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Old 04-13-2009, 02:58 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon STONETEAR - Forum RPG Story Thread

The ongoing game can be found here.

First, here's a wholesome summation of the story thus far:

Chapter one: Awakenings (13.4.2009 - 24.4.2009)
-The protagonist, a dwarf, wakes up in a forest with no memory of who he is and how he got there. In his person he finds a diary with the name "Thurgrim Stonetear" written in it.
-He finds a human town nearby, discovering that it's Lakeshire. There, he meets the local wizard's former apprentice, Charles Smith, AKA Redwind, who introduces him to the local pagan coven worshipping Muhar.
-The coven is visited by an enigmatic man named Jallan, who apparently travels the world and helps pagan cults everywhere with their needs.
-While visiting the pagans' midnight ceremony, Thurgrim is attacked by strange monsters and knocked unconscious. When he awakens, he's back in Lakeshire and the cultists have been imprisoned by Baron Lothar in the nearby keep.
-Thurgrim manages to sneak into the keep but gets caught therein. After a trial begins, he and the cultists are visited in their cells by the baron's daughter Andrea, who helps them escape in exchange for them taking her away to see the world.
-Upon learning Thurgrim's supposed last name, Andrea tells that Stonetear is also the name of Khaz Modan's national weapon which was wielded by their first king. Upon this revelation, Thurgrim hears a distant memory where someone tells him the Stonetear is one of the few items in the world which has a divine origin, and he needs one such as it, for "What you are facing requires something of divine origin to defeat."
-When escaping toward the town of Grand Hamlet in the southwest, the heroes are visited by Aegwynn, who tells that she received a request to kill them from someone in Lakeshire but she decides otherwise, not seeing them as any kind of threat.

Chapter two: Conflicts (24.4.2009 - 8.6.2009)
-Upon entering the muncipality of Sunnyglade, Thurgrim is visited by an eerie three-horned creature that no one else can see. Later on his journey, it appears to him many a time.
-In Grand Hamlet, the heroes visit a local priest who is friends with Andrea. He tells Thurgrim that there's something wrong with his spirit and tells him to visit a researcher of spiritual matters named Harold Heyland near Karazhan.
-Afterwards, Thurgrim follows a mysterious dark-clad figure into the woods. The man introduces himself as Daimon, a former monk of the Holy Light capable of channeling his powers in destructive martial arts attacks. He insists Thurgrim is directly connected to a devil and tries to kill him, but the attack is cut short by the same kind of monsters which attacked the pagan coven in Redridge. After the creatures are dispatched, Daimon leaves.
-After Thurgrim recovers from the injuries of the battle, he goes to visit local wizards to find out if any of them can help him with his amnesia. One of them is robbed while the dwarf is in his store and the thief escapes. During the search for him, Thugrim witnesses a guardsman being driven mad by the three-horned devil appearing to him.
-Thurgrim manages to get some of the thief's blood and has the wizard create a wand that allows him to track him. He finds out the thief left eastward, apparently to Karazhan.
-When the officials are investigating the insanity of the guard, Thurgrim visits a wizard in the local noble's manor to give his testimony on the events. There he meets the Lord's son, Cornelius of Ohn'Belore, and his elderly Alteracian visitor, Pan Ponatus.
-Later that day, Thurgrim, Andrea and Redwind choose to depart to Karazhan to unravel the mystery of Thurgrim's amnesia.

Chapter three: Journeys (8.6.2009 - 31.8.2009)
-In their first night of travel, the heroes come by the two nobles from Grand Hamlet, who have left the Lord's manor for unspecified reasons. Ponatus seems helpful and forthcoming while Cornelius is distant and rude. When the two of them leave in the next morning, Redwind scries on them and hears them talk: they are apparently chasing Jallan the cultist down for personal reasons. Ponatus specifically says "that bastard cost me the throne".
-Later, the heroes run by a burned trade caravan. In its ruins, they are attacked by a pyromancer who attempts to kill them and seems to know Thurgrim, as well as being able to communicate with the Devil who seems to normally only exist to Thurgrim. He is defeated when his elemental power overheats and melts his body.
-When the heroes get to Karazhan, they find out Aegwynn is away and choose to stay the night in the tower before visiting Heyland the spiritual professional. The tower is also currently holding a theatre troupe from Hesperia, who are going to perform soon. In his first night in the tower, Thurgrim runs into one of the stagehands and recognises him as the thief from Grand Hamlet.
-The thief manages to escape as far as the bridge just outside the tower, where he is stopped by the guards. His arresting is stopped by a group of brigands who take the item he stole in Grand Hamlet from him before stabbing him and throwing him in the river.
-Thurgrim fights hard to save the thief's life, and eventually ends up agreeing with the three-horned devil to let it help him. The devil reanimates the thief as an undead bound to obey Thurgrim in all things. Thurgrim orders the thief, named Justino Jacaruso, to hide at the entrance of the valley and meet them when they leave it.

Chapter four: Friends (31.8.2009->)
-Thurgrim falls deadly ill that night and only wakes up next evening. He spends the rest of the day playing cards with his friends.
-The next morning, he's miraculously right as rain and meets Aegwynn, who has just returned to the tower. As soon as he finds Redwind and Andrea, he leaves with the former to visit Heyland.
-At Heyland's home, Thurgrim and Redwind panic upon finding a symbol painted in blood on the wall. They burst in only to find the home's owner completely fine. He tells them that the symbol was left on his wall forty years ago by Daimon, who brutally killed two burglars there.
-Heyland next analyses Thurgrim's amnesia, finding out that except for a few scraps here and there, Thurgrim's memories have been forcibly ripped from him, which is what probably caused his illness a day ago. He can't name any kind of explanation for the situation. These few scraps of information, which Heyland opens to Thurgrim's use, reveal he is from the township of Anvilmar in southern Khaz Modan, quite near the tomb of the first dwarf king and the Stonetear.
-Also at Heyland's, Thurgrim finds out the brigands who killed Justino and took the stolen item from him are former monks of Daimon's monastery who have turned to banditry after he killed their abbot and left them.
Second, here's the whole text:


Chapter one:

Ethereal shapes floating in the nether of nothingess, twisting and bending for no reason at all. Voices, the likes of which you have never even imagined could exist, coming in waves at you. Smells and tastes both familiar and new. Feelings and emotions.

A number of distinctly concrete shapes move in the edge of your vision, their voices meaningful but alien. They are talking. About you. They are doing something. To you.

An eternity passes until one of them moves next to you, its blue eyes locking with yours, and then it says:

"Wake up!"

You suddenly spring up from cold snow, in the middle of a forest. The absolute calm of the land around you serves as a comparison to the strife inside you. Something has happened. Someone did something to you. You had something to do.

You try to think back. Why are you here? How did you get here? Nothing comes to mind. Nothing but indistinct shapes and sounds which seem to be too vague and unorganised to form anything more than a single brief memory. Someone had told you to wake up, someone with blue eyes.

You try to calm yourself down and start walking onwards. You don't know where you're going, but suddenly instinctual memories spring up. I have to move to stay warm. Need to find a high spot to see if there's habitation anywhere. Need to avoid wild animals.

You look down at yourself. The shape of own body seems familiar, in the same way walking onward or breathing seem to come to you without any trouble. You are a dwarf. That does not come as a surprise to you. You don't have a mirror, but you know your own looks somewhat. A well-trimmed beard hangs down from your chin, covering your chest. From under the warm fur hat which keeps your ears from freezing, thick hair sticks out as a brown ponytail.

You are wearing good, warm clothes, you realise, gear well designed for a cold land like this. A hunter's bow and knife are hanging from your belt and you are wearing a quiver of arrows and a bag on your back. You check the bag's contents and find rations, herbs, a campfire kit, a small container of some beverage, a map and a leather pouch with some coins in it. You lose heart for a moment, but then find a small brown book in one of the pockets of your coat. Taking it to hand, you read on the first page the words:

"The journal of Thurgrim Stonetear."

Thurgrim sounds familiar, so you conclude it must be your name. You flip onward among the pages of the diary, only to find it empty safe your name. After putting the book back in your bag, you continue onward.

A few minutes later, you see a hill up ahead and climb it. It's not quite as tall as the trees surrounding it, but you climb a solitary pinetree in its top and manage to get a view of the surrounding snowy landscape. A smile creeps to your face as you see smoke rising from beyond the trees in the south.

The smile remains until you descend down from the hill and hear the howl of a wolf to your left. It's near, and you know it's not good for you. You're about to start running south as you realise the mountains behind you, in the north. They're much nearer to you than the town and if you find a cave, you might be able to hide from the wolves.

You scuffle on the spot for half a moment before sprinting south. It isn't that likely I'll even find a safe haven up there, you think to yourself to justify the choice.

The snow billows behind you as you keep a good speed up, though avoiding running. Even if the wolves aren't interested in you for now, you know they will be if you panic. Trees swish past you, left and right, as you uneasily finger the bow and knife you're carrying with you. To your mild surprise, ten ways to kill someone with either of them swish through your mind.

Eventually, you hear another howl. It's even nearer than the last one. You speed up into a full sprint, not caring about appearing an easy prey anymore. Spinning around to take a look behind you, you spot at least four of them skulking between trees behind you. They're not in full pursuit yet, but you know they're not following you to watch your back either.

You run as fast as you can, but the snow slows you down much more than it does the wolves, and they keep their distance easily, without tiring, while you keep moving at your utmost speed. You think back at how far the smoke you saw was; you'll never reach the town before you tire yourself out and get ripped to shreds by the wolves.

Making the decision during a single blink of your eye, you suddenly sprint left and eye for a good tree. One of the wolves lets out a loud growl and you know without looking that its kin are now chasing you without restraints.

You reach a good tree and climb it until you are at what you deem to be a safe height. You immediately take out your bow and release arrows at the wolves, who had nearly reached the three. Only after you've shot six projectiles and one of the animals dies do they realise they can't reach you and retreat. When they have made it out of your range, all but one of the seven remaining are wounded.

You've still got over half of your arrows left, but it looks like the wolves aren't giving up. None of the ones still alive seem to be incapacitated by the arrows that hit them, nor do any of them bleed badly. They slowly spread into an even circle around your sanctum, and one of them howls loudly.

You ponder what to do for some time. Trying scouting, you climb up the branches of the tree, but soon find the heights between them becoming too large for your short physique. In addition, the tree's needles prevent you from seeing far. You abandon the idea and get back down to the "safety level" you were in earlier.

Next you try shouting at the top of your lungs. One of the wolves howls in response.

You analyse the wolves, straining your eyes. One of them appears to be an older and larger male, its eyes never leaving yours as you watch it. You determine it to be the alpha.

When you continue to ponder your situation, another one of the wolves howls again. You wonder if they're trying to keep any wandering locals away or calling for back-up.

Out of a moment's fancy, you do a moose mating call.

One of the wolves shifts its head, puzzled.

A crow lands on a branch of the tree opposite of you. You take some bread from your rations and try to lure it to you, but it merely stares at you and gives a loud caw, not interested.

You do another moose mating call. You're pretty sure the wolves share confused looks with each other.

You spend some more minutes pondering your situation. Desperate for anything, you lift your bow to shoot the crow, hoping to distract the wolves. The bird flies away, cawing again. One of the wolves howls.

You wait on the branch, cold and aching. Over time, you notice that the alpha male of the pack, despite spending almost all of its time starting at your eyes, is taking glances at the dead wolf under you. You look at the corpse and see it is an elder female. You deduct it must the alpha's mate, which means the wolves probably aren't going anywhere in a long, long time.

Hours pass and eventually you begin to feel sleepy. You climb the branches until you find two which are close enough that you can sit on one and lean on the other. Sighing deeply, you rest on the branches, twiddling your thumbs. You eat some salted meat and bread when hunger comes to you. Every now and then, you shout for help. The wolves howl with you every time.

At some point you fall asleep. You do not have weird dreams with haunting memories of your past life.

You awake in the middle of the night when one of the wolves howls more loudly than usual. At first you try to go back to sleep, but then you look around yourself. Six of the wolves are gone. All that remains is the alpha, which stands right on the edge of the range of your bow, looking at you with an intensity you find disturbing coming from an animal. Its body is heaving with what you think must be its fury for you, the exhaustion of standing guard all this time and the pain it is in from the arrow sticking out of its side.

The challenge has been given.

You take a deep breath and slowly descend the tree, branch after branch. Just before reaching the ground, you double-check that the wolf isn't charging at you yet. It isn't.

You lazily lift one of your arrows from the ground. Its tip is red with fried blood, but it's still in good condition. Without wasting a second, you nock it and aim.

For half a second, you and the wolf stare deep into each others eyes. The amber within it conveys agony and sadness. In a flash of sudden understanding, you realise what this is all about. There's a large bloodstain on the animal's grey fur. The arrow is still sticking out. It's dying.

You close your eyes and whisper "I am sorry."

The animal dashes at you, its feet spreading snow into the wind. As you release the blood-stained arrow at it, you see twelve glowing eyes between the trees. Its kin are watching.

The arrow glides through the air, moving at the wounded lupine so fast, and yet so slow. You nock another arrow despite knowing it won't be necessary.

And yet it is: In the last fraction of a moment, the alpha twists its body out of the way and grasps the arrow in its teeth. Its eyes lock once more into yours and it makes a point of breaking the shaft between its teeth.

You release the second arrow, which hits the wolf in its back as it springs at you once again. The time is out for bows and arrows, you realise, and take your knife in hand as you duck out of the jumping wolf's way. You rise up and stare it down, holding the knife between the two of you.

"Try to remember some of the basics of knife fighting." The words flash through your mind, brought up from your subconsciousness by the situation, and then the wolf attacks you again.

You jump at the wolf, bringing the knife up.

A blink of an eye later, you are standing in the snow, your back turned to the wolf, your knife wet with its blood. The animal takes a few staggering steps before falling into the snow.

It is over. You see the other six wolves slowly moving towards you, and back off. When you reach a safe distance, you turn around to look. The animals gather around their fallen kin, lying side-by-side in the deep snow, their furs blotted with red. As the howl, you turn south and walk swiftly, wishing to not interfere with their mourning.

You remember that you were going to behead the wolf, but you decide it's probably best not to anger the rest of the pack anymore, now that you have a chance to escape.

An hour later you reach the outskirts of the town. It is on the shore of a frozen lake and consists of about five dozen buildings, most small but some a bit larger. A large bridge connects the town with the south end of the lake.

It's still several hours until sunrise, you don't see anyone out on the streets. You slowly walk into the streets of the town and eye the buildings. You see two with signs indicating they are inns ("Birchleaf Inn", and "Baron's Spear Inn"), along with several shops and one church. All of the signs are in Common alphabet and language. You also notice the silhouette of a large castle far in the east.

After finding Birchleaf inn asleep-looking, you walk to the Baron's Spear, whose common room already has the lights on. Peering in through the window, you see an elderly human woman shuffling items around in the back.

Taking a deep breath, you knock on the door of the Baron's spear. It takes appropriately the beat of an insect's wing before heavy footsteps thunder to the door and the old lady opens it wide, shouting: "For the last time, William, I'm not giving you a single-"

She falls silent when she finds out there isn't a William behind the door, but a dwarf. She looks at you as if you were the last thing in Azeroth she'd excepted. "I'm sorry, lassie, I need a room." You announce with your accented Common.

She looks at you for a few moments more before bursting into a smile. "Why, of course, master dwarf! Come right in!" She stands a respectful distance aside as she closes the door behind you. "Wasn't expecting for a visitor at this hour! What a surprise indeed!"

She wears her greying ginger hair as a bun atop her head and her round face looks as if it was made for smiling. She hurries you halfway through the common room before suddenly letting out a kind of a yelp. "Of course! Excuse me, could you wait here for just a second? I have a thing in the kitchen which needs tending."

Without waiting for your answer, she hurries back to where you saw her originally and starts taking items off a shelf again. "You don't look like a merchant." She observes without looking. "Where do you hail from, might I ask?"

You hesitate for a moment before deciding you can trust her. "I dunnow." You exclaim, hesitating a bit between the words. "Woke up in the middle of the forest, can't remember a thing in my life that happened before."

"You poor thing." She says silently, almost in whisper. You have a hard time hearing her. She turns around, smiling, just when footsteps come down the stairs from the second floor. A man in traveler's clothes, carrying a walking stick, descends into the common room, eying you cautiously.

"What do we have here?"

He has a goatee and lazy eyes, which look like he's tired even though his eyes are very alert. Untidy mousy grey hair mats his head. The innkeeper scoffs at him. "A poor lost soul, found himself wandering around without a clue about who he is. I was just about to give him a room." The look that she gives him looks as if she were ready to breathe fire at him.

You walk ahead, disregarding the matron's earlier demand to stay, and shyly ask. "I'm sorry, but cannah tell me where I am?"

She flashes you a smile. "This is Lakeshire, in Redridge mountains." She says, waving her hand to make clear she's referring to the town. "Redridge doesn't make much sense at this time of the year, but you wait 'till spring and you'll be surprised!"

The man has by now sat in a table. "Could you be kind enough to give him his room already so you can get to making me food?" He asks.

The matron gives him another killer's gaze opens a large tome without breaking the look. "It'll be one silver mark, master dwarf. Just tell me your name while you are at it. ...if you remember it, of course."

It takes the time you dig your money pouch out of your bag and extract a silver coin to remember the name you read in the journal. "Thurgrim Stonetear."

The matron writes the name in the tome, gives you a key and tells you the room is up the stairs and in the end of the hallway, left side. You almost miss the description as you can practically hear the man with the beard stiffening on his seat as a response to your name.

You walk upstairs and go to your room. Despite feeling tired enough to fall asleep standing, you lock the door, position a chair directly in front of it and slip your knife under your pillow, just in case. Thoughts of having your name recognised by the stranger downstairs soar through your head as you take off your clothes, dive into the thick blankets on the bed and shortly fall to uneasy sleep.

When you wake up, you feel invigorated. Judging from the edge of the sun outside your window, it's about an hour after noon. You put your clothes back on, get your knife back to your belt and leave your room. The common room is full of people, including the innkeeper. The stranger you saw last night is nowhere to be seen.

You walk to the matron and ask if the inn has baths and whether you can find a place to clean your bloody coat. She quickly instructs you to a room with a large vat, which she fills with warm water. She produces a cake of soap from another room and takes the coat with her. She says it will be clean come evening, and that you can ask for another one to loan for the day after you're done bathing, before leaving you to privacy.

You bathe. After you're done, you feel a lot cleaner.

After drying up, you dress and go take the spare coat the matron mentioned. It's a little too big, but will do well as long as you stay within the town until you get your own back.

You take out your possessions again and study them a bit more closely this time. You have about sixty silver marks and a few pennies left. You also ask the innkeeper whether she knows what the herbs are. She identifies them as common leaves and roots which are used to help with aches, pains and tiredness.

"Except for that," she says, pointing at the big fungus. "That's Horncap, 's commonly used by those... lame of loin, if you understand what I mean." As she leaves to serve other people, you quickly put the herbs back out of sight.

You wait until the innkeeper has handled out a few tankards of beer to some locals before asking her about the man you saw last night. She takes her time yelling a food order to her cook before leaning at you.

"He's named Jallan and he says he's a merchant. Arrived here four or five days ago, lived here up until now. She switched to Birchleaf inn after you went to sleep, saying that the food here in Baron's Spear is bad." The look on her face made it clear what she thought about the claim. "That inn is, of course, fancier than mine, most of the rich merchants ferrying their sales between Ironforge and Stormwind who stop here stay there.

The man vever told me what he's selling, and I haven't seen him conduct business either." She continues. "He sure has a lot to talk about, all the time, always with the same few local men, always in the corner so that nobody overhears. Shady person. I'd stay away from him if I were you, which is a lot easier now that he's in the other tavern."

After thanking her for the information, you sit in a table and wonder where Redridge mountains are and where you're from. The entire city seems populated by humans, so dwarves must have their own homeland somewhere. You remember the map in your backbag, maybe it's of some help?

Taking the map out, you find it to have the large legend "THE KINGDOM OF AZEROTH" in its upper left corner. After some brief scanning around, you find Redridge mountains in the right side, stretching from the southern place with some kind of settlement called Karazhan all the way to Lakeshire, which seems to be one of the northernmost towns of the entire kingdom. You don't see anything about dwarves in the map, and assume they don't live in this kingdom at large.

You wonder where you could ask about the geography of the world at large. The innkeeper (what is her name, anyways?) doesn't seem like the right person, for some reason.

You wander into the streets and browse the different shops. There's a general store, a blacksmith, a fletcher, a tailor, a cobbler, stables, a magic shoppe...

First you go into the general store and buy things which you deem necessary. You find yourself a quill, a small bottle of ink, three small empty bottles, a waterskin, sewing equipment (it takes you a moment to confirm that you can sew), a bedroll (which is, unfortunately, human-size) and a length of rope. All of this costs two and a half silver marks. The shopkeeper is kind to you for the whole time.

Next you go to the blacksmith. A faint idea of some kind of firearm itches your head, but you don't see any around and can't think that any of the other shops would have one. Instead, you find a good axe which humans would use to chop trees down, but to you it feels more like a weapon of battle due to its size. It costs two silver coins.

After you leave you can't think of anything else for now but you're sure you'll need something more. Your quiver only has nine arrows in it, but you decide to solve that problem later.

You walk to the Birchleaf inn's almost empty common room. You don't see Jallan anywhere, unfortunately. The innkeeper is a younger man with a sharp face and green clothes. He eyes you curiously. There's a family in tattered farming clothes in the left side the room, eating a meal as if they'd gone hungry for years beforehand, the right side of the room has a few merchants, most of them eating lunch and drinking wine, chatting amongst themselves. An elven woman sits alone, aside from the rest, reading a book.

You awkwardly walk across the room to the innkeeper and introduce yourself. You shake hands as he tells you his name is William Bernard and that he owns the place. You consider chit-chatting him for a moment before getting down to business, but decide to skip that.

"There's a merchant by the name Jallan who I wish to meet, I heard he was here..."

The innkeeper nods his head. "Yes, Mr. Jallan has a room, but he's not here at the moment. Went out to conduct business of some sort. Shall I tell him you visited, Mr. Stonetear?"

You decline the offer. "The matter is rather personal." You explain. "I'd rather talk to him myself."

After wishing the innkeeper a good day, you turn around and approach the elf woman. She does not lift her gaze from the book in her hands.

"I'm sorry, milady." You begin. The words feel alien to you, since you're more accustomed to less formal speech but think that it's best to treat elves with a bit more class than the average villager. "I have to think you're a foreigner, like me..."

She lowers the book, slowly. Somehow, she makes it look like she's being torn away from something vital to her existence and the look she gives you makes a lump appear in your throat. "Yes?"

"Well, the thing is..." You sit down and lower your voice a bit. "I know I'm not from around here, but I have no idea where in the world I am from. I have amnesia."

The look she is giving you doesn't change. "Bad for you. Why would I care?"

"Well, you see... I just thought that us foreigners should stick together... or something."

She picks her book back up and starts reading it again, dismissing you.

You take a deep breath before talking again. "Excuse for interrupting the reading, milady." You grind your teeth a bit. "I must have knocked my head real bad if I assumed I could rely in an elf being more interested in helping those in need than in literature."

You are somewhat sure that you can see a small twitch in her face as you turn and leave.

An idea springs to your mind as you leave the inn, heading up the street. There was a magician's shop up the street. You have a feeling your amnesia isn't caused by a bump in the head, so maybe a wizard can do something about it. When you reach the large timber edifice, however, there's shouting inside.

"I don't care what you think about the bloody baron! Either you go there or you can kiss your apprenticeship bye-bye!" A strong voice yells. The door flies open and a young man in robes strides out, his face red. You can't help but notice that he's walking towards the taverns.

The elder wizard invites you in. He is a short man in luxurious clothes, sporting a well-trimmed beard, sunken-in eyes and very bushy eyebrows. "Excuse my FORMER apprentice. The locals around here have idiotic beliefs about the baron's family and though I can't change that, I'll not allow it to get in the way of my work. Now, how can I help you, sir?"

You explain your amnesia to the wizard in the warmth of his house. He nods politely and pays attention. "Hmm... since you were not suffering from any physical pain when you woke up, I agree that there must be magic behind your ailment." He states and fingers his beard. "I can not sense any obvious curse or enchantment upon you outright now, so I think I would have to do a ritual.

Now I am afraid that the reagents for deep-searching spell detection are very expensive, especially at the end of winter, when they haven't grown in the wilds for the last six months. I would require at least a single gold coin for the reagents and service fee together."

You twiddle your fingers uneasily. "How many silver coins is that?"

He lifts his gaze off you and thinks for a moment. "The last time I checked, the official exchange prize was seventy-three-to-one. Do you have that much to spare, or at all?"

After you shake your head, a very wizardly smile spreads on his face. "Luckily, there is a service you can provide me which would pay for most of the money. As you can surely remember, my apprentice just left me. I had tasked him to make a delivery to the Baron's castle. I have to have the thing there today, but I'm quite busy myself.

How about you do this for me, and we'll settle for thirty marks?"

You tell the wizard you want to think about it. He gives you two hours before he goes to the castle himself. You mildly wonder if he truly has anything to do that keeps him away from the castle.

As you walk the streets of Lakeshire once more, you wonder if it's worth it. Thirty silver marks is a lot of money and, even though you're not in a hurry to get anywhere, being a lazy wizard's delivery boy doesn't sound very fetching.

You remember the apprentice. He had looked and sounded like he needed a drink. Sure enough, you find him at the common room of the Birchleaf, staring at a mug of lager.

You approach him confidently and sit across the table. He looks at you from under his eyebrows. "What now? Did that fat git ask you to insult me in return for some spell?"

You shake your head and before you can start explaining, he burts in a rant. "He does it all the time, you know. Whenever I'm busy and he's not feeling up for it, he'll give the next customer a two times bigger bill for whatever they need and lowers it to the normal prize only if they do it for him! That lazy bastard."

You can't help but smile. "He wanted an insane prize for a spell and promised to halve it if I do what he asked of you for him."

"See?" The ex-apprentice bellows, unwittingly turning a few concerned heads at himself. "And that's just one of the things he does I can't stand! Like doing services for the Baron and his kind!"

"His kind?" You ask, puzzled.

"Butchers, the lot of them." The young man explains, waving a hand wildly. "Fifty years ago they hanged a dozen people here for no good reason at all! Most of us haven't trusted them since."

You can't help but blink dumbly. "They hanged people?"

"That's what I said, innit? You see, there has been talk about all kinds of stupid cults and stuff around here for centuries, but all of the sudden the Baron gets this bright idea to start investigating. Turns out, twelve village-people are meeting at nights in the forest, worshipping one of those gods of old! They never did anything more than that, but the Baron hanged them still! Of course, that was the current Baron's father. But they still haven't said they're sorry!"

You nod sympathetically. You assume the boy is related to someone who had been executed.

"So," the boy says, ordering another beer before turning back to you. "What you here for?"

You explain the story of how you got here to the ex-apprentice.

Afterward, he simply stares at you until you snap your fingers in front of his eyes.

"Well..." He mutters. "Now what? I don't think you have much choice besides going there and being nice to the fatso."

You ask the man about Jallan. He suddenly turns very stiff and awkward. "I dunno. Sure, I've heard of him, but haven't talked to him. Isn't he some kind of a merchant or something?"

You roll your eyes. This kid is the worst liar you've met since... since you woke up with no memory of any liars you've met before that.

"Now be honest." You demand, giving him a deep look.

He exhales loudly and shakes his head. "None of your business what I know about him."

"Please?" You say suddenly. You think you've never said that word before in Common. "He knew my name last night. I saw him react when I gave it to the innkeeper. Do you at least know where he is?"

As the boy ponders your words, you buy him a new beer. He smiles as the drink arrives. "I'll do your a favour because you're really in a tight jam.

By the way, did you notice that what you were going to get from my ex-master was a magic-DETECTION spell? Even if he found the source of your amnesia, he'd probably have demanded two years of servitude and your eldest child in return for an actual cure."

He keeps smiling as you find your hand slapping your forehead. The kid is right, you almost got fooled.

"Meet me behind this inn at sundown, okay? I'll take you to Jallan, then."

"Okay, lad." You say, laying down your hands. "I guess you have caught my interest."

You offer your hand and ask his name. He shakes it and says: "Charles Smith, pleased to meet you."

Even though you already mentioned your name earlier, you still introduce yourself formally. "And thank you for helping me, Charles!" You add, putting all of your genuine happiness in it.

He shrugs the thanks aside.

You see the elf woman from earlier today sitting in the same spot as then, reading the same book still. You ask Charles if he knows who she is, he merely shrugs, this time looking honest. "I think I saw her yesterday for the first time. Elves don't come here often, but I'm above the age of staring her all the time."

Your next question takes some time to form. "I'm sorry, but can you tell me anything about dwarves? I know it sounds weird, but I have no idea where my people are from, even."

Charles smiles sympathetically but shakes his head. "Well, your kind live in the mountains, but that about all I know. There's a guy in here... Fabian, he's a book collector, knows all there is to know about Azeroth, I think. Maybe you can ask him."

After telling Charles you'll meet him later, you walk down the street to a house he told Fabian lives in.

Fabian gives a short lecture about your people to you, telling that you must be a Bronzebeard dwarf, judging from your attire, location and hair colour. He sells you a map containing the entire subcontinent the kingdoms of Azeroth and Khaz'Modan are located in for one silver mark in case you ever want to travel back home.

After visiting Fabian, you buy two dozen arrows from the fletcher, go back to the Baron's Spear, dine and spend the rest of the time drinking beer, but keeping your speed low enough to not get drunk. When the sun is about to set, you rent your room for another night, pick up your own coat and leave 'for a walk'. Checking your wallet, you see you've got forty-nine marks left.

You wait a safe distance away from the meeting place. Eventually Charles appears there, and he seems to be alone. You sneak in and don't detect any foul play, so you eventually show yourself. Charles seems happily surprised. "Ah, Thurgrim, there you are. I was thinking you wouldn't show up."

You apologise for being slightly late and then ask him where the two of you are going. He shakes his head violently. "You wouldn't believe me in any case. Just follow, it'll be okay."

You shrug and do as he says. The two of you move by the backs of the houses and before long, people start to join you. One person here, another there, all sneaking out of the back doors of their houses and coming along. Eventually the lot of you have about twenty people with you and Charles stops and tells you to pass a message to everyone.

"Follow my footprints." He whispers to you. You spread the whisper along, and eventually everyone seems to be in on the knowledge. Charles then takes out a large magic wand made of some animal's bone and decorated with ornate feathers. He taps it once and all the feathers lose their colour, falling off.

As the things hit the snow, you blink your eyes in disbelief. Everyone is suddenly gone. You're standing alone...

You realise you can't see yourself either. The young wizard must have turned everyone invisible. His voice gives a low whisper you can't make out and then you hear him step into the snow. His words suddenly make much more sense.

For roughly three quarters of an hour, you follow the footprints that keep appearing a few steps before you. You can hear the others walking behind you. What's with all this secrecy and who are these people? Eventually the lot of you arrive in the northern forest, somewhere to the east of where you woke up one and a half days ago.

You can't help but be suspicious about the location, so you speak up, thinking that the danger of being overheard has already passed by. "Do you come here every night?"

After a moment's silence, Charles' voice answers: "No. This is our first meeting in a whole year. It takes some time and effort to organise a stunt like this."

The rest of the journey is in total silence, except for a single, far-off cry of a wolf. After passing what feels like a million trees, you finally see what must be your destination. It's a small clearing next to the cliffs of the northern mountains, with a cave in the exact middle of the bare stone wall. A man is standing next to a large bonfire, waiting for the lot of you.

It takes you some time to recognise the Stranger as Jallan. He's now wearing a garb of swirling colours and holding a large metal staff and you're pretty sure his hair is two times longer than last night. As you step into the light of the bonfire, you suddenly become visible. Jallan smiles at Charles but upon seeing you, his face twists to surprise.

"The dwarf... I see..." He mutters and proceeds to welcome everyone else, ignoring you for now. You turn to the man who led you here, suddenly understanding.

"Now I get it." You say. "You're here to worship those other gods of yours!"

The would-be-wizard interrupts you. "Yes. There were a lot more 'witches and warlocks' around here than what the Baron thought, though our numbers have steadily lowered out of fear of more executions. Lakeshire was founded by Lordaeronians escaping prejudice after the Great War of Lordaeron. They had heard Azeroth was more open-minded, but were wrong.

This kingdom was founded by the Arathi, those who originally brought the Holy Light upon humankind, so the reason there was no prejudice here before that was because the founders had hand-picked only those loyal to their Light to come with them. Our ancestors suffered even more there." The look on his face makes it seem as if he were forced to share their pain.

Suddenly Jallan appears behind Charles, speaking in a menacing voice. "Smith. Whose authority did you use to invite the dwarf here?"

The young man is just about to start speaking when the other one pushes him into the ground with one hand. "I don't care whether you found him reliable during the one evening you spent with him. This kind of recklessness is why the faithful are so uncommon nowadays. I will probably be two nations away from here by the time this dwarf has had the time to talk, but don't think that means I do not care. The Four Gods need every worshipper."

You cut in, afraid Jallan will attack Charles unless he gets other things in his mind. "The Four Gods?"

Jallan takes a very deep breath. "Yes. I think I know what you are here for. Please stay out of the way while we do our thing. I'll deal with you later."

You sit on a rock by the mountainside and watch as the humans gather around the bonfire. Everyone else sits on the open grass around the fire while Jallan stands high and spreads his hands. "Welcome, brothers and sisters! It has been four years, two months and seven days since I last visited Lakeshire and held a Sermon in the northern forest! In the time between these two visits, I have been to a sect of Mnesthes at Sunnyglade, the grand church of Muhar in Ironforge, the Hareveim of Gilneas, a group of pirates worshipping Brux near Kul'Tiras and countless other places where the Old Ways are yet respected!

I have travelled Azeroth far and wide, and I have seen the corruption of the so-called Holy Light. It is just as bad, if not worse, out there as it is here. 'Holy' men who never meet their flock except when telling them to live sinless lives, something they couldn't imagine themselves doing, while enjoying gluttony and greed the rest of their time! Kings warring against each other 'in the name of the Light', and whom the Light was with is always agreed to be the one who won! Murder and theft of and from the few is justified because they do not believe in the same thing as the many!

Our ways are pure! Our ways are ancient! Our faith is based on REAL, EXISTING BEINGS! The Four Gods are, just like you and I. They are not some strange, metaphysical concept from beyond the cosmos, based on people's good feelings! The Four Gods EXIST! I talk to them daily! Most of you have communed with them as well, but there are a few here who were not in our last meeting four years ago, but they shall be introduced to our Lords and Lady as well, soon enough.

The Four Gods, my brothers and sisters, are composed of the very spirit of our world. The Soul of Azeroth brought itself forth in its early days and made four of its inhabitants, the most noble of their kind, into the four avatars of its four innermost positive characteristics.

Brux the Passionate became the protector of all those who believed in living their lives accourding to their hearts when he fought off his foes and gave his life to save those he loved. Zinine the Studious discovered the ultimate truth behind all of existence, and therefore ascended into being the Goddess of the curious and wise. Mnesthes the Lone became one with the uncivilised life of the world, and thus he has since been the deity of the natural order of life and death, as well as nature. Muhar the Great built an everlasting empire and was lifted by the trust of his people into the eternal benefactor of the ambitious and driven."

This last point brought approving sounds from the others, so you conclude they must be Muharists. Jallan continues his speech, but you stop paying attention. He seems a talented speech-giver, but you're not that interested in his faith, you just want to know how the traveller is familiar with your name.

At one point, however, your attention is quickly grasped back as Jallan has spread out his hands and bathed the entire group of people with a strange brown light. They all stare at nothingness, their mouths slightly agape. The traveller is chanting something, which includes the word 'Muhar' a lot.

The strange situation goes on for several minutes, after which everyone suddenly snaps out of the trance at the same time. Jallan walks away from the crowd, apparently done with 'the sermon', while everyone else starts talking about having been spoken by their God.

Jallan walks to you and tells you to get up. "We'll take a walk in the forest. I have things to talk with you about."

The tall man leads you a safe distance away from the villagers before speaking again. "I want you to understand that despite what I just said, these people mean no harm to the majority of the population here. I have sworn to protest the Old Ways, and I think the best way to do that is to demonise the Lightists. Their religion has merit, but it's best for the religious identity of these people to think it doesn't."

You shake your head disapprovingly. "So it is best to lie to them to enhance their loyalty to your gods?"

Jallan smiles curtly. "Desperate times require desperate measures, and times have never been more desperate for the servants of the Four Gods. In Lordaeron they are hunted like game still, a thousand years after any danger they might pose to the Church of Light was crushed. I have seen too many communities be torn apart or force-converted in my time.

And besides, they are not all my Gods. I am a devout of Mnesthes, but he has tasked me with spreading the Gospel of his brothers and sister as well. These times of strife unite us in ways the Golden Age could not have imagined."

Somehow, the way he speaks of the matter disgusts you. It's as if people are some kind of a natural resource he wants to hog for himself. You decide to change the subject to the thing which brought you here in the first place. "You know my name from somewhere. I saw you flinch when I said it in the Baron's Spear. Do we know each other?"

"No, we do not." Jallan states, his face solemn and honest. "But I have heard of the Stonetear, as has anyone with any knowledge of-"

His explanation is cut short suddenly by two cries of rage. You turn around and see that two beasts are running out of the forest, charging at the villagers. One is a great bipedal monster with large claws and fangs while the other seems to be some kind of a supernatural creature composed entirely of living ice, walking on four long feet and with two great limbs sticking out, flailing wildly.

Jallan runs at the clearing, grasping your hand and pulling you with himself. "Quick, into the cave!" He yells to the civilians, who seem to be at a loss of things to do.

You take your bow and nock an arrow. The hairy beast is just about to maul a panicking woman when you shoot it in the eye. It doesn't seem to suffer much pain, but it turns at you and roars. You shoot another projectile, this time in through its mouth. The creature still doesn't seem to slow down, but lumbers at you.

Meanwhile, Jallan has went past you and engaged the icy beast. He seems to be able to hold it back while Charles is guiding the villagers into the cave, but the monster looks to be way too agile to be caught by any of the strange man's spells, instead jumping over, ducking under and dodging both left and right.

You shoot a third arrow at the beast lumbering at you. It still doesn't react beyond becoming even more furious On a closer inspection, it looks to be akin to a bear, except that its shape seems to be all... wrong. Its back feet have shifted into a more humanoid shape to allow it to move on them at all times while its paws seem to have become claws meant for ripping all they come across to shreds.

The beast is very fast considering it's almost wobbling around on its unnatural limbs. A four arrow hits its shoulder and you take out your axe. You duck under a claw-swipe and try to slice at the beast's front-leg while its swishing over you, but underestimate its strength. Your axe gets stuck in the beast's soft flesh and flies somewhere into the woods as the beast howls its injury.

You use the moment to your advantage, jumping onto the monster's chest and climbing up. Your agility surprises yourself as the creature tries to shake you off and you still make it up. As you reach its neck, you take out your knife and slice its throat open.

As you land in the snow, you see that Jallan is still battling the ice beast. At first it seems he's winning, but then you see one of the fireballs he's throwing hit the beast head-on and merely deflect away. The monster's gleaming red eyes glow as it hits him with one of the strange spike-like limbs growing off its back at its opponent, throwing him into the ground.

You run at the thing and sink your knife into its icy body. The thing shakes you off and walks at Jallan, its spikes assuming a position for an easy killing blow. The downed man appears senseless and defenceless.

You run at the icy beast and knock it backwards, twisting its head and shouting for Jallan to get up. The beast twists free of your grasp and swipes at you with a leg. The world turns red to you.

You fall onto your knees and bring your hands to your face. Warm blood wets your palms. You let out an involuntary shout of pain, fear and hate.

Another attack closes in on you from the left. You fall face-first into the cold snow just in time, hearing a loud swoop as the icy limb soars over you. The creature lets out a loud screech.

You roll away from the thing and try to think of some kind of attack, but you can hardly see in front of you. Your eyes are covered by your own blood. Jallan is still laying in the ground, unconscious.

Suddenly Charles comes running in, holding something above his head and screaming. The monster turns to face the challenge and the young man hurls the object at it. The beast manages to twist its head out of the way in time, but the item crashes into its body, shattering the entire back half of it.

The thing cries in pain and hurls its remaining corpse at Charles, locking its jaws around his hand and trying to steady itself with its two remaining feet. You start stumbling through the opening into the remains of the destroyed part of its body; whatever Charles threw at it must still be there. The young man yells in pain as he tries to free his hand of the thing's jaws as you push yourself forward, trying to steady your trembling feet.

When you do reach the pile of ice shards and see what Charles harmed the thing with, you can't believe your eyes. It's a stone.

In a sudden surge of emotion, you grasp the rock and hurl it at the beast. It hits the thing's back and shatters it. A cloud of ice spreads out into the air and, a second later, gets blown away by a gust of wind. Charles falls to his knees and stares at his mangled arm.

You try to wipe the blood off your face and then take wobbling steps at Jallan. He appears to be alive and mostly unharmed. The villagers run out of the cave and come to your help.

Snow keeps falling and the words "wake up" echo in your head once again.

You faint into the white ground.

You slowly wake up an indeterminable time later. The lingering pain of last night becomes a lash of fire when you make a face trying to remember exactly what happened. After a few minutes of calm and quiet, you open your eyes and look at your surroundings. You are in your bed in your inn-room, back at Lakeshire.

You have no idea who got you here, but you're fairly sure you don't want to raise a lot of questions about where you were last night. You rummage through the room for a moment, trying to find a mirror. After succeeding, you stare at your reflection.

The wound in your face has obviously been healed with magic, since it looks several years old, but it still exists, nonetheless. It runs from over your left eyebrow, through the right one and all the way to your right ear. Everyone who saw your yesterday will notice the change.

You need to find Charles and Jallan and get to know what happened after you lost consciousness.

You browse through your belongings. Nothing seems to be missing, and even your wealth seems to match up with your count from last evening. You pack and take everything with you as you leave the room, just in case.

The common room of the inn seems fairly empty. You walk to the matron, trying to attract as little attention as possible. She eyes your face with concern and is about to burst out a worried rant when you grasp her hand and put a finger over your lips.

"Who brought me here last night?" You demand in a voice you hope the others won't hear but which won't sound secretive.

The innkeeper closes her eyes. "I knew you weren't voluntarily associating with that man. Jallan came in, carrying you. Refused to tell where you'd been and how you were injured. He returned to the other inn after that, but..."

She eyed one of the merchants behind you and told him to mind his own business (apparently he'd noticed your chat) before continuing her exposition: "Someone saw the lot of you... or them, or whatever, returning from the forest. A little after sunrise, the Baron's troops marched into city and arrested a number of people who had been identified by the informant. They're holding them at the castle. You've also been named, but I managed to convince the soldiers you weren't here. For now, at least. You've got to get away. Find a safe and sneaky way out of here now, before you get taken in for the crimes of those infidels."

You nod silently and follow her into the kitchen. She opens the backdoor for you. You cast your eyes down and hesitate. "Look, I want to thank you proper, but I don't even know your name."

She smiles in a motherly manner and extends a hand to shake yours. "Ophelia Turngrove." You shake it and express your thankfulness as best you can.

She closes the door behind you. You take a deep breath and consider her words. She wants you to leave the town and avoid the guards, but you feel a resistance to the idea. After all, you were there; you can give a neutral, objective testimony in defence of Charles and the other cultists. The Baron probably isn't listening to their talk about monsters attacking or about them not doing much more than talk out there (nothing awfully blasphemous). They aren't bad people, and the idea of abandoning them in their darkest hour when there's a chance you can help leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

Besides, Jallan never had time to tell you... as he said, what 'the Stonetear' is.

Thoughts ricochet through your mind and eventually you decide to settle for a middle-ground. It would be idiotic to give yourself to the Baron's men, but neither can you abandon the cultists, so the best solution is to break the prisoners out of the keep.

You start to quickly leave the town. As you leave the inn's backyard, you can see the merchant who'd been sitting behind you just a few moments running in the street, no doubt going to tell the guardsmen about you.

You estimate it's an hour to noon now, and the town seems to be full of life in the streets, but you try to avoid any preying eyes as you sneak eastward building by building. You've never before paid any attention to the castle, so you deem now is a good time to start.

While Lakeshire has been built on a good place to house merchants travelling between the northern lands of the dwarves and the Kingdom of Azeroth, the castle is obviously half a mile east of it for martial purposes. The northern coast of the lake is mostly, including at the point of the town, a very poor location to defend from assaults. Its northeastern part, however, is crowned by tall cliffs, an ideal place to set up a keep. Not only is it a fool's task to attack such a position, but the castle also provides a great view of all the nearby lands.

And this is the place you intend to break into. You silently nod to yourself as you nonchalantly move northeast from Lakeshire (avoiding the main road). You soon reach the edge of the forest and turn to see if anyone is following you. As far as you can see, no one is.

You move through the forested landscape for an hour without anything happening beyond you crossing the main road after making sure nobody sees you. Thoughts run through your head for the whole time, but you refuse to let your will waver. Eventually you arrive in the base of a huge cliff upon which sits the castle. You haven't yet got a clear impression of what exactly it is between here and Khaz Modan that people fear, but this military fort seems like a good indication that they do fear it. A lot.

The road leading to the fort is watched from a tower built halfway up, so any chance of using it undetected are slim or nil. You circle the hill, making sure you aren't seen, and watch for any points you might climb. After walking the entire length of the cliff one way and halfway back, you eventually spot one. It looks like you might get up to the walls surrounding the castle by climbing it, and it's unlikely the guards are looking this way.

You quickly cross the distance between the trees and the cliff and start climbing. You almost fall down at what you judge to about halfway up, but eventually you manage to get to the top of the cliff, and the wall of the castle.

You walk clockwise around the wall until you arrive to the second corner. Peeking behind it, you see that the gate is about fifty steps down the way. The guards at the tower down there can still potentially see you, so you bury yourself in snow and crawl the distance, eventually getting to the gate.

The gateway seems unguarded, luckily. You crawl in and, after getting up, sneak in. At this point if anyone sees you, it's game over. There aren't that many dwarves around here for you to be confused to.

You sprint in to the courtyard, take a right, and hide inside the first hallway you see. You have to get in the dungeon and get out. Get in the dungeon and get out. Get in the dungeon and get out...

"Hey, you! Get in the dungeon, now!"

You almost jump out of your skin at the voice of the soldier, but luckily it's coming from behind the door you're standing next to. A whiny voice responds to the officer's request and two sets of footsteps start moving away from you. You take a deep breath and open the door just a bit to get through.

You sneak into the corridor and go in the direction the two soldiers departed to. Unfortunately there are a bunch of different corridors there, and you can't see any stairs down. You try listening to the footsteps, but you can't hear them distinctly enough to tell where they're coming from anymore.

You're in big trouble.

It's too late to turn back now, though, so you survey the different corridors. You pick one at random (panic is starting to well up within you) and sprint down it. After trying a few doors and finding only empty rooms, you walk to the end of the corridor and take the turn to see where that one takes you. It's a dead end.

As you turn around to try another hallway, you see there's a man standing right ahead of you. He's dressed in full armour with the banner of some noble family in his tabard. A shortsword in its scabbard is hanging from his hip and in his hands he's holding a large voulge, its blade aimed at you.

He does not speak, but he's demand is obvious: Surrender or die.

You hesitate for roughly two seconds. The voulge's head points directly at your heart, staying almost unnaturally still. You suddenly spring sideways, taking your axe from your belt and swinging it horizontally to break the weapon's pole. The armoured soldier takes a step back and brings his polearm up to avoid your attack, then slicing down on you and charging.

You dodge his strike and then charge him. Out of a moment's inspiration, you bring your axe, shaft-first, into the man's crotch, knocking him backwards. Through the visor of his helmet, you can see an outraged expression, but he fails to react any more strongly, instead swinging his voulge around and slamming its butt to your face.

The soldier tries to bring the blade to your throat when you fall down, but you recover faster than he expects, taking a hold of the weapon's pole and rolling backwards. He loses his grip and you throw the weapon back into the empty corridor behind you.

The soldier unsheathes his sword, holding it in a defensive posture between the two of you. Suddenly a bunch of other men file into the hallway behind him, weapons drawn. You freeze as the man you're fighting yells, in a high-pitched voice: "Stay back, leave him to me!"

It's a woman.

You decide to not waste a second and charge her before she can brace herself. She tries to parry your axe-blow, but you're too fast for her, knocking her sideways and denting her armour. You're about to run past her and into the mass of people when he suddenly takes a hold of your foot, bringing you down. After a moment's chaos, she's holding her sword on you. Her helmet's been knocked off by your attack.

Before you have time to get a clear impression of her face, the soldiers swam around you two, lift her up and take a good hold of you. You're sent to the dungeon.

As you're dragged along the corridor, you see the warrior-lady pick up her helmet as an officer walks to her. "I think your father wants to speak to you, Lady."

She gives an uncaring shrug. "I would expect as much, lieutenant."

You're taken to the left and then right and down the stairs, and then to the cell at the deepest part of the dungeon. "Make sure he doesn't communicate with the others." One soldier tells the guards. "We don't want them to make up some shared lie about what they've been doing in those meetings."

They leave, each taking a measuring look at you as they turn away. You're left in a lone cell with nothing to do.

You do nothing for the duration of a day.

Just after you're done with that, guards reappear in the corridor. Guards, in plural. The only time you were visited during the day was when a single guard brought you water and bread. Now there are half a dozen. They walk to your cell, open the door, and demand that you exit to be escorted to a hearing. Seeing no option, you comply.

They take you down the hallway, up the stairs, to the left, up another set of stairs, down another hallway, left, right and through the large doors. You're in a huge hall with a large table behind which sits a multitude of men in fancy clothes. You know one of them.

In the middle of the long row of men sits an old man with a white beard. "The defendant has entered the court. Let the hearing begin." He announces with a squeaky voice. He turns to nod to a young scribe to your right, sitting aside from all the important men to write a record. "We shall begin by listing those present: As the judge stands I, Mayor Hergant of Lakeshire, by the King's grace appointed to his post by the Baron."

He turns to his right and points the man in fancy clothes and sunken-in eyes, who is smiling broadly at you. "As the present magus for this occasion stands Wizard Trymon, who has been given the right to bear this temporary office by the Court Mage, Ceralon Sliverberg, who is visiting his family in Browndale today and can not be present himself."

Next the mayor nods at the man to the right of Trymon, who is a middle-aged man of cloth, dressed in the simple garb of a priest of the Light. "As the present priest for the occasion stands Father Mulder, the leader of the Church of Lakeshire."

He then regards the man sitting to his left. "As the present officer of the army stands Lieutenant Ern, who was present in the arrest of the defendant."

Lastly, he turns to look at the man sitting at the very end of the room, opposite of the scribe, on a fine chair, almost a throne. "As the representative of the Crown of Azeroth stands Andaron Lothar, the Baron of the fiefdom of Redridge Mountains, a grace given by the King of Stormwind to his family.

Let us begin the hearing then, shall we." The mayor rises his chin and looks into your eyes. "Is your name Thurgrim Stonetear, as our sources indicate it is?"

You swallow a lump in your throat before you can speak. "Yes, it is."

"Good. Let the record show that Mr. Stonetear entered the township of Lakeshire three days ago and does not permanently live within the fiefdom of Redrock Mountains. Is this information correct, Mr. Stonetear?"

You confirm it again.

"Now, Mr. Stonetear. Did you know a Mr. Charles Smith before you entered his hometown of Lakeshire?"

"No, I did not."

"Did you know a Mr. Jallan before you entered Lakeshire?"

"No, I did not."

"Will you tell us where and how you met both of them? Let the record show that we have several witnesses who have testified Mr. Stonetear talking to Mr. Smith and asking around for the whereabouts of Mr. Jallan."

"I saw Jallan when I first entered the Baron's Spear. I met Charles when he left his job as an apprentice."

"How did you come to decide to leave into the Northern Forest with both of them and what was it that happened there? Let the record show that a witness has testified Mr. Stonetear returned from the forest along with misters Smith and Jallan."

You hesitate. Should you tell the truth or try to think up a lie?

You decide that honesty is its own value, lick your lips and start talking.

"The thing is, I have amnesia." There's a moment of silence and you realise how absurd the claim sounds. "Ask your mage, he knows it! That's how I met Charles; I was going to the wizard's shop to get my amnesia cured!"

Everyone turns to look at Trymon, who seems to be in deep thought on whether to lie and cause you trouble or tell the truth. Eventually he lets out a sigh. "It is true. As far as I know, Mr. Stonetear has amnesia. Can't remember a thing that happened before he got here. He never proceeded to purchase my suggested method of cure, though, so maybe it was some kind of a trick..."

Your face goes red. "That's because you asked a double price from me unless I do a chore for you, you greedy-"

The mayor yells for silence and you realise you're in a hearing, trying to appear innocent. You try to calm down as the mayor tells you to continue.

"The thing is." You narrate. "When I'd first came to town and told my name to the innkeeper at the Spear, Jallan was there, and he reacted to hearing my name, so I thought he must know me. I asked around for him the entire day and eventually it was Charles who said he knew where the man was. He told me to meet at sunset and when I got there, he gathered together a bunch of people and we went to the forest."

You wait to make sure everyone is with you. You don't want to ramble nervously, you want to appear reliable. After a moment you continue: "I had no idea what they were doing there, I just wanted to meet Jallan and ask how he knew my name. Then they got there and Jallan started to ramble about the Four Gods, or whatever. He told me to talk to him after 'the sermon', so I sat by and waited until they were done. And just when they were... monsters attacked us."

You describe the battle with some detail and then explain about fainting due to your injury and waking up at the Baron's Spear. When you are done, the jury before you takes some time to think through your story. The mayor shifts through some papers before asking you another question. "Why did you choose to break into Stonewatch Castle, Mr. Stonetear?"

"I wanted to save those people. I heard they were being imprisoned for some horrible crime, even though I knew they hadn't done anything."

"And you chose to sneak into the castle, try to break convicts out of the dungeon and fight any guardsmen you meet?"

"Your guardsmen didn't give me much choice." You inwardly cringe at the words the moment they leave your mouth.

"I think this is all." The mayor announces and looks at the other jury-members for confirmation or rebuttal. They all shake their heads. Trymon smiles at you with a clear 'you are dead now' message behind his eyes. The mayor is just about to open his mouth when the Baron himself stands up. He's a strong, tall man with a full beard and a great mane of brown hair running back from his head. He looks like he's just the age where his years aren't 'upon him' to put it so, but instead he commands the experience and wisdom of the years without their weariness.

He gives you a long and judging look before speaking to the men sitting at the end of the great table. "I am not an official part of the jury, but a mere witness to make sure the King's will is not grossly corrupted, but I wish to express my thoughts on this dwarf." He does not wait for their approval but instead points a palm at you. "The dwarf's testimony about not knowing anything useful to us is true. If he knew something they are keeping from us, he wouldn't have come here."

You feel a weight lift off your chest. The Baron continues: "My suggestion is to have him executed. A brave criminal is a criminal nonetheless. If we give every enemy mercy for fighting us with bravery, we are soon swarmed by men we dare not kill."

Baron Lothar sits back down and you stand still, frozen to the bone, as the court decides to agree with his suggestion. As the guards try to carry you away, you suggest a truth potion. Your removal is paused for long enough that the mayor can shake his head and say: "I'm sorry, Mr. Stonetear, but I do not think you get it. We have already found you not guilty of following the false faith, but you will suffer your punishment for breaking into the castle and attacking a soldier still."

You start sobbing as you're dragged back into the dungeon.

Later on, you're sitting in your cell. This time you're being kept in the same area as the cultists. Nobody talks. Apparently they got the same conviction as you. You can't help but notice that Jallan isn't present. He must have run away the very same night to avoid capture, leaving the rest of you at the mercy of the guards.

Then the door opens and a figure walks in. He's wearing a large coat...

SHE's wearing a large coat which covers the most of her upper body. She's carrying the same voulge and shortsword as the last time you saw her.

She stops before your cell. "You, dwarf. We need to talk."

You look at her. She's wearing a mail shirt under the coat and she has a large hat with a feather, which covers her face to most passers-by. You can see her perfectly though, since you're sitting down. She has a sharp face with a very small nose, blue eyes and blond hair. You can't think of how to respond to her request, so you decide to sit still and wait for her to make a move instead.

She lands the butt of her polearm to the ground. "Look, I want to help. My father's making a huge error. I..."

Your look still hasn't changed. She sighs. "I can get you out of here. Let me help you out, I just have one condition."

You stare at her yet more. Maybe it's a trap. Maybe the baron's just looking for an excuse to give the lot of you even worse punishments than what you're suffering now. Besides, how can she get you out? Maybe if you let her open your cell door and then take her hostage...

To stall time, you ask her about the condition. She refuses to tell you. You ask if it has anything to do with the others. She looks at their cells. They must be hanging to her every word. "Yes." She says. "I'll let them out too."

You nod your head. "Okay then, get us out."

The young lady walks to your cell door, takes a key out and opens it. You follow her as she opens each door individually. The people walk behind you. They seem wary of the noble daughter who is setting them free. After the last door is open and Charles slowly walks to you two from the back of his cell, you ask her: "What's your plan to get us out of here without attracting attention?"

She tells the lot of you to stay put and moves out. An awkward minute or so later she returns. "Come, quick. We need to get out before the guards get back."

Seeing no alternative, you do follow her. She takes you down to hallways and into a ruined wing of the dungeon. At the cell in the back, she pulls out a loose stone from the wall, revealing a keyhole behind it. Taking out a massive steel key, she opens the lock.

The entire back wall of the cell opens, revealing an enormous tunnel, wide enough for four or five men to stand abreast. She turns around, expecting to face a crowd of people hurrying in, but only finds you and the other inmates staring at her and the tunnel entrance. She simply walks in through the hole, leaving the rest of you waiting for someone to take the leap of faith and follow after her. You see her grab a torch off a rack at the wall and work a flint to light it.

As you hurry after the lady, you turn to talk to Charles. He seems in a disorderly state and seems to cringe every now and then. As you open your mouth, you see his right hand. In the battle at the woods, the ice monster attacked him and the limb was badly damaged. Now it has obviously been healed, but it's missing two fingers and the ones left look like he can't move them at all. Your eyes meet his and you try to express some emotion at his state. Not a word comes out of your mouth.

The tunnel turns into a large set of circular stairs leading down soon. The lady seems to know her way and doesn't seem to care if the lot of you lose your light in the middle of the stairs when she continues advancing, holding the only torch. You try to tell the others to hurry up without her hearing.

You already start to wonder if she's taking you down the stairs to the underworld when abruptly the stairs stop into a short hallway taking to what seems like a dead end. She has stopped before the rock wall, holding the torch high. "I've taken you to one step from freedom. Now I want your word that you'll fulfill my request after we exit this cave."

You stand one step away from the mass of humans. "Do tell it, and I'll hear whether it is too outrageous to fulfill."

She lowers her voulge and looks at you for several moments. "Take me with you."

You blink. "Where?"

"Where ever you're going. I don't care. Anywhere is better than this place."

You stare at her pale face. She blinks furiously and suddenly nods her head down to cover her eyes with the brim of her hat.

"I agree." You say. She turns around an clangs the key she was carrying against the stone wall. The rock rips itself in two, revealing an exit into Redrock Mountains. You walk to her and offer your hand. "Thurgrim Stonetear, at your service."

You shake her hand as the girl introduces herself as Andrea Lothar. She doesn't even look at the others and she turns and leads the lot of you outside and then south. Out of curiosity, you ask her what the tunnel is for.

"It's a secret exit so the baron can sneak people past sieges." Andrea tells you and shows the steel key she opened the tunnel's entrance and exit with. "The thing only opens to a person of the Lothar family carrying this, and even then, only from the inside." She throws the key over her shoulder so that it lands right next to the now closed exit. She doesn't explain it, but you figure that if the tunnel can't be used to enter the castle, the key's not going to be any use in whichever case.

The woman leads the lot of you south. She does not pay attention to you anymore, so you decide to take a look at the company you are in. You're followed by eight cultists, five of them are men and three women. Most look like your average villagers, except maybe with a little dirtier clothing. Their ages span from the barely adult Charles to one elder lady at the back.

You fall a bit back to talk with Charles. You ask him what happened to Jallan. "After you fainted up there, in the forest, I got him to wake up." He tells you. "He healed my hand and your face and led the people back to the village. After we split up to our own homes, he left to take you to your inn. He told me before he left that we should play it low for now and that I should think up an excuse for my wound. He never said anything about himself, but I assumed he'd stay in town...

So, where are you going? Mind if I come with you as well?"

You ignore the last part. "I guess we're wanted men now. We'll have to get out of Baron Lothar's lands as soon as possible..."

After a moment of silence, Charles laughs. "What did I tell you about the Baron back when we first met? A total-"

He never gets time to tell what the Baron is as Andrea suddenly springs around and gives him a fiery gaze. You walk the rest of the day in silence.

A little before sunset, you climb up into the foothills and decide to go find some location that could house your numbers. To your surprise, Andrea tells the rest of you to keep following. Soon you reach a small cave behind a copse of trees. "My father takes me hunting here in the summer." She explains. "We usually stay in this cave for a few nights and ride out into the mountains in the days between."

The place looks like an average natural place, untouched by man, at first. Soon, however, you see Andrea remove a large stone leaning against one of the walls and take out a bunch of camping equipment. There's not enough for the lot of you now here, but there's definitely more than two people need. You decide to ask about it later and instead help her set up a few tents and get a campfire started. Some of the cultists travelling with you aren't dressed very well for camping, and it isn't long before they are circled around the flames, warming their icy-cold limbs.

You take Charles and Andrea out of the cave, deciding that if you're going to have the talk with them, now is as good a time as any.

"Charles, Miss Lothar, I want you to understand something." You begin after getting out of an earshot. A good enough start. "I'm not some hero on a quest to save the world. I'm not a knight in shining armour. I'm just a dwarf who doesn't know who he is. You two may assume I'm just being modest, but I'm not. I have no plan, I'm not going anywhere in specific. We're going to take these people to where ever they're safe, and then I'm going to... I don't even know what I'll do then."

Andrea looks at you, puzzled. "I thought you're going to see the Stonetear."

It takes you and Charles ten full seconds of staring her until she understands that neither of you knows what 'the Stonetear' is. She gasps. "I'm sorry, I thought it was a commonly known story. My mother read it to me when I was a child."

Charles shakes his head. "As if nobles knew what the common people do besides paying taxes..."

"We know plenty more than a failed magician's apprentice, Charles."

A smile suddenly spreads on his face. "I may not be an apprentice anymore, but I know magic. If I know magic and I'm not an apprentice, doesn't that mean I'm a real mage now? And besides, I've never liked the name Charles. I decided when I started to study that the day I'd become a mage, I'd be called by my wizard name, Redwind."

You nod to shut him up and turn back at Andrea. "What is the Stonetear, then?"

She gives a sigh and closes her eyes. "It's been years since I last heard the story, and it's a complicated one at that. It's about the founding of the dwarf nation of Khaz Modan.

As I recall it, the dwarves today don't really know where they originate from. They do know that they wandered into the mountains north of here several millennia ago and chose to settle down. A simple fort was established on the slopes of the greatest mountain of the land and a dwarf named Ragnar Anvilmar was made its first king.

Soon, however, disaster approached them. Gnolls, who inhabited most of the land from the Wetlands to Stranglethorn in those days, started raiding the dwarves' farmlands and trade routes and got bolder by the day. King Anvilmar sent emissaries to talk the gnolls into peace, but they refused to accept diplomacy as a solution and thus it came to war. The dwarf-king marched a small band of warriors south to the valley from where the tribe attacking his young nation originated from.

King Anvilmar's men fought valiantly for an entire day, but they were no match for their numerically superior foes, and defeat loomed upon them. In the final hour, however, a weapon thrust itself out of the mountainside and flew into the hands of the dwarves' leader. With the spear, made of granite and yet as durable as cold steel, Anvilmar vanquished his foes and won Khaz Modan its first war.

The king made the spear, which he dubbed the Stonetear, 'Bhar'ur' in the dwarven tongue, a part of his his attire, something he never went anywhere without. He believed it to be a gift from a bunch of gods the dwarves worshipped in those days called 'the Creators'. Before his death, he ordered for the weapon to be buried with him in the site of its original appearance. There it still is, in Khaz Modan, buried with King Ragnar Anvilmar."

You three stand in silence for some time. You have a tingling sensation you can't quite place, as if you're onto something important even though you can't tell what it is. Then you are suddenly on your knees, your hands flying to your forehead as you shift to somewhere else entirely.
"Oh yes. It is unfortunate." The other dwarf says, coughing slightly and smiling despite his words. "What you are facing requires something of divine origin to defeat. In our modern world, there aren't many things that would be of use to you. That human hero, Sherman, claimed his shield was granted to him by the Holy Light, but the item is lost nowadays. The druids of Caer Darrow are rumoured to possess something that originates from a moon goddess of they serve. And then there is the Stonetear, but we wouldn't want to go graverobbing from the founder of our homeland, now would we, Thurgrim?"
The others are holding you up as your vision ends and you come to. It takes a moment for you to remember where you are again. You lie that you are just fatigued after the escape from the castle and suggest the three of you go back in.

Andrea shares some salted meat she took with her from the castle and you melt snow in a small cauldron to get water. That's all the ten of you get to eat and drink. You idly remind yourself that the one of you who looks least suspicious has to visit a settlement and buy supplies when you next see one.

Andrea takes the first watch shift. You don't get sleep for a long time, and even then your slumber is restless and plagued by echoes of the vision you had. Eventually you're woken up for the last shift and given Andrea's sword to defend yourself in case something happens. You sit on a stone and ponder what you are facing as the vision voice said.

The next morning you gather the people together, loan a map of the kingdom from Andrea and point out your current location. "We're here, a day's travel south of Lake Everstill. We need to get the lot of you to a safe place where the Baron isn't likely to discover you. If we go to Southern Redridge and find some peaceful village, they'll be likely to buy an excuse such as your homes having been burnt by bandits. Grand Hamlet..." You trail your finger westward, into the eastern border of the municipality labeled Sunnyglade. "Is farther away and the lands we'll have to travel through are more thickly populated, so we'll have a harder time getting there, but since it's a larger township, you'll be able to blend in better and Jallan said that there's a cult of Mnesthes there. Perhaps they will lend assistance."

The opinions seem to be squarely divided. Four of the cultists (including Charl... Redwind) want to go south and four want to go west. Andrea doesn't care either way, so eventually the humans agree that you should make the call between the two locations.

You choose to head to Grand Hamlet, because any pursuers would expect you to continue south from here. As the lot of you depart west, you ask Redwind how his hand is feeling. He utterly loses his cheerful persona. "I don't think I'll be able to do much with it ever again. It doesn't hurt much anymore, but I can't move the remaining fingers either." You put a hand on his shoulder in sympathy.

The lot of you keep moving for several days without running to anyone. You loan a knife from Andrea and make traps to hunt for food and feed everyone, though none of you escapes hunger. There aren't many animals out except some squirrels and rabbits.

You learn to know both of your more close companions more well. Andrea stays silent about her motivations or goals, but is rather open of her past. Redwind (whose wizard name you learn to associate with him) doesn't have much to tell about himself, but seems like a small encyclopedia of little trivial information about the world.

Eventually you run into a farm run by local rural folk. One of the cultists is given a little money by Andrea, who took some with her, and sent to ask for supplies and food. After you depart west once again, you feel the familiar weight of an axe and a quiver of arrows pressing against your back and that night, everyone gets their bellies full of hearty stew.

After the first farm, population quickly gets dense. You consider splitting the group so you'd appear less suspicious if you do run into someone, but eventually decide against it. You always scout ahead each morning before the others start moving and each night you consult the map with the others to see your progress. Eventually your group starts to get dangerously close to the main road, which is likely to be patrolled by the Baron's men at this point.

In the night after the temperature gets warm enough for snow to start melting and you hear birds singing for the first time, you're keeping a small campfire under a tree and eating turnips which you bought from the last farm, when a woman suddenly walks to you from the forest.

She is young, only a few years the elder of Andrea, and dressed fancily. There is a grace in her movement which almost makes you assume she's an elf until you see her human eyes and ears. Even though her clothes look out of place in the middle of the wilderness, she seems to know exactly where she is and not desire to be anywhere else at all.

Everyone stares at her, and she stares at everyone, for a moment before she places a hand to her heart and commits an unfeminine bow. "Well met, my friends. Care you share me your food, fire and lodgings for the night?"

You almost start listening to the council of voices within your head when Redwind's voice interrupts: "Of course."

The woman walks to an empty spot in the circle of people around the campfire and sits down. You're surprised that she does not dust the ground before. Somehow, she gives you the image of a normal woman dressed in fine clothes and taught manners more than a real noble lady.

Someone hands her an already-peeled turnips. She takes a bite and nods her head in approval. "I hope you did not steal this." She remarks without humour.

You decide it's past time to ask the obvious. "I'm sorry, lass, but who are you?"

She smiles. "My name is Aegwynn."

Nobody except Andrea reacts. She gives an understanding gasp. "Lady Aegwynn of Karazhan?"

Aegwynn seems surprised to hear a woman's voice from under the wide hat and loose coat, but overcomes the reveal quickly. "The very same."

Andrea turns to the others and explains: "A minour noble family called the Aegwynns have ruled over a valley in South Redridge for a thousand years now. They mostly stay on their own and don't interact with others. And..." She hesitates.

Aegwynn nods. "All our leading family members are female wizards with the title Magna Aegwynn. Do you know why I am here?"

Everyone shares ignorant looks with each other. Aegwynn smiles. "I am a part of an order which once hunted for cults of the Four Gods, among other, more important, tasks. Someone in the village of Lakeshire contacted me and told me of you. I was asked to find and kill you."

Your hand snakes up to the handle of your axe. Aegwynn shakes her head. "I will not do it. It has been centuries since the council behind me last hunted for your kind. I came to see whether you are of the dangerous kind of cultist. You are a danger to no one. I know the Baron hunts you, and perhaps with good reason..." Her eyes linger on Andrea. "But I will have none to do with it. I have seen enough people torn apart because of idiotic prejudices in my years of life."

As you wonder why she talks as if she's an old lady, Aegwynn suddenly changes into an entire different subject. She spends an hour talking about this and that, asking others about their pasts and plans for the future, and then announces she's going to go sleep now. Nobody dares open their mouth as she lies in a sleeping bag on the other side of the tree.

The next morning, Aegwynn is gone. The person with the last guard shift can't tell when she left the campsite.
Chapter two:

You manage to get into the land of Sunnyglade without running into anyone. At points, you can see people walking on the main road, but at no point do they see you or you engage any of them. Turning south, you keep going, buying food from farms and camping out at nights, never letting anyone see more than one of you (and never you, Andrea or Redwind, any of whom would be easily recognisable).

One morning, when you are scouting ahead, you see a small city built in the crossroads, filled with small wooden houses. You estimate roughly two thousand people live there. It must be the largest settlement on this side of the great river.

Since you all are going to go there anyway, you think it's safe if you go in already to see for a good place to house your companions.

You get onto the northern road and move south nonchalantly. You pass between two un-watchful town guards and through a gate with the words "Grand Hamlet" written on it. The township seems to be bristling with life. Merchants fill the streets, yelling endorsements for their fares at the top of their lungs. Travelers like yourself wander around, watching the things going on around them with reactions ranging from sheer amazement to disinterest. Local folk move from their homes to their businesses and back.

There's an inn just across from the entrance. You're just about to approach it in hope of subtly extracting knowledge about a possible cult around here when you notice the name. The Light's Grace. You instead turn left and walk on. You see many a shop on both sides of the street, but nothing that makes you want to enter one. There are a couple of smaller taverns or inns ("The Bloodhound", "Slugger's Place", "Felwater Spring"), but they don't look like the kind of places you'd want to walk into.

You eventually see the town hall, but you wonder whether Baron Lothar might already have told the officials at nearby large settlements to look for you and your companions. 'A dwarf with a scar on his forehead' is not that hard to remember. There's also a church of the Holy Light. Maybe if you're careful, you can get information out of them. Jallan said that Mnesthes was the lone God who 'became one with the mindless life of the planet' or something like that. What kind of place would his worshippers be running in a town like this?

You go back some distance and, after taking a deep breath, enter 'Slugger's Place'. The tavern is dense with the smoke of tobacco and the fumes of all kinds of alcohol. You feel a little tinge of regret that you didn't go get some money from Andrea before coming to Grand Hamlet.

Nobody seems to pay you any attention whatsoever as you enter. The innkeeper is a middle-aged man with a stubble covering his chin and a very noticeable dagger hanging from his belt (probably to show the customers who's boss around here). A woman you assume to be his wife is bringing a family of customers around one table soup. There's two shady-looking people in the corner next to the family and a small man in dark clothing on the opposite side of the room.

As you stand looking at everything, the innkeeper slowly rises his gaze off the rag he's squeezing in his hands and into you. He doesn't speak, but looks at you expectantly.

You slowly walk across the room to the innkeeper. He still glances at you as you lean on the counter before him and say: "I just arrived here at Grand Hamlet. What's happening around here?"

The man keeps his look on you for half a second more before moving back to what he was doing before. Absolutely nothing. You're about to speak again when you hear him growl under his breath: "If you ain't gonna buy a thing, geddout."

You hands fly to your pockets in annoyment and to your surprise, you feel a few copper coins there. You bring them out and after counting, judge that you can maybe get a beer. The innkeeper seems to agree with your judgement and sends you off with a frothy mug of thick liquid.

You're about to walk to an empty table when the man eating soup with his family suddenly turns and speaks to you. "You new here, eh?"

After getting confirmation, he smiles. "We too. Just arrived from... wait a second, don't I know you? Yeah, I saw you back at Lakeshire, in the Birchleaf inn." You start to feel uncomfortable with the discussion already and try to stutter out something about being a traveller. The father smiles broadly and places a hand on your shoulder. "Don't worry, we're travelling too. We've come with our horse and cart all the way from the Wetlands!"

He gestures at his family, a wife, two daughters and two sons. They all smile at you. "My name is Göran Yorgen. Here's my wife, Astrid and my children, Pippi, Ronia, Jonatan and Emil. We're from the Wetlands, north of Khaz Modan." The parents look to be about forty and the children range from the adult Jonatan to the about five year old Pippi.

You nod and tell him he said that last part already. You really don't know what to talk with them about, so you ask what they've come here for.

"Ah, yes. We used to have a farm up there, but it was raided by gnolls, so we decided to move down here, since we had no ties in there anymore. We've come a long way to reach Azeroth. Do you know if it is true that this kingdom is more free and happy a place than the others? Well, it doesn't really matter. We just want to claim a land and start a new farm here."

He moves on to talking about the differences he suspects there are between farming at the Wetlands and farming here. The words stop making an impact on you and you simply stare without hearing anything, occasionally sipping some beer. It tastes horrible.

After you've finished your drink, you wait for a good gap in his flood of words to politely (you hope) cut in and excuse yourself. "I've still got to see the rest of the town." You explain. Göran seems to buy your explanation with another broad smile.

As you turn to leave the tavern, you run into the black-dressed man who had been sitting on his own thus far and was also making his way out. After you bump at each other, he gives you a sideways gaze and walks away quickly.

Since the innkeeper wasn't exactly talkative, you walk out on the street and wonder what to do next.

You scan the crowd for the dark-dressed man from the tavern. You see him slip through the crowd and race after him, trying to cause as small a ruckus as possible so he will not be alerted that you're following him. You almost lose your focus when you see a group of dwarves pass you by and enter a shop, but you manage to continue moving ahead.

Eventually you see the shady man move into an alleyway. You follow him only to find the place empty. As you move deeper and try to find a door he might have taken into one of the buildings, you hear a thump of feet behind you.

"I don't know why you're following me." A somber voice announces, filling the alleyway. "But I don't have time for dwarven stalkers."

You turn around and the man has left again and joined the crowd. You're pretty sure it's on purpose that you see a long, sinister-looking blade between the folds of his cloak for a second before he vanishes amidst the people again.

You hurry back into the crowd and try to spot the man again. He's gone.

You turn around and try to remember which building the group of dwarves went into. When the answer doesn't spring up to mind, you decide to head out and meet the others again.

"WE THOUGHT YOU WERE DEAD!" Redwind's face goes red, literally, as he shouts at you, his hands squeezing into fists. It's way past noon and you really can't blame the others for getting concerned about you, but your face stays unnervingly calm as you stare ahead without really hearing much of the rant aimed at you. There's a consistent tickle on the back of your skull. You don't like it.

Eventually the former mage-apprentice ignores you, turning to the rest of them and walking south without looking back. You shrug your shoulders as the rest of the crew give you looks of varying levels of dissappointment before following him. The feel that your sudden stoicism has something to do with your past life grows stronger. You stand still for a moment, your eyes closed, breathing deep, wrinckling your eyebrows to try to remember anything.

Nothing comes to you so you step ahead. You almost stumble as a voice behind you announces: "They do not care for you. They only stand by you until it becomes inconvenient. Be ready for that, Thurgrim."

You turn around. There's a man with three horns standing between the trees, looking at you with blazing eyes.

You bring your hand to the handle of the axe you bought from the farm back on your way here and growl: "Who the hell are you, how did you find me and how do you know my name?"

The man walks ahead, stretching his hands playfully. He has a long mane of hair stretching all the way across his back. He's clad in simple poison-green clothes. "Perhaps the 'hell' part is truly fitting in your first question." Suddenly his shape shifts and for a moment, you think he's gone. Then his voice keeps speaking behind you. "I am all that is you, and more. I am all that you aren't, and less. I am the shiver that goes through your bones as you realise taking abuse from someone else comes naturally to you. I am the odd feeling of familiarity that comes to you when you kill and maim."

You turn around, take out your axe and point it at the man. He scoffs. "That is unnecessary. I am not here." He sticks out a hand, putting it inside the trunk of a tree, as if he was made of air. As he smiles, you swear the three horns coming out of his forehead grow shorter. "And yet I am." He says, and suddenly slaps his hand down. You're struck into the ground from the force of the strike.

"The answer to your second question is as unneeded as the weapon. I found you. I am here." Somewhat undermining his own words, he once again shifts, appearing to your left. "How I know your name is a more interesting matter." As he opens his mouth to speak more, his being suddenly vanishes into thin air. You look around, and find him to be missing. Either he went into hiding or...

Footsteps approach. Andrea's irritated voice tells you to hurry up or be left behind. You run after her and wonder whether telling a story such as yours will lead to much more than a place in the madhouse.

You follow Andrea, your mind floating in the sea of doubt. What was that? Perhaps you've lost your mind and amnesia was merely the first sign of that... The worst thing is that the strange man's voice sounded awfully familiar for some reason.

You two reach the others after a short period of running. Nobody pays you attention. You force yourself to be sad about it, afraid of the ghastly creature's claim that 'taking abuse from someone else comes naturally to you'.

Nobody talks for the entirety of the day's journey. The shadows of the trees already cover you all when you reach the city gates again. You wonder if the guards are going to let you in without a second glance again, now that there's a whole lot of you.

An old, white-bearded man walks across your group. He takes a gaze at everyone before turning to Redwind, who's walking first, and spouts a small string of some foreign language at him.

Redwind stares him with amazement for a few seconds before replying with a similarly unintelligible nonsense. They smile at each other and the old man spreads his hands in a welcoming gesture. "I have been waiting for you. Welcome to Grand Hamlet, Master Smith."

He leads you through the gate, waving dismissively at the guards, who accept his word for the lot of you. You walk with him, across the square, into the door of the Light's Grace. Redwind gives the man a questioning look, to which he responds with a smile.

You enter the inn, which seems luxurious. You are led though it and into a rather large room with a table and lots of chairs. The bearded man locks the door behind you all and bows down. "Sorry for the secrecy, my friends. I am Wilhelm Danraf, the owner of the Light's Grace and the leader of the society of Mnesthes here in Grand Hamlet. I received information from Master Jallan that you would be arriving several days ago. I think I already spotted one of you on the street earlier today, but I did not take the chance of mistaking him for someone else because he was alone."

Redwind stands up, smiling broadly. "I am Redwind, also know as Charles Smith. I'm the spokesperson of the Cult of Muhar from Lakeshire." He turns and introduces everyone to Danraf, one by one. He stops before you and Andrea, hesitating. You take the chance to step ahead. "Thurgrim Stonetear, at your service." Danraf shakes your hand as he did the others, smiling just as broadly. You are a bit disappointed he does not react to your 'last name'.

Andrea steps ahead and offers her hand, announcing: "Andrea Allan, adventurer." Danraf does not question the lie a bit.

After the introductions are done, the innkeeper rubs his hands together happily. Before he can talk more, Redwind interrupts: "Jallan contacted you? How? Has he been here?"

Danraf shakes his head. "We are in magical contact with each other. He does it with all the major cult-leaders across the world. The Hareveim shared their magic with him to achieve it."

Redwind nods. "Did he tell how he knew we were coming here?" After getting a negative answer, he ponders for some time. "Can we use this magic to contact him for a change?"

Danraf gives him a painful smile. "No, I'm afraid. It only works when he's within a hundred miles of here. Master Jallan told me to make sure you got here and then mentioned he's going somewhere else for a vital business that can not wait. I tried asking him something more the following day, but he was not within range anymore."

After waiting for Redwind to think of more questions, the innkeeper lets his smile turn happy once again. "Now, then. You have been travelling for, what, a week or two? You need bathing and fresh clothes, and a good night's sleep in soft beds!" He starts sending everyone to their respective areas, and you give a happy sigh. You suddenly realise that up until this point, you've been tense and worried, but now you can let go.

The rest of the night goes past like a blur.

You wake up next morning, rested and relaxed, in your room. Rise and shine!

You get dressed, check that you've got everything you own (which isn't a lot, considering your backpack is still at castle Stonewatch) is still intact, and head down into the common room. It takes you a while to find it, your memories of last evening are vague at best. You must have been starving and fatigued when you arrived here.

In fact, you're still starving. You can't quite recall whether you had a good meal or just a few bites before you went to sleep, but whatever it was, it wasn't enough.

The matron at the common room seems to recognise you well enough. You ask for food and she immediately gets to it. After she's gone, you scan the room. Redwind is sitting there, reading a piece of parchment you can't recognise. You decide to join him apologise for your actions yesterday. He only gives you an annoyed grunt as you greet him, which proves that there's still cause to apologise.

"Look, Redwind." You start, taking a deep breath. "I'm sorry. I found the town and I thought it'd be a good idea to scout for a place we could sleep at before I take everyone there. All kinds of things happened and when I got out, it was kind of late already. I didn't mean to abandon you or anything, I just... did stupidly. I'm really sorry for that."

The boy smiles a bit and tries to cover it with the sheet in his hands. "You're really bad at talking, has anyone ever told you that?"

"Does that mean I'm forgiven."

"I guess so, Thurgrim."

You let out a little breath you hadn't realised you'd been holding. "So, what's the paper?"

He shrugs. "Danraf wrote me some notes before going on business." He continues reading them. You notice the sheet has writing on both sides. Thorough notes indeed.

The food arrives and you eat like a starving glutton. Redwind keeps reading. You are positively surprised to discover a keg of beer behind your dishes, and empty it with speed. You barely cover a burp after finishing and thank the matron four times as she comes to take the dishes away.

You lean back and ask Redwind what the language Danraf spoke to him last evening was. He seems taken aback by the question, as if you were supposed to know such a detail. "It's Oldspeak. Back before humankind united, Oldspeak and Common, of course called by different names back then, were about equal as the two languages of our kind. It was after Thoradin and his Arathi Empire pieced the entire species together that Common won and Oldspeak almost died out. It's mostly only used by... my kind, nowadays."

You contemplate the information. "What were the phrases you exchanged?"

Redwind gives a little laugh. "I can't speak the language, myself. Just a few phrases here and there. He used a common greeting which stands for something along the lines of 'may the wind bear you lightly' and I replied with another one which goes something like 'and may the ground support you forever'. It was more the fact that he knew the language that made it clear he knew who we were and... well, you know."

You nod thoughtfully.

"When I was here yesterday, I ran into a weird guy." You tell. "He was dressed in all black. I bumped into him and he gave me a look like he knew exactly who I was, but didn't want to have a thing to do with me."

Redwind shifts cautiously. "You don't think he knew..." He doesn't finish the query in fear someone might hear, but he makes it clear what he means.

You shake your head. "I don't think so. He seemed more aggressively uncaring than wanting to go and talk about me to someone. I followed him later, and then he suddenly vanished and turned up behind me. Told me to buzz off and vanished into the crowd."

Redwind thinks about it for a moment. "I don't really think there's much we can do about it. Just tell me if you see him again. If it turns out he is after us or something, we'll be in big trouble."

You agree with him and say: "You wait here, I'll go find Andrea. There's something I want to tell her and you."

Redwind nods absent-mindedly. You stand up and turn to leave, but are interrupted when the young man suddenly lays down the parchment he'd just brought up to read again. "Oh yes. That reminds me. Danraf invited us to a meeting he and his society are having tomorrow. Maybe we can start unravelling mysteries there."

You give him a warm, thankful smile before walking outside. You wonder where Andrea is in a town like this. Nothing in particular springs to your mind, so you just wander a street, waiting for something to come across you.

You walk across a blacksmith, two magic shops, a fletcher, a brothel, a few smaller taverns and a clothier until you arrive once more to the town hall, where you turned around last time. Where to go, what to do?

You go back and look around some more. Eventually you give up and go into the brothel, which is the nearest building of any interest to you.

After entering, you remember you don't have any money, but still decide to take a look around. After all, who knows what important details you could uncover here, like.... umm... for example...


In any case, you enter the brothel. It's filled with merriment and happiness. A bouncer comes and leads you to the owner, who has you thrown out after you admit you don't have money.

You're back in the street. Maybe you should continue looking for Andrea.

You walk to the fletcher. You remember Andrea mentioning she can use a bow, maybe she went to get one.

The store is mostly empty. The owner gives you a cheerful welcome as you walk in. You feel kind of guilty that you're not intending to buy anything. The store has a wide variety of bows, ranging from simple shortbows to tall longbows, one or two crossbows and even a few composite bows, which can shoot an an arrow as far as the eye can see. As you eye them, the owner walks to you and enthusiastically explains how they are based on an Altearcian model that was specifically designed as a war-bow in the Alterac-Stromgarde wars and has since been adopted to hunting as well.

You nod, smile and ask whether a person in a large coat has been here today. The fletcher thinks about it for a moment before answering yes. "He looked around a bit but didn't buy anything. He asked where the nearest exit of the city was and I showed him there." He helpfully waves a hand to the south.

You thank the man and apologise for not buying anything either. You then leave and find the gate he mentioned. After exiting, you eye the forest outside. What could Andrea have gone out for?

Suddenly you see her, sitting on a stone in the midst of the trees, carving something out of a branch of wood. As you approach, she smiles. "Morning, Thurgrim." She exclaims. "I was just going to get up and find you."

You eye the branch she's holding. There's a completed work at her feet. It's a wooden sword. You raise an eyebrow. Andrea smiles slightly. "It's something that's been bugging me. We didn't have time to finish our duel properly back at the castle, and I want to know who wins.

That's okay with you, right?"

You approve and Andrea gets back to carving. She soon notices she's making two human-sized swords and carves the one she's holding smaller and lighter, to fit you better. When she finishes, she gives you the smaller one and leads you deeper into the forest.

You walk until you find a good clearing. Both of you lay down your other weapons and bearings and stand before each other.

You can almost hear the voice of a lonely guitar in your head as the two of you start to circle each other in preparation for the clash of blades.

You charge forward and release a flurry of strikes. You immediately know that you've handled a sword before, but you're not as used to it as to an axe or a knife. Andrea blocks blow after blow and then pushes forward, locking her blade to yours and using her height to send you sprawling backwards.

You duck under a blow aimed at your chest and try to stab Andrea's stomach. She jumps right and retaliates.

Strike, parry, retaliation, dodge, attack, dodge, thrust, retreat, charge, trip, stab, roll out of the way, stab again, punch, strike, parry, clash, push, strike, dodge...

The fight goes on and you two start to grow weary. She finds it hard to get through your defences because of your short posture, while you are kept at bay by her superior skill.

You launch one more barrage at her, intending to end it now or have her end it if you fail. You swing your sword from the right, having her take a step back to avoid it, bring it high and connect it with hers. Then you take steps forward and push her further back, stopping her from launching a counterattack. You surprise her by taking your left hand off your sword and pushing her stomach with it. As her defences drop, you raise your weapon and bring it to her throat with your right hand.

Except that she ducks down, backs away, and stabs her sword at your chest before you have time to react. The tip of her blade pushes you painfully between two ribs, you take a few steps back and drop to your knees, faking injury.

Andrea smiles, self-satisfied. "You're not that bad with a sword, Thurgrim."

You look into her eyes and a weird tic seems to sound inside your head. "You'll never take me alive with pleasantries!" You yell in a sudden inspiration of mock defiance and spring at her, wooden sword at hand.

She doesn't react at all, completely taken by surprise by your bout of playfulness. You, on the other hand, haven't calculated her standing like a stone statue to your movements and bump into her. The two of you roll into the forest floor. It takes a moment for you to clear your head. When you do, you realise you're laying on top her, your head on her chest.

It takes you time to notice it's her chest due to the lack of certain female parts usually associated with their upper torso. You, however, are quick to stand up and back down when you do understand. You realise that even though she does wear the loose coat to hide her feminine shapes, her physique is a must to keep the impression for long.

Your position before did not go unnoticed to her either, you understand as she stands up on shaky feet. She avoids your eyes and walks to retrieve her possessions. When the two of you are again equipped and everything, she tells you to take her to Redwind.

You take Andrea back to Grand Hamlet and to the Light's Grace. It's a little before noon as you get there and sit next to Redwind.

It takes you a little time to gather your wits enough to explain what you saw in the woods yesterday. After you're done with that, you narrate as well as you can everything that happened, from the appearance of the man to its voice. The others listen without interfering. When you finish, there's a few moments of silence.

"I'm not doubting that you saw this thing." Redwind starts awkwardly. "But I hope you're not insulted if I right now think it might, you know, have not been there."

You shake your head. You knew this was coming. "It can't have been. The thing slapped me and sent me flying. If I was seeing things, that couldn't have happened."

He hesitates before continuing. "We still haven't discovered the cause of your amnesia. If a spell affecting your mind were to malfunction in any way, it could cause illusions of such magnitude that you'd have a very vivid sensation of being smacked into the ground by someone."

Redwind turns to Andrea for support. She does not share the look with him. "I haven't heard of anything like this before, but it's very clear to me that the thing, whatever it was, was real."

You both give her a surprised look. You had thought that if one of your companions was going to believe you and another wasn't, it would be the other way around. She continues: "Look at it this way. There has been plenty of weird things going around you so far, Thurgrim. Not only the amnesia, but your name, or at least what we think your name is, the creatures that attacked the cultists' meeting and what have we. It isn't very far-fetched to believe this anymore."

You feel relieved, but Redwind isn't impressed. "Back in the camp, before you saw this thing, you were acting strangely, like you were in a world of your own. That seems to support the possibility that you were already building up to some kind of mental breakdown."

You are starting to get angry, but Redwind stands up and holds his hands out in a calming gesture. "Look, I don't want to give the image I think you're crazy. I just think that we shouldn't jump up and start chasing phantoms quite yet, while we've got so many other things to do before, like finding out if your amnesia is caused by magic."

You smile. "Well, there's not really much I can do about this Phantom of mine in any way, so I guess you're right about not thinking of it too much.

But there's another thing. Back after we'd run from the castle, after the story about the Stonetear, remember when I had a sudden bout of weakness? Well, I heard a voice speaking Dwarvish back then, and it spoke to me about the spear... It said that I am facing something that can only be killed with an object of divine origin or something like that. I think it was something I'd heard in the past, before my amnesia."

The other two digest the news a bit before Andrea talks. "If you're on a quest to retrieve the Stonetear... why are you in Azeroth?"

"I don't know." You say, feeling powerless. "I just don't know. It feels like I can't trust anything about myself anymore."

"Bleh, quit your whining." Redwind exclaims. "We'll find out what we need to find out when the time comes. Let's go see the town, maybe that'll cheer you up. We need to wait until tomorrow, when we get to see the local... you-know-which-society."

"So, where do you want to go?" Redwind asks you. You think about it for a moment before answering:

"Back when I scouted ahead, I saw a group of dwarves walking somewhere in the eastern part of town. Maybe there's someone who can get me in contact with them..."

"Well, single dwarves might just as well be adventurers, but a bigger group is bound to be noticed." Redwind reasons. Andrea nods her agreement. "Maybe if they're some kind of a political envoy or something, the people at the town hall will know something. I haven't seen a lot of dwarves on the street, and not a single group of them, so I guess there's not much chance of confusion on that ground..."

You decide to act on your idea and seek the town hall. You saw the building twice already, so it doesn't take a long time to get there. The place seems fairly empty, with a few clerks and a magistrate. You ask him if he knows anything about the dwarves.

The mousy man straightens his spectacles and looks at you analysingly. "I am sorry but I can't just give away personal information of visitors to the town. Can you tell me your name and your business with these people, please?"

You bite your tongue and wonder. Is it worth sharing your identity and amnesia problem to the whole town?

"I am Margrar Hillcutter." You say in a sudden bout of inspiration. "I saw the other dwarves walking the street of your town and want to spend a good drinking time with other members of my proud race! It has been a long time since I did such a thing, and I wish to be reminded of my homeland."

The bureaucrat eyes you for a moment before digging through his papers. "Very well, Master Hillcutter. I have heard many things about the dwarves' drinking habits, but this was new to me, if I am allowed to say so. There is a single group of ambassadors from Ironforge in town, currently. They are staying in the manor of the Penarol noble family near the south end of Grand Hamlet, discussing the possibility of sending dwarven craftsmen here to build a castle outside the town."

You thank the man and give an awkward bow. You then leave the building. Your companions give you questioning gazes and you shrug. "I think it's best to stop being overly open about my identity and start being a bit more sneaky."

Redwind rolls his eyes and you can hear Andrea repressing a laugh. What's up with them?

"Anyways." Redwind says, noticeably changing the subject. "I don't think the dwarves are approachable right now that they're at the manor. We'll have to see if we can spot them at town again.

So now what?"

You finger your beard in inspiration. "Let's get back to the inn, I just remembered something important!"

Half an hour later you let out a happy sigh as you empty the tankard of beer. You must have been crazy to not have understood before now that you hadn't had any since breakfast.

While you're at it, you ask Danraf, who has now returned from business, whether he knows anything about the Stonetear. He sits down and puts his wife in charge for now. "Well, I do know it is a weapon that the dwarves believe some god of their own granted their first king. I have not heard of a clan or family by that name, however."

You nod. "It's just that... well, I don't think my real family name is Stonetear. The place I got this name from was a journal in the pocket of my coat which just said 'the journal of Thurgrim Stonetear' and nothing else. Then, when Andrea told me what the Stonetear is, I suddenly had a vision of my past where someone told me I needed the Stonetear in order to defeat some enemy of mine."

Danraf nods his head a bit. "I'm sorry, Master Thurgrim, but I can not help you with this. I will ask for help from the higher levels in our meeting tomorrow." He stands up to go back to keeping the inn before gasping in remembrance. "Oh wait, there is something. A wizard arrived in town this morning, all the way from Dalaran. He is here for some kind of an assignment. I'm sure you could ask him for help with your amnesia, if it truly is caused by magic.

He can be found in the other high-class inn, the Goldmead, which is just by the southern gates." You're surprised Danraf's voice remains completely neutral when he mentions the other inn. You thank him before he returns back to his wife. The two exchange warming smiles.

You're just about to stand up when Andrea coughs. "You know, you haven't tried any of the town's normal magic shops yet. Should you share your tale with an official envoy from a foreign nation, when you can do it to a private businessman instead?"

You wonder the question a bit, when Redwind voices her opinion as well: "You know, we could technically just buy the reagents and I could try to perform the spell you wanted from Trymon on my own somewhere. I think I could do it..." He waves his hand in a positive note, and then gasps in pain as its mangled palm hits the table.

You slap a hand to your forehead. "Now I get it! We'll go to the church and ask for their healing talents!"

Andrea suddenly smiles broadly while Redwind gives you a sideways look. "Are you sure, what if they have some powers to detect... my kind."

You snort. "As if. Let's just get there and try it. It's as good as anything else!"

"I agree." Andrea announces. "And while we're at it, we can ask if the Holy Light can do something for your hand, Redwind."

The would-be wizard shakes his head. "I don't think so. You go, I'll stay here."

You try to get him to come along, but he refuses time after time. You and Andrea eventually leave and Redwind stays behind and orders dinner.

You remember seeing a church on the other side of town, near the town hall. You walk there and look around a bit, eventually locating the building. You take a deep breath and walk inside. As you do, you can't help but notice that Andrea is smiling serenely. "You go talk to a priest, I'll pray while you are at it." She whispers to you as you behold the church.

The building is pretty large, though you know by some impression that there are way bigger holy houses out there as well. There are two dozen rows of benches on both sides of the main aisle leading to the altar, where two men of cloth are talking to each other.

As you approach them, you realise that the taller man is the dark-clothed person you ran into yesterday, while scouting the city. He finishes his discussion with the priest and turns to leave, seeing you. He eyes you calmly before leaving without saying a word. The other man gives a sigh and smiles at you. "Welcome, master dwarf. I am Father Renault. May the Light bless you."

You smile and thank him. "I am Thurgrim Stonetear, Father, and I have a favour I would ask of the Light if I can be bold." You're not sure whether you're being offensive or not, but you decide to press on. "I have somehow lost my memory, and I wonder if it can be returned by the holy magic, since a wizard has already failed at this."

Father Renault keeps his tender smile. "We shall see what we shall see...." He asks you to sit on the first row of the benches, and you do. The bishop rolls up his sleeves and places his hands on your head. You close your eyes and try to relax. A few moments pass.

"I can not sense a curse or a taint of shadow on you." He mutters. "But there is surely a disturbance. It feels like your very spirit is ruptured, torn by something."

The bishop stands back and rubs his chin. "I am sorry, but I am not an expert in matters of the spirit, or mysteries such as this. I can send you to someone who can perhaps tell you something, though, if you like."

You nod enthusiastically and the bishop walks to the back of the church to produce parchment, a quill and ink. "I have a friend in Southern Redridge who studies matters such as these. I will write his location and name for you here." After scribbling something, he hands you the parchment. You read it once through to make sure you can, and then thank him ten times. In a moment's inspiration, you walk to Andrea and ask her for a few silver coins to give to the church as charity. She gladly agrees.

You thank the priest three times more and then leave. Andrea has, at this point, already started humming. You suspect that in the middle of all this pagan activity, she's pleased that her Lightist faith gets some respect as well.

After you exit the church and think about going back to the inn to relay the information to Redwind, you see a familiar face on the other side of the crowd.

The man in black clothes is standing atop some boxes, next to the southern gate of the town, looking straight at you. He nods at you and makes a point of jumping into the ground and walking out of town, into the forest, at a direction you can see from here.

You've been given an invitation.

You calm down. "Andrea. Go get Redwind. Tell him that I saw the man in black from yesterday. He'll know whom I'm talking about. Get him and take him into those woods."

The woman stares at you a bit before looking at the figure of the man walking into the forest. "Are you sure?"

"Don't worry." You assure. "I'll keep myself alive until you get there."

She starts moving north as you walk south, at the gate. Once you exit the town, you find the man waiting for you at the forest's edge. He eyes you curiously as you walk up to him. You stop ten strides away from him and look into his eyes. Only now you realise that his irides are yellow.

He is dressed in dark clothes, not very expensive ones, but neither rags. There are runes written all across them in red paint. His hair is brown and short, but some of its stands high almost on its own while the rest dangles down. He has a large nose and a wide mouth.

"It is destiny, this." He says cryptically. "We met in the bar, where your kind, the corrupt, spend their time, and in the church..." He does not finish the polarisation between 'the corrupt' and himself but it's clear to you.

"We shall walk into the forest." He says. "And we shall battle."

As he turns around and walks into the deep green, you feel like battling him here and now by burying your axe in his back, but you decide not to and instead follow him. "Who are you?"

He scoffs. "I am Daimon, monk of the Holy Light."

You rise your eyebrows. "A monk? You don't look very ascetic."

There is a silence for some time before he speaks: "I left my monastery due to its corruption. Men join to become holy men so they can commit lechery and theft while staying untouchable by the law. I saw no reason to keep my ascetic vows anymore. My spirituality stems from entirely other sources."

He looks at your from behind his shoulder, as if making sure you haven't vanished anywhere. You choose not to ask where his spirituality does stem, but instead let him get there without any help.

He continues: "My tutor in the monastery, a very righteous man, taught me to defend myself, for in my homeland the people had become bored of the monks' criminal ways and begun to harm them if they thought they could get away with it. Wielding the strength of the Holy Light alongside the power of my body, I felt for the first time like I was nearing any spiritual goal.

And then I discovered it was my master who led the bandit brothers to rob the merchants.

I challenged him to battle and killed him. When I told the master of the monastery of my deed, I was banished for murder."

You wonder whether Andrea has found Redwind yet. Are they going to discover you if you're this far from the road. You cough and say: "You just said a minute ago that you left yourself."

He lets out another scoff. "Their rules and orders could no longer hold me. I had realised that the order presented by the brotherhood was not the will of the Light. I killed the master of the monastery as well, for good measure."

You do a double take. "Why?"

"He protected the corruption and the evil by punishing the man who did something to end it. He was as bad as the rest of them, even if he did not rob or rape at all."

You shake your head. "What do you want of me?"

"I desire to kill you, so the Devil with you will die."


"I did not see it when I first met you. I merely saw something wrong with you. When you were in the church, however, I could see it clearly, the three-horned being standing behind you, its fingers curling around your heart, around your soul."

You take the axe to your hand and stop walking. "What did you just say?"

Daimon turns around and cracks his neck. "Then we shall battle, and I shall win." He throws his cloak making it billow in the air, tosses the sword you saw with him earlier into the woods, and finally removes his shoes and shirt, so that he is only wearing loose trousers and a length of rope as his belt. He squeezes his hands into fists and lets out a shout from the bottom of his lungs.

"MY NAME IS DAIMON. I WILL TEACH YOU HUMILITY BEFORE THE LIGHT!" As he lowers his gaze upon you, his entire body is spontaneously surrounded by bright, white flames.

You back down, keeping your axe checked between the two of you. Daimon walks to you. You wonder for a moment how he stays warm with such little clothing in temperatures like this, but then see that whenever he takes a step, the snow melts around his feet due to the flames surrounding them.

"Look." You shout out loud, hoping that if Andrea and Redwind are out there, looking for you, they'll hear. "I'm not consorting with whatever this thing is you see. It just appeared to me and then disappeared. If it's following me or whatever, I haven't given it the permission. Can't I just seek a cure or something?"

The man stops and cracks his fists. "There is no cure worth it. Your soul's departure into the flames of the Nether will destroy the creature. The sacrifice of one mortal soul to destroy a being like that is a good trade. Now, protect yourself."

As he finishes, he jumps at you foot-first. You roll out of the way and, as he lands besides you, slash at him with the axe, making him retreat to avoid your blow. As a counter, he punches his hands forward, into the air between the two of you, and shouts: "SHURAMA!" A ball of the white flames surges forward and hits you in the chest.

You fly backwards, rolling into the snow. It feels like you were hit by a battering ram, and your entire upper torso is hot like it's on fire. As you look down, you see a giant black spot in the front of your coat where the attack hit you. Somewhere far away, you can hear a fearfully familiar voice screaming in pain.

"SHURAMA!" Daimon shouts again and sends another attack at you. You roll out of the way as the fireball flies past where you were and hits the trunk of a tree, leaving a flaming circle in it. You get on your feet and stagger backwards as the monk steadily walks at you, his face as intense as ever.

Your hands tremble as you again lift your axe high to defend yourself. Daimon takes a quick step, almost instantly appearing right before you, and twists his hand back to punch your face. You duck down and swing your axe up. Your opponent lets out a surprised gasp and jumps back, blood gushes at your face as you look up to see what happened.

Daimon stares at his bloodied arm. If possible, his face grows even more serious and concentrated than before as he locks his gaze on you once again.

You have been trying to avoid going offensive thus far, not wanting to kill the man, but now you start to fear that that's not going to be enough anymore. "Look, I don't want either of us to die!" You shout in case of your companions.

Daimon's answer is simple: "SHURAMA!"

You dodge the projectile and charge. A good attack is the best defence, you reason. You swing your axe at full force, the monk uncannily jumps over the attack, lands behind you, and kicks you in the back. As you turn around, you are met by two punches, one breaking your nose.

You fall backwards into the snow, shouting in pain. You almost forget the fight in the hurricane of agony, but you are brought back into your senses when you feel your body rising up.

A large hand picks you up from the front of your jacket and brings you before the scowling face. He throws you in the air, shouts "JEINUORAMA!" and jumps up, bringing his fist with him. The blow smashes at your jaw and sends you flying.

After landing, you can't tell up from down and snow from fire. You try to breathe, but the blood covering your face and filling your mouth make it hard. The solemn voice of the monk speaks somewhere near you: "If you wish to die painlessly, I will end you now. If you wish to die a warrior's death, rise up and FIGHT ME!"

You try to get up, you try to get your axe, you try to get your bearings straight. Nothing gets gotten.

Then, in the middle of the warm blood, the heat of fire and the searing pain, you feel cold when a raspy voice speaks. "Let me help you. Embrace me, let us defeat this foe together. Otherwise you are dead, Thurgrim."

You open your eyes and see the faint figure of the three-horned man standing between two trees. He appears ethereal, a ghost peeking between the gaps in the fabrics of the world.

"No." You spit out, spraying blood on the snow in front of you. The creature stares at you for a moment before vanishing.

Daimon walks to you. "You may have resisted for now, but as long as you live, you are in danger. This is easier."

You look at him and try to push yourself up. "Why is it linked to me? What...." The rest of your question is covered by painful groans and coughs.

The monk stares down at you without any sympathy in his eyes. "I do not know. I only know I will destroy any being of darkness in any way required. Your death is required. Make peace with the world now, and perhaps you will become one with the Light after."

He bends down and picks you up from your collar once again, lifting you high. He takes deep breath and growls: "GOUMA TENDOU AKU-"

The shout is cut short when you reach a hand behind your back, take an arrow from your quiver and stab it into the back of his palm. He lets out a yelp and drops you down. As he lifts a fist to simply smash your face in, he's hit by a bolt of magic from the behind, making him stumble.

Redwind and Andrea are charging at you two from the woods, spells and voulge ready. Daimon looks at them for a moment before lifting your body up from the ground again. "Stop right now or his neck snaps."

Your head twists awkwardly and your companions cease their charge. The growing voice behind your head announces: "Let me kill him and then we will fight. If you are willing to challenge me to save the life of this creature, defeating you will be my pleasure."

Andrea looks at your strained head, held still by the monk's bloody hand, concerned and almost panicked. "Let him go. He hasn't done anything."

You feel the head behind yours shaking. Daimon is about to continue his explanations for the necessity of your death, but is cut in by a shrill scream for blood coming from his right.

You are dropped into the ground. You scramble around and blink your eyes, trying to bring order into he chaos of colours and shapes around you. Eventually you manage to see what's happening.

Three ice creatures like the one that attacked the cult meeting near Lakeshire are battling Daimon, Redwind and Andrea, who have chosen to ignore each other for now and repel the threat. Andrea is keeping one at bay with her polearm while Redwind just finishes killing another with spellwork as you look at the battle around you. You can't help but notice that there are the remains of a fourth one in ground, with black spots all around them. Daimon is punching the last one, knocking it back and leaving fist-marks like the ones on the remains, but seemingly causing little real damage.

One of the creatures suddenly lashes the tentacle-like limbs growing out of its back at Andrea, disarming her. Redwind rushes to help her, but the creature leaps at both of them, knocking them down.

You scramble up and suddenly find your axe, which you didn't even know was laying anywhere near you, gripped in your hand. With a shout, you leap at the ice monster and bury the axe into its head. It gives out a hiss and breaks into a thousand shards.

You fall against a tree trunk and look at Daimon, who is still stalling against the final foe. After a few more punches, he suddenly jumps at the creature, grasps its neck with his left hand and yells: "GOUMA TENDOU AKUKI!"

As the last word echoes in the air, pure white light fills everything in your vision. For a split second, you can see nothing, but you can clearly hear a thousand strikes hitting the ice beast instantaneously. The light fades and Daimon is standing next to the slain corpse of the monster, facing away. In his back is a tattoo that you're sure wasn't there before: the scepter-symbol of the Holy Light, drawn in red and glowing brightly for a moment, but then fading away and leaving no mark of its existence behind.

The monk stands still for a moment before turning back at you. His eyes analyse you for a moment before he looks at your companions instead. "Take your friend back to Grand Hamlet. Father Renault will heal him without questioning the origin of his injuries if you say I challenged him to a duel."

He looks at you again. "I will let you live for now, but I will see you again sooner or later. When I do, I will judge your soul again, and you had better wish I find it faultless then."

To make a point, he relaxes his muscles. The white flames still spread across his body all focus around his numerous wounds, burning out as they cauterise them. You think you can see a small twitch of pain in the man's face as he does this.

Daimon turns and walks to pick up his clothes, but Andrea suddenly steps forth. "Wait a minute. You're not going anywhere. You just tried to kill Thurgrim, why would we just let you go?"

The monk looks at her calmly as he puts on his shirt and dons his cloak. "Your friend is bleeding and suffering from shock. Even if you were able to defeat me, would you want to let him wait while you do that?"

She stares at him, outraged, as he puts his shoes on, hangs his sword from his rope-belt again, and turns south. "May the Light be with you until we meet again."

You would stare at him walk away, but you cough and spit blood again before you're through with that. Redwind tries to support you so you can walk back to town, but you find your feet too weak.

Either he or Andrea lifts you up. Your visions blurs. What is it with fights in the woods and you getting savagely wounded? You pass out before you can form any kind of guess for the answer.

"-haven't heard anything about your father. As far as I know, he hasn't told anyone you're missing."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes. If any noble in the land admitted their daughter had run away from home, I'd know."

"Uncle, I..."

"Andrea, you are a Lothar. Your father may not admit it, but Lothars go by their heart. Whatever the reason for this is, I am sure you were led here by what you know is right. What kind of a man would I be if I stopped you now?"

"...thank you.

Uncle Renault, who was... that man? I saw him talking to you earlier."

"He is Daimon. He believes he can be one with the Light by living a life beyond the ascetism he grew up in as a child in the monastery. He is wanted by the Church for killing two high-ranking clergymen, but I stay quiet about it because I believe his death or capture would not achieve anything. And to be frank, he'd kill many men who deserve to live before he'd be brought down."

"Why did he try to kill Thurgrim?"

"I do not know. I don't believe in his that he is closer to the Light than any other man alive, like he himself does, but he has proven to me before that his senses about certain... unexplained magics are uncanny. He boasts that he is willing to kill any man he deems to be unworthy of life, but he stays quiet and subtle most of the time.

When your friend asked me if I could cure his amnesia, I sensed something about him. His spirit feels... heavy. I don't know what it means, but Daimon seemed to judge it to be a sign of some kind of evil. Whatever it is, you should be very careful."

"I will, Uncle Renault."

The swirling shapes of eternity surround you. You've been here before... when was it again?

The thing with the blue eyes looks at you with sympathy and smiles. "Soon." It says calmly.

You awaken. You recognise your location to be your room in the Light's Grace. The place seems to be about the same as before...

Before what? You lay back and try to think about it. You had a mock sword fight with Andrea, then you went to the church...

The monk! Of course.

You bring up a hand and feel your nose. It isn't sore and doesn't seem broken. The others must have gotten you healed after you passed out.

You are startled by a sudden voice next to you. You're halfway out of bed when you see it's just Andrea, asleep on a chair next to you. She's snoring a little.

You take a deep breath and close your eyes. You have faint memories of someone talking which seem to have happened after your fight in the wood. And... was there someone with blue eyes? As you wrinkle your forehead trying to remember details, you realise you have a headache.

You silently rise out of bed to open a window. Some fresh air ought to do you good. As the cool breeze flows through your hair, you stare out. Grand Hamlet seems to be as lively and tightly packed as ever.

You turn around and look at Andrea again. Her hat is resting on her lap. She looks fairly cute like this, her eyes closed and her face severe. She' breathing through her nose.

You smile mischievously and sneak up on her, pinching your fingers on her nose to block her nostrils. She struggles to keep her slumber for a moment before opening her eyes and springing up.

You jump backwards and keep smiling as she blinks lamely upon witnessing you. After a brief moment, she sits back down, not speaking. You sit back down on your bed and idly wonder who dressed you in a well-fitting shirt and underthings that you've never seen before in your life.

"So." You start, trying to think of a first question. You can't decide on one, so you ask two: "What happened? How long has it been?"

She stares a bit more before letting out a relieved sigh. "You were wounded three days ago. Father Renault said in that day that it might take you weeks to recover. You'd suffered some kind of internal damage from whatever it was that left the burn stain in your coat."

"Father Renault..." You mutter, and suddenly you remember the discussion you heard after the forest but before now. "You... called him uncle..." You try to be more specific, but can't find the right words.

She does not look half as surprised as you expected her to be. "He told me you might awake briefly after being healed. I thought that didn't happen." She averts her eyes and picks up her hat. "He's not really my uncle. He's just my father's best friend, and has been like a third parent to me."

She starts to put on her hat but you reach out and stop her. She returns her eyes into yours. "If this is none of my business, you don't have to talk about it." You say.

She shakes her head. "The truth is that my family is not very numerous. The Lothars don't have many blood relatives out there. For a very long time, I was the last growing leaf of the family tree. Then Anduin was born." She says the last bit without scorn, but with decisiveness.

"I have always been interested in the kind of things that are normally intended for boys of noble families. I went hunting with my father, I practised swordplay, I paid more attention to the architecture of the castle than to the dresses my mother bought from the village.

My father and mother never minded the path I walked until my little brother came to be. They seemed to understand that they would gain a real boy, and that same year my father refused to let me leave the castle to hunt for game anymore and assigned my fencing instructor to other duties.

I think Renault understands me because he... he has been in my shoes, so to speak. He was born to a noble family but he chose a different path and joined the clergy instead. His name was removed from their family tree."

You nod. What she is telling you is admittedly a bit irrelevant, but it makes sense. Renault said that Lothars follow their hearts. Is Andrea really sticking with you because her heart tells you to, or is she just running from her parents and using you as a vessel?

Something suddenly comes back to you from the beginning of her speech. "I've been asleep for three days? I missed the meeting of the cult!"

Andrea nods. "Redwind and the other Muharists visited the gathering. The pagans agreed to house the refugees around the town in different reisdences to avoid attention."

You feel a little pang of sadness. "I was looking forward to being there."

Andrea doesn't seem to sympathise with you much. "It doesn't matter. We'll just get ready to leave town and head to the man Renault told you about."

It takes you a moment to remember what she's talking about. She walks to the desk and lifts the piece of parchment you'd put in your pocket in the church from it to remind you. "Ah, yes." She exclaims in a very controlled manner. "Your coat had to be disposed of because of the damage caused in the battle. Redwind bought you a new one."

She shows the side of the room's door, where your clothes are waiting, along with the new coat. You immediately decide you must thank Redwind when you see him: the coat is, in the lack of a better word, fancy. It's expertly made of quality leather by some very skilled craftsman. You walk to it, almost in a trance, and touch it reluctantly.

You turn around to ask Andrea where Redwind is. She now has her hat back on. You guess that everyone has an article of clothing they love to wear.

As you get dressed, she answers your question: "He is visiting the town archives for some reason. He promised to be back within two hours." You nod in thanks and put on your new coat. It's a perfect fit. You wonder how much it cost.

You decide to wait until Redwind gets back from the archives. You eat a very hearty meal to pass time, and afterwards ask Danraf to tell you what happened at the meeting.

The innkeeper takes you to your room for the story, wanting to avoid attention. He tells you that the cult met northwest of Grand Hamlet, in Brightwood Grove. There they did their usual measures to ensure their meeting was private before discussing the matter of the Muharists.

Danraf confirms what Andrea already told you. The refugees will try to blend in and live in Grand Hamlet, except for Redwind, who has informed that he has other plans. The innkeeper is halfway done telling about the ancient Mnesthian ceremonies that took place afterward when the young man walks in through the door, giving a surprised yell at seeing you awake.

Redwind runs through the room and jumps at you with his arms outstretched. You spend half a minute wresting yourself out of his embrace. When you do manage, you notice he's wearing new clothes. Always before, he had a worn, cheap robe he'd probably had ever since he became an apprentice, but now he's dressed in a stylish silk cloak with arcane patterns stitched all over it.

He realises you're watching at his outfit and gives a laugh. "When I went to buy you a coat, I saw this and knew it was made for me. The clothier agreed to sell me the coat and this for the price of one in exchange for some enchantments I helped him with so he didn't have to pay the local wizard."

You smile at his enthusiasm and zest. He decides to sit down for a change. When he does, you turn to him and Danraf and apologise. "I'm sorry for missing the meeting. I know it wasn't my fault, but..."

Both seem to consider your apology needless, so you turn back to Redwind. "Danraf said you have some kind of a plan instead of staying here." You leave the question part unsaid.

The boy blinks his eyes a few times, dumbstruck, before saying: "I thought it was obvious. I'm coming with you."

You give out a frustrated sigh. This wasn't exactly unexpected. "Do you even know where I am going? I'm not sure I do."

"Ah!" The youth exclaims, pointing up a finger. "How convenient you mentioned that. I was at the town archive for a reason, you know."

Redwind picks the large pockets of his cloak for a moment before producing a large parchment. "I had a scribe copy this for me from an atlas." He spreads the thing out on your bed, revealing it to be a map of the entire subcontinent.

You stare for a moment, not understanding what the boy means. After realising your obliviousness, he helpfully stabs a finger at a point in the northern parts of the map. "We're going there."

You peer your eyes. There's a small dot and next to it, written in tiny letters, stands...

"Anvilmar's tomb." Redwind smiles broadly. "The location of the Stonetear."

Andrea gives an insistent cough to remind you of something you already understood you would have to mention now. "Redwind, Father Renault said I should visit a friend of his who might be able to cure my amnesia..."

"Oh please!" The youth says, rolling his eyes. "Wasn't that Daimon person a 'friend' of his as well? Why should we listen to what some old man who gets money for talking in a church says?"

You anticipate Andrea's reaction before she has time to even begin her lunge at Redwind. You grab her shoulder mid-movement and push her back. "Calm down."

She gives a murderous gaze at the boy before leaning back and folding her arms on her chest. Redwind seems to think it best if he ignores the issue. "The thing is that we don't know whether this person can even help you, while we do know that you need the spear and it's north, in the dwarf-lands. And besides, while we're there we might search for a family or friends that might miss you."

You finger your beard. "The spear isn't going anywhere if we go to South Redridge first..."

Redwind nods his head, but insists: "But what if the Baron is looking for us there? It's within his jurisdiction, unlike Sunnyglade."

Andrea's possible insightful comment about her father is cut by Danraf, who suddenly reminds you of his presence in the room by talking. "If I am allowed to say something, I think there is another possibility. I know a powerful wizard west of here who might be able to use magic to transport you to both location. As the word of caution, though, he does nothing out of good will and may require extremely steep payment for his effort."

You ponder this possibility too. "If we go to this wizard and can't pay him or do not find him, we'll be way out of the road to either of the other locations."

"Why would that matter, are you in a hurry somewhere?" Redwind asks.

You stare at the floor for a moment before answering. The words of the monk echo in your mind. I could see it clearly, the three-horned being standing behind you, its fingers curling around your heart, around your soul.

"I don't think doing whatever it is I have to do fast rather than slow will hurt me."

You decide to push the moment of choice back. "I'll think about it while we supply." You announce. "I have a few shops in mind that I need to visit."

Danraf returns to keeping his inn while you, Redwind and Andrea go to the streets. You enter the first shop you see: a general store. Half an hour later you exit with all the supplies you lost to Baron Lothar's dungeon as well as some extras (flint and tinder, rope, compass, several days' worth of rations, parchment and ink, among other things).

Next you go to the fletcher you visited earlier. You buy the composite bow the shopkeeper showed you back then, as well as a bunch of new arrows.

After a short walk and passing another general store, you enter the blacksmith. When you explain your requirement, the smith apologises that he doesn't have any weapons of the dwarf-size, but soon afterward remembers that he happens to have a smaller model war-axe that a noble of short stature had ordered but not bought. The weapon is much heavier than the ones you've used before, but you decide to buy it still.

When you exit, Andrea counts the money left in her purse and warns you: "Don't spend too much anymore, Thurgrim. I managed to leave the castle with plenty of money, but we don't know how long we need to make due with them."

"Hey, the axe was a necessity." You insist. "I swear I'd have won the monk if I had had a proper weapon."

None of your companions comments. You walk onward and keep your eyes open for shops. None of the ones you pass brings up any thoughts about something you might need from there, until you see the large bronze plaque announcing "Gunuthan's magics and cures".

"You know, we never got a wizard to check if I've been enchanted." You say thoughtfully. "Maybe it's best to try so we don't end up wasting our time."

You ignore Andrea's remark that Father Renault seemed fairly sure about the amnesia coming from your spirit instead of any magic and Redwind's promise that he can do the spell for free. You don't say it, but you don't want an apprentice-level mage to casts spells at your head.

You enter the shop. There's a man in robes sitting in a luxurious chair, reading a book. He shifts his eyes to you and closes the tome with a thud. "Can I help you?"

"Ah-I'm suffering from amnesia, and I think it might be caused by magic." You explain.

The wizard asks a few basic questions, such as when the last thing you remember is, whether you remember anything from before the possible enchantment cast and how much you'll be able to pay. You answer truthfully.

The mage ponders a bit. "I will first have to cast a spell to detect whether you are enchanted in the first place. If you are, the spell you are under is well-enough weaved that I can not sense it outright."

"Yes, the last wizard I tried told me that as well. Before he tried to charge me a double price for no reason." You explain.

The wizard rises an eyebrow. "The price for the detection spell will be twenty-five marks."

"Deal." You say and smile. "Let me go get the money from my friend. You ready the reagents."

You turn to leave. When you open the door, you remember, however, that you need to ask the wizard how long the thing will last so you can make up a time with your friends for when you'll meet them again. You close the door again and walk to the wizard, who has moved to his backroom.

There is a heavy thud and then some hasty steps. Someone opens a drawer and starts throwing items into the ground. You sneak into the door and peak in.

The wizard in laying the ground, unconscious, and a thief with a sap in his hand and a knife on his belt is hastily filing through his possessions. The back door into an alleyway is open.

You take out your new axe and approach the robber as quietly as possible, hoping to capture him alive.

He suddenly grasps something small from a shelf and runs at the door. Before you can even comprehend that he was aware of your presence, he's out.

You run into the alleyway and sprint after the running figure. When you make the first turn, you realise it would probably have been a good idea to have called for Andrea and Redwind's help, but it's already too late.

The thief is way faster than you because of his long legs, so you soon lose him behind a turn. You curse (to your surprise) in Dwarven and survey the alley.

You realise that you did not hear a door bang closed and neither are there any running noises in the distance, so you look at your surroundings. There are a few boxes, but none of them look like a man could fit in them, none of the windows is open, there aren't any crannies he could have gone in...

You hear a loud clang and turn you head up, tracing the sound to its origin, the an climbing to the roof of a house. He has lost his balance and accidentally kicked the wall, giving away his cover.

He starts to bring hiself up again. You know you can't climb after him so you take out your bow and nock your arrow. "Stop!" You yell.

He looks down on you for a moment before loudly announcing: "Are you going to shoot me, then? You didn't just charge me and bury the axe in my back at the store, so I'm taking my chances here."

He starts pushing himself up. You keep your hands steady, your fingers itching to let go of the bowstring.

You aim down and release the arrow, sending it flying through the thief's leg. He gives a loud cry but pulls himself up on the roof nonetheless. "I'll get you for that!" He swears and climbs further up, vanishing from your view. A few droplets of blood fall into the ground before he manages to get fully over the edge.

You circle around the house, but can't find a good spot to see its roof properly, and eventually accept that the thief got away. You curse again and depart back to the magic shop.

After the wizard is woken up, he checks the drawer and shelf the thief was rummaging through. Upon finding a small casket empty, he grows pale.

You try to describe the thief to the wizard, but your vague description doesn't remind him of anyone. He sits on his chair and ponders.

"What was it that was stolen?" You ask. The wizard appears uncomfortable and awkward as he only says it was something valuable, and then changes the topic by asking you whether you can wait until tomorrow with your amnesia thing, since he's not in a good spellcasting state.

You agree out of good manners and exit the shop. The mage locks the door behind you. Andrea and Redwind, who have apparently been waiting outside the shop all this time, give you questioning looks.

After shortly explaining what happened, you wonder where to go next. Maybe another magic shop can take care of the matter faster...

Somehow, you're sure that you've heard the man talk before. His voice sounded awfully familiar, but you can't put your finger on where it was that you heard it before.

You suddenly gain inspiration and turn to Redwind. "Hey, can you track someone with your magic if you get their blood?"

He ponders a moment. "I can't, but I'm sure a fully certified wizard can."

You lead your companions to the alleyway you lost the thief at and scoop the bloody dirt where you shot his foot with you. Since Gunuthan retired for the rest of the day, you take it to the other magic shop. He charges you one silver mark for enchanting a small twig to detect the presence of the thief, binding it to him through his blood.

You spend an hour walking around the town with the twig at hand, waiting for it to start to shake or anything. Just when the possibility that it was all a fraud hits you, the branch turns warm in your hand. You try waving it around and feel that the heat radiating from it is very responsive, it grows almost hurtfully hot when you point it at...

The Slugger's Place. You nod your head in sudden understanding. That's where you knew the voice from: the thief was in the tavern the same day as you, talking to some other shady person during your stay. You didn't pay attention to what he was speaking about, but now you remember the soft voice.

You tell your companions to be on their toes and enter the tavern. The thief is nowhere to be seen in the common room. The innkeeper seems to recognise you, his uncaring eyes locked on you as you step in.

You slowly walk across the room, sparing looks left and right. There are a few people who are covering their faces and might be him, but the enchantment of the twig you are carrying doesn't react to them when you covertly wave it around.

The thief definitely isn't in the common room, so you walk to the innkeeper. "Sorry if I'm a bother, but did a man with an injured leg come through here?"

"I dunno whatcha talking about." The man says, appearing bored. You raise the branch up under the counter and point behind him. It grows searing hot.

"A thief stole something from someone I know." You say and try to stare the human down. "I know he's in here. You don't want me to call the guards."

The innkeeper barks a laugh. "Guards? Iggod my own guards. IKE, ROY, GEDDOVERHERE!"

Two enormous men walk in through a side-door, one after the other. The innkeeper nods his head at you and they understand his requirement. They walk to you and the blond-headed one grasps you arm, yanking you toward the front door.

HOW DARE THEY TOUCH YOU? The slithery voice echoes in your head without a warning. Make them pay! Do not call the guards, slaughter them all! DO IT!"

You are snapped out of the trance as the large man throws you onto the street. Redwind and Andrea, who had exited willingly on their own feet, pick you up and ask what next.

You turn to your companions. "Redwind, go get Gunuthan here. We'll tell the guards about this."

About half an hour later you meet before the tavern. Redwind has brought the wizard, who seems nervous and paranoid, with him, while you brought a guardsman named Lieutenant Connor. The stocky, bald man apparently has some kind of experience with this neighborhood and said that he might actually know the thief you're looking for.

After you meet, Connor asks Gunuthan a few questions to make clear his version of the event matches the one you told him. He briefly has the wizard check that you are not lying about the twig and then clears his throat. "I'll go in with Mr. Hillcutter," he nods at you, "who can identify the robber. This will not take long."

As you follow the human into the tavern, you almost expect for an awed silence in the presence of a guard officer, or maybe insults and hisses, but are surprised when nobody seems to pay any special attention to the two of you. Connor walks to the owner, who smiles crookedly and says: "Lieutenant, good to see you. What gives me the honour?" His voice is thick with irony.

"Bring me the kid with the injured leg, Slugger. Now."

"Ah, come on. You know I don't harbour criminals anymore. Not after what you did to my last bouncer."

"What's he up to nowadays, by the way?"

"Well, he's busy being fed soup through a straw by his mother. He swore at some point he was getting feeling back in his left hand, but he hasn't thus far. So, any luck with finding your brother's killer?"

"Nothing much. Back to business: bring me the thief."

Slugger is about to launch another sarcastic comment when you feel a chill in your spine. The voice from your nightmares speaks: You mortals ARE stupid, aren't you? All I had to tell you was to not call the guards and here you are, the guards with you.

But do not fret, Thurgrim. Consider this an opportunity for education. I will teach an important lesson on what will happen when you fail.

To your right, near Connor and Slugger, the ethereal shape of the devil appears. It smiles to you as it walks next to the two conversing men. Innocents suffer, it announces and bends down, placing its hands on Connor's shoulders. The guardsman shivers visibly.

The devil bends its head down and starts whispering in Connor's ear. The lieutenant, who still looks to others like he's listening to Slugger's trash-talk, stares into eternity. The devil slowly takes his head into its hands and turns it around to face the people behind him. It positions itself behind him again and whispers in his ear as it points at a person in the crowd over his other shoulder.

Before the devil draws back, it opens its jaws wide and extends out a long tongue, which intimately licks Connor's ear. The creature gives you a sideways look and vanishes in the blink of an eye. Before you can react, all hell breaks loose.

Connor is suddenly charging through the room, taking out his sword and screaming in fury. He's aiming at the man the devil pointed at just a moment ago. You try to react, but no action comes to your mind. Everyone else seems as flabbergasted as you, even the man being charged by a suddenly murderous soldier.

Said soldier grabs his target by the collar and shouts: "YOU! I KNOW YOU! YOU KILLED MY BROTHER, DIDN'T YOU? HOW DARE YOU?" He effortlessly lifts the man up and slams him into the table. Other people jump back just in time as Connor swings his sword in an arc to drive them away. "STAY AWAY! THIS MAN IS A CRIMINAL! I'LL EXECUTE HIM!"

Behind you, the two bouncers, Roy and Ike, enter the room and move uncertainly. They're surely not used to situations such as this. You are still trying to think up an action as Connor brings up his sword and places its blade on the innocent man's throat.

You are just about to shout out for Andrea and Redwind to come help when they run in through the door. Apparently they heard Connor's shouts. Andrea is holding her voulge in her hands and Redwind seems ready to defend himself as well. Both of them appear as surprised by what exactly is happening as the rest of the people present.

You step forward and extend a hand. "Connor, stop! That man's innocent!"

The maddened guard looks at you with a scowl. "No he isn't. You don't understand! I KNOW HE DID IT!"

You very carefully approach him. "Calm down. Think about it: You don't have any reason to think that! There's... something at play here!"

His eyes lock onto yours. He simply says: "Don't come any closer!"

You rise your hands up as a sign of non-hostility. Behind Connor, your companions are ever so slowly approaching him. You need to keep his attention on yourself. "Look. Even if this man killed your brother, you need to let the law handle it. Isn't that what being a guard is about, protecting the law? Surely the law won't allow you to 'execute' a criminal in a public place at whim!"

Connor shakes his head, ignoring your pleas. Then he suddenly smiles at you and you can see the devil's glee on his face. "You know, Mr. Hillcutter, I should thank you. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be here and I wouldn't have found this man."

Your eyes shift behind him to an Andrea who is springs at him to take his weapon away. Connors sees your shift of attention and manages to react to the oncoming threat in time, pulling away and slashing at the charging woman. She manages to stop her momentum in time to avoid being hit.

You run at the guardsman and, before he can react, tackle him. The man he was pinning down scrambles off as you struggle to disarm him.

A large hand appears out of nowhere and grasps Connor's. A somber voice announces: "We'll take it from here."

You back off as the bouncers take the struggling man in their firm hold. Andrea and Redwind take positions behind you. You can't think of anything to say or do.

Luckily (or not), you don't have to. Connor suddenly twists himself free of the bouncers' hold and takes a knife from one of their belts. He sprints into the crowd of people, trying to spot his object of obsession among them. You and your companions run after him, Redwind first among you.

Connor tries to dive through the people, but one grasps him. A scream fills the air and the bouncer's knife finds its way in the defiant person's shoulder. Redwind takes a bottle of whiskey from a passing table and as he gets to the crazy soldier, hits him in the head with it at full force.

The bottle shatters into a thousand shards. The man buckles into the ground, unconscious. You give a relieved sigh.

Connor is soon taken away by other guards. After he's out of sight, you remember the whole thief business, which brought you here in the first place. Trying the enchanted twig, you find it cool, no matter which way you point it. You're unsure whether the thief has escaped or if the enchantment has run out, but you don't feel like digging around anymore.

Just when you're about to leave, a man taps you in the shoulder. "Mr. Hillcutter, are you?" You turn around and behold a wizard in purple robes. "Sorry if I interrupt anything, but my name is Adrian Roland. I am here on the behalf of my homeland of Dalaran, but I am also serving as Grand Hamlet's magical expert while I am here. You were the person who entered with Lieutenant Conner, were you not?"

You nod awkwardly. The wizard eyes your companions. "You two helped subdue him, did you not?" After they have admitted they did, Roland smiles. "Will you please come to the Manor outside the town tomorrow? I am investigating the possibility of magical interference in this... event, and I would like to interview you three closely to attain the maxium amount of detail about it."

You nod and say yes, not knowing whether you are lying or telling the truth. Andrea and Redwind follow your lead. Roland thanks you and tells he'll be waiting for you at noon.

As you turn to return to the inn, Redwind rubs his chin. "Let's skip town tonight. If there's one thing we don't want to get involved in, it's Dalaran matters."

Andrea snorts. "I can't see how telling the truth to an official of the town can hurt us."

"Come on, woman! What if he finds out about this... creature that Thurgrim is seeing? Or what if one of the nobles recognises you?"

"Well, what if he can solve the problem with what Thurgrim is seeing? What if he knows where those monsters that attack us are coming from?"

Neither answers each others' questions. You walk in silence for some distance before Andrea speaks up again. "Thurgrim, what made Connor go insane? You said there was something at play..."

You sigh. "Whatever it was, it wasn't he himself flipping out for no reason."

After arriving back at the Light's Grace, you ask Danraf for dinner. As he starts to get it done, you settle in a quiet corner with Andrea and Redwind and tell them exactly what you saw back in the pub.

"Hmm..." Redwind rubs his chin. "I guess my doubts were wrong. There's no way what you saw could be a coincidence anymore."

You smile warmly at him. Andrea stays quiet, thoughtful.

"I heard there was some kind of ruckus at the town." Danraf says as he brings the bread to your table. "Did you happen to see it?"

"Yes," you answer. "A guard went insane at a tavern. We were right there at the time."

The innkeeper raises an eyebrow. "And what, may I inquire, were you doing at a tavern somewhere in the eastern parts of town?"

"Oh, just seeking a thief. He stole something from the magic shop we visited."

Danraf nods absentmindedly before scurrying off. You sigh. "I wonder if other people have normal days where they can do business without having to deal with all of this."

Redwind gives a little chuckle. Andrea stays quiet.

During the dinner, she breaks her silence to ask you whether you've thought of the wizard's proposal. You silently chew on the potato in your mouth before swallowing and saying: "I'm going to go meet him at the manor. I guess you two had best stay here while I do."

Neither of your companions tries to talk you out of it. Neither do they offer you hints on what to do.

After the dinner you relax and listen to a musician play the lute and the flute in turns, sipping on your beer as thinking about all that has come to pass. Your time of calm meditation is broken when a man you know walks in through the front door.

It's Gunuthan. He enters the room and looks around until he sees you. You keep your eyes locked on his as he approaches you and sits down. "Mr. Hillcutter, I'm sorry if I'm bothering you, but I remembered something just now. I am leaving town to visit a family of farmers in south Sunnyglade tomorrow, and I'm afraid I can not do the required spell for you then. Can we return to my abode so I may take care of it now?"

You turn your head around a little, trying to find Andrea and Redwind without being obvious about it. They're not in your exact vicinity, so you instead stand up and give the wizard a lame smile. "Excuse me, I'll go find my friends."

He waits while you move into the people listening to the music. After a short search, you're able to discover both your companions. You tell them what has happened as quietly as possible without having your words drowned by the clamor and singing.

They both agree something fishy is going on and follow you to Gunuthan. The mage doesn't seem unnerved that you are coming with him accompanied by two other people, but leads you all to the street and walks south, towards his shop.

"Excuse me, Master Gunuthan," you say, trying not to appear hostile, "but could you tell me what it was that the thief stole earlier today?"

He mutters something inaudible before announcing: "I'll tell you later."

You finger your axe in preparation.

When you arrive to the shop, the wizard nervously opens the lock and enters. You share looks with your companions before walking in.

There's a man in a cloak waiting for you in the other end of the room. You whip your new axe out the moment you see him. He raises a hand. "That is not necessary."

Gunuthan backs off into a wall and seems to attempt to disappear.

As Andrea steps next to you, her polearm ready, and Redwind makes some threat you can't quite hear behind you, the cloaked man steps forward, his hand still up. "Lay down your weapons, now! This is your last chance!"

"Who do you think you are?" You ask, snarling. "You get us into some kind of ambush and now you expect us to just give up our arms?"

The man brings his hands up and lowers his hood. He reveals the slim, somewhat androgynous face of an elf. "I am Senvasi Feylight. I desire to talk with you. Unless we can do that without your weapons in the space between us, we will do it with you tied up and immobile."

You put your axe back in its strap behind your back and signal for your allies to likewise pacify themselves. After they are done, the elf nods his head in approval.

"I assume you surely know of the thief who most dastardly stole from this humble abode and eluded your attempts to bring him to justice earlier today. I would if you will allow help you pursue this thief for it is my boon as much as yours if he is caught and the object he stole returned to its rightful owner."

He says it fast and without pausing for punctuation or changing his tone much. You stare, your mouth slightly open. After a short while, Redwind speaks up: "I am sorry, but who are you?"

The elf blinks his eyes a few times, cocks his head, and speaks again: "I am Senvasi Feylight cleric of the Holy Light and sorcerer an apprentice of Denrahl Starplain. I have travelled a long and arduous journey in search of the bidding of the Light and I have finally found it in this most noble land of Sunnyglade. Master Gunuthan has contacted me about his missing property and told me of you so I would wish to speak with you if you will allow such a thing."

The flood of words flows past you. You think you grasp the main thing right at the end and ask him: "What is it you want to ask us?"

Feylight smiles and whimsically lifts a hand, as if doing his best to recite a verse from some play. "We are dealing with the supernatural here. I have seen the guard who went insane when you were investigating the theft; his body is irradiated by shadow energies. I have a theory on what is happening and I wish for you to help me prove it."

This time around, he talks much slower. However, he still hasn't said what he wants of you. You demand him to spit it out. The elf gives a little giggle.

"You are much more perceptive than you seem Mr. Hillcutter. I will tell you all you need to know but first there are two things I require of you. I will leave this town today to pursue the thief whom I know to have left Grand Hamlet not two hours ago. He is travelling east but I know not where in the east. You will come with me for you are the sole one who can tell who he is by his face."

"That's one thing, Feylight."

"Yesyesyesyes. I also require you to allow me to experiment with you for I fear the Darkness might also have touched you like it did that poor guard lieutenant and we can not have that now can we?"

You stop for a moment. Daimon sensed some darkness in you and attempted to kill you. This elf seems to know something about what is going on, maybe more than he lets on...

Still. You are not going anywhere until you know the thing you've been denied two times already. You cough. "What is the item which got stolen? Why is it this valuable?"

The elf keeps up his smile. "Master Gunuthan. Do tell them what it is."

The wizard seems as startled to be spoken to as you are that he was spoken at, having forgotten he was there. The man mumbles something again before speaking up: "A noble from Stormwind sent it to me. It is some kind of enchanted relic found in the catacombs under the cathedral. I managed to discover that it belonged to some of the Arathi kings who ruled the kingdom in its early days, before the Wrynns succeeded them."

"See?" The elf asks as if this explains it all. "The Darkness is after this object. It belonged to the Arathi the direct descendants of Thoradin the Great Prophet of the Light."

You are about to leave his justification under the heading 'utter rubbish' until you hear Redwind and Andrea actually making approving noises. This gets you curious. "The Prophet of the Light?"

Feylight gives a new kind of smile which he must think is charming. "I am sorry Mr. Hillcutter but the history lessons will have to wait for some other day. Now tell me whether you are coming with me or not. I must warn you though that it will not be easy or safe travelling with me. Evil tends to attack those chosen by the Light such as myself. Neither will I allow you to pursue whatever trivial worldly matters you wish to since they are as unimportant as anything else in the face of what I am doing. Do we have a deal?"

You snigger a little at the elf's antics. "Do we have a deal? No, we don't."

Feylight's smile remains, but you can see the smallest of twitches in the corner of his mouth; He was not prepared for this. He sighs slightly and turns to leave. You step out of his way when he walks to the door.

Just before closing the door behind him, he turns around and announces: "This is not the last time we shall see. Farewell." He walks away and for the smallest of instants, you can see a ghastly arm stretching from somewhere, scratching him with its claws, as if marking its future prey.

Ignoring it, you turn back to Gunuthan, who has now exited his little hiding nook and looks like he can't think of what to do next. "I'm getting tired of this. Can you do the spell for me now or not?"

He blinks a few times before gasping. "Ah, yes. The amnesia! Wait a second, I'll get right on it."

He scuffles around for a moment, taking some kind of containers from his shelves and measuring ingredients from them. He has you sit on a chair and then mixes the materials together. After a moment of mustering his forces, he suddenly jabs his hands into the sides of your skull. Andrea and Redwind let out small noises of surprise at the sudden movement, but aside from that, nothing happens.

Gunuthan licks his lips and speaks: "I'm sorry, but as far as I can tell, your amnesia isn't caused by arcane magic."

You nod and thank him. He names his price (twenty-five marks) and Andrea pays it to him. You leave back to the Light's Grace, not knowing exactly how to react to the news.

You wake up the next morning. Rise and shine.

You get out of bed, wash your face, get dressed and go have breakfast. You're apparently still a bit worn out from your long bout of unconsciousness, which explains why you've slept almost all the way to noon.

You decide to go to the manor to meet Roland, the wizard from Dalaran. Anyone who has a chance of knowing what's happening around here is worth meeting. Andrea insists on coming with you, but you decide that the risk of some noble recognising her is too great. After you bid her and Redwind farewell and leave the tavern, you realise you don't know which way the manor is.

After some directions from a guardsman, you depart south of the town. There's a fork in the road somewhere in here. The woods where you fought Daimon loom to your left. You wonder where the ice monsters which interrupted the scene appeared from.

Eventually you find the intersection. There's a plaque showing which way is which. You take the left road, which sends you climbing atop a hill. The manor stands at the peak, beautifully framed against the southern mountains.

You estimate it must be just about noon now as you step up to the grand doors and knock. After a short moment, a servant opens the door. You tell him your (fake) name and that Roland summoned you. The short man nods his head and brings you in, asking you to wait until 'Master Roland' comes to meet you.

You stand in the grand hall. There are a bunch of beautiful portraits of long-gone nobles, and a family standard. The insignia is composed of a spear and an axe behind an ornate shield, along with a silken cloth with the words 'Faithful, Strong, Unblemished' embroidered in it. Your eyes are drawn to the picture of a red lion, standing on its back feet, in the shield.

Your admiration is cut short as the wizard walks into the room. "Ah, mister Hillcutter. I am pleased to see you, but where are your friends?"

You prepared for this moment by thinking up a lie in advance. "They had business in town. They couldn't make it."

Roland nods his head and hums a little to himself before placing a hand on your shoulder. "Do follow me. I myself wish to sit down while we talk, and I assume you would do the same."

You do walk behind him as he takes you through a couple of magnificent-looking enormous room before arriving to a smaller one. He gets you a chair and sits in one himself, even offering you wine. You decline, feeling that the hospitality is starting to overflow at this point.

He's in the middle of pouring himself a glass when the door opens and two men step in. One is a young man with long hair and a hunting bow while the other is an elder gentleman in heavy, almost robe-like clothes. Roland's irritation at the interruption immediately vanishes as he sees who it is. "Ah, Cornelius, Pan. Back from the woods, I see."

The young man gives a chuckle. "I'm afraid you won't be rid of us for more than three hours at a time, Adrian. The game still hasn't woken up properly, but at least we got some fresh air and beautiful scenery." His eyes find you and he rises an eyebrow. "Who's your short friend?"

You rise up to properly introduce yourself, but the wizard gets there first. "This is Margrar Hillcutter. He is a witness to a crime which took place yesterday, I'm investigating the possibility of magical involvement and taking his testimony for it." After the other men nod that they understand, Roland turns to you. "These are Cornelius of Ohn'Belore the heir of the Lord, and Pan Ponatus, a visiting nobleman from the Kingdom of Alterac."

You bow at the nobles, who seem a little amused by your stiff movements. The old Alteracian takes his attention off you and sits on an extra chair while the future Lord asks you where you are from. You casually wave your hand north and name Khaz Modan. You realise you stutter a little.

The young man nods politely and tells Roland he'll be leaving you two alone now. He almost drags the elder noble out of the room, saying something about going mountain hiking tomorrow. After the door closes, Roland gives a cough-like laugh.

He then turns to you, smiling warmly, and says: "Very well then. Please tell me the events leading to the incident yesterday in their entirety."

You take your time to explain how while doing business with Gunuthan, you witnessed the shop being robbed. You move on to the whole magic twig business and onwards to calling Lieutenant Connor. You hesitate a moment before continuing: "-and then, a monstrous... thing, with three horns appeared. It stood there for a moment and then kind of... whispered in Lt. Connor's ear. Nobody else seemed to see it. The moment it disappeared, he jumped at a random person in the crowd, trying to kill him."

Roland rises an eyebrow but nods his head. You explain the rest of the events, but nothing evokes much of a reaction of him. After you finish, he takes out a small blue stone and squeezes it in his fist. It glows brightly for a second and he puts it away. The wizard notices your questioning gaze and explains: "It is merely a remembral. A copy of my memory concerning your testimony is stored there, unblemished, for future use."

There is a moment of silence. You cut it by asking how Lieutenant Connor is. Roland's face grows grim all of the sudden. "I received the news from the town early this morning that he had managed to kill himself in their holding cell. They swore that the manacles he'd been locked with could not have been broken by any man. Now that I have heard your testimony, I suspect they may have been right..."

You give the man a space to raise a new subject if he wishes. Since he does not, you ask him: "What do you think it was, this thing I saw?"

Roland shakes his head. "It's too early to say anything conclusive. Some kind of demon, probably. Perhaps an evil spirit." Before you can ask more, he stands up. "Mr. Hillcutter, I would ask you not to spread the tale of what you saw too much around. Even if it was entirely coincidental that you did witness whatever you did, most people will not agree. There are countless ignorant brutes out there who would kill you for so much as seeing something others can not."

You stop yourself a split second before you ask him whether he has met Daimon. Instead, you chuckle a little and tell him: "Actually, I came close to not telling you about it either, for those exact same reasons."

Roland smiles. "Good thing you did, though. Knowing this is no doubt instrumental to solving the case. Now, I am afraid our time is running out. I am scheduled to meet the owner of the establishment next. Have you anything more you wish to know?"

You pause awkwardly before saying: "I heard that there's a group of dwarven diplomats here at the manor. I hoped I might meet them."

This time the wizard laughs out loud. "Oh. I think that may be arranged. Follow me."

You do so. Once again the two of you travel through several large rooms. Eventually Roland stops before a door and knocks. A dwarf with a ginger-red beard opens it.

"I am sorry if I am interrupting anything," Roland begins, "but I have a fellow dwarf of yours named Margrar Hillcutter here. He wished to meet your group."

The dwarf sticks his head out to see you. He looks at you suspiciously and speaks in Dwaven: "What is it?"

You hesitate for what seems like four days before answering: "I am a fellow dwarf and have been long away from Khaz Modan. Care you tell me how it is going in our beloved homeland?"

The dwarf purses his lips irritatedly before answering: "It is well. Ever since King Magni rose to the throne fifty years ago, all has been in relative peace." He eyes you a little more. "Are you on some far-away assignment from the Explorers' Guild?"

"Yes", you lie.

The other dwarf strokes his beard a little. "What kind? I didn't know they had many interests in lands this south anymore."

"I'm scouting here to make sure there aren't any lands we haven't heard of," you explain quite lamely. "It's the standard action with the guild."

The dwarf smiles a bit. "I don't want to know what you've been exiled from Khaz Modan for." You're just about to launch into an explanation when he wags a finger. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. Just don't get me involved."

He bids you and Roland farewell (in Common) and closes the door. You never even learned his name. Roland obviously did not understand a single part of the chat and merely tells you to follow him out of the manor.

At the front door the wizard tells you to come to him immediately if you see the demon-spirit-thing again. After receiving your agreement, he shakes your hand and wishes you a good rest of the day.

You walk a short distance away from the manor before turning around. Something was wrong in there, but you can't figure what it was.

Maybe you can sniff around a little to figure it out... or perhaps you're in big enough trouble as it is.

You forsake the idea, feeling you're in quite enough trouble as it is, and turn around to walk back north to Grand Hamlet. You feel it's getting about time to leave this town.

After getting back to the Light's Grace, you shortly explain what happened to your companions, who are enjoying the lunches by now. Andrea tells that she managed to find a good map of Southern Redridge. You take a look at it as you wait for Mrs. Danraf to bring you lunch.

The road going east from Grand Hamlet apparently goes between the mountains, through a few minor towns, and eventually splitting in two. One road snakes southeast into Kara Valley, where some kind of castle named Karazhan is located, while the other one leads further east into the swamplands named Black Morass.

There doesn't seem to be a good connecting road between this southern part of the land and the Redridge you were in earlier, wherein Baron Lothar rules.

You nod your head. "We're going there."

Redwind lets out an annoyed moan. "We're going after some nonsense cure-man back into the homeland of the person chasing after us? Sorry to say, Thurgrim, but I don't think you'd make the world's greatest general."

You wave your hand dismissively. "I don't think the Baron is looking for us there. And besides, we already met the local noble, remember? Miss Aegwynn basically told us she wasn't interested in our destruction, so I don't think she'll be shipping us to Stonewatch the moment we show ourselves."

Andrea stays silent, but nobody needs to ask her opinion about the choice in any case.

After you've had lunch, you stop to think: "Do we need anything from town before we move out?"

You think for some time before concluding there's nothing you need. You're about to do something dramatic when Andrea points out: "Hey, don't you still have that twig we used to find the thief before? What if we can still use it?"

You dig your pockets a moment before finding the thing. It doesn't feel like anything more than a twig right now. Redwind extends a hand and you hand the little piece of wood to him. He eyes it a moment and wrinkles his forehead.

"It still has the spell, though it's run out of energy. Good news is that I can make it work again, bad news is that the tracking caused by the blood we salvaged is running out. It'll work for two weeks more, at most. What's more, since the range of the spell is a quarter-mile or something, and that can't be changed without casting a new spell with a new dose of blood, this won't be much use unless the thief hides out in a settlement of some kind."

You nod your head and thank him. "I'll tell you when we need to use it again. Just keep it with yourself." He pockets the twig and you decide to do your dramatic thing now.

You bang your fist to the table and announce: "Pack your bags, we're going east, now," while lifting a hand and pointing at a direction. Realising it's north, you shift your finger to the right.

The others burst into laughter.
Chapter Three:

A few hours later you are walking the meandering road, listening to the others travelling behind you. You can't help but feel relieved, it's like a new chapter has started on your journey.

You whistle a happy tune, finding it oddly familiar. You haven't heard it after you woke up not remembering anything, so you assume it's from your past life. The melody soothes you a bit and you find the distance between yourself and the mountains ahead shrinking at an increasing speed.

Rain clouds are gathering far away to your left, very slowly rolling southwards to you. This will probably be the first spring rain that washes the already melting snow away for good. You try to estimate how long it'll take for the clouds to get here. Maybe a couple of hours, maybe more.

The mountains are still a few miles away. There's probably good, secure camping spots out there, but by the time you get there, it'll already be raining. The forests before it may not be as safe, but at least you'll have a better chance of staying dry.

You continue your journey east, disregarding the advancing rain clouds for now. After half an hour, Andrea points them out to you. You tell her you already know of them but want to reach the mountains before camping.

The rain starts an hour and a half after that. You put your hood on and keep walking. The mountains aren't that far away anymore.

At first all you have to do is endure a slight drizzle. Then it turns into a full-fledged rain. By the time you arrive to the foothills of the mountains, the noise created by the downpour drowns nearly all other sounds.

You climb a small flooded route to get atop a cliff. Luckily, it doesn't take a long search to find a nearby cave. By the time you get a campfire started, Redwind is shivering.

After you get food made the rain starts to die down. You look out of the mouth of the cave, lazily eying the landscape while eating your sausage. The blanket of clouds is temporarily pierced by a few beams of moonlight, illuminating the road down below you.

Two figures atop horses are there, talking to each other.

When the moonlight vanishes, you stand up and try to listen. At first you can't hear anything out of the ordinary, but then you hear a voice shout something indistinct. After another moment's silence, more voices come in, this time closer. They're coming this way.

You realise Andrea is standing beside you. She's noticed it too. "Quick, put out the fire, let's hide," she suggests.

You immediately spring into action, kicking sand onto your little campfire while picking up random items from the ground. Andrea gets Redwind, who's oblivious to the cause of your panic, up and quickly alarms him. Half a minute later you run deeper into the cave, hiding behind a large loose stone. You stick your head out from behind the thing.

The two figures climb the same path you took and look around themselves. Soon they see your cave and walk in, leaving their horses right at the mouth. One of them is tall and has a sword hanging from its hip, the other looks smaller and walks with a bad posture. Both are wearing heavy cloaks that shield them from both the rain and your identifying gaze.

The two stop at the mouth of the cave. You hope they won't notice your hastily hidden campfire.

The one with the sword leans over and touches its hand at the rock where Redwind had sat previously. "Someone has just been here. This stone is still warm."

The other one nods its head and sits down. It does not speak.

"I'll check the rest of the cave." The tall one says. It starts walking deeper. You silently take your axe into hand and hold it ready. To your luck, the thing walks right past, its focus on the opposing side of the tunnel. As it goes deeper, you wonder what to do next.

The tall one will probably be back in mere minutes, after it reaches the end of the cave. You can escape while it's gone, as its companion doesn't look very threatening...

Though on the other hand, neither of them has posed any threat to you as of yet.

You very slowly walk out from behind the rock and advance at the sitting figure, holding your axe low and appearing as non-threatening as possible (concerning you're holding an axe in your hands). The thing turns its head at you and gasps. "You!"

You almost panic at its recognition, but then the thing brings its hands up and takes off its hood. The stern face of an old man reveals itself. You know you've seen him somewhere just recently...

"Master... what was your name. Excuse me, I must be getting senile..." He mutters to himself for a second before snapping his fingers and pointing one at you. "Master Hillcutter! The dwarf Master Roland was talking to earlier today!"

Now you remember who he is. You nod your head and gasp at your sudden remembering of it. It was the Alteracian noble whom you met before testifying to the mage. Pon- something. You nod your head and slightly bend your back to substitute for a bow.

Behind your backs, the other cloaked figure runs at you, having heard the speech. Its hood is now off, revealing the sculpture-like features of the Lord's son, Cornelius. He eyes the situation a bit, keeping his sword at hand.

The elder noble gives an annoyed sigh. "Maybe it's best if you all put your weapons down. I'm sure no one here wants to harm the others."

You anxiously put you axe away. Andrea similarly straps her polearm to her back and Redwind eases up. The young noble sheathes his sword and walks past you, standing next to his companion. They share a brief look before he turns to you all. "What are you doing here, hiding in a cave?"

You feel irritated by his query and reply with: "I could ask the same from you. I don't think it's not worth hunting for game this far away."

The young man scowls at you, but the elder one places a hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, Cornelius. We shouldn't judge them for being wary of strangers. We are not going to be exactly announcing our presence around during our travels, now are we?" He forces the boy to sit before folding his arms and saying: "Maybe it's best if we start over with proper introductions. I am Pan Ponatus, the Duke of Winterpeak, and this is Cornelius of Ohn'Belore, the son of the Lord of Sunnyglade."

After a moment's pause, you speak up. "I am Margran Hillcutter, an adventurer from Khaz Modan. These are my companions Mina Alatha, a... mercenary from Redridge mountains, and Redwind, a wizard from the same region."

The nobles take a look at all the three of you while Andrea and Redwind try to act as naturally as possible about their present company. To break the awkwardness, you say: "I'm sure you have some good reason for being, uh, this far from the manor this late. Let's just sleep in this cave and go our ways next morning, so we can all keep our own reasons. Okay?"

You're almost entirely sure that the Lord's son flinches at your stuttering communication. Ponatus, on the other hand, smiles. "Oh, but I really wanted to know your story. Ours isn't that big a secret, nothing you wouldn't figure out on your own. Let's exchange tales, I'm sure we'll all enrich each others lives that way."

"Very well," you agree with the man's proposal. "I am an agent of the Explorer's League of Ironforge. I was sent to find out more about a recent discovery in Stranglethorn. I picked up my companions in Redridge, they want to seek out work related to the project as well."

The elder man thinks about what you said. As he does, he takes out a pipe from the pocket of his vestment.

He produces a match.

Puts tobacco into his pipe.

Lights the match.

And then the pipe.

After taking a puff and smiling, he looks at you again. You can't help but think he wasn't exactly being hasty with all of that. He blows smoke and says: "Then why are you here? Strangethorn is south, you're on the road to the east."

You blink your eyes a few times, trying to think of an answer. Andrea is just about to say something when you blurt out: "Adventure. We are going to travel through Southern Redridge for adventure's sake... They are only starting the dig site in Strangethorn in a few months, so we aren't in a hurry."

Ponatus smokes his pipe some more, still taking his time before speaking. "I heard that all the mountain passes south from Redridge are very hard to traverse, especially since there's that troll city right in the way."

You bite your teeth together. "We like a challenge."

The old man gives a slightly annoyed sigh. "Oh please. It's not worth throwing your lives away for the sake of challenge. Trust me, I should know."

You only barely manage to not let out a relieved sigh at finding out he did believe your story. What you can't help but do is notice Ponatus' companion, the Lord's son, tries to give him a warning gaze, as if he had revealed too much.

You grasp your hands together to prevent them from shaking and ask: "Well then, how about your story?"

The man puffs his pipe once more. "I have been exiled from my own homeland. Alterac wishes to never see me again."

A moment of silence rules the cave until Redwind asks: "Why?"

"I supported the wrong king," the man says mysteriously. "After I was expelled, I wandered the world for years. I still had my fortune, but it was not never-ending. Eventually, I wound up as a guest of Cornelius' father. I'm not exactly poor, but I have to settle down somewhere and find out a line of work I would pursue."

"At your age?" Asks Andrea, sounding surprised.

The old man smiles. "I feel like I have not contributed much during my life thus far. Sure, I could live what I have left with the money I have, but I want to do something for a change. I'm sure you lot will get that feeling some decades later too."

You remain silent, letting him continue with his tale again. "I quickly made friends with Cornelius. He is a sharp young lad, with a spirit as pure as a mountain spring of Alterac. His quick wit and spontaneity are well met with my patience and deep thinking. Over time I came to see past his facade and into the problems he was living through..."

The Lord's son gives a frustrated sigh at his friend's talk. He continues going through his backpack. Ponatus continues, not caring about his displeasure: "Cornelius' father, Lord Anders, is a strict man. I can see why he does the things he does, but that does not help. His son wants to see the world, to meet the people, to explore, to go on adventures. I am bound by my ethics to help him with that, even though it brings disgrace to me. And thus, we left the manor a few hours ago."

Another moment of silence. Eventually, Andrea asks: "You... ran away? Where are you going?"

Ponatus looks down, as if pondering the answer. "I do not know yet. Somewhere."

You give a sigh. Maybe it's time to sleep now.

When the preparations for sleep are being made, the younger of the two run-away nobles states that with all due respect, he does not trust you and your companions enough to sleep next to them. It is agreed that he and the old Alteracian go deeper into the cave and sleep there, while you, Redwind and Andrea stay at the mouth of the cave.

A few minutes after the other two vacate, the three of you share a look with each other. You are about to remark that the elder noble knows you were lying when Redwind speaks first.

"How many unsatisfied young nobles who run away from home are there in this kingdom?"

You wake up slowly next morning. The sounds and smells of the morning steadily creep over you as you feel your mind awakening bit by bit.

Andrea is still asleep but Redwind is up, setting up a new campfire with Ponatus and chatting about something in a low voice. You sit, yawning deeply. As you try to find some more clothing to wear than your underthings from the mess around you, the elderly noble lets out a little cough and states: "I doubt you'll want to continue your journey with us from here on."

As you put on a shirt, you reply: "And I doubt your partner will want to travel with us either."

Ponatus blushes a little. "I think you're right. Here's my suggestion: We'll leave in an hour, after Cornelius wakes up and gets something to eat." You'll go the same way half an hour later. Since we have horses, it's not likely you'll catch us in any case."

You try to say yes through another yawn, but end up nodding your head instead.

After getting pants and boots on, you walk to the campfire. Redwind has already got some corn boiling in water. You hungrily lick your lips.

"So..." Ponatus speaks hesitantly. "Where in Khaz Modan are you from, Mr. Hillcutter? I stayed there for years at one point, maybe I've been somewhere near to you."

You merely shrug and tell the old man you grew up as an orphan in Ironforge. He nods sympathetically and doesn't bring the subject up again.

A minute or two later Andrea and the younger nobleman awaken. They join you for breakfast, which is finished in relative silence. There's so much awkwardness in the air that you're surprised it's not getting in the way of seeing things.

After everyone finishes, Ponatus and his companion ready themselves for departure. You tell Andrea what was agreed to and she nods her head. A minute or two later the Alteracian man bows deeply at you three, mutters a goodbye, and takes his horse. As the sounds of footsteps and trotting of hooves get farther away, you slowly stand up and look after the bunch of them.

After they vanish down the little path, toward the road, you hear Andrea stand up behind you. "There is no way they were telling the truth. Now they know we'll be going the main road east. Let's instead take some mountain path, just in case."

Redwind swishes a hand dismissively. "Come on, Andrea, they didn't seem that suspicious. Compared to us, at least."

She lets out a snort. "The old man did all the talking. Did the youth look like he was on the run? No, he looked like he was escorting some important person. And besides, you can not say they believed Thurgrim's explanation for our destination. And even if I am wrong, there's nothing to be lost by taking a different route. We aren't in a hurry."

You shake your head. "Maybe we do not have a date before which we have to get there, but I know hurrying is better than stalling in this case. So consider us in something of a hurry."

You think back. The weird monsters that interrupted the pagan meeting and later your battle with Daimon had to come from somewhere; Andrea's paranoia isn't unreasonable.

You stick your hands to your pockets. An idea comes to your mind and you turn to Redwind. "Hey, you have the twig, right? Try it."

It takes a moment for him to realise what you're talking about. After it passes, he hastily digs through his cloak pockets, eventually running to the enchanted branch. He holds it north, at the two nobles.

Absolutely nothing happens. Redwind re-pockets the trinket.

You turn back to Redwind, having a better idea this time around. "Hey, can't you... I dunno, use magic to spy on them?"

He blinks a few times before giving a little gasp of understanding. "I haven't really been taught scrying that much and I mostly bought reagents and components for defensive spells and the like, but I think I can try."

He takes a moment to collect himself. You and Andrea sit next to him as he rubs his hands together. "I just need to move the eye of my spirit out to the road. It's that simple..." He seems to be speaking more to himself than to either of you.

The youth places his hands against the campfire, just far enough to not be burned, and exhales loudly. His hands glow with magic and his eyelids shudder visibly.

For a second, nothing happens. Then Redwind's lips start to move, as if he was whispering something voicelessly. All of the sudden, he speaks: "They're just getting atop their horses. Ponatus is having trouble with that. They're speaking..." A moment of concentration, followed by quotes from the discussion:

"Are you sure they were the same people?

Yes. The young apprentice wizard and the dwarf participated in the cultist meeting at Redridge. They match the description Baron Lothar sent my father perfectly.

What about the girl?

I think I've met her before. She's the baron's daughter.

So... these children have met Jallan?

It seems so. Should we...

No. That bastard probably left them in the mess they caused to save his own neck. We just have to advance to the next lead...

Redwind stays silent for a moment. It's apparent from his face that he's strained to keep the spell functioning, not allowing his thoughts to wander to all that he is hearing and repeating. He speaks again to continue transferring the discussion:

"Pan... you're already weary of the chase, and we just left my home yesterday. We can't keep up to Jallan's pace.

I've been doing this ever since that bastard cost me the throne, longer than you have lived, and I'll keep doing it until I have his head.
" A moment of silence. "It's ironic really. He gave me the greatest weapon I have against him: Time.

He'll get what's coming to him, Pan. I promise.

Redwind opens his mouth to say something, but then suddenly opens his eyes and recoils away from the fire. You and Andrea stare at him, expecting an explanation. He blushes a little and says: "They rode off. That's all."

You nod and ponder the words you heard. They are after Jallan, who had prevented Ponatus from becoming a king? Andrea shortly interrupts your pondering with a quick question: "What do you mean, 'that is all'? Something happened that made you recoil and lose focus on the spell."

Redwind shakes his head. "It was nothing that matters. Let's just focus on what you heard."

Andrea eyes him suspiciously and even you get just a bit curious, but decide not to press the point. "Now this is a mighty mess we have in our hands..."

Since the scrying revealed that the duo of nobles mean you no harm despite knowing your connection to their target, the three of you climb down to the main road an hour after them and then move east. The mountains on both sides of you grow progressively larger while the forest behind you becomes a mere memory within hours.

You wonder what Jallan has done that made Ponatus so driven to pursue him. It must be something truly horrible, if the old man has truly spent decades on his quest for revenge. How can a wandering pagan mystic affect who gets the throne of Alterac?

Deep in your thoughts, you almost miss it when Andrea and Redwind stop walking and stare off the right side of the road. After joining them, you immediately see what it is that caught their attention. Down in a valley below the road lie the black, charred remains of half a dozen... something. You can't tell exactly what it is, but you can see a little black smoke rising from it, so it's been recently sacked.

"It could be a trap," says Andrea, always paranoid. "Some highway robbers hide near their recent victims to ambush people rushing to see what has happened. And, I am loathe to say this... it's none of our business."

You look left and right. The paths leading down look fairly easy to travel, but it'll take at three quarters an hour to walk them until you get to the site of interest.

You give a sigh and walk at one of the paths leading down. Neither of your companions are that surprised of your decision and follow your down without a word.

As you go forward, you wonder why. You can't bring yourself to act like some knight in shining armour and claim this is merely an act of altruism, that the chance of saving people is your motivation. You don't feel any particular sense of curiousness either, it can't be the willingness to know what has happened which makes you take this road down to the valley.

You realise you hardly know yourself. The thought makes you feel a bit repulsed.

Eventually you smell the smoke of the wreckage and see the shapes of carriages and bodies through the trees. You bring up a hand to tell the others to stay back, sneaking forward yourself to scout the scene. You can't see any ambush there, just... wait a second...

Now you realise that something about the scene is horribly wrong. All the bodies are black and charred, burned beyond recognition, and nothing seems to have been plundered, someone just burned it all up.

This definitely isn't any kind of highway robbery. You begin to shift back to get the others and then make it like a tree.


A grimace appears on your face as you turn back toward the opening. A single figure has stepped out from behind a charred carriage. He isn't looking directly at you, but more at your general direction. He points a finger, seemingly at the forest and yells: "I know you're in there, hear! The Devil told me, he did! Come out now and we shall fight like men, and dwarves, I guess!"

You start to edge yourself away. When you get to Andrea and Redwind, the man yells again: "Hiding in a forest isn't the smartie thing to do, you! I burned down the trade caravan, and all. I prefer a real fight, but getting you dead is the main goal, it is! Staying in there might, shall I say, backfire! Ha ha ha! Oh, I kill me, I do."

You very slowly move to the edge of the clearing and shout out: "How do you know me?" You already heard him tell you that 'the devil' told him, but you want to buy time to judge him.

Actually, you realise as the figure's arms spread, you're not entirely sure it's a he. The voice is very soft and high, but not clearly female. The person is wearing a heavy cloak with a hood, so you can't tell by their figure or face either...

In any case, the... thing laughs a little. "I just know, okay. Come out, I want to prove you I'm better, which I am!"

You sit silently for one more moment and then yell: "Who are you?"

A loud giggle. "Oh you! Does it matter right now, does it?"

"Why are you after me?"

The person swings their arms angrily. "I'm getting tired of these questions, tired! Just come out already and let me fight you, you!"

You turn back to Andrea and Redwind, who were waiting behind you, and whisper: "I'll feign surrender. We'll see if it'll work. The moment things go downhill, come to my aid. Also, try to not kill him, if it comes to that. He might know what's going on." They both nod.

You very slowly step out from between the trees, with your hands high. "I surrender," you announce loudly and start to walk forward.

The cloaked figure looks at you, unmoving, as you approach them. Then they give out a frustrated sigh. "You were supposed to fight me, you! This isn't any fun, it isn't!"

"I don't want to die," you say, trying to see the person's face. They turn around. There's a moment of silence before they speak:

"Sorry, but that's not an option, really."

You roll to your right, only very briefly evading a blast of fire the person shoots from their palm as they turn around and jab a hand at you.

You charge the mage, bringing out the axe from its clasps in your back. They bring up a hand and conjure a wall of fire between the two of you. They're about to say something as a bolt of magic comes in front their right and strikes their shoulder. From the corner of your eye, you see Redwind and Andrea charging to your aid.

The mage lets out a snort. "Three against one, now? This is hardly fair, isn't it?"

You are about tell them to give up when they bring their hands to their sides, letting out a loud scream, which turns into laughter. When Andrea reaches your side (Redwind is sticking at the back), the cloaked figure points a finger at you three. "Are you sure you don't want to go fetch a couple of more of your friends along to balance the fight out, you?"

There is the pause of a heartbeat before you and Andrea run forward. The mage jumps backwards and shoots balls of fire at both of you from his palms. He dances backwards, jumping atop charred bodies and laughing. "I am the greatest pyromancer in all of Azeroth, yeah! You stand no chance against me, none!"

Then they gets hit in the face with one of Redwind's spells, knocking them into the ground. Their hood gets knocked backwards, revealing... a face that looks somewhat like that of a feminine man. You don't think that solves anything.

You place your axe to their neck and say: "Pipe down. Who are you?"

The wizard stutters. "I lost? I can't have lost, no I..."

You are about to kick him in the ribs to silence him down when you hear the now-familiar cold voice echo in your head.

"You are nothing but a failure! Not even worthy of knowing my name..."

The ground-bound mage obviously hears it as well, even though your allies don't seem to react at all. They blink their eyes and mutter: "But, master, they..."

"You call yourself a Master of the Flame? Pitiful. This means she will have to take your place..."

"No..." The mage says silently, their eyes filling with hate. "Not her..."

You've had enough. You kick them in the side and say: "Listen to me when I'm talking to you! Who are you?"

They suddenly look into your eyes and calmly announce: "I am the one who kills you, I am!"

You are blown back in a sudden explosion of violent hatred. The mage screams from the top of their lungs as they stand up and raise their hands to direct their magic. Streaks of red fire appear in the air and fly at you and your downed friends. You dive to dodge one and then, in a desperate fit, throw your axe at the wizard.

By some amazing fit of luck, the weapon hits, burying itself into the mage's torso. They shout in pain and pull the thing out, dropping it at their feet. Andrea charges them, swinging her voulge in a wide arc. The mage jabs a hand, setting her on fire and interrupting the attack.

Redwind rises up and begins casting some kind of spell, but the pyromancer sees it and creates a shield of fire between themselves and him. When a wave of magic comes in and hits the shield, it dies out.

You run low at the mage, taking out your knife. When they turn around after hearing you, you leap at them and stab furiously with the blade. In a chaotic moment, you hit something and are then thrown back by a spell. You spend a second in the ground, trying to find your knife. Then you see it sticking from the mage's eye.

They fall to their knees and let out a shriek before falling to the ground with a thud, not moving anymore. A pool of blood appears below them.

Everyone stares for a moment. You stand up and walk to retrieve your weapons.

"That was... weird," Redwind notes. Nobody comments. You wipe your axe and knife to the mage's robes. For a moment, you get the impulse to check their gender for yourself, but decide to respect the dead instead.

You look around you, seeing the wreckage and slaughter. All of it just to lure you here. "He was in communication with the thing I've been seeing. It spoke to him back there, when he was muttering to himself. I heard it."

The others nod without speaking. You think back to the exact words. "It said that... 'she will get his place', which got this reaction out of him. So, I assume there are many of these people out there."

Andrea walks next to you, thoughtful. "This is interesting... I don't know what kind of conspiracy we are unearthing, but it has to be big."

Redwind snorts but does not comment. You give a little sigh. "Let's get going." As the others agree and you start to walk back to the forest path, you hear the slithery voice speak again.

"A pitiful excuse of a minion. Did not even harm a single one of them. I must say I am sorry for wasting your time by sending that weakling, Thurgrim. I must pick someone with a chance against you next time.

Do tell me, what kind of enemies would you fight in the future? Maybe I can arrange something that we'll both like.

You kick the ground and cough, making your companions stop to see what you have to say. "That... thing, won't quit talking to me. Now it's asking me what I want to fight next."

Redwind raises an eyebrow. "Ask for something really weak."

Andrea kicks his shin. "Don't answer. Don't give it the satisfaction. Let's just keep going."

You nod. At least you survived the mage without much pain. He... she... they... it...


You turn around and walk towards the corpse. If it allows you to select a pronoun for your inner monologue, it's worth disrespecting one slain corpse. And besides, it might have something usable on it.

"Yes, Thurgrim. I'm sure the only good that weakling will ever do anyone will be by giving you peace of mind and a few whiny coins. Thumbs up for gravesrobbing!

As you ground your teeth together, a sudden violent shout fills the air. Just as you turn your head to see where it's coming from, the body in the ground bursts to flames. Its hands move to push itself up and it looks up, past you, at something only it can see. "I AM NOT A WEAKLING!"

The mage slowly climbs back up, thier body still in flames. Their robes are slowly starting to burn as well. You can't find it in yourself to react at all.

Andrea does. She suddenly runs past you and with a clean sweep, cuts the wizard's throat open with her polearm, spilling a flood of blood on their front and momentarily putting out the flames there.

The mage stands to their full strength. "I AM THE GREATEST PYROMANCER IN ALL OF AZEROTH! I WILL NOT BE DENIED!" As they scream the last word, the flames spring to new heights, covering their entire body.

You take out your bow and without thinking it, shoot an arrow at the pillar of fire. The mage begins to scream.

And the screaming continues. You try to yell for Redwind to do something with his magic, but you can't shout loud enough to be heard. You merely find yourself staring at the fire and listening to the unending lamentation of pain.

And then, it ends and the flames go down. A single, naked human is crouching in the middle. It's a... a...

As the mage stands up again, you drop your axe in terror. Their skin has melted and bubbled all over from the heat of the flames, turning wax-like and... covering all of them. Their face is just an uneven slate of flesh and the rest of them is just as featureless. They have become nothing but a human-shaped pile of waxy skin, standing there.

Suddenly, you can hear the voice of the mage in your head: "No... I can't see... I can't hear... I CAN'T BREATHE! HELP!"

A shrill laugh covers the mental shouts. "You imbecile, you don't need to. You have reached the ultimate level of pyromancy; you are now in control of your Flame of Life. It can not be put out, not by violence and not even by the lack of air. Now prove your worth and kill the dwarf."

"But... I can't see him!"

"Just destroy everything in a mile's radius. I'm sure that'll do."

You grow pale. Maybe it's time to do something already...

You feel something in your heart. An emotion you can't quite identify. You clench your teeth and shout out: "No! Don't listen to him! He is the one who did this to you! Don't let him order you around!"

The fleshy figure keeps heaving on its place, as if undecided. The slithery voice speaks: "You dumb fool, do you think that creature can hear you? He doesn't even have ears anymore."

You bite your teeth together. Before you can decide what to try next, Andrea charges in and cuts the wizard's torso with her voulge. Their head bends back and for a moment, you can hear an echoing scream going inside the hollow which once was their mouth. Then, with a magnificent rip, the melted skin which was once their lips rips apart, spraying blood all over, and the shout of pain springs free.

You are paralysed with fear and disgust.

Andrea's polearm swings again and further wounds appear on the disfigured body, but the poor creature doesn't even seem to realise anymore. The cold voice starts screaming for them to kill you all already.

You try to think of something, anything, to prevent whatever is happening.

You slap your own cheek to get yourself active and then turn to Redwind. You nudge him and say: "Freeze him!" The youth opens his mouth and tries to speak, but in an urgent fit of violence, you step on his foot and urge: "DO IT!"

The human lets out a yelp and steps back, but gets on it. He turns to the screaming figure and jabs his hands forward. Andrea backs away as an icy, slightly blue wind soars through the air. The figure doesn't respond when hit by the spell, but merely falls to its knees and keeps shouting its lungs out.

You shake your head. Nothing is happening... Nothing is-

The wizard's skin turns blue from hypothermia. It brings its hands down, as if to huddle for warmth, but then suddenly stops. Frost starts to build on its skin. You give out a victorious little hiss under your breath but proceed to tell Redwind to continue. You see sweat start to appear on his forehead as he pushes on. Andrea touches your shoulder and says: "I say we run as soon as possible, while it's melting."

Redwind grimaces and spits words through his teeth: "Can't. Hold. Out. Much. Longer."

Just as he gets the last word out, he falls to his knees and a last breeze flies out, hitting the frozen figure ahead. It doesn't move, but you can somehow feel it is alive nonetheless. The feeling is further amplified when its eyes light up and flames start to dance around the frozen form once again.

You are just about to say 'cheese it' when the figure is swallowed by a pillar of flames which grows tall and then vanishes.

On the spot where the frozen mage huddled is now a puddle of dark, dank liquid, which is being drank by the thirsty, dry ground. You try to say something, but Andrea is the first to voice the obvious:

"He... melted?"

You swallow hard and hope that the poor thing died already. In the depths of your mind, you hear a raspy laughter and the distant, pleading screams of the pyromancer. So much for that small hope.

You walk a few steps and lean forward. The puddle is vanishing into the ground quickly. You turn around and ask Redwind for a flask or a bottle of some kind. He looks disgusted but offers a vial, which you quickly put in the ground, capturing some of the... thing. As you do, you notice it's not really a liquid so much as a paste of some kind.

You manage to get the stuff into the vial and stopper it without getting any on yourself.

Suddenly, you stand up as running steps come out of the forest. You see a running shape and take out your bow in caution. As the approaching person comes to full view, you nock an arrow.

It's a nude young man out of breath. He's... excited.

His eyes go wildly around the clearing for a moment before settling in Andrea. His mouth opens and drool falls out as he steps toward her, his intent clear. You let your arrow loose, hitting him in the throat.

The man falls into the ground, dead.

The area is silent for a moment. Then Redwind says: "I think we'd best get out of here before even more people show up."

Yeah, let's get out of this place and keep on our course to Karazhan. Waggling the tracking stick around, of course.

You sigh and nod your head in agreement to Redwind's words. As you check you've got everything with you and prepare to leave the clearing, the youth says: "Next time, we'll ignore heroic pursuits, okay? It feels like this detour took us months."

You agree. Somewhere in the depths of your mind, you hear the voice musing: Another failure. Interesting, most interesting.

For the following four days, nothing spectacular happens. You, Redwind and Andrea travel the road slowly, avoid other travellers, sleep in caves and alcoves and always keep an eye on the east, hoping to finally see your destination.

In the late evenings, when the three of you are sitting next to a small campfire, enjoying your rations, your companions tell stories about their childhoods. Redwind mainly tells about the one earlier case of travel in his life, a journey to Westfall and back when he was eleven year old. Andrea for her part seems to fondly remember the time the King visited her father and she went hunting with the two of them.

Eventually you reach the edge of a great valley with steep brinks. From the north, a small river flows into between two mountains, exiting through the south. In the middle, on a small island in the middle of the water, is a tall tower built of white granite, tall enough to almost stretch above the peaks of the surrounding mountains. On both shores of the river stand several dozen houses, a small town.

Andrea points at the tower. "Karazhan..." She lowers her hand to the houses and opens her mouth to speak, but hesitates. "I don't know the name of the hamlet. Most people refer to this population centre simply as Karazhan."

You nod your head and look at the imposing stone structure. "Who built that thing? It doesn't look like any other building we've seen yet."

The girl shrugs. You rub your chin.

Redwind, who has been awfully quiet for the last few minutes, suddenly bursts out laughing. "You know, I don't even remember why we came here. Can you remind me, Thurgrim?"

You cock your head and give him a humourless stare. "Not funny, Redwind." You can almost hear Andrea nod supportively behind your back.

He throws his hands in the air next to his head, with a would-be innocent face and exclaims: "I'm serious! I've been living in the here and now and forgot which lead we took in Grand Hamlet."

You give a sigh and roll your eyes as you take out a paper, wagging it at the young man. "Father Renault, the priest from the church there, gave this to me. It's the location of a person named Harold Heyland, a former clergyman who nowadays studies ancient pagan rites and their possible uses in magical healing. He knows more about illnesses of the spirit than anyone else in this kingdom, apparently. If anyone knows what's wrong with me, it's him."

Redwind slowly nods. "He lives in this valley, then?" You silently read the paper over again and let out a gruff cough.
Harold Heyland. Former clergyman. Studies pagan rites and use in healing. Knows spirit-sicknesses.
Lives in: Valley of Karazhan. Town of Little Baggington.
Ask locals for him.
Doesn't like random visitors. Tell him I sent you.
"Yes," you say to Redwind and then turn to Andrea. "Accourding to Renault, the town is called Little Baggington. I'm not sure the valley's called Karazhan, though..."

Andrea stays silent. You walk down the road, ever so slowly descending into the valley. You look at the leafless trees on both sides of the road and wonder how many more weeks until they are full of new, light-green leaves. As your gaze goes down, you notice a few small plants pushing their way through the soil. The spring is coming.

Then you see a huddled figure ahead slowly walking next to the road, staring at the ground as well. As you approach, you see snow-white hairs falling from under the hood covering its head.

You give a cough and lazily ask: "Old woman, do you live in this valley?"

The sharp face of a man snaps to look at you. "Who are you calling an old woman?" Two hands come up and lower the hood, revealing that despite his quite masculine face, he has shoulder-length white hair.

"Uh, I'm sorry. I was fooled by your stature," you mutter and try not to blush. "I was just trying to ask whether you know a Harold Heyland."

The man scoffs, not answering the question. "Did it ever cross your mind that I'm bent over this spot of land for a reason? Ask someone else."

You hesitate before asking: "Why are you bent over that spot of land?"

The man lets out a sigh and finally straightens himself. You can't help but notice his posture isn't great even when standing up. He sweeps a hand behind himself, indicating the stretch of dirt next to the road which he had been inspecting. "A herb grows in this valley. It has a rare kind, so of course the only time ever it's usable is when it first rises above the ground. It must be harvested during that day, since it's useless for the rest of the year."

You nod and lick your lips. "You have hours until the sun sets. I'm sure you'll find it. Do you know where Harold Heyland lives in?"

The man raises an eyebrow. "One-track mind, eh? He lives in that house over there." He points at a rather large building at the other end of the valley, apart from the rest of the village. "He's away, but I'm sure he'll be back sooner or later. Now go away, I need to find that herb."

You thank him and step back. Redwind taps your shoulder and says: "If he isn't home at the moment, I'm sure we can visit the town first."

Andrea smiles as if she knows something you don't for a second before straightening her face and saying: "I think we should visit the tower. The last time we met Lady Aegwynn, she was quite understanding. Maybe she can help us."

Redwind shakes his head. "Don't like the idea. She's spooky."

You give a little laugh but say: "I think a few nights in the tower will do good for us all."

As you slowly walk the road into the valley, you sink into your thoughts. What is going on? Will Heyland really be able to help you find out? Do you even want to know? You find it hard to focus on this angst, however, as Redwind and Andrea start talking rather loudly behind you.

"Look, I just think that it wasn't exactly nice when she showed up in our camp, told us she could kill us and didn't even tell who had requested that. What if that someone has managed to convince her by now? And besides, your father will probably get to know if you visit other nobles in the kingdom while running from him."

"Lady Aegwynn is different from the other nobles. The fact that she came into our camp, way away from her home, should tell you that. I've met her a few times, and from what I can tell she doesn't really even have any loyalty toward the King."

"Not loyal towards the monarch? How does that differentiate her from any noble?"

"Har har har, Charles. The point is that if there's one noble in this kingdom who'll just house us and not ask questions, it's Lady Aegwynn."

"And what about her family? It's not like you nobles exactly live alone."

There was a short silence, after which Redwind continued: "We can go to the tower if you want it so much, but if we have to run away head-first, fighting for our lives, then I get to say 'I told you so'."

Then neither of them spoke more. You almost feel like starting a conversation yourself, but then decide against it. The rest of the descent into the valley enjoys silence, and your dark thoughts creep back into you.

The journey through the valley takes you longer than it should, since you run into all kinds of dead ends and other obstacles. When the three of you finally arrive to the bridge crossing onto the island, the shadows of the western mountains are already reaching to shelter the entire valley under themselves. You stop and turn to Andrea. "I think you should do the talking."

She raises an eyebrow a little but doesn't question the demand. After a moment of hesitation, her feet start carrying her forward. You continue after her across the bridge and let your eyes slowly rise, seeing the enormous white edifice stretch upward and upward before you. You can't help but feel a little intimidated.

At the other end of the bridge, two guardsmen stop you and ask you to state your business. Andrea steps forth, her back suddenly straight and her voice somehow... regal. She announces: "I am Andrea Lothar, the daughter of the Baron of Redridge. I am in the middle of a long hunt and seek a bed and a warm meal before I get back into the mountains."

The guards look at her, their eyes full of questions. One of them gives a curt cough and bow. "If you will wait for a minute, thank you." He turns and leaves, entering the tower. His partner stands awkwardly, the blade of his halberd waving above him.

You can't help but think that they are not buying it, or that you would in their place. Andrea isn't even carrying a hunting bow.

The wait lasts for several minutes until the guard comes out of the doors, escorting a middle-aged man with a beard and a cane. This stranger is dressed in a dark robe with symbols in the front, marking him as a wizard. Andrea lets out a little surprised sound and takes off her hat.

The stands still for several seconds, a grim look on his face, before suddenly sporting on a beaming grin. "Ah, Miss Lothar. You were always the wild one, weren't you. Welcome to Karazhan."

Andrea offers her hand to shake and says: "Chancellor Tanaior, it's been too long since we last met. While I am happy to see you again, I must ask where Lady Aegwynn is."

"I'm afraid she's away for business. She comes and goes as she wills, my Lady does. I am sure, however, that she'd house you and your... entourage" His eyes go over you and Redwind and his voice sound distasteful. "Will you have dinner while the servants prepare you rooms?"

Andrea agrees and starts to follow the chancellor into the tower. The entrance is interrupted, however, when a lone figure strides past your group in good speed. Tanaior lets out a sigh and grasps the man's shoulder, turning him around. "You, show respect to your betters. Can't you see a noble lady is making her entrance here?"

You recognise the servant as the man you saw picking herbs in the path leading down into the valley. Your eyes meet with his, but the moment is broken when the bearded wizard pushes him to the ground. "You whelp. You will look at my eyes when I'm talking to you." He whacks the downed servant with his cane a few times, hitting him in the side of his face and snarling: "If Lady Aegwynn weren't overly patient with you, I'd have kicked you out years ago."

Tanaior collects his wits, taking a deep breath and muttering: "Excuse me. Some of these things never seem to learn." He continues walking, circling around the servant.

Andrea hesitates for a second before starting forward. Redwind, however, takes a hold of her and whispers: "We can't stay here. That man must be some kind of a lunatic. Let's go into an inn instead."

Andrea lets out an annoyed huff and pulls herself free of the grasp. "That wasn't a nice thing to do, but it's not our problem right now. Besides, there are worse ways to handle servants than that. We'll just stay here a few nights, besides."

Redwind rolls his eyes. "I don't want to stay in a place led by someone even more cruel than my former boss."

You stay silent but point your finger forward. Andrea hurries and you follow closely. To your relief, Redwind chooses to go with the crowd.

Hours later you finally get in your room and lay down for a moment. The bed is exceptionally soft and luxurious. Even though you've done little today, you feel tired like you'd run for miles.

The dinner, while tasty and filling, was also awkward. It had taken a few minutes of sweet-talking by Andrea to make Tanaior let you and Redwind even join her in the table. When there, you met a few other guests: a bunch of actors who had come from Stormwind to act in some kind of a play here. "It's a classic tale. One of the cornerstones of high culture," the director explained to you when you asked about it. You still think that the title is too long, even though you can't remember what it is anymore.

The awkward part, however, was that one of the actors was a midget. Accourding to her, her character in the story is a dwarf, and since there weren't any dwarf actors available the theatre had hired her. Throughout the dinner, you were unable to take your eyes off the short human, even though you knew it was rude to stare at someone with a birth deficit. That, and you don't know anything about human dining customs in fancy circles.

There are still a few hours of light left. You wonder if it's worth to still go seek Heyland today.

You rest on your bed for a while before getting up and walking to the door. You're still interested on the tower's architecture; maybe the chancellor can enlighten you on its original builders.

Upon opening the door, you find the lead actor from the theatre troupe standing in the corridor. His name was told to you during the meal, but you can't remember it at the moment. He's looking around, as if seeking for something from the empty space. You clear your throat to announce your presence. He smiles as he turns around and says: "Ah, greetings to you, master..."

"Hillcutter," you fill in, and smile back when you continue: "Don't feel bad, though. I do not remember your name either."

"Rossi," he speaks. "Jitan Rossi."

You can't help but furrow your eyebrows. "Oh yes, now it comes back to me. The names of you and your fellows are so unlike any other human I've met so far. And you all have strange accents..." Now that you think about it (and now that you're not focusing on stuffing yourself full of delicious food), you've heard someone speak with an accent like that during your adventure. You can't remember who it was, though.

He lets out a little chuckle. "That's because we're not from Azeroth. We are travelling actors, after all. Everyone except Edmond, our director and leader, is from the city of Hillsbrad." He slaps a hand to his forehead in an exaggerated gesture and adds: "Well alright, some of the people who set up the stage and the like are from Tarren Mill or Southshore... Anyways, people in this kingdom all relate to the Arathi and other old eastern families, while we're of Hesperian blood. Different naming standards, different branch of Common."

You nod politely, though you don't really understand much of it. "Well. I hope you find whatever you're looking around for. I need to talk to the chancellor again."

Rossi looks at you funny for a second, but then bids you farewell and walks to the opposite direction of yours. After turning at the end of the corridor, you stop behind the corner and peek, seeing the actor return to his spot again, thinking you gone.

You shrug your shoulders and get going again. Near the stairs you meet a servant, whom you ask for directions. She tells that Tanaior can be found in the seventh floor, behind the large red door. After thanking her, you start climbing the stairs.

Two floors up from the one your room is on, you see a small group of people dressed in all kinds of practical clothes walking toward you and the stairs. At first you think they're workers at the tower, but then you hear one of them talking loudly. He has the same kind of accent as Rossi, so you judge they must be the workmen the actor mentioned offhandedly.

You're about to continue upwards when you suddenly see the person in the head of the group, who's doing the talking. At first you think it must be a coincidence, but then you recognise his voice. You remember where you heard that accent from previously.

"YOU!" You yell, pointing a finger at him. It's the thief from Grand Hamlet! The one who stole that object from the wizard! Or whatever!

He looks at you and blinks twice. "Who, me?" He asks. "You must have me confused with someone else, master Dwarf. I'm merely a theatre worker on his way to set up the props for the play." As he says it, he winks at you. Nobody else sees it, and you know the message. 'You can't prove anything.'

You look around yourself, seeking a servant. Someone has to go get Redwind. He has that magic twig thingie. The corridor doesn't have anyone except you and the group of people in front of you.

Correction: the group of people around you. You notice the stagehands are filing past you, toward the stairs. "Hey, don't go! I have to go get the-"

One tall man with a beard visibly rolls his eyes and says: "Mr. Edmond won't like it if we let orders from dwarves push the play backwards in time. If you have a problem with the stage being set, talk to him."

You seek the thief from the crowd and grasp his coat. "You're not going anywhere. Your friends can do the work while we get this business done."

There's a blur of movement and you feel something wet on your face. The thief's palm stays in front of your eyes for a moment before he pushes himself backwards. You try to pursue him, but you can't move a muscle. He must have used some kind of poison on you. At the stairs, the tall, bearded man stops and looks at you. "What's up with him now?"

The thief shrugs. "Some dwarf thing, I suppose. Let's get going, we don't want Edmond to get angry again."

You struggle in place for minutes upon minutes, completely immobile. You want to scream for help, but your mouth won't open.

Curse that coward and his cowardly poison.

You hear a voice ahead, and hope it's someone walking the stairs. Instead, it's the end of the world. Literally.

You see the wall straight ahead of yourself collapsing into nothingness, and as it does, a straight line of similar destruction advances toward you, swallowing the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and any objects in between. Left behind is only a void.

You put your best efforts into moving, but can't do a thing as the stones under your feet fall away. You are left standing on nothing. In nothing.

Then colours spring up from the nothingness and before you can wonder what's happening, you are standing somewhere outside, next to a large building. The world seems all... wavy. It must be an illusion of some kind.

The door of the building opens and a man steps out. You don't recognise him, but now that you look at the building he's stepped out, you notice it's Heyland's house, the one that servant pointed out to you. The man you assume to be Heyland is joined by a woman, who also steps out from the door.

"Tara," the man says the name very intimately. "I will miss you."

She smiles at him. "I'll miss you too, Harold. You won't be away for too long, won't you?"

"Half a year at most," he says and waves his hands uncertainly. "Don't worry about me, I'll stay out of trouble. Farewell, my love."

She leans forward and lightly kisses his cheek. "I'll be waiting for you when you get back. Farewell."

He turns away and walks out of your sight. The woman, Tara, gives a sigh before walking to the village. You are still rooted still, standing next to an empty scene.

Or not so empty, it seems. Two figures step out of some thick bushes near a tree and start walking toward the house. They stop near the door to check whether anyone is around.

As one of them takes out a crowbar to open up the door, you see another shady figure, this one standing atop the house. When the door breaks open, the figure jumps down, landing behind the robbers with a heavy thud.

They turn around and let out screams as it turns to face them.

You suddenly fall into the ground. A voice calls: "Master Hillcutter? What is the problem?"

The corridor is back. Someone is there, watching over you with a frown on their face. It's that actor, Rossi. He sees you looking at him, probably the first responce he's gotten out of you. "You were standing there, staring at nothing at all. You made me worried."

As you scratch your head, you find the paralysing effects of the poison gone without warning.

What in the world is going on?

The actor leans down and puts a hand on your shoulder. "Master Hillcutter, are you alright? What is happening?"

You try to step forward but find yourself almost falling on your face. It feels like something invisible is trying to hold your lower body still; you're not over the poison's effect yet after all. The actor takes your shoulders to support you. He opens his mouth to say something, but then stays silent.

You push yourself erect again and say: "Take me down to our rooms. I need to find my friends."

Rossi slowly starts taking you toward the stairs. The effort is made hard by your large height difference. You try not to limp, but your one leg is still numb and neither of them seems to have much coordination, so you just end up giving up on the attempt.

At first both of you stay silent. When you reach the stairs, however, Rossi suddenly asks: "What happened to you? I'm helping you out, do tell."

"I was walking the corridor when someone ran out from one of those doors and threw something at my face. I was knocked out too fast to see who it was." You feel that you're advancing too fast and are afraid that Rossi is going to ask why you were in the corridor in the first place and get a new idea.

"Leave me here, go get my friends instead," you mumble and then add "please."

The actor hesitates for a moment but then slowly lets you sit on a step before running down. You stay still and think. Can the stagehand escape the tower before you can catch him? He seemed like the conniving type, he'll be sure to think up an excuse to vanish.

What was up with that hallucination, anyways? Was it a part of the poison, or something entirely different? You can't help the fact that ever since you got to Karazhan, you've felt like you're being watched.

You stretch you feet in an attempt to speed up their revival. To your pleasant surprise, you realise your left leg is starting to regain its sense of feeling again. You even manage to get a few stairs down before Rossi, Andrea and Redwind come running up the stairs.

Redwind leans down and asks what happened to you. You repeat what you said to Rossi and then announce: "We need to get to the other actors, now."

The others look at you, confused beyond belief. Before the other two can react, the actor lets out a sigh and says: "Alright now. You're telling me the truth, right now. What happened and why do you want to see the rest of my group? No more lies, alright."

You breathe a bit and then explain: "We're pursuing a thief from Grand Hamlet. He stole an item from a local magician. I saw him when he stole the thing, so I recognised him right there, in that corridor." You point your finger backwards. "He's a stagehand at your show, or at least posing as one."

It takes you a moment to realise you aren't finished. "I tried to get him to come with me, but he threw something at my face and I was paralysed. I don't know how long it's been since then."

The actor nods his head. "So, what now? You wanted to get to my fellow actors or something?"

You stroke your beard as you ask: "Where are the stagehands staying? I doubt the chancellor gave them guest rooms..."

Redwind rolls his eyes. "They're not important enough for that. They were either sent to an inn out in the town or put to stay with the tower's own staff."

"That's this floor," says Andrea and points at the corridor. Rossi starts helping you up when you remember something. The group of people were headed to the stairs, not the other way around...

"Wait!" You exclaim. "They were going to set up the stage when I saw them. Where is that?"

"Second floor," Rossi responds and starts taking you downwards. To your pleasant surprise, you find yourself more or less capable of moving down at a normal walking pace.

"Redwind," you speak, looking at the would-be wizard's face. "Get the twig. It's our proof." He nods and runs ahead.

A few minutes later you all meet at the second floor. Two corridors leave the stairs. Rossi takes you left and then forward for a good time before opening the grand doors. Beyond are dozens of rows of seats sloping down toward a stage. A number of familiar-looking people are bustling around, setting props, testing the curtains and what have you.

As the four of you walk down and approach, some of the workers give you puzzled gazes. One of them gives out a greeting to the actor while one points at you, whispering to a friend of his. You try to spot the thief among them, but you can't see him anywhere. You nudge Redwind and tell him to use the twig. He takes it out and waves it around. "Nothing's happening, Thurgrim."

You curse loudly. One of the stagehands leans down and looks at you. "I know whom you're looking for. He left and went to buy us some nails from the blacksmith."

You manage to thank the man before cursing again loudly, this time in Dwarven. "He's probably already skipped town," Andrea points out.

"And this stick won't last for long anymore," Redwind says, holding the piece of wood between you lot.

Everyone stays silent for a while before Rossi says: "Uh, if you don't need me, I'll be going now. I'm meeting someone."

You thank him for helping and then get back to cursing as he walks away.

You quickly spin around and tell you friends: "Let's go see the town. The bastard can't have gotten far yet. And even if he's gone, someone ought to have seen which way he's left." Neither Andrea nor Redwind seem very optimistic, but you don't care as you rush upwards and out of the opera hall.

A few minutes later you get out of the tower's main gate. Just as you prepare to rush across the bridge, you see a small group of people. Two guards are holding a young man from his arms while others are talking to him. A beaming grin appears on your face as you see the face of the man being interrogated; it's the thief.

You calmly walk forward and listen to a large mustached guard, who appears to be a lieutenant of some sort, say: "Oh calm down now, mister. If you're really innocent, then you aren't in any hurry while we get the facts checked here."

The thief lets out a sigh and hangs his head. Your eyes meet his for a moment and he suddenly goes as white as a sheet. The guards turn their heads toward you, giving you questioning looks.

"That man," you say and point at the youth, "is a criminal running from the law. I and my companions have been pursuing him from Grand Hamlet, where he stole a magic item from a local wizard. When I caught him here, he threw some kind of poison at me and tried to make a run for it."

The captain nods his head and steps forth. "We saw him running across the bridge suspiciously. When we asked what he was going out for, he said he was going to buy nails for the stage-setting going on. I know for a fact that the tower staff bought nails three days ago in preparation." He smiles and extends a hand to you. "Lieutenant Moroes, pleased to meet you."

You shake his hand and introduce yourself. He nods his head and turns to your allies, who likewise tell their names. Moroes raises his eyebrows upon hearing Andrea speak in a woman's voice, but doesn't react nearly as strongly as some of the other guards around him.

You talk to the thief, asking him to tell where the item he stole is. He stays silent and merely stares into your eyes. You shrug your shoulders and ask the lieutenant: "Can the chancellor use magic to get the truth out of him or something?"

Moroes gives a little chuckle. "Perhaps. I think the first move we should make would be to search his person. He's already been stripped of weapons, but-"

The lieutenant's speech is cut out by a sudden yell from your left. "I am afraid we're going to have to take this prisoner," it echoes ominously as everyone turns to look at the speaker. At the eastern end of the bridge stand two dozen men in hardened leather clothes, weapons hanging from their belts. The man at the front of the group is holding out a hand in a command to halt.

Lieutenant Moroes steps forth, rising an eyebrow, and calls out: "I am sorry, but who are you?" The strangers keep walking toward the lot of you, not caring about the fact that they fail to not seem threatening.

Their leader takes his large-brimmed hat off and does a very slight and forced bow. "Alexander Hanson, an investigator hired by Duke Prestor of the Grand Duchy of Hochstein. This little whelp has already committed crimes against the Duke himself in north-east, and I am here to take him to be punished accourdingly."

Moroes eyes the stranger suspiciously, as if considering whether he is lying. You think that he has good cause for his hesitancy; Hanson looks more like a hired assassin than an agent working for a duke. The men with him are grizzled and... sleazy. Eventually the lieutenant smiles and asks: "Since you are working for His Highness Duke Prestor, I am sure you can present some kind of proof of your connection to him. One of those noble insignias which nobles tend to give to their agents, perhaps?"

Hanson nods his head and brings a hand under his longcoat as he approaches, as if to hand something to the lieutenant. You see through his ruse and spring forward to stop the situation, but are too late. In a lightning-fast move, Hanson brings out a knife and slices Lieutenant Moroes' throat. Behind him, the leather-armoured men take their swords and clubs out, one of them yelling: "Stop right there, shorty!"

Moroes falls at your feet and Hanson holds his knife up at you. "You heard the man." You are about to take your axe out and charge him when he brings his left hand out of his coat as well, holding a small crossbow in it. The man turns his head and looks grimly at the guardsmen behind you, while still holding his weapons aimed the same way. "We outnumber you two-to-one. Free the thief now so I don't have to kill anyone."

You slowly step back as you hear hurried footsteps behind you. The thief passes you, stops to smirk victoriously, and finally joins Hanson. The grim man takes him behind the row of brutes before asking him: "Do you have it?"

The thief doesn't speak (you suspect he nods instead), but after a short pause in conversation Hanson barks: "Show it to me, now."

"Give me a knife, then," the thief says. You turn your head to see what's happening from between the row of men. You see the thief take a knife and slice open his jacket. A small item wrapped in cloth comes out from the slice. The thief catches it in mid-air and presents it: "Here."

"Good," Hanson says and snatches the item with his left hand while stabbing the thief in the chest with his right. The young man barely has time to react before he is pushed backwards and over the edge of the bridge, sending him falling into the water with a splash. The grim man pockets the small object and simply says: "Let's go."

Hanson's men start to back up, still holding their weapons in case of resistance. You try to take a step forward, but end up accidentally kicking the head of the dead Lieutenant Moroes.

One of the guards steps next to you and tells his fellows: "Quick, we may not have the power to stop them, but we can at least stay close enough to protect the people from them."

The soldiers start filing past you. Lastly, behind their group is Redwind, who looks at you urgently and says: "Thurgrim, come on!"

You turn to look at Andrea, who you find to be staring over the balustrade of the bridge. "The thief! He's alive, we have to save him!" She yells and points into the waters of the river.

You rush to the edge of the bridge and see the thief's arm sticking out of the water, pulled southward by the raging spring flood. Without much thought, you let your axe, bow, quiver and coat fall down and them climb on the balustrade. You just hear Andrea yell "no, wait" before you jump into the icy cold waters.

Upon hitting the surface of the river, you find to your pleasant surprise that you know how to swim. However, your short limbs and the strong current don't exactly help the situation. You shortly manage to reach the thief's spasming body and grab his collar, half-blinded and already starting to panic, but pulling him at a shore takes longer.

The current is starting to speed up by the time you finally manage to plant your foot on the bottom and start to pull the thief's unconscious body forward blindly. You look to your left and see that you're just by the southern end of the island. Then you step on a slimy underwater rock and fall backwards into the water. Your grip of the thief is undone and by the time you're back on your feet, his body is being swept south, out of your reach.

Andrea and Redwind run to the shore next to you. Hesitating briefly, Redwind jabs a hand forward. A string of magic shoots out and flies through the air, tying around the thief's foot. The young apprentice is almost pulled into the water himself by the weight, but Andrea manages to steady him. You slowly climb onto the shore, a victorious smile on your face despite the fact that it feels like you will never know warmth again in this world.

Redwind abruptly cries out and you see the thread he is holding to start to come apart. Just as you're about to jump to the aid of the two humans, you feel the world shift for a moment. Everything loses its colour and all stops on its tracks. To your surprise, you realise you're not cold anymore.

"And here I am again," the cold voice speaks. You let out an annoyed sigh.

"Look," it says as you turn to face the devil standing on the still waves of the river. "I was already giving up on you, ready to go torment other people for a change, but this is a situation so delicious I can't let it pass. Besides, you should be thanking me, this gives you time to make your decision, so you can act rationally."

"What do you want?" You ask, not in the mood for his banter.

"Here is how it goes," he speaks and gestures with his hands. "Right now, that thief is going to be left onto the mercy of the waves and he'll die. That is, unless you let me help you a bit. I'll just tweak the odds a bit to your favour, and you'll get to beat the hell out of him for forcing you to play cat-and-mouse while he's still alive. You get him, I get to do something for a change. How's that for a trade?"

You roll your eyes. "As if your motivations are as simple as wanting to do something."

He smiles and says: "Believe whatever you will. I can't stretch this thought for much longer, though, so make your choice quick."

"Okay then," you say and spread your arms symbolically. "Do your magic."

The devil smiles and says: "You won't regret this..." Only adding "much" a second later when raising his hands.

At first you're sure it's going to be painful. When it feels like something liquid is forcing itself into your body, you already grimace, ready for the agony. However, the only feeling is a warmth that slowly spreads across you.

You feel yourself sliding into the exact position you were in before the world froze. The devil fades out and colours appear again. For one beat of a heart, nothing happens. Then you feel yourself lunging at Redwind's spell.

As you attempt to push your hands to grasp the rope of energy, you find yourself stripped of control over your own body. However, your hands work on their own in taking a good grip of the crackling red-and-yellow line (not a moment too soon, as you physically feel it sever at a point between your hand and Redwind's) and your feet pull themselves forward to give you a good landing. As you watch, a passenger in your own body, you see clearly that your own jump was higher, faster and longer than physically possible.

Your feet land firmly in the ground and you turn to face the thief. Your body pulls backwards with a force it doesn't have. The sand beneath your boots doesn't give away and let you slide into the water. The rope stays strong despite the increased strain. So many small details you can't help but notice as you watch, helpless to change anything.

Your friends rush to your aid, but it's unnecessary. In short time, the thief has been pulled onto the sand and your feet carry you to him. He is as white as a sheet and doesn't even seem to be breathing, and for a second you panic: maybe the devil knew the thief couldn't be saved and that is why he was so enthusiastic to help.

You are proven wrong as your body kneels before the young man's and your hands fall on his chest. Andrea put her hand on your shoulder, as if to move you away, but your body shakes it off and closes its eyes. A kind of tingling sensation appears all across the skin of your hands and you feel like something immaterial is being moved into the cold body.

The man abruptly gasps and sits up. He is still pale, but at least he's alive. You feel a very brief falling sensation and then find yourself in control of your body again. The marvel of this is dampened when Redwind asks: "What did you just do? I... there was darkness all around you."

You evade the question by stating: "We've got to get him dried up and warmed, or he'll die of the coldness." You turn to the boy and ask: "Can you stand?"

He turns his head and meets your eyes. With a cold, emotionless voice, he says: "Yes, master."

You can only blink as a response. Unsurprisingly, the devil appears once again somewhere near you. As Andrea and Redwind start hustling around and reacting in all kinds of ways, the slithery voice drowns them under it: "Oh yes, might as well give you the run-down on this business. He was a blink of an eye away from death by the time you agreed to have him saved, so the only way to get him back to working condition after you got his body here was undeath. As a nice little bonus, I made him regard you his creator and master, even though it was technically my power that did the work. I could have just left him an empty shell, since our deal was so badly worded, but I feel like giving you beginners a chance, know what I mean?"

You scowl and yell: "You said he'd die unless I accepted! You lied!" Andrea and Redwind stop and stare at you.

"WRONG!" The devil shouts just as loudly. "I said he'd be left to the mercy of the tides and die. This way, he just died. Now, enjoy your present." He begins to fade, but not before the last parting shot: "...bitch."

When the devil is gone, you turn to the pale, young man. He hasn't moved half an inch from where he was when he answered your question.

Redwind steps forward and places a hand to your shoulder. "I think I know what you did, Thurgrim. I... I'm sorry it didn't turn out like you wanted."

After a rather long moment of silence, you turn to the thief. If you're responsible for him now, you might as well know something, anything, about him.

As you open your mouth to ask your first question, you let out a very loud, almost explosive sneeze. Redwind hurries forward and grabs a fistful of your shirt. "You're still wet and freezing. We need to get you inside before you catch something."

Andrea gives a sideways look at the undead thief. "I think we ought to hide that thing somewhere. It'll raise some awkward questions if someone sees it."

Redwind shakes his head, as if disagreeing, but doesn't present a better idea.

As Andrea gives you your coat and you put it on, you look around yourself for some kind of a hiding place. You are in the southern end of the island Karazhan is built on, perhaps a quarter-mile away from the tower itself. There is a wooden building built against the tower's southern wall which probably houses the servants' quarters. You can see light flooding from its windows into the early night. Between that place and your current position, is a small thicket of a few trees and some bushes; it looks a bit too isolated to be natural, so you think it must be a little garden for alchemical components or something. Whatever its function, it stands out too much to serve as a good hiding place if the guards ever come looking for something this way.

There's a small, unused wharf some distance away from you, at your left (the west). Behind the river there, you can see a small, thick forest. The riverside at your right is empty until the bridge you jumped off at. On the opposite side of the water lies the township of Little Baggington, already asleep at these hours.

You hang your axe, bow and quiver at your back and make your decision.

"What is your name?" You ask the creature, having decided that it's better to get these questions out of the way right now instead of pushing them back.

The thief's unblinking eyes gaze at you. "My name is whatever you wish it to be, but I was once known as Justino Jacaruso."

You nod and continue: "What was it that you stole from Magus Gunuthan in Grand Hamlet?"

He looks at you dreamily and seems to think hard. "I do not truly know. It was some kind of a stone object with a rune carved into it. I can not tell what kind of use it could have, except the enchantments it must have since it was being held by a wizard. I am sorry."

You give an annoyed sigh. As you think of the next question, you see that the young man now frowns. "Don't be sorry about something you couldn't have done any better," you tell him. His face immediately takes the same blank, neutral look it had before. You are struck by an immense feeling of déjà vu, but overcome it as you go on. "Who hired you to steal the item and where did this happen?"

Justino casually looks back over his left shoulder, at the bridge, and simply says: "Them." There's no anger or resentment in his voice. "I met one of them while I was in Stormwind with the rest of the theatre folk. I had gambling debts waiting for me back in Lordaeron, so I had to do some thievery while on our Azerothian tour. I was told very specifically what the item looked like and that some wizard in Grand Hamlet had it, but nothing more of it. I was to meet the one who calls himself Alexander Hanson here, in Karazhan, when he came to visit it disguised as an emissary from Hochstein."

You burrow your brow, sneeze loudly and ask: "Who were those people?"

"I do not know anything except that they do originate from Hochstein; the one in Stormwind mentioned they will ride here from the north-east. I assume they are outlaws of some kind." This time the thief doesn't look at all regretful of not knowing more. When it takes you more than a few seconds to think of another question, he asks: "What may I call you, master?"

Your thoughts about questions are swept aside and you stare for a moment. "Thurgrim," you tell him.

Justino nods and says: "Thank you, Master Thurgrim."

You close your eyes and let out a small sigh, suddenly feeling world-weary. Why does all of this have to happen to you? Suddenly a hand is placed on your shoulder and you hear Andrea's forceful voice say: "You have what you wanted of it, now destroy it."

While the pale man himself doesn't react, Redwind does. "What? We can't do that!" He exclaims. "Can't you think how useful it could be to have around? Sure, it'd be a bit creepy at first, but I say we shouldn't look in the mouth of the gift horse."

You open your mouth to give an agreeing statement, but are cut off when Andrea warns you: "Thurgrim, I want to note that this is the first time I complain about something you have done or are about to do on our journey. Now, with that said, I will not travel around with one of the living dead. If you take him with you, I will go somewhere else on my own."

Your mouth opens in shock and you mutter: "You can't do that."

"Do you want to try me?" She asks. "You may have one... thing following you that is a mindless monster which obeys your every word, but that doesn't give you the right to think everyone with you is such."

You sneeze for the lack of better arguments. Redwind rushes to your aid: "Why are you so against that thing, anyway? It's not like we created it. Not using it would be like... not using your halberd!"

"No it's not!" She shouts back. "That thing was created with dark magics and its mere existence is a law against all that is right and natural. Just having it around is not only a danger to our souls, but makes us very vulnerable to people thinking we DID create it. And besides, it's a voulge, not a halberd."

In the midst of the shouting, the object of the argument is sitting silently in the ground, calmly staring at the trees on the other side of the river.

You dramatically point your finger down at the thief's face, gaining Andrea and Redwind's attention, and demand: "Justino, answer this honestly: Are you the same person you were before... this happened to you?"

He gazes at you lazily for a moment, as if neither understanding nor caring for the question, and then speaks: "It depends."

You nod and calmly demand: "Explain as well as possible."

He sighs and drones blandly: "I am me, and yet I am not. I felt the cold hands of death pulling myself away from this world but was then brought back, but it feels like I lost something in the process. The full effect is too complex to sum in words."

You sigh annoyedly and think of your next question for a while. Eventually, you ask: "If we were to give back your free will under some conditions, such as never harming us, would you rather live with us that way of have us kill you right now?"

He looks at you as if you'd asked something very stupid. "I would choose to serve you, Master Thurgrim," he answers cautiously but without hesitation.

Andrea rolls her eyes. "If you claim that's what he'd have answered before he turned into this thing, you are a fool, Thurgrim."

"Shut up," you tell her and sneeze before rubbing your forehead. There has to be some kind of a solution...

"Uh, hello?" A voice abruptly speaks up. You almost snap your own neck when you turn to look at the speaker. It's a servant from the tower, standing by the small copse of bushes, obviously there to cut for herbs. He looks at the lot of your warily.

You approach the servant, meeting his eyes. You recognise him as the one you met at the entrance to the valley earlier today. The side of his face has a bruise from being struck with the chancellor's cane when you first entered the tower.

You try to stand between him and Justino to cover the youth. "We were crossing the bridge and one of us fell over," you speak, trying to sound convincing. "I dived after him and managed to get him back on dry land. He is quite exhausted, but we've managed to get him dry and warm, so we'll just let him rest here a bit before taking him inside." You end the small speech with a sneeze.

The servant has recognised you too and now seems awfully stiff. He got a beating the last time he didn't pay enough attention to you, after all. "I will get some people here to carry you in. I'll have them bring warm blankets and drinks with them," he says hastily, adds "my lord", bows and turns to leave.

"Oh, there's no need for that!" You say, a bit panicked. The man turns around and tilts his head questioningly. You think fast and speak: "I heard there was a fight out there! Shouldn't you be worrying about those wounded by the strangers?"

The servant lets out a surprised gasp. "A fight? I heard some shouting coming from the village, but..."

You nod your head enthusiastically. "Some strangers came into town and killed the lieutenant of the guardsmen! Now they're trying to escape. You need to-"

Your improvised instructions are cut when the servant suddenly goes blank white, rivaling even Justino, and turns to run. You don't know what it was that you said, but you're glad you did. Redwind takes a few steps, coming beside you, and says: "You know, you can tell him to hide out somewhere until we get our stuff in this valley done and come get him. It's not like he needs food or water anymore..."

You turn to look at Andrea, who lifts her hands frustratedly. "I guess it's better to do that than spend the night arguing here and get caught and executed," he says, before adding: "But my threat still holds."

You turn around and look at the thief. He's still wearing the cheap clothes that he had before, and even though they're dark brown, you can see a large splash of blood in the front. He's unnaturally pale, enough to make anyone who gets a clear look of him either concerned or curious. Then you see his eyes.

You swear that they weren't like this before; when you looked at his face before, his eyes looked quite normal. Now, however, they're fading entirely into white, the pupils vanishing. In a few short moments, anyone who sees his eyes is going to know there's something very wrong with him.

This might complicate travelling around with him.

You lock eyes with the undead youth and command: "Go hide somewhere beside the road leading into the valley. When we come out, I'll let out this noise to call you to me," and make the moose hunting call you know, though it's a hard job because you keep almost sneezing. The pale boy nods and starts to get up while you walk north, to the bridges leading into town. Only after taking a few steps do you realise that he has no way out of the island without being seen by the guards. You turn to give him further instructions.

The thief is now bent over, grabbing a large rock from the ground. With it in his hands, he starts walking into the water, obviously seeking to walk in the bottom. You are about to tell him to do something else, but then realise you can't think of any other solution, really, and just worry about your own problems for a change.

Redwind and Andrea are ahead of you, walking toward the bridge at a steady pace. She has her head pressed near his and you can see her lips moving quickly. They both eye the township for a moment and then Redwind nods at her. You run for a moment to catch up to them.

When you arrive to the bridge, the two of them abruptly stop and turn around. "Sorry, Thurgrim," Andrea says and crosses her hands, "but you're going into a warm bed, right now."

You open your mouth to protest, but Redwind speaks before you can: "We only arrived here this morning. It's been a long day, and you fell into the river. You're not going out there to hunt a bunch of crooks."

You shake your head. "But what if our presence makes the difference? We have to at least see if our help is needed. And besides, I didn't fall, I jumped."

Andrea casually sidesteps, revealing the guardsmen crossing the bridge some distance behind her back. You decide to give in and turn around, walking into the tower. You start to realise exactly how tired you are when you find yourself droning out and missing the new lieutenant's explanation of what happened. Climbing the stairs feels like a real chore.

You hear Andrea tell a servant to warm your bed up and prepare to dry your clothes. You never get to see either task done since you fall asleep roughly five seconds after you've stripped down and buried under your blankets.
Chapter four:

You wake up in your room some time later. Sunshine is hitting your eyes from the narrow slit between the closed curtains. At first you can't pinpoint what it is that feels so weird to, but then you realise that your head seems to weight two times more than normally; you have gotten a mighty cold. You also notice your toes feel like they're freezing, your throat is dry like sandpaper and that you can't breathe through your nose.

Redwind is sitting on a chair across the room. He notices you've awoken and smiles a bit. "You developed a high fever half an hour after falling asleep. We've been keeping watch to make sure we'll know if it gets worse."

"A fever?" You ask.

Redwind nods. "You jumped in a freezing cold river."

"Well, I'm feeling fine now," you lie and take off the blankets. Sitting up feels like raising something very heavy above your head; you're not sure you can maintain a balance for long.

"Look, there's no hurry," Redwind says and stands up. "I went to see Heyland this morning, he's right where we were told he is. I gave him a basic outline of your... ailment, without giving away too much, and he told me to take you to him when you're physically healthy again."

"This morning?" You ask, closing your eyes and trying to stop the world from waving left and right.

You hear footsteps trail from the chair to a window and open your eyes to see the young man open the curtains. The sun is hanging over the mountaintops, its light shining straight into the room, but... this window points west.

"It's evening," Redwind explains redundantly. "You've been in bed for almost twenty hours."

You open your mouth to insist you can go visit Heyland now, but in a surprise even to yourself, end up loudly vomiting down from the bed, onto the floor.

Redwind stares in shock for a second, and then runs to you, asking if you're alright. You're too busy spitting out barf to answer. He tells you to stay in bed and runs off to get someone. You lean back onto the bed and feel cold shivers run through your body. You pull the blanket back on yourself and try not to swallow.

A minute passes with nothing but the sunlight from the window to keep you company. You revel at the warmth of it.

Redwind comes back with Andrea and a servant carrying two buckets. One is placed next to you before the old lady starts cleaning vomit off the floor. Andrea looks at you academically, as if trying really hard to read some arcane fact written on the skin of your face.

"I think it's all gone now," you say and move your hands to take the blanket off again. Redwind swoops near and stops your hands with his own.

"Sorry, but I'm not going to allow that," he says. "You're staying in bed for a few days, until you're all healthy again." He puts a hand on your forehead and nods in an indication that his suspicions are correct. "Your fever is still freakishly high. It'd be irresponsible to even let you get up."

Andrea sighs and noticeably rolls her eyes behind his back. Nonetheless, she stays silent.

"Get me a healer," you say angrily. You don't want any time wasted.

Redwind furrows his brow for a moment. "A healer? Well, uh. I guess we can ask the town's priest for help tomorrow. I think he'll have retired already at this hour."

"Can't you do anything?" You ask impatiently.

He laughs a bit. "I can maybe seal up a small wound, but healing a disease is a completely different thing; to do it with arcane magic would require a lot of skill, experience and power. I don't think I have any of those."

You sneeze, bringing up foul-tasting slime into your mouth. You need to blow your nose very badly. You ignore it for now and frustratedly ask: "How about Heyland?"

Redwind shakes his head. He doesn't seem so sympathetic anymore. "He won't be gone anywhere next morning. Just relax now, I'll go get you food."

As the young man stands up and gets out, you're left in the room with Andrea and the old cleaning lady. The former is still looking at you intently. You wonder what's in her mind.

"So," you begin, trying to not sound ridiculous despite your clogged nose. "What's in your mind?"

Andrea leans back. "I'm just thinking that you got awfully sick awfully fast. I suspect this isn't natural."

You raise an eyebrow but can't help and think back. Last night you seemed quite alright when you parted ways with Justino, but just a minute later, when inside the tower, you were almost too weak to climb the stairs and apparently got high fever within an hour of falling asleep. Diseases don't work like that...

"Oh, by the way," Andrea remarks. There's a little smirk on the corner of her mouth. "Remember that Rossi guy who helped you yesterday? Well, he vanished awfully quick at one point, didn't he?" You nod and she continues: "Well, turns out that's because he was planning to escape his group along with an actress that night. He did that real fine: nobody even noticed which way they rode in the chaos of the brigand-business."

You nod again, not really moved by the info. What does spark your interest, however, is that Andrea blushes slightly as she opens her mouth to speak again. "They got a substitute to replace one of the runaways, but they're still one man short of being able to perform. The director suggested I fill the part." She chuckles a little, as if it was some kind of a joke.

Redwind rushes into the room, carrying a large bowl of hot soup. You have no appetite, considering the old lady is just now finishing cleaning your puke off the floor, but can tell you're hungry nonetheless. The soup is placed on your lap and you start grudgingly eating.

"I told Thurgrim that I think his sickness doesn't feel natural," Andrea says after a moment's silence. Redwind sits down and rolls his eyes. Apparently she's already voiced the concern to him once.

"Does it matter?" He asks. "He's sick and needs to rest until he's alright. That's what it all boils down to."

She opens her mouth to answer, but closes it instead, thinks a moment, and says: "How about we talk about something else? I feel like we've only been talking about serious business since we met. I want to relax for this one night, now that we're stuck in this awful calm comfort anyways."

You chuckle at her description of the tower as you put another spoonful of soup in your mouth. Redwind smiles and nods. "Can either of you think of any game or such? I'm totally blank."

"Does either of you have playing cards?" You ask. Both of your companions shake their heads, but Andrea stands up and tells she's going to go get some. She exits the room at the same time as the elder servant woman.

With her gone, you look at Redwind, who in turn stares at his knees. "She really is a stubborn one, ain't she?" You say, testing him. He shrugs.

A short silence is broken when Redwind silently asks: "What are you going to do about that thief?" He keeps looking at the door as if expecting someone to spring in at any moment.

"I 'unno," you reply honestly. "I'll think of something later... I do think she has a point about my sickness, you know. That devil-thing already once caused me direct physical harm and it possessed that guardsman in Grand Hamlet, so I wouldn't put it above its powers to do something like this to me. He had to have a reason beyond spite for wanting me to accept his help in bringing the thief back to life."

Redwind sighs deeply and nods sympathetically. "You did what you thought right, and I won't judge you for that, but there is the possibility that giving in to this thing's wishes gives it some kind of power over you."

None of you says anything after that. The silence is only broken by your sniffing (to prevent your nose from running) until Andrea opens the door and enters the room. She's holding a deck of cards in her hand. "One the actors agreed to lend this to us for a day. Let's make the most of it."

While you try to think of a game to play, Redwind notes: "I wish we had magic-cards, those are all the rage in Stormwind, I hear."

"My father bought Anduin some of those when he visited the capital a year ago," Andrea says. "He's still too young to play with them, of course, but he'll appreciate them in a few years."

Redwind sniggers. "By the time he learns the rules they'll be out of fashion and little Anduin won't have anyone to play with."

Andrea gives him an angry gaze and you rush in to interrupt: "How about Gnoll? I think I remember a card-game like that."

"Oh," Redwind says, furrowing his eyebrows. "I've never heard of that. How do you play it."

You take the cards from Andrea and quickly deal four cards to each of you and four onto the bed, beyond your feet (that'll do as a table for now). "Every round, each of us gets four cards. Andrea, you're on my right side so your turn is first. Show me your cards so I can show you how to play; we'll start a proper game after you understand the rules."

There's a two, a seven, an eight and a king on the bed. She has two fives, a nine and an ace in her hand. You point at the cards and explain: "The point of the game is to collect cards. Right now, you have a nine, so by playing it you can pick up the seven and two, because they add up to nine. Do that now." She does. You ask for Redwind to show his cards and continue: "Now there's only these two cards in the table and yours don't match to those, so you have no choice but to put a card into the table, since you have to play some card during your turn. Put that three, since it's your smallest card and has the least chance of ever drawing anything from the table..."

You explain the rest of the game and collect the cards to deal again and start a proper game, where the two humans don't show their cards to you. As you begin playing, you ask Redwind: "So, were your parents Muharists or did you convert at some point?"

He draws with an ace and says: "My ma was. She taught it to me. My pa fancied her too much to mind. He was a Lightist, that is. Her parents were hanged by Andrea's grandfather fifty years ago."

She pretends to not hear and you use the moment to cheat, taking a four and an eight with a king. During her turn, you casually say: "Yeah, I kinda guessed you had personal grudges when you said you refused to associate with the baron because of those executions."

"It was worth losing my apprenticehood for," he insists while placing a five on the table. You pick it up with your own five and ask: "Do you have any plans to continue your education with the arcane?"

He shrugs and answers: "I guess. We'll see how things are when we're done with... whatever this is that we're on. Call it a quest, if you want."

You tilt your head and play your last card before dealing another twelve to you three. "I wouldn't call it a quest myself. Usually quests have some clear goal, we're just wandering around and trying to figure out which way to aim ourselves if we want to find out what the goal is. This is more of a mystery."

Andrea snorts and starts the new round. "With mystery stories, the clues for solving it are always there, in plain sight, so that readers with sharp minds can figure it out on their own. There's no way we've seen plain inclinations of what's going on, at least yet. This isn't a mystery either."

"What kind of a story is this, then?" Redwind asks. "Political satire?"

"I don't know," you answer, "but I wish us players would get better pay."

"That reminds me," Redwind says with a sudden catlike leer on his face, looking at Andrea. "I heard a little bird sing that a certain someone here got invited to play a role in the opera."

She blushes a bit but stays silent and plays her card. You look at them, puzzled. "What's so scandalous about that?"

Redwind's smile spreads almost from ear to ear. "Oh, that's not the juicy part. The troupe's missing a man and a woman. They got someone to fill in for the actress, but they're missing someone to play Rossi's role."

You miss the fact that it's your turn for fifteen seconds. Eventually Andrea notes it to you and you play a card. "Wait, they want you to play a male role?"

She nods and picks up a few cards. You can't help but laugh. "Come on, you've already posed as a man plenty of times. It wouldn't be that bad."

"It's a villainous role," she defends. "That pretty-boy Rossi was apparently famed for his cackling evil portrayals. I can't do that convincingly."

"How do you know if you don't try?" You ask. You really want to see her on stage; it'll be the most hilarious thing you'll ever witness. You cheat again, leaning over the cards as a distraction while picking a six and an ace with an eight.

She doesn't answer. An idea formulates in your mind, but you wait until after you deal everyone's third hands until saying: "Well, if you don't have any talent, I guess the director was just trying to seduce you with promises of fame."

This time it's Andrea who has to be reminded that it's her turn. After throwing a card onto the bed, she insists: "No he didn't."

"Well, then you have talent," you say victoriously.

They both look at you for a while. Redwind puts a hand on your forehead, shakes his head and says, in mock-sorrow: "The fever must be scrambling his mind. Poor thing."

Andrea audibly suppresses a laugh. You try to defend yourself: "Come on, don't you get it? It's either-or, so if it isn't..." You give up when both of them start howling. You take the chance to cheat again.

The three of you mostly talk about the game for the rest of the round. You win, getting over half of the points for yourself.

Just after Andrea has dealt the second round's cards, the tower starts breaking to pieces.

It starts with the wall opposite of you. The voice of the bricks falling into black nothingness behind it makes everyone jump up, but no one has time to react in any real way before the stone under their feet falls away as well. You three end up standing above blackness, with the world gone from around you.

"This happened to me before," you say cautiously. "When I was poisoned by Justino, I was forced to stand still while this happened."

Andrea looks at you from the corner of her eye. "Why didn't you tell us?"

You snort and ask her: "Are you going to run the halls, telling everyone about this?"

Redwind doesn't give her time to speak, but cuts in: "What happens next?"

"Well," you begin and trail off. What happened next didn't leave much of an impression on you since the whole event took place in the middle of other stuff. "There was a scene of some man leaving his home... and then everything went back the way it was."

The room you were in fades back in. You're relieved for a moment, but then see its state: the whole place is a wreck. The bed is in pieces, the desk has several long gashes in it, the floor is dirty, the curtains are rotting on the floor, there's a stain of something you wish isn't blood on one wall, a chair is upside down for no good reason, the door is opening...

You turn to the door to see three figures walking in. For a moment you're sure they can see you, but it turns out they can't. "Don't worry, this is just a vision," you assure your friends.

First is a tall man in simple clothing, his raven hair just reaching his shoulders and a long sword strapped in his back. Behind him walks a shorter, younger-looking one in fancy black-and-orange gear with runes here and there, his face very similar to the first one. Last is a crouched figure fully covered by heavy robes and carrying a shiny green crystal.

The tallest man walks into the room, his eyes unfocused, bored. When he reaches the end of the room, you step out of the way, not knowing what happens if he walks into you. The man hums to himself and idly sings:

"So far away from my ho-ome, sweet home
Day by day, from land to la-and I roam
Though told by the wi-ind which way to go
Oh, how I long for my ho-ome, sweet home

"Cut that out," the boy behind him says. "It's annoying."

The taller man quits singing, but instead says: "Okay, Laterbrus," he says the name with utter detest. "If hearing something that reminds you of your mother is so bad, I can stop."

"Oh please," the one dubbed Laterbrus says, throwing his hands in the air. "Can't you stop whining about that for two seconds? We're trying to find out clues about the Scythe of Elune and the Dark Riders here and your singing is really inappropriate."

The robed person ignores them and walks around the room, holding the crystal against the walls one at a time. When the last is done, he puts a hand before his mouth and speaks with a weirdly distorted voice: "There's nothing here either, let's move on."

"I have the right to sing if I want to," the larger man insists and walks toward the door.

Laterbrus starts after him and says: "No you don't, your singing voice is dreadful."

A comeback is uttered, but before it can reach your ears, you suddenly find yourself again lying on the warm bed with Andrea and Redwind sitting on both your sides. Your cards are on your lap, dropped there.

Nobody does a thing for two moments. Eventually you utter: "I think there's something wrong with this tower. I'll have to ask the Chancellor who built this damn thing."

After some more silence, you three play another game of Gnoll. This time the others do much better (they're paying more attention, so you can't cheat nearly as much).

After that you go to sleep since it's hard to focus on your cards. Andrea goes to her room while Redwind stays to make sure your fever doesn't rise.

You dream of four figures towering over you. A set of blue eyes stares down.

You wake up slowly. The sky behind your window is still dark, so it must be early morning. The chair where Redwind was before you fell asleep is empty.

Only after you've stood up do you realise that you don't feel the least bit sick anymore. Your nose is unclogged, your throat doesn't hurt and you're not cold anymore. Either it's a miracle or there's something very wrong, not only with the tower, but with you.

You find your clothes nearby. They've been washed and feel very nice now, as you realise while putting them on. Your backpack and weaponry are next; everything seems to be in order. You exit your room and look around, trying to remember behind which doors Andrea and Redwind were.

You turn around upon hearing footsteps behind yourself. A lone figure is standing on the other side of the corridor, having stopped upon being seen. She looks familiar, but you can't quite remember where you've seen her.

Neither of you moves for a second. Then she steps forward and speaks: "Thurgrim, was it? What brings you to my tower?"

You gasp. It's Lady Aegwynn. "Passing by," you explain lamely. She seems worn and tired, her hair in disarray. She must have just now arrived to the tower.

"I just flew in," she explains as she sees you eying her, "had to visit an archmage in Stormwind. Important wizard business. Unless you have something vastly important to say, I will go announce my presence to my chancellor and then retire for the rest of the day."

You remember the strange events you had and lick your lips before hesitantly asking: "Lady Aegwynn, I've been here for a couple of days now and two times I've been sucked into a strange scene where no one can see or hear me, and after a short time I appear back where I was. Is this, uh, normal?"

She sighs. It isn't the king of sigh that shows frustration, but a weary one. "Come see me tomorrow, unless you've already left by then," she says. "I will explain it then. Now is not the time."

You nod and give a small bow. After the two of you exchange farewells, she leaves, taking the nearby stairs down. You wonder why she was in this floor to begin with.

A door opens and one of the theatre folks peeks out. He's an elderly man with a beard, you think he's the director, Edmund, though you're not entirely sure.

The man eyes you, up and down, and then bluntly says: "I thought you were sick."

You raise an eyebrow. "Who told you that?"

He smiles a bit. "I see what you did there," he says and steps out of his room. Upon seeing his fancy outfit with gold buttons, you decide he is the director. He walks to you and extends a hand. "Harold Edmond, pleased to meet you."

"Margrar Hillcutter," you say while shaking the limb. He looks up, as if thinking something deeply.

"I think I heard your friends talk of a 'Thurgrim' yesterday while walking this very corridor," he says while looking at you sideways and stroking his beard. "They said he had a dangerously high fever, even for a dwarf. I don't remember having seen another of your kind here with them."

You are about to say something, anything, in your defence, when he continues: "What's more, I think I heard one of them refer to you doing something unusual just before falling sick. She avoided using a direct reference to it, but it was clear she didn't like whatever it was."

He falls silent and looks at you intently.

You roll your eyes and ask: "Don't you have a play to direct, or are you too busy minding the business of everyone else except yourself?" Without waiting for an answer, you turn around and walk away, into the stairs. The director is about to say something, but he leaves it unsaid, only getting out one syllable before quitting. You regret this choice immediately afterwards, since you were supposed to find Andrea and Redwind.

Maybe you ought to go to Heyland on your own. Meeting him has been pushed back far enough by now.

You are shaken out of your thoughts when you hear sobbing coming from somewhere nearby. After a second's hesitation, you take the stairs up, following the noise. It's coming from an open door. You sneak next to it and peek in. Someone is sitting next to a window, crying and looking at the rising sun. There's a bottle half-filled with clear liquid on a nearby table.

You think back and remember the kid's reaction to hearing you mention what happened at the bridge. "You are mourning Captain Moroes, right?" You ask.

The white-haired youth opens his mouth for a second, licks his lips and then mumbles: "He was my father."

You put a hand on his shoulder, not knowing what to say. You feel the slight sting of guilt, since your presence caused the soldier's death in the first place.

You end up saying nothing at all. After the boy has drunk his mug empty, he pours it full and gives it to you. You silently raise a toast to the dead man and drink up as the sun slowly lifts itself over the mountaintops of the east, the sunlight travelling downwards on the opposite wall.

You get back to the dormitory a few hours later to find Andrea and Redwind exiting your room, talking to each other heatedly. They must be looking for you.

"I'm here," you call out and walk to them. Their faces are wide with surprise. It must be the fact that you're not only out of your bed, but perfectly healthy. "We're going to see Heyland right now," you say before either of them can even greet you.

Andrea gives you a wary look you don't like, but Redwind seems to cheer up, chirping: "Of course! Let's get going now, before any more complications show up."

You manage to get two sets of stairs down before Andrea asks for you to stop. When you turn around to ask her what it is, you find a sword pointing at your throat. She looks at you in a very calculating manner and slowly asks: "Thurgrim, did you barter with that... thing, again?"

Redwind, who was walking in front of you, calmly takes a step back to make sure he doesn't cause either of you to make any hasty moves.

"No, I didn't," you say solemnly. "You know I learned my lesson from what happened to Justino."

She looks at you for a moment more before sheathing her sword. "I'm sorry," she says, really sounding like she's regretting drawing it. "This whole thing is making me very nervous."

You try to say something, but she blusteredly announces: "I need some time on my own... You two go see Heyland so we can find out what's next." Before either of you can react, she runs up the stairs, leaving you behind. Redwind mutters something about 'that time of the month' as he goes down. You spend a few more moments staring after her before you follow him.

As you join the young man in awkward silence, you can't help but notice Andrea didn't say 'so we can end this'.

Once you've reached Heyland's home, knocked on the door and found no one answering it, you curse. You're a bit distracted by the fact that the place looks familiar and Redwind's assurances that the man was there yesterday, but you are still mighty pissed off.

"There's no way this is coincidence anymore," you say. "The Fates hate me."

"You're overreacting," Redwind says. "The man is old and the sun has barely risen yet. Let's go see if we can find some way in." He walks around, behind a corner. You stay at the front door, still hopeful that it'll be opened any second now. Only a few seconds later, Redwind runs back to you, his face blank. "Thurgrim, come look," he says, his voice full of shock.

You rush in after him and he leads you behind the corner. You too fall dead silent upon witnessing what is on the wall there.

It's the symbol of the Holy Light, the sceptre with two half-circles attached to it, painted in blood on the white outer wall of the building. The stain looks fresh, the blood bright red. You extend a hand and brush it at the thing, staining your glove.

Redwind mutters the name "Daimon". You remember this symbol appearing in the deranged monk's back when he used his ultimate attack.

"Go around the house, see if there's some other sign," you say to Redwind, who's standing behind you. "I'll look for more clues here."

You hear his footsteps going to your right and lean down to stare at the grass under the portion of the wall. You don't have to look deep to see that it doesn't look disturbed and there's no blood on it. You then span out, investigating the surroundings.

Your and Redwind's tracks and some animal trails apart, the entire area looks untouched. Or so it seems until you run into a spot just a little left from the blood painting, where the very soil appears darkened and corrupt, dead. It's hard to come by because the tall grass growing around it leans into it, mostly covering it. The spot does exist, however, and even the earth in it feels colder than around it.

You don't know what it means, but it can't be good.

Redwind comes running from behind the corner he originally crossed to come across this scene. He's huffing badly, but manages to say: "There's nothing."

You search your person for a container, eventually pulling empty liquor bottle from one of your pockets and pouring some of the tainted dirt inside. Redwind looks at you concernedly.

After you've added some grass in as well (why not?), you pocket the bottle and stand up. You feel anxious.

"We need to go in," Redwind says urgently. "For all we know, Heyland could be dying inside.

You stride past the corner and to the front door. For half a second, you absent-mindedly search your person for something to pick the lock with. Then you remember that you have no idea how to pick a lock. Silly you, if you wanted to learn how to pick locks, you'd have voted for 'adventurer' when picking your character class!

With that option out, you take your axe to your hands and position it before the lock. You give Redwind half a second of time to suggest something better before hefting the weapon over your head and striking down. He stays silent, a few steps behind you, the whole time.

The door swings open from the force of your axe-strike, and you stumble forward, almost tripping over the threshold. The inside of the house doesn't appear disturbed in the least, but you step in cautiously and gesture for Redwind to follow you silently.

You slowly cross the entrance hall and peek in through the door on the opposite side. There's a kitchen there.

You turn around to silently ask Redwind, who, you remember, was here yesterday, whether he can tell where you should go. As you do, you see an old man in trousers and nothing else standing at the top of the stairs, looking down at the two of you.

He looks at the broken door, then at you and then at Redwind, who also notices him now.

"What the hell are you doing in my house?" He asks.

You awkwardly put the axe in your hands away, strapping it in your back while explaining: "I am sorry, Mr. Heyland. You did not answer the door and there is a symbol painted in blood on a wall of your house."

It takes a moment for what you're saying to register. He smiles in an understanding, though not amused, way. "That old thing. I understand. Sit down somewhere, I'll get back to you after I've gotten dressed." He turns and enters the doorway behind him.

You share a look with Redwind before leaning against a wall. Your panicked mind is slowly starting to calm down and question the inconsistencies. Heyland had better have a good explanation for this.

A few minutes later, the old man descends the stairs with a shirt and socks on, a cane in his hand and a dog at his side. "You're still going to pay for fixing the door," he announces. "No matter how understandable your concern was."

You stand up and state your agreement. Redwind adds: "I'm so sorry, Mr. Heyland, we should have-"

The old man interjects: "Enough with the sorry-saying. What's done is done. I want some coffee, would you join me for a cup?"

After the two of you agree, he walks to the kitchen, past you. The dog gives you a lazy look and then walks after him. As you move to follow him, he says: "Please close the door. This place is drafty enough as it is."

You join him at the kitchen half a minute later. Redwind still seems to be on the verge of bursting into apologies, so you bring up a new discussion: "Uh, we haven't met before. I am..." You trail off for half a second, not sure whether Andrea and Redwind referred you as Thurgrim or Margrar to him. "I am the friend Charles here must have told you about yesterday."

The old man chuckles to himself, putting water in a pot while looking at his dog curl under the table. "Yes, I assumed as much. There aren't many dwarves in this valley at the moment, and even fewer in the company of the young wizard."

After putting his coffee pot on the stove he dusts his hands and points a finger at the jar half-full of coffee beans. "I got this from a merchant travelling through here on his way from Stranglethorn to Hochstein. A troll had cursed him and I asked some beans as payment for exorcism. I could probably solve much of my money problems of late by selling them, but I'm not giving up my coffee." He chuckles to himself and you try to appear amused. Redwind doesn't react.

"Uhh... about the painting outside," you start and the elder interrupts by snorting while sitting down. He reaches to scratch behind the dog's ears and it stretches its neck to receive his love better.

"I'll show you after I've had my coffee," he promises. "Don't be impatient."

You hesitate for a moment before deciding to drop the subject. Having lost its master's attention, the dog has now crawled to your feet and looks at you with its head tilted. You smile and pat the animal's head.

"Have you ever had a dog, Thurgrim?" Heyland asks. "I think you have."

It takes a moment for you to realise you don't need to think up an ambiguous answer, since he's supposed to know of your amnesia. "I don't know," you simply state, wondering if he's playing with you or is just forgetful.

"She can usually tell people who know how to deal with dogs at sight," he explains, nodding at the animal. "Doesn't trust strangers this fast unless they pass her test."

You smile again. "I'm glad she considers me worthy," you say and scratch the dog's head. It leans its head into your hand. After a moment it retreats and, you can't help notice, leaves Redwind unvisited.

After a while the coffee pot starts whistling and Heyland pours coffee to three cups. You haven't ever had coffee that you can remember, but the taste doesn't really surprise you. The warmth of the drink pouring down your throat feels very nice in the somewhat cold house.

The old man smiles and lets out a small sigh of happiness after taking his first sip. Upon advancing halfway through his cup, he lays it down on the table and asks: "Amnesia, eh?"

You nod. He rubs his badly shaved chin. "I can see without much effort that there's something not quite right going on in your head. Someone's been tampering with your mind. We'll get to it soon. Let's finish our drinks and then I'll show you how the painting found its way on my house's wall."

"Uhh, could we finish while we're seeing this?" You ask and start to climb down from the tall human chair you were sitting on.

"Sit down, shut up, and drink the goddamn coffee, son." Heyland's voice doesn't raise, but he sure gets it full of emotion nonetheless. You do as he says.

While the three of you finish the drinks, the dog tries to get more affection out of you. You choose to ignore it.

The old man takes his time with his last sip, savouring it before swallowing. "Ah, I can't imagine what I'd do without my morning coffee," he says when laying down the cup. "Come, let's go to my study. I've got it all recorded there."

You follow him out of the kitchen, left and through a door. The room beyond has its walls covered by shelves full of books, vials, amulets, magic wands, parchment scrolls and small coloured strips of cloth. Heyland has the two of you sit on the chairs in the middle and then browses through the items. "I know I have it here somewhere," he mutters while picking up items and peering in.

"Uh, have what?" You ask, sharing a look with Redwind. You're starting to get suspicious about his motives. Before the man can answer, he pulls out a small silver... thingie.

"This," he says and holds it up. "It's a Liworng, a fairly expensive artefact. This one was made by a Lady Aegwynn three hundred years ago. It's a real antique, even. The current lady gave it to me in exchange for some help with her work."

"What's up with the name?" Redwind asks before your query as to its uses can reach your lips.

Heyland rolls his eyes. "Be silent and listen, child. This device allows the perfect recording and sharing of a single memory. It's mostly used to allow minutiae of arcane experiments to be witnessed again at a later date. I stored the story of how that blood got on my wall in there instead."

"That's convenient," Redwind says. "Why?"

"Because I don't need it for anything else," Heyland answers while turning the little fidgets all around the silver item. "I need to back the memory up a bit, though. It was recorded forty years ago, when I had just recently received my education in the Stormwind University. As a fresh Doctor of Lucelogy, I received a work assignment under Duke Prestor of Hochstein."

He holds the silver item up and commands: "Touch it."

You hesitate and while and then do as he says. In a flash of colours and sounds, you suddenly find yourself unable of moving. The world appears around you, but you're still stuck in place... until you find yourself moving around against your wishes.

Heyland's otherworldly voice calls out inside your head: "You'll relive this memory from my point of view. Do not panic." You think you hear a snide comment from Redwind somewhere far away, but can't make out the words.

Young Heyland steps out of the door of his house. He turns to look around and there's a woman who looks oddly familiar there. His young voice says: "Tara, I will miss you."

"I will miss you too, Harold," he answers. "You won't be away for too long, will you?"

"Half a year at most. Don't worry about me, I'll stay out of trouble," he says, leaning just a bit forward before stepping back. "Farewell, my love."

She kisses his cheek and hugs him. "Farewell."

Heyland turns east and walks the path, away from her. As he does, you realise this is all familiar to you. You first flashback in Karazhan was to this particular event, ending with...

This ought to be good, you decide as the body your mind is stuck within keeps walking for a minute before a distant scream of terror reaches its ears from the west. The young Heyland turns around and looks at his house for a moment before turning around and running there at full speed. In a throughfully odd moment, you can actually feel a surge of emotion going through him when the thought that it might be Tara hits him.

He reaches his house and sees three figures there. Two are poorly dressed peasant types, whom you saw trying to break into Heyland's home in your flashback view of this scene earlier, and the third one is...


The young man stands still and looks at the scene in awe and dread as the grim-looking monk attacks a man swinging a crowbar around wildly, dodging two blows before punching him in the kidney. The other man takes out a knife and holds it out. "Stay away, man! I'm not afraid to use this!" He calls out in panic.

Daimon's face remains calm, arrogant even, as he punches his palms at the man, shouting: "SHURAMA!" A ball of clear yellow flames shoots at the man's knife-holding palm. With a yelp he drops the weapon, holding out a charred, twitching hand. Before he can even registed what happened properly, Daimon charges forward, ducking before him and jumping upward. An uppercut accompanied with a yell of "JEINUORAMA!" smashes into the man's down-looking face, breaking his nose.

Daimon lands on his feet atop the felled opponent. Behind him, the other man has risen up and is making a run for it. The monk charges after him. They vanish behind the corner and Heyland rushes after them, seeming to only now understand he can do more than gawk.

He finds the monk and the criminal behind the corner, where the former is holding the latter in the air, pressed against the wall, from his collar. "I will break you," he says simply. It's not a threat, it's a statement.

"No!" Heyland says.

Daimon spares him a very brief sideways look before focusing again on the criminal and shouting: "GOUMA TENDOU AKUKI!"

An eye-searing light blinds Heyland for a while and the voices of a thousand punches pummeling the body of the monk's victim hits his ears. When he can finally see again, Heyland witnesses Daimon holding the broken corpse of a mummy drained of all its liquids with his right hand and a small glowing black orb with his left.

"Gouma Tendou Akuki," Heyland stutters. "You're a monk from the Österberg monastery?"

The grim man nods. "My name is Daimon, and I am the final member of my order. All others have forsaken their path of holiness and embraced depravity and corruption. I will walk Azeroth and deliver the punishment of the Light to those who need it." He throws the dehydrated corpse into the ground. On the wall where he held it, the symbol of the Holy Light is painted against the white with blood. He holds up the black orb. "This is his Sin. This is his Evil. This is all that was wrong with the man; the rot that spoiled the clean soul the Light had given birth to. This is what killed him, his own wickedness." He casts the orb into the grass next to him, where it instantly corrupts and dries the plot of land it hits.

"He didn't deserve to be killed," Heyland argues. "I know these two, they lost their occupation in the tower a week ago for spoiling the chancellor's dinner! They must have been desperate enough to steal from me in order to feed themselves."

Daimon shakes his head. "I can see in your Aura that you are a righteous man. Cease lying to yourself. The judgement of the Light deemed him worthy of death, and as such it is beyond the power of mortals to say he did not deserve it."

Heyland hesitates for a while before bursting out with: "At least spare the other man. The guardsmen will give him the punishment the law deems him worthy of."

"No," Daimon says bluntly. "The law is written by mortals, and is fallible. His ultimate judgement will be equal to the other's."

The monk tries to walk past Heyland, who grabs his arm and says: "I won't let you!"

With lightning-speed, Daimon's hand goes to the young man's neck and squeezes. All goes dark and you find yourself back in your body in the old man's study.

He sees you snap out of it and nods his head. "I came to a few hours later and the other robber was a husk as well. The symbol his technique painted on the wall has never dried and doesn't come off no matter what kind of cleaning I've tried," he explains.

Redwind shakes his head. "That man is sick. What kind of a person kills two poor people for trying to steal in order to feed themselves?"

"He considers himself beyond critique since, as he sees it, as long as his Light-given abilities remain with him he's only doing what his religion is truly supposed to be about. I've tried to find proof that it doesn't work like that for forty years now, but unfortunately there aren't any monks to test it on." Heyland sounds almost sadder about being unable to prove his theory than about the two dead people.

"Forty years?" Redwind asks. "He looked exactly the same as when we met him half a month ago!"

Heyland blinks his eyes and furrows his brow. "You've met Daimon? I didn't know that."

"He tried to kill me," you say acidly. "I think it has something to do with my amnesia. I assume his monk training makes him timeless or something."

It seems to take a while for the elder to associate your last sentence with Redwind's comment. When he understands what you mean, he nods his head yes. "That's just the thing: No other monk has ever managed to come so in control of his own body. I've met Daimon twice since that time, and both times he's been absolutely untouched by the years. He is well aware of that, and seems to think it's another proof that he's 'the last true monk' or whatever it is he speaks of. He says the Light is giving him more life-years to let him deliver its punishment for longer."

Everyone is silent for a while. You really don't know what to say. The silence is broken when Heyland adds: "You're still going to pay for the door, by the way."

You and Redwind laugh a little. You're about to bring up your emnesia again when the would-be-wizard says: "Well, he has a point about being the last monk worth anything at all, considering what the rest of his kind are like nowadays."

You look at him questioningly. He doesn't seem to understand you confusion for a moment, but then he gasps. "Oh yeah, you don't know! The brigands who raided this valley two days ago were what's left of the monks of Österberg. The guards told us. The area around their monastery was already plagued by bandit raids before the whole order more or less just picked up swords and turned to thiefry."

Heyland nods his head. "From what I understand, that is Daimon's doing, though indirectly. He killed the abbot who'd been keeping most of them on the path of righteousness in a zealous fury. After he left, his words of them all being corrupt came to pass. They gave up on the Light, since it had spawned a murderer like Daimon, and openly accepted the banditry some had already been practising. The land of Österberg is nigh deserted nowadays and Duke Prestor has been content in merely keeping them out of the other regions of his small nation."

"So, anyways. About my mind..." You say. Heyland grinds his teeth idly for a moment, thinking.

"I don't do that for free," he says slowly. "And what's more, there's the payment for the door."

You shake your head, baffled by his slowness. "Do you think there's a price I consider too high?"

He smiles at your words. "How about this for the price of the two combined: a ticket to the opera they're showing at the tower a few days from now? I can go hungry physically, but at my age there's nothing worse than missing your chance at some culture. Of course, you can pay with money as well. I guess one gold coin is enough..."

You think about it. Can you get a ticket to the opera for him? You did openly insult the director of the play three hours ago.

"I think I can get you a ticket to the opera," you say, trying to sound sure of yourself.

Heyland nods, apparently satisfied with your promise, and stands up. "Good, then sit down here and let me have a look at that head of yours." You take his seat and close your eyes, feeling fingers grasping at your skull.

You try not to fidget at the tingling that spreads from the fingertips and fills your head. You hear distant whispers and see visages of dwarves. Are these your forgotten memories?

"You're a disgrace to the whole clan!" You almost drop off your seat at the shout, sure that you hear it even though neither of the humans in the room reacted in any way.

Heyland mutters something about staying still. You lean back and try to relax, only to hear another, this time female, voice say: "Are you sure we can earn us a living in Ironforge? I know you don't like living in Anvilmar much, but I don't want to leave my family behind so I can starve in the big city, even if I starve while married to you."

You are left gaping. Married?


You realise you're on the floor, on all fours, with tears in your eyes. Redwind is next to you, holding your shoulders. "Thurgrim? What happened?"

You shakily whisper: "I'm married. I'm married to a girl from the town next to mine and I can't even remember her name." You remember her face, you remember her smile and the cute freckles on her cheeks, you can distinctly remember leaving town with her to get married at Ironforge, but you don't remember her name.

"Thurgrim, you're speaking in Dwarven," Redwind says, still sounding concerned. To your surprise, you realise he's right. The memories, they... Why are they incomplete?

You switch back to Common. "I only remember parts now. Are the rest there? Will they come back?"

Heyland hesitates before saying: "It's complicated. What you remember now is everything that there is for you to remember."

"It can't be," you insist, "I can't remember her name..."

The old man shakes his head: "No, I don't mean that that's all you could remember. You have lost memory that you don't have access to right now, but I can't help you with that because... it's gone."

Redwind helps you up and asks: "What do you mean, gone?"

Heyland sits down and says: "I think I need a drink. And something stronger than coffee..."

You suddenly find yourself furious: "What do you mean? Tell me! How can..."

He raises a hand to silence you and slowly starts: "Think of an egg, a normal, intact chicken egg. That's your mind. Now, imagine a weasel breaking the egg's shell and sucking out the yolk to feed itself. Something like that's happened to your mind: most of your memories have been ripped away with force. Your very soul is rent and wounded, only slowly healing itself.

Those memories you have regained now are just the shreds that were left within by chance during the original event which caused the damage. You couldn't remember them before because your mind was still in shock from being ripped apart and couldn't access them. I've helped with the healing process a bit, but there's no way to get the lost memories back unless you find out how this happened in the first place. And before you ask, no, I've never heard or read of anything like this."

You try to comment, try to ask something, try to demand a solution, but you can't...

Redwind suddenly gasps. "Thurgrim fell almost deadly ill the day before yesterday, and this morning he was right as rain. Could this have something to do with it?"

Heyland nods his head. "With a soul this badly damaged, it's a wonder he hasn't been bedridden more often than that. Or has he?"

You think back. You don't remember anything quite like it in the past. Redwind answers no in your stead. The old professor ruffles his hair and says: "I wonder what my colleague would say about this. He is always searching for new phenomena instead of studying the old ones."

Redwind puts a hand on your shoulder and asks: "Who is 'she'? The one whose name your can't remember?"

You hesitate before answering: "My wife."

No one speaks for a while. The silence is finally broken when Heyland suggests getting a drink.

While the old man pours whiskey to three glasses, you close your eyes and try to grasp at what memories you've got...

You remember a large stone structure in the valley between two mountains, accompanied by a voice saying: "That's where Clan MacGuffin guards the Stonetear until the end of time, son. You wanted to see where it was, and here we are." Then there's the memory of a grim, white-haired dwarven face speaking those words beside you. Your father, you assume. You recognise him as the one who told you of the Stonetear in that memory you had earlier, and also match up his voice as the same one which spoke 'you're a disgrace to the whole clan'.

Then there's an image of a younger version of him, along with a woman you assume to be your mother, smiling at you near a log house in the woods.

Then you remember walking the path out of a town. Your mother's dead body is being carried by weeping people. The signpost next to the village's entrance says "ANVILMAR".

You open your eyes and take the glass offered to you. After taking your first sip, you announce: "I'm from the woods near a dwarf town called Anvilmar, somewhere in the mountains."

Heyland drinks considerably more than you and asks: "Anvilmar? Isn't that the name of your first dynasty of kings?"

Redwind smiles and snaps his fingers, seeming thrilled. "My friend back in Lakeshire studied history and he once told me that there's a town called Anvilmar in Khaz'modan named after Ironforge's first king, who was entombed in the mountains nearby. Thurgrim, that means-"

"That I live near where the Stonetear is!" You finish, understanding his enthusiasm. Connections are now starting to form up.

"The Stonetear?" Heyland asks, puzzled. "I think I've heard the name once..."

"It's a long story," you say, "if you've forgotten the specifics, here's a link."

"A what?" He asks.

You decide to change the topic and ask him: "You mentioned a colleague of yours earlier. Who might that be?"

While you drink some more of the whiskey, the man looks at you funny and then answers: "Just someone I met while I studied Lucelogy in Stormwind. An elf, actually. His name was Feylight. We befriended each other, but I've not spoken to him in years now."

You nod. Redwind seems to hear something that sparks his interest in the short tale, but you instead change topics again: "Are you sure there's absolutely nothing else you can do to help me?"

Heyland shakes his head. "Not really. I'd sure love to study you more since you've got an ailment I've never witnessed or heard of before, but I'm sure I can't afford to pay for your living with me for months. And besides, I assume you've got a lead to help you fix this whole situation."

You chuckle a little. "I hope so."

During another silence, you prepare yourself to ask the man about the lady love you saw in the flashback to his youth, but Redwind gets there first. "Mr. Heyland, What happened to Tara, the woman we saw in your past?"

The man exhales frustratedly. "You've been in my head, kid, you can call me Harold already."

He does not answer the question. Both of you get the hint and drink you whiskeys, preparing to leave. Heyland pretends not to notice.

Half a minute later, you stand up. "Well, Harold, we won't steal any more of your valuable time. We'll talk to the theatre people right away and get you your ticket. And once more, sorry for the door."

He takes you to the entrance hall and cynically asks: "Doesn't either of you know how to pick a lock?"

You are about to shake your head but then realise the comedic potential of the situation, instead replying: "Of course! I sure did PICK it."

Redwind and Heyland stare at you for a while. You explain: "Because I hit it with the axe, which is kinda like a mining pick." The would-be-wizard groans and rolls his eyes. The other man bids you farewell and tells he's off to feed his dog.

After exiting Heyland's home, you take your weapon to your hand and ask Redwind: "Have I actually managed to harm someone with this thing? I lost to Daimon and you beat that pyromancer for me..." Only after finishing do you realise you're not holding your axe, but your knife.

Redwind's comment of the obvious is drowned by the same voice you heard when you fought the wolves after waking up in the forest. "Try to remember some of the basics of knife-fighting."

Your mind is suddenly flooded by images, sounds, feelings, moves, attacks, blocks, dodges, parries, knife types....

You stop walking and drop the knife. That's it. There was a proper reason you were carrying a knife and no other close-range weapon when you woke up. There was a reason you were so deadly against the wolf but lacked skill against all fights thereafter; you were fighting with a weapon you had no experience with.

"Do you have a need for a pricey axe?" You ask Redwind, who's standing next to you, worried. "I think I don't need this thing anymore."

As you walk further away from Heyland's home, you tell Redwind everything you've recalled thus far, just in case you lose any of it again. He stays uncharacteristically quiet the whole time, as if disturbed by the prospect of you actually having a life before he met you.

While telling Redwind about the last memory you unlocked, you hold the knife out and adapt a stance that keeps your defences up to all directions, with the blade held near your body. You idly wonder if two blades would be better than one. It's basic mathematics, 2>1.

"Aha," Redwind says distantly, seeming a tad concerned by your playing with the weapon. To calm him down, you walk normally and casually stash the blade in your glove. Normally, you'd worry about slashing your palm, but now you're sure you can keep your hand relaxed until you need the weapon. Your companion calms down with the knife out of sight.

"I think we ought to go get the ticket right about now," you say. "It's better to do it quick, just in case."

Redwind nods and says: "Yeah. All we need to do is go to ask the director."

You smile a little to yourself. "That reminds me..."

You tell him about your meeting with the director this morning. He seems amused by your answer to the man's suspicions and doesn't let the event destroy his optimism about the ticket. "We'll manage," he says. "He's just the director, it's not like he's in charge of the sales of tickets. And besides, they can't be that expensive."

"I'm sorry, you're an actor in the play, right? Can you tell me where I can buy tickets and how much they cost?"

"Edmond is in charge of the ticket-sales, and in a theatre this small, we'll have to charge at least five gold shillings to make a profit."

You thank the lady and let her walk past you into the staircase. The temptation to tell Redwind you told him so is almost too large to handle. Without a word, you take some more steps up and arrive to the floor where the guests are staying. The grand door for more important people, behind which the director had emerged to harass you in the morning, is closed tight. You stop in front of it and knock.

A moment or two passes. After them, Harold Edmond abruptly opens the door, revealing his face with the walrus mustache and the well-trimmed beard. He looks at you oddly and a sly grin appears on his face. "Mr. Hillcutter, I am glad to see you." You open your mouth to state you business, but he interjects you: "Please, do enter. We could use some company in here."

He opens the door wide, revealing Andrea, who's sitting next to a desk. She's wearing a dress and has her hair loose, both of those for the first time since you met her. "Uhh, hello," she says weakly and blushes.

You grudgingly enter the director's room, staring at Andrea. You are about to compliment her on her new look, but then remember the red hair and freckles of your supposed wife...

Redwind gets there before you can recover: "Andrea... you look absolutely gorgeous." He sounds as if he were speaking in a dream, all breathy and slow. Mr. Edmond chuckles to himself and ushers both of you in and has you seated by his table.

"Please join us, Miss Lothar," he tells Andrea, smiles and rubs his hands together. The gold buttons of his silk vest seem to sparkle as she moves to the table. You're surprised you don't hear him laughing evilly under his breath. "I will order us a spot of tea..."

"Uh, no thank you," you say quickly. "Me and Redwind are just coming back from a visit to another person who already had us drink coffee, so unless Andrea wants some..." You look at her questioningly.

She says she does and the director chuckles again, walking into the corridor to find a servant. The moment she closes the door, you ask: "Andrea, what are you doing in here?"

She raises an eyebrow. "Do I have to report every place I go to you, Thurgrim?" Her voice is now cold and hostile. "I felt like relaxing and spending some time talking with someone cultured for a change. It feels like I've been nothing more than a tool in your quest for the last... what has it been? Month and a half? I actually felt strange changing into a dress."

You close your eyes and sigh. Redwind mutters something you can't quite understand in your defence, but Andrea goes on: "Look, I left my home to go and see the world, since my father had chosen that now that he has Anduin, I should act more like a fancy daughter and less like myself. I thought I could travel with you people, ignore your pagan connections and enjoy the scenery and freedom. I ended up caring about what's going on more than I'd thought, but that... Jacaruso fellow taught me the dark side behind the both of you."

Just when you're about to reply, Mr. Edmond opens the door and enters the room. "Darn this tower has too few servants, if you ask me. Tea's coming right up." He looks at your three, apparently seeing you were in the middle of an argument, but then ignores it and walks right in. "So, masters Hillcutter and Smith, what gives me the pleasure of your company?"

You hesitate a moment and state: "We would like to ask for a ticket to the play."

The man fingers his beard, contemplating. You think you know what he's thinking: he wants to keep up the masquedare of politeness in front of Andrea and yet deny you what you want. Eventually he lows his hand and looks you in the eye. "Just one? Only one of you wants to see my play?"

You lightly bite your tongue. He'll have no reason to give you a free ticket if you say you'll essentially be selling it forward, but he may find out if you lie to him...

"Well, the thing is that I can't quite come and see the play myself," you say and try to smile sadly. "I'll be busy with getting ready to leave again at that point. Same goes for Redwind here. But a friend of ours..."

Andrea interrupts you. "Thurgrim, you bum. You only met Heyland today."

In a swift response, you shoot: "I befriended him quickly! You should've been there and seen it."

You think you can hear Redwind nodding at your left, but you keep your eyes locked on Andrea at your right so you can't know for sure whether you're just imagining. Mr. Edmond scratches his neck and growls: "I think I have to agree with the lady here. Give me a good reason to donate a free ticket so you can give it forward to someone else."

"Mr. Edmond, can I talk to Andrea in private for a while?" You ask awkwardly. "I want to settle something."

The man smiles politely. "By all means, take it to either of your rooms. I will discuss with Mr. Smith in the meanwhile."

You lead the young woman out of the director's room and into yours. The corridor is empty, and both of you stay silent in your time there. After you close the door, you say: "I don't know where this hostility is coming from, but I'd appreciate if you didn't actively try to foil me." She's about to argue, but you suddenly grasp her hands. "Please, can't you just help me with this? I'm not going to leave my debt to Heyland unpaid."

Andrea falls silent and locks eyes with you. You can't help but admire how pretty she looks in a woman's clothing. "Thurgrim, I agreed to play a part in the play. They've shuffled their actors around a bit and I got a secondary female part with just a couple of lines..."

"That's great!" You say and smile at her. She responds in kind, happiness finally appearing on her face. You continue speaking: "It means the director is bound to give us a ticket if you ask for one."

Andrea gives a frustrated sigh, stands up, and punches you in the face. You fall in the ground, on your back, the world rolling around you. The girl calmly proclaims: "That's for being insensitive. And as payment for my going along with this crazy scheme of yours. Get your bearings straight and we'll go meet Edmond again."

You struggle back on your feet and walk to the door. Andrea adds: "Just because I'm wearing a dress doesn't mean I can't still beat you in a fight." After finishing, she bursts into laughter.

You exit the director's room fifteen minutes later. He grudgingly agreed to not only give Heyland a ticket, but also preserve low-price seats for you and Redwind 'in case you can free yourselves for the duration of the play'. You're very happy about this and wonder what to do next.

Redwind, when asked, says he's open to any suggestions. Andrea asks what you learned at Heyland's place. You realise she doesn't know yet and, not feeling ready to recount it all yet, say you'll talk about it later.

"Let's go see the town," you say and point at the nearest stairs. "I want to exchange weapons."

Both of your companions shrug and follow you toward the stairs. You feel a draft and look around yourself to see they've been left behind you. They're standing still as statues. For a split second, you get concerned for them, but then you remember...

"Show yourself!" You shout angrily. The Devil walks out from inside a wall. It appears larger than before.

"You have learned to predict my mannerisms, it seems. I should change my modus operandi..." It eyes the bronze talons growing out of its fingers and then turns its eyes at you. "You called me?"

"No I didn't," you say and roll your eyes. "You froze time, or whatever this is you do."

The thing walks toward you and extends one of its claws, scratching your chin. You stay still. "Oh yes, I did extend this thought," he admits, "but I did it because you demanded an audience."

"No I-" you start, but the tall figure scoffs, covering you up.

"A part of you wanted me. A part of you called to me. I am here to ask if you truly want what that speck of you demanded from me."

You try to deny it, but you can't help but remember wanting an easy solution out when Andrea punched you. You lock eyes with the thing and demand: "Then tell me, what can you offer?"

The thing grins and suddenly its voice echoes and the lights in the corridor seem to wane. "We have a power, Thurgrim. We have a power greater than you can imagine. If you allow us to channel it, we can make her see things your way. We can make her understand. No more need to compromise on your goals, no more need to think about her sensibilities when making choices, no more nagging and complaining!"

Suddenly Redwind vanishes and Andrea's still figure glides toward you. When it arrives to before you, her dress seems to be made of roughly half as much fabric as it was before she froze. Even her body seems different... your eyes roam the sights before you and a voice which seems booming, which stands out and blends in at the same time, speaks: "We can make her see things your way. We can make her understand. No more need to repress your goals, no more need to worry of her denial, no more dreams and desperation."

The hand takes a hold of your shoulder. The phantom Andrea before you springs to life and meets your eyes. In them you see pleading, a prayer that you free her from the confines the humans have systemically built into her.

"What would it be, dear Thurgrim?" She asks in unison with the being behind you.

You lift a hand up and take a hold of the fingers on your shoulder. As you brush them off, away from yourself, you say: "You know what? You are pathetic. Do you really think I am this selfish, or this stupid? When you disagree with a friend on something, you don't force her to see things your way, you talk things through. You tricked me once, but I'm not going to fall for it again."

The phantom Andrea walks past you and into the arms of the Devil, who doesn't seem surprised by your refusal. "We will have her, one way or the other," it says before kissing the visage deeply, complete with its hands roaming the body. After they finish, the mirage vanishes into nothingness and the Devil locks eyes with you. "I am amused by your assumptions that I am trying to trick you. You would do wisely to think about my motivations, and yours, if you ever have time to use that brain of yours."

"What do you mean?" You ask, wondering if you want to know the answer.

A bronze talon points at your face and the thing speaks: "Just between you and me, there'd have been no 'catch' this time around."

The world comes to life, with you suddenly back where you were before you realised that Andrea and Redwind had been left behind. Your walk is cut off due to the abrupt cut-off. You stumble, almost falling over, and then lean against your knees. The others stop and ask you if you're alright.

"I... I need a while to gather my wits," you mutter. The others share a look and Andrea says she'll go change clothes.

Redwind leads you into your room, thinking you're physically fatigued. You choose not to object, since his intentions are good. After closing the door behind you, he leans against it and silently closes his eyes.

You sit down and rub your forehead. You can feel a massive head ache on its way. To distract yourself from it, you ask the boy: "Redwind, have you noticed Andrea acting more aggressively and rudely today as compared to before?"

It takes a while for him to react. Even then, he contemplates a while before saying: "A little."

"She pointed her sword at me this morning," you mention. "And just before, she hit me in the face because... I didn't even catch why."

He raises an eyebrow. "She must just be having a rough day, what with accepting the responsibility of the threatre role and all. I'm sure she'll be better in a while."

You think back to Andrea's punch. It happened right after she told you about acting in the play... "When did she tell you about that?" You ask Redwind.

He seems confused for a moment before answering: "Mr. Edmond mentioned it while you were away."

"Okay..." You mutter. There's a moment of silence until you get back up and say you're alright now. You decide to tell Redwind and Andrea about what happened with the Devil; being secretive at this point is just shooting your own leg.

The two of you spend a while in the corridor, waiting for Andrea. Neither of you speaks. Eventually, the girl emerges from her room with her usual long coat and wide hat as well as the sword and voulge. She eyes both of you before asking if you're feeling better already. You nod.

"What are we waiting for, then?" She asks and heads toward the stairs. You stare at her for the shortest moment before sighing and heading after her.

For the whole trip to the town, you try to find an interval during which to bring up the event with the Devil, but every time there appears to be someone nearby, or the threat of someone appearing any moment. Eventually the three of you arrive to the town of Little Baggington and you give up the attempt, deciding to tell it when also informing Andrea about what took place at Heyland's place.

The town isn't a very large place, it seems. There aren't many stores and the population is ridiculously small. You give up on your ideas of finding exotic clothing or perfume for Justino, but soon head out to a blacksmith...

Only just before entering do you realise that Andrea is the one in charge of the money among you three. You hesitate, but then remember you're getting rid of your axe. "Stay here," you tell your companions before entering the place.

You exit five minutes later with seven silver marks and a new dagger in hand. You know the axe was worth more, but you don't have the patience to drag it around until you find another store.

As the other two approach to ask what you got, you playfully take the new weapon and your old knife out, holding them in a threatening pose. "That should solve some things," you say. "I was getting back cramps from carrying the damn axe around."

Next you head to the tailor's. If you're going to travel with Justino, he's going to need something to cover his pale, rotting skin. It's only going to be a short-term solution, but it's not like you have a choice.

Once you enter the shop, you see the owner washing his hands on a bucket. He turns his head and looks up at you. "Can I help you... sir?" He asks while drying his hands on a towel.

"Yes," you answer. "I am here to purchase some clothes for a friend of mine. He's a leper so he needs something to cover himself with really good, to avoid scaring the ladies."

The man nods his head slowly and asks whether your friend is human. After getting a positive answer, he mutters something about looking for it and vanishes in the back room for some time and comes back with heavy black robes with a hood. "I think these might suit your... friend."

You look at them. They seem to be of good quality and they look like they might fit him too, but... "I need something to cover his face too."

The tailor lays the robes on his counter and walks to a drawer full of assorted small clothes. He digs around for some time and eventually manages to extract some kind of a long scarf-like item. It's bright red. "I guess he could wrap this around his head. It may not look pretty, but it'll get the job done."

"Sold!" You exclaim. "My friend won't care, I'm sure."

The man sighs deeply and names a price of five silver marks. You give the coins to him without complaint and he thanks you while you pick up the clothes. After that, just when you're leaving, the oddest thing happens.

The man stands up and says: "Y'know, I never wanted to be a tailor. I wanted to be... a lumberjack!"

You nod your head and back out of the store instead of listening to the rest of it.

Everyone seems quiet on your way back to Karazhan. You wonder what's up with them while simultaneously looking for a chance to talk about the Three-Horned Devil. Every time you're about to speak up, there seems to be someone near. It's like some higher force is conspiring against you.

"I don't remember if I told you guys yet," you say upon reaching the bridge leading to the island, "but I'm meeting Aegwynn tomorrow. She seemed interested in our predicament this morning and I thought she might be able to help if I tell her about it."

Redwind has no comment, while Andrea raises an eyebrow. "Is that so?" She asks. "I heard she's back in the tower, but I didn't know you'd already met her. How did she look?"

You wonder for a moment if her question has some other meaning before saying: "She was disheveled, travel-worn. Must have went a long way in one go."

Andrea nods. You silently pass the guards into Karazhan and start to climb the stairs. Andrea seems to hesitate for a moment before asking you whether she can come meet Aegwynn with you.

"I'm sorry, Andera, but no," you say. "With only Aegwynn and me there, it'll be much easier for me to open up and for her to trust me."

After a very brief pause, she shrugs her shoulders and says: "Alright, but do tell us everything she says. It's not like keeping things from us at this point is going to do any good."

"That reminds me..." You say suddenly, remembering what happened in... this exact same hallway. "Let's get in my room. There's smoething I've got to tell you."

As the others go through your door, you notice Mr. Edmond looking past his, which is slightly opened. He's smiling a little. You frown and enter the door, locking it behind you.

The others are looking at you expectantly. You sigh. "I've been trying to find a spot to tell you two all this time but there's always someone there listening to us." Redwind suddenly smiles. You're relieved by his emotional reaction. "Okay, so here goes. When we were going out to the town in there just now, I was visited by the Devil again..."

You explain the entire encounter. The part about what the creature tried to tempt you with is a bit hard to retell, and you end up putting a lot of emphasis on your answer to it, even quoting it word to word (as correctly as you can remember). After you finish, Redwind seems genuinely interested for a change, though he doesn't speak, and Andrea looks a little bothered.

"Redwind, can you please leave for a moment," she says. "I need to have a word in private with Thurgrim."

He hesitates for a moment, but then nods his head and walks to the door, unlocking it with the key you left in your nightstand and then going out. When he's gone, Andrea sighs.

She looks at you and smiles a little. "Thurgrim," she says. "I know the Devil wouldn't have tried to tempt you with... that stuff, if you didn't want it." You pale a little, but she leans down, to bring her eyes on the asme level as you, and gives you a stern look.

"Thank you a thousand times for refusing, Thurgrim. I don't blame you, we've been travelling together for some time now and I'm the only woman you see for long parts of that." She doesn't shy, she doesn't show weakness. She's blunt. "I'm promised to someone else. I'm sorry."

You swallow and nod your head. "I... Congratulations."

She gives a dry laugh. "Yeah, whatever. You have a great time with Aegwynn tomorrow. I won't tell Redwind about why you really won't let me there." When your eyes widen at her words, she laughs again, this time with actual amusement in it. "Maybe you'll end up marrying her."

Though she seems to find her comment funny, you stay quiet. Your wife...

Andrea walks to the door, not having noticed your sudden shock, and opens it, poking her head out and calling to Redwind. "Hey, you can come in now. It's about time you two told me about what you found out at Heyland's place..."

You leave out any mention of having a wife. Thankfully, so does Redwind.

You wake up next morning to the noise of someone banging your door roughly. You call out that you're coming and hastily put on some trousers and a shirt. Upon opening the wooden portal, you find a guard officer with a grim look on his face behind it. "Mr. Hillcutter? I'm sorry for waking you up. May I come in?"

You invite him and he steps into your room, briefly scanning it before locking his eyes on you again. "You visited one mister Harold Heyland yesterday, did you not?"

You blink twice and ask: "He's dead, isn't he?"

The soldier's face fills with suspicion and you rush in to explain: "Oh please. I met him yesterday and now a law officer has come to my door asking me questions about him. Of course he's dead."

The soldier takes his time before confirming: "He is dead, Mr. Hillcutter... Did you or did you not purchase a knife from the local blacksmith yesterday?"

"I did," you say, sitting down and pulling socks on. "I still have it with me, in fact."

The officer nods. "I would much appreciate if you showed it to me. Mr. Heyland was found late last evening in his house with his throat cut open. There were no signs of struggle, even though the victim was capable of spellcasting, so either he was caugh unawares, which is unlikely since his door was kicked in, or he trusted the murderer enough to let him close."

After getting socks on, you walk to the bundle with your outdoors clothing and dig through it for your belt. "I have two witnesses to prove my alibi for the entire day after my buying the knife, by the way," you throw over your shoulder.

"Your friends, who came into this valley and are also suspects, I assume?" The guardsman says. "I'd prefer someone other to testify in your defence, and I'm sure the judge will if it comes to that." You finally find your belt only to see that your right-side knife-sheath, where you'd kept the new knife, is empty.

"Is everything alright, Mr. Hillcutter?" The guard asks.

You give a long sigh. "It appears my new knife has gone missing at some point. I know this appears incriminating."

The guard exhales and states: "To say the least. It's off to the dungeon for you, then."

As he steps toward you, you jab your hands out and exclaim: "I want to meet Lady Aegwynn. I've got an appointment, yesterday she agreed to meet me." The man looks at you, seeming puzzled beyond belief. "I'll let you walk me there and search me for weapons. I just need to speak to her," you insist.

He wonders for just a moment, but then nods his head. "Very well, then. We'll do it your way, bub."

You sigh with relief. The soldier tells you to get dressed, which you do, though leaving your old knife, bow and arrows at the nightstand. After you've done that, he briefly inspects you for hidden weapons. Not finding any, he tells you to walk ahead of him out of the room.

The two of you climb up the tower, him closely following you, making sure you don't spring anywhere. After a while, he starts to hum to himself. It's a simple melody, and it doesn't take long for you to memorise it too.

At the top, the man has another guard keep an eye on you while he goes to knock at Aegwynn's door. You're at the other end of the corridor, so you don't hear his his dialogue with the barely opened door. Whatever it is, it lasts a relatively short time before he turns to you and gestures that you should approach.

When you arrive to the door, he gives you a grim look. "You must be a lucky bastard since she sees you at all. You are something worse since she insisted to meet you alone."

He keeps gazing at you until you enter the room and close the door behind you.

Aegwynn is sitting by her desk at the other side of a garish room, writing something on a parchment. "I'll be with you in a second," she says. "Don't move, or I'll know."

You freeze, not really knowing what to do. Luckily, the wizard doesn't take long. She puts the parchment in an envelope, which she then seals, and stands up. "You've been busy," she says.

She turns around, revealing that under her wizard's cloak, she's wearing an emerald green dress with golden stitching, very highly conflicting with her crude travel gear from yesterday. The dress' sleeves extend way beyond her hands, hanging down as white, silk-like material, its hem appears to float just a bit, no doubt enchanted to keep it clean. Her chestnut hair, now clean-looking, lays on her shoulders. At her chest is the emblem of her family, a sparrow with...

"Ehem," she clears her throat. "My eyes are up here."

You blush, rising your eyes to meet hers. She's smiling, thankfully. "Thurgrim... or Margrar as you're apparently going by now, did you kill Harold Heyland?"

You laugh out loud at the question. "Of course not... milady," you answer, trying to cut out your hilarity. She doesn't seem half as amused, though it's immediately apparent she wasn't being that serious either.

She tells you to sit down and takes a seat herself. There's a table with a set of chairs near the door. As you're about to speak, she cuts in: "Before you speak, know two things. First of all, you are not going to the dungeon, because there's no reason for which you might have killed Heyland. The taint of darkness that was in you yesterday is greatly diminished now, so I assume you haven't gotten used by whatever it is that is plaguing you either."

You open your mouth, shocked. She knew? "What, how?"

Aegwynn shakes her head. "I have a tendency to stay updated on any mysterious cult-related strangers that wander into my tower. I had a rather long talk about your journey with Andrea Lothar last evening. It was most informative. She refused to tell exactly what it is that hangs over your shoulders and feeds darkness into your heart, though..." Suddenly you feel like some kind of a test subject being inspected by a mage doing research.

Since you don't comment, she continues. "Secondly, even if you aren't responsible for Heyland's death, you probably are related to it. I'm not going to let you out of here until you help me find out who did it. Alright?"

Not feeling like angering her, you nod. She smiles. "Now, can you offer me any suspicions or, more importantly, proof behind your hunches?"

"I don't really know about the murder," you say. "So much has happened since we met you before arriving to Grand Hamlet..."

Before you can comprehend what's happening, you've slid into explaining everything about your whole journey, or at least the most important parts, to Aegwynn. She stays quiet and nods her head. At one point, you wonder if you should just shut up and quit. This isn't about Heyland anymore. Nonetheless, you continue, eventually telling about Justino and, after that, your most recent talk with the Devil.

After you've finished, Aegwynn sighs and closes her eyes. She appears to be thinking. You give her peace for a moment before anxiously asking: "Lady Aegwynn, isn't there anything you can do?"

She opens her eyes and locks them with you. There's a short silence. You realise you're not going to like what she has to say. She slowly licks her lips before speaking:

"Thurgrim, you're not going to like what I have to say."

"Yes, I figured that out on my own," you assure her. "What is it?"

"I suspect this 'devil' of yours may just be in your head," she starts out, hesitating before interrupting your arguments: "No, I do not mean that it's just an illusion or madness, I mean that it may very well originate from you. You described that the magic which reanimated the thief came from you. Either the creature was using your willing body to channel its own powers or... the alternative."

You blink. "Are you saying that I might have some kind of... magic powers?"

"It's not beyond question," she says. "I have travelled this planet for... many, many years, and the amount of things I've seen which you couldn't even imagine is staggering."

You stare at her incredulously. You can't help but think that she's ten years older than Andrea. At the most. Definitely not older than you. "You can't be that experienced... uh, with all due respect."

She suddenly smirks at you. "Very well then. Give me your best shot. How old am I?"

You open your mouth, just about to answer before deciding otherwise. "But seriously, magic powers?"

She looks like she's about to demand you answer her query for a moment, but in the end she wipes the smile from her face and gets serious again. "I don't really know, but it's entirely possible that the 'devil' is just a fragment of your mind, an avatar of whatever this power is. There's really no way of knowing for sure, though."

"No way of knowing?" You ask, your eyebrows furrowed. "Shouldn't it be obvious whether I have magic or not?"

She shrugs and goes on a rather long explanation of different kinds of magics and their comparative abilities to stay hidden within a person until used. You don't pay much attention. It takes you five seconds to realise she's finished. And even then, you only do notice because she suddenly springs up and thrusts out her hands, throwing you into the air, where you're left suspended, supported only by her will.

"Let's test my theory," she says. "Call for the 'devil'. I want to monitor your situation when you communicate with it. Maybe that can prove something."

"Uhh... I'd prefer not to," you say. "I've got a feeling that my life will be improved by lesser contact with it."

She hesitates. You try to struggle a bit, but despite your ability to wail your arms freely, you can't move yourself in any direction. Aegwynn speaks: "Are you sure? This might get us results."

"Okay," you mutter and close your eyes. You don't really know how to 'call' the Devil, but you do. Your muscles relax and you take a deep breath, blowing it out with force. It feels like ripples in the air move into all directions from your very skin.

To your surprise, you don't hear the Devil. You feel it. It feels...


You mumble something you can't understand.


Suddenly you fall down from the air, onto your knees, almost slamming your face against the floor. Your breath is ragged. Aegwynn lets out a surprised gasp. "What happened? Thurgrim? Speak to me!"

You roll onto your back and stare at the ceiling above.

The wizard keeps her distance. She eyes you warily, but doesn't speak. You try to say you're okay, but manage nothing but a hacking cough. Aegwynn rushes to you, leaning over you to check your pulse before putting her face right against yours and loudly asking: "Can you hear me?"

Your eyes flutter and you punch out a hand, attempting to crush her windpipe. She manages to jump back to avoid your attack. Her lips move and sound comes out, but you don't listen.

You climb up and curse that the guard confiscated your knife. You'll have to kill her with your bare hands. You charge forward, your fist soaring at Aegwynn's belly to knock the wind out of her. She sidesteps and shouts again, but her speech is like the insistent buzzing of a bothersome insect. It only makes you want to kill her more.

As you turn to attack her again, her face shifts. She seems to come to a decision, and suddenly you are met by a wall of thick, solid air. You try to fight through it, but your chances of overpowering her magic are about the same as a mouse's chances of overpowering your brawn. Damn it all.

The leans down and speaks to you very clearly. You decide to hear her this time. "Thurgrim, I know you're there. Fight it."

You try to circle around the invisible obstacle before you, only to find out it's just a part of a rather large cube of thick air. You're trapped.

You beat the wall separating yourself from Aegwynn with your fist. The pain is like fiery daggers being stabbed into your very essence. She doesn't speak, but just looks at you. Your eyes meet.

You feel a very sudden falling sensation. The world blurs and you fall to your knees.

You're suddenly in Lakeshire, in the middle of the street. The world is weirdly distorted, all except the single moving figure; the Devil is standing before you, a smile on its face. "Yeah, I guessed you were starting to guess what was going on. So, here we are. How do you like being yourself for a change?"

You feel your face going red from anger. "How dare you! You made me think-"

It laughs, covering your tirade. "Stop lying to yourself, Thurgrim! Stop pretending that wasn't your whim!

...hey, that rhymed!
" It turns and walks away from you, spreading its hands. You're just about to say something when it loudly commands: "Stand still and listen. You've got to understand this, boy. It is simply essential, so please be nice and give me joy."

You shake your head. No, anything but this...

The Devil sings:
"We're in your mind, kid.
Let me indulge my flair,
'couse even if you want it
I ain't going anywhere.

Sure, you've got your free will
You may even hate me too.
But if you look at it in the long run
You just don't have one clue.

If you let me introduce myself
I'm a man of wealth and taste.
Or maybe you can call me Druj
If you're in some big haste.

I come to you mortals
And I whisper in your ear.
It's silly easy, believe me,
I just say what you wanna hear

What do I get out of it?
Shits and giggles, I guess.
Main point being, listen now,
This is where I you address.

It turns around and smiles down at you. You scratch your head. "That was short, and I think the syllables didn't match at times."

The Devil shrugs. "It made you quit your whining, so it did its task. And besides, you can't come up with a better song while you're singing it." It puts a hand on your shoulder, burning you, and asks: "So, what can I do for you?"

You draw back, scowling. "Let me free, Devil. I don't want to harm Lady Aegwynn."

It snarls. "I have a name, I just told you it. Call me Druj, friend." It smiles poison.

"You're no friend of mine!" You insist.

Mock shock appears on Druj's face. "No friend? You hurt me, Thurgrim. We've been together for longer than any of those losers you hang around with nowadays. How are we not friends?"

You don't have a reply, so it laughs. "So, seriously this time. You called for me. Any reason for that?"

You stare the thing down and then turn around, waving your hands at the village around you. "If this is all in my mind, I can do whatever I want, right? If so, I challenge you to a rock-out!" You hold out a hand and try to make an electric guitar materialise. It doesn't.

Druj shakes its head. "I'm afraid I'm going to have to let you down here. Y'see, the thing is that the mind is not governed by the will; the will is generated from the mind. It's like you pathetic mortals. You're born from the landscape of the world, but yet you are slaves to that very world and its fickle state. Should the land stop giving its fruit to you, you'll die of hunger. In the same way, your will shall be broken as the safety of your mindscape's sanity is lost..."

It steps toward you, towering over you. Its eyes shine deep emerald light and razor-sharp hot claws dig into your shoulders. "...and when your pathetic existence is embedded into mine, I will manifest onto your realm and bring destruction to it just as I brought it to my own. And I will teach your people just how fragile their existences are when they can be ended by a mere thought by me, Druj, who slaughtered his brother for insubordination. Who reigns over all others, righteous and wicked alike. Who refused serfdom under the Dark Titan of the Burning Legion himself!"

The creature's body warps, turning less humanoid and more like a mockery of all life in existence. Its limbs are all different lengths, its muscles swell out until they block its very movement, six news limbs (half of which are wings) grow out of its back and its horns twist and curl like three serpents ready to strike. "AND THEY WILL KNOW TRUE HORROR AS THE CYCLE OF EXISTENCE IS BROUGHT INTO A HALT, AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE UNIVERSE WILL BE SHATTERED!"

Druj pushes you back, felling you into the ground. It snaps back into its original look. "...and that's why you can not have a rock-out with me. Hate me if you will. Your ire sustains me."

It turns around and looks into the distance. The scenery warps around it. "I think I've chewed this through and through, we'll move on now..." It mutters. The world around you turns into the mountainous cave where you spent the night after leaving Grand Hamlet now.

Druj turns back to face you and smiles a bit. "I think I'll take a vacation for a change. We'll not see each other for some time now. But before I go, please do humour me. Tell me the reason you go on. Tell me the reason you even bother."

You hesitate. Nothing comes to mind.

"I see..." The devil simply says. "Farewell, for now."

You are cast into a vortex of pain and awake on the floor of Aegwynn's room. She's standing some distance away at first, but then a look of amazement takes over her face and she steps next to you. As she leans down to take a closer look, you can't help but notice her ample cleavage.

She holds her face inches from yours and asks: "Thurgrim? Can you hear me? What happened?"

From a moment's fancy, you sit up with a sudden surprised gasp, finding your face in...

Aegwynn pulls back in shock, but you grasp her back with your hands and attempt to fake crying. To your surprise, you start crying for real, sobbing against her chest. You try to stop, but only find your weeping enhanced by the attempts. At first you're embarrassed, but soon find yourself not caring, as it all comes out.

The wizard for her part can't seem to select a reaction at first, but eventually she ends up hugging the back of your head and making motherly noises. You eventually manage to control yourself and mutter: "I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to..."

"Please", she says, her voice suddenly stern. "I've seen my share of sadness over the years. You don't have to pretend like you're some emotionless macho just because you're around a woman. Get yourself together at your own pace, and then tell me what happened. All of it."

She slowly removes your hands from her back and stands up, walking to her desk. You notice her casting a quick spell that removes the tearstains from her dress, but attempting to hide it from you. As you dry your eyes on your sleeve, you smile to yourself.

After you've told her all you can remember, Aegwynn nods. She's written most of it down on parchment. "When you called for this thing a high concentration of magics, both arcane and spiritual in nature, started appearing in your body", she speaks after making a spellcheck. "At the time of your possession, it reached critical levels. I think your lifespan may have been shortened by some months by that much strain. Just before you regained consciousness, the presence left your body without warning over mere seconds. I'm afraid these are symptoms of demonic possession..."

You nod your head dully, hoping there will be something new to you. After a moment's hesitation, Aegwynn adds: "However, there's something weird here. When I met you yesterday, I could sense much of that magic in you. It was the remains of the possessor's presence from several days before and the Jacaruso incident. Right now, there's none left. I do not know the exact meaning behind such a strange event, but, well..."

You nod your head. Druj said he's 'taking a vacation'. This is most strange.

Aegwynn sighs slowly. "That brings us back to the death of one Harold Heyland. I am going to judge that the chances that you were possessed during the night are slim. We'll have to see what investigation brings up."

"I'm excused then?" You ask, and quickly add: "I think Andrea and Redwind would best know I'm alright."

The wizard smiles. "You can go, unless there's something more."
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

Last edited by Kerrah; 11-10-2009 at 01:05 PM..
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Old 04-13-2009, 03:05 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline

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As I said, I'm glad you did this. You've set SoL on a good roleplaying road.
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Old 04-13-2009, 04:29 AM
Tysar Tysar is offline

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Yeah thanks a lot Kerrah, this should be really fun.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:20 AM
Mark_Romaneck Mark_Romaneck is offline

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Seeing how even a naked dwarven can kill 30 Khaz Modian wolves, the hell with the caves we will survive trough Deus Ex Machina and make it into the smoke!
Megatron: You've forgotten something else: I am your prisoner. I've been granted conditional bail while we look for the Knights of Cybertron. Where in my bail terms does it say—where precisely does it say—that I have to risk my life to save a handful of strangers? Where does it say that?

Skids taps Megatron's Autobot badge.

Skids: Right. There. What does that badge even mean to you? How has wearing it forced you to modify your behaviour? I'm serious! How has being an Autobot in any way prevented you from doing exactly what you want? Because if the answer is "it hasn't"—then nothing you've said or done in the last six months counts for anything.
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Old 04-13-2009, 11:54 AM
Vicious Vicious is offline

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Kerrah for "official roleplaying guy" 2009.

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Old 04-13-2009, 12:06 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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I'll probably try DMing D&D this summer, when my friend who owns the sourcebooks is serving his time in the army. Let's see if this stuff serves as any practice for that.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:33 PM
Rashid Rashid is offline

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Originally Posted by Kerrah View Post
I'll probably try DMing D&D this summer, when my friend who owns the sourcebooks is serving his time in the army. Let's see if this stuff serves as any practice for that.
Wish we could get someone to DM our WoW:RPG game =/

Originally Posted by ARM3481 View Post
Thank goodness Golden handled Rise of the Horde, or it might have started with the tale of the Eredar leaders Archie and Jay being seduced by the power of the Dark Titan Gary while their close friend Lenny fled Argus to escape the corruption.
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Old 04-13-2009, 12:38 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Originally Posted by Rashid View Post
Wish we could get someone to DM our WoW:RPG game =/
Dream on. I'm going to start writing a fanfic on top of this Stonetear thing.

I've got many irons in the fire.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 04-13-2009, 09:32 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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I vote to look around and see if jumping from tree to tree is feasible.
Originally Posted by Timolas roleplaying with Xie
"Take me, Xie! I know you dream of me as I dream of you; you haunt me Xie! Take me! Take me like an aminal Xie!"
Xie wants YOU to check Wulfang brainchild RIGHT NOW. SO click on this text
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Old 04-14-2009, 07:32 AM
Rashid Rashid is offline

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Originally Posted by Kerrah View Post
The ongoing game can be found here.

Originally Posted by ARM3481 View Post
Thank goodness Golden handled Rise of the Horde, or it might have started with the tale of the Eredar leaders Archie and Jay being seduced by the power of the Dark Titan Gary while their close friend Lenny fled Argus to escape the corruption.
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Old 04-14-2009, 09:41 AM
Zula Zula is offline

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Originally Posted by Rashid View Post

Oh xD I feel so stupid.
Originally Posted by Timolas roleplaying with Xie
"Take me, Xie! I know you dream of me as I dream of you; you haunt me Xie! Take me! Take me like an aminal Xie!"
Xie wants YOU to check Wulfang brainchild RIGHT NOW. SO click on this text
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:09 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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This thread is also for discussion about the game, by the way.

I wanna ask a few things from you players:

-Is Tysar still playing or not?
-Am I going too fast or too slow?
-Anyone just reading the game and not playing it?
-Any random criticisms?
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 04-28-2009, 12:29 PM
Vicious Vicious is offline

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-Is Tysar still playing or not?

Fuck if i know.

-Am I going too fast or too slow?

Both of them actually, it varies.

-Anyone just reading the game and not playing it?


-Any random criticisms?

Hum, this Devil guy seemed kinda random as hell, like we couldn´t do shit on our own and you had to step in but i can´t really complain until i see where it´s going, also i´m behind a story text.

Which i will read right now.

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Old 04-28-2009, 01:03 PM
Rashid Rashid is offline

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Your speed is pretty reasonable in my opinion, Kerrah. You process roughly two "decisions" a day and as many small requests as you can muster.

I don't play as much on the weekend since I'm not on my computer as much, but it's fine since the updates seem a little slower then too.

I appreciate you holding back on major things until you get input from everyone

Originally Posted by ARM3481 View Post
Thank goodness Golden handled Rise of the Horde, or it might have started with the tale of the Eredar leaders Archie and Jay being seduced by the power of the Dark Titan Gary while their close friend Lenny fled Argus to escape the corruption.
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Old 04-28-2009, 01:05 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Well, this weekend won't be a problem for your slow play speed, since I'll be at my father's. Game halt for that time.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 04-28-2009, 01:13 PM
devius devius is offline

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Originally Posted by Kerrah View Post
I wanna ask a few things from you players:

-Am I going too fast or too slow?

-Any random criticisms?
Sometimes I think it's a bit slow when the options are trivial and there is not much for the players to do, but during major events the the speed of the story feels proper. I don't expect you to leave time for everyone to be able to affect every turn, I'm just happy by being able to leave my voice every second scene or so, though I'm not sure people will agree with me on that part.

As for the random stuff, I'd just like to compliment on your choice of theme music for each scene, I love it and I hope to hear more of it.
By the way, do I need to say the story itself is pretty darn awesome?
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Old 05-04-2009, 07:07 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Thanks for the criticism, everyone. I'll put my input into improving the game.

Originally Posted by devius View Post
By the way, do I need to say the story itself is pretty darn awesome?
Yes you did. What most people don't know is that I suffer from low self-esteem and need reminding at times so I get the motivation to go on. Double-thanks to you.


EDIT: It seems to me that this whole "free-roaming" thing isn't working this time around. I liked it a lot at Lakeshire, which is why I'm trying to implement it against at Grand Hamlet.

Either I'll have to throw around a lot of more sideplot hooks for you guys or move into a less sandboxy game method for town play.

Also, the text is, as of now, over fifty pages long. That's a lot.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

Last edited by Kerrah; 05-04-2009 at 07:45 AM..
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Old 05-28-2009, 01:12 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Updated the collected story again.

It's so long now that the quote box around it is bugging. Ho ho ho.

I'll probably break it into chapters at some point.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

Last edited by Kerrah; 05-28-2009 at 01:37 PM..
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:19 PM
Wulfang Wulfang is offline

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This thread has been too goddamn quiet. So speculation ahoy:

What do you guys think is the deal with the Stonetear and the Three-Horned Devil?
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Old 06-11-2009, 02:21 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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And with that convenient and not entirely unforeseen combo-breaker post, here's a notification:

I broke the story into chapters. Chapter one is until the heroes arrive to Grand Hamlet, chapter two is their adventures therein and chapter three is has just begun, what with their departure.
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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Old 06-12-2009, 02:48 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline

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A wise plan. I'd do the same with the Great War, but with everyone's posts combined I'd create a fan fiction vortex formed of a thousand different writing styles and characters which would consume everyone's sanity.
Although keeping track of all that is present hasn't driven me mad, yet.
There is no creature on earth half so terrifying as a truly just man.
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Old 06-12-2009, 03:03 PM
Yuber8900 Yuber8900 is offline

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Community writing projects can be amazing.
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Old 06-13-2009, 02:44 AM
devius devius is offline

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Originally Posted by Wulfang View Post
What do you guys think is the deal with the Stonetear and the Three-Horned Devil?
Perhaps he made a deal with it earlier, hurt someone he cared of (family maybe?), regretted it and then wanted to get rid of it.

Or that could be entirely wrong, but that's what theories are for.
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Old 06-13-2009, 05:50 AM
The Three-Horned Devil The Three-Horned Devil is offline

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Originally Posted by devius View Post
Perhaps he made a deal with it earlier, hurt someone he cared of (family maybe?), regretted it and then wanted to get rid of it.

Or that could be entirely wrong, but that's what theories are for.
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Old 06-13-2009, 06:14 AM
Wulfang Wulfang is offline

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Originally Posted by devius View Post
Perhaps he made a deal with it earlier, hurt someone he cared of (family maybe?), regretted it and then wanted to get rid of it.

Or that could be entirely wrong, but that's what theories are for.
Actually a good point. Why would the THD be after Thurgrim? And that blue-eyed thing he sees when he passes out has to be the cause of his amnesia. An elf, perhaps?
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