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  #1551  
Old 04-08-2013, 02:51 PM
devius devius is offline

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Kul Tiras, the Malefactors and the Amani

After a tense minute where the warriors of Stormwind had prepared to fight on three fronts, a collective sigh of relief arose as the trolls set course for the Crimson March instead.

The same sigh was also collectively caught in everyone’s throats as a gargantuan construct emerged from the Crimson ranks. As everyone was buckled over coughing, Gerard turned to the two commanders.

“How are we supposed to fight that?”

“We don’t.” The second said matter-of-factly. “We let the trolls throw their lives at it while we take care of the March and the Gilneans.”

“Is that wise?” The first commander turned to his colleague. “What if the trolls all die before we’ve dealt with the infantry? Such a primitive race could hardly deal with a beast of that size. They’ve got, what, basic catapults at best? We’ve got siege weapons.”

The second shook his head. “If we fight alongside them, they’ll be able to cut us down once the battle is over.”

“But if there’s a way to aid them without sending our men to their side...” The first said thoughtfully.

“And what would that be?”

“I believe I have an answer to that.” Phorcys said as he stepped forward. “If the airship rams the construct head on, it is bound to topple over, leaving it at the mercy of the troll horde.”

The second snorted. “The airship? Are you mad? Its artillery support is our greatest advantage in this battle!”

“A greater advantage than that?” The old man pointed at the construct, which was slowly making its way across the battlefield, crushing enemies and allies alike during its advance.

“... I see your point.” He turned to the messenger. “Get word up to the airship, they’re to strip it of all necessities and get most of the crew down on the ground. The ones left to steer it into the thing should have enough time to abandon ship once the course is set.”

While the Gilneans continued to harass the rear of the Stormwind army, the Crimson March ceased its attack quite suddenly. Wary of yet another trap, the soldiers of Stormwind slowed their advance. Their fears were confirmed as Úlfhéđinn appeared from the masses and began their onslaught.

More monsters? Is there no end to this freak show?” One of the soldiers swore in despair.
Even with several soldiers fighting one half-giant at the same time, their attacks did little but scratch the Úlfhéđinn. Once they found an opening between the constant aggression, a single swipe with their massive arms could send several men flying.

As men were falling left and right without a single enemy dying in turn, the vanguard knew it was time to fall back.


The Stormwind army was relentlessly pushed from all sides and all semblance of formation began to break. In the chaos, the company with which Silas Lothar was fighting found itself exposed.

Standing in the middle of the tumult, the commanders were the only ones with the overview to spot the danger to the king.

“Falrevere, take your men and assist the king!” The first commander spoke quickly and turned away without waiting for an answer, instead barking orders to restore battle formations.

Gerard obeyed immediately and gathered the small number of Balorians still standing and headed for the king. They got there just in time to intercept a force of Úlfhéđinn.

“How do we even fight those things?” A soldier asked, his face pale.

“Hit them with your sword, repeatedly.” Gerard replied, fresh out of ideas.


The Balorians must’ve all listened to Gerard’s advice, because they did hit the Úlfhéđinn with their swords. Over and over and over. Until none of them were left standing. The Balorians that is. Perhaps one of the half-giants fell, or maybe it just stumbled. Gerard couldn’t tell. Blood was clouding his vision and the only sound he could hear was a loud, erratic pounding.

He blinked. The Úlfhéđinn were gone. Had they died? No. The only bodies on the ground were the ones of his allies. They must’ve ignored him. Why? He became dimly aware of a figure in front of him. He was saying something, but Gerard couldn’t hear it. Now he was laughing.

Gerard’s eyes gained enough focus to see the details of the stranger’s costume. It was a flurry of colour with hundreds off ill-matched trinkets. His gaze stopped on a certain wristband, he was sure he recognized it, but where from? Realization dawned on him. Lennart had worn that wristband, he’d gotten it from some girl, for luck.

Reality came back to Gerard as he knew he was facing his dear friend’s killer. Fury unknown to him took charge and he lunged at the jester with only one intent: To kill.
  #1552  
Old 04-09-2013, 05:46 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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The Overture.

The dark construct loomed over the battlefield its unholy figure raising into the sky almost eclipsing the sun itself.

It was the herald of a new age an age without suffering but also without soul, without passion or emotions.
It was a herald of death.

An age that should not be able to come pass, an age where nothing had place but the infinite emptiness of Daevlus illusion. Like its herald it was an age of death and doom, were ultimate despair brought the illusion of happiness.

An age that he would not let to come, from his position he looked towards his forces and using a spell he had learned from Men’heva’s memories amplified his voice.

‘Troll of the Vale!!! We could have fought men today! We could have reclaimed what was taken from us!!!

But before our very eyes lays the end of the world!! The bane of trolls and men alike!!!

Its OUR duty, OUR mission to save the world!!
OUR world!!!! SO CHARGE!!!!!'

The troops pressed into the ranks of the crimson march as the construct gazed upon the battlefield ready to slash away both men and troll alike.

It was then that one of his trolls called his attention, a human ship was coming. He would problems to believe what he saw if a towering construct of doom wasn’t standing before his eyes too. A human ship was flying, yes flying, over the battlefield directing itself towards the construct, with seemingly no intentions of stopping.

‘Are they trying throw the thing down?’ The troll said

‘It won’t work, get my a bat’ Ba’jal murmured

The men of the airship were not prepared for what happened next, a green troll carrying a giant sword jumped in the middle of the deck.

A few of them tried to charge at but before they could even move they felt their feet frozen to the deck, the troll knew some kind of wicked magic. ‘It is the end’ some of them thought.

But the troll made no move to kill them, instead he began to speak almost perfectly in the common tounge barely showing the typical accent trolls have
‘Don’t crash into it mon.’

The members of the crew were confused by the situation, not sure of what was actually happening. The only thing they were almost sure of was that the troll was clearly insane.

‘Why?’ One of the crew members asked

‘Cause it won’t stop it.’ The troll answered ‘Throw whatever you got at it, make it get your attention but don’t crash into it.’

‘And why do you think we would do that?’

‘Because if you do and I manage to destroy the thing you get to keep yoru fancy ship.’

Most of the crew men were busy trying to see if they could free themselves from the hold of the troll’s spell, however a few of them listened to his words, his crazy words.

‘And how do you plan to stop it?’ Another of the crew members asked

‘I have no bloody idea how.’ The troll answered as a bat swooped over and took him away.

A few of the men tried to catch them achieving nothing but realizing that the hold over their legs was over.

Ba’jal flew away up high, away from the eyes of the construct hoping that the men had listened to him. If they rammed the construct it would probably fall, that was true but that didn’t meant it could rise up as it just did.

As the bat flew trying to circle the construct Ba’jal an eerie and unnatural shriek filled the air. He looked down again and saw the ship had diverted its course and began to use its weapons against the construct who fixed its fiery eyes upon the crew, slowly moving towards it in some kind of mechanical anger.

Ba’jal smiled, it seemed the humans liked their fancy ship and had decided to give him a chance.

He flew around the battlefield and upon nearing the construct he jumped away from the bat aiming towards the constructs’s neck. But the mechanical monster was on the move, and he failed instead falling in its shoulder.

He struggled with his feet he was about to fall when he used the same spell he had used upon the humans, which fixed his legs to the contruct’s body.

He was safe, for now, but the thing moved widly and if he didn’t’ grabbed properly he could snap off his own legs. Not only that but despite he had learned many spells from Men’heva’s memories he lacked the physical experience and training that he had. He only had memories of it, he could only count with the few techniques that the Prophet taught him in the last few years.

The beast moved another step and momentarily the movement stopped, he decasted the spell and ran towards the neck. But a projectile from the ship hit the thing on the chest, and he lost his balance.

He was almost there, he casted the spell again on his hand, clinging to the construct’s neck. He used his other hand and began climbing the thing’s neck, struggling as projectile after projectile from the ship irritated and hopefully hurted the thing.

He wondered for a second how the men would struggle to man the weapons and move the ship away from the grasp of the construct. He was particularly worried about the idea that some of those winged abominations of Daevlus would attempt to destroy it, but thankfully he wasn’t the only troll with a bat and his troops had orders to protect the ship.
He thought how that dammed ship was a threat a terrible tactical threat, as he climbed up the neck, he knew that if humans were to keep that thing or even reproduce it could change the course of the war.

He climbed a bit more, using his last spell to fix himself on the neck of the thing.

But no matter how much tactical superiority it could grant the humans after the end of the March, he needed the ship to distract the construct. To stop the Crimson March, Daevlus and the end of the world.

If he had to sacrifice a potential victory for the future, then the choice was easy.

It was the when he felt it, it was strange and like nothing else he had ever felt in his life or that of Men’heva. It was a sudden surge of energy like no other, it was not arcane it was something more deep and ancient and it was coming from the sword.

As he grabbed onto the construct he drew the sword, it was glowing and the ancient trollish script on it was flowing, he had never seen the sword like that. He was trying to figure it out when suddenly the surge of energy came bursting from the sword into his arm and his whole body.

For a split second the world froze, and then he knew what to do.
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  #1553  
Old 04-10-2013, 06:42 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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The soldiers of Tornio were some of the last to leave Dalaran. Nezario rode at their front, right beside the banner of his house. He knew some of the soldiers would be whispering about the absence of Nevio, but he chose to ignore them. His aunt’s army was behind him, and the rest of his countrymen at his front. The Hesperians would be the last to cross the border from their homeland to Alterac.

The pike of Trajan flapped in the air, as if swimming high on the sky, slowly but surely. Nezario had never particularly liked his family sigil, but now he felt oddly transfixed by it. It felt like the fish was looking down at him, judging him. He thought of his father for a moment, and then chose to focus on something else.

The leaders of the human armies had already been preparing to leave (though hadn’t yet made up their minds in regards to their destination), when two days ago they had received an unexpected guest. Halman Perenolde, the King of Alterac, had snuck out of his kingdom and appeared at the summit to ask for help in saving his people from the trolls.

Almost no one had objected to the suggestion. Apparently Perenolde’s scouts had found the bulk of the Troll army right outside his borders. Even though their first assault had been deflected, they were like to make another attempt soon. They would find the armies of humanity waiting. They’d have to attack uphill, into well-fortified positions.

“They won’t fall into a trap like that”, the prince of Stormwind had objected almost immediately. “We can’t hide our army from their scouts. They will simply fall back out of Alterac and attack another place, leaving us to stave in the already-looted mountains.”

Ethgan, the officer from Stromgarde, shook his head, however, and pointed out: “The trolls respect strength, and are proud in this sort of thing. If their leader gives the order to retreat from us, he will find his own followers turning on him. He won’t risk that. When we place ourselves as a shield against them, we are daring them to break us. Their pride in their own strength will force them to accept the challenge.”

That had convinced everyone, and it was agreed the armies would march to Alterac as quickly as possible. Ethgan had the most experience dealing with trolls, so his judgement was trusted.

Nezario’s inner recounting of their plans was interrupted when he saw a small retinue ride toward him from ahead. They bore an orange banner, but Nezario recognised the face of the man it belonged to before he recognised the banner itself.

“King Perenolde”, Nezario’s banner-bearer cried out to the monarch and his entourage. “The Count of the City of Tornio, the Master of Lake Torn and the Watchman of the Border of Strom, Nezario IV of the House Trajan, bids you a fine morning.”

This man is impossible, the count thought. He missed Leopold. Diradio was a fine replacement as far as assistant, banner-bearer and speaker went, but he had an unneeded tendency toward verbosity.

Thankfully Perenolde found the introduction amusing and slightly bowed his head, saying: “And a good morning to you too. I am Halman.” He brought his horse alongside Nezario’s, and offered his hand. His followers rode some distance away, so as to give the men a little privacy, but ready to join their monarch when he departed.

Hands having been shook, Nezario pulled out his chalkboard. He wasn’t sure if Perenolde knew he was mute, but thankfully Diradio wasn’t trying to explain the matter, dropping back a little to respect the two men’s privacy as the Alterci had.

However, King Perenolde did not wait for Nezario to write pleasantries and questions and such. Instead of shook his head and said: “No need to bother yourself, friend. Count Scipio told me of your condition. You have my sympathies.” He gave a smile that was probably meant to be friendly, but Nezario was already starting to dislike the man.

If Nezario shouldn’t bother himself to write, how were they to have a conversation? If they were to not have a conversation, why had Perenolde come here? The king did not seem aware of how patronised he had made the other man feel, and instead went on:

“I wanted to ride by and thank every leader who was at the summit for accepting my plea for help. I am in debt to you all, as is all of humanity. After tonight, my retinue will ride ahead to prepare our defences in Alterac. We know some mountain paths that will save time, but they are too small for the entire army to take. If we do hold off the tides of savages, every Hesperian who fought to make that victory happen shall have their name engraved in my throne room, for I shall owe my kingdom to them, and my descendants as well.”

He smiled again, taking Nezario’s silence for awe. “Once more, thank you for your contribution. With your permission, I shall take my leave.” He bowed his head again, and rode off without waiting for the permission.

Nezario fumed over the man’s insolence for the next hour of travel. Perenolde probably hadn’t meant to be insulting, but he simply did not understand that Nezario was willing to strain his hand a little just to be able to have a normal discussion instead of just listening to a speech from the other party.

He missed Nevio. Nevio had treated him just the same, before and after the harev.

An hour later, his angst was interrupted by the sudden arrival of Admiral Adai. She was now his direct superior, since he was a bannerman of her king. She had come to make an inspection of his troops, so he took her on a tour. He found the sour thoughts of the King of Alterac gone, and instead got to ride alongside someone who waited patiently for him to write his thoughts down, and did not look down on him in the least.



---



That evening, they camped in the foothills of the Alterac mountains. The going was slow; despite everything, Nezario understood why King Halman wanted to cut forward tomorrow morning, instead of having his six-man retinue slowed down by the whole army of the Grand Alliance of Humanity. He had a duty to his country, and for all they knew, the trolls might already have invaded Alterac.

Nezario’s tent was small and cramped, and since everyone else was busy setting up the rest of the camp after the count’s part of it was done, he realised how lonely the road was with no Nevio, Leopold, or even his mother.

At a moment’s whim, he chose to walk outside his cramped tent, and then out of the Tornian encampment. He was pleasantly surprised when no one noticed him leave, until he reached the sentries. He looked them in the eye and simply walked past them, and they hesitantly let him go without a word. He carried his sword with him, and he wasn’t going far in any case.

The encampments of other lords and nations were popping up in all directions except one, so Nezario headed toward the mountains. The ground started sloping soon, so he slowed down, idly walking up a path he happened by. He hadn’t seen anyone since passing the sentries, and was rapidly becoming aware that he had not seen any animals either. Even the birds were silent. He had once heard a poet speak of three kinds of silence, with the third one being a foreboding, dangerous one. Or was it the second? Whichever number it was, this was that kind of silence.

Then, the side of the mountain ripped open with such a resounding sound that Nezario was deafened for a moment. A pathway into the depths opened, its walls shining a queer sort of golden light. “Come hither, Nezario son of Niccolo”, a voice spoke from within.

The count looked down into the foothills. That sound should have alerted every soldier in the whole grand army, and yet (though it was hard to tell with the fading light) the bustle of the camps seemed to be dying down, if anything.

So then this was the same sort of thing as Thoradin’s visitation. He took a deep breath and stepped into the tunnel, walking into the mountain. The pathway was just the right size for him to walk without bumping his head or shoulders, with not an extra inch. The golden light he’s spotted earlier came from glowing, yellow rocks on the walls. They painted everything in their hue.

A sound of metal clanging on metal came from ahead. It was impossible to see very far due to the golden glow and the closeness of the walls, but the source of the noise couldn’t be too far.

And not ten seconds later, the pathway opened into a great hall, its walls pure gold. Two men made up of nothing but light were standing next to a forge, banging hammers at a weapon that lay on an anvil, glowed bright red, and seemed to radiate heat all the way to where Nezario stood, twenty paces away.

The voice which had invited him in started to speak... no, sing. It spoke in couplets with a strange up-and-down rhythm. It came from nowhere, and Nezario knew it did not belong to either of the incorporeal smiths.

Listen well, o young brave count
Silent man. Brother, son
Come you have to mine own smithy
Place of many weapons forged

I offer you this tool I’ve crafted
A weapon deadly, keen and hard
Made it is from many hardships
Mine own blood and endless toil

Take it well, o son of Nadia
Grasp it in thy vengeful hand
Slay with it all those you wish to
Wicked-minded, false of faith

But first you must choose your purpose
Pick an option, this or that
Speak your mind true and quickly
Do not tarry, do not wait

When you leave my lonesome presence
Forever absent, gone away
Which of these two limitations
Will you carry with my blade?

On one hand, you may slay men-folk
Women too, and sometimes babes
But only humans, never others
Not beasts or other peoples, no

Your other choice is quite the op’site
The reverse of the before-said
To never slay another human
Only things of foreign kin

Now speak your mind, grim Nezario
Pike-brethren, dumbstruck boy
Tell me which you pick, now quickly
Daylight’s waning, so am I


This had to be a trick. Why would anyone ever pick to be unable to kill others, and only other humans? The ‘dumbstruck boy’ however decided to obey the order to speak immediately instead of wasting time, and walked forward to take the weapon. Testing himself, he tried to speak, but could not.

The two smiths made of light vanished when Nezario got within five paces of them. The weapon lay ready before him. It was a handsome curved battleaxe, its crescent blade reminding him uncomfortably of the moon symbols of Zinine. Its handle was covered in red leather, though, so at least in colours it avoided that connection.

This is the Light’s doing, obviously. The shape is just a coincidence, he told himself and grabbed the axe. He felt all the hairs on his arm stand up when he did, but other than that, there was no great change. Looking around, he saw nothing moving in the whole cave. Going against his instinct to investigate, he turned to leave.

The cave closed behind him, leaving no trace on the mountainside. He bet that even if someone dug a tunnel here into the mountain, they wouldn’t find the place he’d just been to. It had not been in the realm of the living.

On the way back to the camp, Nezario tried to absorb every little detail of the axe, while also memorising every couplet he'd heard. He wondered what would happen if he tried to strike the weapon at a human. He wondered if the restriction applied to other methods of killing than the heavenly axe too.

The truth was, he’d never find out. He didn’t have any reason to kill humans. The Light was on his side, and would join him in the battle against the trolls.
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Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.

Last edited by Kerrah; 04-21-2013 at 06:32 PM..
  #1554  
Old 04-10-2013, 09:01 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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The Amani and the Elves

The Battle of Kingsway

On the second day, the Drakkari launched their offensive. With the Benefactors having either withdrawn to Fagerstrom, or destroyed by Rimtori's madness, humanity was left alone against the horde of Gul'alarion.

The humans tried to flank the Drakkari, sending raiders north from the heights; but the woods had been trapped. The Drakkari wards spat magic into the raiders, scattering them.

Meanwhile, the Drakkari discovered that the humans had dug pits on the battlefield; traps of their own. One of the remaining mammoths fell into one of the pits, and its wails of pain became background noise for the battle that followed.

The mammoths that did remain terrified the human defenders, who had never seen anything like those creatures before. Even the Drakkari themselves were an oddity to humans who were only used to fighting other humans. But somehow, King Andol Corin held the line. Eventually, the Drakkari withdrew to regroup.

There was no night raid after the second day. Both sides badly craved rest; and it was what they received.

On the third day, both sides met once again.

This time, Gul'alarion joined the melee from atop his proto-drake. King Andol Corin led his men at the front, desperate to break the Drakkari and route them into the ruins of Kingsway. The Shadowglen trolls attacked Lordaeron from the near, and prevented a clean route. It was then that King Andol Corin was felled by a hammer.

-

Muffled grunting, animal noises; it had to be foreign speech. There were drums. The smell of roast mutton filled the air, teaching him that he was starving.

The pain receded, and was replaced by consciousness. He opened his eyes, trying to remember where he was. His eyes adjusted.

Andol was in a tent.

An old troll was sitting opposite of him. He noticed Andol's wakefulness, and shuffled out of the tent. Andol sprang out of the furs he had been covered in, and tripped, planting his face in the dirt with a cry of protest. His legs had been bound by rope. He rolled over and found himself staring at the upside down figure of the Drakkari king. It had to be the king, because he was wearing a crown that looked like it was made from shards of ice.

"Do you know where you are?" the troll said in decent Common.

Andol groaned and winced, remembering his fall during the battle.

"You either had your brain smashed, or you born stupid. I asked, do you know where you are?"

Pushing himself off the ground, Andol wobbled for a moment, the rope at his feet messing with his balance. He hopped back towards his makeshift bed, probably looking like anything but the King of Lordaeron. But Andol had not overthrown his father just to become like him, so looks and pomp be damned.

"So I am to be your hostage?"

The troll king snorted a laugh.
"So, it speaks. The Atal'kaizar tell me your name is Andol. They said the King of Men was a good warrior, and a brave one. But it seems he is a fool as well. I am Gul'alarion."

Andol said nothing.

"Troll got your tongue?" Gul'alarion asked, walking towards Andol. "I gonna be clear with you, boy. You give me what I want, you can scurry home. An' I leave this land. It be too warm for me anyway."

The troll leaned in, his face inches away from Andol's. His breath was hot. Somehow, it surprised Andol. He had to remind himself that ice trolls were not made of ice, despite the look in Gul'alarion's eyes which said otherwise.

"What would a troll ask of a human, aside from death?" Andol wondered out loud. "Land? Gold?"

"Oh, mon." Gul'alarion said, patting Andol on the cheek as if he were an ignorant child. "Not all da gold in Azeroth would buy me. You think I have use for gold where I from? You greedy humans, you have no honour."

"You speak to me of honour?" Andol exploded, jerking forward so that his forehead pressed against Gul'alarion's. "What does a troll know of honour? Do not mistake me for a noble."

"Your crown was made of copper." He said it as if he was confirming Andol's own words, that he was no noble. Gul'alarion leaned back. "You fought on the front, with your men, and you dress like a slave and talk like a warrior. There be more to you than meets the eye, Andol."

Andol glared.
"If you don't want my gold or my life, then what?"

"I crush my enemies." Gul'alarion made abundantly clear. "I don't believe in surrender. Letting your enemy surrender just means they will wait to stab you in the back. But you, you are a man of honour, Andol. Surrender your kingdom to the Living Dream, and I will go. I will have fulfilled my promise to the Amani, and I can sail home with my honour intact."

"And if I refuse? Will you stay here, while the Northmen destroy your kingdom?" Andol asked, aware of how war had erupted in Northrend between the human settlers and the Drakkari. "Will you fight and kill every last human in Lordaeron?"

Gul'alarion seemed to consider that for a moment. Then he shut his eyes.
"If you refuse, I will kill you. I will kill the King of Men, and wear your crown, and march to your city and burn it."

Andol Corin threw his head back and he laughed. Gul'alarion was taken aback by it.
"Troll, I must first ask you one thing. How long has it been since my capture?"

"Seven hours." Gul'alarion replied through narrowed slits.

"I am a warrior, Gul'alarion, but I am not a fool. I serve Brux." Andol Corin said slowly. "By dawn tomorrow, I will be useless to you. I will be useless to you, and my people will push you off the shores of Lordaeron and back into the sea."

-

The Battle of Kingsway had been lost. The Kingdom of Lordaeron had been defeated. Its armies withdrew south, towards the capital city. By dawn, court wizard Oran opened a letter that King Andol Corin had instructed him to open if he was killed or captured.

If you are reading this, then it means that I am no longer able to lead you. If I am dead, then I am with Brux, and my blood has watered the earth. I would say that I am with my forefathers, but that would be a lie. I am alone. If I was captured, or am missing, then I am a liability, and nothing more. Therefore, I hereby abdicate from the throne of the Kingdom of Lordaeron, and hand the copper crown of the people to my fellow bastard and brother, Tileot Menethil. May he rule fairly and justly, and set aside old hatreds for the sake of our people, regardless of religion. Signed, Andol Corin, the Bastard, Blade of Brux.


-----

The Amani and Ravenholdt

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurtogg_Bloodboil View Post
Percy Fayette: I’m sure you have a grand speech about the virtue and egalitarianism of the Lebenstraum, Jin’thek, but I don’t want to hear it. Instead, you tell me how you’re going to end this war… or I’m going to end it for you.

His thumb pressed up against the vial’s cork. He couldn’t be killed by either troll spirit before releasing it, and given his past experiences, the concentrated Jutopong’loa would very likely kill him as well. But at this moment, Percy just didn’t care.
"Sorry mon, but things have changed."

Percy blinked.
"Nothing has changed, unless you make up your mind about ending this war."

Jin'thek sounded amused.
"Time, it works a bit different here in the temple. And I got control over it. While you stood there threatening genocide, weeks have passed outside."

Now Percy was worried. Was it a trick?
"That changes nothing."

"It changes everything, mon." Jin'thek said. "Let me show you."

The black carpet of darkness rolled back, revealing a grey waste. Something moved on that grey waste. Something big. It slithered... towards them. Fear. Fear. Percy trembled. His legs shook. He dropped the Zutopong'loa. He had never felt such malice.

Darkness closed in - returning him to the part of the spirit realm where he was alone with Jin'thek once more. Percy fumbled for the plague, and returned Zutopong'loa to his hand.
"What... who was that? A demon? A Loa?"

"Not a Loa. Not anymore."

Percy Fayette had fancied himself something of a badass. His training had seen to above-average cognitive and physical abilities, and he had killed many wicked men and women across Azeroth in his time. But the spirit realm, well, it was beyond his training.

"Not a... well, you stay right there. Or I plague-bomb you."

"That was Ula-Tek." Jin'thek said, ignoring Percy's threat. "A legend amongst my people. One of the greatest of our protectors... until the War with the Aqir."

Percy had never heard of the war with the 'aqir', or of Ula-Tek, beyond the name. He had come to destroy the Living Dream, not receive a history lesson. Still, he felt strangely compelled to shut his mouth for a moment.

"The namesake of this temple? Not a Loa anymore?"

"There be dark powers at work. When I became a Loa I sensed it. And I searched, long and hard, to find the origin. The answer was under my nose. It was Ula-Tek. Or an older god, wearing Ula-Tek, using Ula-Tek as a mask. The real Ula-Tek is dead. Something bigger wears her skin now. And she wants to eat the world. And if you use the plague on me, Percy, then what I have done to fight her will be undone."

"So, essentially, you're holding Azeroth hostage." Percy answered.

"No, mon. You are."

That still did not explain the significance of a few weeks passing.
"Either way, I'm still in charge here."

"Do you feel in charge?"

It was not Jin'thek who said it.

They were joined by a third troll. A third troll, whose skin was purple and sickly. It had to be Men'heva, somehow.

"You return." Jin'thek said, revealing nothing about what he was thinking.

"Yes. It was here I learned da truth. I had ta leave, to find a solution. Now I come back. I come ta kill Ula-Tek."

Jin'thek nodded.
"You want to bring about the Awakening."

"Yes." Men'heva said. "And I want you to help me."
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Last edited by Timolas; 04-12-2013 at 06:20 PM..
  #1555  
Old 04-12-2013, 08:53 PM
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Kul Tiras, the Malefactors and the Amani

In Ironforge, High Thane Relgast Anvilmar received news that the forces of the Witch, Kelae and her Crimson March had been set upon by the Frostmane Trolls. An emissary from Chieftain Deh'yo of the Frostmane arrived at the gates of Ironforge, pledging the support of the ice trolls against the common foe. And Relgast understood then, that the tide had turned in his favour, and that there was hope yet.

-

The Battle of the Crimson March

"Xostheron's blood..." Iđunn Waite swore, taking cover behind a fallen wagon. Yunaria crouched beside her, her mouth open and eyes dull.

A construct had risen from the Crimson March. Iđunn had never seen anything like it. And judging by Yunaria's shock, neither had she. Not even the Electrum Tree could have readied them for this.

All around them raged the battle. Iđunn and Yunaria had skirted the army, keeping track of Rodin. Eventually, they had crossed the field, towards Rodin and his rider. They were leading a contingent to the fight with Stormwind. Then the construct had arisen.

"Look, milady!" Yunaria said, life returning to her eyes. She was pointing above them. A flying ship was sailing through the sky, heading straight for the construct.

Iđunn spat out another profanity, and then refocused on the mission.
"Damn you Rodin!"

Yunaria gasped and ducked back behind the wagon. Another wave of Crimsons was heading their way. They were led by an elf whose lower body was that of a giant arachnid. Bile rose in Iđunn's throat.

The Crimsons began to pass, but the spider-elf stopped and sniffed the air. His humanoid arms began to tremble, and he licked his lips. A gust of wind upset his deathly wait hair, revealing eyes that were black as pitch, and a face that would scare a demon.

Iđunn put a hand on Yunaria's shoulder to steady her friend. Yunaria nodded in response, eyes narrowed. Axe in hand, Iđunn counted the seconds. She heard a skittering, and then a clicking sound. A clawed hand fell upon the wagon above their heads, and the freak leered down at them.
"Ah, what has Irael found? Such pretties! Most curious!"

Iđunn Waite and Yunaria sprang into action. They kicked the wagon, toppling it onto the front legs of the creature. It howled with ecstasy and pain. At least it was unarmed. Wait, could it be that Irael? The servant of Ticharamir?

Seconds later, the air around Irael's right hand began to warp. A huge sickle appeared within his grasp. Irael extended his left hand, and a globule of something began to materialize in the air before him.

"Another day, another experiment."

-

Gerard Falrevere was a tired old man, and he only had one arm. His journey from Balor to Kul Tiras with Baron Alten was supposed to have been his last voyage before retirement. Gerard had wanted to spend the last of his years amongst friends and former pupils, watching them inherit the world. But his final voyage had played a cruel joke on him. While the young died, old Gerard had survived. And now there was nothing left to go home to, and nobody would carry on his legacy.

And now the bastard who had killed Lennart stood before him. So it did not matter that Gerard was old, or that he only had one arm.

It did not matter, because he was going to kill this evil clown whatever it took.

With a cackle, the jester lifted his mace into the air. Gerard anticipated the blow, and was not there when it fell. He ran past it, stabbing his cutlass into the jester's chest as he ran. Much to his surprise, it did not stick. It barely penetrated the skin, and Gerard almost lost his grip on the blade.

"What's with the long face, old man? You look sad!" the creature asked him, its voice both deep and childlike. It shared a grin with him. "I know what will cheer you up. How about a magic trick!"

Gerard looked around him, desperate to find leverage against the beast. Úlfhéđinn had smashed through the commanders' encampment, leaving equipment broken and possessions scattered. The debris might be to his advantage. Gerard began sprinting towards it.

"Hey! That's cheating!"

He heard it rumbling after him. Gerard dived into the tent used by Silas Lothar. The king was blessedly absent from it. Into the tent stepped the jester.

"There you are! You have spirit. It reminds me of the story of the rats and the pond. Do you know it?"

Gerard remained silent, backing off slowly.

"What happened." said the jester, advancing on him with a sick grin. "Was that two rats fell into a pond, with hungry, hungry fish. There was no way out. Try as they might, they could not get out. One rat... surrendered, and was eaten by the fish."

Letting the giant ramble, Gerard inched towards the back of the tent. A torch had been planted to the ground, amidst a mess of supplies, and a fluttering banner with the symbol of Balor.

"What happened to the other rat?" Gerard asked as the jester was almost upon him.

"The other rat kept trying. He got tired... and was eaten by the fish!" the jester laughed. "Say, old man. You've got something behind your ear..."

The jester's hand jerked outwards, grabbing Gerard by the ear. He laughed sickeningly, and Gerard hacked into his arm with his cutlass. With a scream of surprise, the jester pulled his hand free. Gerard saw his ear come off with it. The blinding pain followed seconds later, and a waterfall of wetness rolled down his neck and shoulder. Steadying himself, Gerard pulled the banner of Balor out of the soil and charged. He impaled the jester with it, his momentum pushing them both forwards. The banner was angled downwards, and pinned the freak into the middle of the ground beneath the tent diagonally. Gerard snatched Lennart's wristband free and stepped back.

"Now, now, that's not even funny!" the jester complained, as if he felt nothing. "But I'll tell you what's funny! You've lost a leg, an ear! Maybe it's an eye next!"

Gerard hobbled towards the exit of the tent, and grabbed the torch he found there.
"You killed my friend."

"I did?" the freak asked, then noticed that Gerard had taken Lennart's wristband. "Oh, that boy! Do you know that he told me he would help me kill everyone he ever loved if only I would let him live? He was like a dog!"

But Gerard knew it was a lie. He set fire to the tent. The jester's laughter vanished to the sound of crackling flames. Then Gerard began to sway, blood pouring from the side of his head and from the various wounds he had gotten during the battle. He fell to the ground amidst a sea of corpses, staring up at the sky.

-

On the airship, Quche Havalanio of the Malachite Hand was the one to give the order for the skeleton crew to obey the troll.

"But it's a troll! How can you trust it? It's treason!" one of the Daughters of Pontus asked.

"Do you want to keep your airship or don't you? That troll is helping you save your ship and putting his own life on the line to do it." Quche answered, daring any one of them to meet his eyes. "The Gurubashi could have turned on us. But instead they're saving us. Besides... you can always ram your precious airship into the mecha later..."

The Daughters of Pontus exchanged awkward glances, but nobody moved to disobey.

-

"The apprentice of the Ivory Templar has fallen far from grace!" Iđunn Waite said, deflecting a blow from Irael's scimitar.

With a cackle, Irael sidestepped, dragging his huge bulk impossibly fast. All around him, the dead were hobbling to life. Yunaria was incinerating them one by one as they did.
"Madreen could never think beyond little human campaigns. His long years amounted to nothing. And who are you to question me? The Mezejin arts are mine to command!"

"I am the Seeker of the Frame, the first to succeed after a thousand years." Iđunn Waite replied. "I am Muhar's vengeance, and the chosen of the Prophet of Karazhan. And you, fallen one, you are going to die."

Iđunn Waite's axe buried into Irael's chest. The spider-elf shrieked and withdrew, the axe still lodged within him. Ichor was oozing out of the wound. Irael began to cast some sort of spell, and the ichor never hit the ground. It began to form up in the air, into the likeness of some winged beast. He was using blood magic.

-

"Call off this attack at once."

"What?" Carl's face stretched into a grimace of outrage. "How dare you, snake?"

Rodin Fornsform did not flinch this time. The Gilneans around them paused and watched with shock. They could not believe that somebody had challenged their prince.

"I said, call off this attack. What place do Gilneans have in a demonic crusade so far from home? Gilneas has suffered enough, Carl. End this now."

"Two-faced worm, always you strut in the shadows, betraying and lying. At last you reveal your true colours." Carl hissed, drawing Painbrand.

The evil prince tried to stab at the personal wizard who had once served his father, but the sword jarred against a magical barrier.
"Arrest him!" Carl screamed to his men. "Kill him!"

Nobody moved to intervene. Carl backed off, and bumped into another magical wall. He turned left, and there was another. Then right, and more of the same. Rodin had trapped him. And nobody was helping him. His lieutenants looked to Rodin with the respect that they had never shown him.

"We're going home." Rodin declared. "Pull back your men, Captain Tammel."

-

Ba'jal held the Zin'rokh, and watched as it changed in his grasp. He understood what he had to do - because he was the Zin'rokh. As its wielder, the bond he developed with it united him in spirit with it, and all those bound to it before. And he knew that the Twin Swords, wielded in a time long past against the Aqir, were designed to fight the greatest enemies and threats to trollkind.

And Ba'jal had cast aside the opportunity to strike a blow against Stormwind, because he knew that the Crimson March represented something far worse than the ignorance of mankind. He had helped save the airship of his enemies, even though its technology could turn the tide of the war against the Living Dream. He had done it selflessly, for the greater good, against an evil.

The true power of the Zin'rokh had been activated by that act.

Sword blazing, Ba'jal yelled his victory as he swung it in an arc. Energy cascaded from his blow, cutting through the head of the construct. A tremble shook the machine. The giant mass of metal leaned ever so slightly forward, and the head tipped and fell off, landing with a smash in the midst of the Crimson March below. Then the entire machine started to come undone. First a fragment, then another, and finally an arm.

Ba'jal leapt off the shoulder of the construct as it collapsed. Time slowed down as Ba'jal fell through the air. The sun was vanishing on the horizon as he fell, and the first stars were appearing above him. Cool air blew past him, as the ground grew closer and closer. A giant bat broke his fall, and they tumbled together until righting themselves.

As Ba'jal flew back towards the Gurubashi, the last leg of the construct crumbled into the March.

-

Irael the White's distraction was broken by the fall of the construct. His mouth hung open, fangs gleaming. The ichor drakes he had conjured broke up, goo splattering against Iđunn Waite's face. She recovered her axe. Irael turned towards her, surprised.

"But it was perfect..."

She buried her axe in his skull. Irael's final expression was one of disbelief. The arachnid body convulsed, and Irael's humanoid half was crushed as his spidery appendages forced him upside down. The spiders legs curled up, leaving Irael as a mess of appendages and slime.

Iđunn Waite dropped to the ground in exhaustion. Yunaria caught her.
"I have done... your bidding... my Lord Prophet."

"You can't seriously still believe-"

Iđunn Waite glared at Yunaria.
"I do. I still do. I still have faith in him. He wants the best for us all. I will fight for the Awakening, until the end."

Yunaria helped Iđunn to her feet. Together, they watched the last inch of sunlight vanish behind the hills. The Crimson March began to scatter, its ranks pushing into the forests around them. It was over.


-----

Ravenholdt, Malefactors, Plunder Isle, Kul Tiras and the Elves

The truth was, they were tired, and they were hungry. Morale had probably never been so low amongst the agents of Ravenholdt. At least not since the fall of Ravenholdt itself. And the troll responsible for that had just walked free, even though there had been a thousand opportunities to kill him over the past few days.

That was what stung Warester Van Dam. It was not Men'heva's betrayal, because everybody except Scavell had already come to terms with the False Prophet's trickery. What stung was the missed opportunity. It could all be over, if not for that little mercy, that little hope, that Men'heva could change.

Now in all likelihood, more people would have to die. More blood would have to be spilled. When could it all end? Not today. And if Men'heva won, then all was lost. Paganism would triumph. And there would be no return from that.

Joachim Alten sputtered awake, likely wondering what he had missed. There was no denying that the man had proved his worth by destroying Geddorath. Everybody had underestimated him.

"We have to move." Van Dam called out, though his eyes were half-shut from utter exhaustion. They had been fighting since the break of dawn, from Karazhan to Ulmat Thondr. He had smuggled a hasty wizz onto the temple tiles, but that was about it for relief. "The world needs us."

"Not so fast, friend." Krasus said, resting a hand on Van Dam's shoulder. "Look at these people. They can't go another minute like this. No, you all need to rest."

Van Dam's temper climbed, despite the good intentions of his friend.
"The Awakening is about to happen, and you want us to rest? Where were you when we lost friends at Karazhan? Where were you when Wotan cast his life away, or when the darkness took Meaghan?"

As soon as he said it, he regretted it.

"Ha! I finally like him!" Hocus Snood chimed in, before he was hushed.

"Enough of that, Snood." Krasus said, before returning his gaze to Van Dam. "If the fate of the world depends on you sorry lot, then you sorry lot owe it to the world to get a single night's worth of rest and preparation. We'll spend it in my sanctum."

Van Dam could argue no longer. He nearly fell, but Wrathchild caught him. It had been a long day.

Once in the sanctum, Krasus agreed to go to Karazhan, to search for signs of Myrokos.

Van Dam was not sure any of them would get any sleep. They had all seen and done too much. In silence, they shared one another's company. All save Periandrius, of course, who first tried chatting up all females present, before being slapped. He was still upset over the deaths of Mawkiki and Melusine.

Eventually, Krasus returned. But the first thing that Van Dam saw was that he was not alone. Warren Greystone stood with him, along with a bunch of other less familiar individuals. It was going to be a long night.

-

The Malefactors emerged before the temple steps. Ula-Tek lay before them, and by the looks of it, the residents of Zul'Aman still had no idea what was going on inside the ziggurat.

Destiny awaited. They began to ascend the temple steps.
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Last edited by Timolas; 04-13-2013 at 03:42 AM..
  #1556  
Old 04-13-2013, 07:47 AM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt, the Amani, the Malefactors

So Jin’thek becomes a Loa then realized that the Loa his people worshipped, whose temple his people built their capital around, who his people have offered countless sacrifices to, had actually been murdered and replaced by some kind of ancient and horrific eldritch abomination millennia ago.

That’s gotta sting.

Percy might not have previously known about this Ula-tek monster the trolls had been duped into worshipping, but he did know all about Men’heva’a Awakening. He knew that it was very bad news – especially now, since he couldn’t escape the thought that perhaps Mnesthes, Zinine, Brux, and Muhar had also become nothing more than clothing worn by a cosmic horror, just like this Ula-tek.

He interrupted the trolls before Jin’thek could respond to Men’heva’s request for his assistance in the Awakening.

Percy Fayette: Hello! Potential to plague-bomb the entire troll species here!

Men’heva: Ya not gonna do that, mon, and I’ll give ya a very good reason why. Ula-tek needs to die. Now, I got my special units to do the deed, but they ain’t going to be able to get the job done alone. To take down Ula-tek, I’ll need a sizeable conventional force. ‘Course, the wars that Ula-tek’s herald Arronax instigated have weakened every power in these kingdoms. That was his plan. There’s only one superpower left that can end this threat to Azeroth.

Percy Fayette: You’re talking about…

Jin’thek: The Lebenstraum.

Men’heva: That’s right. If we have any hope of success, then the Lebenstraum needs to recall forces to Zul’Aman and the Temple.

Jin’thek: How much of the Lebenstraum is needed?

Men’heva: …All of it.

A Loa blinked.

The Lebenstraum had been highly successful. The only slight set-back they’d encountered was in Alterac City thanks to Percy and Lucio, but they still ravaged the rest of the nation. Quel’thalas had been razed, and Lordaeron too had all but fallen to the trolls. To pull all of the Lebenstraum’s forces back to Zul’Aman now jeopardized all the progress it had made and threatened to undo the movement in its entirety. Even if Jin’thek appeared to those who were his lieutenants in life, even with the divine imprimatur of a Loa such as he, would they obey that command? The other tribes may resent an order to pull back to defend the Amani homeland. What kind of division would this cause in the ranks? And what damage would having to fight a being they formerly worshipped cause to the morale and the unwavering righteousness of the trollish way of life?

And could he trust Men’heva? Even if Jin’thek did want to eliminate the fiend that replaced the real Ula-tek, did he also want to participate in Men’heva plan to bring about an Awakening? Could he separate the two?

Men’heva: Ula-tek gets closer to the waking world every minute, and his loyalists gain power.

Percy Fayette: Recall the Lebenstraum, Jin’thek, and I put this away!

Percy held the vile of Jutopong’loa high, and Gri’lek nodded at him. He felt the incalculapble malice of this Ula-tek imposter permeate the realm, and he knew that it really did need to be slain before it got any closer. The rogue could not help but wonder if the prophecy that he would undo the Lebenstraum was being fulfilled right before his eyes.

What would Jin’thek the Loa do?

Men’heva: And you may want to hurry. Malefactors are storming this temple right now, and they plan to kill me before I can save the world.
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Old 04-14-2013, 09:05 AM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, Lordaeron, the Amani, Kul Tiras and the Elves

Krasus’ Sanctum was large enough to house much of the assembled host, at least after the dragons assumed human forms. Van Dam was supposed to be resting per the red dragon’s isnstence, but in truth he was only able to lie next to Wrathchild as she slumbered beside him. She was from a much more terrible world, maybe she was used to sleeping on the verge of global annihilation. Warester, however, was not, and sleep would simply not come to the Grand Master. Not on the eve of the potential end of the world; not knowing what he’d done and what he would have to do even if they did stop Men’heva and Ula-tek…

Van Dam also couldn’t help but be smacked in the face by the irony of Krasus suggesting they rest and prepare to face Men’heva here, in the very place where Men’heva killed Krasus… or a version of Krasus, anyway. He thought of that cold-blooded act of murder, as well as the genocide of the last remaining Grippli and the plunder of the Sanctum’s loot – and he kicked himself for not killing Men’heva when he had the chance.

Scavell’s naiveté may have doomed this world. He knew the Guardian to be a good man, but the error was of such gravity that part of him felt Scavell should have died for it. He suspected Scavell felt the same way before Krasus brought him to Karazhan to recover, the tower being the new intended base of operations for the Council of Tirisfal. This started Warester thinking.

He stealthily left his makeshift bed, careful to not wake Wrathchild. He silently moved down the corridors, to where he knew a particular Councilor of Tirisfal was. On the way, he passed Kid Gorgeous, who was curled up with another anthropomorphized cat-person whose name he believed was Gal Princess or Precious or something. He still found the cat’s transformation to be totally weird. Even weirder was Cruel Barb sleeping next to Magyver.

Eventually he reached his destination.

Warester Van Dam: Couldn’t sleep either?

Relfthra: Last night, I helped to send my son to a universe that I then helped destroy. I also permanently scarred the face of the Blue Child. So, no, I’m not exactly entertaining the thought of sleep at the moment.

Warester Van Dam: Understandable.

Van Dam sat next to the elf mage.

Warester Van Dam: Did you ever think, when you first approached me on Fenris Isle all those years ago, that our alliance would bring us this far down the rabbit hole?

Relfthra: Heh. Certainly not, Grand Master. Certainly not. I don’t regret it though. We’ve made too many mistakes along the way, but what we did was for the betterment of Azeroth. It was a worthwhile journey. We’ve lost so, so much… but we’ve gained some along the way as well.

Relftha patted the Ancient Oculus, one of the most powerful weapons they had at their disposal.

Relfthra: This was not meant for any one person. Unlike my son, I was never much of a politician. However, Krasus has been maneuvering both he and I into a position on the new Council of Six. Should I ascend to such position, I think this will become property of the magical city. This should be… the Eye of Dalaran.

Warester Van Dam: Noble sentiment. All the same, you should hold onto it for now. We’ll need its power in the morning. And speaking of power… this mission tomorrow, if ever there was a task for the Guardian of Tirisfal, this is it.

Relfthra: Of that I’m aware. But Scavell was badly injured. He may never recover, and he certainly can’t help us now.

Warester Van Dam: No, he can’t. And that’s why we need a new Guardian, at least temporarily. And that new temporary Guardian should be you.

Relfthra’s eyes widened.

Relfthra: I’m not sure that-

Warester Van Dam: We’ll perform the empowerment ritual before we leave for the Temple of Ula-tek in the morning.

With that, Van Dam got up and silently left Relfthra alone with his thoughts. But Van Dam had at least one thought of his own. Where the hell was Namor Periandrius?

---

Outside the temple, on the sparsely populated mountainside, there was some privacy – and more importantly, room to maneuver.

Namor Periandrius: You won’t regret this, my dear.

Nozari: The world may end tomorrow, pirate. They’ll be no time for regrets, and I know a thing or two about time.

With a single well practiced flick of his finger, Namor unhinged Nozari’s brassiere and gazed upon the gloriously perky bosoms of her humanoid form. She was a physical specimen, resembling the loveliest of high elves only distinguished by the tell-tale horns on her head. Yet, faced with this perfection, Namor frowned.

Nozari: What’s the problem? Are you… unsatisfied with me?

Namor Periandrius: No, no, not with you at all. Just with this thing you’re wearing.

Nozari: But I’m totally naked.

Namor Periandrius: I’m not talking about clothing, I’m talking about…

Namor moved his hands up and down, gesturing to Nozari’s entirety.

Namor Periandrius: This! What I’m really interested in is the real deal, the genuine article! Savvy?

Nozari: You… want to have sex with a giant dragon?

Namor Periandrius: Do I ever!

Nozari paused for a moment, then shrugged.

Nozari: I suppose I’ve heard stranger requests…

And shortly thereafter, the hills were alive with the sounds of glorious human-on-dragon love-making.

---

Thomassy, Warren Greystone, Cyssia Dawnheart, Anandor Darafel and his alchemists, Leopold Maysel the Trajan squire, and the enigmatic Jallan approached Karazhan. It was either a safe haven or certain death, and if Arronax’s forces hadn’t been beaten at Karazhan then there really was no place that was safe anyway.

When they arrived, they were greeted by low ranking members of the Council of Tirisfal. Krasus the red dragon had already arrived, and had reunited with his friend and former Incorruptible, Grand Master Krol.

Krasus: I’ll find a way to restore your life, my friend. This is my flight’s charge, and this is my promise to you.

Some reunions were not as touching, however. Like the reunion of Anandor Drafel and Myrokos Silentform.

Myrokos Silentform: What the @#$ is he doing here?!

Myrokos instantly attacked Anandor, the man who tried to steal his life and who could never be forgiven. Krol drew his blades, leaping to his adopted son’s aide. He had history with Anandor himself.

Anandor Darafel: I believe in this instance, discretion may be the better part of valor. We’ll meet again, son!

Myrokos Silentform: Oh, I promise we will.

Using his superior physicality accorded to him by the homunculus his spirit inhabited, Anandor leapt away and his alchemists scurried after him. Warren was surprised at the reaction, but after hearing what Anandor had done to Myrokos, he completely understood and regretted ever associating with the villain. Krasus reasoned his flight was all the better. Namor would have just stabbed him on sight again anyway.

Myrokos Silentform: And what about her? Can we really trust her?

Warren Greystone: Cyssia was imprisoned by the Benefactors with the rest of us. They share no love for each other anymore.

Krasus: We’ll see. It’s fortuitous that you all arrived when you did. We were about to depart and rendezvous with the rest of our forces. You should join us.

Hocus Snood: That is, if you’re interested in saving the @#$%ing world. Well, are you?

Warren smiled.
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Last edited by Gurtogg_Bloodboil; 04-14-2013 at 10:08 AM..
  #1558  
Old 04-16-2013, 08:24 PM
HalfElfDragon HalfElfDragon is offline

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Xalmor Windrunner and his Malefactors had crowded into the Temple of Ula-Tek. They could feel it, in their bones, once they descended into the temple proper. A heavy mist obscured the floor, pouring in steadily from nowhere. There was no turning back now, not even if they were to try. The impending arrival of Ula-Tek, Xalmor theorized, was creating a heavy magical singularity that was warping the edges of reality. The Spirit Realm bled over into this place, he realized.

As they walked through the halls, Xalmor noticed that it took a great effort amongst some of the less sure of his Malefactors to step forward confidently. The place unnerved them, as well it should. The fact that they chose to step even still spoke volumes about the content of their character. Xalmor was proud of them, as he was of all his Malefactors. To be in their ranks took several kinds of courage.

The air was thick, but not oppressively so. In less driven men it would’ve inspired lethargy. Xalmor noted that the long hair of Joleera, and indeed much of the longer-haired Malefactors, seemed to hold itself in the air as if caught by slow moving wind. The Malefactors found themselves in a decently sized atrium and, thankful for the extra room, spread themselves out within it for a moment. Looking up, Xalmor saw many floors above them, more than they had descended.

A strange light came down through the open ceiling. What the source was, Xalmor did not know. He could tell that it was not sunlight, however. A hissing sound reached his ears, and he instinctively reached for his blade. His instincts proved wise as several reptilian humanoids leaped down upon them. They thrashed about with claw and tooth, until blades were driven through them and their lives ended. Xalmor inspected one of the corpses. They reminded him of unsavory creatures from nightmares and horror stories.

“Gorgons.” a voice explained. “Once ordinary humanoids, now the blood of basilisks runs through their veins. Ula-Tek’s thralls.”

Xalmor and the Malefactors beheld a massive beast. It had the form of a coyote, with pure black eyes and shaggy brown fur. Where shadows fell on its form, gleaming dots of light like a galaxy of stars were visible. Xalmor had never heard of something like this, but he knew this was something different than a mortal. As if the fact that it was a giant talking coyote were not clue enough, he could feel the magic in it.

“Are you friend or foe?” Xalmor asked, blade at the ready.

“Friend, I should think. I do not sense the taint of Ula-Tek on you,” The coyote replied.

“What manner of creature are you?”

“I am Kalfu. Loa of storytelling, exposition and crossroads.” He explained. “Alas, I am neglected often. The Sandfury care little to remember a Loa that has not to do with bloodshed.” Kalfu paused. “But I digress.”

“A Loa?” Xalmor asked. “Are you alone here?”

“Hardly. Many of us have been drawn here,” Kalfu said. “Not all of us by choice.“

“Ula-Tek’s influence has spread wide amongst the Loa. Some he has turned to his side. Some resisted, and were imprisoned, like Shango.” The Loa elaborated. “Many of the rest are here, and I cannot speak to whether they will help or oppose you.”

“As I said before, I am lord of crossroads. I can tell you that you have arrived are such a one here.” Kalfu continued. “If you wish, I can lead you out of the temple to safety.”

“What of the troll, Men’heva?” Xalmor asked. “Is he within?”

“He is, yes.”

“Then there is no choice. We proceed.” Xalmor said firmly.

“Very well.” Kalfu said, stepping aside to reveal a further set of stairs downward. “Remember what I said of the other Loa. Inside, you can trust only yourselves.” As the Malefactors descended further into the dark, he shouted a final warning. “And never make pacts with Dambala! His price is always too high...”
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  #1559  
Old 04-17-2013, 02:16 PM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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Corin's Crossing

Mathredis fell still for a long time. Thinking. At last, he nodded, though it shamed him. Not because he regretted his decision, or did not intend to abide by it - but because the promise he was making carried so little weight. It felt like deceit.

"Peace. We shall have peace-"

Wyllithen could not contain himself.

"Dishonourable, vile submission!" he cried and, unleashing his sorcery, unmade the hexes that had transformed several of their companions.

Gilveradin rose in a puff of spell-smoke, spluttering, his slow-kindled rage burning. Yet even so - as the rest of the room burst out in alarm - he used first words, and not his considerable strength.

"Firestar! We came here to claim the amulet, not to surrender to the troll! What is the meaning of this? Have you betrayed us, then?"

"Calm!" Mathredis shouted, gesturing wildly at his friends to back down. The Shield of Veth'talia - slung across his back - thrummed with warnings. Danger, death, was near. "Calm, friends! There has been no word of surrender - and there is no shame in foes overcoming their base hatred and striving for friendship rather than enmity. Come, my dear companions... chieftain Maka has done us a great honour in listening to my words. Will you not match his civility?"

Wyllithen sneered. "Long have I followed you, lord Firestar, for your vision of our Faith has been true and pure. But peace with the troll is the same as surrender. They have occupied our homeland and destroyed our people, they invade the lands of our allies and burn their cities. Peace? There can never be peace. Elves and men will fight to their dying breath."

Mathredis glanced at the trollish chieftain, willing an apology into his eyes. This had to be dealt with. Returning to Wyllithen and Gilveradin - standing in the doorway - Mathredis snapped his response.

"And what good will that do anyone? Perhaps, in a thousand years, that resistance will have succeeded. What then? The glory of the Four dimmed, forgotten, and centuries lost to pain and conflict where words would have sufficed. I give chieftain Maka my oath that I, and those who follow me, shall lift no arms against the Living Dream. Let King Kariel be the negotiator of the final terms between our peoples."

While Gilveradin's features were creased in an intense frown, Wyllithen suddenly seemed very cold.

"So you give me no choice. This... this was not what you promised to me, when I began my service with you, all those years ago. I take my leave. What of the rest of you? Will you follow this traitor?"

Silence reigned in the chamber. The dozen or so elves stood mute, eyes downturned. Wyllithen's gaze raked them with scorn. Only the trolls returned his stare, bold and confident.

Wyllithen turned to leave.

Gilveradin's arm shot out. Still anger shone in his eyes, still the patterns tattooed into his skin rippled under bunched muscles - but he spoke with a restrained voice.

"We swore an oath to lord Firestar, friend. If you leave now..."

Wyllithen left.


*


The Crimson March

Arinre, Queen of Gilneas, rode over the battlefield trailed by a modest retinue - only a few dozen. Their horses picked a wary path over the corpse-strewn ground, slick with blood. In the distance, over rolling fields, the wracked ruin of the great construct spewed great fumes into the air.

At the crest of the hill of their destination she approached a lone figure.

"Brother," she called out at last.

Carl turned towards her. Beating against walls she could not see, his once-small body spasmed with uncontained fury.

"Tammel!" he spat. "He has betrayed us! He and Rodin are in league! They-"

Arinre raised her hand, silencing him.

"Captain Tammel, councillor Amberlight."

Two forms detached themselves from the mass of her following, and approached her to either side. The grim soldier reined in on her left; a pale-blond elf draped in emerald robes on her right.

"Brother, councillor Amberlight here tells me I should no longer support you. He claims that those you serve are evil. He says Lord-Exalt Seranidan has declared open war against those who now rule in Österberg and the tower of Kharazhan. Furthermore, there is now peace with Stormwind."

Carl, if anything, grew even more wild-eyed.

"Traitors, scheming, back-stabbing-"

"And Captain Tammel reports to me that the tactics which you employed in this battle showed an uttermost disregard for the lives of the soldiers at your command. Many good men and women of Hochstein lie dead here today."

"It is war. What do you expect, sister? They followed me!"

"And for that, they have paid. Brother, this war is over. I will return to Hochstein with what survivors of your host I can assemble. If Gilneas has taught me anything, it is how to repair a broken country. I fear those skills will be much needed in the future. The ridges of those mountains could be painted red with all the blood spilled this day."

"Hochstein is mine! Just as Gilneas-"

Eyes narrowed.

"Insanity," sighed the elf in silky-smooth tones, "seems contagious. No association with the Black Towers can be too little. Sooner or later, their self-preening minds begins to think their desires entitlements, craving every attention to justify their claim, turning to atrocity to satisfy their demand for recognition..."

Arinre did not respond. She turned her horse around and began riding through the throng behind - a path clearing before her like waters parting.

"Sister! I did not mean it!" shouted Carl.

Silence.

"Arinre! Arinre! Come back - get me out of here!"

Tammel and Amberlight exchanged a glance, shrugged, and followed her.

"Arinre! Where do you think you are going? You cannot leave me here!"

"Arinre, you bitch! You will regret this!"

Arinre left.
  #1560  
Old 04-21-2013, 04:54 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Ravenholdt and Kul Tiras

In Krasus' Sanctum they gathered. They were the defenders of Azeroth, preparing themselves for one final mission.

Amarian and Warren were re-united once again. Cyssia Dawnheart spent the rest of the morning by the side of Joachim Alten, nursing him out of his coma. It was her enchantment that had bound Joachim to Harald, and thus, to Geddorath. She felt responsible. Thomassy loitered in the shadows for a time, before pledging himself in the fight against Ula-Tek.

When Krol entered the Sanctum, there was grief and tension. But he promised to use his existence to fight Ula-Tek, a fate which was more useful than simply being destroyed.

Last to arrive was seemingly Rodin Fornsform. At his side was Jammal Hildebrand. They were in the middle of a heated argument.
"-sold us out!"

Rodin screamed right back in Jammal's face.
"Damnit, Jammal, for the last time-"

But Jammal cut him off.
"What even is a personal wizard, anyway, Rodin?"

Their argument was interrupted by Van Dam, planting his fists on his waist and appraising them sternly.
"Gentlemen. Why do I feel you have a long and time-consuming story to tell? I'll take you to Relfthra and you can give us the abridged Rohar's Notes version, please."

And so Rodin Fornsform, whom the Council of Tirisfal had sent to monitor the Battle of the Crimson March, explained all that had happened. He did so in front of the remnants of the Council, and Krasus.

"So, the battle between Stormwind and the Crimson March is over." Krasus declared to Van Dam and the Tirisfalen. "We can focus on Ula-Tek without guilt."

"What of Ironforge?" Erbag asked, not satisfied.

Jammal responded this time.
"The March has spread beyond that battlefield, but they will be contained. The Frostmane have thrown their lot in with the dwarves, just as the Gurubashi helped Stormwind. And a special army under the command of the High Thane has assembled - an army of raptors, from Cary'leh."

That drew a mixture of astonishment and surprise.

"There's something you forgot to add about all this, chum." Hocus Snood piped in from atop Krasus' shoulder. "Don't think I didn't overhear you."

Rodin looked flustered.
"Right. Thank you. Stormwind's army survived - in part due to help from Phorcys Proudmoore."

Mouths fell agape.
"How can-" Relfthra began. The last that they had seen Phorcys had been in Boralus, when the Tirisfalen had attempted to take the Scroll of Lore from him and Anazar. After that, he had vanished.

Jammal Hildebrand took a step forward.
"Phorcys was put into a coma when Dictator Javali tried to take the Scroll of Lore from him and his allies. Javali abandoned his unconscious body in the home of the Bruxist mystic, Khaltrax Korran. Phorcys' wayward daughter, Sinéad, hunted for signs of her missing father during the Battle of Dalaran. She followed the trail to Korran's home, where she found that her father had awoken. Together, they contacted the Malachite Hand, and pledged their resources to stopping the heresies of Azeroth."

It was then that Jammal finally stopped for breath.

"And how did you get involved in all of this?" Van Dam asked.

"I was recruited by the Hand. Sort of. You can ask Mister Greystone over there about it." Jammal waved. When Warren noticed him, he looked like he had seen a ghost. "It seems he is surprised to see me here. No matter. Well, suffice to say, the Crimson March got its hands on Prince Carl. A Gilnean army under Carl joined Hochstein, and it was our duty to intervene. Thanks to Rodin, that part of the tale has ended."

That left many questions - but they would have to be questions for another day.

"Thank you, Jammal." Van Dam said, extending his hand. Jammal shook it firmly. "In an hour, we are going to Zul'Aman to kill Men'heva. If there is any help you can lend us, we may sorely need it."

-

In Karazhan, Shortee was exploring the tower. She entered the library, and noticed that there was a shadow looming in the corner. Magic flared at her fingertips. Her instinct told her it was a man; and she was right.

Out stepped a man wearing peculiar fineries. There was a mask on his face, hiding his identity, if he even had one.

"You've got five seconds to identify yourself."

"I come to help your friends." the figure wheezed, breathing through its mouth. "You do not have much time. They are walking into something they cannot have any hope of stopping."

Shortee knew the mission that her elders had embarked on. She knew that the end of the quest lay in Zul'Aman. But she had been left in the dark regarding the details. Nobody wanted her risking herself. For once, she had listened to those words, because her expectations about life had been shattered when she had killed Dick Willan, the fake Bright Lord. There had been no adventuring or excitement in the act.

"I asked you who you are."

A pot exploded behind the stranger. He did not react to it. Not even a little.

"I will tell you soon. First, you must come with me."

She dared to follow him, and to let him pass. He led her into the dungeons. The stranger stopped at an unremarkable part of the wall, and then began to draw a strange glyph on it. The rocks began to alter themselves, and they parted, revealing a hidden chamber.

Shortee conjured a globe of light above the palm of her hand. She followed the figure into the room. Lying in a corner, she saw an old man in rags. His skin was blistered, and interrupted by an occasional mess of scales. It was Father Maxwell.

The globe of light flickered, matching her shock. Shortee rushed to Maxwell's side. Arronax had kidnapped him, along with Cerzimon, from Shorel'Thalas. He had been a friend and a mentor to Shortee. She wanted to cry out in rage at what had been done to the old man. He seemed barely aware that she was even there.

"He is a key. He is useful to us."

Shortee rounded on the stranger.
"Last chance, stranger. Who are you?"

"Very well. You waste precious time on names that will mean nothing to you. But I am Vox Tsath. I am the last Duke of the Fifth House. I am of the Crimson March."

Shortee's globe of light was replaced by burning fire. Shadows cast by her fire danced on Tsath's mask, but still the Duke did not react.
"Why would a cultist want to help me?"

"Neemin the Maker had a vision, in which all the gods were to die, so that the world could be free. Neemin is gone, but his Angels live. Ula-Tek stirs. This man, this Maxwell, bears her taint. His suffering at Arronax's hand... it may yet be used against her."


-----
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  #1561  
Old 04-21-2013, 06:33 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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“We are being watched”, said Shi’il, calmly, silently, but surely. “Up on the cliffs behind us.”

Nevio frowned and stopped himself from looking over his shoulder. “Are you sure? Are they humans?” He asked.

“Yes, I am sure. I do not know who they are. Not that group we spotted three days ago”, she replied with a slight shrug of her shoulders. On their way up to Alterac, they had seen a small band of riders coming down, headed to Dalaran. The riders had proudly flown an orange banner that Nevio hadn’t recognised, making haste to reach their destination.

Currently, Nevio and Shi’il were walking in a forested valley amidst the mountains. Doubtless the place had a name, but Nevio had never been to Alterac before, and he did not care that much. He would prefer to think of it as just another valley, rather than where I die, though, so he took a few inconspicuous looks around himself, in case there was a battle.

“If it’s trolls, tell them we don’t want to fight”, he muttered as they crossed an old, rotten log.

Shi’il gave a curious smirk and pointed out: “If I say we do not want to fight, then they will think we are cowards.”

A long stretch of silence followed. Nevio started to grow worried that their silence would reveal that they were aware of being followed, but he couldn’t think of anything to say.

The two of them walked for a while, and nothing happened. Nevio started to wonder whether Shi’il had just imagined seeing these watchers, but then there was a break in the treeline and he spotted some vague shapes crouching amidst the cliffs above them. After that, he started to expect them to attack at any given moment, only to grow more anxious for every moment they did not.

When they climbed out of the valley, the sun was in its meridian. Nevio looked around himself, and decided that this pass was as good a battleground as any they were like to run to today. He gestured for Shi’il to stop, and turned at the cliffs overlooking the valley. “You there!” He shouted. “Show yourselves! I know you are up there!”

“If they are trolls, they likely will not understand you”, Shi’il pointed out.

A single forest troll rose above the stones, looking down at the two of them. “My meaning transcends the language barrier”, Nevio said and held his spear before himself.

Others started popping up around the one scout. In total, they were about twelve. The first one to show himself started climbing down toward Nevio and Shi’il, while the others pulled out short hunting bows and arrows, making their threat clear.

Shi’il sat down on a boulder, calmly placing her hands on her knees. There was probably protocol here that Nevio didn’t know, but he decided to ignore it and act naturally. He waited for the scout to come down.

The scout was draped entirely in hides and cloth. A long knife hung from his belt, a bow and a quiver were strapped to his back, and he carried a boar spear in his left hand, somehow climbing downwards easily nonetheless. It was only when he climbed all the way down and stood up, with his back straight, that Nevio realised he was not a troll.

The scout raised a hand and pulled off the scarf wrapped around his face. His skin was leathery and tanned, but nonetheless the colour of flesh. He had piercing blue eyes, a flat, broken nose and seemed to lack any lips to speak of. “Who are you, and who is she?” He asked bluntly, in a Lordaeronian accent.

“I am Nevio Trajan, the younger brother of the Count of Tornio”, the youth answered, keeping his eyes locked on the grey pair of the man in front of him (which felt awkward, since he was a full head taller than the man was). He gave the slightest nod toward his companion. “This is Shi’il. We are friends, trying to meet up with the Troll army here in Alterac.”

“Is that so?” Asked the man, smirking. He planted his spear against the rocky terrain and went on: “Not to offend your grace, but even if she vouches for you, you really come off as a spy.”

From the corner of his eye, Nevio saw Shi’il nod at the comment. He felt his cheeks redden a bit. He wondered what he could do.

“We’ll take you back to camp. If you can’t convince the Boss, you won’t be leaving to report your findings to anyone”, the scout said after a short silence.

Nevio nodded and put away his spear. “Lead on, shorty.”



--



The walk to the troll camp was shorter than Nevio assumed, but no less tiresome than the few hours before it. Shorty turned out to be the only non-troll in the scouting party, and his companions didn’t speak any Common, which made Nevio the only person present not to speak Troll.

He had asked Shi’il to teach him some of her language after they’d left Dalaran, but aside from a few basic phrases, he knew nothing. A few times during the walk to the camp, he was fairly sure he was being laughed at.

The camp was situated in a rather reclusive valley not too far from the western end of Alterac. From the first sight, Nevio could tell which tents belonged to the trolls and which to the humans. Shorty and his folk had taken up the clothing style and weapons of their allies, but good tents were hard to come by, it seemed.

For the most part, the humans and trolls seemed to intermingle freely. Trolls were the majority, but the pale skins and blond-brown hairs of the humans stuck out amongst the crowd. When the scouting party walked into the camp, it seemed Nevio’s clothes drew more attention than his species did. He ignored the curious looks (coming from individuals of all walks of life) and just followed his escorts toward this Boss they’d mentioned.

They hadn’t taken his spear away from him. He wondered if that meant that they trusted him, or that they deemed him harmless.

Eventually, they stopped at the largest tent of the camp. Its entrance was decorated with two cow skulls on sticks. “How charming”, Nevio said, before entering.

The Boss didn’t turn out to be anything like he’d expected. He had assumed that the trolls would be led by a big, hulking brute with huge tusks, but instead the only person in the tent was as slender and sinewy as most trolls. Though he made up for it by being the ugliest person Nevio had ever seen. Half of his face was covered in a fleshy, cancerous growth untouched by the moss layer natural to forest trolls. His left eye was a barely visible pinprick between the bulging, sore-looking flesh, and his left tusk was poking sideways from the mutation. It was hard not to stare.

“Chu fara j’ollan?” The Boss asked, pointing at Nevio. His voice sounded muffled, suggesting that the growth existed inside his mouth or throat as well, making talking awkward for him.

Shorty, who had come inside with Nevio, answered something to the troll. The two had a short discourse in Troll, which contained the names of Nevio and Tornio. Then Shorty suddenly switched to Common: “This is Exhel. He is the leader of this force, and a great shaman. He asks why you wanted to find this camp.”

Nevio looked into Exhel’s eyes. They were a dull grey colour, which made him look dead inside, even though he was obviously alive. “I want to join you”, he answered.

Shorty translated this, and Exhel said something. “Exhel wants to know why you would want to betray your species, and why he should believe you about this”, the scout spoke, and smirked again.

“Betray my species?” The youth asked, gesturing at the man in troll clothing standing before himself. “It’s hardly betraying my species to take a side. Unless your side is under the intent of wiping off humanity from Azeroth, that is. I was told that wasn’t the case, but if I am wrong, I’ll gladly turn back and join the host in Dalaran instead.”

“As if you’d be allowed to leave here”, Shorty said, not translating Nevio’s words.

Nodding slightly at the spear jutting over his shoulder, Nevio asked: “I don’t need your approval.”

A silence fell into the tent. Exhel was looking at the two humans silently, probably wondering what they were talking about.

Eventually Shorty smirked again, and said: “Fun fact about trolls, kid: they train and practise with real weapons, because they can regenerate through most wounds. When I asked to be taught how to wield a spear, I had to be good enough to not get killed in the process. I wonder if you learned your craft with that severity.”

“Want to find out?” Nevio asked. “Though I doubt it’ll prove anything to Exhel if I gut you in the middle of his tent.”

“Let’s take it outside”, Shorty said and turned to leave.

Fast as he could, Nevio took out his spear and hit the scout in the back of his head with the shaft, knocking him unconscious. “At least you can regenerate that”, he said, turning the man on his back.

Exhel burst into laughter, slapping his knee. When some of the other scouts came in to investigate the commotion, he breathlessly told them to drag Shorty out, which left Nevio alone with him. Finally, when he stopped laughing, the deformed troll turned to his guest and said: “I can’t stand that man. You did well to put him in his place.”

“Oh”, Nevio said dumbly. “You speak Common.”

“I do”, Exhel responded. He spoke it much better than Shi’il, though he still had a strong accent to his speech. He stepped forward, and for the first time since seeing his face, Nevio noticed anything else about him. Exhel was dressed in practical travel clothes, but had several piercings on his arms made of animal bones. It looked like most of the bones had just been pushed through his skin, and his troll regeneration had fixed the wound until it was tight around the bone. Exhel carried no weapons aside from a strange-shaped curved weapon that wasn’t quite a knife or a sword, strapped to his leg.

Looking back up into the troll’s eyes, Nevio said: “The human armies in Dalaran are planning to march up here to fight off the troll invasion.”

“And why would you prefer for us to win that fight, instead of them?” Asked the shaman, curiously tilting his head. He was completely at ease, even though Nevio still had his spear at hand.

Putting the weapon away again, the youth said: “Because I heard from someone I believe that if you win, there is a chance to see change in this world. Real change, instead of just change of borders on a map, or change of overlords ruling a land...” He trailed off, unsure how to continue.

Exhel nodded a little. There was a blood vein running on the outer surface of the mutation on his face. It pulsed slightly. “We fight for a dream. The great chieftain Jin’thek had a dream, and he shared it with our kind. The man you knocked out is a bad example, but many humans have seen that dream as well, and they wish to see it become flesh.”

Nevio hesitated and then said: “I think I understand.” He thought about Shi’il outside, and for the first time, he began to understand. If he had to fight to protect her... to be able to stay with her... he would. “Though I’d prefer to keep my own clothing.”

“Bwhahah!” Exhel laughed. “Yes, of course. Trying to emulate our clothing does not earn any extra points with me. Competence does. Tell me about the troop composition and leadership structures of these human armies in Dalaran.”

And so he did.
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  #1562  
Old 04-21-2013, 07:32 PM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, Lordaeron, the Amani, Kul Tiras, the Malefactors, and the Elves

Riding a dragon was something that none of them were accustomed to… although Namor had been getting more practice than others as of late. The strange aura that permeated the innards of the Temple of Ula-Tek had been steadily expanding. The walls between dimensions were being torn down, and the massive ziggurat was the epicenter of this unnatural disaster. They knew the grim truth was that this was a mechanism by which Ula-Tek sought to escape her physical imprisonment, and the closer She got, the more it expanded. As a consequence, this meant that any portals to or from the area around the Temple were becoming increasing dangerous and unstable. Fortunately, after Krasus implored them, the Wyrmrest Accord saw fit to finally turn their attentions to the Eastern Kingdoms.

The assembly of dragons were not only formidable soldiers, but also excellent means of transportation for the strange bedfellows that made up this mission. Ravenholdt, the Bloodsail Buccaneers, the Council of Tirisfal, the Malana Pride, and a smattering of others – all united in a common cause.

Electra Wrathchild: Look there!

From the back of Korialstrasz, Wrathchild exclaimed and pointed at the ground far below them. Her alarm was well-founded.

Warester Van Dam: It looks like… an army.

Krasus: Yes. Ula-Tek calls her faithful home to welcome her.

All manner of fiends comprised the host that marched towards the Shrine of Ula-Tek, many of them taking on a snake-like visage.

Warester Van Dam: Where’d they all come from?

Krasus: Every dark hole and shadowed corner. Every pit and hovel and dive. They come from the very bowels of Azeroth.

Hocus Snood: Ain’t that just @#$%ing cozy?

Electra Wrathchild: Well, we got all these damn dragons here now, let’s strafe over and bombard the @#$% out of them with fire or sand or whatever else you guys are working with!

Krasus: There’s no time. If we continue flying at full speed, we’ll easily beat them to the Temple, hopefully leaving us time to ensure Ula-Tek is beaten and eliminate Men’heva.

Warester Van Dam: Evac after that, or you planning to clean up that mess?

Krasus: Make no mistake, Grand Master, I don’t expect we’ll all be leaving the Temple of Ula-Tek. If we can, we’ll take care of those fiends afterwards. If not… well, let’s just hope the trolls decide to defend their borders from a ground advance.

Van Dam sighed. He’d already sacrificed so much – of his people, of himself. He didn’t want to consider having to sacrifice even more.

Warester Van Dam: Time to increase elevation to avoid detection. Guardian Scavell, if you would?

Scavell nodded, his eyes crackling with the power of the Guardian as bestowed upon him before they departed. With a snap of his fingers, he buffed the entirety of the dragon-riding host with the ability to breathe at higher altitudes. As the massive flying reptiles rose above the clouds, Van Dam could not help but think that he and his allies were the first mortals to see the world from this vantage point. It was this world they’d fought the Great War for, and neither Ula-Tek or Men’heva could have it.

Warester Van Dam: Operation: Death from Above is go.

---

Too soon, they were upon the Temple of Ula-Tek. The area surrounding it looked extremely weird and unsettling. A shiver ran down Namor’s spine as he thought he recognized the feeling the area gave him. He felt the same way… when he was dead.

Namor Periandrius: Well then…

He said, shaking off the feeling of dread while on the back of Nozari and surrounded by his (somewhat) faithful Bloodsail Buccaneers.

Namor Periandrius: Tally-ho! Namor Periandriuuuuusss!!

The dragons began carpeting the outside of the Temple with their fire and breathe-weapons, taking out the troll defenders not protected by the ziggurat’s sturdy walls. The Commodore suspected this offensive destruction was troubling for some of the dragons, especially the green one, Lethon. Namor overheard him saying he really respected the troll’s leader Jin’thek or some such blather. Periandrius reasoned that the big green pussy would just have to suck it up and do the job. He liked troll hole as much as the next sentient creature, but if these mossies were going to try and stop him from his god and prophet-killing business, then they were going to end up one of two ways: regular, or extra-crispy.

Warester Van Dam: Deploy!

The outside of the Temple was clear, and Van Dam gave the order. Namor greatly preferred water beneath him to air, but he was assured this would work. So, with just a dash of hesitation, he jumped off his shaggin’ dragon towards the targets. He was descending rapidly and the thought crossed his mind that he was, perhaps, about to become the greatest red smear Azeroth had ever known. As soon as that fear set in, however, he slowed. That elf Scavell had cast some kinda spell that made him and the others fall all slow-like. He couldn’t be bothered to remember what the name of that spell was. Probably something stupid.

He landed gracefully, unsheathing his cutlasses and immediately barking orders to the Bloodsails. Of course, he wasn’t leading the way in. In chess, the pawns always went first. The dragons assumed their humanoid forms to fit inside the temple. As they and his pirates moved past him, he noticed one of his other allies staring at him.

Namor Periandrius: See something you like, Jell-O?

Jallan: Actually, it’s Jallan.

Namor Periandrius: Sure, right, You seem familiar to me, Jell-O. We meet somewhere before?

Jallan: Actually, -

Namor Periandrius: No time for idle chatter! Things to kill, and all that.

Namor realized he had better things to do than listen to some non-virile old wizard prattle on about how Namor once conquered his island nation or imprisoned him unjustly or gave his daughter an STD or whatever story these types always had that connected them to him. He moved on, and ahead Van Dam stopped over the bodies of several of the snake-like creatures he’d seen marching towards the temple. These had been slain, though not without a fight. Van Dam saw cloth caught in one of their claws. Holding it up, Namor recognized the partial pattern on the torn tabard.

Warester Van Dam: Malefactors…

Amarian Zeshuwal: This complicates things.

Namor didn’t really care. The Malefactors left him to die at Karazhan, so he was of the mind that they get stabbed just as rightly as any of Men’heva’s lot. What was more important was that they’d reached an unexpected impasse. It was like the Temple was actually changing around them.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Which way?

Warren Greystone: Look for some kind of sign.

Magyver McGowan: Umm.. does that qualify?

A troll spirit cloaked in ominous blue mist floated before them. It raised its hand, and pointed left as if it was silently telling them to go in that direction. Another spirit approached from behind it. This one glowed with a beautiful golden light, quietly creeping as if it was sneaking up on the first.

Second Spirit: Trololololololololol.

The first sprit turned and was immediately caught in a net hurled by the second. The second spirit smiled as it ensnared the first, taking a big bite out of what looked like a spectral meatball hero in celebration.

Myrokos Silentform: Is that…

Travot Ravenholdt: But that means… Oh no, Lucio…

Spirit of Lucio Benado: Fellow Nightslayers!! The Spirit of Lucio Benado be wanting to say you should go... right!

Heh. In death, he finally got the name of the unit right. Of course, none of those present were actually members of the Nightslayers… but whatever. As the others realized this meant Lucio was dead, Travot especially felt pain for the loss of another hero from Operation: Ravendawn. But Lucio had one last bit of help to provide to them, and they wouldn't waste it.

Warester Van Dam: We go right then. For Lucio!

Lucio smiled and waved before disappearing. Personally, Namor had had enough of all this mushy spirit crap. It was time to get some killing done. And as they exploded through the doors down the path to the right of the impasse, he thought that was exactly what he was going to get.

Caxagord: You! No! The prophet hasn’t returned from his parlay yet! Stop them before they ruin everything!!!
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  #1563  
Old 04-25-2013, 02:37 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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Ravenholdt, Kul Tiras, the Malefactors, the Amani and the Elves

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Originally Posted by Ashenmoon View Post
"But," warned Lady Isirami, "we must not forget - or, Gods forbid, detract from - Lord-Exalt Seranidan's endeavours. The Prophet's initiative to waken the Gods is paramount, now after his injuries more than ever. Without it, all else..."

"All the sacrifice has been in vain. All the dead lost, forever. Their souls..." Aernel, the only other Exalted in the gathering, whispered the words Isirami did not wish to utter.

Failure was a chilling, and far too real, prospect to consider. Not for generations to come, but for the thousands that have passed - dedicating entire lives to gods deaf to their pleas. The afterlife was thronged by dead who had found the gates to heaven barred shut.
The afterlife was thronged by dead who had found the gates to heaven barred shut. Those familiar thoughts came flooding back to Aernel as he wandered the Shrine of Ula-Tek.

"Where is the bitch who found the Frame before me?" a voice jolted Aernel from his thoughts. He knew from the outdated dialect of Thalassian that it was the prodigal son who was raving.

"Iđunn Waite was sent to observe the Crimson March. You know this already." Aernel answered, but Yol'Tharion was not listening.

"I failed Him." Yol'Tharion muttered, never once meeting Aernel's eyes. "I failed Him."

"The Prophet was pleased by your return." Aernel reminded him. "He values you, Yol'Tharion, as he valued your father."

"What?" Yol'Tharion snapped, finally looking at Aernel. There was madness in him. "I was not talking about Men'heva. I was talking about Mnesthes. Mnesthes rages. Even now, he screams at me. I have failed Him..."

Aernel watched in horror as the mad elf hobbled down the passageway, murmuring to himself. He followed, running his hands along the walls of the temple interior.

When Aernel moved his hand from the wall, he saw a face instead of granite. He yelped, hand snapping back as if it had been bitten. But no attack came. The face shimmered in the wall, like a reflection in a pond. Aernel inched closer, studying the face's features. It was his former master, Elyon Summerdrake, slain during the fighting in Silvermoon. Death is a state of mind, Aernel. Elyon vanished.

Aernel turned around to warn the others, but more faces began to appear along the walls. There were faces he recognized, but many he did not. Mathurin Hawkspear. Talthressar. Iskandar. Andellion. Nallorath. Yol'Tithian. Then he found his own face. Aernel offered a shivering hand to his dead reflection in the walls. He began to feel like he was about to faint, and his reflection in the wall opened its mouth, as if sucking him in. Do not be afraid of dying. The gates-

"Aernel!"

The reflection vanished, and Aernel was left in a cold sweat, standing in darkness in some corridor of the temple. He had been saved by Seranidan's voice. The Lord-Exalt stood there, holding a magical torch which spewed violet fire.

"Do not linger in the darkness." he said, eyes wandering past Aernel's shoulder. "The dead are restless."

"The gates are groaning upon their rusted hinges. They awaken." Aernel quoted, but the words were not his own. He blinked confusedly. "Has the Prophet returned?"

Seranidan was about to answer, when a crash echoed through the halls. Caxagord was shouting. Battle had been joined.

"We must defend this passage. The Prophet must not be disturbed."

"Yes, Lord-Exalt." Aernel answered, a shield of mana springing around him. Then he remembered... where had Yol'Tharion gone?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gurtogg_Bloodboil View Post
Caxagord: You! No! The prophet hasn’t returned from his parlay yet! Stop them before they ruin everything!!!
The Benefactors had erected several lines of defence throughout the Shrine of Ula-Tek.

"They don't hesitate!" Travot remarked, fascination on his face as he cleaned his daggers. He was standing above the body of an elf.

"We are the same." Van Dam pointed out. "Many have died for Azeroth in the past years. I do not see why you are surprised."

"I'm not talking about training or ideals. I'm talking about religion, Van Dam." Travot continued, looking at the bodies of the elves around them. "I've never seen such fanaticism."

Somebody cleared their throat. It was Barbara Friendly.
"I have. In Gilneas."

Van Dam nodded. It was a disturbing analogy. Kruel's congregation had succeeded in its objective. The shadow had engulfed Gilneas, albeit only briefly.
"If they are this driven, it is because they know just how close they are to the climax of their religion. They know the Awakening is just around the corner. And they are willing to face oblivion for it."

Nozari stepped between them, sniffing the air.
"I am afraid time is even shorter than we think. Time is passing very slowly in here. Events outside of this temple will speed by us. Ula-Tek's army could devastate Azeroth by the time we are finished here, unless we make haste."

A Bronze Dragon who was running out of time? The irony was chafing.

"Can you, as a Bronze, not do anything to influence time in this place?" Wrathchild asked, but the answer was self-evident.

"The future is murky. I have no power here, and what lies beyond may be a timeline unfathomable to the Bronze."

"Then we have to press on." Krasus huffed. "The Dragonflights cannot fight against the armies of both C'Thun and Ula-Tek. If we fail here, Azeroth is truly lost."

And so they left the bodies of the elves behind them, in pursuit of Caxagord and Men'heva. They stepped into a large chamber, with a plateau at the end. Upon it stood a man in a robe, and another guard of Benefactors. Behind the plateau, several sets of corridors branched off.

"Do not continue with what it is you are doing." the man's voice carried across the room. "If you kill us, if you kill the Prophet, then Ula-Tek will enter the world, you fools!"

"Nikolai, you bastard!" Thomassy shot back. "Where is the Mirror?"

"If you want Ula-Tek to die, all you have to do is leave. There is no other way!"

Unless they destroyed the Mirror. Without it, Ula-Tek could not enter Azeroth - that was the assumption, at least. As if in answer to the thought, terrible shrieks filled the air from adjacent passages. Ula-Tek's minions were closing in on them.


-----

The Amani

The sun was setting over Midland. Hearthglen was burning.

"Kaizar." Yutrek said, saluting Nuvazgal. "Urgent news from Zul'Aman."

Nuvazgal looked away from the red skies.
"I know what you are about to tell me. I have seen it in my dreams."

Yutrek nodded.
"I saw it as well, Kaizar. The entire camp-"

"I know!" Nuvazgal shouted, hand flexing on the handle of his axe instinctively. "How many?"

"How many what, Kaizar?" Yutrek asked.

"How many are dead?"

"Hundreds." Yutrek said, looking at the red sky which looked like it was also on fire. "The creatures struck without warning from the Shrine of Zul'Gruc'jen. But they are not advancing further into Zul'Aman, Kaizar. They surround the temple instead. Do you have news from Jin'thek?"

"The Loa are silent." Nuvazgal answered. "It is up to us to act."

A huge human army was gathering in the south, from the lands the humans called Hesperia. Exhel had sent word of this already. And the humans of Stromgarde had proclaimed a new Arathor, and were joining this coalition. Their armies were advancing towards Alterac. Nuvazgal could not abandon the war.

He brooded for hours, forbidding anyone to interrupt him. The sun set, but there were no stars that night, because the smoke from Hearthglen blocked them all out. The Drakkari had won at Kingsway, and Ba'jal had defeated the cultists near Stormwind. Everything had been going so well...

Footsteps sounded behind him.

"I said nobody interrupts me!"

When nobody answered, Nuvazgal tensed instinctively. Could it be an assassin? With a roar, he spun around, axe flying through the air. It stopped in mid-air. He was left facing a hooded figure - a human. But it was not Athak'Che.

"Greetings, Kaizar." the human said in stunted Zandali. "My name Quche Havalanio. I heard you have monster problem in Zul'Aman."

Nuvazgal squinted at the newcomer. Having been surrounded by Atal'jin and Atal'kaizar for so long, Nuvazgal realised that it was foolish to be surprised by a human offering him help.
"Yes, mon. This is true."

"Well then." Quche Havalanio said, and Nuvazgal realised he could move his arm again. "My friend and I thought you could use some help."

Ba'jal emerged from the shadows to stand beside Quche Havalanio.

"It's time to rumble, mon."

-----

Empire of Arathor

The Empire's strategy was simple.

With the coalition so fragile against the Living Dream, it was inevitable that humanity would look up and shout to Eldengar "Save us!" And Eldengar would be able to look down and offer them salvation under the Light - and the Empire would be reforged.

His legions, therefore, would not actually get involved against the trolls until the hour of direst need. It was at the head of the First Legion that Tribune Jana Septim rode, towards the mountains of Alterac.

There, the Second Empire of Arathor would make a stand against the trolls when it was most needed. And the Empire would truly be reborn.
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  #1564  
Old 04-26-2013, 02:47 PM
devius devius is offline

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Kul Tiras

"Captain? Captain hang in there!"

Gerard streamed back into consciousness, his eyes blurred. For a moment he thought he was looking into a mirror. Then his vision returned fully and he saw the concerned face of a young soldier looking over him.

"What about the battle?" Gerard half asked, half coughed. Blood dripped down his cheek.

"Don't worry about the battle, sir. We have priests on their way to tend your wounds. Just lay still and continue talking to me."

“So we won.” Gerard said, matter-of-factly.

The soldier began to put bandages on Gerard’s bleeding wounds, while occasionally throwing the veteran a concerned glance.

There was something familiar about the youth’s jaw, though Gerard couldn’t quite place it. To comply the request to continue speaking, he asked the first question that came to him.

“How old are you, lad?”

“22 just this summer, sir. That’s good, sir. Keep talking.” The soldier went back to bandaging the wounds. There was a lot of blood.

The answer stirred a long forgotten memory in Gerard. He’d visited Stormwind some twenty years ago...

“Your mother... What’s her name?”

The soldier didn’t take his eyes from his bandaging work this time but still answered.

“Cynthia. Why?”

The moment he answered, he ran out of bandages. Many of those he had just applied were already a deep red. He turned his head up to talk again.

“Uh, sir, I need to go get some-”

That’s when he noticed the captain was lying completely still, with a slight smile on his face.
  #1565  
Old 04-28-2013, 06:46 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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Everybody gets tired of their own company, eventually.

He had really never wanted anything of this if he could had chosen what he wanted it would had been a quiet and calm life, after the Kingdoms of Men and Elf were nothing but ashes in history.

But no, destiny as wicked as it was had already showed him he could not even have the pleasure of his hate to comfort him in eternity. But at the same time destiny denied him hate it offered him a choice a simple extravagant choice. A choice that he had chosen, a gamble so insane and delirious that it couldn’t feasibly work, and yet he had made it his duty.

It was not the easy choice for sure, nor the pleasant one, but it was the one that his hearts desired. It was the one that the uncountable lives he lived wanted, truly, from the bottom of their hearts his collective heart.

He had told Men’heva what seemed an eternity ago that he would break the board, the game of pawns. And now his words had more meaning than never before, he had to destroy the game of politics, hate and war that had driven so many lives to their untimely end. That was the legacy he left his people, his followers now worshippers.

However the day after it an eternity less away even if by an inch, after the curse that lead to where he was standing now was placed on his mortal body. He had promised someone that he would not let it’s expectatives down: Mueh’zala, the Loa of death.

And so now was time to play his role, to purify Ula’tek from the incredibly ancient and terrible evil who was wearing her skin. Who had been moving the strings of the orchestra all along playing even those who thought themselves the directors of the play. And in turn lift the terrible fog that clouded the mind of the small family of Loas, of Shadra and Hakkar.

‘Yes Men’heva, it is time to end this.’ Jin’thek replied with a thousand different voices ‘The fog must be lifted and the body of Ula’tek purified.’

The world had to be saved; otherwise his legacy of his people would be lost in the sands of time. If the board could finally be broken, it all depended on the Living Dream and everyone who compromised it.
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  #1566  
Old 04-29-2013, 02:43 PM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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Corin's Crossing.

Silence followed Wyllithen's leaving.

There was a breathless pain, a noose bound round his heart. Mathredis had not expected betrayal to hurt so. Then again, perhaps he was the traitor.

"We should stop him," rumbled Gilveradin. "If he spreads the word, it will hurt our cause."

"Let him," sighed Mathredis. "My cause is what it is. I will not deny it. I will do what needs be done for the Four. What I believe to be right. Let those who follow me have no illusions on that matter."

Gilveradin, slowly, nodded.

Mathredis returned to chieftain Maka and the rest of the room, watching warily, waiting. With a gesture of his hand, he indicated Alyson's amulet.

"Chieftain Maka of the Firetree. For what it is worth... you have my promise of peace. Will you give me the amulet? Or will you come with us. From here, we must go north."

"To do what?"

"Work a miracle."


*

Ula-tek, borderlands of the mortal world and the realm of the gods.

Surrounding the ancient ziggurat, so honored by their people, the great amani city of Ula-tek filled a forested bowl in the landscape. Though the leadership of the Living Dream had resettled to Atalm, the city recently earned the title Zul'Gruc'jen, in memory of the amani spiritual icon. As much as Jin'thek had rewritten the laws that governed - and defined - trollkind, Gruc'jen ever remained an affirmation of old ways preserved in this new world.

That anchor was now gone.

Witch doctors and high priests of the amani tribe, and several others, still lived, worked and prayed within the great mass of the Shrine. A centre of learning and faith, and monument to trollish civilization, the pyramid towered more than two hundred feet over the surrounding land; and its subterranean network of tunnels reached for miles.

Many were the stories and rumours of the contents of the Shrine. Hidden within its bulk were spaces enough to hide an entire village; vaults of overflowing treasures and endless shelves of cuneiform tablets dating from before the Sundering. Seekers of the Loa and shadow hunters ventured into its secret depths to partake of the learnings of secluded masters.

Few knew the truth.

Ula-tek was a shell.

Pierce the outer layers of chambers, and the centre of the pyramid proper became an impenetrable maze. While the corridors known as safe, and dependable, were still enough to house scores of scholars - the vast majority of the Shrine's interior was marked off as dangerous. Pathways that never ended, leading on and on. Chambers where all doors lead to the same way. And hidden behind corners, entrances to places not of this world.

Stray too close, and one might never return.

Seranidan was far too deep, and too absorbed by the events surrounding him, to give a moment's thought to all that, even if he had known of it. Lord Men'heva had entered through a gateway and ordered no one else to follow. And so the Lord-Exalt had posted his men in (roughly three) defensive perimeters around that chamber. They were Benefactors and other loyalists who had followed their Prophet unquestioningly into the depths - for had he not returned from the dead? Hope, so long flickering, all but lost - restored. On the outside of the pyramid, life - as far as he knew - continued as usual, unknowing of the events within.

Little did he know, or suspect, the dark terrors unleashed upon the world.

For now, his mind was bent on Men'heva's defence. As best Seranidan could determine in the cramped darkness, all means of access to the Prophet had been put behind several picket-lines who would raise the alarm. Three Exalted Carapaces guarded the Mirror and the final entry to Men'heva; around them were scattered more than twenty Exalted and a hundred Benefactors and allies.

And so, he stalked through the black spaces, finding his flung-out followers. They strayed, for whatever reason, from their assigned posts. Or perhaps it was the posts themselves that moved. This place unsettled even the most certain. Like his brief sojourn through Ulmat Thondr, Seranidan wished nothing but to leave Ula-tek behind as quickly as possible.

Then came the alarm he had feared - and expected - echoing; loud and clear.

"Stop them before they ruin everything!!!"

"We must defend this passage," he bit off. "The Prophet must not be disturbed."

"Yes, Lord-Exalt." Aernel answered.

He was moving before the boy had finished his reply. Aernel was Exalted; not many of those gathered here today were so lucky. Aernel would be fine.

*

Seranidan, however, was needed to muster the counterattack.

"To me!" he shouted, moving swiftly. From each passage-way he culled some and left others in place; weakening the defences - but the danger was already known. The enemy had broken through the outer ring of the Benefactors' lines; this was no mere diversion. A major attack merited a major response.

Thus it was he burst into a great room followed by twenty or thirty Benefactors, a half-dozen of them Exalted. Before him he saw Nikolai; and further on and to the side - the intruders.

"If you want Ula-Tek to die, all you have to do is leave. There is no other way!" cried Nikolai at them.

"A waste of words, alchemist," grated Seranidan. Recognizing some of the enemy, he gave a scornful grimace. "I should have finished these ones off before - it was a mistake to leave it in the hands of others. No more. This ends here."

"My lord, the enemy... they are strong! Where is lord Caxagord?"

"Phah!" spat Seranidan. "Let Caxagord find their dead bodies. Ever has Xalmor sent his servants out against me - come out! Do you hear me, once-brother? Xalmor Windrunner! Traitor, apostate! I challenge you - face me! I will break your servants until you and you alone remain! Come out!"

Unperturbed by not seeing the Viridian templar - or any of his known associates among the enemy before him; surely hiding, the cowards - Seranidan strode forth into the centre of the chamber. Xalmor and his cursed 'Malefactors' were out there.

And here he would end them.
  #1567  
Old 04-29-2013, 10:09 PM
HalfElfDragon HalfElfDragon is offline

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Ravenholdt, Lordaeron


The spell of a Benefactor exploded a few feet in front of Warren, sending rocky shrapnel flying about. The Bright Lord raised his arm to cover his face, coughing as dust surrounded him. Magyver McGowan tackled him to the ground, and two arrows flew over them. Amarian, off to the side with her back pressed against a wall, sighed and pressed her forehead. She wrapped her whip around Warren’s ankle and dragged him around the corner into the passageway she hid in. Magyver followed suit.

“You’ll get yourselves killed charging out there like that.” Amarian hissed.

“Lady, I’m an Agent of Ravenholdt. I know that.” Magyver replied. “Trying keep Warren alive, dig it?”

Amarian rolled her eyes.

“Lets try to sneak around their defenses. This passageway looks like it’ll lead behind that barricade.” She said.

“Wait,” Warren said. “Van Dam should know. We need to coordinate if this is going to work.”

“Fine.”

Amarian watched Warren hurry over to Van Dam to brief him on her plan. The Grand Master was in a huddle with several others, including Elektra Wrathchild. As Warren talked to Van Dam the half-elf raised her head and looked at Amarian, a look of concern in her eyes. She was a strange way, far as Amarian could tell. But there was something familiar about her. Amarian dropped that line of thought as Warren returned to their group.

“Took some convincing to get Van Dam on board,” Warren explained. “He thinks the Benefactors will have some agents in all the passageways.”

“Which is why I’m not going alone,” Amarian said. “As long as we don’t walk right into the bulk of their forces we should be able to take them down easily.”

While outwardly Amarian was appearing confident, on the inside she was filled with doubt. They could take out the Benefactors, piece by piece, but after that came Men’heva. And perhaps even Ula-Tek itself. Their chances against foes such as those were much less than Amarian cared to have. Amarian dared not say it, but she was convinced they needed more than they had if things were to go their way. But it was too late for training or searching for secret artifacts. Now it was simply the time to fight or die.

Quietly, they crept down the mist-filled passageway and around a corner. The mist was a mixed blessing. It would obscure them from the sight of any Benefactors, but it worked the other way as well. After about fifty paces, they came to an intersection of corridors. By Magyver’s estimation, they had already gone beyond the first barricade. And so the trio took a turn, preparing themselves for battle.

They found nothing of the sort. In fact, they found nothing at all. Instead of the Benefactor-filled section of the main hall that they had expected to find themselves in, they had entered a medium-sized room. Mist poured into four circles in the ground, each a quarter-circle in shape. Nothing stood in the room save for the trio. The walls were polished white stone, unmarked. An uneasy feeling came over them as they came to worry that their diversion had been for nothing.

“I vote we head back to the Grand Master’s position,” Magyver said. “Unless you two want to investigate the creepy room.”

Amarian said nothing, instead just looking at Warren, who was similarly silent.

“Please tell me you don’t want to investigate the creepy room.”

“Fine,” Warren said. “Let’s go back.”

Backtracking into the hallway, the three of them turned back towards their original position. But when they arrived, they instead found themselves back in the white room, or one like it. Magyver cursed the Temple and its magical tricks. Amarian stayed silent, feeling somewhat responsible. Warren, meanwhile, decided this time to investigate the room. Valankris drawn, he cautiously stepped towards the center of the room, standing on the center point between the four pits.

For a while, there was nothing. Then there was a grating noise, like knives on hard rock. A gorgon lept from one of the pits, screeching. Warren turned towards the noise, slashing with the Valankris. He got a lucky strike and cut the throat of the monstrous being. It tumbled back into the blackness of the pit, the blood spray staining the floor black. Amarian and Magyver, of course, noticed this and rushed to help him.

Looking down into another pit, Warren locked eyes with another gorgon and was transfixed. The gorgon, its target frozen by its petrifying gaze, took its time. This proved to be a bad choice as Amarian’s whip wrapped around its neck. She pulled it back harshly, and heard a snap. This gorgon also fell back into the pit as the first did. Magyver pulled Warren off of the platform and they hurried back into the hallway.

“What the fel, man?” Magyver asked Warren.

“The eyes on those things... they’re like basilisks.” Warren said. “Must be harbingers of Ula-Tek.”

“We need to warn the Grand Master,” Amarian said. “He has worse things than Benefactors to be worrying about.”

“How are we supposed to do that?” Magyver shouted. “This place’s magical business is messing with us.”

“Persistence will pay off.” Amarian insisted.

They set off back into the maze of halls, turning left and right, climbing up and down stairs and avoiding several white rooms. On occasion they would find the one with the blood stains on the floor. Magyver stabbed a dagger into the wall as a marker, only to come across it again without turning a single corner. He roared in frustration, punching the wall several times before leaning his back against it and sinking to the floor. Amarian sighed; persistence had disappointed her.

“Damn it, they could be getting killed back there and we can’t even be there to die with them.” Magyver growled.

“This is all my fault. I shouldn’t have taken us off course.” Amarian said.

“Don’t.” Warren replied. “You couldn’t have known this would happen.”

“Poor lost ssssouls,” the whisper came from above them.

The trio looked up in time to see what was by far the largest serpent any of them had ever imagined. The creature had a tail a foot and a half thick and far too long. It head was adorned with a spiked cobra-like hood. Magyver hurried to his feet and all three of them drew their weapons. It coiled loosely around them and propped itself up, staring at Magyver first, then Warren, then Amarian.

“A talking snake. Now I’ve seen everything.” Magyver said sarcastically.

“I am Dambala, the serpent Loa.” It spoke. “And you are?”

“Don’t-” Warren started.

“I am Amarian Zeshuwal.”

“-tell it your name.”

“Why, hello there Amarian,” Dambala said. “Pray tell what brings you to the Spirit Realm?”

“Spirit Realm?” Magyver asked. “We were in the Temple of Ula-Tek.”

“At the present moment the different between the two is fast disappearing,” the snake explained. “Distasteful, that Ula-Tek.”

“We tend to agree,” Amarian said. “Could you lead us back to our allies?”

“Your allies are here to kill Ula-Tek?” Dambala asked.

“Yes!” Warren said, stretching the truth. “You could help us,”

“Oh no, that won’t do.” It replied. “You’ll fail, and then where will that leave Dambala? Out in the cold, right in Ula-Tek’s sights.”

“We could make a deal.” Amarian said.

“Careful there, girl.” Magyver said. “We call liars and thieves snakes for a reason.”

“Oh, I like deals,” Dambala said, ignoring Magyver. ”You have my attention, little one. What do you want from me?”

“What do you offer?”

“Hmm, let me think,” The serpent said, its voice trailing off. “How about this: I will lead you and your friends-”

“We cannot trust you,” Magyver interrupted. "And we need more than a guide."

“Very well. I will lend you my power. It will allow you to guide your friends from the Spirit Realm, and will give you great advantage against whatever enemies you face.” Dambala explained. “Worry not, the power will not leave you until you either die or you emerge successful.”

“And your price?” Amarian asked.

“Amarian...” Warren said with a concerned tone.

“My dear sweet girl, all I ask for is a simple tribute...” Dambala said, circling around Amarian. “I sense within you a child. I will make mark of its blood. When it is born, it will belong to me. That is my price.”

“No way, snake.” Warren said, pushing himself in front of Dambala’s head.

“Who do you think you’re making a deal with here?” Magyver said, incredulous.

“We would never sell the life of another just for power.” Warren insisted. “We’ll find another way out of here.”

“I accept.” Amarian said.

“What!?” Warren shouted, turning to her. “Amarian, this is no time for jokes.”

“Your price is agreeable.” Amarian said, pushing Warren aside. “Now give me your power.”

Amarian thought she could see the Loa grin as she said the words. Dambala dissipated into green mist that surrounded her. She breathed deep, inhaling his power. When it was done, she could feel his power inside of her. She could see the paths of the Spirit World. Her eyes were black, and green energy pulsed visibly through her veins. She could see a much smaller incarnation of the Serpent Loa slither away.

“Amarian...” Warren said softly, still in shock.

“It doesn’t matter,” Amarian replied. “If we fail in our mission, all is lost. No price is too high.”

Amarian Zeshuwal walked confidently through the mists, Warren and Magyver hesitantly trailing behind her. On her shoulders she was carrying the weight of great power that she had sacrificed everything for.

She was the Serpent Avatar.
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  #1568  
Old 05-05-2013, 09:12 AM
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Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, Lordaeron, the Amani, Kul Tiras, the Malefactors, and the Elves

Caxagord had fled the confrontation, pursued by his enemies and protected by those loyal to him. Yet, he smiled - for he sensed a change in the air.

Caxagord: The parlay is complete. The Prophet’s plan may commence.

A throwing dagger whizzed by his head, striking one of his Benefactor guards. With haste, he ducked out a corridor that lead to an opening in the ziggurat and to a view of the world outside. Everything had changed. Ula-Tek would use the blending of the realms to enter the waking world, and Men’heva would launch his audacious plan to assassinate a god.

It was then that Caxagord heard a voice he never thought he would hear again; a voice he could only hear in this place.

Tendura Xie: GO BACK TO WHERE YOU CAME FROM...LEAD YOUR MEN BACK TO YOUR KINGDOM!!! You will not find salvation here, only damnation!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Caxagord: It – It cannot be!

Standing before the orange-clad magus was the ghost of his former master; the spirit of the man for whom he had literally supernatural loyalty towards. It was the last of the Xie bloodline. It was Lord Tendura.

Tendura Xie: Caxagord, we must speak. I must tell you things I know, from visions and from amazing common sense. Ula-Tek is a complete monster. Men’heva is not quite a complete monster since the definition is not a villain that you hate for being evil but simply one that is worse then very evil. But still not good! Remember what you said to the Other when you were confronted with the personification of voracity. You said “it’s not the people of the old that build the future!” You were outraged because it was “always looking from afar and manipulating the schemes of others!” You serve now what you once battled against!

To be chastised by the ghost of this man hurt Caxagord more than he could express. He struggled to explain.

Caxagord: Everything I’ve done has been for the greater good. After you died in Alterac, I… I lacked direction. I cannot be swayed from the path at this, the most critical of moments…but if what you say is true…

Tendura Xie: I...feel....cold......

Tendura shivered and began to fade. Caxagord feared it was his fault; that his words had sent Xie away.

Caxagord: My Lord! Don’t go!

The image of Xie dissipated as another voice called out from behind him.

Warester Van Dam: Dartol! Stop this insanity!

He turned to confront the Grand Master, Krasus the red dragon, and their profanity-spouting insect, Hocus Snood. The three had made it past the Benefactors.

Caxagord: You’re too late. Men’heva’s plan to offer this world salvation from Ula-Tek has already been set into motion. The die is cast.

Hocus Snood: Yeah, well it’s the part that comes after that that we have a big @#$%ing problem with, ya ginger.

Caxagord: The Awakening? Why should you want to stop that?

Warester Van Dam: Think about it, Dartol. What he is attempting is unnatural. Men’heva’s no better than the Chancellors!

Krasus: You’ve seen where hubris and playing god leads.

Caxagord turned, stricken momentarily with doubt. It had been years since Van Dam found him near-death on the shores of Lordamere Lake. Van Dam saved him from being slain by pirates then, and together they stopped the Chancellors from unleashing the spawn of Akaerna-Sagai and Xostheron upon the world. Was the situation truly so different now? Had he become... Men’heva’s Bergan?

Caxagord: No!

He cast all doubt from his mind.

Caxagord: NOOO!!!!

The former court wizard of Alterac hurled an arcane missile in their direction, with Van Dam and Krasus springing into action. The time for talk was over.

A spell detonated at Van Dam’s feet, causing him to be knocked backwards. Krasus began casting a counter-spell to strip Caxagord of his magical shielding, but in the moments before he could utter the incantation, Hocus Snood seized upon the wizard.

Hocus Snood: You’re going down, @#$%face!

But as the fist-sized grasshopper leapt at the wizard, Caxagord pulled back his foot and then shot it forward with incredible speed. The boot impacted Hocus Snood, who was knocked impossibly high into the air. He soared. Reaching escape velocity caused his temperature to dramatically increase. His exoskeleton began to burn, red-hot parts falling away.

Hocus Snood: Ffffffffffuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu-

Hocus Snood was incinerated.

Krasus: No! Noooo!!!

The sight of his familiar being kicked into the sun enraged the founder of the Incorruptibles. He shifted into his dragon form without even thinking and, in the grip of great anger, unleashed a plume of dragonflame that impacted Caxagord and sent him spiraling off the ziggurat in a ball of fire. He landed somewhere below the jungle canopy.

In the uncomfortable silence that followed, the dragon looked down at his handiwork. He was breathing heavily, and Van Dam approached, placing a hand on his shoulder. Krasus reverted to his humanoid form.

Krasus: Do you think I finished him?

Warester Van Dam: Set on fire and knocked off the top of a ziggurat? Yeah, I’d say that he’s finished. But... he’s been burned before…

It was then that they heard cackling from the top of the Temple, several levels above them. It was Men’heva.

Men'heva: It is time! Come to me, Ula-Tek! Come and meet your oblivion!

And the very foundation of the Temple shook.
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  #1569  
Old 05-05-2013, 12:26 PM
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Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, Lordaeron, the Amani, Kul Tiras, the Malefactors, and the Elves

-

Kul Tiras

Joachim Alten howled as Cyssia pressed a hand against his bloody chest.

"Why?!" he howled, stamping one leg up and down. "The pain! The humility! The humanity!"

Cyssia paused what she was doing and gave him a look which silenced him.
"That's better. I'll be done soon."

"Where's Sybil? What happened to you guys after the Wanderer City?"

Once again, Cyssia paused what she was doing.
"Caxagord took you away. We followed. But by the time we got to Fagerstrom, you were gone. That's where it gets complicated..."

Joachim nodded, hearing her tale of triumph and tragedy against Hochstein. In turn, he answered her questions about the peace conference in Hesperia, the fighting in Fagerstrom, and the final showdown in Ulmat Thondr.

"He showed me... things. Things you people wouldn't believe."

Now Cyssia's face turned sour. She pushed Joachim down to the ground.
"Don't you listen to a word those demons have to say. They're liars. All of them and their kin. All lies and false promises!"

Joachim was not sure what he had said wrong. There was something obviously bothering Cyssia.
"What are you leaving out of your own story, Cyssia?"

Her distant gaze snapped, and she turned her burning intensity on him.
"Neemin said I was marked by the first of the Makers."

"And does that mean anything to you?" Joachim pressed, his face creasing with concern. It sounded creepy.

"The first of the Makers, Sirian, was a shaper of flesh, banished from Quel'Thalas in the time of Dath'Remar. The Crimson March imitates him in their every design. If I carry his mark, it means-"

They were interrupted. Leopold Maysel came running in from the entrance to the sanctum, shouting something about betrayal.
"... we let her in, and she brought one of them!"

Behind Leopold walked the tallest gnome-lady that Joachim had ever seen, and with her came a couple of freaks.

"Well done Misses Fizzlebang." one of the freaks hissed, and pointed a finger at Joachim Alten. "Those are the ones who carry the gifts of Lord Geddorath. They are the key!"

-

The Amani

Meanwhile, in Zul'Aman.

The capital of the Living Dream was being sacked. It was long rumoured amongst the witch doctors and wives that the tunnels of the Shrine of Ula-Tek stretched beyond the ziggurat itself, and continued underneath the forests, villages and towns of Zul'Aman.

Those legends were proven true, when from the caves and corners of the land, monstrous creatures poured out to burn and pillage. The Living Dream was taken by surprise. These creatures were unlike anything the trolls had ever fought before. Every enemy needs a name, and soon the creatures were called 'gorgons'.

The Atal'jin and their portal magics allowed reinforcements to be brought to Zul'Aman to fight the new threat. Nuvazgal himself, Kaizar of the Living Dream, led his forces to his homeland to save it from the fires.

But the Living Dream did not stand alone. Grateful for being saved from the Crimson March, soldiers from Stormwind joined their Gurubashi allies in this new expedition.

Daughters of Pontus and assassins of the Malachite Hand flocked to the banner of Phorcys, who carried it to Zul'Aman to bring the fight to the corrupted gorgon and turn the tide.

Kaizar Nuvazgal stood decked in full-armour, the Shrine of Ula-Tek below him. He was on the airship of the Daughters of Pontus. With him stood Ba'jal, wielding the empowered Zin'rokh. Beside Ba'jal was Quche Havalanio, leader of the Malachite Hand, and Phorcys. Commanding the airship was Sinéad Proudmoore, daughter of Phorcys, leader of the Daughters.

Finally, there was Duke Augustus Fenris of Stormwind.
"Kaizar." the man said, and not for the first time Nuvazgal noticed that he had a monobrow which was nearly as monstrous as a gorgon. "If you would allow us, we could deploy our knights by the hills over yonder. If your forces come in from the west, we should be able to split the gorgon army."

With a grunt, Nuvazgal looked over the battlefield once again. The gorgons were sacking his city, and were chasing the civilians into the forest. Near Zul'Gruc'Jen were hills, where the knights of Stormwind could gather as the Duke suggested.
"I never thought I would see a human kingdom helping trolls."

Duke Augustus blinked and moved his jaw quizzically.
"Well, before this week I never thought I would owe the survival of my kingdom to the Gurubashi. Perhaps times have changed."

"Very well, mon." Nuvazgal said. "I permit your knights to take up their positions above my city. Not for hundreds of years has a human army been in Zul'Aman. But times have changed indeed. So I permit it."

"What about your Atal'kaizar?" Quche Havalanio asked. "A human army has been in Zul'Aman before this, if you count them."

"Atal'kaizar are not humans, mon." Nuvazgal said with a laugh. "They are Atal'kaizar."

From the airship cabin stepped Athak'Che, the man who had once been known as Blackthorn.
"Kaizar, I received word that my forces are in position in the south."

Nuvazgal nodded and beat his chest in a salute with his fist. It was time.

-----

Lordaeron

Inside the ziggurat.

Nikolai Tymoshenko smashed into a wall and fell onto the cold floor of the temple hall.

Satisfied that his assault had ended the battle, Thomassy waltzed up to his fallen enemy and knelt beside him.
"Regret betraying me, old friend?"

Through his spectral vision, Thomassy could sense the hate and disappointment flowing from the old alchemist.
"Regret betraying you? Was it not you who made a pact with Hakkar for your power? You, one of the weakest wizards in Dalaran? The wizard who fled the city of Dalaran out of shame for being unable to become a full magus? You are filth, Thomassy. Everything you achieved since Zul'Gurub has been a lie you have lived off of borrowed time. And you think what I did, standing up for my religion, is betrayal?"

Deeply stung, Thomassy staggered back. Nikolai's venomous words had torn through the walls he had erected around his psyche. It was unfair, and untrue. Thomassy had left Dalaran to find the training and skills that he could not get in the city. Conventional training had failed him - it was only fair...
"I spent ten years bleeding for Lordaeron, for the Holy Light. For my king and my country. I am a patriot."

"A patriot, Thomassy? You defended a corrupt, rotten regime. You merely postponed its fall, and then it crumbled anyway, at the hand of Alford's bastard. You defended the man who took you in for saving his life, and became his lapdog."

Thomassy's spectral vision went white, clouded by emotion and anger. He ran his dagger along the palm of his trembling hand, and uttered words from the Mezejin speech of blood magic. Tendrils of crimson fire sprang from his palm, wrapping around Nikolai and burning him. The alchemist screamed in agony as he died.

When Thomassy was finished, he stepped back, his whole body shaking. Nikolai had torn down his ideals, his entire life's work, in a matter of sentences. He had spent the past ten years trying to justify his crimes, and now he was on a crusade to save the world to prove his point.

All for nothing.

Everything has been taken from you. Unfairly. You know that there is something wrong in all of this. Things should be different.

He sensed strangers approaching, and he turned. A stranger was watching him.

What if I told you that one man's crusade could change the world?

Something promised Thomassy that he could rebuild everything. There was still a way out. A way to wash away the taint.

Many have tried. Many have failed. But I will not let you fail.

The stranger offered Thomassy a hand.


-----

Ravenholdt

The fighting had split much of the assault into fragments. Pursuit of Caxagord had exacerbated the situation.

Krasus and Van Dam managed to find several others from the party, including Relfthra, Erbag, Barbara Friendly, Myrokos Silentform, Nozari, Lethon and Cathia Malana.

"Where are the others?" Van Dam asked urgently, looking over Myrokos' shoulder. "Where is Periandrius? Travot? Greystone..."

"Greystone, Magyver and Amarian vanished into the mist." Barbara said awkwardly. "No doubt repeating an escapade as unsafe and loony as one of the ones we've had in Ginchar. Damned fools."

"We can't afford to wait for them." Van Dam answered gruffly. "Same goes for any other stragglers, human, dragon or otherwise. Men'heva has begun the ritual with the Mirror. We'll let him strike Ula-Tek down, and then hopefully, we can finish him off before he sets the Awakening in motion."

All seemed to be in agreement, though Krasus' silence was noted, and then it was observed that Hocus Snood was absent. Nobody asked as to his whereabouts.

"Onwards, then." Relfthra stated, and so they went.

Reptilian creatures were noticed in the shadows, but none barred their way. They were surely minions of Ula-Tek; and it seemed that Ula-Tek intended for them to slay Men'heva. It was a foolish gamble, expecting them to interrupt the ritual that would slay her. But in the back of Van Dam's mind, he wondered if Ula-Tek had some last ditch gamble to save herself, and did not doubt it was the case.

As they progressed up the levels of the ziggurat, the world around them became increasing ethereal. The spirit realm was overlapping more powerfully with every step.

"It is as the Plane of Shadows." Barbara cursed.

"There is a wicked presence in the air!" Erbag warned, sniffing wisps of mist up his nostrils. "Swords will soon be of no more use here."

At last they came to a long corridor, which seemed to open up to some vast room. Van Dam exited it, and set foot in the land of the gods. There was no ceiling; nor was there any sky. Only a void above, and grey stone underfoot.

The Shrine had vanished. All that remained was eternity, and a mountain in the distance. They could hear Men'heva's voice resonating from atop it, even from this great distance.

"So that is where it will all come to a close." Cathia Malana growled, taking in the view. "That mountain is where it all ends."

"Or begins." Nozari added encouragingly.

But Van Dam did not see any reason for such optimism.
"Not if Men'heva wins."

Nozari turned to him, a distant look in her eye.
"I do not know where the future leads at this junction. We Bronze have tried to make sure the timeline leads to the Dark Histories, because we believe that despite all the evil to come, there will be a brilliant sunrise. But I am no longer so sure."

"Damnit, this is no time for doubt, Nozari!" Krasus was incensed, no doubt the loss of his familiar amplifying his emotions.

"The Age of Men'heva. Do you know how it ends?" the Bronze asked, daring Krasus to question her. She began to weave a spell, creating a vision in the air before them.

They saw Azeroth in flames, with the Legion chasing the last mortal defenders to Northrend. It was as Van Dam remembered, with Varia Wrynn leading the resistance en route to the icy roof of the world. He was sure he knew how this timeline would end.

"It ends in darkness." Van Dam answered.

Then the vision began to change. He saw a flash of maroon, then one of viridian, one of azure and finally an ivory one.
"In the Age of Men'heva, the natural Awakening happens regardless. The Four return to fight the Legion in Azeroth's greatest hour of need. It may be a world destroyed, a world that would require millennia to rebuild. But it would not have been the end."

It was still a future that Van Dam would die to prevent.
"This changes nothing."

Nozari seemed uncertain.
"Not now. No. We have to try and stop Men'heva. But perhaps, perhaps we have to do it for the right reason. Not because of the future, which has not yet happened. But for the present moment. Not against free will, but in favour of it. All that matters...is this moment."
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  #1570  
Old 05-06-2013, 07:19 PM
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Alterac

Halman Perenolde's feet kissed the ledge of Valen's Cut, the great canyon within which the Troll Wars had been decided nearly two thousand years ago. The world had changed much since then, but Valen's Cut had not. A city could fit comfortably within its breadth, and indeed, castles and walls had been built along it. They were merely ruins now - tombstones for ancient battlefields.

It was a fitting place for humanity to make its stand against the Living Dream. As fitting a place as any to gain vengeance for the civilians of Quel'Thalas, Strattania, Midland, Tirisfal and Alterac. Had Halman been an inch more superstitious, he would have mistook the wailing of the wind against the crags for the angry whispers of the children of Ashnord.

In the far distance, Halman Perenolde could see the Living Dream approach. It had suffered a defeat at Alterac City, but it had not abandoned Alterac itself. They were regrouping, and they would meet the coalition in the Cut.

"What is on your mind, my lord?" Alric the Dragonslayer wondered aloud.

Perenolde glanced over his shoulder at the chief of his Blackguard. Alric stood with helm nestled under one arm, and hand on the hilt of his sword. He had been called Jere Kavdan, once.

"I am thinking about what is to come. If victory is possible, what will be its price?"

Alric raised an eyebrow, though his face was otherwise empty and loyal.
"An odd thought, my lord."

Not if you knew my history, Perenolde thought, and for a moment, he was Krowl again.
"Behind us, Emperor Eldengar wants me to give him Alterac. In front of us, the trolls ask the same thing of me. I swore to serve my people. In secret I fear that I no longer know how best to do it."

Alric smiled, and Perenolde could have sworn it was the first time he had ever seen that expression on the golden-haired youth's face.
"You have much to forgive yourself for, Maximus Krowl. In my lifetime I have seen the Chancellors and Black Dragons fall. In no small part thanks to you. You feel guilty for betraying the republican ideal. But perhaps you are simply pragmatic."

Perenolde-... Krowl, was too shocked to answer. He moved his mouth to speak, but Alric put on his helmet and strode away, towards their encampment. He knows. He knows, and still he follows me.

Behind Alric, Perenolde saw that the lowlands were alive with the banners of many realms and houses. The flags of the city states of Hesperia fluttered in the wind, besides the standard of the Kingdom of Lordaeron and the colours of the Empire of Arathor, reborn from its ashes.

Gods, maybe we stand a chance after all.

-

Ravenholdt

"Welcome to the Ramrod Legion, Rufus Neidhart." Owen Zverenhoff pressed the gladius of the Legion into his new recruit's eager hands. "You have learned our ways, and proven your hatred of our enemies, and your love of what it is that we represent."

The burly Neidhart palmed the gladius with idiotic affection, and Owen hesitated for a moment, sure that the giant man would cut himself. Neidhart's face crumbled into a smile.
"I will smash trolls for you, Zverenhoff."

"Can you smash a thousand? Ten thousand?" Owen asked, turning towards the exit of his tent, towards Valen's Cut. "Can you swim in their blood, Neidhart, crush their bones? Show them no mercy, even when they cry for it?"

Rufus Neidhart nodded enthusiastically.

"Then I pray such zeal will be enough, before we have to smash one-hundred thousand. Come with me, boy. There's work to be done!"

Within the hour, the lieutenants of the Ramrod Legion had assembled in the heart of the camp. Owen Zverenhoff was going to address them honestly and cleanly.

"In the days to come, we're going to fight the biggest trollish army that humanity has had to face outside of Lordaeron in two thousand years. And that is because Lordaeron has fallen."

He let his words sink in, the grim reality leaving no room for doubt. King Andol Corin the Bastard was a Bruxist, and pagan filth, but his capture had spelled Lordaeron's doom. Only the capital remained, and pockets of resistance across Tirisfal and Midland. Not enough to stop the Living Dream.

He had also received word that Ravenholdt was striking at the Shrine of Ula-Tek in an attempt to hunt Men'heva down. He had been brought up to date at last, as there had been a communication breakdown since the Malefactor strike on Fenris Isle.

The new developments were more troubling than he had feared. The Grand Master himself was going into Ula-Tek, and the fate of the world depended on his success. What was more, time passed differently in Ula-Tek, so for all he knew, weeks could have already gone by in the Shrine. There was one dire bit of information of great importance which had leaked back to Zverenhoff from the Shrine in particular.

"What's more, the word from our boys at Ula-Tek is this. The Living Dream has thrown its weight behind support of Men'heva, the False Prophet. The troll who caused this war, who killed your friends and your families. His cause is now one and same as that of the Living Dream. The army you are going to face in Valen's Cut must be stopped. No matter the cost."

There were grim nods and grunts. Though few words were spoken, the atmosphere was heavier than the grave.

"So this is what we are going to do. We are going to meet that army in the Cut, and we are going to stop them. No. We are going to destroy them."

Swords were raised into the air, and in unison, they shouted their battle-cry.

-

Empire of Arathor

Valen's Price

Grand Magister Rommath stretched out his arm. A servant refilled his chalice with Modan Eiswein, brought by Rogni Bronzebeard himself for the occasion. They were truly trying to impress him.

He had not failed to notice the grandeur that the generals of Stromgarde had erected around themselves. They truly believed that mere trinkets and gold gave their claim to be Arathor's successors some merit.

Let them believe what they want, he thought.

"Tell us more, Grand Magister." Arlith Brightmore said, pressing his hands together into a triangle of thought. "Tell us more about this plague. This Zutopong'loa."

Rommath smiled and suppressed a chuckle. They were like eager children, as easily readable as a nursery rhyme.
"The Living Dream is now overconfident. It pours all of its resources into this offensive. One giant army, trapped in one canyon. Valen's Cut will be the end of them. And if your Arathorian Empire can take credit for such a victory; well, then the world will be indebted to you. And all will submit."

"Yes, yes! But tell us more about the plague." Elrich of the Crimson Cabal was saying. His eyes shone with awe at the thought of such a weapon.

"We used it at Tyr's Gap, buying us time we needed to withdraw. And it saved Alterac City." Rommath professed, accepting yet another refill for his chalice. "We have perfected it at last. Let the trolls pile into Valen's Cut. Let them come. And then we will use Zutopong'loa and wipe them all out."

He could see that there were many at the table who were not convinced. Tribune Jana Septim was frowning like a wildcat.
"It is dishonourable. Bordering genocidal."

Rommath spat a laugh, forcing some to nearly jump out of their chairs.
"That is what Seranidan said at Kingsway. He lost that battle, milady. You cannot win this war without Zutopong'loa. If you want to win this game, you are going to have to cheat. Without the plague, humanity will fall. The Living Dream offers religious freedom and land to those who join it. Have you heard of Atal'kaizar? Atal'jin? Our own people flock to the enemy. They have no reason to die for kings and queens. Do you think peasants will die for Eldengar?"

His words caused outrage. Several at the table drew their swords, chairs flying to the ground.

"Thousands died for the Emperor! And the Emperor succeeded! The Imperial Guard has returned!"

Once more, Rommath laughed. He threw his chalice across the table, wine spilling across the map of Valen's Cut that had been pinned there.
"To the pits with your Emperor and his dusty, dessicated and senile Imperial Guard!"

Yes, he was drunk. It was poor diplomacy, but what did diplomacy matter when the world burned, when one had the ultimate bargaining chip?

"Name your price." Jana Septim stated grimly, still seated at the table.

Rommath grinned once again.
"For starters... I will be needing more wine!"

-

House Trajan

Nezario had an appointment to attend to. An appointment with Katherine Adai.

But events were not to favour his schedule. He was pulled aside by a most unlikely face, that of Ranzth, his former court wizard - now a member of the Council of Six. He struggled to reach for his board and chalk, but Ranzth put a finger to his lips.

"My liege, if you would come with me."

He hesitated for a moment, but he trusted Ranzth. Board and chalk in hand, he walked after Ranzth. They passed through the Hesperian camp and into the muddy zone that separated them from the Perinany. From there, Ranzth led him north, towards the trees and thickets.

There, a hooded figure was waiting for him. Ranzth nodded in the figure's direction, and then leaned back against a tree without an explanation.

Nezario opened his mouth to speak before remembering himself. He was wondering if there was any point to writing down "who are you" when the figure pulled down its hood.

It was not a face he recognized. In fact, it was an elf.
"My name is Tanilias Starseeker. And you are the First Duke of Hillsbrad, Nezario Trajan."

Nezario studied the elf suspiciously, struggling to understand what had just happened. The name, for starters, made no sense to him. He decided it was time to write the inevitable.
"who are you"

"A friend." Tanilias said with a sad smile. "And as of the past few weeks, a member of the Council of Six. And I come to you with a matter of grave concern."

There was no need to press Tanilias on the matter, so Nezario wrote nothing. He looked at the elf expectantly, a feeling of unease creeping up his spine.

"Do you know how Alterac City survived the trollish invasion, while Lightists were too busy laying siege to Dalaran to think about the Living Dream?"

Nezario shook his head, and began to write on his board.
"you have a point, sir, and I would appreciate it if you got to it"

Tanilias inclined his head sympathetically.
"I am sure you have many questions. I will get to the point. The elven race is split into many factions. In this regard, it is no different than humanity, I am afraid. There are the Benefactors, the royalists, the druids - oh, I could go on in great detail."

Nezario's cold stare bid Tanilias to not go on in great detail.

"Alterac was saved by use of a plague, my good Duke. A plague that bears the name Zutopong'loa, the betrayal of the gods. My people and our allies harnessed its power and produced it, turning it into a weapon against the trolls. When deployed, it accelerates trollish regeneration to the point where it becomes damaging. It destroys trolls utterly and entirely. Unless they cut their connection to their gods. It is a lethal and effective weapon."

Instinctively, Nezario looked to Ranzth for some clue as to where the conversation was going. Was Tanilias going to offer him use of this weapon against the Living Dream? It could save thousands of lives, perhaps. It could save humanity. But Ranzth's expression was dark, and the former court wizard looked away.

"what's the catch" Nezario wrote.

Tanilias' ears perked.
"Ah, and so we come to it. This plague, my good Duke, it is not of our time. It is a thing of great evil. I suspected as much, and so did the Druids of Caer Darrow. But we had no proof, and circumstances were urgent. And so we used it. Even then, there were those amongst us who objected to its use. It was not used at Kingsway, and as you know, King Andol was defeated, even when he could have wielded its power."

"What do you want?"

"The plague corrupts the very land it touches, even if it is not directly harmful to humans. It disrupts nature. There were places where it was used with abandon; those places became known as the Fleshlands. The plague is linked to evil gods and dark powers. It must not be used at Valen's Cut. My contemporaries disagree, and want to unleash it. They are approaching the Empire of Arathor, trying to bargain with the plague. In the hands of Arathor, the plague would bring genocide."

"why are you telling me this?"

"Because, my Duke, I know about your brother, Nevio Trajan. If there is anybody with influence who might be sympathetic to my objections about this weapon, it might be you. And so, I need your help. If you agree, I will go my own way, and you will go yours. Pretend this meeting never happened. And when the time is right, I will contact you."
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  #1571  
Old 05-08-2013, 05:53 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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“I wish I had a horse.” Nevio knew he sounded whiny, but his legs were too sore for him to care too much. Cursing a little, he kept up with Exhel as they journeyed north, to join the main Troll host.

“What would the point be?” The shaman asked, doing a poor job at holding back a smile. “To sore your behind instead of your feet?” No one in this whole army had a mount. They had non-combatants, who were probably slaves, with them as pack mules.

Using his spear as a walking stick on the uneven mountain path, Nevio drudged forward. “If we get attacked, my fighting capacity may be impaired this way. If I had a horse, I could jump off it and be fresh to the fray.”

“Bwhahaha!” Exhel laughed. “So in your mind, the greatest warrior is he who spends his life lying down; when the fight comes to him, he will stand up and defeat whatever threat it is, because he will be unburdened by the efforts of combat?”

At first Nevio felt like changing topics. He knew when he was being baited. “I don’t think my success in combat will ever come down to my marching endurance.”

“I’m sure many dead men thought that way”, Exhel said enigmatically. “Say, what do you think about that girl you came here with? You know, the ugly one.”

The complete change of subject gave Nevio pause. After a moment, he responded: “She’s not ugly. Or... at least she’s not any uglier than you.” He was always reminded of Shi’il’s lack of moss covering by the fact that Exhel’s facial deformation caused unsightly, pale flesh to peek out from underneath the green of his skin.

The shaman contemplated for a while, his deformed face looking wise as it wrinkled in thought. “Hmm... it is a funny thing you would compare her state to mine...” He idly fingered his bulging flesh with one hand. “Do you know why she removed her mosskin?”

“No”, Nevio answered truthfully. When he had asked her about it months ago, her answer had been less than illustrative. Since then, he had chosen to not worry himself with it.

“Bwhee-hee-hee”, Exhel heaved in cough-laughter. “When a troll removes their moss, it is because they are giving themselves to a cause... a cause that is not trollish. We have a saying about things we consider familiar, we say they’re ‘as trollish as moss’. This girl has peeled the troll off herself, to show her dedication.”

Nevio took a look over his shoulder, and saw Shi’il some ways behind, talking to a couple of other trolls as they marched. The ones she was talking to seemed to treat her normally, but he could see some others staring at her. “I don’t understand”, he said to Exhel.

“I have heard it told that some humans forsake all ties with their family and community, and join an order which is their new family”, the shaman said.

“Yes, most of them are religious. There are the Hareveim for Zinine, and monks for the Holy Light... but I don’t see where you’re going with this. Is there a brotherhood of trolls who skin themselves?”

Exhel shook his head, fingering his sideways-jutting tusk, and muttered: “No, not as such, but more... it is hard to explain. She is missing her moss. That announces to everyone who sees her that she owes no loyalty to her tribe, or her kind, but to something else. It is like if your monks shaved off their hair to announce to the world that they have nothing to do with the ones they share blood with anymore.”

Nevio thought about the monks and their tonsures, and of the red eyes of the Hareveim, and slowly nodded. He was pretty sure he understood what the shaman was implying by saying Shi’il was dedicated to something un-troll, so he decided to change the topic away from that. “You said that your own appearance has something in common with hers.”

“Mwhehe. I think I did.” The troll turned to look at Nevio, to showcase his disfigured face. “I may still have my moss, but I cut away something even more Trollish than that, to survive the thing that did this to me. You know of my people’s regenerative capabilities, yes?”

“Everyone knows of it. That scout who brought me to you told that you train with real weapons since there’s no danger of permanent injury.” Nevio wondered if wounds hurt the trolls as much as they did humans. He had taken a few blows in his time, and appreciated practise swords.

Exhel walked ahead, taking a moment before he spoke. “Then, do you know that the regeneration comes from our Gods?”

“I didn’t.” Nevio knew next to nothing about the gods of the trolls. All he knew was that they were called the Lower.

“The protectors of Alterac had a weapon they used against us. A vile and horrific disease they could unleash at command on our folk. It somehow corrupted the blessing the Gods have given to trollkind. One chieftain’s arm bulged out until his skin ripped apart, his muscles growing uncontrollably as the power of renewal in him went unchecked. Some of the soldiers’ skulls or ribcages imploded as growing flesh caused them to cave inside.”

Exhel’s eyes stared into the distance, probably seeing the horrific imagery he was describing. He continued speaking, but to Nevio it felt that the shaman was somewhere far away, right then. “The poison had a terrible effect on one of my men, who had lost a hand to a ballista shot just moments before they released the Horror. Three whole arms had grown out of his stump, squirming and grasping the air until he died.”

“Later, they used the plague on me and another leader in an assassination attempt. My face started to grow outwards, and I lost vision within moments. My whole body was shaking like a leaf in a storm wind, and I could feel it spreading through my veins, like liquid fire. Then, in a flash, I remembered the battle. I realised that what was happening was a perversion of my own gift of regeneration. So I forsook the gift.”

He fell silent. Nevio stumbled on something, having been so engrossed in the story. “What do you mean, you forsook the gift?”

“I cut off my connection to the gods, and ceased regenerating”, the shaman explained. “My comrade Katoom was not so lucky.”

A deep silence fell between the two of them. Eventually, Nevio said: “Whoever uses that kind of weapon... I do not want to fight on the same side as them. No matter what.”

“I understand. Of course, you might think different if we had not met. It’s easy to ignore the suffering of others when all you know is ‘it kills them by the hundreds’.” Somehow, Exhel managed to say it without any accusation or antagonisation. From the way he said it, Nevio knew the troll was talking more about himself.

Tapping the butt of his spear on the ground a few times, Nevio said: “I do not know what I need to do, but I want there to be trust between us. I am sure the others will trust me if you vouch for me. Tell me what to do.”

Exhel licked his swollen lips and thought for a while. Then he begun: “While I am happy that there are humans who have chosen the Living Dream willingly, the sad truth is that there are some who are false. They say they wish to be here with us, and make Jin’thek’s vision a reality, but in truth they spy on us and report back to their masters.

I have identified two such men. They think they are stealthy, but they underestimate old Exhel. Tonight, when we make camp, I will point them out to you. I want you to walk up to them and kill them. Not a word spoken, only killing. One death to prove you’ll kill for our cause, another death to prove these men are not your kin.”

Nevio nodded. He looked at the tip of his spear, and remembered the story of Mogarin. To either only kill kin, or to only kill others. He had expected the sword to thrust itself out of a mountainside and present that choice. Now, he was glad it hadn’t. Because the truth was, whichever choice you made, it only proved that the true crossroads of your life was who you chose to kill, and who to spare.

Not an encouraging thought.
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Last edited by Timolas; 05-14-2013 at 09:59 AM..
  #1572  
Old 05-11-2013, 10:11 AM
Gurtogg_Bloodboil Gurtogg_Bloodboil is offline

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Ravenholdt, Plunder Isle, Lordaeron, the Amani, Kul Tiras, the Malefactors, and the Elves

Namor had somehow found himself separated from his allies once again, leaving them in a very precarious position.

Namor Periandrius: Not good. Those scallywags have no chance of succeeding without my leadership.

“Are you so sure that their success is what you truly want, mighty Commodore?"

He whirled around. Namor thought he was talking to himself, and although he usually didn’t mind an audience, he’d really had enough of mysterious voices in the darkness and all the other mystical spirit-crap he was dealing with lately.

Namor Periandrius: Who’s there? Show yourself!

Stepping from the shadows was, to Namor’s eyes, a sensual and attractive human female wearing a veil and adorned in revealing lingerie - the really trashy kind.

Namor Periandrius: Okay. Not what I was expecting.

“But not entirely disappointing, I should hope?”

Namor cocked an eyebrow.

Namor Periandrius: Get down to brass tacks, honey. I’ve no time for foreplay.

“Very well. Why are you here, Namor? Why are you really here?”

He sighed, dropping his arms and loosening his stance.

Namor Periandrius: I presume you’re going to tell me.

“Smart man. You and your history are not unknown to me, Commodore. You have always been motivated by self-interest. You were denied godhood when it was within your grasp in Kul Tiras, and now you have allied yourself with the very individuals who robbed you of your grand destiny. And for what? Petty revenge for your death, since undone, and the destruction of your ship?”

Namor Periandrius: Well… I really liked that ship.

“I can give you more than a ship.”

Namor’s gaze moved to the mystery woman’s rockin’ tits. The pangs of his sex addiction tugged at the back of his mind, held at abeyance only by the thinnest shreds of his steely resolve.

"More than those as well. Abandon the fools you came to this place with. Slay Men’heva and his lapdogs. Do so, and I can make you a god in the new world that is to come."

Namor smirked, moving towards the veiled woman.

Namor Periandrius: Do you really think Namor Periandrius a fool? Do you think I don’t know who you are…

In a violent motion, he ripped the veil away from her face. Behind it was a snake-like maw that was totally messed up.

Namor Periandrius: …Ula-Tek?

Ula-Tek: It was no secret, Commodore. Nor was my offer a lie. I can offer you godhood. Unlimited power, endless lust, endless sex, untouched by time, unmoved by fate. It’s what you have always wanted.

Namor Periandrius: And all I’d have to do is sell out every other man, woman, and child on the planet by ushering an Old God into Azeroth?

Ula-Tek: Well, not all of them, but essentially yes, that is the bargain.

He thought it over for a few seconds.

Namor Periandrius: Never liked them anyways. You've got yourself a deal! But before I sign the dotted line, we should consummate our new business relationship…

---

Van Dam had his doubts that the pagan gods could have done anything against the Dark Titan that was literally boiling the oceans even if they did awaken at the end of the Age of Men’heva. Yet, a part of him hoped Varia had survived, even if by now that timeline had been indelibly altered and she may never have existed... or come to exist... or whatever. Time travel was frustrating. The truth was it mattered little, since Men’heva’s attempts at an unnatural Awakening always resulted in unprecedented destruction.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: Right, live for the moment and all that @#$%, great. What do we do at this moment?

It was a good question. Van Dam didn’t have an answer, but someone else did.

Jallan: If I might interject, the Awakening can be stopped without actually interfering with Men'heva's ritual to kill Ula-Tek.

Everyone looked at the strange and heretofore unimpressive old man that accompanied them.

Jallan: Men’heva is using the assembled Mirror as part of a ritual known as “the Constellation.” The ritual is a circuit, essentially a sealed loop. If we can interrupt the Constellation’s flow, say by extricating the Frame from the Mirror, we can still direct the energy unleashed to kill Ula-Tek. With the circuit then broken, Men’heva will have no mechanism by which to attempt his Awakening.

The others were silent, absorbing what had just been said.

Electra Wrathchild: Who is this guy again?

Myrokos Silentform: Friend of Greystone, showed up with him at Karazhan. Warren said he helped him out in the dungeons of Hochstein.

Kid Gorgeous: I’ve known Warren for a long time. He’s of impeccable character. A friend of his is a friend of ours.

Relfthra: Be that as it may, one does not simply happen upon knowledge about Men’heva’s ritual.

Erbag: Yeah, I’d say that definitely counts as some “specialized information.”

Warester Van Dam: Who are you “Jallan”? If that is your real name.

Jallan: Nothing less than the truth, then. My name really is Jallan, but only because I have recently been reborn. For millennia, I was known as… Xaxion Drak’eem.

Those in the assembly who knew were startled.

Cathia Malana: Who is Xaxion Drak’eem?

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: A big pain in the collective ass of Azeroth. We shouldn’t trust this mother@#$%er.

Jallan: Please, it is like I said, I am Jallan now. Xaxion's vision was clouded by the Old Gods, indeed I even tasked your ally Periandrius with killing me to alleviate that corruption. But I am no longer burdened with that taint. At this moment, I want nothing more than to spare Azeroth from Ula-Tek’s malfeasance and prevent Men’heva’s misguided attempt to force the Awakening.

Time was running short, and the group was clearly contemplating what move to make.

Krasus: Grand Master?

Warester Van Dam: Well, it’s the best plan I’ve heard so far.

On that, there was agreement. Everything now rested on Jallan's plan and their ability to execute it.

The group hastily fought their way upwards towards the top of the mountain that had morphed from the Shrine they entered before. There, at the mountain’s pinnacle, Men’heva conducted his ritual. Cutting down gorgons and other monstrosities as they moved, it was an obstacle from an unexpected source that truly barred their way.

Nozari: Some kind of magical barrier has been erected around the mountaintop!

Relfthra attempted to dissipate it with the newly christened Eye of Dalaran, but to no avail.

Relfthra: It isn’t arcane in nature. I’ve not encountered this particular brand of magic before.

Lethon: I have…

The green dragon interjected as the source of the barrier appeared before them in a ghostly visage. It was the former Amani leader turned Loa, Jin’thek. Oddly enough, he was not alone.

Warester Van Dam: Percy?

Percy Fayette: Oh, hey guys. What are you doing here?

Lethon: There’s no time for this. Jin’thek, I am your friend. You must trust me and drop this barrier immediately!

The loa looked down in silence, as if contemplating his next move. Lethon knew Jin’thek to be extremely deliberate, but he could not afford to be so now.

The ground began to shake once more. Cries rent the air, at first sounding like agony until the assembly realized it was the twisted sound of joy as emitted from the foul gorgon horde. Their god had come.

They were in the presence of a grotesque mockery of reality whose disturbing otherness could not be encompassed in any mortal tongue. The worlds had blended to the point that Ula-Tek, the Old God, had finally escaped its prison and crossed over into Zul’Aman. The thing was not just terribly frightening because it was a hideous, festering blob of infinite malevolence, but it was also depressing and lent itself to the fatalistic implication of being insignificantly powerless before such a vast, unknowable and fundamentally alien entity. This thing, Ula-Tek, bore a fearsome and unnatural malignancy. And at the base of this unfathomable cosmic monstrosity, Namor Periandrius was fucking the shit out of it...

Myrokos Silentform: Wow.

“Cruel Barb” Friendly: What the...

Kid Gorgeous: Oh my stars and garters. Now I really have seen everything.

The end was nigh.
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  #1573  
Old 05-12-2013, 06:25 AM
Ashenmoon Ashenmoon is offline

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CORIN’S CROSSING
Turning darkness into light, Mathredis' spell relocated the council at Corin's Crossing to the blasted terrace of the Sunwell.
Arcane power flickered quietly from its upset surface, brightening the skies. Towards the horizons stars struggled their last impressions upon the world. It was warm. Many shed the winter-thick robes they had donned for Strattania, for here summer had arrived in truth. In the distance, birds sang, softly, unheedful of the world's changing.
Mathredis grasped the amulet in one fist, and with the other, shed the Shield of Veth'talia. Where he would go it was of little consequence.
This was what he had waited for, worked for, longed for.
"Master..." he whispered, stepping into the golden-glow waters.



ULA-TEK
Cold-feeling, Seranidan stared silent into darkness.
"They are gone," supplied an Exalted, pointlessly.
Spitting-furious, Seranidan returned to the chamber they had left - finding the Alchemist's charred corpse. There was no question of it now. The Shrine had betrayed them, led their foes around their defences. And the Lord-Exalt had played willingly - unwittingly - into its hands.
"Go," grated he. "Send all to the centre. The enemy is already past us."
Rushing-running, the Benefactors streamed to their most-protected secret. Of all their ancient lives, their many battles, no besieged gates had been as important. Beyond that post-and-lintel gateway strove the Prophet to resurrect the gods while destroying the corruption that had seized them.
The Benefactors found their sentries sprawled, dead, failed.
Wailing, they entered the abode of the gods.
*
Vast and dark grey the flatness spread out. In the distance stood a solitary, conical, peak. There light and droning voices marked the Prophet's location.
The interim crawled with motion.
Reptilian-like creatures barred the way, gorgons of myth, launching themselves against the Carapaces of the Exalted. Lights screamed into the darkness, rewriting existence in crazed chiaroscuro. The ashes of their bodies were blown away by an unseen, unfelt wind.
The Benefactors burned a path through Ula-tek's minions, howling their desperate defiance until they reached the mountain.
*
Ula-Tek manifested.
Defiance became despair. Seranidan beat against their shields, dragged the worthless-faithless up the slope. Gorgons fell over themselves, celebrating their god.
Ula-Tek towered, encompassed.
"Forward!" he screeched, over and over, voice torn away by a Ula-Tek wind.
Ula-Tek upended, twisting reality. Up was Ula-Tek and down was Ula-Tek. Vertiginous imbalance seized them, crying Ula-Tek upon their cheeks, begging Ula-Tek to save them -
And - the tower-top, Men'heva's bastion - flared, torch-like, sun-strong.
The Prophet, laughing, triumphant:
"I have you!"
The Ula-Tek shuddered, shivered.
  #1574  
Old 05-12-2013, 12:40 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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The Amani

The gorgon army swept across Zul'Aman, scattering the young trolls as well as the old. Their advance was checked by reinforcements which had arrived with Nuvazgal, but the gorgons were relentless.

Atal'jin magic brought allies from across Azeroth. Knights of Stormwind charged into the flanks of the gorgon army and withdrew. Gurubashi exploited the breaches in the gorgon army created by them, before falling back themselves. On the other side, the agents of the Malachite Hand assassinated the gorgon leaders and set up ambushes and traps. Even with such firepower, it was inevitable that the gorgons would overrun Zul'Aman. There was no way to mobilize enough soldiers from the front lines in time, and if Nuvazgal tried, he would lose the war against the human kingdoms. He could not afford that to happen.

Then an explosion radiated from the Shrine of Zul'Gruc'Jen. From aboard the airship, Nuvazgal knew that something terrible had happened. The Loa had fallen completely silent. In the eerie stillness, something lurked. The gorgon army howled with triumph, and the sky began to turn a sickly purple.

"She comes." a witch doctor groaned.

"Are you sure, mon?" Nuvazgal asked, smashing his axe into the floorboards. "The mistress? Is it as they said?"

The witch doctor began to mumble nonsense, clawing at his face. He took off running and fell off the airship. Had it been a moment of madness, or did he want to die?

Chilled to his core, Nuvazgal turned towards Ba'jal, who was holding the Zin'rokh.

"I have to go to him, mon." Ba'jal said.

Nuvazgal nodded.
"Jin'thek needs you. But how are you going to get inside? We can try fly the airship over the Shrine..."

"There is no need." Then Ba'jal walked towards the edge of the airship. Nuvazgal extended his hand to stop him, but it was too late. Ba'jal jumped.

When Nuvazgal looked over the side, he saw that Ba'jal had wings; no, the wings were not his. Ba'jal was flying atop Sun'jeng, towards the Shrine of Zul'Gruc'Jen.
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  #1575  
Old 05-12-2013, 12:43 PM
devius devius is offline

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Kul Tiras

Before Fizzlebang approached, Joachim had been drifting in and out of consciousness. He’d only properly awoken just moments earlier.

“Uncle? Uncle it’s me, Harald.”

Joachim stared at his nephew in bewilderment before he broke into a stupid smile. “Harald? So I succeeded! You’re alive and Geddorath is dead.”

The boy nodded. “That’s right, uncle.” Then he took on a more serious expression. “You saw it, didn’t you?”

Joachim’s smile died out as he remembered his final moments with Geddorath. “I-it was beautiful. I can’t help but feel like I’ve ruined something great. Was- was killing him a mistake?”

Harald shook his head solemnly. “No, you did the right thing uncle. What you saw was memories and wishes merged together over thousands of years, not the truth. It was merely Geddorath’s dreams.”

“But how can you be so sure?”

“You spent seconds linked with the demon; I spent weeks. In my coma I had nothing to do but delve into his several lifetimes’ worth of memories. His mistakes and shortcomings are... familiar to me.”

Suddenly Joachim’s eyes widened and he shrieked in horror.

“No no no, this can’t be right! I died. If I’m talking to you, then you must be dead as well! I failed you, Harald. I’m so sorry!”

“No, Uncle, listen to me! We’re both alive!”

But Joachim couldn’t hear him, his gaze was unfocused and he wailed silently about death and failure.

Cyssia quickly approached and pushed Harald out of the way to look at the whimpering baron.

“Why is this happening to him?” The boy asked anxiously.

“He put a dagger through his heart, naturally his body is convinced he’s dead. We need to convince him he’s alive.” The elf said as she began to roll up her sleeves.

“And just how do we do that?”

“By the most basic of means - pain.”

Joachim Alten howled as Cyssia pressed a hand against his bloody chest...


“Uncle, let me handle this. Take your time to recover.” Harald said and stepped between Joachim and the intruders. The baron tried to raise a hand to object but Cyssia pushed him back down.

""Well done Misses Fizzlebang." one of the freaks hissed, and pointed a finger at Joachim Alten. "Those are the ones who carry the gifts of Lord Geddorath. They are the key!"

“Leave my uncle out of this, please. I’ll discuss these gifts with you.”

There were three intruders. One was the tall gnome woman, who was pleasing enough to the eye and did not seem dangerous. But behind her was a scaly old man, and somebody who looked like he could have been a priest. The gnome lady had a concerned look on her face, and Harald wanted to trust her. When she tried to get close, however, Cyssia cracked a whip of magic.

“I’m just trying to help.” the gnome said. “My name’s Shortee. We need you to help save many lives. Will you hear us out?”

“We’ve just completed the task of saving our own. Whose lives are these and why should they concern us?”

Without a sound, the priestly man glided across the room, ignoring Cyssia’s threats. His face had more wrinkles than a man can count, and his eyes never focused on any single thing.
“I talk of the lives of all the wretches on Azeroth. This world deserves more than the tyranny of gods, and eternal suffering. You were in the master’s head, beautiful child.”

“Enough dogma, Tsath.” the scaly old man said for the first time. Despite his horrific features, his expression was kindly.
“Harald Alten, there comes a time when the struggle to be king of the hill must be surrendered. Our own lives are seconds in time. You know this. Your uncle fought for what he thought was right. Will you do the same?”

“I’ll be the judge of what’s right or not, once you tell me what it is you want me to do.”

“The master bred a race from the flesh of the gods.” the priest, ‘Tsath’, began to grumble. “A race capable of killing the gods. You were both in the master’s head. Your uncle can force them to do his bidding, and command them against the armies of Ula-Tek!”

“You mean the angels?” Harald cast a glance toward Joachim. “I don’t know if my uncle is capable of controlling them. His experience was... Limited.”

Joachim met his gaze. “No. I feel them. I’m sure I could control them if it’s for a good cause.” He began to stand up.

“Uncle, don’t. Even I am not sure if I could do it. You could easily lose control and get yourself killed. Give me this chance to repay my debt to you. Just stay and rest.”

Joachim staggered forward and put a hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “I didn’t save your life just so you could run off and put yourself in danger. Wherever you’re going, we’re going together.”

“The boy shows his wisdom. He is agreeing with us, I believe?” the scaly one rasped.

Harald nodded. “It would seem so. Now where are we headed?”

“Your deeds will inspire generations to come, if fortune wills it...” Tsath said. And with a surge of arcane power, he began to open a portal. “This way.” He motioned.

Harald turned back to Joachim once again. “I’m sorry for being selfish, uncle. But I just can’t let you come to harm.” Suddenly, shadowy tendrils sprung up from the ground and held Joachim in place as Harald stepped into the portal.
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