A pile of bones; a tribute to the fallen who had come after the Book. The skull crested upon it glowed tirelessly, hungrily. Abiding its freedom.
The downs were restless today it knew. For more adventures or warriors, or -- ah it did not matter. All would pay tribute among the bones. The dancing skeletons stopped their mindless ritual, the intruders had arrived.
The Lich was afraid, the Book had sensed. Much to its delight. Two High Elves and a Troll, an interesting, and ironic group.
Clashing of swords and dagger approached, and the Book felt their presence closer and closer.
Release me. It told the Lich. Release me and your life is spared, an oath.
Foolishly the Lich discarded the Book and made haste. This only made the Book calls more determined as at last, the three invaders arrived. They wore the Sigil of the Horde, embroidered in white on their crimson red Tabards.
An arrow struck home, its blunt weapon sticking through the Lich chest. It began to cast. In answer a lightning strike slash cut through his back. One of the High Elves had appeared behind him.
The Lich wailed the most horrendous of screams. The Book rejoiced.
The Troll administered the last blow, as their enemy; the Lich, faded slowly.
The Book began releasing its aura, anticipating that one of the power-hungry High Elves would notice. One did.
“Narzor, leave it be,” his brother Wharf ordered. But the High Elf was too compelled, and soon the lanky Troll budded in. “The Lich be clutching this in his hand Elfmons. Me seen it with me own eyes.”
Narzor never held his eyes off the Book cover. “There is a name on it,” he said.
Wharf, Narzor’s brother, who was retrieving his fired arrows from the corpses, came closer.
He glanced at the Troll.
“Are you certain Wazarg?”
Wazarg gave him a drunken nod, and took another sip from the liquor the Troll always carried with him.
“Cover it up. We’ll take it with us. Calchas must hear of this.”
Narzor was fingering the glowing skull, an unknown desire dwelling in the bowels of his heart.
“I found it,” he stated more than said. “Aye. That you did.” Wharf gave him an uncertain glance, before folding a cloth around the Book.
The Book was in ecstasy, it was on its way to freedom. And every second was it calling to others, never considering the present captors his Masters.
Deep in Outland, a different Book sensed its Brothers joy and joined him in its bliss. When they would reunite, Gandling’s Legacy would blossom.
Death is no longer what it used to be.
In the life before, death had been a permanent ending and if one looked deeper, the beginning of something new. Upon the death of a Lord his lands passed to his heir. Upon the death of an enemy came the knowledge that he was dealt with forever.
Having experienced death without this finality had changed his view of it. Having seen others making the same transition as himself had forced him to re-evaluate the whole concept of it. Others died and went away to some place beyond his knowledge; Some heavenly paradise or some burning cellar in the Nethers. Bishop Abraham Tremayne did not know.
The Forsaken died yet remained here. This he did know. Around this simple fact was the whole creed of his belief focused. Their heaven or hell did not await them beyond; It was right here. Their souls had been rejected by the nethers and shunned by the light and belonged to no one but themselves.
The rain fell softly upon the shores of Tirisfal covering the whole landscape in a gloomy shroud of pale mist. There was almost no wind and the dark ocean washed the shores in neverending waves of cold crisp water. The same water that washed the lands of his fathers also encircled the vast glaciers of Northrend beyond the sea. There somewhere, on a great pillar of Ice sat the Lich King, who more than anyone symbolized death. From his dark will had the great plague sprung. His will had re-defined what used to be the final border. As much as Tremayne hated to admit it, it was thanks to the Lich King that he still remained here, in the lands of his fathers. Had the plague not forced him back from the dead, he would not be here. His dead gaze passed to the fresh carcass of a dead murloc just a few furlongs down the shore. The creature had emerged from the depths only to find a quick death beneath the edge of Captain Levis´ burning axe. It seemed as the murlocs death were of the more final variety. Captain Levis had then been harschly introduced to the ranks of the Iron Ring by being asked as a final test to drown himself. The Captain had taken his sermon on power and the various stances one should adapt to it to heart and showed this as well as his murderous willpower by submitting to Tremayne´s wishes and drowned.
Tremayne had of course brought him back to un-life again, re-born into this world in the same dead body but with a deeper perspective. This was another face of death that was within his power. At his command the dead would live again or the undead would be brought back to un-life. His submission to the disciplinary teachings of the light and shadows have given him that power. Something that in itself was a true marvel.
The shadows of the evening grew to swallow the lands of Tirisfal and lay them covered in the darkness of the Lordarean night. The rain continued to drizzle down and in crevices and shallows pools of murky waters began to appear. The rains also muffled all sound and Tremayne did not notice how one of the shadows released itself from beneath a pinetree and approached him. The silluette of a man stood behind him a long time, observing, before making his presence known by stepping up and placing himself at the left side of the drenched forsaken bishop. Ser Ivar Darkslade, Preceptor of the Iron Ring and the master of secrets.
The sudden emergence of Ser Ivar brought a smile to Tremayne´s thin bloodless lips. Darkslades arrival signalled a fitting end to today´s morbid musings by introducing yet another of the faces of death: The one who revels in dealing it. Tremayne let his mind slip back to the present and the tasks at hand. Ser Ivar Darkslade was not here for the pleasure of his company.
"Preceptor. I should be distraught at the fact that you found me here when I had told no one of my whereabouts. Had you been an enemy I would have been in dire straits."
"My Lord Bishop. How lucky for you that I am not." A ghastly smile spread on the former guard-captain´s ruined face. "I bring you the news you wanted."
"Splendid" Tremayne nodded "I would be most gratious to hear it."
"Most of what Magister Fairbreeze said checks out at a first glimpse. This Vanguard does exist and he is indeed a part of it. Not that we doubted that. He also seems generally concerned about something even when he thinks no one is looking. Something is affecting him."
"And the book?"
"I need more time to verify the existance of it and what significance it might hold. I can say this though, I watched his face throughout the exchange. The elven facial muscles are abit different than human ones, They have only 38 but can be read, even though it is a bit...awkward. He does not seem like he is lying or making things up." Darkslade fell silent a second before a thin smile appeared on his lips. "Well, at least not about that."
"Once again your service is invaluable, my old friend. I marvel at what you can accomplish in such a short time." Tremayne smiled, knowing well Darkslade´s full worth. "In fact, I have another request for you."
Darkslade did not answer but waited silently for Tremayne to continue. He was never one to waste words needlessly.
"The task I set for the Vanguard to accomplish to prove their ability as a partner. As you might have guessed I have alterior motives for choosing the target that I did. I would be eternally grateful if you....ah, oversaw the operation from a distance. That way you could personally assess the competence of this Vanguard and the worth of their allegiance. Also, there is another task that I wish performed when the vigilance of the target is....gone."
Ser Ivar turned towards him. "You are aware of, of course, that the target can sense the presence of blight and that might compromise my personal security?"
"I am. Are you telling me it can´t be done?" Tremayne asked softly.
"Just informing you of the nature of this favour so that you know it´s full worth. What is this other task then?"
"Lord Mestopheles Runestratum should be able to give far clearer directives than I could ever hope to. I would suggest a visit to him..." Tremayne´s voice trailed off when he realized that Darkslade was already gone.
The air was thick, Ahrmas noticed as he took foot outside of the inn in Brill. Heavy drops of rain teasing him. A foul stench crept up his nostrils, and nausea overtook him, as he began to cough . He squatted and vomited on the ground, not used to the smell of corpses around him.
He had just finished a meeting inside the Inn with the members of the Iron Ring, and his stomache was upside down. Both by the penetrating smell, and the disgusting manner by which the Forsaken group dealt with business.
Whiping his mouth with a piece of cloth he composed himself again to atleast a minor degree of decency. He watched the one that was called Ser Ivar walk by, and he did not take his eyes of him. The Iron Ring was using him, he knew, but what other choice did he have?
When Ser Ivar moved out of sight, a strange and awkward looking Forsaken walked up towards him. His back was hunched, and his head misshapen. He supposed all their heads were misshapen.
"Excuse me, Sindorei"
This close to the Forsaken, Ahmras could see all the little details on the Forsaken's face that death left him. Insects crawling over his head, devouring the rotten skin tissue. A worm, or a pair of worms; Ahmras couldn't tell, were oozing in one of his empty eyesockets -- a gruesome sight.
"What is it you want?" Ahmras scowled, the smell sneaking up on his nostrils again.
The hunchback Forsaken lowered his head humbly, and offered Ahmras a written parcel.
"I was ordered to present it to you, I was."
Ahmras eyed the letter curiously, before unfolding it.
"There is no name on it."
The Forsaken smiled, showing a row of missing or rotten teeth.
"Snarls was not informed with the name, I was."
Ahmras dismissed the uncomely Forsaken with a wave of his hand and began to unfold the letter, so he could read it.
It took him less than a minute to scurry through the letter, and he fumbled it . He was furious! Quickly he wrote a letter in reply, and hoped that it would reach the appropiate person in time.
If it would be known by his brother what he has been aspiring too, everything would be at an end. He would not allow it. He adressed the letter to Xaath, the brave soul who dared to blackmail him. Perhaps the meeting was a mistake? No. It was supposed to be like this.
The Road to Supremacy would become a lonesome one.
It was to Lord Runestratum's chagrin when Tremayne's thinly veiled demand came to his attention. He had attended many a clandestine meeting in the past but never one as irritatingly candid as this, nor with such poor company. The Lord had been well aware that at the meeting there would be a demon-worshipper and so had sought to excuse himself in advance, sadly Tremayne was not sufficiently foolish as to accept any paltry reasoning and so Mestopheles had found himself in Gallow's End Tavern; amusing himself by watching the candlelight play on the top of the good Bishop's bald head. Reflecting on it now, from the comfort of a warm fire and a warmer Brandy, he realised that his only purpose there had been as a demonstration of the Iron Ring’s power: had Tremayne in fact dressed him in bright, gaudy colours and painted ‘Look at me, I’m an Archmage’ on his forehead the effect would have been much the same and considerably simpler to carry out. As it was he had merely introduced himself and occasionally offered his professional opinion in regards to the Book. As the role he played had been rather minor his memory of the evening was accordingly faint, but he did get the distinct impression that much of it had been spectacularly dull.
As a man of leisure his entire life the Lord Runestratum was not accustomed to spending a great deal of time doing what he did not stand to benefit from. Sadly, however, the solitary ‘benefit’ of the evening was that his monocle was now a good deal cleaner than it had previously been, largely due to Mestopheles’ habit of fiddling with it whenever he found his interest waning. “The great mundane masses might find tales of dark tomes written by evil hands engaging but having spent my life researching into the artifacts of the Kirin Tor I most certainly do not,” he muttered to himself in between sips. Sighing deeply and conjuring a globe of light to dance before his eyes Mestopheles considered the less pleasant events of the evening. The warlock had made several insinuations through the course of the evening that made the old Lord’s blood boil. “How dare he think that I, a scholar of the nether, an Archmage no less, might not be able to resist this mere book’s allure,” he grumbled angrily (and not a little drunkenly), “Why, it is his warlock ilk that are never to be trusted near a source of power: ‘tis like moths to a flame. Me, not worthy? Bah! My study is filled with items that would make the book look like nought but a child’s play toy; in fact I have just the item on which to place it!” The Lord’s eyes grew misty for a moment (well the equivalent of, the void-like holes actually grew a lighter shade of black) as he pondered over what he just said. “Yes, as a matter of fact I do…” he stated aloud. With that the Lord climbed carefully out of the chair and (ever-so-slightly) staggered to his study.
For half a dozen turns of the moon he had been looking for something that he had lost. Something he had known throughout his life. Something he had took for granted that now was gone.
Who had ever dreamed that peace could be such an elusive thing?
He had not, of course. Being born to this world long after the tumultous times of the past he had walked the forest of Ashenvale all of his life knowing that he had an eternity at his leisure. His mind had been serene and calm. Peace had been his companion throughout each and every one of his journeys. Now he found it nowhere.
There was no peace to be found in Darnassus. He had stayed away from Teldrassil in the stormy sea since it was planted only to return just recently. He had hoped that the Priestesses of Elune could tell him where peace had gone. He had hoped to get some answers and he had; just not the ones he wanted.
And Teldrassil lacked the air of serenity and rightness that he sought. There was something deeply disturbing about it and he had learned that he was not the only one of his brethren who sought things that used to be theirs. He had left Teldrassil with more questions than answers.
"Should we take back what we once had? If so, at what prize? Or shall we accept our fate and go diminished and fade like the mortal races? What road lead to peace?"
He gazed towards the Fallen Ancient, its weight denting the grassy earth. His mission was done, and a sensation of relief washed over him like a foamy wave crashing against the surf. Atleast that didn't go wrong.
In front of him, a few yards, stood Eliphas the Unclean One. His lungs were blowing maniacal laughter.
"Oh, the killing is beautiful Ahmras!" the Forsaken Eliphas stated.
The third of the group. A humongous Troll by the name of Wazarg Bonedancer, was slicing the head of one of the Ancient Caretakers. A young Kaldorei, female. She would have probably been labeled as pretty by her own kin. And why wouldn't they, when she had curves like that?
When the blood flowed from her neck, Ahmras was ready to barf, but he held it back. It pleased him profoundly to see his dark skinned enemies death like that. He strode toward the paved path, knowing that it would lead to Auberdine.
Learn to love the killing Eliphas said in Ahmras's head, and enjoy it he did.
'We must strike against Auberdine," he heard himself say, his mind wandering back to the letter he had found earlier in his mailbox. "They have asked for this wrath upon themselves."
Wazarg, stood next to him now, and Eliphas began walking already, appearing thirsty for more bloodshed.
A blue Troll hand grabbed Ahmras's shoulder firmly, an iron vice.
"This goin' be fun, mon." And with a sharp whistle, the Troll Wazarg called upon his Raptor mount, the teeth of the beast red of flesh and blood.
The Battle had been bloody, and they had killed many Sentinels in Auberdine. And yet Wazarg and Ahmras barely escaped with their lives. He traced a finger down his cheek. An arrow had almost struck him there, he reflected as the boat was far out of reach from the Auberdine port now.
Wazarg was taking care of his own wounds, pulling the bandages tight. The Troll had saved him he realised. He had carried him on his shoulders when a Giant Cat tore through Ahmras's calves.
His strength had gotten me on this boat.
He sighed deeply to himself.
I proved to be weak, once again... You better hold your word true Bishop Abraham...
And he could only guess, where Eliphas the Unclean could have escaped too. Perhaps Ahmras hoped he laid death on the Auberdine port.
It was the early hours of night when the two orcs whent on there hunt. The elder was the orc warlock known as Burgrsch Demonvoice. The younger one was a mok'natal hunter known as Grall. Why they where going Gronn hunting was a matter of secretsy.
They needed the blood of the beast god as well as it's heart. After sometime hunting they fund a Gronn. The two sent in there demon slave and wolf partner to kill the gronn and started to cast dark spells and fire bullets. Soon the beast fell to the ground.
The elder orc drained it's blood in to a flask of iron as the halfbreed cut out it's heart. The heart was massive, around the size of a orc's head. And for the first time sens they started the hunt one of them spoke. Under the hunt the two had only communicated via hand signals and grunts.
"This heart is enormous!" said Grall whit his deep strong voice.
"Indeed..." said Burgrsch whit his dark almost evil voice. "I hope you can stomach eating that later."
".... maybe..." was all the respons the elder got to his coment.
"Will you take it?" the hunter asked looking on his blood cowerd arms whit disgust.
"Yes, give it here!" said the warlock and heald out a black bag in witch to put the heart. The young mok'natal put the heart in the bag.
"Good... it's heavy..." said Burgrsch feeling the wight of the heart.
"Aye" responede Grall.
"We better clean up" said Burgrsch and looked at the blood that staned them both.
"Aye" was all that the halfbreed said.
The two orcs washed themselfs in a near by lake and then they parted ways. The elder orc whit the gronn heart in a bag tiede to his wolfs sadel. The heart was just the beginning. Soon the Three would raise to power, soon the Council would return.
The touch of cold leather against her naked skin was something Isilvara still had not grown fully accustomed to. Her body was far to curved and sophisticated for such rough and brute armor. The very edges of the former chimaera cut into her soft, gentle skin. Isilvara was sure it was going to leave a bruise.
The room was dimly lit by candlelight, but all windows and the exit to the great tree itself had been sealed with cloth. Around her, Cenarion Circle wardens, the caretakers of the hibernating druids, took their time to adorn Isilvara with their leathers, cloths, artifacts and talismans. Isilvara felt uncomfortable with so many caretakers. She had not been undergoing this sort of royal treatment since the days of the Highborn, many millenia ago.
Although whereas she had in the past had handmaidens drown her in silks and flowers, Isilvara now suffered from lack of breath due to the tightly pressed leather armor. Her parfumes and oils replaced with salves that reeked of mayblossoms. Isilvara took a look into the large mirror infront of her.
Isilvara did not reckognize herself. For each piece of cloth that was removed from her, in favour of leather, Isilvara seemed to reckognize herself less and less. She appeared harsh, there in the shadows. Rough like the very leather that scratched her skin. Her beauty covered by veils of leather. And yet, Isilvara's face was unadorned. Her long, white hair was stripped of golden leaves, and adorned with black and purple pearls, markings of defiance. Her rings and bracelets were dropped, in favour of wrist guards. Markings of strenght.
Isilvara threw the mirror another look. It was done. Her face seemed obscure in her armor, as a porcelain figurine glued onto the base of some wooden doll. But it had to be done. She had arrived here for a reason.
"You are ready, Shan'Do...", said one of the wardens, as he took the 7'th, and last, lock of Isilvara's hair, and embrodied it with purple pearls. Isilvara felt like a troll, 7 locks to the left of her face, adorned with something as noisy as pearls. And yet, she turned, and strode elegantly towards the cloth that sealed the exit of the great tree. Outside, she could hear the voice of Priest Furan Shademoon booming in preacher.
"And though Elune is a godess of mercy, terrible is also her wrath! In distant times, she dove from the night sky to carry the souls of our fallen sisters to the Emerald Dream, forever watching over the blessed star children!"
Isilvara took a deep breath. A warden had slipped out of the cloth, ventured forth into the balcony and whispered into the preachers ear. He had nodded, and the warden had returned inside to stand next to Isilvara.
"...Any word from Thero'Shan Jaelani, warden?". The warden silently shook her head, before saying "Nought, Shan'Do... We expect she will arrive later.". Isilvara merely nodded, the booming voice of Preacher Shademoon's rising greater still.
"Before you march into battle, Sentinels of old, heed the voice of Cenarius! Shan'Do Isilvara Heartmourn, speak! Speak the will of Cenarius!"
The cloth was unveiled, and Isilvara strode onto the balcony to face the world. There, far below the Arc Druidid tree rose a roar of cheering from the Sentinels, aswell as the local citizenry of Feathermoon.
Isilvara stood there for a moment, observing the crowds. They were fearless... They craved vengence for the vile acts dealt by the treachoreus Sin'Dorei... Isilvara could not feel it below her leather armor, but she knew that the wind slowly seemed to die down, as if nature itself calmed down to listen. She felt nostalgic, and reminded herself she need to focus...Focus...
"...Ishnu A'lah!", yelled Isilvara to the masses below, her arms extended in greeting, which was in turn welcomed by more cheers and battlechants from the sentinels below. "My breathren, heed me!", Isilvara yelled. She was pleased. The roaring slowly died down, and eerie silence of expectation laying over the masses like a thick crust on a Starberry pie.
"The Sin'Dorei!...", Isilvara began, "...What are the Sin'Dorei, really? The survivors of the foul Highborn from many millenia ago? Exiled children, whom turned their backs on Elune? There is a word for this, my brethren. The word is: Traitors!"
A roar of cheers rose once more from the audience, and Isilvara's voice rose aswell.
"For millenia, there has been little or no interference between us, the chosen children of Elune, and the betrayers of our kin! But the arrow has been fired! The ursurpers have returned!"
Isilvara took a deep breath.
"Having their own magical source drained at the hands of the Scourge, the Sin'Dorei DARES to venture forth into the sanctified lands of Kalimdor, befouling and robbing us of our sacred Moonwells, blessed by Elune herself!"
Isilvara felt the cripple of voices begining to roar up amongst the masses, and hastened to speak up more before the roars would be to high.
"Within the voloptous capital stronghold of the betrayerkin, a dark prophet has risen! Enigmatic and greedily, he sends his savage minions into our lands to ravage and befoul our wells, envious of our destiny! Envious, that it is we, the Kaldorei, whom are the chosen one's of the ancients! "
The cheers grew louder now. Isilvara had little time.
"WE, are the guardians of Hyjal!"
Isilvara could see fists rising into the air in unified cheering.
"WE, are the children of Elune!"
To the east, Isilvara saw the Kaldoreian bards readying their songs.
"It is we, and we alone whom shall bear the name of Dorei, Kal or otherwise! He whom turns from the Godess' grace, is unworthy of life, a parasite, and as such, must be exterminated!"
The bards lifted their instruments to their lips, the cheering was going to erupt at any moment. She had to finish this now, and she had to do it fast. Timing was everything.
"The intrusion of the Betrayer kin into Darkshore must not be forgotten or forgiven so easely! Vengence shall be brought on moonlit wings! The storm and the wild rides with us, sisters, and together we shall emerge victorious once more!
For this is the will of Cenarius, and his will is eternal!"
Isilvara inhaled deeply, and smiled to herself as she saw the masses below erupt into cheering, singing and dancing. The bards had started their moonlit serenade, and Isilvara fell back into the dimly lit room. The Preacher, Shademoon, strolled once more out on the balcony to continue his preaching for the remained of the dawn.
Isilvara sat down, a goblet of water being passed to her. As Isilvara lifted the goblet to her lips, she was met with the golden gaze of a raven across the room. Isilvara smiled. Dawn had arrived, and would soon be followed by daybreak.
By nightfall, the rain would be stained red of sin, and Isilvara wanted Gilraen safe within her reach when that occured.
The Dorei wars had begun, and the road to Supremacy unfolded, laying dormant to those whom would seek it.
Meanwhile, far to the east, a band of Kaldorei rogues swept across the silent halls of Ironforge. Few of the Dwarven kin had awoken, and the only sound to be heard was that of the burning coal. And yet, from within a dark vault, the Kaldorei dragged out the slaugthered corpses of the Dwarven guards, amassing them in a pile in the middle of the city. Any moment now, the stench would begin spreading.
A man spoke. "Shan Gilraen... Are we ready?" "Yes. We are.", spoke a deep womans voice, and the cloaked Kaldorei mounted up, waiting for their seemed leader. Gilraen rose up aswell, riding with her brethren. But first, she placed a letter her old friend had written. A feigned leather, albeit, yet whom would knew? Would it matter?
A lone dwarven woman exited her house with the garbage of last night's dinner. She was met with the most gruesome of sights.
The dwarves of Ironforge awoke to the terrible screaming of a young woman. As they rose to the alarm, they were met with the sight of four doussin slaugthered dwarves, aswell as half a dozen of black cloaks vanishing into the dawn.
Amidst the dwarven corpses rested a letter. The scroll was pure white, with red and golden ink carved onto it, held in place to a dwarven guard only by a dagger. Not much of it's containtments were revealed at the location, but every dwarf, man woman and child, could read.
"By the order and degreement of the Royal Council Of Silvermoon...".
"You did well, Gilraen.", Isilvara said to the raven. "You did well indeed..."