The Eversong Woods were at peace, the boughs of the eternally colourful trees stirring beneath a gentle breeze, the sunlight illuminating the leaves that carpeted the forest floor in a multitude of autumn shades.
From the jutting spire of the Sunsail Anchorage, Sylvain Corvinius eyed the Wretched which swarmed below with a haughty gaze, lifting a goblet of wine to his rotting features to take a soft sip, and then smack his decaying lips appreciatively.
"A fine bouquet, a sore shame it lacks in taste and odour," he sullenly remarked to himself, allowing the goblet to slip from his grasp and fall shimmering in the golden rays to the hard earth. Allowing himself to sink back into his cushioned chair, he reflected on the recent events that had chanced upon him, a slight sneer adorning his features.
The Magister he had encountered in Silvermoon had posed little threat, his drugged wine loosening his tongue and eventually leaving him out cold on the floor of the Inn. With the information he had acquired, Sylvain had swiftly incorporated himself into the Iron Ring, where he had come across another interesting character, the Arch Mage Mestopheles Runestratum.
At the thought of their brief meeting, Sylvain's hand slid to his chest, massaging it slowly and methodically without even truly realising it himself. Dalaran. Indeed his thoughts had never left the place, his intentions growing each day among his also deepening madness. His lust for refuge had not only granted him that, but new possibilities...
Soon. The single word which provided Sylvain with so much comfort. His keen hearing had picked up traces of the conversation between Ahmras and Mestopheles at the estate in Silverpine, and ever since he had obsessed over its purpose. All he knew, was that some form of powerful, arcane artifact lingered there, somewhere, and if he was to have his hands on it, a renewed course of action against Dalaran and it's ignorant denizens would be open to him.
Sylvain smiled widely, allowing his hand to return to the arm of the chair like the other, dead eyes failing to reflect the sunlight. Soon, he would have his revenge and all of Azeroth would learn to fear the name of Count Sylvain Corvinius!
Daley covered his head as a small vase flew past and shattered into the oaken wall.
Another bam, and another painting, this one of a particulary shiny fruit Daley would assume was some sort of star-apple, fell onto the floor, shred to pieces by green nature magic.
"Defeat!? I'll show them defeat!"
"Issy! Calm down!".
Daley had rushed forth and grabbed Isilvara's arm, just as the enraged druidess was about to throw a very old and very delicate looking spectral orb out the window of the colossal druid tree. Isilvara merely dismissed his human hand, sighed, and then calmly placed the orb back on a table with both her hands. Daley stroked his hand through his own hair, exhaling. Isilvara had been rampaging for hours.
"Dis not as if the night elves have been defeated, innit? I mean yes, your personal forces and your mercenaries have failed in gaining allies, and you are losing ground in Eversong, but..."
Isilvara slowly turned to face him, her eyes on the verge of tears, and yet her wrath clearly visible. Daley was sure she'd explode any moment.
"...But?...But what?", Isilvara said, barely hiding her fury. There was something bestial about Isilvara when she was angry. Many times, one would have to blink when they learned she was a druidess. She was sometimes refered to by other druids in mockery as "The moonlight", or "she whom never has dirt under her nails". And yet, there she was, growling like a frenzied bear. her hair a mess from all the stress the Dorei wars had wrecked on her, dark shades under her eyes from the lack of sleep and nourishment. Her teeth gritting as she spoke, fanglike and menacing. Exhaustion and under nourishment was as visible to Daley as his own left hand. It was hard for him to grasp the fact that somewhone so faelike and enchanting could stand before him, appearing as a wicked witch. Isilvara truly did appear her age, for once.
Truly, she had lost alot of influence within Kalimdor with what many Kaldorei refered to as "the war of the blind". They did not agree with Isilvara's views upon the Sin'dorei, nor the threat the so called prophet posed against them. Rather, they accused the druidess of madness and corruption.
"...But WHAT!?", Isilvara repeated.
"There's still tha council of war, innit?"
Isilvara sighed. She turned and covered her face with both hands, breathing slowly.
Daley tried to get the facts together. The massacre of Ironforge guards had failed miserably, as the Royal Council had sent emissaries to Ironforge. It was now impossible for Isilvara to earn the enmity of the Mithril Guard against the Sin'dorei, atleast without revealing herself, and thus any chance of even hoping to gain the assistance of the so called Stormwind Militia was futile. If the Kaldorei themselves would not support the Dorei wars, then who would?
"Leave me.", Isilvara commanded Daley, hoarsely, her voice strained from screaming. "I need time to think...".
Daley started walking towards the exit of the great tree, leading to a long set of stairs going downwards towards the rest of Feathermoon. However, he suddenly turned and said:
"Issy...Maybe...maybe it's time to accept defea-"
"DON'T!", Isilvara said, still not facing him. Daley sighed, turned, and walked, mumbling to himself.
"...More stubborn then an Alterac Ram..."
- * *
Laughters. Hordes of laugher. Fingers were pointed at Isilvara, gloating, laughing. She was naked, reveling in a pool of blood. The blood of her breathren, the blood of her fellow druids. As she rose from her pitiful pool, she watched around her was Kalimdor was set to the flame. She saw the tree's burning, the villages crumbling to ashes, the cries of Kaldorei women as they were forced upon by savage orcs. To Isilvara's left, Isilvara could distinguishly make out the corpse of Daley, and the head of her youngest student, Jaelani.
Suddenly, there was a bright light. The sun had rose in a second. The landscape had changed...She was in Quel'Thalas, dressed in nothing but chains, being escorted through the laughing crowd towards the Court of the Sun. Children were throwing rocks at her exposed body, and Sin'Dorei men and women alike spit insults. Isilvara's body was full of wounds, some still open. She was weak and dehydrated, and the chains around her neck, wrists and ankles were heavy, warm, and wet from sweat and blood.
Finally, the guards that escorted her stopped. Isilvara felt the poke of a spear in her gut, and with a gasp, fell to her knee's, her silvery white hair touching the ground. Infront of her, the sun was blocking her sight, but Isilvara could clearly make out that there were men and women infront of her. Sin'Dorei men and women. She knew she stood before the Royal Council of Silvermoon.
Suddenly, a man stepped forward. "I, Essmir, chairman of the royal council of Silvermoon, hereby declare the trial of Isilvara Heartmourn open."
There was silence. Isilvara could feel the heat of her own breath against her chest.
"Isilvara Heartmourn. You are hereby declared guilty of witchcraft, murder and fanatiscism. You are a prisoner of war, and your sentence's have been selected by the council."
Isilvara saw two council members exchancing looks, as a purple scroll was handed down from one to another until it finally reached the man known as Essmir. He unfolded it, and read loudly.
"By the power and authority granted to me by The Cenarion Circle, The Cenarion Enclave, The Cenarion Expedition and the Cenarium, I, Shan'Do Cherwina Dawnstrider, hereby strip Isilvara Heartmourn of the title Shan'Do, and her membership in the Cenarion Circle, The Cenarion Enclave, The Cenarion Expedition and the Cenarium are hereby revoked."
Isilvara grit her teeth as the Sin'Dorei around her cheered, roaring with mockery and celebration.
As she raised her eyes once more, Isilvara was another scroll being passed to the chairman.
"And now, heed the words of the prophet, Akeion Greythorn! Lord and master of Vermilion!"
And there he was. Isilvara glared with hatered unmatched as she smirking elf lord approached, carrying with him the scroll passed to him by Essmir. He raised his arms to order silence, and then started reading the scroll.
"By the order and degreement of The Royal Council of Silvermoon, heed me!..."
But Isilvara heard something else. Her golden eyes burned with hatered as they met with the cold, jade glare of Akeion. In her head, she could hear him, whispers of paranoia and despair.
"So...We meet at last... And under what better circumstances?"
"...That the renegade druidess be sentenced to death. First, however, it is of outmost importance that we sort out the betrayers of our kin! The TRUE betrayers, that be!"
Isilvara's heart froze, and her eyes widened. Akeion's cold stare met with hers once more as his whispers echoed inside her aching skull.
Isilvara heard the moan of agony from a young man, being thrown in the sand to her left. Her heart was filled with dread, and though her chains did not allow her to turn her head to the left, she could clearly hear his breath...
"...Dakrin Sunstone, the Royal Council of Silvermoon hereby declare you guilty of heresy and desertion. I hereby sentence you and your immortal soul, to death."
Isilvara wanted to scream, but there was no breath left in her. No energy to struggle. All she saw was the shadow of Lloth Silkspire, the Sin'Dorei rogue, materialize and the touch of metal against skin as her nephew was beheaded.
"NO!", Isilvara screamed, as she rose from the floor. There was silence around her, and the night breeze carried with it purple flower petals in the room Isilvara had shattered. She was awake now. She was soaked from sweat. Somewhere in the night, a harpie was singing.
Sun rose. Daley brushed the last of the morning tiredness away from his face as he dressed. He felt like a dog, having slept in the grass outside of the great tree. But now he stood up, and marched upwards the great stairs to see if Isilvara had calmed. But as he entered, the tower was empty. All the broken furniture and artifacts had been swept away, and there was not a living soul in sight. Daley later learned that Isilvara had taken the boat into the mainland, and so followed.
It took him hours, but eventually, Daley found Isilvara standing infront of a small tree, chanting. As he approached, the tree sprung to life, unrooting and marching down the hill.
"...Issy? Whatcha doin?"
"...Do not disturb me, Daley.", was all she said before halting to the next tree, exhausted and hoarse. Daley went forth to support her, but Isilvara merely pushed him away. A second seconds later, yet another tree had come awake and followed the first one's lead. Infact, Daley had been wondering why there were so many holes in the ground. But now he knew.Now, he realized.
"This is madness, Issy.", Daley said. "No...This is practice...Akeion can not evade my wrath forever...", Isilvara said trancelike, as if still asleep. She walked towards the ravine, and Daley walked with her. He came to a stop at the ravine' edge, gasping at the bizarre view of a thousand treants and ancients standing in lines, readying for war. The entire forest seemed to have been raised.
"Issy!...What have you done!?" Isilvara said nothing for a long time, the echoes from the dream still lingering in the back of her head. "...If I can't defeat the Sin'Dorei of Eversong...", Isilvara said, raising her hands to the skies. The clouds seemed to change, the skies growing darker. "...Then Eversong Forest itself shall rise to consume them!"
Without further warning, rain fell from the skies, thunder and lightning following it. At once, the army of treants and tree spirits started marching as one towards the boats at the north, enslaved, created for the sole purpose of war. Isilvara's rain spell had drained all of her remaining power, as she collapsed in Daley's arms.
As Daley watched the legion of treefolk make it's way towards the boats, he could not help but to chuckle at the irony. His friend had done everything in order to protect theese forests...The very same forests which she had now awoken, enslaved, and sent to war to face certain death.
How the Cenarion Circle and the Kaldorei would react when they learned of this, he dared not think of. Daley mounted his trusted steed, with the uncounscious Isilvara sleeping on his shoulders, and set off into the wilderness of Feralas.
Hizazan peeked inside the abandoned hut, that stood in a shadowy corner of the Drag. Dirt and blood stained its insides, though one would hardly notice since the only source of light was a hole in the ceiling, which only iluminated a small spot in the middle of the room. A worn chair stood in the beam of light.
"Sit down" a deep voice commanded. Hiz tried to locate the source of the voice, but it seemed come from everywhere around him. He approached the chair cautiosly and sat down.
"I think you know why're you're here Frosttusk" the voice said.
"Yah, I know mon. An' call me Hizazan. Ya aint got da privileges da refere ta me wid' dat name" Hiz answered, still trying to locate the voice.
"As you wish, Hizazan. We have one last task for you, before you are off the hook"
"Fine mon. Whatevah. But dis damn bettah be da las' one or I'll hunt ya down an' split ya 'ead from ya neck" Hiz hissed.
"This will be the last task, that we promise. We need you to retrieve an artifact. Rumor has it that a book of great power has ended up in the hands of some of your fellow Horde friends. As you might figure, we cannot let that happen" the voice instructed.
"So ya wan' it back? A'ight. I can do dat mon... I be allowed to kill, right?" Hiz asked.
"You can do whatever you want, just aslong as you get that book and deliver it to us. And then your debt will be repaid. There is a scroll under your chair which describes the details. Do not disappoint us" the voice answered.
"Da word disappoint aint in my vocabulareh mon" Hiz grinned and grabbed the scroll under the chair. He stood up and went outside the house. A chill ran down his spine. He quickly turned around on his heel. The house was gone...
Grand Master Rogue Fahrad was pleased, his men had found out things about the elder Orc they had kidnaped then most of his own peolpe knew. Not even the spies of the Horde or Alliance had got this much information on the old warlock. And it was this that hade lead to his kidnap.
However not all of his followers was happy whit the situation. Lord Jorach Ravenholdt, thought it was to risky. As he always did, this of corse irritated Fahrad.
"What if this Orc cult chooses to simply storm the Manor?" asked Jorach.
"And risk making themselfs known? Not to mention that the life of one of the highest ranking officers? I think not..." said Fahrad whit a annoyed tone in his voice.
"So lets say they give you what you want..." beigan Jorach but was cut of by Winstone.
"My Lords, the letter has been sent and the prisoner is safely placed in the basement. Under the guard of Master Thunderwood." reported the good gentleman. Fahrad liked Mr Wolf as he often called himself. He understood that just becose you stole and killed for a living you need not be uncivil.
"Wait, did you just say: "What you want"? Was it not you that said that we could: "Make this information work for us?", tell me if Im wrong!?" almosed screamed Fahrad. He dissliked loseing his temper, as he tought of that as a sighen of weakness.
"I meant for blackmail or to sell! Not to used it in some sceam to join the blasted Shadow Council!" said Jorach wail grining his teeth in anger.
"Money?! Was that all you tought we could get out of this? We have the chans of becoming a part of a world power! And all you can see is the money!?" now Fahrad screamed and shock his head. "You are both exuse!"
"As you will mi'lord." said Winstone and left.
"I demand to speak whit the orc later!" said Jorach and stormed away. _________________________________________________________________________________
Burgrsch was wake by something liking his face. As he opende his eyes he saw that it was a cat. The next thinh he notesed was that all his cloth was missing, as well as his sword. He was next to naked lying on a stone floor. And a dwarf armed whit a dagger was standing over him.
"Ye'r awake? Good, now don't ye be sceard. We won' be hurtin' ye... Unless ye cult budys not be givin' tha boss what he want cose then we will have to be cutni' ye." said the dwarf whit a warm smile.
"What? Who are you!? Where am I?" asked Burgrsch.
"Why, your in the celler of the Ravenholdt Manor! Sorry about the taking all your stuff really! Seing a almost naked orc ain't exacly what I call a fun thing! But we can't have you use magics on us now can we?" the one whom had anserd him was a gnome.
"Wait a second... Are you from the Alliance? For if you are I will not talke!" said Burgrsch diffantly.
"We? Alliance? Ye be a fun' orc lad! No, we are part of tha Assassin’s League!" said the dwarf.
Burgrsch did not know what was going on. But one thing was sure he was in big trouble. And he could only hope someone would save him.
Ximrana had not always been called "Tainted-Blood". One she had been called angel, or diven being. Her last namn had been Dreakmore. After her mother Lady Erina Dreakmore, her father had been a orc warlock. She did not remember it all but she had been told after her mother and all members of the Cult that had spwaned her and the other 12 children of half-orc blood had been killed.
What thos who enslaved her at the tender age of five was that her mother had been apart of a evil cult who worshiped demons. They had belived that she and her kin the half-orcs where a higher form of life. That the fusion of orc and man created the beast being one could imagine. But the same peolpe also repetedly toled her that they where wrong! And that she sould be thankfull they where good peolpe whom did not kill her.
But as Ximrana now sleeped after finally becoming free. Free of Alterac where she had been a slave untill the City had fallen when she was at the age of 15 years. And then taken to Northshire Abby, where the monks made her "repent" her dark heritage. She had done that for 8 years and more. And now as she sleeped as a free women on the other side of the world among big blue beings whom spoke her toung whit a deep acsent she dreamt.
She dreamt about her mother holding her in her arms. She was young not older the maybe 4 years. Her mother smiled. Her mother the fine lady of Alterac, Lord Aiden Perenolde knew about the Cult. Infact he was one of it's leaders. He had, as he said, forseen that the Horde would win. For theres was a race far superior to humens. Thos this was the only way to avoid being annihilate.
Three of the cultist where standing in the center of the fine chamber chanting and making purpel lights come from there hands. Making a circil in the air that looked ilke a hole in space. It stinked, but Ximrana was still happy. Becorse this only meant one thing, her dady was coming to see her. And then a orc stepped out of the circil. But it was not her dady. It was the sceary orc. Non of the half-orc children knew him by namn but all the adults called him master.
"Ah, I tought only the familys where having there reunion master... I... " the one whom spoke was Lord Aiden Perenolde. He was speaking in the orcs toung, out of respect of the master.
"Oh, shut you mouth Aiden! I come here whenever I pleas! It also happens that the Warchieftan comands more information... He do not trust you as I do, my friend..." He spat the last word as if it made him sick to say. Lord Aiden Perenolde bowed his head and followed the sceary orc out. The sceary orc, or master. almost never looked on the children.
"Here he comes love..." whisperd mother in her ear. And there he came her dady. He was much older then her momy. And she had only seen him a few times before, this time he was whering only a pair of colth pants a belt whit a big burning blade in it. The other orcs sometimes called him the Blade of Hatred.
She ran to him and he welcamed her whit open arms. Most orc males whos half-orc children where girls would not so much as look on them. But not her dady, he huged her whit thos big strong arms and hoist her in to the air. Smiling all the time, he even kissed her. Something only the other orc females did to ther half-orc children. And she knew he loved her.
"How is my little earth spirit?" asked her father that was his nicknamn for her.
"Good dady... And dady guess what?"
"I missed you!"
"I missed you to..." after saying that he kissed her on the forhead. But the the deam turned from good to bad. The scaey orc came back followed by a shaken and swetting Lord Perenolde.
"I am sorry my orc-breatheren. But as you knew when coming here we could not stay as we use to. We are called to war, and most return to the Horde now." said the scary orc and walk to the three chanting men re-entering to hole and left.
"Your leaving so soon? Burg, my love?" Erina asked her father whit tears coming from her eyes.
"I am sorry to say yes... We march to war ones agen... And we most go... We may not see one another agen for a long time..." anserd Ximrana felt how her small hands griped her dady harder and harder.
"No! You can't go dady! Pleas!" she cryed tears poring out of her eyes.
"I am sorry but I most go..." he gave his child to her mother, kissed her and her mother one last time en left via the hole. That was the last time she saw her father.
The next image was even worse. She was in her mothers family manor, but there was fire every where. Peolpe where screaming her mother ones more had her in her arms. She was runing followed by three of the familys guards, there where fleaing the house via a secret tunnel, the entrens to it was however in the main hall. All other guards where dead. Killed by falling buring logs or arrows fired in to there house.
As they came in to the main hall something hit the bared front doors. The doors shoke and racked, almost throwing themself open. And then they where hit ones more, on the other side stode humen soldiers. The pair holding the battleram jumped to the side and the soldiers behide them fired there crossbows. It was only quick thinking on the guards part that saved Lady Erina Dreakmore an her child.
Crying Erina held out her daughter screaming:
"Here take her! Kill me! Rap me! Just don't hurt my child! I beg of you pleas!"
"Privet Wilkins take the littil moster!" comanded a man in armour that ones had been shining whit. On his tabard he had a whit hand on a blue background. As he had comaned a soldier grabed the half-orc holding her tight.
"Kneel heretic!" he said to the mother raising a massive two handed hammer. Lady Erina Dreakmore fell to her knees crying. "Any last words?"
Erina looked at her child and said: "I love you angel..."
As soon as she had said the word "angel" the hammer fell and crushed her skull. Ximrana got some of her mothers blood and brians on her face. The man whom comanded the gruop of soldiers wipe the blood, skull and brians of his weapon. "A heretic to the end... one most respect that devotion..." He mutterd.
"And the kid, Sir?" asked the soldier holding Ximrana who had stoped crying, It was not that she wasn't sad. But more that she was to crused to cry or do anything but look on the pool of blood that had been her mothers face,
"Comander Aedelas Blackmoore, has for some reson comanded that all half-orc abominations we find are to be left alive. I have no idea why... But I am not going to qvestion my orders..." anserd the man in blood staned whit armour.
At this note Ximrana cast herself out of sleep gasping. She had had that deam many times, and it always got worse. She cryed, it was the midel of the night and all around her was dark.
/Me via alt
He was short of time, he realized. The irony of it almost made him laugh out loud like a madman. He had risen from the dead and with the healing skills at his disposal he could maintain the freshness of his undead body indefinatly. Years from now, decades, centuries even, -Bishop Abraham Tremayne would still walk this earth if no accident or enemy tore him from it. Time was not an issue, should not be an issue for one who had conquered death. Yet he was short of it.
The long awaited returns of the Countess Zian de Reich and Lady Lyenna Hellebrandt had both been welcome, yet disturbing issues had been raised from it that demanded his personal attention. Ahmras had fail to make contact since his brazen assault at Auberdine, which could be interpreted in alot of ways. The game must be played even when players are amiss. Hostilities between the elven kindreds had failed to move to open war yet. Soothing voices on both sides had preached a clemency that on the Horde side almost bordered to treason, -certainly to cowardice. Add to that the clumsy attempt to frame the Lord Mestopheles Runestratum for an assault of a barkeep in Silvermoon.
So much to do, so little time. Yet, the task was not a daunting one. In every situation there was an opportunity. The issue was to find them and use them to their full extent.
In one dark evening both the truth and a great evil were set flying in to the night sky and with it the ill-fated conspirator riding the winds of his foul fel magics. The Lord Runestratum mused on the many and intricate ways in which to level vengeance against the fool who would seek to steal an archmage's belongings and consipre to keep him trapped within his own home. He regretted his decision to humour Sylvain now; now that the warlock's true power and cowardice had been revealed. Surely it would have been better, in hindsight, to destroy hi mand his coiterie the very moment they stepped foot on Runestratum soil. Sadly this had not been so and now a potent magical artifact was in the hands of a man who Mestopheles would be hard pressed to entrust a simple razor blade. That is not to say Sylvain overpowered him of course, events (as they are inclined to do) had transpired in a far more convoluted fashion...
I remember a great thirst. An overpowering urge. A need in its most primordial sense... Accordingly I reached for the brandy bottle and poured myself a glass. Such is the way I spend most of my evenings: warming these old, dessicated bones besides a fire while sipping upon the 'fire from the vine' as I call it. In fact it would be reasonable to assert that this was my last remaining pleasure in an existance devoid of feeling. Of vitality. It had not always been this way; in life I had been something of a hedonist and had eagerly consumed every experience on offer. But I digress. Suffice it to say that this was how I was found when the young but decidedly cold figure of a Sin'Dorei walked through my door.
"You are to remain here." She stated as her companions filtered through my doorway: a troll and another two elves. With apathetic eyes I took in the scene and must admit to scoffing somewhat: the very idea of these.. .these whelps atempting to put a great man such as I under house arrest was absurd. So absurd in fact I couldn't help but feel that this was a joke of some sort. I had been expecting company of course; Sylvain had promised to deliver unto my caring hands those that had arranged the inept framing of my good self. Sylvain's knowledge and eagerness to please had aroused my suspicions beforehand and coupled with his suspicious visiting of my abode some time ago I was decidedly wary of his motives. So it was to no particular surprise when he threw his shadow across my domain.
In all fariness he had attempted to disguise himself, alas his disguise was as useless and meagre as his plots against me. After all; who precisely was he attempting to fool? An archmage is the answer. An archmage who had been dabbling in politics since he was a child and considered this sort of thing nothing more than a rather tiresome game. It was obviously to his conternation, then, when I stated his name. It would not be too far to say my insight in to the matters helped me identify him but the main credit goes to the 'true-seeing' spell inscribed over the house by my predecessors long ago. I would probably have seen through it beforehand by my own merit of course. My observational skills have always been praised quite highly. I would go so far to say that they are unsurpassed amongst my 'peers'... Where was I? Oh yes. Sylvain entered the house with an air of smug self-satisfaction. It would seem he had prepared something of a soliloquey but I cut him short; while satisfying to the actor they are most wearying to everyone else. In hs defense he didn't let it faze him and made his commands very clear: he wanted the book. He didn't know what book, just THE book. I, being in possession of all the facts, knew exactly what book he was talking about but decided it would be ammusing to play the fool as it were. Realising it would be useless interrogating me (if he had tried he would have found himself severely lacking in the body department I assure you) and set about rifling through my belongings. I found this rather vexxing; it was a most crass and vulgar thing to do. Besides which they were most uncivilised about the entire affair, throwing priceless contrivances and antiques any which way. It was at this point I decided enough was enough and confronted the fool about it.
I shan't bore you with the details as undoubtedly should you ever hear him recount the tale (though I wouldn't pay much attention: he is quite the bore) he will spend a great deal of time recounting his 'marvellous' schemes and 'ingenious' plots. Suffice it to say he revealed to me that he was the one who had arranged everything. Fortunately one of his henchman chose that time to locate the book and activate the ward I had placed upon it. He was immediately struck ill of course and Sylvain faltered in his grand speech. This pleasent distraction did not last long sadly and soon enough he was at it again. It was most irritating and I was contemplating crushing him there and then when he gave the order for them to attack me. Me. A Lord (and an archmage no less) inside my own home. This act of savagery simply crossed the line. It is most improper and rather barbaric. Put simply what followed was a prime example of when one as powerful as myself becomes annoyed: a veritable symphony of ice, fire and arcane magic flowed through the air as I unleashed the power of the nether upon them. Not the full brunt of course, I am not so crass as to waste it on simpletons who cannot appreciate the fine art of manipulating the forces that power this world. By the end they were all disabled and no longer presented any form of threat (not that they did beforehand of course, not to me anyway) and I turned my attention back to Sylvain who despite his blustering seemed ratehr ashen faced.
A brief magical battle followed and, despite myself, I must admit to being a tad impressed with his skill. Consorting with demons is certainly a potent path to follow, if not a corrupting and incredibly foolhardy one. After some time I grew bored of the affair and decided to show him a sample of true power. Mixing the magic stored within my household (magic weaved in to the very timbers by generations of Runestratums) with my own I prepared a spell. A most powerful spell. When it was unleashed the unfortunate warlock was sent flying in to the opposite wall and crumpled in to a heap at the bottom. Somewhat like a puppet with its strings severed. I ensured he was down and mocked him for his idiocy and turned to deal with the others who had this point recovered enough to stand. This was when Sylvain showed the full extent of his cowardice, savagery and unrefinenment. The uncivilised cad actually fired at me when my back was turned. Momentarily dazed he sprang at me, stole the book and fled. By the time I had recovered he was gone and I was left with his weakling followers.
To cut a long and rather tedious story short I cured there curse-stricken comrade, interrogated them, discovered they were under a glamour, removed it and then placed them under one of my own. To their knowledge should they seek out Sylvain they shall die horribly. Which is true, to a certain extent. What I didn't reveal of course is that so will he...
Grand Master Fahrad had no intrest of hearing the Taurens exuses. He had faild in keeping the elder orc inprisoned. He had clamed that a rogue had helped him escape. But what of it, it was still the taurens falt. He had been the Orcs jailor and his prisoner had escaped.
"Enough! Enough of your exuses! Your fired!" Fahrad screamed in anger.
"B-but boss... It wasn't my falt! She played whit my mind and sneacked in weapons to the orc... I..." the Tauren tryed to explan.
"One more word and you'll be dead and fired! GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!!!" Fahrad roared.
The Tauren snorted and made the misstake of speaking agen, he said: "What about my pay!?"
Whit a insane roar and assailed the Tauren. The massive being roared in pain and grasp his head. Where is right ear had ones been. Shacking in anger the finest Rogue in all of Azeroth said whit his teeth pinch he said: "Thats all the pay you'll get... Now one more sound and next time it will be your head... Now go!"
The Tauren left fast fearing for his head. But Fahrad was still not alown. Lord Jorach Ravenholdt has at his side, he was smilening. He put his hand in the inner poket of his clothing and pulled out a letter.
"We got this letter from one of our spies this morning. It's from the old orc." said the old Lord whit a smile.
Fahrad knew that the Lord Ravenholdt never did anything for free. And this letter heald the fate of Fahrad. He had to know what was whriten in it. No matter the cost.
"What do you want for it?" asked Fahrad.
"Your promis that whatever dark rits this cultists want us to do I will take no part in them! And the same gose for any who feels the same way I do!" said Jorach whit a smile.
"And you most promise not to let this intefer whit Ravenholdt bissnis! We still fight the Syndicate! No matter what!"
"Done and done! Now give it!"
"Say 'Pleas' Fahrad..."
"Pleas give it!"
The elder lord gave him the letter. And he read the words, they made him smile. He had done it, even tho the orc had escaped he had been impressed. Impressed that there spies had found him out and that they had so easly traked him down. He, Grand Master Fahrad was now a member of the New Shadow Council.
"We are running out of test subjects, milords" The unease was plain to see on the chief embalmers bloated face as he was kneeling on the floor in front of the area Tremayne occupied together with Lord Mestopheles Runestratum. Besides being a healthy bit of respect for two of the Lords of the Iron Ring, his expression was also a sign of failure.
"Running out?" Mestopheles scoffed. "Not two weeks ago you were given almost 40 subjects. How in the nether could you have managed to go through all of them is this short time?" Mestopheles appearant annoyance made the embalmer even more nervous than before.
"Surely there is some progress to report, child?" Tremayne said before Lord Runestratum could verbally flay the chief embalmer. "Me and the good Archmage here are just dying to here about the yields of your labours."
The Chief embalmer thoughtfully scratched the blackened rash on his cheek as if truly contemplating before he proceeded. "Well milords. There is of course. Night Elven flesh can be sewn and stiched just like any meat, but I believe that it is less likely to spoil and go bad, sers. Fine Abomination meat ´tis"
"We already knew this you peasant imbecille." Mestopheles shot the Chief embalmer a baleful glance. "How do they react to the fluid and in what manners have you applied it?" He had spent weeks researching the waters that were retrieved from Darkshore by ser Ivar and found certain iregularities that merited further testings. A reagent fluid had been devised through painstaking labour to be tested on the Night Elves taken from the Ghostlands expedition. 52 Night elf bodies had been transported by the meatwagons to Undercity and 35 taken alive for "questioning", as they had informed their Sindorei allies. It was the first time they had such an abundancy of test subjects from the reclusive Kalimdorian race.
"I´ve fed it to them, good ser. Also three have been conserved in the substance. They all turn ill and die from it milords. That is why I need more bodies." The Chief Embalmer crossed his arms over his chest and nodded sagely.
Tremayne had heard enough. "Lord Runestratum, it seems we need to make three changes before proceeding with the experiments. The good Chief Embalmer here has used up our supply by performing the same test over and over again. A test which incidentally destroys the subject and thus can be tried only a limited amount of time. We need a new supply, we need to discuss what can be added to the formula, and we need someone else to lead the field testings. Someone more ..capable."
The look of stupefied fear on the Chief Embalmers face was almost enough to soothe the fires of rage that grew within him. Such waste! "You, child. Have failed the Forsaken with your uselessness. A Forsaken that cannot serve squanders the dark gift and has lost all priviledge to continued existance. This is a grave sin, child."
"W-what... p-please milord... I-I.. What will you do w-with me?"
"Rejoice, child! I shall absolve you and you will atone for these sins and no longer be useless." It was child´s play to dominate the simple mind of the embalmer and have him go himself to the Apothecary society and ask to be cut up and have his part used to give birth to another Abomination to keep the Queens peace.
Mestopheles stroked the arm of his chair thoughtfully. He had warned Abraham from the offset that trusting the sample in the hands of a fool, a peasant fool no less, would be nothing but a waste of time. Indeed; had he had more time to look at it the breakthrough they needed would have undoubtedly come. Afterall, HE was the Lord Mestopheles Runestratum! Last in the line of the illustrious Runestratum family, proud archmages of Dalaran every one. That... creature was none of this. He was a country bumpkin awarded social status because he was handy with a needle and had the good fortune to die and be raised again. It had been a most perilous endeavour to acquire these subjects and each one was wasted; frittered away. Mestopheles scowled at the thought of this and brought the amber liquid to his atrophied lips (one of the few pleasures remaining in his unlife).
While staring in to the liquid as it danced inside the glass the Lord Runestratum could not help his mind turning to more troublesome matters; Abraham's actions were justified and in his place Mestopheles would have done far worse, but when his old friend spoke in the manner he did he could not help but feel a little unnerved. Mestopheles had lived a long time and in that time had heard that tone before; invariably from the mouths of fanatics and zealots. He trusted in the sanity of the good Bishop (at least insofar as a man such as Mestopheles can trust) but occasionally feared that perhaps insanity had taken hold of the once care free man and in this case had tempered his mind till it was hard as diamond. Still, even if this were true the man had his uses and it was through his dealings the Iron RIng had become a powerful Order once more so the Lord was confident enough to be able to benefit from the situation and leave as soon as the situation got... interesting.
Determined not to worry himself unduly the aged Archmage extricated himself from the chair (a slow and painful process for all involved) and willed himself in to his study where the object that had tormented him for months lay. The eulsive agent of success for the Iron Ring's plans were contained in that little vial and yet it had, true to form, thoroughly stumped him. Sighing he carefully pushed it to the side of the work desk and muttered a cantrip under his breath to detect any scrying spells. Satisfied with the results he proceeded to withdraw a complicated-looking rod from within the recesses of his robes and tap one of the desk's many compartments; this flashed an angry green and proceeded to fizzle out of existance, replaced by a seemingly empty void. Mestopheles seemed unpertubed by this turn of events and repeated the procedure with several, apparently randomly chosen, other compartments. The very last one, however, opened normally; as if the actions of its brethren had never occured and the desk was nothing more than its namesake.
From within it he took out a tiny sliver of blood red metal. If the Dark Lady knew he had kept this for himself he would undoubtedly be killed but as a previous member of the Kirin Tor he could simply not allow such an artifact to slip out of his hands without at least keeping something. He laid it on the desk and staired at it awhile, willing his hands to stop trembling. It was always like this beforehand; the anticipation of what might be ahead. Researching powerful magical artifacts had always been the Lord's greatest thrill in life and even now he could not stop himself from feeling that momentary surge of fear and excitement. He laid back for a moment, savouring this tantilising moment. Finally satiated he placed the maginifying goggles over his eyes (a complicated contraption comprised of glasses, lenses, metal joints and leather straps) and set about his business. It was much to his surprise when the vial containing the moonwell water shot across the desk and stuck fast to the bloodstone. Mestopheles had played this game too long to display surprise but he was momentarily taken aback; in his long years he had not seen such a violent attraction. It was in these same long years that he had learned to trust his instinct in these matters so with nervous anticipation he removed the vial's stopper and, momentarily whispering a prayer to any who might hear him, dropped the sliver in to the glowing water...
When Mestopheles awoke he found two things: firstly his head felt like someone had forcefully attempted to pry it open and secondly there, lying on his desk, was the inexplicably stoppered vial containing the agent of the Iron Ring's success.
The elder Orc entred the Undercity scribe's quarter. Not many know of this the bureaucracit heart of the Horde. True it was not many things that where done via bureaucracy whit in the Horde. Thos the scribe's mostly worked for mages and warlocks or in some cases priests. The unliving men and women that worked there did not ask qvestions, and that was just howeveryone liked it.
"Ah... Masster Burgrssch... How good to ssee you..." hissed the Book Printer Chief when he saw him. His had his cheeks had been ripped apart.
"Indeed... Are the books I ordered done?"
"Yess... There coverss are indesscript black ass you ordered... And no one whit know how in the magic artss have read the bookss ass you whised..." said the undead printer.
"Exelent... Here is your pay..." said the elder orc hand handed the undead a bag full of coins "And here is a little something to help you forget about this books." added Burgrsch and put 5 gold coins in the printer chiefs hand.
The undead smiled showing his rotten teeth and puting the coins in his own pocket. "What bookss?" The orc warlock smiled and had his felguard put the 13 books in a bag.
The elder had namned the books the Black Books. They where spell books holding all but the most powerfull of the Shadow Codex spells and rits. The books where pland to be given to the members of the New Shadow Council of mayby just maybe the warlocks of the Coven. To whom ever he gave him them the books would be most usefull.
Archon or was he Me'nar now? Even when meditating as the Phoenix had teach him, he could not tell anymore. But one thing he was sure of, the Red Phoenix had given up his plans to free his former masters. The Old ones would be left to sleep and dream as they had done. The two minds where becoming one and as they did the world apperd difrent.
Going to his sisters ritual chamber he opened the box in which the Flaming Blade layed. Looking at it now he saw the dark and twisted being whit in it. A demon spirit, a being of fire. Much like a Infernal, but much more intelligent. It used it's mental powers to hide itself and take over the mind of thos it believed to be usefull to it's plans.
Holdig a hand over it the Blade spoke to him: "So you are not blind anymore mortal? Will you now end me?" it asked.
"Why sould I end you when there could still be a use for you? Will you not join whit me beast?" asked the Count. Tho the right to be Count might no longer be his, after all Higbore law stated that ones a alian power enterd the mind of a ranking nobel his titel was forfite.
"I join powers whit a mortal that carris the ghost of a Pheonix? Ha! I am the creation of Kil'jaeden! Why sould I bend my will to a mortal?!" was the arrogent anser.
"If you joined whit me and my Order you would be more then a servant! You would be our reverd source of power. Maybe even someone would be willing to give themselfs to you. You would be free!"
"I am free fool! You can not keep me inprisonde!"
"Is that so?" whit that Ravenblade closed the box sealing in the Blade ones more.
He left his sisters chambers and walked back to his own. It was becoming clare to him now. The power the Order needed, his whol poelpe needed was staring them in the face. It was in the spirit of the five races of the Horde. If taped in the right way they could be used to bring glory and power to the Flaming Blade.
The Blood Elfs themselfs had the spirit of the arcane in there blood. Whit that they could controll anyform of magic and tap the spirits of the other races on the power needed. The Orcs had a deep and profane strength whit in them. This would prove most usefull if handeled the right way. The Forsaken where driven and there spirits where full of anger. They where the fuel needed to keep there plans in motion. The Trolls had darkness and light whit in themselfs. There would give them balance in there qvest. And of corse the Tauren. Who's spirit was the spitit of wisdome and honour. They would keep them from losing focus and not go to far in there plans.
Together whit the power of the Flaming Blade they could forge a power that would make them all invulnerable. He now saw how wrong he had been looking down on the other races of the Horde. Only whit there aid could he hope to creat what he wanted done. They where all primal races, the spirits choicen. The future of the Blood Elfs. He gave them all symbolic names so that non, exept those he trusted, would know what he truely ment.
The Blades spirit would be called the Flame Spirit. The Blood Elfs he would call the Sun Spirit. The Orc's was the Rock Spirit. The Forsaken was the Ice Spirit. The Trolls where the Wild Spirit and the Tauren was to the called the Wind Spirit. All was apart of what was to come, the Blade would one day join the Order. The lie of being given power was to much for any demon to give up. The six sprits would bless them and glory would return to the Order.
/Me via second main
The place held an air of significance and revere. Roosting proud on the steep cliffs that marked where the Eversong Forest ended and the crashing seas began stood aloft the slender tower that was the ancestral land of the Queen Sylvanas Windrunner. He could imagine it how it was before, when the forests still were green and golden and the peace of Silvermoon still held, bar from the occational Amani raid. How the Queen had ran laughing with her sister as a child, long before she was appointed Ranger- Captain of Silvermoon. How the delicate Windrunner mansion had not been overran with decay and inhabited by the foul servants of the Scourge.
The charred corpse of a Cultist Acolyte pulled him back to the present and for a second a wave of emotions crashed over him before he could surpress them and reagain the stoic calm that had seen him conquer and overcome all obstacles in front of him, even death. The creed of the Cult of the Forgotten shadow was that its ablest servants mastered circumstance and forged the world around his will. The Forsaken, including the Queen who had in the life before, lived just here. There were tasks at hand, circumstances that needed to be mastered and neither reminiscing nor frustration was allowed to distract him. Serene calm and an awareness of events around him were needed.
"Lord Preceptor." The voice belonging to the Baron Verayn de Vere was calm, not betraying the exhaustion the mage from Kul Tiras were certain to experience after his trials on the long road through scourge infested lands. "The Countess Zian Reich bids me to inform his excellence that the remaining few Acolytes have barred themselves in chambers in the upper reaches. She expects them to be dealt with soon." The Barons mastery of the forces of the arcane were impressive, but he was at the uttermost end of his endurance now, Tremayne could sense it.
"I am pleased, dear Baron." He said, turning to face his fellow Forsaken. "You have performed admirably, as I had anticipated. I select none to join our ranks that are short of extraordinairy." It was true of course. The Society of the Iron Ring was an elite and would not benefit from those short of ability. There was another thing that joined the Knights and Brothers of the Order and that was their noble birthright, were The Barons just now was needed.
"You are to kind my Lord Preceptor" The Baron bowed down lavishly. "The Countesses void-creature is tearing down the doors as we speak but I fear that a few escaped towards the village earlier. Reinforcements should be expected soon. My advise would be to leave in a not so distant future, Eminence."
It had been expected. The Scourges hold on these parts of Eversong were to strong to be ousted even by the three of them. Their numbers would eventually overwhelm them and now matter how much he detested them desecrating the Queen´s Birthplace, he would have to leave them to it, or suffer consequences to dire to even contemplate.
"We will move out soon and head for the safety of Tranquilien but first, Baron, tell me. How goes your dealings with the council in Kul Tiras regarding your holdings and goods?"
The Baron frowned. "Slow enough, and as you might understand pleading my case in front of them would prove...ah, difficult." The Baron had managed to hide his death from his countrymen and claimed to be on a prolongued journey. The charade would be quickly discovered infront of a scrutinizing council of course. "Still, I have access to parts of my old merchant fleet through middle hands, albeit not as much access as I would like, eminence."
"Excellent" Tremayne nodded. " I take for granted that your access is at least sufficient enough to produce one ship built for Ocean travel, no?"
"All ships of Kul Tiras are build for ocean travel. It can be done but it may take some time. Might I ask why I am granted this opportunity to be of use, Eminence?"
"You may. I intend to sail across the ocean and circle past the north end of the Kalimndorian continent. We are going to war."
It never ceased to surprise Daley how enigmatic the city of Eldre'thalas was. "Dire Maul", some called it. "Ogre's nest", others said. Not many actually knew of the Shen'dralar's survival into the present.
Daley turned his head to the right, as he descended the stone stairs into the librarie's sanctum. To his left, Isilvara walked in silence. She had regained her colour once more, and her skin had returned to it's normal, purple colour. Her alabaster skin and weary eyes seemed like a distant memory. He himself had gained some weight back. Daley stroked his fingers through his own hair, grinning as he saw himself reflected in the silvery floor. He was a young man, he knew that, but despite his short lifetime of twentytwo years, the human warrior had lived to see things most elderly archmages would kill for.
It was hard for Daley to think that just a couple of months ago, both he and his companion had been on the verge of defeat. Broken husks of their former selves, weak from starvation and stress. Daley was pleased with his anatomy. He had gained more flesh on his arms, and his skill with the sword was at it's peak. Isilvara had regained the vermilion glow in her eyes, and was once more capable of speech, something Daley was relieved at, seeing as the druidess had been unable to summon the strenght to cast any spells or cook any meal.
Now, however, the two of them walked like royalty through the mirror floors of Eldre'thalas. Their ego and defiance shone around them like a radiating aura, and all whom set their eyes upon them could feel the immense ambition they posessed...Or perhaps, Daley considered, it was the stench of rotting flesh that attracted their attention. Truly, the sack which Daley carried with him still, did reek something awful. Blood dropped from it, and wherever a drop of blood would fall, a flower or some other sort of weed would instantly grow, much to the annoyance of the Eldre'thalas inhabitants.
No matter. After a good half an hour of walking in silence, Daley and Isilvara finally emerged at the desired location. Infront of the duo awaited a giant, opal gate...
Three days earlier.
"...Are you sure this is such a good idea, Issy?"
"What other choice do we have?", the Druidess said, barely dodging the attack of a treant, firing of a bolt of emerald fire to destroy it.
"When you said that you need more power...", Daley said, allowing his blade to fall down upon yet another treant, dismembering it, while his shield took a heavy blow of pink flames, "...I thougt you ment something like a potion, or perhaps a spell..."
Daley jumped backwards, as pink flames erupted at his feet. He raised his shield in defiance, as Isilvara took the form of a dark raven to avoid the devestating blow of what appeared to be a living root from the earth itself, landing on the ground next to Daley, and returning to her humanoid form.
Infront of them, the Keeper Of The Grove was boiling with fury, and the very glade itself seemed to obey his whim.
"Isilvara Heartmourn, and foul human whom walk with her!...". the Keeper's voice boomed, as if strengthened a tenfold by the wind, "You have tricked me here with lies and deceit, and now you DARE raise your hand against a child of Cenarius!?"
Daley eyed the keeper's hands. One hand was normal, like that of any other Night Elf. His right hand, however... It had always been a mystery to Daley, the anatomy of theese beings, called "Cenarians". Their right hand was abnormally larger then their left one, and whatmore, it appeared to be clawed, twisted and made of...Wood?
Truly, in one moment, Daley saw the keeper they had lured out twist his wooden hand in a spellweaving fashion, and they had appeared like roots. Then, he had with his own eyes witnessed how the keeper had morphed his hand into a wooden blade, or worse yet, a spear to penetrate Daley's shield from several feet away! Still, Daley thougt of Isilvara's desire as foolish, perhaps more foolish then anything so far...
"Oh, mute are you? I care not! Nobody defies nature, and get's away with it! Not even a druid!", the keeper roared as he launched at the duo. Isilvara smacked her hands together, and then placed them at the earth. Giant roots erupted from the earth and bound the keeper, whom quickly raised his wooden hand to dispel the druidic magic.
This second was all Daley needed. With ungodly speed, Daley had forced his shield into the throat of the keeper, and then used the shield as the means of ascension, carrying him high enough to cut the wooden hand from the Keeper's arm. Daley then jumped of the shield, landing on his back on the grass, and rolling over to avoid the sheer volume of blood that fell from the screaming Cenarian's hollow wrist. Where the blood fell, grass instantly appeared to grow with unatural speed.
Isilvara clapped her hands together, muttering a hasty incantation, then raced forward towards the Keeper, whom had now used his free hand to remove Daley's shield from it's strategic location, and discarded it. Even though he was bleeding from his wrists, throat and coughing enormous amounts of blood, the Keeper still seemed hellbent of bringing death to the traitorous duo, and raised his left hand to order the roots Isilvara had summoned previous to turn and entangle their birthmother.
A loud "BAM", and the smoke from Daley's rifle prevented one root from reaching it's destination, but another found it's way to Isilvara's wrists, binding them together to stop her spellcasting...Just as she had hoped.
Isilvara placed her hands around the root, muttering incantations. The Keeper bellowed in howling rage as he prepared to strike at Isilvara with a wrath spell, but he never got to finish his incantation, as suddenly, the very root that had bound Isilvara's hands now turned to bark, and darted like a spear through the Keeper's chest.
Daley watched in wonder as the large Keeper froze. Things seemed to move in slow motion, as the Cenarian's bloodpour halted. Daley assumed that the creature's vitae had been depleted, for his wounds merely dripped now. With grace befit only to such a holy creature, the keeper fell to the ground, the golden ember light in his eyes dying out together with his heartbeat.
Daley regained his sense and hurried to the corpse to withdraw his shield from the ground. It was covered in weeds and roots. Isilvara, too, struggled to break free from the now immobile roots.
"...Right. Tell me again just why we killed this thing?", Daley said, sitting down amidst the flowers, breathing heavely.
"This "thing", as you refer it too...", Isilvara said, moving towards the creature's great, wooden hand, laying seperated from the rest of the corpse, a few feet away, "...Is a Keeper Of The Grove, a descendant of Cenarius, and thus, an extremely potent wielder of Fae magic."
Daley arched an eyebrow.
"So when you said you needed more power?...", Daley begun, now chewing on a long straw of grass, eyeing Isilvara as she knelt down to pick up the wooden hand, wrapping it in cloth after cloth, "...You ment more,errr, druidic power?"
"Something like that." Isilvara said casually. Daley frowned at her tone. The fact that she could so easly slay something so holy and revered as a keeper without betraying a whim of emotion, disturbed him greatly. Then again, he could not see her face. He could not see the tears of regret falling to join the pool of blood and flowers, nor could he, however, sense the omnious glare of greed in Isilvara's eyes...
Daley strechted out his plate covered arm, and knocked once, twice, three times on the door. The very touch of plate against stone echoed like war drums in the large hall, and Daley's mirage in the mirror floor seemed to grow a shade paler...
It was silent in this part of the city. No soul moved, none was closeby. Infact, Daley was so used to the silence, apart from his own footsteps, that he jumped as the doors cracked open. At first, Daley thougt they were opened by some arcane spell, and so he nearly jumped once more as he saw what appeared to be a very young Kaldoreian girl, dressed in white robes, greet the duo inside. Her hair was as sparkling white as her alabaster skin, and she looked sickly there, staring down at her own feet. Daley felt a rush of pity rise in his throat. He knew not of Night Elven agings. He knew for a fact that Isilvara to his left was living well beyond her twelwt'h millenia, but he had no idea of how old the child infront of him could be. In his eyes, she wouldn't be more then seven or eight, even if she told him she was several millenia of age.
"This way, please...", the girl spoke in a hollow, weak voice which made a chill creep up Daley's spine. "...The mistress, Anariel, awaits you in her working room." With those very words, Daley's chill trippled as a cold wind swept out from the room, bringing with it the stench of decay, overcoming even that of the bag he was holding. The girl had looked up. Daley was not sure if he had expected the girl to have silver glowing eyes, white glowing eyes, or perhaps gold glowing eyes. He had been under the impression that she would, infact, have eyes. Now he saw, however, that there were merely empty sockets. Infact, the little girl's very lips seemed to be sewn together by coarse thread, and she walked with a severe limp as she turned to walk down the hallway, past the gates.
Without question, Isilvara set of in a straight march after the girl, and Daley swallowed deeply before following.
The halls they were walking in were ice cold, and the walls were portrayed with paintings of various flowers and strange runes. Daley could hear the opal gate closing in the distance, as blue mists surrounded his feet. The stench of decay only grew worse, and when light finally filled his vision, the feeling of bliss lasted for merely a second before nausia overcame him.
He was surrounded by corpses. Rottings corpses of various animals and humanoids, the majority of them Night Elven, but some humans and orcs could be spotted aswell. Some of them had their ribcages splinched opened, and many missed limbs or flesh. Blue mists still covered the floor around them, but in the air above them, green mists spread like clouds. It was as cold as the very dunes of Dun Morough in this room, whever that may be.
"You took your time, my dear...", a chilly voice spoke. For a moment, Daley thougt it might be Isilvara, but she, too, appeared alarmed and they both turned their heads towards the opposite direction of the room, where a tall, Night Elven woman dressed in black robes approached. Daley was just as enarmored by this lady as he was disgusted. Before him stood Anariel, the fair. Anariel, the bold. Anariel, the Necromancer.
He hadn't heard Isilvara speak much of this woman, for the very thougt of a Kaldorei practicing necromancy was enough to chill even her spine, but what little he had heard, had made his stumage upset.
"If you have come for your Shadowing Sentinels, I must apologize, but your order is not yet ready. The children are still in a cryomantic state.", Anariel said as she approached Isilvara, parking herself infront of the duo.
Daley arched an eyebrow at Isilvara. "...Your "order"? What order?", but Isilvara merely dismissed his inquiry with a casual wave.
"Alas, it is not what I have come for." she said, defiant.
"Mhm?", Anariel said, bemused. If Daley hadn't known better, he'd misstake the woman for a Banshee. So pale was she.
"Indeed... I need you to attach this...", Isilvara grabbed the bag from Daley with such force that Daley was caught off guard, gasping slightly in surprise, but saying nothing as Isilvara withdrew the wooden hand from within the bag, which now had it's insides sprouting weed and flowers, "...To my own wrist."
Daley gasped, and stared dhumbstruck at Isilvara. Anariel smirked, somewhat bemused. Isilvara stood unchanging, her voice unfaltering, her face neutral.
"By the light, you ain't seriousleh suggestin' that ye attach that..."thing", to yer own arm, are ye!?", Daley yelled at Isilvara. This was way out of hands, literally.
Anariel nodded slowly. "Hm... Yes, yes I can do that. It will cost you though, as you sure know."
"I am well aware of the price.", Isilvara said confidently.
"You are, are you?", Anariel said, still smirking, still nodding, "And yet, the large sacks of golden coins seem to avoid my eyes, but perhaps I have a blind spot, or perhaps the coins are made out of thin air?"
"I will pay you by means of information."
Now, it was Anariel that was dhumbstruck. The effect lasted merely for a second, however, as the necromancer quickly regained her cool composure.
"...Well then. Let's hear it."
There was a deep silence for a moment. All that was heard was the echoe of the dripping blood from the keeper's hand. Strangely, Daley thougt, for this truly disturbed him, the blood dripping onto the cursed floor remained just that, blood. No flowers, grass or other weed grew from it.
"The Iron Ring are preparing an assault on Kalimdor."
Anariel arched an eyebrow. Daley blinked sheepishly.
"And you do, of course, have proof of this?"
"I am confident in the belief that, had I been lying, you would be able to tell, and I wouldn't leave here alive."
Daley once more watched the two women stare eachother down. He was growing increasingly uncomfortable. His fingers and toes were now numb from the cold.
"...And how do you know this is true?"
"A little bird whispered into my ear."
"This little bird would not happen to be one of my Shadowings, now would it?"
"That is of no importance. However, no, such is not the case."
Once more, the women were silent. Anariel finally broke the silence.
"Fair enough. If you would please place your wrist on the table, we can begin the transplant."
"...Wrist?", Daley said, dhumbstruck. Anariel merely arched an eyebrow at him.
"Well...", she said, "I know you humans aren't known for your intelligence...But as you can see here, there are three hands, alas, only two arms."
Daley's eyes widened as Isilvara walked up to the runic table, seemingly having appeared out of nowhere in the blue mists, withdrew her wristband from her naked right arm, and placing it on the frozen, cold surface of the runed stone table.
The girl from before, the undead child, returned to Anariel's side, handing her a runed, silver blade.
"I will not lie to you, Isilvara... This will...Hurt."
"Just...Just do it.", Isilvara said defiant, bracing herself for the incoming pain. Daley merely bit his teeth together.
That night, a womans scream echoed within those frozen halls, never to reach Eldre'thalas in the halls above...
The room was silent. Anariel sat upon her stone throne, her fingers pressing against eachother in her lap. She was immune to the cold, and she had been for a long, long time. Alas, she could not stop to think of what Isilvara had told her.
"...Does she really believe that this hadn't reached me before?", Anariel spoke out loud. "What troubles me is that she knows..."
"...The Iron Ring holds much influence in Lordaeron...", a young, male voice spoke from somewhere behind the throne. "...Such a powerful force can not be hidden. Rumours are bound to spread, it's merely a question about picking them up, and seperating the truths from the lies.", the young man said, as he stepped out from behind the throne. The young Blood Elf sported blue glowing eyes, and red hair. He was adorned in light plate armor, and leaned towards the left side of the throne, arms crossed, and spoke velvety soft. Had he hid his face and ears, one could easly misstake him for a human adolescent.
"You are correct, Dakrin.", Anariel said, still letting her fingers press towards eachother in a bizarre rhytm. "Never the less, The Iron Ring must land on the shores of Kalimdor, and they must not be defeated before they've reached Darnassus..."
"Obviously.", Dakrin said, betraying no hint of emotion, nor opinion.
"Return to Silvermoon."
Dakrin did not react.
"You will allow yourself to be captured by the Akeiri fanatics. You will fight to avoid capture, and then be defeated to convince them that your capture is genuine. You will then, under torture or not, hint your allegiance to the alliance. You will make sure that, to every cost, the Sin'dorei will arrive onto the shores of Kalimdor, equipped for war."
Still, Dakrin said nothing.
And with this dismissal, Dakrin's footsteps died away as he made haste down the hallway, his platecled feet leaving no echoe in the frozen halls...
"I am sorry, m'lady. His lordship is currently not receiving visitors. Can I perhaps take a message?". The doorman was the soul of courtesy, but he did not budge an inch, and managed to look down his nose at Lyenna even though it had rotted away years ago. These well-bred servants could smell her base-born blood a mile of, it seemed, and death had not robbed this one of the ability.
"No.....or on the other hand, yes. Please tell Lord Rizzt that Lady Hellebrandt requests an urgent meeting...on a matter of grave importance. "I shall tell his lordship......again. ....Now, please excuse me, "my lady"" And the door wash closed in Lyenna's face.
Silently fuming, Lyenna gathered her skirts and accepted the stable boy's help to mount her horse-construct, Purity. "Damn the man", she thought to herself. She had not conquered death, forsaken her order and her faith and taken up the name of her father to be shown the door by a mere servant. She would have words with Lord Rizzt on his return,oh yes.........if the Preceptor did not get to her first.
Lord Mestopheles was not a man to ignore, and his orders had been quite specific. Unfortunately , Lord Rizzt had gone to ground for some reason, and without him Lyenna could not proceed with the plan.
Then again, she could hardly be blamed for the warlocks absence nor his negligence.... And then it struck her.
If presented the right way this could be a perfect way to weaken Rizzt's pull within the Ring. She had been doing her out most, but the decadence of the other noble had made all her work for naught. And his servants had been most uncooperative too. ......Yes, that sounded convincing. It would not hard to believe the failure was entirely on at his end....and the more spectacular the failure, the longer he would fall.
Lyenna smiled and pursed her lips. She was very good a playing the innocent. If she added some batting eyelashes, she might even pull it of.
As she rode into the night, she wondered vaguely what would happen to the Iron Ring's plans in Darnassus with her mission unfulfilled, but quickly dismissed her worries. She was an alteracian at heart, and knew that self interest was a virtue. To quote her lord father: "If you have to ask "What's in it for me", you are already wasting your time"
It was after midnight when the noble Sin Dorei heard a pounding at the door. The Royal guards of the Silvermoon Court had grown uneasy. He rolled of her body and she got up, wrapping a shawl around her while cursing the abrupt end of his brotherly love. Rasputyn motioned to a young livery-clad troll servant inside his bedroom to open the door - stroking his wound on his cheek. The guard bowed before the nobleman, handing over a letter baring the seal of the Iron Ring. The elf wondered if these Forsaken ever needed sleep, and opened the seal to read the letter. The once bright candlelight seemed to turn eerie when he read the words… Without any warning, nor word from Council or Court a force was gathered to attack the Kalimdorian traitors. The letter was signed by Bishop Tremayne, one of the forsaken advisors of the Royal Council of Silvermoon.
Politics was a mechanism that could be analysed and constructed, in that sense it was a machine. But those prominent members of the Royal advisory Council naively allowed the clear-cut political game to be obscured by the hydra of emotion. As Councilmember and representative of the Royal Court Rasputyn had learned to live with this, although it was uncomfortable. But this Forsaken had caught his intrest, especially since this Bishop could distain emotion from the art of politics. They had talked in the past. A meeting took place in Brill, it was arranged in all haste. It was a strange gathering, but of political importance. Bishop Tremayne seemed only interested in one thing, his own matters - that’s why the Sin Dorei Lord liked this Forsaken. What the nobleman didn’t like, was the insulance this Forsaken had to assume he would be a tool for this undead’s goals. But a militairy force against Darnassus, was a shared goal. An attack was imminent and coming soon, they needed all the arms that could be assembled. They needed assistance from the Court to be victorious, and there was not much time left...
He left the room and walked down the corridors, passing the principal guards, who all presented arms and went out in the palace courtyard. It was too early in the morning, the sun was still low in the sky.
How should he bring this news to the personal advisors of the Prince-regent. His Lord, Florindo, being one of them should be informed about this immediatly. Although waking him up at this hour, with his Lady Morgania at his side, did not seem opportune. Especially because his wife was not fond of early wakes, the Forsaken, or pretty much everything lately. How would the rest of the Court react, …then he stopped walking. The nobleman stood there, with the sun reflecting in his emerald eyes. Out of the slave barracks stepped a troll with tribal tattoos covering most of his torso. Zul’fan sighed at the smirk on Rasputyn‘s face, it always forebode ill fate. The troll bowed and sighed even more when the nobleman coldly stared at him walking obediently towards the sleeping quarters of the royal advisor with Tremayne’s letter in his hand.
The Captain´s chambers aboard the Nadressas Trident where quite spatious and well equipped to be on a merchant ship. It was however, Tremayne had quickly discovered, Ill suited to cater to the whims of a dozen nobles when it was the only suitable area on the ship for men of quality to congregate. After only two days at sail Tremayne had quickly discovered that his need for solitude would not be met as long as he lodged in the Captain´s chambers. So, after a seemingly foolish wager over a game of chess with the Lord Mestopheles Runestratum, Tremayne had "lost" the priviledge as the highest ranking member of the Iron Ring to reside in the foremost quarters to the same Mestopheles. Instead he had moved to the chambers disgruntidly inhabited by the same archmage before, which were far less lavish but far more distant from the congregations before. Tremayne was rather pleased with the accomodations he had made. It would not have done well to willingly trade down, but a wager was another thing. He could do that without loosing face. Let the Lord Runestratum host the daily gatherings, at least now he had somewhere to retreat when the need for contemplary solitude arouse.
Of course, just a few days afterwards he wished that he had not made the exchange just then, when they passed just north of the Maelstrom. The skies were painted with a net of lightnings day as night, and the seas formed mountains and valleys of grey water more impressive than the Arathi Highlands themselves. During those stormy days there was almost no congress and the Lord Runestratum had his chambers undisturbed for most parts. Of them all only the Baron De Vere were undetered by the harch conditions, -he instead seemed to revel in them. Kul Tirans where a strange breed, wed to the seas! More than once, when their vessel where thrown hither and tither as a child´s toy he remembered sailing on Lordaemere Lake as a child and how he had called the gentle puffs of winds for hard. How perspectives change with age and wisdom!
The days past. Voices were raised to go ashore at Ratchet or outside Durotar, but Tremayne would have none of it. Had they wished the goblins to have news to sell he would have travelled by Zeppelin instead of by boat. In no way were their travel clandestine and neither did he wish it to be; but the goblins had an uncanny nack for getting to close for comfort and he did not want any Kaldorei intressant to know their exact route. It was a keen act of balance, the Kaldorei were lethal in their own forests. Their dark magicks allowed them to meld with the shadows and there were stories of the Warsong clan walking past whole squadrons of invisible enemies only to be surrounded and annihilated later. He had no particular wish for that to happen to them. No not at all.
The Northen shores of Kalimdor came as a welcome relief, but it was not the barren shores of Durotar as most of them would have expected, but the long strands of Azhara, named after a Queen of old so beautiful that men killed for her favour. The Baron de Vere had skillfully navigated them north of Orgrimnar and out of sight from prying eyes. Ahead on their journey awaited the rocky, frozen shores beneath Hyjal´s monstrous shadow and the lands of winterspring. Unfriendly, barren lands with no places to dock or lay anchor, so it was agreed that they would stop a few days just North of Azhara while the Baron´s men would forage for supplies amongst the local forbolg tribes. Then they would embark on the last part of their journey.
Verayn grinned as he braced himself in the prow for yet another crashing drop from wave to wave. Salt spray flew up and drenched him, his oilcloth coat whipping around his body in the howling winds. Not for nothing was this stretch of water named the Bay of Storms.
Lightning forked across the sky, and a rumble that started bone deep boomed over the ship. Sailors cursed and swore as they hauled in line and lanyards, reefed sails, and skidded across the wet and slippery deck.
'My lord, yer should go below decks..' began the first mate, clutching his sodden cap in both hands.
'Do not presume to tell me what I should and shouldn't do. I shall remain here.' Verayn gazed coldly at the sailor as he backed away. Honestly, as if the scion of the de Vere family belonged anywhere else on a ship than at the bow, guiding the craft with arcane senses.
Like most mages, Verayn had been tutored in the three schools, but the manipulation of water and ice was the one that sang in his blood. True, those who dabbled in fire magic might well believe themselves to be more powerful than he, but Verayn had found such men to be brutish and unsubtle; the ten ton hammer to his delicate needle. Having spent a summer season aboard ship as was traditional for all de Vere sons, he had learnt the ways of wind and wave, and being here was as close to feeling alive as he had felt since awakening Forsaken.
He wasn't oblivious to the way some of the other lords looked at him; some felt it was unseemly for a noble to get his hands wet and to have spent a not inconsiderable amount of time dealing with merchants and house finances. But, such was the lot of the fourth son, and Verayn had thrown himself fully into his duties.
And how that was paying off now, he thought, eyes coldly scanning the shore.
Water. It's the most powerful of the elements. Some would argue that each element is just as powerful as the next, but in essence, water has, was and always will be the dominant force behind nature. Water can move mountains and extuinguish fires. It's completely immune to the howling winds and their powers. It is so ironic, then, that water is the most tranquil of the elements. The most peaceful, the one that grants life, the one element that do not seek the destruction of others..."
"...Ye going nostalgic on me, are ye?"
Isilvara turned her head to face Daley. Truly, ever since she first step foot in the Eastern Kingdoms, she had been envious of the tenacity, spirit and optism of the human race. Even now, as they both sat still on a cliff in the middle of the raging storm, his spirit did not falter. Isilvara did not understand it.
Lightning struck again. Isilvara wrapped her cloak tighter around her frozen body. It did not help much, the cloak was just as soaked and cold as the rest of her robes. Water dripped from Daley's plate armor like the stream of a river, the rain was deflected from his shoulders. Yet, Isilvara couldn't help to think of whether or not it ment Daley must be frozen inside, from all those small cracks where water could pour through. She dismissed all such thougt, however, as another bolt of lightning struck.
The lands of Azshara were unforgiving and harsh. This storm was unnatural, it was as if the mere knowledge of enemies approaching the motherland brought with it great disturbance to the natural order of things. Isilvara had seen animals leave for the south, several months pre-season. She had witnessed the birds fly across the sea, even though their mating periods would last for two more months. Something was disturbing them, she knew that. But what could it be?
Animals had always been closer to the primal instinct of nature then the Kaldorei. True, the Kaldorei dedicated their lives, culture and future to understand and protect nature, and yet, Isilvara could not help to think that most druids envied the simple beasts for their innate understanding of how to live their life. They had a meaning, they had a purpose, and whatever it may be (For the Kaldorei could not understand it), the animals seemed satisfied with it, not bothering with such mundane questions such as "what" or "why?".
"Oi. 'ere it comes!", Daley yelled as he poked Isilvara on the shoulder, rather abrubtly, for the druidess fell of her rock with her face down in the mud, mumbling something incomprehensible.
Coughing, and wiping the mud off of her face, Isilvara accepted Daley's stretched out arm and stood up, gazing out over the Bay Of Storms with renewed interest. She could not see it. She could not see any of it. The ocean was as dark and menacing as the night sky above them, and just as equally clouded by nature's wrath. Where lightning storms danced across the skies, tidal waves the size of monuments rose to consume eachother before finally joining the ocean once more, only to become new waves.
That is when Isilvara saw it. A tidal wave rose in the far distance of the darkness, but just as it was about to crash down, it fell...backwards?
Isilvara took a few steps forward, now standing a mere inch from the edge of the ravine. Water poured down her feet and down into the darkness below, and Daley was greatly disturbed by the fact that she stood so far out. But Isilvara was oblivious to this. She focused, her eyes burning like vermilion orbs in the unforgiving storm. And yes, there it was again! A great tidal wave had risen, but seemingly out of nowhere, it had been forced back, and fell into nothingness. It was not natural. This was magic, Isilvara was certain of that!
"...They are here.", she said, "...It must be their ship. Something, or somewhone, is abolishing the tidal waves..."
Daley arched an eyebrow, trying to steady his gaze to see what Isilvara spoke of. He dismissed this attempt later, however, not having access to elven senses, nor any understanding of how water should and shouldn't move. He was rather surprised, however, when Isilvara strechted out her hands, and allowed herself to fall. His first reflex as she leaned over there, in midair, was to run after her in hopes of grabbing hold to her robes. He sighed out of relief, however, as he saw the woman leave behind her elven shackles, and take on the form of the raven, flying down with inhuman speed to face the waves below...
Isilvara shivered. Water stood up to her waist, and for each step she took into the unforgiving ocean, the multitude of waves seemed to increase a tenfold. Perhaps it was merely her imagination, perhaps not. She knew what she must do. She had to force nature's hand. Isilvara giggled slightly, bemused in her dark apathy at the pun she had just made, as she raised her new, wooden hand. The stiches of the arcane rune thread still glowed and eery green light in the dark waters, and the salt from the ocean burned Isilvara's wounds like a judgemental flame. But it had been worth it. The patience, anger, suffering and pain had all been worth it. As Isilvara raised her wooden hand from the ocean, and reached for the skies, she stood amazed at the vitality of her own influence. The skies moved, circulating around her like a ring of lightning in the far distance. It was a basic spell to conjure storms and hurricanes. Isilvara had, however, never dreamed of the magnitude of power a Keeper Of The Grove had, however. She was about to find out. Her Apathy was faltering, and greed and malice filled her eyes as images of suffering Sin'dorei flooded into her mind. Another wave tried to push Isilvara back, but this time, she merely took the hit. The pain was nothing, she stood her ground. Isilvara was lost in images of self satisfaction. The corruption of Arcane Magic was nothing compared to the corruption of Druidic magic. Mortals were never ment to possess the magnitude of influence over storms that Isilvara had now. It was the very reason that the Kaldorei did not embrace the arcane arts, corruption, seld indulgance...
Isilvara inhaled a deep breath of the salty air, as the water started moving around her, mimicing the skies above. The speed increased, and the sound of thunder made Isilvara's ears bleed. The salt from the ocean did not ease the pain, but Isilvara was oblivious, lost to her own greed and wrath, images of vengence and of victory.
It came as no surprise, then, that as a arcane lightning storm was unleashed upon the shores of Azshara, raging like a crazed tauros across the sea towards the unknown seafarers, that Cherwina Dawnstrider sighed deeply from her tree, far, far above the unforgiving oceans. Her friend had been completely lost to the nigthmare's infection, and the coming of hostile adversaries from across the sea was not going to improve the condition of the current Kaldorei political catastrophe. Darnassus would fall into chaos, as the Temple of the Moon and the Cenarion Enclave dabbled amongst themselves, indulgent in their own political greed. The coming of war could very well result in the downfall of Teldrassil as a whole.
Cherwina glanced to her right. Daley glanced straight back at her. Both sighed at eachother.
Cherwina took of, her raven wings struggling to force herself forward, against the unatural wind. The raging tornado boomed like wardrums in the air around her. Darnassus needed to know.
War, was coming to the Kaldorei.
A lone forsaken sat before a small fire, atop an otherwise empty hill. Staring into the crackling flames, Rizzt began thinking of his home. What was happening back in Lordaeron? What of the other members of the Ring? As far as he was aware, none knew of his whereabouts, and his servants had explicit orders to keep it that way. Lady Hellbrandt would be less than pleased with the former archmage's absence, he was sure. But, although Mestopheles' letter had instructed Rizzt to work with the priestess, this was something he had to do alone; he had paid the price for trusting others in the past. Lyenna would play her part soon enough.
'Attack the city of Darnassus...cause as much destruction as possible...failure is not an option.' Mestopheles didn't like to make things easy. If he didn't know the impact this assault could have, Rizzt might have thought the whole thing a plot to get rid of him. The warlock laughed to himself; even if it was a plot, Rizzt loved a challenge. To him, the fact that his target was heavily defended meant he got more loot; the fact it was situated on top of a giant tree merely meant that alliance reinforcements would take longer to arrive.
Turning to look at the maze of pathways and buildings below him, Rizzt couldn't help but feel pleased, he had outdone himself this time. He would take advantage of the kaldorei's foolish arrogance. A month the forsaken had watched them, right in front of the elves' noses. Not once had a sentinel moved an inch from her post, so confident were they that nobody could be hiding somewhere; that they could reach the tree at all. Soon, Rizzt would show them just how ill-prepared their 'impregnable fortress' really was.
Darkshore was bleak and dreary. Another visitor would have felt drained by the lack of colour in the gloomy lands. Had it been for the vista alone, Tremayne would have felt at home. As it was now the Dark Elven mastery of this land seemed to be absolute and it made him feel uneasy. Something in the air made it perfectly clear that they did not belong here. This was not their place. They were unwanted intruders and the forests hated them.
As well as they should. Before him the burning rooftops of the coastal town of Auberdine burned with bright fire, lending the colour-devoid area some life, painting the grey skies orange and black. Sickly vapours rose from broken houses where the Meatwagons had dumped their diseased cargo and before him on the ground laid a dozen broken Sentinels from the contigent that had charged at them first. With only a quick glance he could see which of his fellows had been the bane of them. The victims of Lady Lyenna had their faces relaxed in unnatural ways, drooping eyes and sagging flesh, as if their faces had been melted. A thin coat of glittering ice was a thing of both beauty and death and the card of the Lord Mestopheles Runestratum; whos mastery of the murdering cold sometimes only left frozen shards of frozen red meat. The ones who had perished at Lord Rizzts hands had the looks of those who had been dead for months, maggots crawling from diseased and rotted corpses, full of corrupt and bile.
No wonder the forest hated them. Tremayne smiled to himself as one of the meatwagons dispatched their deadly load with a "Twhung" beside him.
"Milord, we have breached the outer defenses." The hulking shape of the Knight known in death only as Dreadnaut stood before him, his dark armour wet with glistering blood, none of it his own. "You may safely move in now."
"Excellent" Tremayne nodded. "Dispatch a detatchment to the east to guard against movements at our flank. We are sending in the meatwagons." Confidentaly he strode forth towards the streets of the heathen city as the silent ghouls behind him started to haul their macabre siege-engines forth. Dreadnaut had spoke true indeed, the defenders had retreated or routed, but many laid slain. It was the ghoul´s unsavioury task to take care of the dead fallen and start loading them onto the wagons. New test subjects aplenty they would have. A mere mile out at sea were the Baron de Vere and his ship, ready to recieve the cargo once it was ready.
"Any sight of our allies, ser Knight?" Tremayne asked as Dreadnaut returned from relaying orders.
"The elves from Silvermoon have fought their way from the south and done so bravly. We should meet them up ahead." Tremayne was pleased at how fast the Lord Baâl had been able to muster champions and come forth, proving the Court of the Sun not only shrewd on the political area, but capable of swift action as well. He would remember this in future dealings with them. The Call to arms had been sent to two parties but only the Court had seized the opportunity to use it to their advantage. Also, the appearant blood elven part in the assault on Auberdine would help relay the message that he wanted sent forth. The ancient exile had been broken, the Kaldorei must respond to this.
The war would soon come.
The Auberdine townsfolk and guards were a stark contrast to the disciplined unit of the Sin’dorei nobleman. Rasputyn could see this fight would be to his company’s liking - especially to the minions he send out as first wave. It was like a simple knife of a workman, cutting away the filth of life. So that the surface of the wood would become pure again. While another house was cleansed he stood on the balcony looking out for the second force to arrive. Through the screams of dying families he cursed the lateness of the Bishop
The coppery smell of blood was taken over by the stench of decay when the meatwagons rolled into town, accompanying the warband of the Iron Ring. His eminence Tremayne led his zealot force straight to the Moonwell of the town, cutting down any Sentinel that effortlessly tried to stop the Forsaken. The Sin’dorei joined the unit and was quickly accompanied by other Horde warbands, who adorned their armor with severed Kaldorei limbs and heads. Tremayne ordered to protect him at the Moonwell, while a dozen ghouls pushed the screaming townsfolk into the wagons. From the corner of his eyes Rasputyn could see the Bishop taking water out of the well and casting some ritual over the energy source.
This alliance proved to be beneficial for both parties, … that was his first report as second chairman of the Royal Silvermoon Council at the following meet. All attending councilmembers agreed on hearing the Bishop and decided that it was time to prepare for war… it was imminent.
Lord Archon Elrics Ravenblade was splinterd. On the one hand he was sure that any hope for his peolpe to be come powerfull and strong agen layed in the old home lands. In the hands of the Kaldorei, and they would never give his peolpe what they needed. A war was the only way to pursed.
But on the other hand his peolpe needed the Royal Council of Silvermoon. And now they where being drawn in to a war they had littel intrset in it seamed. Many of the Councilors seamed most unwilling to send any of there kind in to war. Some even argued that Silvermoon had more pressing matters closer to it's own borders.
As first chairman he had some power. But he could not make the council vote according to his plans. But something had to be done however, he had to make it clear where he stode in all this. If the Council agreed on going to war many relics of Kalindor would at last fall in to there rightfull hands. And even more important...
The other races of the Horde would get a new found respect for there new alies. Even tho Thrall would not be impressed unless he was made to see how the Kaldorei keeped relics of power they hardly used that could save the Sin'dorei out of old hate. Maybe even the Warcheiftan would stand whit them. But even if there leader was a voice for peace, the orcs where warriors. They would see how the Sin'dorei foth whit honour and they would love them for it.
But if the Council refused to send soldiers... If it seamed like Archons peolpe had others fight there battles. Then there would be resenment from the Orc's and probely the trolls as well.
One thing was sure however, next time there was a battle Archon would see to it that the Flaming Blade had champions among the ranks of the Sin'dorei forces. If not he himself could go, then he would send the strongest among them in his stead.
/Me via second main
Lyenna had never been warlike. Much as her father, she had like the cutting remark better than the cutting blade, and the courts and refectories of Lordaeron had been her battlefield for years before her transformation into her new unlife. There where something barabaric about enjoying slaughter, violence was always the last refuge of the incompetent.
Yet, as she gazed upon the burned ruins of the Dark Elf town, she had to admit it had a certain beauty to it. After her death, she had started to appreciate the dark side of the world more and the screams of the dieing did indeed carry a certain melodious quality....a symphony of pain.
Lyenna caught herself staring to hum along, swaying slightly to the quiet tunes only she could here. With a monstrous effort she pulled herself out of the trance. This was not the place for indulging her baser pleasures. After her initiation into the Shadow, she had felt these strange distractions more and more….but she was the mistress of her own will, and even a month of torture at the hands of the Crusade could not break her mind! She was of the blood of Strom.
With a scream of rage, a Dark Elven sentinel charged out from the burning building ahead of her, wielding a strange glaive in a deadly arc. Lyenna made a surprised yelp and stepped back, just in time to avoid being decapitated. Striking out in fear and anger, Lyenna called forth a shield of force, parrying the second strike with a reverberating gong. Uttering one of the 107 hidden names of pain, Lyenna fried the elf’s synapses so that it fell convulsing to the ground. The Sentinel’s own muscles burst from its neck, showering the priestess with blood.
Disgusted, Lyenna stepped over the fallen warrior. She would have to burn this gown and the shoes as well. Elf blood did not wash out. She sighed sadly. These shoes where among her favourites.
Lifting her gaze, she saw that vitory was theirs. Already, she could see the Sin’dorei vanguard storming the ships in the bay. The meat wagons was rolling up to consume the dead, and Lord Mestopheles was already reaching the end of his ritual. Lyenna smiled to herself, unconcoiously licking the elfblood from her face with a greenish tounge. Her gaze fell upon the barely visible silhouette of Teldrassil at the distant horizon. She could definitely start to enjoy this war…..after all, the opportunities were endless.
As she walked towards the harbour of the elven village, Lyenna started to hum.
The gentle breeze was dying down.
The moon had since long risen in the distant north.
"Your preachings aren't easing my pain, Dakrin."
"Perhaps your pain does not deserve to be eased?"
"Silence. Do not presume to speak to your elderly like that."
Isilvara said no more after silencing her nephew, and instead re-buried her face into the palms of her hands, the slight breeze taking up speed again, and blowing her white hair across her face. She was leaning against the dark tree there, on the hilltop overlooking Ashenvale, and the air was filled with the sound of crickets, owls and the singing wind.
"Suit yourself. But silence will not redeem you."
Dakrin leaned onto the trunk of the tree from one of the larger branches above. The Blood Elven teenager looked strangely out of place in the otherwise serene enviroment. Whereas Isilvara, the tree, even the moon seemed to match in some absurd way, Dakrin did not. Purple, white and green seemed to be the colours that were balanced in this part of Ashenvale. Dakrin's flaming red hair, blue eyes and red armor cut like a flaming scar against the perfect image of Kalimdor.
"He should not have stopped me...", Isilvara said, removing her hands from her palms.
Dakrin closed his eyes.
"...My storm... My storm would have..." "Would have what?"
Isilvara fell silent.
"That's what I thougt."
"Oi! Issy, you there!?"
Isilvara looked up, alarmed. The voice of Daley Entronia had reached her as if from a world apart, from a distant dream. And yet, as he lolled up the very hillside Isilvara sat brooding, he seemed just as real as her own left hand. Her right hand, however...
"By...The...Light...", Daley was saying through heavy breath's. Sweat was pouring down his cheeks and fell like rain from his heavy plate armor. His hazelbrown hair appeared much darker in the moonlight, and his eyes were eclipsed by his hair. It was starting to grow long, Isilvara thougt. Humans were so diffrent from Dorei... "I've...Been...Looking...Everywhere...For...For...You!..."
Isilvara turned away to face the fullmoon. Daley sighed.
"Tell sir Daley that I have no wish to speak with him.", Isilvara said, her eyes resting on the fullmoon in the north.
Daley's breathing ceased in volume.
"...Who are you talking to?"
Isilvara turned to face Daley, her eyebrow quirked. She raised her gaze to the branch above, alas, it was empty...
"I...It...", Isilvara turned to face Daley again, "...Nowhone."
Daley removed his plate shoulders and threw them with a thud to the ground, placing himself next to Isilvara on the soft grass. He wish he could remove his armor as easly as he could his shirt in days of peace, for he would very much wish to touch the grass, and feel the earth. Alas, it was not a option.
"...You are thinking about Auberdeen, aren't you?", Daley said, he too, raising his eyes to rest at the Moon in distant north. Isilvara said nothing.
"Your spell would not have succeeded. Even if your storm had grown in power, something or /somewhone/ on that vessel could control water... You'd have wasted all your energy to no avail."
Still, Isilvara was silent.
"As to why Cherwina did not alert Darnassus in time, or as far as we know, at all, I can not answer..."
"I wonder...", Isilvara said, and Daley turned to face her, "...Why was Cherwina there, in the first place?"
Daley sighed. He hated riddles.
"Look, there's no use sinking into apathy in times like theese. You've got that new arm of yours...", Daley said, pointing to Isilvara's abnormally large wooden hand. The stiches were still etching in the purple skin of the elf, an minor infection having grown from the exposure to salt water, "...And if we alert Darnassus about as much as we know..."
"You mean, surrender myself for heresy?...", Isilvara said, "Being responsible for the re-ignition of the war of the ancients?..."
"You take things our of proportion.", Daley replied, "...But yes. Something like that."
Isilvara turned once more to face the moon.
"I'd have my title of Shan'do revoked."
"...Yes.", Daley replied.
"I'd have to face death, or worse, imprisonment for my heresy."
"...Yes.", Daley replied again, just as casual.
"...I'd never be forgiven for the murder of Keeper Blossomclaw. I'd have to bear the shame for eternety."
"...Yes", Daley replied, once more.
"...You'd win your soul back."
Isilvara turned to face Daley. She looked weary.
"You speak to me like a priest to a sinner." "I speak to you, as one friend to another.", Daley said, placing his hand around Isilvara's shoulder.
"...It's a beautiful night.", Isilvara said, blocking out the images of bloodshed and murder. Daley said nothing. "...I'll have to cherish this sight. As the sun rises, I will return to Darnassus, confess of my heresy, and..." "Say no more.", Daley said, taking a deep breath. The two friends sat there in silence, watching the moon slowly fall down, awaiting the break of dawn.
Meanwhile, a lonely doe allowed the juices of the fresh grass to gulp down it's throat as it chewed the plants to pieces. It's nutrients would strengthen the doe, and give her the strenght and vitality to survive in theese blessed lands. The starlight gave excellent sight of the surrounding area, and so, the Doe did not worry about not being able to spot predators, giving her confidence enough to feed in peace.
Or so she thougt, into the last second of her life, as the black felline that had appeared out of nowhere, as if stealthed, tore the last breath from the doe by severeing the neck from the rest of the body. The blood of the doe spilled out into the grass, nurturing it as the grass had nurtured the doe. The felline's body wore strange markings as she devoured the doe, licking her paws clean of blood and gore for each bite the carnivore could muster.
"And you wonder why they call you a savage race?", a voice had spoken, the cat was quickly alarmed, turned around, and bared it's teeth and claws. The red haired adolescent standing there, leaning against the tree, did not flinch.
"...Mrrrr...It's you...", the cat spoke, her voice deep and ancient, as she stood up on two, morphing into a elven woman of ancient grace.
"You aren't happy to see me, Cherwina?"
Cherwina wiped some blood from her mouth with her fist, and licked the rest from her lips with her tongue. Her golden eyes appeared eerie in the dark night, for the moon had started to fall in the north.
"I've sacrificed many of my kin for the safety of Eldre'Thalas... I'd think I'd atleast be able to feed in peace..."
"Be that as it may, the lady Anariel has one more task to ask of you."
Cherwina glared at the young man.
"Do not play games with me, Dakrin. You claim to have no allegiance to the Sin'dorei? I care not! You are still Quel'dorei, and that's just as bad."
"Such manner. Truly befit for a so called /Dark Elf/".
Cherwina gave a hiss akin to that of a angered cat, or a voracious serpent, and green fire started to emit from her fingertips.
"Calm down.", Dakrin said casually, still not flinching, "Don't make things harder then they allready are."
Cherwina growled, but lowered her hand.
"The lady Anariel has ordered me to return to Silvermoon and be captured, thus in some way convincing the remaining Sin'dorei doubters to lay siege to Darnassus."
"...And what of your aunt?"
"The lady Anariel foresaw the Iron Ring's success in Auberdeen. She has made certain that Isilvara will surrender herself to the Cenarion Enclave, or the Temple Of The Moon."
"Sometimes, I ask myself why I am doing this...", she said, antagonized.
"...Memories, the lady would say, I assume."
Cherwina stared at her feet.
"A vast empire where the Dorei are once more united as one race, submitting all others as minions or lesser worthy vassals... A empire, once more led by a queen, Anariel, whom we would all love and worship just like Azshara herself... Is that not what you dream of? Is that not what you reflect on at nights?"
Cherwina kept staring at her feet. "...Memories?", she said weakly.
"Yes... Memories.", Dakrin relied.
"...Memories." Cherwina said, nodding. "So be it. I shall take flight to Eldre'thalas and heed the lady Anariel's words."
Dakrin bowed before Cherwina, curtiously.
"And I shall sneak onboard one of the Iron Ring's vessels that are due to return for the Eastern Kingdom's, before exposing myself to the Vermilion cultists."
The two looked inte eachother's eyes. Dakrin's, a velvety blue, light as faint as snow, against Cherwina's, an intense golden colour, bright as the moonlight in the dark night.
"For the vision of Azshara.", Dakrin said.
"...For the vision...For the vision of Azshara...", Cherwina replied, watching mute as Dakrin vanished from sight, as a fading light in darkness.
She did not know the great scheme of things going on. She did not understand Anariel's visions, nor what part theese wars had in it, but she knew one thing, and that was that the slaughter of Auberdeen was merely the first of many, many casualities that was due to follow in the wake of war...
"The field is lost" Sentinel Nal´Shea´s voice was weary and grim. Around the band of perhaps two dozen or so sentinels who still held Fish Eye Tavern the fires where starting to catch at an alarming rate. Something had begun to beat on the door and it was a toss up on who would get them first; the fires, or the undead outside. Somewhere behind him someone started to cough violently from the black smoke that seeped in from every crevice in the timber.
A loud crash heralded a gift from the undeads twisted siege-engines as it tore a large hole in the northen wall. A hole large enough for the atackers outside to enter the building. Through the veil of the ghastly vapours from the diseased meat and bone that had come through the walls Asandril could see pale, boney fingers grip the walls a split second before rotted and corrupted faces appeared in the opening. Like greedy maggots on a festering wound they were, eager to feast they crawled inside the tavern only to find.... nothing. More ghouls in ragged and rusted armours entered the room, dark with smoke from burning wood. Lacking all caution they assumed that the defenders had fled to the upper level of the building and heedlessly ran towards the stairs. Perhaps two score entered.
All of them was dead again within a minute. From the dark corners of the room came the Sentinels of Auberdine, glittering steel like lightnings of vengeance when their war- glaives took a gory tribute from the enemy. The gifts of the night were theirs, and even if the undead had atacked in the day, the darkness created by the fires allowed them to meld in the shadows and atack as only the Kaldorei could. Dearly did the dead pay!
Still the Sentinel officer had spoken truly; the field was lost. The Beating on the door still continued and the fires still spread. They could meld with the shadows inside the building, but outside they would be without that advantage. There were no united resistance left and fighting against a stronger enemy at a clear disadvantage was domed to fail.
"We must retreat to the woods." Someone shouted. "We cannot defend what is already lost, but they are no match for us under the trees." Asandril yelled in agreement. They could flee and stay ahead of the enemy until nightfall, then they would learn to their dismay what it meant to war on the Kaldorei on their own soil.
A newly made fire was crackling in the hearth, dawn was still a couple hours away and Zarendir wanted to keep the chill at bay, dressed only in a loin cloth as he was. In front of him, on a bed, his old clothes lay scattered. A supple green leather tunic, a pair of breeches in a color long since worn beyond distinction and a pair of soft brown boots made of shadowstalker skin. Beside them lay a bow made of ash only sparsely decorated with silver engravings. It was his favourite, simple and flawless, crafted with the passionate precision that only true masters can achieve. In its simplicity it was a thing of beauty, and it had served him well in the life that he had chosen, the life he had intended to be his last. Now fate had forced him back to the endless circle of life, were death no longer was chosen, but earned.
With a sigh he turned away from his old belongings, now only symbols of a past life, and turned towards a heavy cupboard that dwarfed the otherwise diminutive cabin. With a deep breath Zarendir swung open the iron hinged oaken doors and unleashed the full fury of his past. Before him hung an impressive black armour, scale upon scale in the thousands, and over it a deep blue knights tabard. A tall composite bow able to pierce even the heaviest of armour well beyond a distance of nine hundred feet hung on a peg beside it.
The first rays of sunlight were awakening the city as a tall dark figure clad in a black scale armour knocked on the door of the Alliance Forces admissions office in Darnassus. A clerk with a newly awakened appearance opened the door and peered at the stranger, but before he had a chance to inquire about the reason for the disturbance, the armoured figure had pushed past him into the room. -“I need to be reinstated. Now. I want the full privileges and jurisdiction of a Knight Champion and I want the formalities to be done before the sun clears the rooftops, understood? I’m leaving the city before noon. There is work to be done”. And duty to fulfil, he thought to himself, a duty to his people and not the alliance, but having them think that this was a matter of mutual benefit would cause no harm. Hopefully at some point it could even prove beneficial. The drums of war had awakened.
Mestopheles patted his pockets; searching for his supply of pipe weed. He had never been much of a smoker but rough, uncomfortable ship rides tend to bring out the worst in people. Having located the silver case he kept it in he puffed away merrily and readied himself for the coming trials. Generally coastal raids were beneath him (in life he had paid mercenaries to do that sort of thing, such manual labour was not befitting a Runestratum) however in this case he was the only one actually qualified for the task at hand. To the rest of his comrades this was a simple act of war designed to further inflame the Dorei relations but to the Preceptors of the Iron Ring it meant so much more.
Abraham had done a noteworthy job of spinning it he mused, to the one side he preached vengeance against their weak-willed and savage cousins, to another he promised riches and excitement and to a select few he whispered of the advantages to be had in a conflict between the elf races. There were only three men on Azeroth who knew their true target however: the moonwell of Auberdine. Closest to the new world tree its magical properties were stronger than the others in that part of the world; protected by a whole town it would not be easy but Mestopheles required another sample for his studies. He was getting close and he knew it; he simply needed more time and more test subjects.
The imposing figure of the mercenary known only as Dreadnaut awakened him from his reverie: the signal had been made, Astranaar was ablaze. Quickly muttering a few protective cantrips the Lord joined his comrades, the knights of the Iron Ring, in their speedy flight to the doomed settlement. Under cloaks of the finest black silk they glided across the shadowly landscape leaving only death as a sign of their passing. Soon the tranquil shape of Auberdine loomed below them and Abraham raised his hand to signal the end of their journey; his bald dome and withered yet noble features cut an imposing figure in the dim light, his robed form appearing haughty and proud. With the slightest of a sadistic smile the Bishop lowered his hand once more and chaos was unleashed upon the town...
An objective watcher might have seen a pattern in the chaos as certain figures cut a swathe through the towns defenses, seemingly at random, but all in a purposeful manner. An even more eagle-eyed observer might have seen how occasionally they made the minutests of changes in their course as if guiding (slowly but surely) the raid to a specific location. The town was now entirely encircled by a force of Sin'Dorei and various horde mercenaries, two high ranking members of the former split off from the rest of their ranks and joined Mestopheles as he strode past. By this time the aforementioned observers (if not already dead) would have seen the intended destination of the Archmage but it was too late to rally a defense; the plan had worked masterfully. Elated with the flush of success Mestopheles climbed the steps to the moonwell, his entourage flanking him for his protection. Reaching in to his robes he withdrew a sinister looking pouch containing what appeared to be multi-coloured sand. He opened this and, after stating a command to his guardians, threw in to the air. An onlooker not versed in magic would be forgiven for gasping at this point as the sand did not drop but rather stuck. It encircled the mage and as his chanting began patterns (both terrible and arcane) started to emerge; the protective magic on the moonwell was as old as time and so it called upon all his power to dispell them one by one. The water in the well began to churn and boil as jagged bolts of magic arched across its surface, probing a way past the barrier.
Suddenly the sounds of battle echoed close and concern gripped his heart; at the moment he was entirely defenseless: his life in the hands of his guards. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a sentinel burst in to the streets from a burning building, her weapons bloody and her eyes crazed. For a moment he entertained visions of his funeral but then a spear flew from somehwere outside his peripheral vision and embedded itself in the elf's side. She stumbled and croaked a few words in their alien tounge before collapsing in a bloody heap. Allowing himself the luxury of sighing with relief he turned his attention back on to the spell and was delighted to see it nearing completion. With a bust of will the protective shield shattered and the lord collapsed to his knees, exhausted but joyous. It was at this point, with his usual miraculous timing, the Lord Preceptor of the Iron Ring calmly stepped past his panting friend and dipped a vial in the waters before striding off again, a momentary inclination of the head the only sign of any appreciation. Staggering to his feet the Lord watched him go a moment, a hint of hunger in his eyes, before joining the fray once more.
A purple leaf fell slowly to the ground, falling like a feather in a slight breeze across the tranquil city. Far ontop the majestic branches of Teldrassil, the city of Darnassus stood shielded from the seemingly un-natural storm that had ravaged the coasts of Kalimdor for days. Though the city appeared tranquil on the outside, it was but a facade.
Rumours were spreading. Rumours of past blood traitors having sailed across the seas with undead allies, bringing with them plague and pestilance, magic and taint. Rumours said that the city of Auberdeen, just of the coast of Rut'theran, had been the victims of severe attacks, and this made the denizens of Teldrassil shift uncomfortably in their beds at times.
Why, some even said that the unholy alliance between Forsaken and Sin'dorei breached the borders of Darkshore, and forced their way into Rut'theran. Of course, such talk was quickly silenced, or else dismissed. For whom would be able to thread upon the soil of the Night Elves without their notice? None would dare to strike at the heart of the Kaldorei's power without the fear of being unpunished. This ignorance was truly bliss in the hearts of many Kaldorei. Of course, there were those that knew otherwise.
The full moon did not reveal her face this bright night. And yet, the city was lit by gracious fairy fire, aswell as the pale glow of starlight. Wherever one would gaze upon the silent city, Sentinels were patrolling, their glaives kept ready at hand, their eyes watchful for alien elements.
Dusk had fallen merely an hour ago. The Kaldorei were awakening, within mere hours, the merchants and entertainers would fill the streets and bring life to the nocturnal culture of the Kaldorei. The sisterhood of Elune had allready started their hymns and songs within the alabaster temple, and the druid Shan'do's took their Thero'shan apprentices to the heart of the city, the better to teach them of astronomy and stars...
...Speaking of which...
Cherwina Dawnstrider walked with determined steps down the purple ledged stairs that had led to the Arch Druid's tree. Her gaze was stern and straightforward, but her mind was elsewhere. Perhaps that's why she did not notice the shadows that moved to her left, nor the soft purring of the great felline that jumped down from some unseen branch in the distant night. And so, naturally, she flinched when she heard that deep, female voice speaking to her.
"You've been in there for quite a while...", the black saber spoke through hissing teeth. Cherwina tried hard not to look up to the Arch Druid's gate, as to confirm the assailant's suspiciouns. She had no reason to fear the beast, and yet, she had a tingling senastion that she should perhaps not give away to much information far to freely.
"I was summoned...", Cherwina said casually, weary from the debattes of the evening.
"Must have been an extremely interesting herb."
"That does not concern you, Isilvara."
This time, it was the saber's turn to flinch. Cherwina sighed wearely. The two stood there for a few moments, staring at eachother, until Cherwina finally broke the silence.
"...Walk with me.", she said, resuming her determined waltz down the spiral tree. Isilvara walked at her side, her tail trailing of into the ground, her nose and ears twitching as was the nature of felline beings.
As the duo walked around the tree, Cherwina came to stop. The two druids stood there in silence, the elf and the saber, the full glory of Darnassus, theirs to behold. The songs from the Temple to the north was echoing through the otherwise silent night. The city was coming awake.
"...It's strange...", Cherwina said, luring Isilvara's curiosity, "Even though we are far from the mainland of Kalimdor, and our skies are clear... I can almost taste the storm, as if it was just beyond the borders of this mighty city..."
Isilvara turned her head to face Cherwina, her Vermilion eyes meeting the bright gold of Cherwina's.
"...When will you abolish your spell?"
"I did not cast it."
"Do not lie to me, Isilvara.", Cherwina said quite calmly.
"I tell no lies. This storm, whether it be sorcery or not, is not my doing..."
And the druidess turned from Isilvara, again staring at the city of starlight, shining in the increasingly darkenning night. There were not many moments of silence, however, before she started speaking again.
"Atleast have the decency to take on your true form when adressing me."
"I am more comfortable in this form, thank you."
"Of course you are. Might be hard to explain that new limb of yours."
Isilvara flinched, staring into Cherwina's weary, pacifist gaze with vermilion fury. And as if reading her mind, Cherwina spoke, just as calm and just as casual "Oh yes...Yes, I know."
The saber turned away, closing her eyes. And within a few seconds, the felline morphed into an elf, dressed in not much more then a leather robe, armed with little but a wooden staff. Isilvara looked weary and torn, and her eyes gave the impression of a defeated being. The focus of Cherwina's gaze was not Isilvara's eye's, however. No, her gaze fell entirely on the wooden claw-like grasp that adorned Isilvara's right wrist. The hand appeared bizarre in the light from the lanterns behind her, and fireflies seemed to flock to the wooden limb as if it was made of fire, their eerie glow making the abnormality appear even more sinister.
"...Whom...", Isilvara said, staring into the floor, her hair covering the features of her face. "...Whom else knows?"
"Why, the one's you've told I'd assume.", Cherwina spoke casually, turning her gaze back towards the starlit city.
At this, Isilvara was surprised, and her gaze was focused on Cherwina's, whom in turn had eyes for nothing but the little elves in the distance, living out their usual lives, walking to the market or the temple to pray.
"...You... Haven't told anyone?"
"I see no reason why I should. You'd most likely be executed, and I don't see what I, nor nature, would gain from your death..."
Isilvara turned to face the city aswell, her gaze absent. Cherwina spoke again.
"...The Circle Of Aessina is being reformed. I am not certain of whether or not the speakers there are aware of, or even acknowledges the so-called attacks from the Sin'dorei, but something has forced the hand of nature, obviously..."
Isilvara turned to face Cherwina.
"Inhale deeply.", Cherwina said, casually as always. Isilvara did so.
A scent of dew filled Isilvara's lungs. A scent of grass, blossoms, honey a nectar, but the scent of dew was dominant. Isilvara reckognized this smell, but she could not place a finger on what it was...
"...What is it that I smell?", Isilvara asked Cherwina. The elderly druidess merely pointed upwards, towards the dark sky.
"...The calm before the storm."
Isilvara looked upwards... There were no stars to behold anymore. Where there had been lights in the billions a few moments ago, there was but darkness.
"I... I don't understand."
Cherwina started striding off again, away from Isilvara, down the spiral staircase. Her feathered leather robes dragged like a royal coat behind her.
"Our race has conquered our sacrifice at Hyjal, with the aid of a vision...The vision that Teldrassil is allmighty and that ontop of it's branches, we will remain unharmed by the raging storms of change, that constantly twists and warps this world... It is truly the calm before the storm."
And with that, the druidess kept walking, almost vanishing from sight around the great tree balcony.
"Wait!", Isilvara yelled. Cherwina stood still, but did not turn around. "What...What does that mean!?"
"...The calm has ended.", and so, Cherwina Dawnstrider left the scene, leaving Isilvara alone on the balcony. With a deep sigh, Isilvara turned to face the city, somewhat darker from the lack of starlight, but bright never the less, like a shining beacon of light in a world of shadows.
Isilvara did not notice the drops of rain that fell upon her arms from the skies, nor did she understand why she was suddenly shivering. Only when the distant drums of thunder echoed across the starlight city, and lightning danced across the blackened skies did Isilvara truly understand.
The storms of change had reached the Kaldorei at last. Isilvara stared at the falling rain, and for the first time in many millenia, felt true despair.
The dark waters of the veiled sea seemed not to reflect the lights of the burning city, but swallow it. The grey cloads aloft on the skies above steadily grew darker to herald the coming night.
It was time to leave.
Tremayne carefully felt the vial containing the stilled water from the Auberdine moonwell. It had disturbing qualities and he was content that his time with it would be limited. The retrieval of it had been smooth where it could have been a nightmare. The heathens had in their arrogance not been expecting a visit and it seemed as if a large part of the Sentinel garrison had been dispatched to meet the threat at Astranaar down south in Ashenvale. To ask the warriors of Strife to lay siege to the outpost had appearantly been a succesful move. Swift and sure had their stroke been, from three sides had the city been assailed. The champions sent by the court of the sun had come from the south, strife had sent a force from the east, and the Iron Ring moved from the north. The objective had been clear: Secure the docks at all costs. The docks lay close to the Moonwell that was their true target in Auberdine, but that information had not been necessary to share with those not in the Iron Ring. The lord Baâl had observed the transpirerings though and would assuredly ask the meaning of it when an opportunity arouse. The lord was no fool and perhaps a token of trust would serve as political capital for the future?
That was a decision for later. The dark waters of this coast could swallow him as well if he did not focus on the task at hand. They needed to leave Auberdine before dark. In the shadowy recesses of the forests the sentinels where regrouping. Already accounts where shared and their numbers measured. The counterstrike would be merciless when it came and he had no intention of staying to recieve it.
"The ships are ready, Eminence." The usually overtidy gowns of the Lady Hellebrandt where stained and splattered with blood yet the Sister Superior seemed not to notice but curtsied as still in the monestary, surrounded by secure stone walls. "I would never question your will, Eminence, but it seems to me that there can be more had from staying abit longer than setting sail now. We meet with feeble resistance and could double our spoils." There was a greedy fire in her eyes that for a moment reminded him of the taint in her blood.
"Ah, dear sister, do you wish to stay amongst the common soldiers and seek for goods and gold?" Behind them the duo of meatwagons appeared, filled to the brim with their ghastly cargo but the docks needed cringed nor broke. The Kaldorei built sturdy docks it seemed. Lyenna had seen them too and the greedy fire went out as the reality of the situation sunk in.
"No, Eminence. I do not."
"Of course not. How silly of me to even insinuate such a thing! A Hellebrandt risking it all for a few trinkets would be unheard of." Tremayne mustered a fatherly smile. Her Lord Father had been a most astute polician and had never taken risks on the fields of battle. Indeed, he had often only appeared when the field was certain to be won. Tremayne held nothing but admiration for the man. "Inform the Court that the time to extract is now." The Sin´Dorei would assuredly use magicks to portal them to Silvermoon, heedless of the dangers from overusing it.
As Lyenna relayed his last message he turned and went up the gangplank to their vessel, deftly piloted by the Baron de Vere who had layed anchored to wait for their given signal. From here the ship would sail south, to the Horde outpost on Zoram strand. There the lords of the Iron Ring would disembark while the crew of ghouls would take the long route back over the ocean with the bodies of the slain elves. The ships seized from the Kaldorei would serve to vessel a contigent of blood-mad warriors of the Horde to Darnassus, and defy the elves in their strongest hold. They were not expected to survive the night, but there purpose was another.
Every war needed its dead to honour.
The armour weighed heavily on his shoulders, unaccustomed to its weight it was still a familiar feeling, like a returning memory from days passed. Some of the scales had worn through this woollen tunic, as old as the armour itself, and were now bruising his skin underneath. The last time he had taken it off he had thought it would be for good. What’s the use of repairing something you will never need? In retrospect the assessment had proven false. His blue and golden tabard was stained with dust and dirt, a testament to his travels. But now it was done. The call had gone out. From the forests of Ashenvale to the outpost of Sylvanaar the people knew. The Circle of Aessina has been reborn.
How many would come? How many would heed the call? And how many would believe? We have never been conquered Zarendir though as he returned the spare parchment to his brown leather satchel. Human nations have risen and fallen, the Dwarven kingdoms split by kin strife, the gnomes evicted from their homes. What the Draenei must have gone through Zarendir did not even dare to speculate. All this while the vigilance of the sacred forests never faltered, why should we be afraid now?
There had been something very unsettling about the assault on Auberdine. A cold precision he had seldom encountered on the fields of battle, and he was no novice in the art of war. The rage of the orcish warriors were a terrifying sight to behold in the heat of battle, the Taurens veritable bringers of destruction in all their might. But this, only the forsaken could approach death with such insignificance. He had arrived shortly after the attack. Pieces of burned wood lay strewn across the ground, a shield broken in half, some of the buildings still aflame, survivors aimlessly wandering around, still in shock, unbelieving. To someone unaccustomed to the destruction of war it certainly looked like chaos, but the unwavering determination that had caused all of it could still be seen in the wounds of the land. And in the centre of all of it lay the Moonwell.
Someone had once told him that the Moonwells were like reflections of the world. In their shimmering waters lay knowledge deeper than anyone could imagine, a memory of ages past, a memory of things long since forgotten, a memory of every deed and every transgression ever committed, an image of everything that has ever broken the surface of its scintillating waters.
Those responsible would not go unpunished.
Lord Archon Elrics Ravenblade had given the elder orc a task. Find and beat the Tauren known as Armos. He had discribed the tauren to the elder warlock, he had told him to make him hurt. But there was something about this tauren that made Burgrsch Demonvoice feel like he could have better use's. Thos the old warlock made up his own plans. He was going to give the Tauren a offer he would not refuse.
A chans to become part of a dark power on the raise. He was a bandit, not a cult leader. That was regretibol, but they would do for minions. The Council needed to have there armed forces. Sure that he would succed the elder orc seeked him out. He found him in the Ghostlands.
The meeting whent good. The followers of Armos was indeed scume, but the Tauren himself was impresive. Part of the old orc wonderd if he had been abel to put the hurt on him had he tryed. After all his "Order Master" had tolde him that he did not exaclt play fair. Armos agreed to join the New Shadow Council and said that he would come to the next meeting of the Council.
It was good, and then the elder came to the two tasks he had for the Tauren and his brigants. Both of them important to the Councils plans.
"The Council feels that a war betwen the Night Elfs and the Blood Elfs will be most usefull..." said the Orc.
The Tauren grined and said: "Aiming high? I like that!"
"That is why I want you to irritat the Night Elfs!" said the elder warlock.
The Tauren agreed and descused how to care out the order. He seamed inclaned to wage battle on the elfs of Ashenvale and Darkshore. Not that the old orc cared how it was done.
"Also it is well known that the body of the Master Gul'dan was ripped apart after his death." said the orc.
"Aye" said the tauren.
"We know where his skull and heart is. But his eyes are lost... All we know is that there here on this world." said the elder orc. This cused the band of brigants to specelat on where the eyes of Gul'dan might be. The onlt clue as to where they might be was that the masters corpse had been ripped apart by Ner'zhul. And that the eyes might have been given to members or allies of the Old Horde.
spray of snow from the mountains above betrayed the presence of the winds that always seemed present at the hights of the Alterac mountains in central Lordaeron. The fields of the lands below where not yet covered with snow, but frozen hard and solid in the Lordaeran night. From a mile or so below the lights of Strahnbad shone from the few houses that was still kept by the Syndicate and its cronies. Not 10 feet from where he was standing lay the cooling corpse of a sentry, getting slowly covered by the fine dust from the mountaintops that danced in the winds. The Syndicate kept a close perimeter around Strahnbad, and rightly so. The Scourge had never laid claim to it, but where not far away. The Syndicate had reasons enough to fear the vengeance of its southern neighbours as well; In fact, they had few friends about at all. The sentry had been cleverly hidden and had it not been for his mastery of mending his undead flesh Tremayne might have been the one getting covered in snow instead. Fate had willed it otherwise.
From the south a solitary figure was visible on the road, walking ever northward, open and proud, fearing not brigands nor the ogres that was said to be encamped around Gallow´s corner. Tremayne had been watching him for more that half an hour now and knew him for who he was. He had sent for the Margrave Mardagg von Thierhoff to meet him here, close to where his family once reigned over lands and peasantry. The meeting with the Margrave was one of paramount importance for the future that was ahead and the first matter of business he had seen to after his return from Ashenvale forest a week ago. Things where in motion now which required the Iron Ring to move swiftly, yet without the carelessness that haste oft brought with it.
The cause demanded no less.
The sound of heavy breathing, though present, was unheard. Or perhaps it was to weak to be heard? Regardless of the matter, the only sound that accompanied Poesi's echoing footsteps in the dark dungeons were that of dripping water somewhere in the darkness below her. Sprockz'nit, the cowardish imp that accompanied Poesi kept close to his mistress, tugging her vermilion coloured robes as they descended down the halls.
It had been a brilliant plan. Poesi had long wished to speak to the one confined within the Vermilion dungeons below the guildhalls, but acces had remained denied. With some well made food, a touch of hibernal potions and some really hungry guards, it had been an easy match to make her way inside.
Unlike the halls of Vermilion above, which were large, roomy and splendid with glamour and light, the dungeons were steep, moist, dark and damp. Poesi had been walking in this dark spiral stairway for ten whole minutes now, the torches on the wall barely litting up the very step infront of her.
At some level, Poesi felt guilt. She knew that her master, the Prophet Lord Akeion would not agree with what she was doing here, and if she was discovered, she had no doubt that she'd be severely punished. However, she wished nothing but the best for her lord and his followers, and kept telling herself that if walking behind his back to best serve him would lead to the best possible outcome for her lord, then so be it.Repeating this to herself again and again inside her head was what kept Poesi going onwards into the deep dungeons.
Poesi had to constantly remind herself that she was infact still in Silvermoon, and not some Forsaken tomb in Lordaeron. The lack of fresh air made her slightly nauxious, and the absence of proper light was the source of a minor headache. The constant dripping of water did nothing to improve the condition either.
At last, Poesi and Sprockz'nit made their way to the final star. Almost falling over, tripping on her own robes, Poesi cursed out loud for a moment before moving on. The duo had arrived at a tunnel of sorts, and greenish light could be seen in the distance. Poesi decided to walk towards it.
After an additional ten minutes of walking, Poesi came to her desired destination. Her fists were clenched at her side. Poesi straightened up, nose held high, and strided like a proud queen into the chamber that awaited her at the end of the hall.
The prison-cell looked exactly like Poesi had immagined it. She was now within a cavern-room of sorts, cut out of the very obsidian stone floor that posessed it. There were no furniture, no guards. All that existed in the room were torches of green flames on the walls, a few plates stuffed with moulded and rotten food, and rusty metal bars. Beyond the bars, however, was complete darkness. You could see nothing there, it was as if the light of the torches shunned that area. Poesi assumed this was intentional, to distress the captive on a mental level. She was about to find out if this technique truly did work, as the sorceress approached the prison bars with light steps.
"...Brother?", Poesi spoke with her gentle, seductive voice. It was a very bizarre voice indeed, that Poesi possessed. Though she would never be a grand singer, nor a poet of great renown, Poesi's voice was torn but strong, like that of a woman whom had been smoking great weight of tobacco's for decennias. Her voice, however, changed little in the room. And so, Poesi spoke again. "Brother?", she said, even more softly.
And then, suddenly, in the darkness behind the bars, two green orbs of light appeared slowly, as if something or somewhone awokened in there, and opened their eyelids slowly. Poesi smiled, atleast he was still alive.
"Who is it that disturbs a traitors sleep? Can a man not find peace, even in dreams?", said pained, yet lighthearted voice from within the darkness. It would not be hard to pin the voice down to a young man in his late teens. The voice was but one thing of many that made Dakrin far more like a human in mind and appearance, then the Sin'dorei he was.
"For your crimes, my brother, you shall be lucky that you are able to dream at all."
There was silence. Poesi hesitated about having to break it, however, she was spared this fate as her brother was the one to speak first.
"...Poe?", there was a sigh. Poesi had not expected that. "...So he got you, didn't he?..." "No, my brother. I am no prisoner of the Prophet Lord. I am his servant and pupil by choice." "A puppet is a puppet.", Dakrin replied, "No matter how a man decides to have his threads bound, the fact remains, they are bound to the will of another."
Poesi now heard Dakrin's footsteps echoe in the darkness behind the bars, as his eye's glow grew more intense. She could at last see his pale hand touch the cold, black metal of the prison bar. Poesi took a deep breath, taking in her brothers appearance.
The adolescent was but seventeen years old. He was very young, even by human standards, and even more so by elven. And yet, Poesi had never been able to look upon her brother as a elf. He had always had mind-plagues that had bothered him. He would seldom feed, insisting on the fact that excessive body fat would be his undoing. Poesi had never seen another elf spend so much time to physical labour and training. Swords, Horse riding, various sports. Time that should have gone to studies and magic was placed in brutal human games.
Even his appearance had been un-orthodox. Of all of Poesi's seven brothers, Dakrin had been the only one whom did not walk the path of the magi. He had never allowed his hair to grow below his shoulders, he had never, ever dressed in a robe, nor had Poesi any memory of seeing him feed on "un-healthy" things (or atleast, what he himself deemed as unhealthy).
And the result had been that abnormal appearance of slightly tanned skin, brimming red hair, and most brutish of all, muscles. An elf with muscles was of the lower cast, forced to do labour due to lack of servants and magic. Muscles in Quel'dorei society had never been a mark of good personal physique, but of poverty, something that had never stirred well with the Sunstone family, of which Poesi and Dakrin were the last to draw breath to this day.
Perhaps that is why Poesi was so shocked at her brother's appearance now. His tanned skin had turned pale, and his brimmingly red hair appeared almost brown in the shadows. Poesi had never seen Dakrin cast a spell in her entire life, nor imbibed in uneccesary mana. Infact, even post the destruction of the Sunwell, his eyes had remained the vivid blue colour Poesi had herself once possessed.
Puritans were doomed to fall sometime. Poesi raised her hand, uncounsciously, to touch her own face, think of her own eyes. Green. Corrupted. Just like her brothers.
"I find it ironic...", Poesi said, to break the silence, "That you left Quel'Thalas, free from our kindred's thirst, fled across great oceans into Dark Elven terrotory, to learn of how to harness this thirst, only to fall prey to it."
"Your concern is appreaciated...", Dakrin retorted. If this was sarcasm, Poesi had trouble detecting it. Dakrin sounded so defeated, when he turned around. Poesi had to be quick to speak, she could not risk him starting to ignore her out of restlessness.
"...I see that you have eaten nothing of what they've been feeding you theese last months... How come you've survived?"
Dakrin turned around again. Poesi and Dakrin stared at eachother for a moment, none saying a word, before Dakrin extended a hand. Poesi blinked. She could have sworn she had just seen electricity in Dakrin's palm. But no, she was not deluding herself. Another piece of lightning emitted from the young man's palm, this time materializing into a small orb, before finally becoming a small object in his grasp.
Poesi leaned closer to learn of the item's origin, as Dakrin held it up.
A big, red, shining apple.
"Even more irony.", Poesi said, "You saught to combat demons, and you learned magic."
This time, Dakrin did not even reply.
"I do not understand it, brother. What could the Kaldorei offer you that the Prophet Lord Akeion could not?"
"Speaking of him...", Dakrin said, throwing the apple in the wall. Poesi heard the impact. It was not a soft "splat" as she had expected, rather, it sounded like crushed glass against stone floor. "Does your beloved lord even know that you are here?"
Poesi smiled. Did he know? She had no idea. He might very well have even foreseen it.
"I am here of my own initiative, brother..."
She could not help herself. Dakrin was her younger brother, there was about seven decennia between them, and during the young man's seventeen years of life, Poesi had never once seen her brother in a more wrecked state.
Most of the Sin'dorei had become what they were, and had to deal with their withdrawal together, as a society. It plagued her to see her brother infront of her, forced to absorb magic he had never needed, and now forced to deal with his addiction. It was cruel, Poesi thougt, and her respect for her Prophet Lord skyrocketed. How genious. How effective.
"...Theese Kaldorei Demon Hunters your trained under..."
Poesi started caressing her cheek. It was cold.
"...Did they force you to siphon fel energies?"
Dakrin made a hint of a shrug.
"It's part of their lifestyle. It's a life I tried to embrace..."
Poesi's and Dakrin's eyes met for a second, and in that second, Poesi knew exactly what needed to be done.
"Sprockz'nit!", Poesi called out loud, summoning her imp from outside the room. The wretched creature came crawling into the room, sweating quietly for himself.
"Mistresssss called for Sprockz'nit?"
Poesi threw her brother a quick glance. Though it pained her to see his eyes as emerald as her own, the brimming hunger in his glare forced her to smirk
"Yes, I did. I wish to tell you that you are no longer under my service."
The imp blinked, clearly surprised.
"Mistresssss meanssss... I isssss free?"
"Yes, imp. You are free."
The imp broke out into laughter, tears of joy and relief pouring down.
"Free! Free! I isssss free! Free!"
The imp cackled maniacally, starting to dissolve from this plane of reality. Poesi turned to face her brother, only to see him smirking. To her surprise, she was smirking aswell.
And then, they both acted out of reflex. Poesi raised her fingers into the air, and an arcane wind instantly began to fill the otherwise silent halls. With a simple gesture of fingers, Sprockz'nit the imp was flung with a squeak worthy of a quillboar into the obsidian bars, where he was captured by invisible hands, hovering in mid-air infront of Dakrin, desperate to break free.
"What isss? Missstressss promisssed freedom! FREEDOM!"
Poesi said nothing. She did not understand what she was actually doing. All she knew was that, as the arcane winds ceased, she drew upon some sort of primal joy, like a beast, watching the fear and panic of the demon.
Dakrin's hands made a few light hearted moves in the open air, as if caressing the imp from a distance of a few inches. The imp, still in panic, seemed to hover in mid-air mere inches from Dakrin's palms, never hovering outside of theese. If Dakrin moved his hands due south, the imp would always stay between the polar opposites of his palms.
"No... I hassss sssserved valiantly. Freedom! Misssstresss ssssaid freedom!"
"Silence!", Dakrin shrieked in a voice which sent chills down Poesi's spine. It was akin to a banshee shriek, though Poesi was certain it was merely the amount of arcane residue in the air that twisted reality, so that she heard and saw was slightly altered.
Poesi couldn't, however, block out the dying shriek of the lesser demon, nor the savage image of it being torn to pieces and dissolved into purple lightning between her brother's palms, before he finally absorbed the entity in a deep breath.
The silence that followed was akward. It was then, that Poesi for the first time that day, truly let out a chuckle. And her brother responded by staring at her, surprised.
"Brother, ah, my beloved brother. You have just removed all my doubts." "..." "No matter how much you deny it...", Poesi took a step closer to the iron bars, and Dakrin did the same, from his side. "No matter how much you supress it..." She took another step, as did he, now clenching the black metal bars, his face pressed towards the springs. "You are, and will always be Sin'dorei."
The two now stood face to face. She, smirking, victorious. He, expressionless, defeated and tired.
"And it is a good thing, brother. It means that there is a gateway to survival and a chance at redemption." "No." "No?" "No." "What do you mean no?!" "I mean, I refuse to switch from one delusional prophet to another."
Poesi sighed.Closer her eyes, and opened them again. She could see her own eyes reflected in her brother's Iris. But something was changed. They were still vividly emerald, but in the depths of her own Iris, the colour was... Pink?
"...I can not believe you are staring at me with the gaze of Heartmourn...", Dakrin said, as if hypnotized, unable to avert his gaze. "You leave me little choice, brother." "You should know better then to dabble in ancient Kaldorei magics..." "Do not try to lecture me. I am older then you. And I know for a fact that you've been using it yourself to gain favour...Does the name Aenluv ring a bell?"
Poesi half-expected Dakrin to reach out and choke her with the mentioning of Aenluv. But the gaze of Heartmourn, the ability to charm and persuade any man or woman able of affection, kept her brother at bay.
Poesi knew she could not maintain the gaze forever. Carefully, she extended her right hand past the iron bars, and touched her brother's face. The eyes never stirred from eachother, never blinked.
"Don't do this...", Dakrin pleaded to his sister. But Poesi did not flinch. Her hand caressed her brothers cheek, and then his hair, stroking her fingers through it, placing it behind his own ears. Poesi knew how to make men relax, and it was vital for her to get her will through.Allready, she could see Dakrin's eyelids starting to fail him. Lack of real substenence and the drain of his arcane addiction had taken it's toll. He was more experienced then her to use the Gaze of Heartmourn, it had, afterall, been the very reason he had un-intentionally won the hearts of both Aenluv and Varnis, Poesi was sure, but in his current state, Dakrin's experience with the gaze ment little.
His eyes were closed now. Poesi had managed to force him into sleep, and so, she safely leaned forward to the bars, and caressed her brothers ear, whispering:
"You will surrender your life and will to the Prophet Lord. You will abandon all allegiance to our blood of the night. Shall a time ever arise where you ask your heart to guide you, when you feel that your master's will can not be carried out, the answer to your question, whatever it may be, shall be your own blade, aimed at your own heart, forced by your own will and hand.
This is my will, as the one person in this world whom loves you the most. This is the will you will follow.
Theese words and this night has been for our minds only. None else shall ever know."
Poesi sighed at her sleeping brother. She knew for a fact that such a spell did not exist. But perhaps that did not matter. Perhaps, aslong as Dakrin thougt he was under the effect of a spell, he would do as she asked. With a kiss on her sleeping brother's forehead, Poesi donned her cloak, and darted for the spiral stairways. Dawn was approaching, and she needed to be in her bed as the guild awoke.
Back and forth. Back and forth.
Isilvara walked the same path around the circular room, anxious, in deep thougt. The night had recently fallen outside. Allready, Isilvara could hear the hymns from the temple to the north of the Enclave.She could hear the Sentinels march. But above all, Isilvara could hear the echo of her own heartbeat, pounding like drums against her chest.
Back and forth, Back and forth.
Isilvara stopped dead in her tracks, raising her one still functional hand to rub her template. The headache was immense.
"Will you sit down, allready?", the smokey voice hissed from a table-arch, placed in the middle of the room, "You're driving me insane!".
Isilvara merely waved off the remark with her wooden hand.
This tree. Isilvara's tree. A fine tree. Sure, it was not as big as the Enclave's gathering tree, where Fandral summoned his advisors to hold council, nor was it as tall as the communal tree of Feathermoon. But it was her's, and that could essentially be felt by merely looking at it. The tree grew about sixty meters in a vertical limit. It had but two rooms, but theese two were spacious. One room was filled with all manners of vials and scrolls, tomes of ancient lore and forgotten history. The floor was cluttered with books of human history and culture. A so called guitar laid somewhere in a corner, broken. Isilvara had never learned to master the peculiar human instrument.
Then there was the upper floor. The floor where Isilvara and her companion were now conversing. It was much like any top-floor, for those who know of Kaldorei architecthure. The room, however, was rather empty. The space was void of furniture, save for a velvety purple wall cabinet aswell as the table-arch in the middle of the room and the eccentric blue orb that floated above it. All matter of things that had earlier inhabited the room had been banished to the underfloor, becoming the source of the untidyness.
The entire room was lit by the eerie blue light emminating from the floating orb. And whilst Isilvara merely walked back and forward in the room, her companion, Feralus Barkshadow, had his crooked nose deeply to the surface of the orb, studying it with visual interest.
"Mhm...Interesting...", the man would occasionally say, without ever bothering to actually explain why. The young druid appeared to see things in the orb that was not visible to the unlearned.
"Thero'shan Barkshadow.", Isilvara said, finally erupting after the man's fifteenth self-announcement of how interesting the orb was, "Have you actually been able to scry something from the Moon-Crystal?"
"Patience, Shan'do, Patience."
Isilvara did not like to be ordered around by her students. Before she could retort, however, the young man spoke.
"The boy's mind is being blocked somehow. Something is .... intercepting..."
Isilvara turned around, her hair billowing in a light breeze as she did so.
"Intercepted? By whom?"
Barkshadow said nothing. Instead, he closed his eyes and started forming words with his lips.
Isilvara could not read them much clearer. Barkshadow would have to explain to her himself, once he awoke from his trance.
"Scrying, are we?"
Isilvara's attention turned to the deep female voice that had just flown in through the open doors. The scent of jasmine and the indigo curtains billowed in the wake of the wind that had followed this lone raven into Isilvara's home.
"Gilraen. You took your time.", Isilvara said, greeting the raven.
"I have just returned to Kalimdor. Sir Daley Entronia wishes to inform you that he and his companions have set up camp near Light's Hope Chapel. Sir Entronia and the other humans will be at the border of Sin'thalas within a few days."
Isilvara nodded, caressing her cheek as she did so. Her skin was dry. It annoyed her.
"And so, the souther borders are under Kaldorei control, yes?", Isilvara said, whilst moving towards her cabinet, stopping only to withdraw a small stone basin of a blue lotion, adding a touch of it to her face and rubbing her cheeks.
"For now.", the raven spoke. "Tell me, Shan'do, what exactly ARE you scrying after? And does this have anything at all to do with all theese strategic errands you ask me to perform?"
The raven appeared puzzled. It was true, during the last few weeks, Isilvara had sent Gilraen on errand after errand. She had been sent to Lordaeron and Sin'thalas to commune with the forces there. She had been sent to Eldre'thalas and Mathystra to communicate with "Queen" Anariel and the Shadowwing Sentinels that dwelled with her. Mostly, Gilraen had been sent to observe the situation within souther Sin'thalas, known as "The Ghostlands".
Ao'wynn in particular had suffered tremendous amounts of troops, and Isilvara liked to feel updated. She had herself not left the confines of her tree for weeks, atleast not in a reckognizeble form. It was a great cost, that power came at. She realized that, now.The freedom to walk in the light of the moon, or at open roads was a luxuary she could not afford. Isilvara reminded herself to not take such things for granted in the future.
"We have reasons to believe...", Isilvara began, " That the Sin'dorei are once more on the move. Dakrin has vanished from my sight, and our forces are dwindling..."
The raven gave the shadow of a nod, or atleast as much as a raven could muster.
"And so, you decide to strike the first blow?".
"I choose to strike the first, and final blow. Theese hostilities must end. We do not have coin, nor enough sisters and brothers to waste. The Sin'dorei have fewer, however. Silvermoon's capitulation is inevitable. I merely await word from Sentinel Commander Shaydel Ishida so that I can-"
"You will be waiting for a long time, then, Shan'do.", Barkshadow said out of the spring of his mouth. Gilraen and Isilvara both turned to face him.
"How so, Thero'shan? Speak your mind."
Barkshadow's face was puzzled, as if unsure as to how he would select his words.
"The sentinel commander...She's dead, Shan'do.".
Isilvara sighed deeply. This was a major blow to their plan. Had Isilvara had her way, word would have been sent to Draenor, summoning the Sentinel Captain Narrila Vlongoth back into service. However, special...Circumstances regarding the Expedition prevent such summons. Instead, Isilvara now faced an enemy at the verge of defeat, but with the forces leaderless.
"Shall I send word to the Sentinels?...", Gilraen asked, spreading her wings in preparation for flight.
"No.", Isilvara said firmly, standing straight. "No, it is time that I took a more personal interest in this struggle."
"...What are you saying?", Gilraen spoke, her confusion evident in the tone of her voice. Isilvara's face turned, her ember eyes blocked by her bangs, but her smirk undeniable. "I shall follow the next shipment of re-inforcements into Sin'thalas. It is time to face theese Iron Ring cultist and their pet Sin'dorei goverment eye to eye."
Gilraen stared at Isilvara in astonishment, as if waiting for the punchline of a very bad timed joke.
"Are you INSANE!? You're not seriously going to step foot in Sin'thalas before it has capitulated?"
"If I don't, it never will." Isilvara said, shrugging."Besides, I will not be alone. The forests are with us, always."
Gilraen warped in a cyclone of smoke, and in mere seconds the black raven had now been replaced with a Kaldorei woman with green hair and immense wrath.
"Isilvara! You know what is written in the Obsidian Scrolls! If you travel to Sin'thalas, you will die!"
"ENOUGH!", Isilvara yelled, caressing her templates. "I will defy the stars! Destiny exists only in folklore and children's tales. You should know better by now."
"But EVERYTHING that has come to pass theese last few months have appeared randomly in the Obsidian Scrolls!", Gilraen argued, "Can you not see it? If you go, then you will merely fulfill that which the Highborn Seer wrote! "The dead shall walk hand in hand with noble elf"!? "And the skies turned a darker shade of reality, clouding out the pale moonlight. Alysteris the poet, Alysteris the bard, she sang alone as the heavens cried with her, sending with it a downpour so great that-"
"Yes, yes, I know what it says. I have read it more then you have.", Isilvara said, dismissively.
"Then listen to reason! Do not go!"
"I will go."
"Then you will die!"
"So be it!".
There was silence.
"Isilvara, I speak to you as a friend. Anariel's vision is to once more unite the elves under one kingdom, with herself as supreme queen.I have no idea what promises she has made you, or what you will gain from supporting her, but I ask you, please, PLEASE, abanadon this...this madness!"
"...I do not ask for your compassion, I demand your obediance!"
Gilraen's teeth were visible, tear's of anger formed like pearl-drops in the corners of her silvery eyes.
"As you wish then, "Bringer Of Storms". I'll make the preparations. We leave at sunrise.", Gilraen said, transforming back into her raven form.
"We?", Isilvara said, confused.
"We.", Gilraen replied, before spreading her wings and taking off out through the windows.
"...We...", Isilvara said quietly to herself. A moment of silence, a moment of bliss.
A moment of peace. The peace before the war.
The calm before the storm.
Weeks had gone by before the Royal Council of Silvermoon assembled. As second chairman, Lord Rasputyn led the meeting, and the votings went as expected. This task, this calling, was not the result of desire for reward. Apart from the Court, only the Forsaken representative of the Iron Ring, send by Bishop Tremayne, acknowledged the foolishness and stupidity of many councilmembers. No more could be expected from a unity of commoners, henchmen and would be politicians, opposing nobility in the name of liberalism and acting as they are equal. It was an uneasy development towards treachery if one would not fell the growing tree of insolence. Governing is by nature inscrutable, but to some it had been given to see the undercurrents of society’s maelstrom, to master it’s logic and to understand the truth that most of these lowliest members were blind for, … praising impurity and infidelity with little derisive smiles. Not many understood that unity does not mean equality, if only they could see the truth projecting on the Lord‘s emerald green retina. Being a voice of reason the Forsaken spoke out that the council would as well ‘appoint rats as new members of this convocation’ if they would keep on insulting their Sin’Dorei society with such naivity. The second chairman and his fellow representatives of the Court agreed with the comments on the display of mockery by the advisory Council of the Principality. The others Houses disagreed, as expected…therefore one could not take offence.
It proved why the Prince-regent had no other reason to allow such a Council just to please and control the masses. More then organising a charity event or party had not taken place, this gathering was too flawed, too weak, too blind… whispering the Court was evil. It gave the noble Sin’Dorei a feeling of control and a dismissive smirk, whenever he observed their mistrust. He had invited the representative of Undercity to turn their eyes towards a common goal, towards revenge on the Kaldorei. These Night Elves had settlements in the Ghostlands, close to Silvermoon, sending spies and making small sneak attacks on travelers. Many times, first Chairman Ravenblade had started a topic about it, but no actions had yet been taken by his House against this provocative presence of the enemy. Was it not, first and foremost, the will of the Light to burn away the filth in it’s great fire. Then the time had come to decimate these creatures of the night, that once were brethren before their betrayal. For the Sin’Dorie nation has become enraged against the Kaldorei and furious against all their host, their treachery has doomed them, has given them over for slaughter. They will fall, as leaves from their World Tree. It didn’t take much time to convince all present that the goals and plans of the Forsaken and the Council could be strategically united in one day, in one swift attack against the Kaldorei forces. The plan was very simple, Rasputyn had always held the view that the very simplicity of complicated plans made them successful, many years of military and political studies grants one that knowledge. At last the military alliance of the Horde, this unity, would bare fruit. At last the Council agreed unanimous, as was expected…
Outside it was cold, like there was a storm coming up. In thoughts he crossed the Royal square, ignoring the salutes of the guards. Diner was served by the undead automatons, while an orc servant informed the noble of current events. Ihriel, a most talented huntress in comparison with many rangers, had caught a renegade Bloodknight who betrayed his race and Prince by affiliating himself with these Scryers, and fled the wrath of justice. The orc had seen him and described the captive. The paladin’s eyes seemed to bore no shame, his apathy gave his captivators displeasure after the hunt. The servant and his master knew too well that this attitude would lead to a very uncomfortable stay in the cellars awaiting trail and certain death… the death of a traitor.
In ancient times of hardship, toil and war there came a whisper one day speaking of lands of lush and fertile beauty hallowed by the light, and untouched by conflict. The whisper became a rumour, the rumour became a promise of a better world that beckoned in the north. Eventually, a band of Pilgrims left the great city of Stone and ventured to make good of the promise that had started as a whisper. Daring the high passes, frozen and desolate, they came at last weary to the northward foothills and beheld their promise, vast, wild and pure. Giving thanks to the light these first pious men raised altars and churches to honour the faith who had rewarded them so. The lands became hallowed and when the high passes had been conqurered, more and more left the world of war and the great city of stone behind and the promised land prospered and grew to a mighty nation, proud and unconquered. For more than one thousand years, it stood like a beacon of hope, a promise that had once been a whisper.
That promise was now broken. "Plaguelands" was the name the once-hallowed nation now carried. The seeds of betrayal and corruption had fouled what was pure; In the search for immortality a magician had invited death and offered all other lives for existance eternal. Sacrificing all for revenge, white and hot; a Prince of the blood of those who had first hallowed the lands had doomed those he once sought to protect and was now the enemy of all life. A disease that was the progenitor of a genocide that was so horrible that it gave its victims no peace, not even in death. Like twisted, rotting puppets dancing awkwardly to unseen strings the undead scourge had devoured and destroyed. A disease so cruel, so potent; - Would it not plague the very land in equally malicious ways? The answer to that question was all around. Where the grass had once been green, it was brown and dead, spotted with grey fungus. The trees where swollen and bloated, seeping foul liquids of diseased sap, eternally bleeding. The wind who had blown crisp and cool now carried with it a fragrance of rot and corruption. A human being now was in peril by just walking the lands that had once been holy.
He had seen it before, but the corruption of his homelands stirred dark thoughts within him still. It had been more than a fortnight since he left the Margrave by the high passes to Alterac. A fortnight spent travelling scourge -infested lands alone towards at last the sanctity of Tranquilien in Eversong forest. He had near been discovered near Corin´s Crossing and had fought a hard battle against a courier serving the Scarlet Crusaders in Stratholme; but he was nearing the end of his journey through old Lordaeron. Before nightfall he would reach the sancity of Light´s Hope Chapel, if it still stood. One could never be certain of that, given the perilious position of the place. From there it was not long to the once so guarded passes of Quel´Thalas, -the birthplace of Queen Sylvanas. Every step drew him closer to his destination.
Lord Archon Me'nar Ravenblade followed Kalegh Redsun and his beloved Order in to the Ghostlands. There target was An'owyn, the faul night elfs there where all spys. And there had been rumors about mercenary camping whit the spys. But they where soon shows as false.
All the Flaming Blade meet where the weak spys whom fell like leafs. Archons sister did not even lift a finger herself but had her demon slave ripp her enemys apart as she walked the grounds. Soon the ground was cowerd whit the dark red blood of the Night Elfs.
It toke the Blade only a few minuts to kill of all of the faul beings. Archon was a special imprest whit a tauren warrior, a new recrut. He's strength was unmatch bay any of the other warriors of the Order. Whit savage brutality he tore through the elfs like they where paper.
Archon had never see that sort of power in a being that did not use any form of magic.
Soon the Ghostlands where clean. But the armed forces of Silvermoon where now drunk whit bloodlust. And so they marched on to attack one of the Night Elf strongholdes. Archon on the other hand was pleased whit the battle. Thos he leaft the comand of the Blade to his sister and watch the forces of Silvermoon march in to war.
The battalion took off on their wyverns, and filled the dusk sky over Feralas. The Kalimdorian spy camps in the Ghostlands had fallen like the night , burning with the fires of vengeance, cleansing the soil. The news would undoubtly have reached the Alliance forces by now, a distraction that fitted the plan perfectly, since the New Horde’s true objective was Feathermoon Stronghold. Riding to the home of the Sentinels called Shadowleaves, Rasputyn silently enjoyed the growing bloodlust within the ranks.
The troops embarked on the Sentinel island and clashed with the armed forces of the traitor Alliance, together with the other Generals he tried and maintain order within the ranks of an unstoppable force. The violent sound of battle all came to him at once: death screams, clanging weapons, deafening arcane explosions. There she stood, behind her warriors…Shandris Feathermoon, leader of the cadre of Sentinels stationed at the Alliance stronghold, shouting orders and piercing the assaulters with her arrows. A worthy target, a legend in Elven history and warfare, a chapter on its own. But she couldn’t keep the mobs back with her marksmanship, too many opponents, not enough guards, not enough arrows… The Kalimdorian General levelled a vicious kick into a Tauren’s ribs, spinning around and driving her glaive into a Sin’Dorei’s stomach. Dodging a clumsy lunge, she was caught by a life draining spell, too late to feint the crushing blow of a polearm in the back of her skull. Shandris eyes popped out, vomiting blood, trembling on her legs, no longer able to stand. The motionless heap of flesh was ripped apart by Forsaken, feasting on her organs. An orc decapitated the body with his axe, shouting a warcry while raising her head in his bloodied hand. No spirit healer would easily grand her life back… maybe her time had come, defeated and disgraced. The legend of old had no place in the dawn of this new world, she was best forgotten.
The screams of the Night Elves dying blurred into a single, long shriek. The Lord paced slowly along the battleground trying to maintain a view on the situation; when from the shadows a Kalimdorian rogue backstabbed him. Rasputyn tasted blood, turned and raised his axe in a defiant guarding position, calling upon the healing powers of the Light. From the corner of his eye he caught a glimpse of a young Dark Elven female… she vanished as quickly as his wound. He hoped she would escape, and tell the tale of her nightmares to her race.
The Paladin met the dead gaze of Bishop Tremayne, his eyes glistening in the light of the fires. Their smirks promised a bigger target in the future...
Count Quadron Cryptwalker closed his eyes and took a deep breath of the cold sea-air. The winter was near, he thought. Too near. The gnome opened his eyes. The cold weather didn't come alone, with it also came the painful memories. Usually, Quadron would have greeted with open arms any new image from the past, any piece of information. These, though, had haunted him all too long. One could think that he would have gotten used to them, but that was impossible. Gnome shivered. Like the memories, cold weather was as hard to get used to. Quadron turned his back to the sea and walked the deck inside the Silver Rose's ship.
When he got in his personal capin, Quadron sat down on the side of his bed. There was a large mirror, golden ornamentation rounding it, just opposite the gnome. Count sighed seeing himself in it. A pale, wrinkled face was staring back at Quadron from the mirror. There were a few fresh scars on his face. "Cursed elves...". The memory of the last night's beating was all too fresh in mind, and the effects of it will most likely be feeled for some time in his body. "Why, oh why did we even try?".
The words of Lady Xantippe were echoing in Quadron's ears. "...Didn't it like, blow up or something?... When Arthas attacked Quel'Thalas?..." Arthas Menethil... "That foolish human!" Quadron had sprung up on his feet and yelled, without even noticing it himself. The pain in his muscles, though, forced him to sit down again on the bed. "Cryptwalker, think straight!", he thought by himself. "All is not lost yet. There must be some way to resurrect the powers of the Well. Hmm... Whatever it may be, I shall find that way. I must find a way..."
Unfortunately, the Count's narrowmindnessnes took the best of him. He grinned. "Let us do this their way, then", he thought of the last night's events. "If the elves want war, then a war they shall have". After this, the gnome soon fell asleep.