrent was ruthlessly self-centered, the concerns of others - religious or otherwise - ignored. Yet his duty to her remained the same. Did it not? And even if he did question her – would it matter? Becta was learned enough to recognize the pattern; the general’s sudden rise to power, then the successors’ fight over his empire until naught is left. Amondr's delay in notifying Becta already spoke of the latter.

What could he do? If both Henrik and Weyrannem were already decided, and Amondr as well, then the army would be divided in two if Becta opposed them. And if Soben’s heir – Duke Cemal – did not support Arinre… there would be little that could be done.

“Ercate did not wish for this war to continue forever, Amondr. Gilneas needs peace, and for that, it needs unity.” A short silence. Then: “Besides, what you propose hinges on where the Azures are sent, if they are sent anywhere at all. There is no use debating what we know nothing of.”

They say little more that night.


The next morning, they receive new orders from Sorsbrent. The soldiers groan, as they are once again given new directions, to march yet again across the width and breadth of Gilneas. They were to rendezvous with the Azure legions, and take over the defence of Sorsbrent. Braent could wait, apparently. Cemal fumes. Henrik says nothing. Becta stares at Amondr. What was the girl thinking? Or, rather, what was Feglan thinking? Arinre was inexperienced in matters of warfare, but her counsellors should have foreseen how such orders would be received by the soldiers and their lords. Perhaps they had. Feglan? You, too?

Hours pass. The army turns around, climbs down from the Gil mountains, descending the slopes they ascended yesterday. Becta’s mind is spinning with half-formed thoughts, fleeting fears, shadowy suspicions. The longer he considers it, the more glaring the fault-lines in the Gilnean facade appears. It seems clear that Arinre’s unguided - or, possibly, undermined - leadership will have disastrous consequences. But what could he do about it? Act too timid, and be left behind. Strike hard and fail, and be destroyed.

Ercate had gambled, there towards the end. He had struck hard, again and again. Until he lost, that is. But until then, it had been all or nothing. And the success had been spectacular.

Over the course of the day, Becta gradually comes to a decision. Eventually, the field would need to be cleared of warlords. It was clear that few of them truly served the queen fully. But it was too soon to prune their own ranks – Kruel was still in Ginchar, Braent’s lordlings-returned-from-exile waited just across the mountains, foreign nations played their great war and saw Gilneas as another pawn.

During the march south, he would have to find some way to keep them all together for a bit longer. He would lead this army back to Sorsbrent and relieve the Azure legions without incident, distasteful though it was. Perhaps Arinre was wise, sending the Azures out to prove themselves against their own kind. Perhaps she was a fool, inviting both the Azures and the dissidents in Becta's own army to defect. The rendezvous could turn into a bloodbath. He orders men he trust to keep an eye on the high nobles of the army, and report back to him with their comings and goings.

It is a nervous, jittery sensation - yet strangely expectant. He would hold them together for as long as it was needed. And then... then it would be a race to see who would be the man last standing. These cycles of bloodshed in Gilneas had to be stopped, and Becta had decided on the final solution. This the soldier-turned-lord tells himself.





Richard de Marmont - Sorsbrent
He spoke, and the thunder in his voice was matched by the thunder of the legion marching behind him. It was the Church they knew that was the perversion, a twisted misunderstanding of the realities of the Light. Was the world compassionate by its nature? Was either the material world around us, or the spiritual world between us, forgiving? No. Was the world defined by the Light? Evidently – for without light, existence itself becomes unformed, unknown. For there is the physical manifestation of Light, which enables us to see the worldly existence; and there is the inner Light, which enables us to see beyond that which is merely material; into the personalities of others, individuals and communities, and sense that which is unspoken. Without either, we are blind and vulnerable to the vagaries of the two worlds. The Light is not the court-chaplains’ parlour tricks of flashing lights; the Light is the very thing which makes it possible for our isolated selves to connect to the clashing realities around us. The Light is not a forgiving, forgetting embrace. It reveals, uncaringly. The Light is perception, is knowledge. Is power.

He spoke for a long time, of many things, few of which he can recall afterwards. Meanwhile, the zealots close in on the pathetically entrenched camp from the sides, while golem arrange themselves in a line before it. The fools within had wasted the opportunity for flight. Few of the soldiers abandon their posts, but here and there, in the short interim after the sermon, men make their way towards the zealot lines. They are met by cheers and their new comrades’ greetings from the front; from behind angry shouts and pleading cries call them back. A few dozen leave their ranks, some in small clusters, others alone. The last few are struck down by arrows from within the camp.

The remaining defenders stand resolute. Not until their ditches are filled in and the golem stride into their midst do the soldiers break. Then they flee, and are hunted down by their former brethren.

And this, the Esarim – who, by some, was called the Black – knows to be as it should be, in a world under the Light.



The Elves,

Kariel Winthalus The Elves, Stromgarde

The Sunking is carried on a stretcher through the dark palace gardens, howling. Seranidan leads them on, to the Portal grounds, and through, to Kul Tiras. The Isle had woken up, but none approached the armed party. The last blow of the elven civil war had been landed – or so all assumed, and so dared not accost the evident victors. But the Benefactors knew otherwise. They had been thwarted. Somehow.

A party of five remain behind; elves who had not participated in the raid, whose status as Benefactors was unknown. They would stay for no more than a week; originally, they were to gauge the reactions of Rommath’s convocation. Now their task was changed: to try and learn where Anasterian had been sent by the humans. It had gone too far. He could not be allowed to survive, now. Once safe within the new camp in Kul Tiras, Seranidan sends out the message to the entire Benefactor network across Lordaeron. Wherever Anasterian had been sent to, he would be found.

The Sunking’s pain refuses to be healed. Seranidan takes control, but knows not what to do. In the hours until dawn, he ponders the next step. The Prophet must have instructions to give. Seranidan initiates the ritual to contact the Viridian Prophet, which he had seen Kariel do many times before, but never himself. Would the Prophet answer? What would He command?

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  #936  
Old 03-31-2011, 08:27 PM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Kul Periandrius, The Malefactors, Zul'Dare

Namor felt a strong bond of loyalty to Thaumas Proudmoore. Thaumas was in many ways his mentor and the man he respected the most in life. Of course, that wouldn’t stop Namor from absolutely ravishing Thaumas’ daughter sexually… if she wasn’t already pregnant.

How the daughter of the mighty Thaumas Proudmoore would allow the seed of that sniveling worm Xanthus to grow within her uterus boggled his mind, but so it was and, as a friend to all fetuses, Namor wouldn’t endanger the budding life inside her belly with his sizeable love harpoon.

No, instead he would simply woo her. It seemed like she was all too happy to garner any kind of attention. Perhaps Xanthus had been shirking his husbandly duties of companionship as of late? Trouble in paradise? Or perhaps it was pretense? It didn’t matter, she was a valuable hostage. He instructed his new consort, the nymph known only as Mrs. Proudmoore, to take the girl and hold her hostage in a discreet way. The young, eternally-pregnant woman went with her readily and blissfully unaware… after all, Mrs. Proudmoore was her stepmother. And Phorcys was her grandfather. What a @#$%ed up family…

More pressing was the Zul’Dare fleet. They were approaching. Namor had sent Kraven Cobra to man the Couatl Craft Carrier and Brutus to lead the Eels in defense of his island nation… but was it enough? Namor, usually the pinnacle of confidence, doubted.

With a concern in his heart, he ordered the bells to ring - his signal to Xalmor. The plan was in action…

---

After speaking to Xalmor, Zadok complied with Phorcys’ request to meet with him. Zadok knew and had always known the truth about Phorcys, and that put him in a very dangerous position. In life, they had been friends. But now? Alan was friends with the man, but would the mad god still share that same level of fondness? Or would he smite him as a heretic?

There was only one way to find out…

The doors to Phorcys inner chamber swung open, and Zadok stood at the entrance.

Phorcys: Hello… Old Chum.
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  #937  
Old 04-01-2011, 12:24 PM
HalfElfDragon HalfElfDragon is offline

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Zul'Dare
The sound of something being dropped on wood. Distant but yet close. Surrounded by air. Must breathe.


"My gods, he's alive!"


Breathing now. A rush of footsteps. Faces, then black.
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  #938  
Old 04-02-2011, 03:43 AM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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The Elves

Mathredis Firestar The Elves, Kul Phorcys
He had been a prisoner here for long enough to know that the bells’ tolling was strange. It was not the time for the counting of the hours of the day yet. Frowning, he asks the woman:

“The bells, lady – do you know why they are sounded?”


Madreen Chameral The Elves, Stromgarde, Dalaran
No news had returned from Stonehold. Madreen, housed in a grand pavilion on the fringes of the Dictator’s camp, is concerned. Kariel had given him a small staff for overseeing an entire region, and his overlordship was largely ineffectual. The issue of the Trollbane resistance was important. Haeliel’s silence was troubling.

Leaving Amarian to deal with the reports trickling in from their agents, and to keep an eye on the Dictator, the Ivory Templar sets out to investigate Stonehold himself. With him rides two Ivory devotees; the siblings Andrael and Irael. All are cloaked in pure white, riding snowy steeds hailing from the Evergreen glades. The rolling landscape of eastern Hesperia soon makes way for the long, spring-green heath of Arathor’s highlands.



Teliel Zamashen The Elves, Lordaeron, Dalaran, The Perinany

No, the instinct that piqued her interest, that made her heart beat quicker at the mention of the Scroll of Lore, derived from some other source entirely than the Hareveims' demand. The Scroll. Teliel might keep herself away from the Hareveim, but certain things she did know – such as that the archareveim, Zinizar, had sought for the Scroll – and not to prevent its usage. She had sought for it in the Archivists’ libraries, but not found it. Now the archareveim was in Lordaeron, and these women before her sought for the Scroll for reasons of their own. Troubling, that the followers of Zinine were divided.

But that is not the reason, either. No, the hareveims’ schemes against eachother and the Azure Lieutenant meant little. Teliel’s interest lay in the Scroll itself. She wanted it. She needed it. And these petty, feuding humans might help her find it.

She agrees to help them. The integrity of the Faith was of utmost importance, beyond even that of safeguarding the borders of Hesperia. The Gilneans were faithful, and could accompany them on this new quest. Did the hareveim know where the Scroll was?



Magister Rimtori Sanguinar The Elves, Lordaeron

She focuses her effort, keeping the Esarim – de Mon? – immobile. He seemed weak, but she found it strangely difficult to direct the spell at him. The creature was imbued with strange powers which resisted her. But they, too, were weakened.

The questioning begins almost at once. The Archbishop is carried away, bound and guarded by soldiers she trusted. Rimtori – or, rather, Kariel Winthalus – needed him alive. But this Esarim – he would answer all they asked of him. They begin with the obvious. What had happened here? Why had the defenders turned on each other?
  #939  
Old 04-02-2011, 05:45 PM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt, Lordaeron

With their ship docked safely out of sight, Percy, Alford, the Companions, and the rest of their contingent made an amphibious landing on Fenris Isle. They were there at the behest of Adaen Melrache, who insisted a prisoner of the utmost importance to the outcome of the Great War was being held hostage by Andol Corin within the bowels of the now infamous Keep. This “Man in the Mithril Mask” was too dangerous not to liberate.

Of course, liberating him was dangerous in and of itself. Percy gazed at the Keep through his spynoculars. He saw a modestly small contingent of guards, though various telltale signs allowed the rogue to assess that they were some of Corin’s elite warriors. Infiltrating the Keep would be difficult… but not impossible.

Percy Fayette: There’s going to be some resistance. I see our point of entry though. We’ll move after the patrol circles around once more and then moves out of sight.

Alford Menethil: Good show, lad.

Percy was pleased to receive the King’s approval, though he was slightly uncomfortable with brining the royal into a combat situation. To his credit, Alford refused to stay in the boat while others endangered themselves in the name of Lordaeron. Despite Alford’s reassurances however, Percy would still have preferred Robere be leading this mission. The Nightslayer elder statesmen had much more experience on missions of this nature, whereas Percy had never been at the helm of one.

Robere’s disappearance was troubling, though Skirvar had managed to approximate the location of the portal the Hareveim presumably absconded with him through… the heart of Dalaran. A rescue might be impossible given their current resources, but thoughts of that would have to wait. The Man in the Mithril mask was the priority now.

Percy Fayette: Okay, move!

Percy moved in almost complete silence, and the others nearly as quietly. They gained egress into the Keep, and continued onward. They’d encounter small groups of five or so guards at a time, and would dispatch them accordingly. When one guard nearly struck Alford down from behind, Lucio interjected with a quick stab, saving him.

Alford Menethil: Thank you, Mr. … the Flamingo. I will remember this.

Lucio Benado: Think nothing of it, your highness. And please, Mr. the Flamingo was Lucio Benado’s father. Call Lucio Benado just “the Flamingo!”

Alford Menethil: I’ll do that.

Carrying on, the next group they encountered would be more successful. A guard stabbed Folca Eaconberth in the gut before being cut down himself. The Perinany Legionnaire’s injury looked nasty.

Folca Eaconberth: Its just a flesh wound.

Folca would be stabbed four more times before the infiltrators successfully reached the holding cells. He just ignored it.

Once at the cells, their target was unmistakable… mostly because nobody else was wearing a Mithril Mask. There was one other guy in a metal mask, but it was made of cheap copper. That wasn’t fooling anyone.

Percy Fayette: The Man in the Mithril Mask, I presume? My name’s Percy Fayette, I’m here to rescue you.

The man stood, looking at his would-be saviors. He saw Skirvar, Thomassy, Cerzimon… and Alford. He paused, and then he reached up and removed the mask. There was a gasp…

---

Ravenholdt

The survivors of Ravenholdt faced a crisis that they‘d hoped to never see in their lifetimes. Ravenholdt was destroyed. But Grand Master Krol always hoped for the best… and prepared for the worst. Long ago, he’d foreseen the need to evacuate their home in case of emergency. To that end, he’d commissioned the construction of several transport vessels. He stored them in a secret cove, accessible through also secret caverns dug under their mountain. They’d sat idle for years, but this was the most unfortunate time that they were finally needed.

With the location of the ruins of Ravenholdt known to their enemies and their defenses reduced to nil, Myrokos was leading the evacuation. Lethon believed Fenris Keep to be the optimal place to rebuild, and Myrokos really didn’t have any better ideas. They were loading up the ships with both salvaged equipment and personnel.

Myrokos Silentform: Hey kid, what have you saved from the R&D department?

New Qu: More than I thought. I’m having the crew load the comm. equipment now. I think with a little energon and a lot of luck, I can get our network up and running again.

Myrokos Silentform: That’s the best news I’ve heard all day.

Qu’s apprentice, now the new Qu of Ravenholdt, was young but also a supremely gifted inventor. Trained by Qu himself, he always carried an array of tools on his person - some of which Myrokos didn’t even know the purpose of. He’d also taken to wearing a protective mask that both safeguarded his face while working on projects and enhanced his vision. The lenses incorporated Qu’s masterstroke, the Ultra-Spectropic Detection Goggles. New Qu was making sure that he could always see through most any magical cloak or deception, just like Qu always wanted*…

New Qu: Thanks bossman. You know, I’ve been meaning to tell you - Qu thought very highly of you. He always talked about how proud he was of how you turned out. His death wasn’t your fault.

Myrokos Silentform: I know. I know. He talked about you a lot too. Said you were “extreme” for a kid. He thought you got it from that dew you were always drinking.

New Qu: Heh, I do do the dew a lot.

Myrokos Silentform: Well bottle it up, we’re leaving the mountains.

New Qu: Will do.

Myrokos returned to his grim supervisory role, wishing he could at least contact Travot or Warester. Pigeons wouldn’t work, since he knew they were both on the move… but didn’t know where they were presently.

Lethon: Will we head directly to Fenris?

Myrokos Silentform: Our first stop is the Wetlands. We’ve always maintained a hidden base of operations there.** Its small, much too small to support all these people, but it does have a few stockpiles of goods that we can make use of.

Lethon: The trip should give us some time to talk about the enemies that conspire against us. I think you’ll be surprised at how intertwined they all are…




* “You know, I did invent those Ultra-Spectropic Detection Goggles for a reason. It strikes me that if you agents used them more, we wouldn’t run into as many “illusion” problems.” -- Qu

** As established way back on 8/4/2009, Ravenholdt maintained multiple secret facilities scattered across the continent, including one near Stormwind, one in the Wetlands, one in Strangelthorn Vale, and formerly one in Quel’thalas. -- Gurt
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  #940  
Old 04-04-2011, 12:24 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Everyone

The mithril mask came off...

Alford gasped and dropped his sword. The blade seemed to fall in slow motion, clattering against the tiles, killing the silence.

All stared down at a young man, his hair crimson, a finely trimmed beard framing his face. He bore a sheepish smile, tinged with arrogance and baseless confidence.
"Who are you?" Alford asked. "In my heart of hearts I dared to hope to find someone else."

Percy, Skirvar and Cerzimon exchanged awkward glances. The young redhead did not avert his eyes. He took a step forward.
"I've been looking for you my whole life Mr. Menethil."

Just then, soldiers charged into the room. One of them wore a grey overcoat and he swore furiously.
"You are in breach of the law. But we're willing to wipe the slate clean, give you boys a fresh start. All that we're asking in return is your cooperation in bringing this known terrorist to justice."

Naturally, the companions failed to agree with the terms offered. Battle broke out. The soldiers fought furiously. Skirvar gurgled blood as he was struck down from behind. Percy and Thomassy fled, and Cerzimon was beheaded. However, Alford and the prisoner overwhelmed the last guards.

The redheaded man immediately gestured with his right arm, and a blue portal opened before them. Then he gestured once more and a red portal opened. Behind them, the sounds of pagan guards raising an alarm was heard.

"I know you seek answers, Alford. I can give you those answers; the Truth. If you can handle it. The truth about this Great War, about the Lightist summit. About the pagans and the Four Gods and the timeline."
"Then tell me, damn you!" Alford raged, suddenly losing control.

"You have ignored what you already know, Alford." the man said dismissively. "This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue portal - the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe and remain a character in the story. You go on with your life as if nothing has changed. You take the red portal - you stay in Warcraft and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes."

Alford was stricken by panic. He took a step forward and followed the stranger through the red portal...

... And emerged amidst into darkness. A single shaft of light illuminated the redhead and nothing else.

A troll stepped out from the darkness.
"This is not Zul'guazu. Am I dreamin' again?" the troll asked. "When is old Jin'thek gonna get some rest? I have had enough of this! Who be playing games with me! Is it you?"

The redheaded man only laughed.
"I've brought you both here because you have sought the truth."

"I know why you're here. I know what you've both been doing... why you two hardly sleep, why you live alone, and why night after night, you sit by your books. You're looking for it. I know because I was once looking for the same thing. And when it found me, it told me I wasn't really looking for it. I was looking for an answer. It's the question that drives us. It's the question that brought you here. You know the question, just as I did."

"What is the Great War?" Alford and Jin'thek asked simultaneously.

"Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it. You've felt it your entire lives, that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about? The Great War is everywhere. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Lord Xie knew this. It is why the world silenced him."

"Who are you?" Alford asked, sword extended.

"My name is Rhonin. Welcome to the desert of the real."

"What be my part in this?" Jin'thek roared, his eyes wild.

"Mr. Jin'thek." Rhonin said, turning to the troll. "It seems that you've been living two lives. One life, you're Mateo, secretary to a respectable doctor. You have a social security number, pay your taxes, and you... help your friends when they come on MSN drunk with girl troubles. The other life is lived in Zul'Aman, where you go by the alias "Jin'thek" and are guilty of virtually every roleplaying crime we have a law for. One of these lives has a future, and one of them does not."

Rhonin suddenly wheeled and began to walk off into the darkness.
"The time has come for both of you to break the game. Today shall be known as April Fools'."

And then there was much rejoicing.

Last edited by Timolas; 04-04-2011 at 12:37 PM..
  #941  
Old 04-07-2011, 01:33 PM
devius devius is offline

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Kul Tiras

"For the last time Joachim, no. I don't see why you choose to waste your time like this. Your men must be missing you by now."


"My men don't need me. I will take all the time I require to convince you, uniting under Phorcys is not an option."


The discussion had gone back and forth for days, Joachim had chosen to with Xanthus to the Alverold Mansion in the vicinity, refusing to leave until they were in agreement.

“There is no time to take! Every minute we waste arguing is a minute we could spend on uniting Kul Tiras.”

“We’re only wasting time arguing because you won’t listen to reason! Phorcys would lead Kul Tiras to destruction.”

“You are the one who won’t listen, we could take him down once this is all over!”

“Do you really think he would give us that chance? We need to stop him now while he’s weakened.”

“I-“. Xanthus didn’t get to speak as suddenly the door slammed open and a soldier barged in.

“What?” Joachim and Xanthus demanded in unison.

“I’m sorry to interrupt you milord but I have urgent news… The rebels have moved again and have taken Drisburg.”

The attention was quickly switched over to Joachim, who didn’t seem to catch on. “Wait, what rebels? My rebels? But I’m here.”

Eyebrows were raised.

“… I must go.” Joachim darted out the door.

Moments thereafter, Joachim had gathered his things and was about to mount a horse to take him to Drisburg, Xanthus approached him.

“Since you’re leaving before we’ve ended our discussion, I’m afraid we’re still not in agreement.”

“Unless you change your mind now.”

“I could say the same to you. As things are, the next time we meet might be as enemies, Kul Tiras still needs Phorcys and I won’t let you near him.”

“… I know” Joachim solemnly said, then jumped onto his horse and rode off.
  #942  
Old 04-12-2011, 09:46 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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The Malefactors

A boulevard of trees lined the way to the western gate. Xalmor Windrunner passed tree after tree, hidden under robes. He could smell the stench of fear oozing out from behind barred windows and closed doors. Rain drizzled down on the city, drenching it with the sweat to match its terror. Invasion threatened the island nation, and all knew it.

Xalmor Windrunner came to a halt before the western gate. Soldiers levied their pikes at him with suspicion. The elf held his hands up, palms out, in a gesture of peace. Magic began to work around his fingertips. Green fire lanced out, twisting the guards and wrapping around each tree along the boulevard. The trees groaned to life, uprooting themselves. Xalmor's treants began their rampage.

-

Departing the scene, Xalmor pushed past fleeing townsfolk caught in the open. Soldiers were rushing from every quarter of the city towards the western gate, but Xalmor could see the treants making short work of them. He tried to vanish down an alley, but he could see that there was a party of Eels who had noticed him. They took up pursuit.

Winding his way through the city, Xalmor tried to evade his pursuers. He kicked open a grate and jumped down into the sewers...

It did not take long for him to find a wall of figures blocking his path. He heard footsteps behind him. Xalmor Windrunner drew his sword. The figures, however, did not move to attack. Then Xalmor saw that they were wearing masks.

"Highlord? Of all who could have emerged from the unknown, I am indeed surprised to find you here." a feminine voice called. "Well, disciples, it seems our path must have brought us here for a reason."

"Lady Ianthe Marsh?" Xalmor said, recognizing the lady’s voice. "How is it that you have you come here?"

"We might ask the same of you, Highlord. You vanished from Zul'Dare when we needed you and yet we find you here." Ianthe replied testily. Behind her caution, Xalmor could see that she was relieved, however. The Esoterics had admired his leadership outside New Barsmouth. "But the truth is, Highlord, that we are the vanguard of the armada. We are going to open a portal beneath this city, to let in our elite to take Boralus from within."

"How many of you are there?" Xalmor asked, looking the masked warriors over. “You appear to be few in number indeed. Vulnerable, if you are discovered.”

Ianthe's shoulders dropped.
"This is all of us, Highlord. But only until the portal opens. And then the Prophet’s herald is to lead the rest of the way, to take us into the royal palace to stop Phorcys.”

This was unexpected. Xalmor’s mind calculated his newly found options. If he helped them open the portal, he could continue his ruse and use them against Phorcys. There was a greater chance of success with their help - even if he intended to betray them afterwards. Ianthe had proven a capable fighter and he trusted her at his side. The alternative was to stop them opening the portal, and avoid outside interference. To do that, he would have to kill them. If the Prophet reached Phorcys before he did, then all might be lost.

Suddenly, one of the Esoterics wailed and fell into the water with a splash. Behind him stood a company of Eels. Xalmor realised that they were the Eels he had been trying to shake off. If he lied, he could pretend that he was hunting down the Esoterics. Then his cover would not be blown, and he would have help preventing the portal from opening. Battle was joined.


---


Zul’Dare

A tingling sensation swept over his face. He tried to shrug it off, to roll back into the bliss of sleep. The ground heaved, and Ewe opened his eyes. It was the air that tickled him and it was the sea that tossed him. He had to be on a ship. Ewe’s memories recollected like fragments of shattered glass, pieced together one by one. There had been a mage, and fire, and pain. Then nothing.

“Awake so soon, Lord Marsh? How nice for you.”
The grating voice was annoying. Ewe felt familiar irritation and weariness at hearing it, like a mosquito that keeps one awake all night, dodging every blow against it.
“Barny.” Ewe concluded. His eyes focused and saw the masked councilor seated in the corner. The gash on Barny’s leg had been bandaged. “Are we on the Nidhogg?”
“Well, we’re still alive so that would be a yes, Lord Marsh. And I might add that you’ve come out of this affair rather badly, so the sooner you start wearing an Esoteric mask the better for you.”

Hammering footsteps warned them that Captain Dampwallace was on his way. The burly man crashed into the room, arms wide.
“My dear friend! You’re looking fantastic. For a seaman after a scrape like that, of course!”
Barny hissed at the captain.
“Not if your crew gets a hold of him!”
“What’s this, Captain?” Ewe asked.
“Ah, nothing but some anger after the attack. Salsz and Jorguns say you’re bringing ill fortune upon us.” the Captain huffed. “But don’t worry about it. They’ll remember you’re our good friend after we outrun the Stormwind fleet, and the pagan fleet at that. With Antony Moss on the ballista, they won’t try anything funny regardless. And now, I’ll check on the crew. I’ll send Valabelle down to get you something to eat. Stay where you are.”

When the captain was gone, Barny crawled over to Ewe.
“The Esoteric Order has an armada, sailing miles away from us, towards Kul Tiras, Lord Marsh. I have already sent out feelers to alert them to our presence. Soon, we will be rescued! And then we will get revenge on Kul Tiras, and take the Scroll from that woman you’ve left behind. And then Muhar will know that we are his chosen!”

Anazar. Ewe had not forgotten Anazar. Yet, he had hardly had time to think about what to do about her. To get her help from her countrymen, or to try and rescue her somehow. Barny’s words dug into him as well. Ephraim would chase him to the ends of the earth once he knew where he was. The Esoteric Order would not let the heir to House Marsh slip away so easily.


---


Kul Periandrius

Elaine Proudmoore was out of harm's way and under guard. Periandrius was glad to have one problem out of the way. The next problem was a near-omniscient demigod who had locked himself away in the heart of the palace. After that he would likely have to deal with the imminent invasions and the rebels, and the war in Hesperia. Irksome details, of course. What mattered was Xaxion filling him up with power, affirming his masculinity, proving his importance.

“Why are you smiling, my lord?” one of the Eels prodded, clearly creeped out.
“It is a stirring, my friend. A stirring of solid power and joy within me. Come, let us make haste. Destiny awaits.”
Tailed by the finest of his Eels, Periandrius made his way towards the holding chambers. There, the luscious Dalarani maiden he had met in Zul’Dare awaited.

A panting messenger caught up with the retinue.
“My lord! Oh, my lord!” the man cried.
“What is it, simian? Be quick!”
“Battle has joined upon the high seas. The invasion fleet has arrived. Commander Combra sends his greetings. Insidiously.”
Periandrius nodded enthusiastically.
“Gods willing - and they are willing, mind you - the enemy won’t live to set foot on our shores. Help yourself to a Tel Abim banana in the kitchens as a reward for your hasty dispensation of information. Now get out of my sight.”
“Oh my lord!” the messenger said, pawing at Periandrius’ boots gratefully. “You are too kind! I shall save the banana peel and pass it onto my children.”
“Ah my beloved son!” Periandrius crooned, nudging the man’s face away with his boot. “Go away!”

-

Kul Periandrius and the Elves

Kept in ignorance, Mathredis Firestar had pieced together one fact from all that had transpired. That he was doomed. That, and the Benefactors had likely become enemies of the Kul Tiras government. Nothing else could explain his imprisonment after all this time.

The Hareveim from Dalaran had come to him amidst the tolling of bells. There was something about her that stirred his memory. Or something about whatever it was that she carried - a scroll, which she cradled dearly. It seemed to be a relic of sorts. He dared not ask about it.
“And why do you think it is that they detain you?” he purred hopefully.
“That is no business of yours.” she declared.

The doors to the room opened. The Zaramim bodyguards of the lady stood rigid, facing a tall and lanky man who stood out for his lack of a hand. The hand was gone, but it had been replaced by some weapon. He looked to be in a hurry, as if hounded by something.
“Gentlemen and gentlewomen, time is short. Within a matter of minutes, the Commodore will arrive demanding the Scroll you possess. If he has it, he will lead us to a state of affairs in which Hesperia and Kul Tiras are unlikely to be friends, for it is property of Dalaran, is it not?”
Holding her head high, the young Hareveim seemed to agree.
“The Scroll belongs to the Hareveim.”
“Then you must come with me, before the Scroll falls into the hands of those who would doom Kul Tiras out of selfishness. Promise me only that Hesperia will come to our aid.”
“I can guarantee that we Hareveim repay our debts.”

Mathredis Firestar’s pulse quickened. Was this his chance to escape? The man noticed his movements.
“Not you, elf. You stay where you are. We can’t attract too much attention to ourselves. Your nectar-stink and pointy ears would give us away from one side of the city to the other. Now milady, make your choice.”
“I shall trust you.” the Hareveim decided. “Because I have no alternatives. Come, my Zaramim.”
“No.” the man said, holding his remaining hand out. “You leave your bodyguards behind. We must be ambiguous.”
Anazar moved to protest, but one of her Zaramim, a female, clasped her by the arm.
“Go, milady. We will buy you time.”
With a resigned sigh, the Hareveim nodded and moved to the man, who led her down the corridor and out of sight. Left with the Zaramim, Mathredis pondered escape once again. The door had been left open. He moved to flee through it, but footsteps rang down the corridor. In stepped the Commodore.

-

“Where is she? Where is the Scroll of Lore?” Periandrius yelled. “You, elf! Tell me!”
“No.” one of the Zaramim whispered, just behind Mathredis. She was the only woman in their ranks. “Tell him nothing.”


---


Ravenholdt and Kul Tiras

The reactions were mixed. Most present seemed to turn inward and silent, perhaps with shock, at Van Dam's revelations. The Tirisfalen were unreadable, not flinching an inch.

"I knew our cause was righteous." Katherine Adai said with an intake of breath. "The pagans war and pillage because they are genuinely misguided."
"So that is what happened to Phorcys. My old friend." Janus DeMeza said, eyes distant. "Consumed by this, this Ythan'alai. By this Xaxion Drak'eem. A parody of a once noble man."

The pagans stirred. Gerard Falrevere was biting his lip, the grizzled Balorian captain fighting back his emotions.
"If what he says is true, then we nearly faced unity under the Prophet. But Phorcys ruined everything. Our chance for paganism to be united against this Men'heva and his heresies."

"And so you have it." Warester Van Dam said, palms out in a gesture that offered all before him to accept what had been said or to leave it. "But I don't think this changes anything, in the end. Still, I thought you should know what we are facing."

"This is ill news." Gerard Falrevere added. "We sent Vizier Khalabrond and Henry Caldwell to Zul'Dare, to parley with the Esoterics. From what you say, Men'heva leads them. Their lives could be in danger, and the invasion from Zul'Dare could make whoever wins this conflict irrelevant."

"Enough." Scavell announced. "You assembled here, you Lightists and pagans from Balor, from Kul Tiras, from Lordaeron, from Quel'thalas and many more places besides. We face overwhelming odds, it is true. But the time for action has come no less. The only question is if we wait for Men'heva to make the first move, or if we take Boralus before he arrives. If we strike at Boralus, know that both factions will be weakened when Zul'Dare invades. Or we can wait, and let our enemies strike at one another. If we do that, we might be lucky enough to live until the fleet from Stormwind intervenes, of which you surely have heard of by now."

The clearing of a throat. All heads turned. It was Joachim Alten, standing in the doorway.
"I have heard all that has been said." he announced. His eyes scanned the room.
"Joachim!" Gerard flailed, disbelief on his face. "We thought you lost."
"No, but I could not broker a deal with Alverold. We're alone unless we unify under Phorcys until this all blows over."

Warester Van Dam saw how all turned to Joachim Alten for leadership, even DeMeza seemed to trust the young man. It seemed that the Baron of Balor would lead the rebels to whatever fate it is they chose. Whatever the case, Vam Dam's duty lay in the covert operations ahead.

"So, what's on your mind, Scavell?"
The Guardian seemed resigned.
"We've truly been blind to everything." he said with a sigh. "Amidst our manipulations, it is we who have been the pawns. I am ashamed."
"There's no time for shame, Scavell. What are we going to do?"
The Guardian's shoulders straightened.
"We fight. The question is, who do we fight first, and when? I trust your judgement. Your experience is why we let you into our fold, Grand Master. Just keep in mind the implications behind whatever we do next. To strike at one enemy is to empower the other."
Erbag piped up from between them.
"And Relfthra had better be alive. I am going to bite his ankles if he's kept everything you have said from us. It means that what Rodin Fornsform did to support D'vorjakque was in truth helping this Men'heva. It puts everything into question that we have done for the greater good."

"I see the surprise in your eyes, Grand Master." Kithros said with a chortle. "But that can wait, no?"

Rodin Fornsform - supporting D'vorjakque? Warester Van Dam fought back a surge of bitterness at the confirmation of ever more suspicions. At the notion that the Tirisfalen and their plots sank deeper than he had feared. Once all this was over, he would have to make sure they answered for their crimes. The greater good did not excuse the evils it took to get there.


---

Ravenholdt and Alterac

The stale air, the stench of dead things, they overwhelmed Owen Zverenhoff as he raced beneath Alterac City. He was dismayed to see that so much of the labyrinths had survived the destruction of the citadel. It did not matter, he promised himself. Whatever was left would be sealed off or collapsed after this affair was settled. After Perenolde dangled from the rafters for his treachery, for betraying King Alford Menethil, and for betraying them and Operation Ravendown. For endangering the sacrifices of Helen, Keats, Vord and all the others!

They raced into a vast open chamber, lit by orbs of light dancing over the heads of figures in its centre. Pillars of gold and marble surrounded them, rising high into the void. The Ramrods stood facing Perenolde and his men, but there was no sign of the Assassin-Magi.
"This is the end for you, you bastards."
Perenolde held his sword up defiantly, surrounded by his men and prepared for a last stand. The Ramrods saw then why they had halted. A chasm had cut the chamber in half, probably from structural collapse. It was a dead end.

"No." Jere Kavdan slurred in a serpentine fashion. "It is the end of all of you."
"What?" Perenolde growled.
Kavdan did indeed elaborate.
"Your image rules Alterac, but your body is not necessary. Only a likeness."
Kavdan began to change, his skin crawling. His reptile eyes shut, and by the time they opened again, a perfect likeness of Halman Perenolde had replaced him.
"You are a Black Dragon..." Emilda Blackmoore gasped.

The Assassin-Magi finally appeared, teleporting one at a time to encircle both parties, cutting both Ramrods and Alterakki off from escape. Jere Kavdan stepped back, wings sprouting from his back, and he took a running jump towards the chasm as he began to revert to his draconic form. Emilda Blackmoore took a leap at him, her sword burying into his back. The two of them vanished across the chasm, out of sight.

Within minutes, an overwhelming number of Assassin-Magi began to cut down Ramrods and Alterakki alike. The ground shook, and cracks appeared in the walls.
"This place is coming down on our heads!" one of the Ramrods wailed.
"Hell if it is! We'll dig our way out, with our feet if our arms are broken!"
A boulder crashed into the Alterakki party, sending Halman Perenolde over the edge of the chasm. A crash later, and Zverenhoff felt himself following. They tumbled into the darkness together...

... an eternity later, Zverenhoff surfaced for air. They had landed in an underground lake. Halman Perenolde had already clambered onto solid ground. Zverenhoff followed, letting armour, sword and shield sink to the bottom to stay afloat. On the shore, it was Perenolde who had a sword in his hand.
"Stay back, Zverenhoff." Perenolde announced. "Hear me out. We're lost and we're out-manned a hundredfold. I'm going to make you an offer you can't refuse..."
"A second Operation Ravendawn, by any chance, boy? Do you take me for an imbecile?"
"Not an imbecile." Perenolde said grimly. "But a living man, perhaps, yes."

Perenolde's eyes fell to the sword in his hand.
"House Drace."
"What's that, boy?" Zverenhoff growled.
"The sword. I found it down here." Perenolde said, looking the blade over. "Take it, Zverenhoff. Take it as a gesture of good-will. Now you're the man who is armed. But keep this in mind. If I die, you're the only man left who knows what transpired down here. And then if you die, a pretender will rule Alterac far more grimly than I could have ever done, with nobody to expose him. If we stand together, our chances are doubled. Can we reach an agreement?"

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Old 04-12-2011, 05:41 PM
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Zul’Dare

A tingling sensation swept over his face. He tried to shrug it off, to roll back into the bliss of sleep. The ground heaved, and Ewe opened his eyes. It was the air that tickled him and it was the sea that tossed him. He had to be on a ship. Ewe’s memories recollected like fragments of shattered glass, pieced together one by one. There had been a mage, and fire, and pain. Then nothing.

“Awake so soon, Lord Marsh? How nice for you.”
The grating voice was annoying. Ewe felt familiar irritation and weariness at hearing it, like a mosquito that keeps one awake all night, dodging every blow against it.
“Barny.” Ewe concluded. His eyes focused and saw the masked councilor seated in the corner. The gash on Barny’s leg had been bandaged. “Are we on the Nidhogg?”
“Well, we’re still alive so that would be a yes, Lord Marsh. And I might add that you’ve come out of this affair rather badly, so the sooner you start wearing an Esoteric mask the better for you.”

Hammering footsteps warned them that Captain Dampwallace was on his way. The burly man crashed into the room, arms wide.
“My dear friend! You’re looking fantastic. For a seaman after a scrape like that, of course!”
Barny hissed at the captain.
“Not if your crew gets a hold of him!”
“What’s this, Captain?” Ewe asked.
“Ah, nothing but some anger after the attack. Salsz and Jorguns say you’re bringing ill fortune upon us.” the Captain huffed. “But don’t worry about it. They’ll remember you’re our good friend after we outrun the Stormwind fleet, and the pagan fleet at that. With Antony Moss on the ballista, they won’t try anything funny regardless. And now, I’ll check on the crew. I’ll send Valabelle down to get you something to eat. Stay where you are.”

When the captain was gone, Barny crawled over to Ewe.
“The Esoteric Order has an armada, sailing miles away from us, towards Kul Tiras, Lord Marsh. I have already sent out feelers to alert them to our presence. Soon, we will be rescued! And then we will get revenge on Kul Tiras, and take the Scroll from that woman you’ve left behind. And then Muhar will know that we are his chosen!”

Anazar. Ewe had not forgotten Anazar. Yet, he had hardly had time to think about what to do about her. To get her help from her countrymen, or to try and rescue her somehow. Barny’s words dug into him as well. Ephraim would chase him to the ends of the earth once he knew where he was. The Esoteric Order would not let the heir to House Marsh slip away so easily.

Zul’Dare
<Aboard the pirate vessel Nidhogg>

"Barny?" Ewe said slowly
"Lord Marsh?"
"F@#% you." Ewe's words were as full of spite as one could imagine. "Now hand me that mirror."

Barny, still confused, handed his master the reflective pane of glass lying on the nearby table. Ewe gazed at himself. Barny had been right about one thing; his face had not handled the fireball nearly as well as he would have liked. Even once the burns were healed he would be nearly unrecognizable. He didn't truly mind. A new face for a new life, if Barny didn't get his way. Ewe had tired of it all. No more secret societies, no more magic or cultists, none of it. He was finished. Barny refused to see that.

Soon Valabelle came in with some food. Nothing extravagant but very delicious, fish stew and some bread. She was accompanied by her young daughter, Kelda. She was short for her age. Rather, she would have been, had she been pure human. Ewe surmised that her dwarven blood was what kept her small. He reasoned that she was probably taller than dwarven children her age. Ewe shooed Barny out of the room; he was lousy eating company.

"You're healing remarkably well, Ewe. Its uncanny." Valabelle's voice was soft, for a dwarf.
"That's good to hear. I'm not one for resting." Ewe paused to take another spoonful of stew. "So, Valabelle, how'd you meet Bartholomew?"

"Well, as you probably know, we dwarves aren't particularly known for our sea legs. But we do live in the occasional port. I used to live in Port Baradin, before I met Bartholomew. It was quite such a bad place then. Not terrible pleasant, but far better than what it is now. A lot can change in fifteen years." She paused solemnly. "One day the Nidhogg docked and Bartholomew came ashore. He and his crew ended up staying for about a month. When the time came for him to leave he asked me to go with him, and I did."

Just then there was a knock on the doorframe as Captain Dampwallace entered the room. He picked up Kelda with a loud yarr.
"There's my little girl. How have you been? Ewe not giving you any trouble?"
"No, daddy."
"Good. Now you and mommy go finish your chores. I'm going to have a little chat with Ewe here."

As soon as they had left the Captain turned to Ewekapu.
"What's the story with that Barnabus fellow?"
"Trust me, you don't want to hear it."
"Is he trustworthy?"
"I trust him about as far as I can throw him. And believe me, he's a lot heavier than he looks. Why do you ask."
"Because we got ourselves a ship tailing us and he wont stop staring at it."

Ewe cursed. It had to be the Esoteric Order. Barny would pay for this.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:33 AM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt and Alterac

Alterac was breaking out in a riot. The Ramrods were trying to maintain order while Perenolde’s loyalists raised havoc, all the while innocent citizens were caught in the middle. One of their leaders had to emerge victorious, but with neither having returned from the catacombs, chaos ruled.

After what seemed like an eternity, finally… they both remerged, together.

“Maximus Krowl”: People! Your King has returned! Please, be calm!

“Owen Zverenhoff”: Ramrods! Stand down!

The fighting halted, and was replaced with a stunned silence.

Krowl Loyalist: What this, Perenolde? You wuz s’posed to fight to the death!

Ramrod Legionnaire: Yeah, Grand Marshal. What’s the deal?

“Maximus Krowl”: Settle down, everyone. We’ve reached an accord.

“Owen Zverenhoff”: One based on mutual respect!

Their audience was clearly baffled by this unexpected turn of events.

“Maximus Krowl”: It was a moment of clarity, where reason triumphed over violence. Down in the catacombs, we realized that we weren’t that different. We were two men of conviction that wanted what was best for the people, and we were willing to sacrifice to get it.

“Owen Zverenhoff”: That’s right. Once we overcame our petty differences, we realized that only by working together could we make Alterac was it was truly meant to be. Together, as a unified force of leadership, we can return this once great land to prosperity.

“Maximus Krowl”: Now, everyone, cease all hostilities and shake hands! Before this altercation broke out, we were having a feast. Let’s return to it!

The crowd had been won over, and they cheered for each of the men. Disaster had been averted, and Ramrod embraced Loyalist. “Krowl” and “Owen” then turned away from the assemblage and returned to the makeshift throne room’s chamber, where all the food was. They sat at the table.

“Maximus Krowl”: Pass the bread please, “Owen.”

“Owen Zverenhoff”: My pleasure.

“Maximus Krowl”: Ummm… that is good stuff.

“Owen Zverenhoff”: Well, it was made by terrified peasants, and I don’t have to tell you that the more scared a peasant is, the tastier the bread.

“Maximus Krowl”: Too true my friend, too true. Though I admit, I hunger for a bit more… protein in my diet.

“Owen Zverenhoff”: All in due time, sir. All in due time…

---
Meanwhile, deep in the catacombs…

Owen Zverenhoff: We’ve got an agreement chump, but only because Black Dragons could cause more damage in control of Alterac than you ever could.

Maximus Krowl: Good. Now we just have to find a way out of here. You ever been this deep?

Owen Zverenhoff: Yes. With Travot. If I recall correctly, these bowels were chock full of…

A metal-scrapping noise from nearby startled them.

Owen Zverenhoff: Mutants…

__________________________________________________ ________________________

Ravenholdt and Kul Tiras

So there it was. At least Van Dam knew now that the body of the Council of Tirisfal was only duped into supporting Men’heva. Their true loyalties did indeed lie with what was best for Azeroth, but they’d been woefully mislead by a masterful ploy on the grandest of scales… just like half the players in this Great War. Relfthra though was still a mystery, and the question of whether he was indeed the alter-ego of the controversial Emberstone Sanguinar lingered. He couldn’t worry about that now.

Warester Van Dam: Scavell, you are the biggest gun we have. If we have any hope of standing up to Men’heva or Phorcys directly, we’re going to need you.

Scavell: I underestimated the capabilities of our opposition, and that‘s why I was captured. I won’t make that mistake again.

Hocus Snood: Yeah, can’t do much “Guarding” from a cell, can ya sweet cheeks?

Scavell: Why is there a talking cricket here? I certainly hope he’s not supposed to represent your conscience…

Warester Van Dam: He represents a pain in my ass. Look, lets get serious here. We have two super-powered threats, both of them pretty much are insane. While Phorcys might be a genocidal maniac, the reason you came to Kul Tiras in the first place Scavell, I think at this point Men’heva is the bigger threat.

Kithros: True. Phorcys is barely clinging to control in Kul Tiras. Men’heva, on the other hand, has seemingly made all the other pagan powers in the world his pawns.

Katherine Adai: And his fleet from Zul’Dare is mightier than Kul Tiras can muster after all we’ve hammered them with on the Seas.

Gerard Falrevere: Plus, I don’t doubt that Phorcys’ injury from the battle off the coast of Sorsbrent still lingers. He’ll be weakened, at least a bit.

Warester Van Dam: And Men’heva has been collecting artifacts of power from around the globe, actually enhancing his own personal strength. The fact that he may be accompanying this fleet makes its arrival exponentially more dangerous. I think you can beat Phorcys, Scavell. But Men’heva may have even eclipsed the Guardian at this point…

Janus DeMeza: So what do you propose?

Warester Van Dam: That fleet from Zul’Dare cannot take Kul Tiras. We have to stop Men’heva first, then we handle Phorcys. Now let’s get to work…
__________________________________________________ ________________________

Kul Periandrius and the Elves

Namor Periandrius: Women don’t say no to me! And when they do, it really means Yes! Eels, lock this damned place down! Nobody gets in or out until I have that Scroll!

Namor was furious. He was so close to possessing the Scroll, the object he’d first encountered on Zul’Dare and that he’d lusted after ever since. With its power, he could usurp Phorcys and take the demi-god's Xaxion-given power for himself.

And nobody, certainly not a lame elf and a woman playing at being a Zaramim, would stop him.

Namor Periandrius: Now I’m going to ask you one more time, very nicely. Where. Is. The Scroll!?!
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:15 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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The Amani

"I see. I see." Gruc'jen said, picking his teeth with one of Ker'ah's feathers. "An; how does that make you feel, mon?"

Jin'thek hoped that coming to Gruc'jen to learn more about his dreams was a wise decision. The old witch doctor usually had advice to give even in the most difficult of circumstances, even if Jin'thek could not always figure out what the old troll was ranting about.

"I don't know, Gruc'jen. Scared maybe. Angry. Is it important? I want to know if the dreams are real visions, mon. I know how I feel about them."

Gruc'jen threw the feather into the cauldron before him and paused.
"Well if your dreams are scary mon I can give you some lotion for that. I used to give it to Ba'jal when he used to wet his loincloth after bad dreams."

"Don't mention that traitor's name, Gruc'jen!" Jin'thek demanded.

The old witch doctor shrugged, his heavy eyelids making him seem like he was going to sleep.
"You worry too much, Jin'thek. Some things don't need explaining. But since you insist and you aren't going to leave me to my meditation unless you happy, I tell you this. You an' da Sunking are at opposite ends of a spectrum. Your hatred of one another is not so different from love, if there is any real difference between them two elements in the end. Your fates twist and mate with one another. In the end, your dreams be as real as you think they are."

"Thank you Gruc'jen." Jin'thek said with a sigh, turning to mount Ker'ah, his legendary bird. "I got things to do now. Join me in Zul'guazu when you finish with your affairs. We got much to plan."

"Loa watch over you" Gruc'jen called after him. "An' remember, Jin'thek, da road to Trollish Lebensraum may be paved with good intentions, but sometimes we end up in da wrong place! Like mated to a Mosstusk Zulfi an' never getting a moment's peace!"

Gruc'jen watched Jin'thek vanish into the skies atop Ker'ah, a shadow encircled by the setting sun. It was like watching a force of nature gone rogue, a lone tree stretching into the skies. A tree that was losing its leaves, but perhaps, only for the winter.

-

Jin'thek had to admit to himself that he felt something whispering discontent in his mind. It was not the blood of Hakkar for a change, or Gruc'jen's wisdom either for that matter. As he landed in one of the border camps of the Shadowpine, he realised what it was.

He was nervous. Nervous about his meeting with these elves who had surrendered to him. For the first time, he would have elves on his hand who were not trying to kill him. He would have elves on his hand who were trusting him for protection. These elves had honoured him with trust. It was a strange thought.

It felt to Jin'thek like having a bride who gives birth to a Jungle troll instead of a Forest troll. Then the Jungle troll child calling him Daddy Jin. If these elves called him Daddy Jin there would be trouble. Elves would never be his people or his children. Sparing their lives was more than they deserved, but he had given his word.

The Shadowpine led him to the verge of their camp, where they had erected an enclosure with spears and logs. A gate led into the heart of the enclosure. Jin'thek stepped past the guards at the gate and into a large square. It was full of elves, huddled together. Jin'thek smelled the stench of fear and bodily filth. The elves cowered before him. Most of them did, at least. Jin'thek quickly saw that many stood proud, and were walking towards him.

The lead elf had white hair, youthful features and the eyes of a dragonhawk. He faced Jin'thek without fear, though he was in rags and helpless. Several equally wild elves crowded behind him.
"Who... who you? Why here, you?" Jin'thek stammered in broken Thalassian.

Then, the lead elf bared his teeth. They had been filed down into fangs. He spoke, and much to Jin'thek's surprise, he spoke in Zandali.
"I become Atal'jin. These elf, they will be Atal'jin. We all be Atal'jin. Hundreds years, live slaves to Sunking. Live servant life, to noble elves. Live slaves of luxury. Live prisoners in society. Sick society. Prison society." the Atal'jin elf said, extending his arms wide, turning to the elves around him. "Now chance. New chance for new life. New world. No more Sunking."

"No more Sunking." Jin'thek echoed, venom on the tip of his tongue. "It is true. You in Zul'guazu now. No more Quel'thalas. Never again."

The Atal'jin bowed low, and the elves behind him did the same.
"Give us new world. Freedom. Fire in our veins. Give us honour. And we Atal'jin. If you promise, if you promise and swear by Loa, we have place, live in peace, together."

"Devoted to Jin'thek!" Jin'thek said in Thalassian, surprise and horror in his voice. He continued speaking in Zandali. "You gotta perfect your Zandali, elf. You talk like a monkey. You talk like a civilized being, then we talk about 'Atal'Jin'."

The lead elf bowed lower, the muscles on his back tense. Jin'thek could see that despite the elf's demeanour, his pride and his elven arrogance, that he was afraid. No, the elf was terrified. He had gambled his existence on this charade, for a charade it surely was. Did this elf actually think he could live a free life as a slave to trolls? Or maybe, Jin'thek mused, he actually thought he could live as an equal to the trolls. If the elf meant what he said, why had he not joined Jin'thek when Jin'thek needed the help most, to take Silvermoon? If the elf was just changing sides because Jin'thek had won, then he was nothing more than an opportunist.

Or was he something more? Was there a dimension of truth to this elf's promises that his broken Zandali could not give voice to?

"Atal'jin!" the elf repeated hopefully. His eyes met Jin'thek's. There was determination that caused Jin'thek's heart to jump. It was determination that Jin'thek identified with, and seeing a mirror of himself in an elf disgusted him. The elf waited. The elves all waited. Behind him, trolls watched on in confusion.


---


Stromgarde

Liera stared at Eldengar with obviously mixed feelings. Eldengar could see surprise and what may either be disgust or lust. He was not sure. Maybe it was confusion.
"Well, are you going to answer my questions?"

"As soon as I have a hot liquid to throw in your face, princeling. And keep your hands to yourself, lest I defenestrate you."

Eldengar realised that he had upset Honeybuttocks. It was merely a setback.
"Nevermind, elf. But you will tell me all you know about who you are and where you came from if you want me to trust you enough to keep you around."

Liera arched an eyebrow.
"My life story is my own business, prince. But you deserve to know the forces arrayed against you. I was sent by the Benefactors, a pagan cabal as old as elvenkind. Recently, they fought a civil war in Quel'thalas. A civil war that was interrupted by trollish invasion, which your uncle intervened against. Unsuccessfully, despite the lives he saved. Silvermoon City has fallen."

A chill went down Eldengar's spine. If Silvermoon City had fallen, then the Troll Wars threatened to resurface, and at a very bad time. Humanity had been splintered, the Arathi Empire had ceased to exist, and it seemed elvenkind had already fallen.
"You are giving me a bad day, elf. Do you have anything cheery to say, at least?"

Liera's lips curved into a smile that seemed bitter and said.
"You're alive, thanks to me. And Anandor is your prisoner. He is an old elf indeed, prince, and I suggest you treat him with respect. He does not know as much as I. He is merely a guide, a translator. A philosopher."

Eldengar was brought out of his verbal duel by the voice of Thales at the door. The young cleric seemed flustered. Perhaps he was distracted by Liera.
"What is it, Thales?"

"Captain Aledar has bad news, my lord. An army from Clan Gann is moving through the valleys south of Stonehold. They have killed our scouts and cut us off from escape. We have only discovered them because they are so close."

"Clan Gann!" Eldengar cursed. One of the clans who had sent these assassins against him. Old allies of the Freedom Movement, and thus of Mallick Vitalian. "Perhaps they have come to make sure I am finished."

Liera was still smiling.
"Princeling, I might be of use here. If you hide, I can speak with Clan Gann and pretend that I am the only surviving assassin. I can tell them that you are dead. It will buy us time before they realise there is no body to match my tale."

"Time!" Eldengar growled. "Time until what? Help from royalists is days away."

"Time for us to escape into the Hinterlands, in the north, to move around Clan Gann.We can use Anandor as a guide. He knows these lands better than their inhabitants." Liera replied. Behind her, Thales stood in shock, his mouth hanging open.

Even if they escaped Clan Gann, then being in troll territory would probably be even more dangerous. Especially if the trolls had united. Still, to stay in Stonehold was likely death, unless they weathered a siege. If they weathered a siege, then help from one of the Tribunes might arrive. Messengers had been sent to Septim, after all. Captain Aledar, for starters would surely not want to run and cower like a dog. If Eldengar could disguise himself as one of the assassins, perhaps he could even sneak through Clan Gann itself, with Liera's help.

Eldengar had to come up with a plan. His men were depending on him.


---


Ravenholdt

Atarum led her down the bloodied streets, seemingly ignorant of the chaos and destruction as if they were daily occurrences. Perhaps they were, Barbara Friendly figured.

"Mortals... ah, commoners, tend to divide the world with their concepts, or rather, their misconceptions. It is a terrible shame, to divide ourselves, when in truth, we are all one and the same. Counterparts, opposites, different and yet the same. The Light is no different in its variety and yet, in its unity."

"That sounds great, Atarum."

The man shuddered at the compliment.
"There is so much to know, so much to see, dear lady. All that we require is some vision. And help, to get there. Sometimes all people need is a little... push."

His eyes flashed dangerously, and for a split second, they seemed to reveal his true nature. Barbara Friendly came close to reconsidering her lifestyle choices that had brought her here. Nonsense, she reminded herself. She was a hard lady, and this was exciting, if not amusing.

"A push? You mean, kind of like a thrust?" Barbara Friendly said, feigning ignorance.

Atarum halted, and Barbara looked up at the imperial palace, rising high above them. Many steps led up to its grand gate, which hung open, flanked by Black Iron Golems.

"Dear lady, I'll be honest with you. You make a poor devotee to the Church of Kruel, even with one eye missing. I think you have more profound a vision behind you than meets the eye. Excuse the pun."

Barbara Friendly went deathly still. Had her ruse been that hollow? Did the dragon want her for other reasons than she had presumed. Light forbid he was not an imbecile.
"It's true. I'm a seeker of power and wisdom! Not a mere follower."

"That is what I thought." Atarum concluded. "So I will tell you what I want with you. I am here as a grounds-keeper, of sorts. Cardinal Kruel is on the verge of a discovery, and I am nudging him along. He causes much pain in his wake, pain is a catalyst of change. I admit I don't know what it is that he will do, but perhaps it will be enough."

"Enough for what?" Barbara pressed.

"To avert a cataclysm of the likes that broke this world." Atarum grumbled with a sigh. "Prophecies and wars, heresies and plots. All are noise, dear lady, all are arguments about what should be done to prevent a very bleak future. I tell you this, however. Your allies have blood on their hands. They send you and your friends to cover up their part in this. But in the end, I work against the Master. If you try and stop me before the project is finished, many will have died in vain. But if you are patient, and help me finish this, then we will have a tool to stop the Master, and to save everything."

Atarum began to ascend the palace steps, leaving Barbara Friendly behind. He looked over his shoulder.
"Go and do what you must, if you wish. But come with me and taste the shadow, and learn what there is to learn. Let yourself be guided by collective wisdom, rather than lies."

Last edited by Timolas; 04-15-2011 at 08:37 AM..
  #946  
Old 04-16-2011, 12:30 PM
HalfElfDragon HalfElfDragon is offline

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The Malefactors

Winding his way through the city, Xalmor tried to evade his pursuers. He kicked open a grate and jumped down into the sewers...

It did not take long for him to find a wall of figures blocking his path. He heard footsteps behind him. Xalmor Windrunner drew his sword. The figures, however, did not move to attack. Then Xalmor saw that they were wearing masks.

"Highlord? Of all who could have emerged from the unknown, I am indeed surprised to find you here." a feminine voice called. "Well, disciples, it seems our path must have brought us here for a reason."

"Lady Ianthe Marsh?" Xalmor said, recognizing the lady’s voice. "How is it that you have you come here?"

"We might ask the same of you, Highlord. You vanished from Zul'Dare when we needed you and yet we find you here." Ianthe replied testily. Behind her caution, Xalmor could see that she was relieved, however. The Esoterics had admired his leadership outside New Barsmouth. "But the truth is, Highlord, that we are the vanguard of the armada. We are going to open a portal beneath this city, to let in our elite to take Boralus from within."

"How many of you are there?" Xalmor asked, looking the masked warriors over. “You appear to be few in number indeed. Vulnerable, if you are discovered.”

Ianthe's shoulders dropped.
"This is all of us, Highlord. But only until the portal opens. And then the Prophet’s herald is to lead the rest of the way, to take us into the royal palace to stop Phorcys.”

This was unexpected. Xalmor’s mind calculated his newly found options. If he helped them open the portal, he could continue his ruse and use them against Phorcys. There was a greater chance of success with their help - even if he intended to betray them afterwards. Ianthe had proven a capable fighter and he trusted her at his side. The alternative was to stop them opening the portal, and avoid outside interference. To do that, he would have to kill them. If the Prophet reached Phorcys before he did, then all might be lost.

Suddenly, one of the Esoterics wailed and fell into the water with a splash. Behind him stood a company of Eels. Xalmor realised that they were the Eels he had been trying to shake off. If he lied, he could pretend that he was hunting down the Esoterics. Then his cover would not be blown, and he would have help preventing the portal from opening. Battle was joined.

The Malefactors

Xalmor stopped, if only for a second. In all honesty he could easily get away with siding with the Esoterics against the Eels and just as easily could do the opposites. But his main experience was with Eels was killing them, while his experience with the Esoteric Order was as their leader. It felt natural to take that place once more. He would be the last to do so. The lies of Men'heva would come crashing down and with them would fall the Esoteric Order. From the ashes would rise the Malefactors. Xalmor raised his hand, sending out a flash of viridian light. Neither sight knew what to think of what just happened and the fighting momentarily ceased, all the combatants afraid that Xalmor may have targeted them. It was all the opportunity Xalmor's spell needed. The sewers were well made but they were not impervious to the whims of natures. Roots broke through the sides of the the sludge-filled corridors. And these roots were now much more... lively.

The sprung from the walls, grasping at the Eels, pulling and constricting them. Easy targets. Soon they had all perished. With another wave of his hand the roots retreated back into the earth, taking the bodies with them. No-one would be able to tell that they were ever there. With that he turned to what remained of Ianthe's brigade. She had... changed, at least from when Xalmor had last seen her. He hadn't known her to speak as such. It mattered little. He would soon show her the truth, assuming she survived long enough.

"Come, we must go. Phorcys awaits."
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  #947  
Old 04-16-2011, 11:03 PM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Kul Periandrius and the Elves

Namor’s patience was wearing thin as he questioned the elf. Every moment he wasted was another moment the Scroll of Lore and Lady Anazar moved farther from his grasp. Yet, Anazar’s tall and lanky rescuer, in his haste and lust for secrecy, had insisted that she leave her bodyguards behind. She’d never been more vulnerable. Despite this, the one-armed man’s subtle rescue would have worked, had it not been for the fact that an even more subtle individual was watching from the shadows.

A complete ambush took the excited rescuer by surprise, driving him to the ground. A follow up kick to the head knocked him unconscious, and Anazar was left face to face with Namor’s fanatically loyal undead bodyguard and assassin… Johnnie Jacula.

Johnnie Jacula: Going somewhere?

Anazar stared at him, never having looked into the eyes of the living dead before.

Johnnie Jacula: You’ve got something that my master needs, woman. At the risk of sounding trite… you choose. The easy way or the hard way.

Anazar: Sorry, creature. You will not get the Scroll from me easily.

Johnnie Jacula: No need to apologize. I actually prefer the hard way. It’s more entertaining.

The undead assassin drew his wicked daggers, blades that had clearly tasted blood before. Not being too far away, Jacula yelled to the Commodore and his Eels.

Johnnie Jacula: Commodore! I have the woman!

The clanking sounds of soliders moving filled the hallways. Jacula’s call was obviously heard, and Namor was on his way.

Johnnie Jacula: I did give you the choice…

__________________________________________________ ____________

Ravenholdt

Atarum ascended the stairs, smug in the idea that after “Jaclyn” did what she had to do, she would come running back. The problem was, Cruel Barb wasn’t buying his shit.

She’d accomplished what she needed to achieve within the walls of that stinking city. Kruel’s power was a new philosophy, a kind of perversion of the Holy Light that was heretofore unknown to Azeroth… or at least to humanity. What that Black Dragon knew, Barb could only guess.

---

Back at the nearby tents that constituted the makeshift base of Magyver’s Anti-Kruel league, the natives were getting restless.

Kid Gorgeous: Growl.

Magyver McGowan: I know, Kid. I’m worried too.

Zero-Zero-Nine: Release me. You have 20 seconds to comply.

The studying of the captured golem specimen hadn’t produced any results, despite the fact that Jammal Hildebrand’s priest colleagues had arrived. They poked and prodded the metal monstrosity, but could not come up with a mechanism to break Kruel’s control. The magic was simply beyond their ken. The golem, however, had failed to display any of the “soul” that Jammal suspected might lie beneath its iron exterior. It was nothing more than a tool.

Zero-Zero-Nine: Release me. You have 10 seconds to comply.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Or what, tinhead?

The voice came from the tent's entrance.

Magyver McGowan: Barb!

Jammal Hildebrand: Ms. Friendly, you’ve returned!

Vael: With results, I hope.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Oh, I’ve got results Big Red. One of your black brothers was all to happy to talk himself and the Cardinal up to anyone who would listen. And what he had to say? Well, its big. Gather round…

Barb explained the new philosophy to those in attendance. It was truly a revelation, as no one present had ever even considered to look for a source of power that was comparable to yet not the traditional Holy Light. A shadowy reflection of the Light’s awesome power that nobody knew was there. Needless to say, this was the breakthrough the golem’s researchers needed. They worked into the night, as Barb and the others got some much needed rest in the neighboring tent.

The next day, Jammal excitedly called them into the tent.

Magyver McGowan: Impress me, wizard.

Jammal Hildebrand: I intend to. The priests have identified the source of the spell that is mind-controlling our friend Zero-Zero-Nine here. We think, using a variation on the traditional power word: shield spell, that we can permanently sever Kruel’s link.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Then do it, you boy-touchers!

The priests frowned at Barb’s disparaging remark, but then with a nod from Jammal, they commenced their casting. The three of them chanted in unison, and their hands became radiant. The golem struggled against his chains, but eventually the spell took effect.

Zero-Zero-Nine: Release me. You have… Yeaaaarrrrggggghhhhh!!!

It was the golem that released a howl of terror and pain the likes of which Magyver had never heard. The emotionless machine had become pure emotion. There was thousands of years of agony embodied in one vocal outburst, and it was painful to hear. But not as painful as what was happening to the three priests.

The Priests, in unison: Aahhhhhhhgggggg!!!

They screamed, falling to their knees and clutching their heads.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: What the @#$% is the matter with them?

Jammal Hildebrand: I… I have no idea!

The priests continued screaming, as they collapsed on the ground. Then they stopped. Magyver moved over to them and checked one of their pulses.

Magyver McGowan: He’s dead, Jam.

Vael: It’s as if… as if their minds have been flayed. It must have been a side effect of breaking the connection.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Wonderful. We can break Kruel’s link to the golems, but it takes three priests each and it kills them. Rules that method of severance out as an option… Unless you’ve got 2,997 disposable priests stashed somewhere?

Jammal Hildebrand: Needless to say I do not.

Vael: Its like I said then. The only way to break the connection… is to kill Kruel.

The group was silent, save for the tortured cries of the golem. Planning Kruel’s assassination was going to take time, and at any moment the Golems could begin their march of death - the iron tide that washes away the world’s “impurities.” Truth be told, McGowan wondered why they hadn’t already done so. At this juncture, the Anti-Kruel League was severely outnumbered and their options were limited. Magyver wanted to retreat, seeing no hope. Vael disagreed, but could offer no viable alternative.

As the assassins discussed their plans, Jammal continued his studies of the golem. The painful cries stopped soon. What remained was not a person, but an amalgamation of people long dead. Unhappy with the stalemated discussion between Magyver and Vael, Barb checked on them. She was surprised to see the golem out of its chains.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Hrmph. Find anything interesting?

Jammal Hildebrand: Like you wouldn’t believe. This golem… it’s a glimpse into the history of Azeroth.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: O’rly?

Zero-Zero-Nine: Yeah. Really.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: No… way…

The Golem began to recant the story of how he came into being. It was one apparently set in ancient times, during a largely forgotten human diaspora that occurred after a great planetary upheaval. Historians have always been unclear about exactly how or when humanity first discovered the Light, but before Thoradin brought the faith to the Arathi and spread it to all the tribes they conquered, it was but a minor cult embraced by one of the then disparate human tribes: the Urubori, the “Light’s Chosen People.” The people and their faith were persecuted by hated enemies who worshipped the dark ones below as well as by the larger groups of men that adhered to the faiths of the pagan gods.

At some point, a war broke out. Wars need warriors to wage them. In an effort to destroy the forces of Xaxion Drak’eem, the vile entities Xostheron and Akaerna-Sagai conspired with the equally vile Black Dragonflight, masters of the earth. Using their unique abilities, the blacks pulled the sturdiest of irons from deep below the surface of the world and crafted for the demigods a variety of golems, from the enormous to standard human size. These husks were given life by the magic of Xostheron and Akaerna-Sagai… a magic based on blood.

The ritual required slaughter. For the smaller and more numerous golems, the persecuted Urubori were selected. Their brutal, merciless deaths heralded the birth of the golems - controlled by the crown of will. They committed terrible atrocities, but eventually were defeated. The Red Dragons hid the surviving but inert golems away in secret caches deep underground. Eventually the human city of Ginchar was built atop the cache of the man sized, Urubori-blooded golems.

Kruel discovered the golems while exploring the Underdeep, and eventually, through persistence and tireless research, found out how to activate them. Control, however, was another matter entirely. Kruel worked for years to find a new path to power, one that would allow him to control the active minds trapped within the golems. He eventually succeeded, and his newfound shadowy abilities, which included mind control, finally made his dreams a reality. Once he had uncovered his shadow abilities, he just needed to activate the golems; he needed another slaughter…

After what seemed like an eternity of nightmares, Zero-Zero-Nine awoke. It was only for a split second, and then Kruel again forced it into slavery. When the priests broke the connection, the centuries of pain came pouring out.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: That’s… terrible. I can’t even imagine.

Zero-Zero-Nine: No. You truly cannot.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: So who is it that I am talking to? Are you one of the Urubori?

Zero-Zero-Nine: No. They’re dead. Long dead. But in a way… I am many of them. The blood, I think it was pooled. I have… memories from so many Urubori. From the victims of Ginchar. Two worlds, far removed. Many voices, yet one entity.

Jammal Hildebrand: He’s demonstrated a strong connection to the Holy Light. He was able to heal a lingering injury I sustained while captured by de Bracy.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: You’re a priest?

Zero-Zero-Nine: Part of me is. Some parts… very strong.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: What do you want to do?

Zero-Zero-Nine: I want… retribution. Retribution on Kruel. Retribution on the Black Dragons and the pagans. To bring the Light’s justice to those who dwell in the darkness.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: And if your fellow golems… if they could be freed, do you think they’d feel the same way?

Zero-Zero-Nine: Parts of them are parts of me. I know they would.

Jammal Hildebrand: We could turn the golems into strong allies.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: McGowan will want to know about this.

And he did.

Magyver McGowan: This changes everything, dig it? Kruel’s death won’t just stop the golems, but it can stop his army of heretics and Esarim too. Once freed, the golems will turn and fight!

Kid Gorgeous: Growl!

Vael: Of course, that doesn’t change the immediate situation. The one you wanted to retreat from.

Magyver McGowan: Maybe... Barb, maybe you can go back in? Exploit Atarum’s interest in you. You said he was waiting for your return. Get him to get you close to Kruel, then take him out.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Then I'm as good as dead too!

Vael: No. Once the shield that keeps dragons of my color out is dismantled, my people and I can intervene more directly.

Zero-Zero-Nine: And once the mind control is broken, I have faith that I can rally my people to your cause.

Barb pondered her options. There weren't many.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: So, it’s all on me again, eh?

Magyver McGowan: Would you have it any other way?
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  #948  
Old 04-19-2011, 11:32 AM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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The Elves

Mathredis Firestar The Elves, Kul Phorcys
He curses to himself. He'd let the chance slip by to get out of here. Perhaps it was as well. Enemy of your enemy, and all that. With a sigh, he resigns himself to continued imprisonment. Where are you, oh high-and-mighty Sunking? Forgot about me, have you? Pfah.
  #949  
Old 04-20-2011, 08:57 AM
Zula Zula is offline

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Stand up to the victory, Part 1

Nothing made a single sound while Jin’thek looked, dumb folded, at the bowing elfs. It felt like if the cosmos itself was so confused it didn’t knew how to react.

‘’Atal’jin’’ Jin’thek whispered after what was just a brief moment of silence, yet the elves couldn’t avoid to feel that the word ‘eternity’ wasn’t enough to describe it. ‘’You wanna be called Atal’jin? Then we will call you like that but that won’t make you one, right now you are just elves who learned enough of our language to bow, but even if you spoke perfectly or bowed even more you would still be elves. And more to my eyes now you are nothing but opportunist elves, since if you really wanted a world without the Sunking you would had helped us earlier.

However I will give you a chance to really become Atal’jin. If you really want to become Atal’jin to our eyes then you will have to prove your devotion.

And the first step to do so is swearing loyalty to the Lebenstraum and the Jin’rokh and respect for the Loa if you don’t choose to outright worship them.
Then, once you do that, my trolls are gonna ask you for your names, age, profession and all that stuff. You see I don’t want any elves to come here claiming to be one of you, so in order to avoid that I need to keep a record of who you are. But not only that mon, we are gonna give you trollish names, or if you know enough you can choose your own after which we will mark you and tattoo you.

And just then mon you will be allowed to prove your devotion. There are various tasks you could do, but basically I guess you realize and know, there are many other elves that haven’t realized the inevitable, and still oppose us. I want you to help us deal with this guerrillas show your kind that the two options we give them are quite real and not empy promises. If you need me to refresh your mind those two are : Leave and live, Die and Stay here forever or finally surrender and swear loyatly.’ Jin’thek grabbed his chin, and seeing one of the elves was attempting to speak he rose his hand and again spoke.

‘Wait I haven’t finished, there a two last things I must say before you answer. First, make no mistake by asking to become Atal’Jin you haven’t surrendered, you have chosen to die since once you really become and Atal’jin you won’t be elves anymore.

And finally for now you are the only ones with this chance, since despite what I said earlier about your being opportunists you had the courage to surrender and offer your services. Without even knowing if we would keep our word so for that you have earned my respect, and please don’t confuse respect with trust you have still to earn that. But after the other elves learn of your existence, and trust me they will, they will know that we keep our word and their surrender won’t mean the same that yours. So for now you will be the only Atal’jin, when the time comes we will see how they will be incorporated into your ranks.

And remember once you choose to become Atal’jin there is no turning back.So think before answering.’ Said Jin’thek prepared to hear their answer.
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  #950  
Old 04-20-2011, 05:42 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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"My name is Lukas Notaras." the noble said, hands folded behind his silken robe. He was older than Javali, his stubble and his hair streaked finely in white and gray. Age did little to impeach him, however. "I am the Lord of Redhill, and one of the chief conspirators responsible for the death of King Dorath Trollbane."

"Your kings come and go like the wind, it seems." Javali said good-naturedly, though he knew there was a sting in his words. The man had come out of nowhere, unannounced and uninvited. Plus, he was from Stromgarde. It was a bad time to come from Stromgarde in eastern Hesperia. "Your King Eralas promised me neutrality, and yet your people spit in my eye and continue to do so. It is good of you to remove Dorath for me, but I do not think you have come to boast."

"No, not to boast." Lukas Notaras said with a smile. "What I propose is a joint effort, good Dictator. You no doubt have an opportunity to sweep into Stromgarde, to invade it in retaliation.

"I care only for Hesperia's safety." Javali lied.

"Then I shall guarantee it. Once the royalist armies of Stromgarde have been swept away, we must have peace. And if you agree to such a peace, I shall send my forces to the Thoradin Wall, to crush the royalists between you and between me. In exchange for my help, we must have peace."

"Peace?" Javali asked whimsically. "Is that what you want?"

"Of course. Nothing less." Lukas Notaras declared. "And I ask that you offer the defeated soldiers of Stromgarde a choice. To swear allegiance to me or to die. Those are my terms."
I lick my lips and bring my hand up to rub my forehead to hide my smirk. “That sounds like a profitable deal. I shall take it. Leave to rally your troops as soon as you can. I shall meet you at the border.”

I see the man hesitate for a moment. I hope I don't have to use his name for something. I totally forgot it already. “Once the battle is over, may I demand the summary execution of a prisoner of war named Lord Captain Anderas? He is too dangerous to be kept alive.”

I lower my hand, turning my smile into a pleasant one, and answer: “You may. Whether I will accept your demand depends on the circumstances of this person's capture and his role in the war. But all in due time. Do you not have a country to save from the yoke of royalists?”

I watch the man smile back at me irritably and and bow his head. “Thank you for your support. May we meet on the battlefield, and find ourselves victorious.” He leaves my tent, and I immediately start to pace. I feel electrified. The Muses that ancient tribesmen believed in have brought me inspiration. Without thinking of it, I ring the bell on my desk to summon someone.

I am about halfway through formulating the plan in my mind into words when a servant walks in. Without looking at them, I point a finger and say: “Fetch the best bottle of wine we have in this war camp. And when you come back with it, announce yourself.” They reply obediently and leave. As soon as they're gone, I go dig up my communication stone. I hope Franek isn't busy at the moment.

I grab the magic stone and channel through it, trying to reach Franek's end, my mind racing all the while. After a half minute, an ethereal, green shape appears in my vision. Nobody else will see or hear it. Holding on to the stone, I try to remember the correct code phrase to identify myself as Javali rather than an imposter.

“I am the wildboar from the deepest forests”, I say, and the ethereal Franek replies that he is the elk from the mountains. Before we can get farther than that, I hear the servant clear their throat at the tent entrance. “Excuse me, Franek. My wine just arrived.”

I keep grasping the stone, ignoring Franek's shape that always appears a few paces in front of me no matter which way I face, and walk to the servant. She's an attractive young girl with curly hair. Smiling, I take the wine from her and ask: “Thank you. Please tell me the name of the visitor I just saw.”

I feel annoyed as she seems surprised by my ignorance. Stuttering, she answers: “The guards announced him to you as Lukas Notaras, my master.” I nod in thanks and send her on her way, bringing the wine to my desk.

I ignore Franek as he smiles at my interaction with the servant. While I pour myself some of the wine, he asks: “How goes the war?”

I shrug. “I haven't seen much fighting yet, but on the map it seems to go all right. I didn't contact you to demand reinforcements, though.” The effect is slightly dizzying as I look downward at the wine glass and Franek seems to stand inside the floor. Lifting my gaze, I grab the glass and start pacing. “I was visited by one of the Stromgarde rebels just now. Lukas Notaras, if that servant remembered it correctly. He wants to ally with us to take down the royalists, promising peace in exchange for our help.”

I sip some of the drink while Franek nods and says: “It is only natural for them to seek help from us. I assume you've made a decision about which side to ally with.”

I shake my head. “No. Something better. Something so much better. Why have the winning Stromgardean side momentarily thankful to myself, when I can have them permanently under my command?”

I continue pacing as Franek's eyebrow rises. “You are going to conquer Stromgarde? If we tie our troops to fighting that far east, an attack from the west would be lethal.” He is lucky that I have given him a right to question me. Most people would find themselves facing a slow death for assuming I am too stupid to know these things.

I gesture with my hands wildly, still holding onto the stone. “No. I don't need to. I'll crush the royalists with the help of the rebels. After the battle is over, in the midst of the celebrations, I'll have this Notorious, or whatever his name was, killed and replaced with one of our men. Illusions will keep him disguised. This is where you come in. You have until the day of the battle to not only prepare the right charms and illusions to make the change work, but also to find the right person to replace the rebel leader. Someone who knows eastern court culture. Someone loyal. Someone I can trust to be my puppet ruler for Stromgarde.”

I witness a moment of absolute silence. I've managed to get shock out of Franek. That's usually a good sign. “Any questions?”

I am Javali.
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