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Old 02-27-2010, 02:23 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon Home, Sweet Home

This is a continuation of storylines from my earlier works. Namely, The Rage, Blood and Light and Stonetear.

Quote:
Sven Yorgen spied his arguing brother and father from the second floor of the house. He gripped his knees tightly, biting his lower lip and leaning forward. His little brother, Eric, was leaving home for a distant city in the company of a visiting stranger.

"Dad! I have to go! It's... I can't stay. I'm not meant for plowing fields and harvesting crops. I've got a talent for, you know, magic."

Their father was a large man, now past his prime. When he spoke, he usually wasted few words and got to the point. "So you are better than the rest of us, then?" Eric blushed and Sven couldn't help but feel a small flame of ire in his soul. His brother's reasoning for travelling away did sound like he thought he was too good to become a farmer like his father.

The boy stammered: "No! That's not it at all. I respect you and Sven more than anyone else in Azeroth. It's just that I don't feel... I don't think I belong here. At least yet. I need to go to Dalaran and learn to be a wizard. I'm sure Duskwood will use me when I come back in five or so years."

Father sighed and sat on a chair. Sven expected him to continue arguing, but instead he spoke in a voice almost too quiet for the elder brother to hear. "If that's what you really think, son, then you should go. I could use you for the farm, but if you think you'll be happier as a wizard, then I won't stop you..."

Eric stayed still for a moment and stared at the man before him. Sven felt a tingle of jealousy now. At the age of fifteen, Eric was going to travel farther than anyone in his entire family had been in five generations and learn magic.

Eric sat next to his father and hugged him, his eyes watering up. "Wizards can be nice people. Grandpa was always talking about that Roland fellow who did some study in the cave..."

The old man scoffed. "They don't call the cave Roland's Doom for nothing, Eric. Promise me you won't blow yourself up."

Eric laughed, with tears flowing down his face. "Of course I won't."

They stayed there, embraced, for a few minutes. Sven's feet were starting to cramp from staying still for so long. Eventually, father spoke: "When Göran Yorgen and his family travelled all the way through Khaz Modan into Azeroth in search of a better homeland, they were looking for their destiny. I guess you're doing that now, too, son..."

Eric nodded his head and wiped some of the tears off his cheeks. "I promise I'll be back and help support everyone, dad."

Father stood up and helped his son on his feet. He opened his mouth, but said nothing. The two stood in awkward silence for a while, and then Eric took his possessions and walked to the door, taking a deep breath.

With nothing to say, Eric turned and walked out the door, vanishing from the lives of his family. At the top of the stairs, his brother slowly stood up and snuck into his room. Pushing his face against a pillow, Sven tried to sleep. The oppressive silence frightened him, so he opened his mouth and begun to sing a song his mother had taught him years ago while breastfeeding an infant Eric:

"So far away from my home, sweet home
Day by day, from land to land I roam
Though told by the wind which way to go
Oh, how I long for my home, sweet home

I left my village to go see it all:
Seas that are so deep and mountains so tall
But even as I watch what I see with great awe
The wounds of my soul are always so raw


All I have with me is my travelling gear
Of a place that grows more distant year by year
Over foreign plains, under the same sky
It all grows dull to my ever-weary eye

I walk the great roads with my head cast down
How did this happen? I should not frown
And yet as I walk, I look left and right
Nowhere, I recon, is my home in sight


When I gave up and reached my homeland
My village was burned, nothing left but sand
And even as I stand on the mountain, by the sea
I now know the truth: there is no home for me

And even as I stand on the mountain, by the sea
I now know the truth: there is no home for me
"



HOME, SWEET HOME
A work of fan fiction by Kerrah

Prologue



Many a year later, a being named Druj sat still and stared at the events taking place on the plane of mortals. Ignoring the featureless dark gray land around himself, he peered beyond the veil. His hands shook from rage. He had failed twice now in a row. First his attempts to free himself through the wizard from Shadowfang Keep had been foiled, and now that useless elf Senvasi Feylight had managed to ruin his back-up plan.

The Prince of Three Horns almost forgot his fury as he witnessed something. Northwest from where he had last physically been, a woman in blue was tapping into the primal energies of the cosmos. In the void between dimensions, her magics hit Druj like an earthquake hits an unsuspecting village. He leaned in and observed as she battled a death knight. She was using a magic her sisterhood had forsaken a thousand years ago.

There was a reason they no longer used it. Perhaps it was best if she were reminded of that, Druj decided.

From between the ruptured fabrics of reality, he thrust his hand and grasped the woman. She screamed as he snatched her, announcing: "Welcome, servant of the Azure God, into my prison."

He threw her aside, smirking as she waved her arms at him while picking herself up. "Your magics are no good here. And don't even think of running away. Get used to the scenery, we will be here a long time."

The woman looked around herself, her mouth open. Druj returned to following the goings-on at Azeroth. He had done that for sixty years to gain himself two minions that might aid his cause. Sixty years of nothing but watching. And now it was for nothing.

When he had first come here and attempted to fully appear on Azeroth through a dwarf named Thurgrim, Druj had been humorous and easy-going. Since then, there had been an... event which had caused him to be unable to leave. Abandoned right outside the metaphorical walls of Azeroth. He could peer through the windows and stick a hand in once in a while, but was unable to get in or leave it altogether.

The years had worn out his humour.

"Ahem." The woman suddenly spoke. The towering being before her turned his gaze to meet her tiny eyes. She continued in a matter-of-factly manner: "What are you?"

Druj took a while, thinking. Eventually, he decided not to answer at all. The two of them settled for silence.

Several hours passed without much anything happening. The woman soon realised she did not need to fulfill any biological needs in this space. It was an eternity of nothingness. Druj felt a primal feeling of happiness from having condemned someone else to his fate.

The beginning of a lonely eternity were broken up when a blue glow suddenly erupted before the strange pair. The devil stared at it lazily, sitting still, while the mortal woman was leaning in, inspecting it more intently. Despite his general hatred for mortal life, Druj had to admit she was keeping her head level in a situation such as this.

A window of magic appeared in the space and the face of an old human stared through. For a moment, nobody spoke. Then the man licked his lips and begun: "I summon thee, Druj, the Three-Horned Devil."

This was something new.

The devil stood tall and stretched a hand to touch the bluish object. He felt a projection of his awareness being magically created in another place as a means of allowing him to communicate with whoever was behind this. In a few seconds, he found itself in a dark room, in the middle of a circle of magic, facing the mortal.

"I will not be summoned by some paltry wizard in his dungeon like a demon would", Druj spoke angrily without wasting a moment. "Be quick in telling me why I should not undo your life for such insolence." He surveyed its surroundings angrily, spotting three caped men nearby.

The bearded man knelt down. "I am sorry to do such an unseemly act. Please excuse me. I would suggest you not kill me, however, since meeting me may yet be of use to you." He stood up and looked the devil straight in the eyes. "I am Hiraxen."

Druj measured this mage. He seemed like a strong spirit, mighty in magic too. He was talented enough to summon the devil from the Abyss. And what was even more surprising, he knew Druj's name. "How do you know of me?"

Hiraxen pointed behind him, at a table filled with numerous books and scrolls. "I have pieced together your existence from numerous accounts of your first emergence here. I had trouble discovering your true name for the longest time, though. The memoirs of your prime mortal agent contained it, though. She had hidden her diary well, and I ran to it half by chance...." He paused, obviously suppressing a need to go into further detail. "Thus, I came to know of you."

Druj continued: "It is clear to me that you are in want of some kind of a deal. The kind I offered her. I will not even bother speaking with you unless you have something to offer me. More than yourself and a few followers. I can sway the heads of a couple of insignificant wizards in several days. What more are you lot?"

The old wizard smiled now, and pointed at one of the caped people, who was holding a tray covered by a white sheet. "I am different from just any wizard because I have this."

He pulled off the sheet and revealed a gnarled piece of wood. "The Scythe of Elune."

Druj stared at the object. "So, it is your lot who stole it away from the elf. I am near Duskwood, am I not?"

Hiraxen hesitated. "My minions did not steal it from her. I only realised someone was carrying a truly powerful magical object through the land after she had gotten herself killed, when a local bandit accidentally activated its powers. I sent my Dark Riders to find it, and they eventually tracked it back to a cave named Ronald's Doom."

Druj couldn't help but ask: "Dark Riders?"

The wizard sighed. "It's just an intimidating name the peasantry thought up." He took a moment to compose himself and continued: "I did not know you were related to the scythe."

Druj folded his arms over his chest. "It is my doing that it exists, you fool. The Scythe is a nexus of dimensional magics, created when an archmage named Arugal cast a spell that allowed him to summon beasts from another planet. A part of the nexus appeared to him, ready to be used for his purposes. Its polar opposite appeared elsewhere in Azeroth, in the hands of a night elf woman. Should the two be reunited, they will be undone."

Hiraxen nodded his head and said: "You inspired Arugal... to summon the worgen in the first place, then?"

"Yes", the devil said. "He caught onto me not being the ghost of his deceased master before long, but he still used my idea. That is, after he struck me with a spell that prevents me from leaving the void surrounding Azeroth and returning to my own home-world." He stopped before going on a rant, and to cool himself off thought of the pathetic death Arugal had suffered.

The wizard looked down and rubbed his chin. Thoughtfully, he asked: "Then you should know what we can do with the scythe, right?"

Druj's lips bent into a smile and he said: "Oh, yes I can. It may take a few months to get it done, but trust me, mage, it will pay off."

Hiraxen offered a hand to the ethereal figure before himself. "This shall be a profitable alliance to us both, then."

The Three-Horned Devil shook the man's hand and stared into his soul. If not profitable, it would at least be interesting.
I felt going through some of the more obscure plot points was necessary. I doubt even most people here who read The Rage remembered how exactly Druj played into its events.

Oh, in case you're wondering about the name, it was revealed in Stonetear.

I've still got some unfinished stuff to do, but I'll get to chapter one very soon.
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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; 03-02-2010 at 12:08 PM..
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Old 03-01-2010, 07:19 PM
Drz Drz is offline

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I wouldn't mind if you do a small synopsis on each character added with a picture (WoW modelviewer go go!) on the characters. Seemed like a decent start, tho i can't remember much from Druj, if nothing at all.

Also if you can answer already, unless it's told later on the story but what are your Dark Riders? Demon worshippers? Death Knights? Wraiths? :p
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Old 03-02-2010, 11:01 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon

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Originally Posted by Drz View Post
I wouldn't mind if you do a small synopsis on each character added with a picture (WoW modelviewer go go!) on the characters.
I recon it's much easier if you just read the story and see new characters introduced and old characters reintroduced. I'm going to write this so that new readers can jump in here if they want.

Also, if I wanted to use the model viewer, I'd have to install WoW on my computer and patch it. Not worth the bother.

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Originally Posted by Drz View Post
Seemed like a decent start, tho i can't remember much from Druj, if nothing at all.
Everything you need to know is right there. He's an evil thing from outside Azeroth who's tried to manifest in but has failed.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pliny the Elder
True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

Co-creator of UFS, a joint urban fantasy setting.
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  #4  
Old 03-08-2010, 02:15 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Darkmoon Card: Blue Dragon

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Chapter 1



Sven Yorgen swung the hammer down, hitting the nail hard a few times. The chilly wind of an early autumn hit his sweaty body through his shirt, making him shiver a little. He wiped his forehead and picked up another nail, putting it in place.

Repairing his long-abandoned family home was plenty of work. Perhaps too much for one man. Sven had tried to get help, but he'd not found anyone available. Even Lars, his third cousin, with whom he had lived and worked for two years, had left north to fight the Scourge and couldn't be of any help.

Everyone had expected Sven to go to Lordaeron after the many dangers of Duskwood had been defeated. Most members of the Night Watch had. "The world is in danger of being devoured by evil and you can help stop it." They had said to him, as well as: "What sense is there in rebuilding a home if the country will be invaded by the Scourge?"

What they hadn't asked, despite all thinking it, was: "Why stay here when you have nothing left here anyway?" Sven stayed his hand and, for about the fiftieth time today, took a quick look at the spot of ground in front of the house's main door, where he had found his wife's body, and the corpses of their children.

He shook his head and tried to think of anything else. If he didn't, he wouldn't get any work done. Continuing the hammering, Sven looked at the work he'd gotten done thus far. The house had been practically torn apart by the Defias thieves while they'd inhabited it, and had been further damaged by the pair of adventurers who had "freed" it from the bandits. He had started repairing it after leaving the Night Watch half a year ago, but work had gone slowly. A storm two months ago had caused a tree to fall onto the roof, forcing Sven to rebuild it again, right after finishing for the first time. He was just now getting to put the tiles in place.

The lonely farmer reached behind himself, taking a couple of more tiles from the pile behind him. The pile was put above a large, rough fabric which served to increase friction and prevent the tiles from sliding down and breaking. Just as he was about to start putting them in place, he heard the noise of hooves. Three hooded figures were riding toward him on the road coming down from the main highway. Sven cautiously dropped down from the roof and grabbed his bow, quiver and sword. Even with the undead and worgen defeated, one could never be too careful nowadays, with all these orcs and who-knows-whats running back and forth to the Dark Portal through these lands.

He held his hand in a greeting and yelled: "Good day to you! Who are you and what is your business?"

The horsemen stopped a respectful distance away. Their cowls covered their faces. "We are merely passers-by. We would seek a bed and some food if you have to spare", the foremost one politely said in clear Common. Yet, he did not uncover his face.

"Only if you pay well and don't cause any trouble", Sven said. "Also, I'd prefer if you didn't hide your identities." There was something about this man's voice. He sounded oddly familiar.

The rider shook his head. "I'm afraid that last term will not do. I will gladly pay you double if you forsake it." He took a look at the house behind Sven. "What has happened to the house?"

The farmer blinked. "The house? Who are you?"

That hooded head turned a bit, and light reached a pale chin. "I... used to be from around here. Now answer me: can you house us for the night?"

Sven didn't let himself be derailed. He now had a guess. "Show me your face. Now."

The rider stayed silent. "If you will it..." He reached a gloved hand up and removed the hood, revealing a face of rotting flesh and glowing eyes. His companions did likewise and also turned out to be undead.

Sven felt himself frozen for a second, then he moved so as to take out his bow.

"Oh, please", the man said and the fiery orbs in his eye sockets rolled upward. "You really think you can overpower us three? We're professional killers hunting a traveller. Just tell me if you've seen someone... dead, like us, or hiding their appearance. He's in the presence of two others and should be around these parts."

Sven thought about it. He didn't really have a chance against all three. "I haven't seen anyone in the past month", he said simply. The three assassins shared looks and then started to dismount, probably intent on killing him and sleeping in the house. He took and arrow and nocked it. "If I were you, though, I'd reconsider. I'm a two-year veteran Night Watchman. Sure, you'll probably kill me, but can you spare the time it takes to mend your wounds before you chase after your hit again?"

Nobody moved for a moment. Then, the leader of the assassins let out a gravelly laugh. "You make a decisive argument, Yorgen. But still, I doubt you like the idea of dying that much. We're going to take the barn. And just so you know, we'll keep an eye out so that you don't vanish to inform the guardsmen." He started walking his horse to the stable, but stopped halfway there. "Oh, and one more thing: I'd prefer some kind of food, so we don't have to eat the chickens."

Sven watched them go, still keeping the bow ready. He wondered how they'd react when they realised he didn't have any chickens yet. They settled down at the stable and watched him watch them. He wondered what to do. They were right, he didn't want to throw away his life. After a moment's deliberation, he decided to just serve them some of his porridge and leave it at that. "Live and let... unlive", he muttered while going to get his coat.

After putting on the coat, he grabbed his axe to chop some firewood. While getting started, he resolved that whatever the case, he wasn't going to sleep a minute that night.



A dozen minutes before midnight, someone knocked the door loudly. Sven almost fell off his chair. To pass the time, he'd been reading an old journal in the central room of the house.

He hesitantly crept through the room, taking the time to cautiously finger the rifle mounted above the fireplace, and opened the door slightly. "Who's there?" He asked, seeing only vague shapes in the darkness outside.

"We seek three warm beds for the night", someone said. "We can pay you."

Sven almost burst out laughing. "I'm sorry, I'm already housing three people. There's an army encampment half a mile east of here. I'm sure they'll let you sleep there."

An awkward silence overtook them for a moment. "Can we sleep in the barn, then?" A female voice called.

"No, you can't", Sven insisted. "I'm sorry I can't help you." He hoped they would go away before they could cause an incident of some kind.

The figure closest to the door leaned away and whispered something with his companions. After a second, he pushed close to the crack of the door, bringing his face into the light. "Uh, hi, Sven."

It was Eric. Sven recognised the face from the first moment. He stepped backward for more room and promptly punched his brother's exposed face.

Sven opened the door and stepped into the doorway. His little brother way now laying on the ground, blood flowing from his nose. "You. Go away. I don't want to see you", he said angrily. Two other people were standing by, looking at Sven and Eric in shock. He didn't pay any attention to them.

Eric was climbing up, on his feet, and saying something indistinct. Sven shook his head. "No, I don't want to hear your excuses. Get out of here. I have nothing to say to you."

"I'm afraid I'll have to object to that", a voice called from Sven's left. The assassins were standing there in a formation, each holding serrated blades. Their leader pointed at one of the people travelling with Eric. "We caught you, Windfarer."

Oh, of course, Sven thought. It's a small world after all. He backed up a bit and drew his sword while out of the others' view, just in case.

The person the assassin was pointing at thrust out a hand and sparks flew around. Sven looked at his face for the first time and saw he was undead, like the assassins. He was missing his chin and had untidy hair.

A flash of light appeared before the blade-wielding men and vanished. One of them chuckled. "You idiot. Do you think we'd face you in battle without preparing for your particular kind of spells?"

The third traveller, in addition to the undead man and Eric, threw off her cloak, revealing a short, muscular orc underneath. "How about this particular kind of spell?" She yelled while casting some kind of death spell at them. The assassins ducked and dodged, and some kind of a wavy sphere flew past them, hitting the stables, which promptly exploded outwards. The assassins' horses died.

One of the rotting men threw a pouch at their foes, releasing a large cloud of crystalline dust. Eric started coughing, waving a hand clumsily. His fingers sparkled with magic, but nothing happened. The jawless wizard muttered something indistinct. One of the assassins rushed at him and kicked him in the face, loudly announcing: "Yes, you could say we were also prepared for the spells we didn't know of. It's called spellburn dust. Severs your ties to ley lines."

Another one started slowly advancing on the orc woman. He let out an agreeing grunt and added over his shoulder: "Very expensive, but Lady Sylvanas told us to spare no expense when she ordered your death." He stopped for a moment to sigh sadly. "But that was then. Now she's dead and the Forsaken are no more. And I bet it's all your fault, you traitorous Scourge-scum." Even though his words were obviously aimed at the undead wizard, he charged the orc, knocking her backwards and putting a blade on her throat.

Sven opened the door and stepped out. "Stop it", he said.

The assassins blinked their eyes and turned to watch him. "Pardon?" One asked.

The farmer lifted his sword up, holding the blade on the palm of one hand. "I said stop it. Let them go."

The head of the trio stepped forward, leaving a comrade to keep an eye on both Eric and the undead mage. "Or what? Are you going to try to kill us?"

Sven started slowly edging right, keeping the old broadsword at the ready. He decided to change the subject. "Why were you ordered to kill these three?"

The assassin kept their distance fairly short, ready to strike at any moment. "The mage, Jeremiah Windfarer, also known as Dab'ra Soulburn, deserted the Forsaken mere minutes before the Scourge plot to annihilate our very people started, an obvious proof of his true allegiance. The three of us were some of the only ones allowed to leave the rest while we hunted him down."

Sven stared into those soulless, hate-filled eyes, trying not to blink. "So, now your people are dead. I have paid attention to the news from the north; that was almost a year ago. What, you three have been hunting this person down for a year because he left you? You could have been out there, searching for survivors or fighting the Scourge to ensure no one else has to suffer the same fate, but instead you cling to this hollow revenge."

The man lowered his gaze and exhaled. "Yorgen, I do not want to extinguish your bloodline. Step down and let us do what we owe to our dead kind."

Sven had had enough with this secrecy. "Who are you, damn it? How do you know me?"

"I don't know you", the assassin said sadly. "I knew one relative of yours, an Åke Yorgen, back when I lived here decades ago. He was the man in this house. You look like him. But that was in another lifetime."

Sven remembered grandpa Åke. He didn't stop to think about the man, though. "Let the three go. I don't want to see anyone else die on this yard." He took yet another quick look at that spot of ground.

The assassin saw the movement of his eyes and backed a step. He didn't speak. The two of them just looked at each other for a while, and then the undead warrior charged.

Sven ran backwards, rushing behind the corner of the house. He threw his sword into the ground and instead violently pulled the fabric hanging down from the edge of the roof. He ducked sideways, just evading the eminent mass of falling roof tiles, which instead all fell on the assassin charging right behind him.

Sven carefully picked himself up and found his opponent laying in the ground, his head cracked by a tile.

The farmer turned to look at the others. "He asked me if I was going to try to kill you three. I will not, since only fools try something instead of doing it."

The closer of the two remaining assassins grabbed a couple of throwing knives from his belt. Sven dove behind the stock of lumber he was keeping to fix the barn with. A knife zipped past him and almost hit his legs before he got them behind cover as well. His sword was laying a good distance away, out of cover.

"You're unarmed now, farmer", a voice called. Sven covertly remedied that fact without showing himself. He heard the very soft sound of footsteps closing in and shifted his weight lightly. Standing up, he came face-to-face with the assassin and swung his hand. Sven's hatchet found itself in his exposed neck.

While his opponent fell backwards, trying to keep green liquid from escaping his veins, Sven rushed toward the door of his house. He needed to get something from inside...

The last assassin attacked him in blind anger, leaving Eric and the others completely unguarded. Closely followed, Sven rushed through the door and at the fireplace, reaching for the gun mounted above it. He yanked the weapon free and turned around, pointing it at the assassin and pulling the trigger.

Click.

"It works better with bullets and powder", the assassin muttered and raised his curved sword, ready to strike at a cornered Sven. The farmer threw the rifle at his opponent, making him recoil back a step. The orc standing right behind him stuck one of his comrades' swords into his back.

Sven grabbed a fireplace poker with his right hand and smashed the man in the face with it. He fell down, unconscious. The orc woman was standing there, silent. Sven dropped the poker and instead stretched out the hand. "The sword, please."

She hesitantly handed it to him. The blade was soiled with green goo, but looked very sharp. Sven grabbed the assassin's collar and dragged him outside, leaving a trail of the stuff on his floor. When he had the senseless assassin outdoors, he cut his throat without wasting more time.

"Did you take care of the second one already?" Sven asked no one in particular, and got no answer. He couldn't help but roll his eyes and walk to the lumber-stock, past his dumbfounded brother. The second assassin had bled to death, the fire extinguished from his eyes. Literally. Sven took a look at the one crushed under the tiles. Dead as well.

"Unless there's more than three around, we're safe for now..." Sven muttered and dusted his hands. He looked around. "Where's the wizard? What was his name... Windfarer?"

Eric pointed a hand out. "I think Dab'ra went into the woods..." He didn't finish, leaving Sven wondering whether the undead could cry.

It didn't matter right now. He turned to face his brother. "Did I punch you already?"

Eric touched his nose and smiled weakly. "You did. It hurt, too."

Sven punched his face again, knocking him into the ground. "Good", he said and dusted his hands again for effect. "I'm going inside to make some tea. If you're going to join me, you'd better have a damn good explanation for all of this ready."

As Sven walked into the house, he heard the orc help Eric on his feet and say: "I like your brother already, Laterbrus."
I've had this chapter planned since the time when I was still writing Blood and Light. I think I botched the execution of a good idea somewhat, but it's still okay.
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Quote:
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; 04-06-2010 at 01:20 PM..
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Old 03-09-2010, 01:13 PM
Inquisitor Inquisitor is offline

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerrah
Sven Yorgen swung the hammer down, hitting the nail hard a few times. The chilly early fall wind hit his sweaty body through his shirt, making him shiver a little. He wiped his forehead and picked up another nail, putting it in place.

Repairing his long-abandoned family home was hard work, and Sven had tried to get help, but he hadn't found any.
A sound description of physical activity that, while well described, does not trespass into verbosity or floweriness, there remain a couple things I’d like to point out. “The chilly early fall wind” could perhaps use a comma after “chilly” if only to give the ear a short rest between the use of “ly” consecutively. Secondly, I would suggest replacing the “hard” in “Repairing his long-abandoned family home was hard work” with the word “difficult” (or some other suitable synonym) since you used that adjective recently a few lines earlier. Repeating some words is inevitable, even in short spans of text, but I have always been instructed that it is to avoided if possible, unless artistic reasons instruct otherwise.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerrah
He shook his head and tried to think of anything else. If he didn't, he wouldn't get any work done. Continuing the hammering, Sven looked at the work he'd gotten done thus far. The house had been practically torn apart by the Defias thieves while they'd inhabited it, and had been further damaged by the pair of adventurers who had "freed" it from the bandits. He had started repairing it after leaving the Night Watch half a year ago, but work had gone slowly. A storm two months ago had caused a tree to fall onto the roof, forcing Sven to rebuild it again, right after finishing it for the first time. He was just now getting to put the tiles in place.
Events themselves almost seem to be pushing Sven out of his home and life. The slaying of his family, the attack by the bandits, and the falling of tree, thereby pitting Sven against many of the forces in the world- everything from evil men (the bandits) to chance and nature (the tree falling). That the narrative recounts these events immediately after Sven is asked why he is rebuilding is further indicative of his attachment to normalcy. The use of sparse internal monologue and suggestive glances at important places (the spot where he found his family’s corpses) achieves more than a lengthy lamentation on what has happened. In other words: so far, so good.

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Originally Posted by Kerrah
Plenty of time later, a handful of minutes before midnight, someone knocked the door loudly. Sven almost fell off his chair. He'd been reading an old journal to pass the time.
I am not sure the phrase “Plenty of time” works in this case. It is not exact enough to the situation, mostly in that the word “plenty” suggests that Sven had some use for the time in order to accomplish something, whereas we find him passing the time idly. I would suggest changing it, even to a more generic expression like a simple “Later.”

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Originally Posted by Kerrah
Oh, of course, Sven thought. It's a small world after all. He backed up a bit and drew his sword while out of the others' view, just in case.
Things are a little too neat here, but not unbelievable- seeing as how we have only hints as to what sort of trouble Eric has gotten himself into, and of course Eric would expect his brother to provide reliable shelter, what with his being an experienced member of the Nigth Watch. Sven’s complaint, annunciated in the form of a cliché, makes the scene a touch comic, which makes it easier for the reader to accept, I imagine. Good job.

About the fight sequence: the verbal exchanges were all right, though perhaps unnecessary. I guess it depends on one’s imagination, but in a fight I suspect that taking time for discourse is a poor use of time. It’s too easy to fall into hackneyed expressions, which I think you edge a little too closely to here with each side remarking on their techniques, when the all-knowing narrator could explain them without adding arguably hard to believe dialogue to the scene. Still, the fight, while brief, had many interesting elements, had good turns to it, flowed nicely, and certainly kept my attention.

I’ve always struggled with fight scenes, and so I have no further advice. Overall, I’d say the chapter is a success, since it introduces all the elements necessary for a great story. I look forward to more. I hope my comments have been helpful.
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Old 03-09-2010, 02:06 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Sven’s complaint, annunciated in the form of a cliché, makes the scene a touch comic, which makes it easier for the reader to accept, I imagine. Good job.


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I hope my comments have been helpful.
They have, even if I can't comment back on most of them. I'll get to fixing the wording problems tomorrow.
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Old 03-19-2010, 04:36 PM
Zula Zula is offline

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Well after all the stuff Inq said, I can only say I am waiting for the rest of this.

EDIT:By the way thanks for that wonderful explanation of what the Lampshade effect is.
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Old 03-20-2010, 03:02 AM
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Well after all the stuff Inq said, I can only say I am waiting for the rest of this.
I've got a few things that are still in the way of being able to fully focus on HSH. I'm currently armwrestling with myself on whether I can actually finish "Faith".

Still, second chapter isn't that far in the future.
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Old 03-29-2010, 05:07 AM
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This is probably the best piece of writing I've ever read from you.
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Old 03-29-2010, 02:23 PM
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This is probably the best piece of writing I've ever read from you.
Wow. I'd thank you, but I don't think I'm able to put into words how great that makes me feel.

I'ma have to get busy again.

The bad thing about this fic is, it's based on so much earlier stuff that the early chapters will be very exposition-heavy. I'll have to be careful with chapter two.
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Old 04-01-2010, 08:47 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Okay, I think I'm done. I hope this meets everyone's expectations for the follow-up:

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Chapter two


Sven lit a pipe and sat in his chair. He eyed the three travellers who had identified themselves as Laterbrus, Kra'osha and Dab'ra. Laterbrus was, in truth, Sven's brother Eric. The other two were a young orc woman and an undead wizard missing his chin.

"So", the farmer said, scratching his chin. "What brings you to these parts?"

Eric awkwardly stretched his head and muttered: "Well, we're here to find a powerful magical item that someone told us came through here."

"Uh-huh", Sven said. He wanted to be angry at his brother, but he just couldn't help but put aside their differences for now. This could be important. However, he was confused and wanted things laid before him so he could understand them properly. Sven had always been a bit slow. "But please, tell me how you ended up here! What kind of adventures led you to this point?"

As Eric begun explaining it all, Sven found himself surveying the two companions. The orc was almost as beautiful as his former wife. She looked tough and determined, like the sort of person who didn't cower or blink, no matter what odds she faced. She was probably the most powerful of the three as well.

Sven's brother spoke: "Well, we met each other near Dalaran. I was working for my master, Arugal, who got killed so I ran away. These wolf-people told me to get The Book of Ur, which had been stolen from Arugal, so I went to get it. To get it, I needed help, so I turned these bunch of people into wolf-people because... well, I guess I was lonely. We caught up with the person who had stolen the book, only to find out it was my master's other apprentice, Esca. He got away.

When we caught up with him, he was crazy and wanted to kill me, but I fought him. But then, he got possessed by an evil devil-spirit from beyond who almost killed everyone. Just when it all looked like we were doomed, we were all saved by Kra'osha." He gave the orc an adoring look. Sven knew he'd been right about her now.

Eric continued: "Then, when we could finally send the wolf-people home, I turned my allies back into people and stopped controlling them. We'd become friends, though, so nobody was offended and we decided to hunt for the Scyhte of Elune together."

Sven stood up and slammed his hands into the table. "The Scythe of Elune?" He stared at his brother in shock. "That is the item which led by family to... being killed." He averted his eyes, which were filling with tears, sobbing a bit.

Eric nodded his head and frowned. "I'm sorry for your loss, brother."

Sven sat back down and, wanting to change the topic, asked: "But all of what you talked about happened a year ago. What have you been doing all this time?"

His brother was about to speak, but the jawless wizard got there first: "Whuvebuunwuustuhngtume. Hudduseeluhvarthuseeuhnback suhthutsluhvuhbuhcuhldgehpusthuh."

"Aah!" Sven said, nodding his head and smiling. "That explains it all."

Eric smiled too and took a sip of tea. "So, do you by any chance want to join us on our quest?"

Sven shook his head. "I'm not going to leave home like you did. I've been here all this time, and I owe it to our parents to stay here and keep the farm up. And besides, I have no reason for wanting to join you in this quest, especially since I'm not interested in the Scythe at all."

Dab'ra spread his hands and pointed out: "Yuhbuddyuhcunractsuhsyuhhavdacum." He gestured at the house around them. "Whuhwulddyuhubssahssuhverthuhhusohnehvai?"

The farmer was left without an answer to the question. "I guess you're right. I'll come with you."

Just then, someone knocked on the door. Sven rushed to open it, only to find the Dark Riders at his doorstep. They were dressed in black and rode motorcycles.

"Where did you get those things?" He asked in shock. "They don't fit the setting at all."

They laughed at him and said: "We got them from Northrend. Everyone drives one nowadays. But now, it's time for you to meet your doom!"

"You don't mean...?" He shouted in terror.

"Yes", they confirmed. Their leader took out a laser gun and shot him dead.

The end.
Everyone knows the real reason Laterbrus turned them into worgen was because I like the idea of a young geeky wizard magically controlling women who have been transformed into furries a little too much.

Or, in other words, april fools, everyone!
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True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

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Old 04-04-2010, 12:05 PM
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I loved how our zombie friend talked. It made me rofl teh mao.
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Old 04-04-2010, 01:01 PM
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Okay, I think I'm done. I hope this meets everyone's expectations for the follow-up:



Everyone knows the real reason Laterbrus turned them into worgen was because I like the idea of a young geeky wizard magically controlling women who have been transformed into furries a little too much.
Holy shit, thats potentially my new signature.
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Old 04-06-2010, 03:17 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 2


Sven took a very long sip from his mug of tea, eying the trio across the table from him. After returning from the woods, the undead man had wordlessly refused his cup. Eric looked like he would be sick any moment, but kept playing with the tea like he was going to drink it any moment now. The orc had taken a gulp, made a disgusted face and given up on it.

They'd decided to only bury the assassins tomorrow, none of them feeling up to the task after the events just before.

"I think introductions are in order", Sven said. "I'm Sven Yorgen... though my brother may already have told you that."

The others nodded absent-mindedly. The wizard didn't seem very enthusiastic to start talking, so the orc did so instead. "I am Kra'osha, daughter of Her'osha, apprentice of Khinrak. This is Dab'ra. We have been travelling with Laterbrus... uh, your brother, for a year, now."

Sven scoffed, and rolled his eyes at Eric. "Laterbrus? Nice wizard name you picked for yourself. That's Elven for, what, a deserter?"

The younger brother gave an annoyed sigh. "Please, I'll explain some other time. I just got home. Uh... where's dad?"

Sven felt his blood boil for a second. He controlled himself, however, by squeezing his tea mug as hard as he could for five seconds. After that, he exhaled and shook his head. "And why is that? What brings you... home?"

Hesitantly, Eric took a sip of tea. "I... uh, we're actually just passing by. We're following a series of leads into this area. An investigation, you know."

"Uh huh. Can I expect more murderers to come threaten me at my home, or were those the only three?" Sven asked, drumming his fingers on the table. The undead wizard visibly winced at this question, and Eric sighed sadly.

"I'm sorry for Dab'ra, he's... well, we didn't know that his people had been decimated until just now. I hope you can see why he's a bit... uh, distressed."

"You didn't know? It's been almost a year. How have you missed news like that for all this time?" Sven was starting to get curious now. What kind of events had bound this group of three together?

Eric seemed to notice his big brother's interest, giving him a blank look before telling: "Well... Dab'ra left his comrades-at-arms before that, to join us at... well, it's a long story. But the main point is, he joined us. Afterward, he knew he'd be branded a traitor for leaving their ranks at a critical moment, so he stuck with me when we left Lordaeron for our current quest. We had to take a boat to Kalimdor, so we managed to buy a place in the empty cargo locker of a ship bringing supplies to the war front.

It took us an eternity to get to Kalimdor, and with all this magical transportation of nowadays, I bet the fall of the Forsaken must have been old news at that point. In the coming months, we were in little contact with anyone, travelling to the woods of Ashenvale and scouring them for the source of an elusive rumour I'd heard during my apprentice-hood.

We did find it, eventually, in the northern reaches of the untainted woods. Accounts of a night elven sentinel who had used a magical artefact to summon beings from another world to fight the demon invaders. You can't imagine the effort it took for me to get to Teldrassil and investigate on her disappearance, but eventually I got another lead. She had headed south.

We followed vague rumours and the like for a good part of the spring and early summer, before finally getting a reliable word-of-mouth at the port city of Ratchet. The night elf had taken a ship across the sea. Following her trail, we took a boat to Stranglethorn and then travelled north." Eric ended his story my smacking his lips, unable to think of anything more to say.

Sven decided to motivate him. "The assassins have been following you all this time?"

"No, I don't think so, really." Eric said, scratching his chin. "I don't know how long they've been on our trail, but we never noticed them until last night. We camped out at a mountainside and saw three riders go past us on the road. They must have thought we were farther this way than we actually were."

Sven rubbed his eyes, thinking hard. "One of them said he'd lived here. Knew our... my family name. Who the hell was that?"

Eric could only shrug, but the wizard now lifted his gaze and put a hand before his mouth. His disgusting, lolling tongue spasmed, causing some kind of noises that should pass for speech. On top of that, an artificial-sounding, metallic voice spoke: "I knew those men. Had met them before. The leader was called Matthias Eva. He lived in Grand Hamlet as a young man. Died in the Second War. Resurrected in the third."

"Ah!" Gasped Eric. "That explains it. He must have lived alongside Grandpa Åke before the war and all of that. Maybe dad knew him too. Thank you, Dab'ra."

The wizard shrugged modestly. Sven took a breath. He had just about had enough. "Eric. Would you kindly come with me. I need to show you something."

Eric took a moment before nodding. The two of them stood up and Sven led his brother out through the back door. Eric's two travelling companions shared a look, both wondering what this was about.

Once the two of them were outside, Sven calmly walked to the edge of the forest. He listened to Eric's footsteps behind him and idly fingered the mouths of his pockets in lack of anything better to do with his hands. He stopped before gravestones between the pines. Eric stopped behind him and mumbled some phrase under his breath. Sven pointed at the tall one.

BO HJALMAR YORGEN
2774 - 2816
HUSBAND, FATHER, GRANDFATHER
REST WELL IN THE ARMS OF THE LIGHT

"Father's body could hardly take the work it took to feed everyone, even after I grew up and helped him as well as I could. He never complained, though. When the year came when you were supposed to come back from... from wizarding school, he said you must be taking an extra year, and insisted we wait. Next year, he agreed we'd send a letter to Dalaran."

Sven's eyes were watering. Eric looked uncomfortable, but managed to keep his eyes locked with his brother's. Sven continued: "When the answer came, when we got a letter from the academy, saying you'd been thrown off two years before that for practicing demonology... How do you think he took it?"

Now Eric did avert his eyes. Sven pushed him, knocking him backward. "Well, in case you're too dumb to get it, you killed him, you little twit. The doctor may have said it was the booze, but you're the reason he drank it until he died. You..." The elder brother turned around and grasped his own hair, cringing. "I hope you're very satisfied, Laterbrus. Just... don't ever mention him in my presence again."

Sven started to walk away, only to look at his stunned brother over his shoulder once more. "Mother's gone too, but at least she died happy. Or as happy as anyone can be, having you as a son..." He didn't feel like going into details, so he just left. Behind him, Eric was left sitting in the damp ground, looking at the gravestones. Beside his father's, there were three. They were less ornate, and simply read:

ANNA HELENA YORGEN
2796 - 2823

KARL HJALMAR YORGEN
2817 - 2823

TOBIAS ALFRED YORGEN
2818 - 2823



Sven entered the house and sat back on his seat. The orc and the undead man gave him questioning looks. "Laterbrus wants a moment alone..." He said and faked a violent cough to get an excuse to wipe the tears off his face.

After taking a sip of his only mildly warm tea, he felt like talking about something. Trying to think up a subject, he ended up lamely asking: "So... I guess you three don't get to sleep indoors very often."

The two shrugged. "You get used to camping out after a while", the orc said, smiling a bit. "It beats sleeping on a boat any time of the day."

Even as Sven nodded, he felt like something was wrong. This was an orc he was talking to. In the chaos of things, he'd really not had time to think about it that much. Pushing it out of his mind, he said: "I've been on a boat twice in my life. Had to guard a ferry up the river to Stormwind, and then back with a shipment of arms. That was two years ago. If bandits had attacked us, I wouldn't have even noticed because I had too much trouble standing tall in the rapids."

Both of the others gave a chuckle at that, though in the case of the wizard it sounded like a dog choking on a bone. The orc said: "You can't believe what it was like when my people migrated across the Great Sea, to Kalimdor. A lot of us had been born on the prison camps and had hardly seen the sea before. Few could even swim..." She trailed off momentarily, her smile turning into a puzzled expression. "I think I was going somewhere with that..."

Sven couldn't help but laugh. The wizard put his hand before his mouth and spoke in the metallic tone: "You forgot the part when you got to the islands."

She slapped her forehead. "Yes! Thank you, Dab. We stopped halfway through on a chain of volcanic isles. Everyone I knew was so relieved to see land that they didn't get it was just a momentary stop. They were already planning where to build their home when we got the word to sail out again because the islands were collapsing. A couple of them were so desperate to stay on land that they had to be knocked out and carried on-board to prevent them from staying and drowning."

Everyone laughed. Sven drank the rest of his tea, and the orc took another sip, though she still didn't pretend to like it. Eric came in. He looked calm and distant, eying them all for a moment. "I think I'm going to retire for the night to go through my notes again." Nobody said anything, so after a moment he wandered toward the stairs.

Sven hastily stood up. He hadn't thought about where everyone would sleep. "Uh, we can only use two of the bedrooms upstairs. The roofing isn't finished over the third one, so it's as cold as sleeping outside. It's obvious one room goes to the lady. There's two beds in the other..."

The wizard lifted a hand, requesting attention for a moment before speaking through magic again: "I do not need a comfortable resting place. I can take the cold room." Sven nodded, relieved of that much. He looked at Eric again.

The brother nodded. "Our old room, then."

Sven nodded and sat back down. He was just about to say something, when he was interrupted by a voice behind himself. Eric had started loudly humming a haunting, slow tune. He'd never heard it before, but it sounded. He sat still, listening, until Eric closed the door upstairs and the sound was too distant to hear properly anymore. Shaking his head, Sven leaned forward and asked: "Anyone want more tea? I don't feel sleepy yet."



The next morning, everyone was silent. The wizard was lurking around the house, looking at various items with mild curiosity. The orc ate her breakfast and thanked for it, but then fell into a brooding, thoughtful state. Eric visibly flinched when Sven reminded him they'd have to bury the assassins, and seemed curiously disturbed by the upcoming deed.

The farmer had had time to think through the whole chain of events, and had decided to play it cool for now. He still wondered about their motivations, but felt that he wouldn't get a straight answer even if he asked. He'd just wait until they left and then would continue his life. He was close to getting the house finished, and the two extra rooms could house some farmhands to get the fields up and running for next spring.

"Let's just get this done with, okay?" He said finally, feeling they'd already postponed things enough.

They went outside and gathered the bodies. The one crushed under the roof tiles was in pretty bad shape. To his annoyance, Sven realised he'd have to get more tiles from Darkshire to replace the broken ones before he could finish the repairs of the roof.

The grave for the assassins was dug at the edge of the forest, opposite from the Yorgen graves, in two shifts since only two people could fit to work on it. Sven and the wizard dug the first half, while Eric did the rest with the orc. Nobody had an eulogy to give, so instead the wizard levitated the dirt onto the dead bodies and everyone stayed silent for a minute. Sven wondered if the men had been good people following foolish orders in desperation, or if they'd become assassins out of sadism and wickedness.

They walked back into the house in an awkward silence. Eric turned to his companions and said: "I think we'd best get going right away. Who knows how far the Scythe has got by now, considering how long ago the elf arrived here."

Sven stopped dead on his tracks. It couldn't be a coincidence. "The what?"

Eric opened his mouth and excitedly said: "The Scythe of Elune! You've heard of it?!" His companions looked more cautious about it.

Sven remembered the words he'd read in Jitter's journal. The account on how he's wife and sons had been killed:

Quote:
"The Scythe of Elune", one of the Riders shrieked in a voice both harsh and shrill, like the grinding of an axe on stone.
"I read about it somewhere."
As I said, exposition-heavy.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:14 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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It was a good chapter; but good is a lame word.

I do not think it was nearly as good as the first one. There were several things I'll point out that bothered me; such as the dialogue coming from Kra'osha and how Sven reacted to the two companions. I loved how he reacted to Laterbrus and his exchange over his parents... the demonology part was especially touching.

So the characterization of Sven is actually pretty good, except you made too little a deal out of the epic journey that Laterbrus and his friends underwent to Kalimdor and then all the way to Darkshire. I didn't feel it as plausible how the assassins suddenly picked up that trail and were so close after the trio vanished into Kalimdor and then got to distant Darkshire. It's a long way from Silverpine.

These are just details - what I felt would have strengthened the whole passage was that the mention of the Scythe had happened on the first day. That the trio could rest easy and make idle chatter about the unrelated volcanic Darkspear Isles seemed out of place considering the length of their journey.

I think you need to put some tension and some feeling of greater and darker powers at play to make the story feel more serious.

That is what you started doing in the first chapter!
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:34 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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I want to defend my choice of adding pointless chatter. There is no way you will accept these character as people who are in this "epic journey" due to their own choices if I don't give them a chance to show that they have traits outside those vital to the "epic journey". The reason Kra'osha ended up being so bland in The Rage is that all she was was another character who joined the ride, fought in fights and said a few lines of exposition here and there.

I still intend to portray almost all of this fic from Sven's point of view. That makes it vital to give the other characters depth through their actions and words. And yes, idle banter about boat trips is a part of that.

If I come to think that I'm not up to this task, I'll start giving the other characters POV chapters to "take the easy way out" and narrate their thoughts and feelings instead.
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:37 PM
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I know what you mean, I realised that myself recently.

HOWEVER, I think that it needs to be in context of what is going on and also appropriately timed. It needs to feel realistic and in character and right for the moment.

Also, the piece didn't really characterize Kra'osha much if that was the goal - I felt it just made the scene feel like one where they were saying "Oh don't worry about Laterb! Let's have a chat. Mission? What mission? Relax. Let's use some good humour."
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Old 04-07-2010, 12:41 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Sven isn't on a mission. He's at his home, drinking his evening tea with complete strangers after killing three trespassers.

You know, an average Thursday night.
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Old 05-02-2010, 11:19 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 3


Sven sat and tried to listen as his brother read Jitters' journal aloud, all the while nervously tapping his foot against the floor. This was the second time, now. On the first, Eric had just read the whole story from beginning to finish. Now he was taking his time, discussing points he felt were important with his two companions.

"But why did Jitters simply touching the Scythe cause the Worgen to appear? That doesn't match what we heard in Kalimdor", the orc mused. She idly trailed the intricate golden lines running along the hem of her red robe with a finger.

Eric nodded, but then wagged a finger in realisation. "But that's just it. She left to see Master Arugal because the Scythe was starting to summon them on its own. When it came in contact with this man, it leaped at the chance to fulfill its function."

The jawless wizard spoke through magic: "You theorised that the Scythe was linked to Arugal's summoning rift. If it was, Arugal's summoning of worgen could have affected the Scythe."

Eric opened his mouth to agree, but was interrupted by Sven, who stopped and lifted a hand to demand attention. "Look, can you stop talking about this... thing, like it's your study experiment. What it is is a dark tool of fel forces. Tell me something productive instead of all this mumbo-jumbo."

The orc stepped forward, folded her arms and grandiosely said: "Mumbo? Perhaps. Jumbo? Perhaps not! Now sit down and let the adults do the talking, kid."

The farmer was left blinking. If there was any kind of comeback to that, he couldn't think one. Instead, he sat back down and stopped trying to follow the conversation.

What was particularly disconcerting was that she had made the last part sound very commanding, even though she was the youngest person in the room. Probably. Maybe orcs aged slower than people did. Sven wondered why he was so calm about being in the same room, about sleeping in the same house, as an orc and a undead man.

He'd never seen an orc this close, though. When he was a kid, Grandpa ke told him stories from the war. He'd made it sound like the orcs were snarling beasts. Sven had seen a couple from a distance during his time as a nightwatchman. This, though... She was just a tall, muscular woman with green skin and an accent. It was hard to treat her, or think of her, as one of the monsters from ke's stories when she was much closer to a normal human being to one of them. She didn't even have fangs.

His eyes turned to look at the undead wizard, Windfarer. Sven had fought plenty of skeletons, ghouls and what have you in the past years. Those actually were brainless creatures only intent on killing. In a way, it was very disconcerting to see a creature of rotting flesh stand tall and speak nonsense with mortal wizards.

This was like that time two years ago, when Sven had found a wounded troll, probably an agent of the Horde, out in the woods, along with three burned corpses of undead creatures. He'd actually came very close to merely putting it out of its misery, but in its pain-induced unconscious raving fit, it had started repeating a word. He still didn't know what it had meant, but it'd sounded eerily like the name of his wife, Anna.

After some deliberation, Sven carried the troll to his and Lars' camp to tend it back to health. Lars had at first refused to help, but Sven had argued that the poor thing could have a family at home, waiting for it to come back. A week later, the creature had left. It didn't speak Common, so they never got to know why it was in Duskwood or anything else about it.

People hated the orcs because they had once ransacked this land. This one didn't seem intent on that, and was too young to have been there in the first place. Sven had a much better reason to hate Eric, who he knew had done a horrible, selfish thing that had caused suffering to their parents. To Sven himself. He sighed tiredly, leaning his chin against a fist. He wondered what Grandpa ke would think about his grandson worshipping demons. Their father had made his opinion quite clear in his last couple of months.

"Yeah, so I think we can conclude on the note that four licks is quite enough", Eric said and turned to look at his thoughtful brother. "Sven, I think we're done here. Do you want to know the 'productive' parts?"

The swing from his own dark thoughts into his brother's lighthearted mood felt confusing to Sven. He grumbled and looked into Eric's eyes expectantly. "Well. We'd like to talk to this Jitters in person, if he's still around here."

Sven shook his head. "He left Duskwood ages ago. He's probably still afraid of being hounded by those things."

Eric made a disappointed face. "Damn it. I really wanted to ask him for notes on how to write prose. Even though this is a diary written by someone half-mad from terror, it's better written than most novels I've ever read." He chuckled to himself.

Sven saw red right then. He stood up and grabbed the collar of his brother's shirt. "This is an account on my wife's death you're holding in your hand. We're talking about your nephews, slain in the search of some piece of wood that Jitters found. I'm not in the mood for jokes, Laterbrus." He clenched his teeth together for a while before letting go and stepping back. "Try to convince me you care one bit and tell me if there's anything useful in there."

The others shared a look amongst themselves. Eric took a moment to gather his thoughts and started: "Well, Jitters may have missed details that seem inconsequential to him, but that are crucial to finding out who exactly these.. Dark Riders are and what they want." He opened the journal and found a specific page. "But aside from that, I really can't say there's much to it without additional knowledge..."

Windfarer, the undead mage, leaned forward and asked: "Who are these Dark Riders? Jitters assumes the reader knows. He says they are from Deadwind Pass many times. Aside from that, nothing."

Sven waved a hand into the east. "Aside from just that, their place of origin, nobody knows a thing. They just appeared at one point. I think it was some time before the worgen started appearing, but it could be that we just took a while before we ran into those wolf-folk after Jitters' incident. The riders killed someone in the mountain path leading to Deadwind and then were spotted riding in the eastern and southern parts of Duskwood a few times before... they came here."

He took a breath and looked at everyone. "After that, they were spotted going around the place, searching for something everywhere for the next two months. At one point, a few nightwatchmen saw them entering the house of Morbent Fel in the Raven Hill Cemetary. They exited the place without killing him, so it's safe to say they were allies in wickedness until Fel was killed two years ago."

"And they aren't around anymore, then?" The orc asked, idly running her short, green fingers along the surface of the board. Her fingernails looked like she had a habit of biting them.

Sven nodded. "Their reign of terror was fairly short-lived. They just took off one day, spotted riding east."

Eric started pacing now. "It's probably dumb to ask, but has anyone been to Roland's Doom since that?"

Sven saw where this was going. "Yes. It was raided to root out the Worgen ages ago. I wasn't there, but I'm fairly sure I'd know if someone had run into an unlightly monster-summoning artefact while there."

"Fairly obvious the Riders took it. I assume nobody's seen them since they left Duskwood." Windfarer said, nudging his head east.

The farmer liked this no-nonsense approach. He smiled and said: "No. Several groups of adventurers have tried locating them, but nobody's been lucky thus far."

"I guess we'll break the trend, then", Eric said and turned to face his companions. "We've faced harder challenges thus far, and I don't think any of us is willing to give up this quest at the halfway point." He smiled and offered his hand. The three of them joined their hands as a pile for a moment. Sven was surprised by the amount of comradeship between these three. Maybe being on an adventure did that to people.

"I guess you'll be leaving later today. Don't want to waste any more time", he said and leaned back. He couldn't wait to put all of this weirdness behind himself. "I wish you luck. If there's anything you need that I can give, ask for it. I may consider giving it to you."

The orc, Kra'osha, cocked an eyebrow. "For a moment there, I thought you were coming with us."

Sven stared for a moment. "Why would I do that?" He asked.

She shrugged. Eric waved a hand and awkwardly started: "Well, they did... kill your family."

"And?" Sven asked. "It's not going to bring them back if I hunt down the Riders."

An awkward silence fell into the room. Sven felt like going out and taking a very long walk. Maybe hunting for sport to take his mind off things. He remembered when his father had taken him hunting for the first time. It made him smile.

It was only a while after he'd sunk into his thoughts that Sven realised the others were now talking amongst themselves. They were debating on what kind of creatures the Dark Riders were. The farmer chuckled to himself. There had been a great deal of talk about that in Darkshire a couple of years ago. Many crazy theories, ranging from rogue knights to demons.

"Whoever it is behind them, he or she knew of the Scythe the moment it activated at Roland's Doom. The Riders probably entered Duskwood less than a day after that", Eric said, leaning backwards and chewing on his lip. "They may be related to the Scythe in some way. Wish we had a Worgen to ask for more information on this..."

Sven blinked his eyes. "Those things can talk?"

A brief silence. "Why wouldn't they?" Asked the orc.

"Can every other mindless beast speak, then?" The farmer asked.

He saw the corner of her eye tic, and instantaneously knew he'd hit a sore spot. Eric rushed in to get the discussion to less dangerous waters: "Yes, they can speak. My master, Arugal, even got them to speak Common. Some learned it from a mind link with him when he summoned them, others had to be taught by me and his other apprentice, Esca. They have their own language, though."

Sven swallowed and scratched his head. "Well, I guess some of the demons do talk too, according to the stories..." The orc let out an annoyed growl, giving him a murderous look from under her brows.

"Excuse Kra, she has... experience in just how wrong you are in this subject", Eric said, looking just as serious as she did. "They are folk, like you and me and her and Dab'ra."

Sven shook his head and scoffed. "If they were folk and not beasts, then why did they run rampant on these lands and slaughter anyone they came across?"

Silence. The farmer shook his head. "Regardless, I think you'd best know that there are Worgen you could talk with left."

"You said they were killed", the orc argued, looking confused.

Sven rolled his eyes. "I said they were rooted out of Roland's Doom. Some were imprisoned for study. Matthias Evans keeps a few caged near Darkshire. He's thinking about breeding them."

She grasped his collar, her lips parted in a snarl, with her teeth showing. For that short moment, Sven saw that she had been born with fangs, like a beast from ke's tales, but they were filed down so they didn't normally show. "Take us there. Now!"

He did not cower, but stared her down and asked: "What's the magic word?"



Despite the huge temptation to chase the three of them away and never see them again, Sven decided to take them to Matthias Evans' house. He knew they could have found it without him, but he was concerned they might get out of control and kill Evans or something. After all, Eric was still a warlock. And this orc too, probably. Sven hadn't yet heard of an orc wizard, and he was sure he wouldn't as long as he lived on Azeroth.

They rode east along the main road, staying alert in case they ran into anyone. It probably wasn't a good thing for Sven's continued years at the farm if the locals associated him with warlocks, orcs and the undead. At least all of Eric's group had gotten real, living horses, so it was hard to notice anything strange about them from a distance.

Near Darkshire, they left the road and continued northeast in the forests. Sven idly fingered his sword more than once. Even without the undead and worgen running wild, Duskwood was too a dangerous a place for him to afford a lack of vigilance. They took the forested paths, at times walking their horses forward due to low-hanging branches, and got to the Evans house late in the afternoon.

"So, who is this Evans fellow? I don't recognise the name." Eric said as they watched the large house with a small pen next to it from a nearby hill.

Sven patted his horse Patsy's muzzle and answered: "He's a former noble from Lordaeron. Moved here during the third war. He was an officer in the Night Watch." He looked at the lot of them and said: "I don't think there's a good way to convince him to let people who won't let him see their faces go near the worgen so I guess Laterbrus will have to do this alone."

The undead wizard's fiery eyes vanished for a moment and he spread his hands. There was a slight purple glow and then he and the orc both changed into perfectly intact humans. The orc was a heavy-lidded woman with blond hair and the wizard was a tall man with brown hair, pale face and grey eyes.

Sven was left blinking his eyes dumbly. Eric poked his shoulder. "We avoid using it too much since it can be easily detected. Let's hope this place doesn't have anyone with magic in it..." They went down the hill and toward the Evans house.

Sven knocked the door. After a while, a man opened it. He was very tall, had broad shoulders and looked strong enough to fold a tree over his knee. He looked fierce for a moment before he saw Sven. Once he did, he looked repulsed. "Yorgen. What is it?"

The farmer narrowed his eyes. "Please, Major. Calm yourself. I came here to show your... collection to some passers by. I mentioned it in a discussion last night and they wanted to see it."

Evans scoffed and slowly said: "I guess I could give them the tour. You can wait here, Yorgen."

Sven felt like punching him, but resisted. He gave Eric a look saying 'restrain yourselves, now', and backed up, letting the others in. Evans closed the door. Before Sven could turn and start taking the horses to the stable, it opened again.

A dwarf stepped out and dusted his shift. He gave a dry cough before turning to look at Sven. Blinking his eyes, he suddenly started smiling and blurted out: "Why, hello there. Didn't know there was another person out here. You coming or going?"

Sven nodded his head. "Good day. I'm here with the others, but I'm not invited into the house."

The dwarf eyed him from head to toes, so Sven returned the favour. He had brown hair and a beard, though both were already starting to grey. He wore fancy travelling clothes with dwarven runes in them, but carried no weapon. "I'll keep you company while you wait for the others", the dwarf said.

"Thank you", Sven muttered, surprised, and quickly gathered the horses. He offered his hand and introduced: "I'm Sven Yorgen. Pleased to meet you."

The dwarf took it and shook it. "Thurgrim Stonetear, at your service."
Dun dun duuun.

edit: Yes, I know I said that's not his real surname, but there are both in- and out-of-story reasons for why he's changed it.
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:11 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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A little too much talking that detracts further from the tension and action that I have been led to believe drives a story forward at first. My only other complaint is that Sven still seems way too casual with this strange troupe and their strange requests. I like his gripes with Laterbrus - but then he seems to forget them one moment, and then get angry, but calm down again the next.

BUT.

These are minor details. As soon as they left the farmstead, things picked up considerably. I always find the hardest part of a story is the beginning. I liked Matthias Evans very quickly, and of course, the ending was a jaw-dropper.

So you're very much on the right track and I enjoyed reading it. You're gradually drawing me in. You left us on a cliffhanger, making me wonder both about mister Stonetear and the worgen too. Bravo.
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Old 05-03-2010, 07:39 AM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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The problem with this story is that there's A LOT of package from earlier fics that I need to cover in order to get it anywhere.

Luckily, that should be behind our backs now. Next chapter will still be dialogue-focused (Thurgrim-Sven and Laterbrus-worgen), but it'll be about new stuff instead of going through what we already, at least in some form, know. And once we get past it, we're home free for a long time.
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True glory consists in doing what deserves to be written; in writing what deserves to be read; and in so living as to make the world happier for our living in it.

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

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Old 06-02-2010, 03:00 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 4


Just before entering the Evans household with Kra and Dab'ra, Laterbrus saw his brother giving him a very fierce look. He could have sworn there were little flames behind Sven's eyes for that second.
What's up with the death glare, brother? Treating me horribly isn't going to bring Dad back from the dead.
Distracted by the odd moment, he almost ran into a dwarf putting on his coat just inside the house. Evans gave a surprised gasp and asked: "Mr. Stonetear, leaving already?"

The dwarf nodded his head, making his greying hair sway. "'m afraid I have to go. I've overstayed my visit as it is", he said in perfect, unaccented Common.

Laterbrus gave the stranger a curious gaze before he left without another word. Evans was quick to note: "An old friend of mine, Mr. Stonetear. He sold me this property."

Laterbrus took off his travel cloak and cocked an eyebrow. "Oh, does he live here in Duskwood?"

"Nah, he's some kind of a travelling businessman, I've been led to believe", he answered dismissively before offering a hand. "Matthias Evans, at your service."

Laterbrus, Dab'ra and Kra shook the hand, one after the other, and introduced themselves. Laterbrus could use his wizard name, while the other two had named their alter egos Gary Olin and Vera Jilley. After the handshakes, Laterbrus gave one of their stock explanations for their presence: "We are working for the Kirin Tor, tracking down possible magical weapons to use against the Scourge."

Evans bought the lie without a question. "Ah. A noble goal, that. And you think the Worgen have potential for that use?"

Laterbrus shrugged. "Perhaps. We have evidence they've been successfully weaponised against demons in Kalimdor." The former noble's face ticked visibly before he turned and started leading them deeper into the house without a word.
Apparently, Evans doesn't exactly have a poker face. He's obviously very surprised to hear such a thing.
Laterbrus surveyed his surroundings as he followed Evans, who after a moment cleared his throat and said: "I am very surprised to hear such a thing."

Laterbrus couldn't help but roll his eyes.

Kra nodded her head and said: "Don't be. It is only natural that elves would think their own lives to be more precious than those of some wolfmen from another world."

Laterbrus wanted to stomp on her toes to make her shut up, but decided against it. To their luck, Evans merely laughed at this comment. "I guess one could see it that way."

They were now in a mildly garish living room. There was a stuffed Worgen head over the fireplace, eternally baring its teeth at anyone in the room. Kra froze, staring at it with shock. Laterbrus sighed and poked her in the back roughly, wishing really deeply in his mind that she didn't start acting suspiciously now.
I'm so tired of having to be your nanny. Isn't it enough that I take care of myself?
They took seats and Evans poured four glasses of wine. After his visitors had taken polite sips and nodded their approval, the host started speaking in a very businesslike voice: "I am afraid I don't have many specimens for your use. All but the strongest of the Worgen have been dying in captivity, and even those don't eat that well. I'm pretty sure their mating rituals have to do with the lunar cycle, but they seem too shy to get on it and produce some pups."

Drinking the rest of his own wine, Evans sighed and vaguely gestured outside. "What I wouldn't give to get a chance to raise one of those from infancy, just to find out whether their bestial disposition comes from nature or nurture." He took a momentary pause and his voice switched from a dreamy to an opportunistic mood: "If you do manage to continue their race on Azeroth, can I trust my name will be put in the books of this subject?"

Laterbrus could almost feel Kra's teeth grinding against each other, only to realise he hadn't paid enough attention to know what Evans was expecting him to say. Luckily, Dab'ra managed to cut in smoothly: "That, of course, depends on the quality and quantity of Worgen that you can supply to us. To be honest, we're not here for idly pleasantries, so we'd appreciate if you just showed us to them."

Evans gave a wry smile. "Very well, then, Mr. Olin. I appreciate this no-nonsense thinking. They don't really have it here in Azeroth, whereas in Lordaeron efficiency is well-liked and appreciated." Laterbrus suppressed a groan.
I've been to Lordaeron and Azeroth, and I know you're just making things up to impress your foreign guests, Evans.
Everyone started to stand up. And now came the hard part, Laterbrus acknowledged as he licked his lips before speaking. "Is it possible for us to study the Worgen alone? Without your presence, that is."

Their host's questioning look made Dab'ra give out the excuse they'd made up: "Some of the spells and reagents we use to test controlling them are very... unique, and we can't afford to let people know of them."

The former nobleman stood still for a moment, contemplating. Then, just as he opened his mouth, his eyes glanced over and he fell backwards into his chair, unconscious.

Kra shed her magical disguise, her fingers still glittering with magic. "This is easier for everyone", she said simply.

Laterbrus stood still for a moment. He couldn't bother to get angry right now. "We should probably check if there's anyone else inside the house before we go meet the Worgen."
This is the way to go, then. Let's stun everyone obnoxious and go through their house while they're unconscious. I guess it's okay to do somewhat bad things to mildly bad people.


"So, Thurgrim", Sven started, not feeling like sitting in an awkward silence while the others dealt with Evans. "What brought you here?"

The dwarf swung his legs back and forth in a rhythm, looking at the forest as he answered: "I'm in Duskwood on an errand and I thought I might as well meet an old acquaintance while I'm at it." Stopping the movement for a moment, he asked: "What about your group?"

Sven shook his head. "I'm not with them. I just took them this far."

"Is that so?" Thurgrim didn't sound very convinced. "Well, I assume you know what the others with you want, then?"

Sven shrugged. He really didn't. "I don't care. I'm just doing a favour for someone I once knew."

"But you don't know him anymore." Thurgrim pointed out and kicked a small stone across the yard.

Sven leaned back. "He's not the same person anymore. Not after... what is it, fifteen years?"

"And do you think you're the same as you were fifteen years ago, then?"

The farmer sighed. For some reason, he got the impression that the dwarf was enjoying this. "I didn't... I may not be perfect, but I can't just outright forget everything he's responsible for."

For a moment there, Thurgrim froze. "There's a line between forgetting sins and forgiving them." Sven didn't really know how to respond, so the dwarf continued after a moment: "And besides, if it comes down to a question as simple as 'who is he', then it can't be that hard, can it? Go ahead and ask him who he is, and I'm sure you'll get a satisfactory answer."

Another silent while passed before Sven scoffed. "What am I doing, listening to advice from a complete stranger. Can't we just talk about the weather or something?" Feeling anxious, he stood up and paced a bit before looking at Thurgrim, who was still swinging his short feet back and forth.

"Maybe you're scared to know the truth, then", the dwarf said. "Perhaps you don't want to know who, exactly, he is nowadays."

Now this talk was getting very uncomfortable. Sven stared at the dwarf's blank face. "I'm sorry, but I don't think you're qualified to tell me how I should handle my relationship with my brother."

The dwarf stared for a while and then lowered his eyes, looking at his own feet. "So, what do you do for a living?"

Sven didn't feel like sitting down again, so he went to lean on a wall next to the bench. "I'm a farmer."

"A productive life, eh?" Thurgrim's voice was entirely polite, but somehow Sven knew he was going somewhere with this.

"Well, I don't actually get to grow anything yet. I'm still fixing the farm and making a list of all the equipment I need to buy. I'll get to it soon enough."

The dwarf nodded his head and made a 'm-hm' sound. "And then, with your life-choice secured, you get yourself a wife and a couple of kids and continue the family tradition, right?"

This couldn't be coincidence. Sven decided to not answer. Curiosity was overwhelming his feeling of being offended.

"Couldn't help but overhear that Evans doesn't particularly like you. Why is that?" The complete switch in topics almost made it sound like the dwarf had sensed he'd went into a touchy subject. Almost.

"I didn't go north and fight the Scourge along with almost everyone else from the Night Watch", he muttered. "Most everyone in Darkshire thinks I'm a coward. I'm just so tired..."

"A great future you're holding out for, then? An unsure income, hated by almost everyone and with no family there to give you support." Sven now felt his hands starting to tremble. He really wanted to do something harsh and stupid.

"What's your point, Thurgrim? Are you seeking to hire an assistant?" He asked, though he knew that wasn't likely.

"Old men like me don't make points", the dwarf mused. "That's why we make good politicians." Sven expected him to continue, but instead another uneasy silence begun to fall upon them.

"Is that all? You go all this way to establish that I probably won't be happy at the farm, and then you let it go?" The farmer crossed his hands over his chest.

Thurgrim "I figured you'd come up with the rest of it on your own. I've never been good with words."

Sven didn't have much patience left anymore. "I am going to ask you to leave me alone now. Do you have anything to say before that?"

Thurgrim shrugged. "What makes you think I'm going to leave you just because you demand it politely?" He asked.

"Would you please say your piece? I'm tired of this... this game." Sven made a defiant pose.

"My game's already past me", Thurgrim muttered. "It never got a satisfying conclusion, but it sure isn't going on anymore."

Sven gave the dwarf a stare that made him chuckle. "Never mind me. I think I'll just wobble to the town and attend to my appointments."

The farmer watched him leave in a slow pace. He said nothing, but thought plenty.



Laterbrus slowly walked into the Worgen pen, watching the lupine creatures back as they stared him.

He couldn't help but be reminded of the last time he'd seen one. It was after the incident in Dalaran, when they were starting their journey to get the Scythe of Elune. On their way through Silverpine, they had camped outside Shadowfang Keep and Laterbrus had went in alone, telling the others that he had personal belongings he needed to get. It'd been the truth. Sort of.
They wouldn't have understood if I'd explained it all.
There had been a Worgen inside. She had hidden from the Horde attackers who had raided the keep and survived the weeks since then by eating the flesh of her fallen brothers and sisters. Loneliness and fear had driven her rabid. There was no alternative.
My kind of magic isn't exactly meant to knock someone unconscious. It was her fault for attacking me.
Laterbrus shook the dark thoughts out of his mind and further approached the towering creatures. Opening his mouth, he reminded himself of their language and spoke: "I am Laterbrus. I know you can speak. Take this." Throwing them a huge venison steak he'd carried into the pen, he cursed his very poor understanding of Worgen. This might prove very hard.
I probably sound like a stereotypical 'zug-zug' Orc to them.
The largest of the creatures grabbed the steak and took a bite. He looked very pleased. Evans hadn't probably given them proper meat once since capturing them. "I am Nefaru. Why have you come here?" He asked and passed on the meat. He was probably the alpha, judging by how the others acted around him.

"I want to know where the Scythe is", Laterbrus tried to say. The Worgen shared looks with each other. He had probably messed up the words completely.

A Worgen who looked like she could be Nefaru's mate stepped forward and asked: "You are in league with the horsemen, then?"

It took Laterbrus a moment to understand the central words. After he did, he shook his head. "I want it from them."
Or, preferably, I want it without getting in conflict with someone that dangerous-sounding.
She didn't seem impressed. Nefaru took a hold of her shoulder and pointed Laterbrus with a finger. "Let us go."

He stood tall and held out a hand, conjuring a ball of black flame. "Or what?" Nefaru's eyes spread wide and it snarled, bearing teeth still red with blood from the steak. Crimson spittle flew onto the front of his robe.
Great. You're standing up to a wolfman twice your size with razor-sharp claws who's desperate to get past you and is backed up by half a dozen others. And some people think magicians are smart.
The female Worgen suddenly stood up between them, her green eyes looking into Laterbrus'. "The thing you seek is not far to the east from here. That is all we know. Now let us go."

He stared up at her for a moment before stepping aside. Nefaru wasted no time in rushing at the door in the fence, closely followed by the rest of his pack. Except for this one.

She leaned up to Laterbrus, their eyes still locked on each other. When she stopped, she was so close he could smell her.

"You may be against the horsemen, but that does not mean you are different from them", she said and roughly pushed his chest. He fell backwards into the ground and she ran out into the woods without looking back again.
Women...


Sven was tending to the horses, softly whispering soothing words while petting their muzzles, when the others stepped out of Evans' house. He turned to look at them and asked: "Did he give you much trouble?"

"Much less than we expected", the Orc answered very quickly. She had obviously been expecting the question. She and the wizard were still wearing their disguises.

Sven started mounting his horse, Emil. Eric was quick to ask: "You leaving already?"

The farmer turned to look at him and blinked his eyes. "Uh, no. I think it's better if we travel together. Or do you want me to scout ahead?"

The other three shared looks with each other. "So, you decided to come with us after all?" Laterbrus asked.

Sven nodded. The spellcasters didn't seem at ease staying this close to Evans' house, so they didn't start asking questions yet. Everyone got on their horses and took the path north. As they went, Sven started singing. It felt like it fit the moment:

"So far away from my home, sweet home..."
Took me forever, but it ended up being longer than any chapter before too.



edit: Songs, in case anyone cares. I've been trying to keep them to a minimum thus far.

Main Theme (I made up most of the lyrics used in the fic)
Sven's Theme
Laterbrus' Theme
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Last edited by Kerrah; 06-03-2010 at 08:40 AM..
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Old 06-03-2010, 02:57 PM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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I liked the bit with Thurgrim the most. It still feels weird how Kra and Dab'ra can walk around unmolested, despite really not fitting in at all. I wouldn't suggest you keep presenting Laterbrus' thoughts in that style onwards - it doesn't seem convincing to get those italic lines of thought. I prefer Sven's handling so far.

Well, I enjoyed it, but I think there really needs to be some action or the dialogue train without the plot moving forward will continue to kill the momentum that you started with.
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Old 08-22-2010, 02:00 PM
Kerrah Kerrah is offline

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Chapter 5


"What has happened?"

"I don't know, Atar. Someone found us. They are nearing us."

"Could it be the one..."

"No. Druj said he's still far away. Just go."

"Yes, we will."

The dark-clad figure left Hiraxen and strode quickly through the corridors of the hideout. As he moved, he was joined by others, also dressed in pure black, and yet, differently. The Dark Riders wore old, worn armour with black robes over them, parts of them torn, revealing old bones. Atar, however, was wrapped in nothing but a large cloth dyed dark. To put on anything more would be wasteful.

They soon reached the exit, where they came across a scene worth beholding. Several destroyed bodies of Dark Riders littered the ground, while two mortals fought violently with blades. One was Dorn, the large Northman, a minion to Hiraxen, the other was an intruder.

"You lack skill!" The humongous defender yelled, smiling as he slashed two swords at his enemy with precision. "Hate alone can not bring you victory!" He parried the man's counterstrike and took the opening to attack him.

Without a word, the stranger ducked under Dorn's attempted decapitation and used his free hand to steal one of the half dozen free blades hanging from his belt, immediately stabbing him with it.

Yelling, the injured man stepped back, his hands shaking with concentration as he prepared to power through the pain. Atar lifted a hand and yelled: "Stop, brute!"

The battle came to a pause for a moment, both the combatants noticing the new arrivals for the first time. The Riders spread out to block the attacker's exit while Atar stepped forward and spoke: "Step away from him, or be burned."

The intruder struck a defiant pose, showing his own sword, as well as the one stolen from Dorn. He said nothing, but the message was clear enough.

"I was not speaking to you", Atar said. Dorn got the point and hastily stepped away from their opponent.

This foe apparently thought offence was the best defence, for he rushed at Atar that very moment. The robed man stood still and took a sword-strike in the face, letting the steel sink into his head. The swordsman's eyes spread wide with surprise for a moment.

A moment was all Atar needed. Without pausing, he pressed a hand against his opponent's side and released Hell.



Half a year later the intruder was sitting in his cell, his eyes empty as he stared at the floor. The air was so thick he could have cut it with his sword if it hadn't been taken away. There were three armoured undead guards on the other side of the thick steel bars, staring at him without thought, ready for anything. His jailors did not want to take any chances. Not after three months ago, at least.

They still hadn't cleared the body from his cell.

There is no point in delving into his thoughts, for they were mundane and depressing. There is no point in telling who he had been before he became a prisoner, for he is meaningless in the large scope of things.

What matters is that the door opened, then. The prisoner looked from under his dirty hair, seeing two more guards enter the prison, followed by someone he hadn't seen in a long time.

"Get up. Master Hiraxen has summoned you", the huge Northman said gruffly, crossing his arms.

The prisoner thought through his options. Resisting would only earn him pain. He still had a nasty, painful spot in his skin at the where he'd been burned when he was captured, and he'd had to improvise a splint and bandage to help his hand heal after they'd broken it due to what had happened three months ago.

He stood tall and looked at the bear of a man silently. The horseless riders opened the cell's door and let him out. He saw that his sword had joined the others hanging from this captor's belt. Wised by their last battle, the gruff warrior seemed cautious about his weapon collection, keeping his distance while remarking: "It is a shame I am being kept here, away from battle. I have not yet had a chance to test your blade on anyone."

The prisoner did not reply. He stood there, waiting to be taken to this leader. This Master Hiraxen. He had never heard the name before. Nobody had talked to him in half a year.

The Northman scoffed. "I was expecting more spirit out of you, shrimp." The challenge was so obvious that only a fool would have fallen for it. The prisoner stood still and stared away.

"You're lucky Atar is away right now. Otherwise, I'd stab you and have the wound sealed with fire", the brute mused. The prisoner pressed the name into his memory. Atar the pyromancer. The one who had taken a sword to the face without flinching.

One of the skeletons took out some handcuffs made of shiny metal. They were probably magical and created just for this occasion. He didn't have time to resist before he was cuffed. Frowning a bit, he prepared to kick one of the minions in the shin, but was stopped them they grabbed his arms and punched him in the stomach.

He was dragged out of the prison, and through several corridors. The Northman walked ahead, grumbling to himself. The prisoner tried to clear his head to memorise the route from his cell to his destination, but was too busy gasping for air.

Just when he was about to get a hold of himself, the young man was literally thrown head-first through a door, which closed quickly behind him. Slowly gathering his bearings, he squinted his eyes to see anything through the darkness around himself. He knew he wasn't alone, but what happened next still took him by surprise.

From somewhere ahead of him, a small white spark ignited. It started to grow, and eventually turned into a flash that blinded him. When he opened his eyes, he was in Stormwind.

He'd last been there only weeks before being captured. He'd walked through this exact street... the moment of awe was cut short when he realised nobody was making noise. The world was mute, even though some of the people around him were speaking to each other, or riding horses on the cobblestone street.

"It's just an illusion", a voice behind him confirmed his guess. Turning around, he saw a middle-aged wizard who looked, for all intents and purposes, remarkably unremarkable. He wore robes neither simple nor decorate. His face was dull, with a simple beard and grey eyes. His hair was brown, a shade of it that probably didn't have a name. He didn't even carry a weapon or a stave.

"I am Hiraxen, your captor", the man said. He was standing in the middle of the street, next to two chairs facing each other. The man and the chairs looked more in focus than their surroundings. "Join me, will you?"

The prisoner considered his options. If he ran, he was likely to just hit a wall face-first. He chose to sit down and keep his eyes open for a chance.

Taking the chair, he promptly asked: "How and why do you have this image?"

Hiraxen hesitantly sat down as well. "I hid a small rune in this street when I last visited Stormwind about two months ago. These are the exact events that are taking place there currently. I'm testing how long my spell lasts to find out whether it has use in espionage. For now, we might as well enjoy this more pleasant environment for our talk."

The prisoner kept his comments to himself, and instead focused on that topic: "And why are we having a talk, then?"

"Because I want to know why you invaded my home", the wizard said in a way that made it seem like it was the most obvious thing in the world.

The prisoner hesitated. How much did he want to tell? Was it safe to just limit himself at a certain point or would it be preferable to deny this man any explanation? Looking around, he watched at a young woman and her two children. Once he, too, had been here with his mother.

Swallowing, he said: "I ran into it while exploring and was attacked by your henchmen." It was the truth, though not the whole truth.

There was a faint light coming from the wizard. Turning his head, the prisoner saw a small, pink crystal in his hand. It was shining. "Just making sure you are not lying to me. Never mind me", Hiraxen muttered distractedly, fiddling the trinket.

The prisoner considered attacking now. With any luck, he could crush the mage's wind pipe before he had time to cast a spell. Only, then he realised he felt something solid pressing against his legs. Some kind of spell bound them against the chair with invisible restraints.

"Why did you come all the way down here, then? I like to think I've hidden my abode fairly well", Hiraxen said while leaning back and keeping the truth-crystal handy.

The prisoner took his time to think. Truth be told, he hardly remembered anymore. The time in the cell, unmoving and silent, had taken toll on his mind. "I saw hoof tracks. I was being paid to locate deserters returning from Outland but refusing to go fight the Scourge up north. What I found was a complete surprise."

The crystal gave the same response as earlier. The prisoner straightened his back and asked: "What did I find?"

Hiraxen laughed curtly, idly rubbing his beard with a finger. "A free enterprise of men who do not bow down to mortal kings and rulers."

"Men who use the undead to terrorise the countryside", the prisoner expanded the statement, his voice entirely without humour.

There was a short silence. The two men stared, completely still, trying to measure each other up. Around them, the citizens of Stormwind walked back and forth on their daily routines, not seeing the two men at all. Eventually, Hiraxen yawned and said: "I was going to offer you the chance to join my men, like Dorn did, but I assume that is out of the question."

There was no need to answer the question. The prisoner instead looked into the wizard's eyes and asked: "Why are you doing this? I am not foolish enough to believe wicked folk do wicked things for wickedness' sake. Why hole all the way here and harass innocent people?"

"The king is no friend of mine", the villain said simply and left it at that. "I think that it's time for you to return to your cell. I hope you've learned to appreciate that space. I'm going to tell the guards to quit feeding you."

He stood up. The prisoner tried his feet, only to find them still locked against the chair. Hiraxen flicked his hand and the illusion around them vanished, leaving them once more in a dark, featureless room. Locking his eyes on the captive once more, he spoke: "This is your last chance. And I should warn you: death is not an easy way out. Not while you are within my house."

The prisoner shook his head, a pained look on his face as if the wizard were a particularly dim fool. "I do not wish death. I would never give up."

"Then you had best learn to at least accept it", Hiraxen remarked and started moving toward the door, his left hand idly stroking the fabric of his robes. For a moment, he stopped and seemed to consider something. The prisoner stayed silent, giving him time. Eventually, the man licked his lips and begun:

"When I was young, I knew a man like you. Young, strong and determined to the end. There was a time when some of the people from his village were kidnapped by bandits. The nearest soldiers of the king were days away, and he was concerned, so he dragged me along on a rescue mission. Just us two, trying to outwit and defeat over two dozen brigands."

The prisoner stared dully, without a reaction. "What happened?"

"We were captured. My friend made it clear he thought the bandits the lowest scum on Azeroth, so they started beating him up. He almost died, but I was allowed to heal him up. Two days of captivity later, he started badmouthing the men again and they attacked him once more. During the commotion, the king's soldiers attacked and routed the brigands." Hiraxen looked absent-minded for a while. His hand was gripping the folds of his robe tightly. "He was a greater wizard back then than I will ever be. It is a shame he fell into that cult."

"What is the point of this story?" The prisoner asked. He strained his legs against the invisible restraints, still ready for a chance to free himself.

"The point is that determination and spirit alone will gain you nothing. In the end, it was the steel and muscles of the soldiers that solved the problem. You are throwing away something you'll never get back, just because you are too stubborn to yield an inch. Will you not even consider this option?" He seemed genuinely hopeful, watching at the hungry, pitiful youth.

"No."

Disappointment crept onto the bearded face. Hiraxen turned around, opened the door and left. His voice echoed into the chamber, past the undead minions who filed in: "Then you truly are his family, repeating that mistake. He will be proud when I tell him of this. But make no mistake, there will be no rescue from this bandit camp."



Thurgrim stood up from the table, wiping his chin on a napkin. "Terry, tell the wife I complimented the dinner, as usual", he called to the innkeep, who smiled and nodded. He looked so much like his grandfather, the man who had founded the establishment. Young Terry truly honoured the legacy of Redwind Inn, even if he had converted to Lightism a few years ago. Redwind himself would never have approved such an act.

The old dwarf couldn't help but sigh wearily as he started climbing upstairs to get some sleep. Ever since the first of the great wars, he'd been feeling it, stronger and stronger. The world was moving past his kind, past the things he represented. The flock of the Four Gods was growing smaller and smaller, and soon he'd be out of business. The Hareveim had tried a desperate enterprise to be relevant again in Gilneas, only to get persecuted when their leader vanished the same day as the country's new dictator.

Thurgrim had long ago rid himself of any bitterness against Lightism and the majority of its followers, and he urged everyone he visited to do so as well. Thoradin, the Bright Prophet, had never converted anyone against their will, Jallan had confirmed this. That his church eventually came to see any other faith as a crime was not his fault. Every Lightist who chose to see that message in the holy scriptures answered for himself.

Shaking his head, the dwarf forced his thoughts elsewhere. He thought of Sven Yorgen, whom he'd met earlier that day. It was indeed a small world, for Thurgrim distinctly remembered meeting the Yorgens in Grand Hamlet eighty years ago, when they first moved to the Kingdom of Azeroth. Now he was in the same town, renamed Darkshire, in an inn founded by one of his travelling companions from those times.

"I've come a full circle", he muttered to himself as he dug the key to his room from his pocket. "I'm getting too old for this. Need to find a replacement and retire already." Opening the door, he stepped into the room and immediately knew something was wrong. "What smells like burning?"

He had less than the blink of an eye to dodge the fireball coming from behind the open door. The assassin had been waiting for a dwarf, judging by the altitude of the spell. Before the sphere had even hit the floor on the other side of the room, Thurgrim had spun around and flung three knives at the enemy.

A dark-cloaked stranger whose hood kept his face in a shadow. How original.

While tumbling down to avoid another attack, Thurgrim saw a large, charred hole burned into the wall between this room and the next, which the assassin had probably rented for the occasion. That explained the smell.

A dark-red ray flew just past the dwarf's head before he landed back on his feet. All the knives were sticking out of the man's chest, but he didn't seem to be much slowed down by that. Thurgrim produced two more blades from his sleeves and dodged under another spell before charging in to slice the bastard.

"Hello, Thurgrim", a very grim voice called. He hadn't even recoiled from the attack. A hand tried to grab the old dwarf, who managed to dodge it. He saw a blistered hand covered in burns. Realisation hit him.

Lightly jumping back again, he announced: "You're the one from that burned-down caravan! One of Druj's lackeys!"

"Your memory serves you well", the pyromancer said and paused his attacks for a moment. "Call me Atar, though that is not what I was known as when we were rivals, striving for His approval in competition with each other."

Thurgrim had managed to figure out this much about his past, even though he'd never recovered his memories. "Eighty years ago, he laughed at your worthlessness while you all but killed yourself in his service. Why do you still follow him?"

There was no pause for consideration, no inner turmoil, Atar stepped forward and jabbed a hand, sending a lash of flames that caught Thurgrim's leg. He yelled, but his hand was steady as he threw a knife at the pyromancer's eye. Or where a normal person's eye would be.

"Time to end this", Atar's eerie voice called out after the knife hit its mark, jutting out of the shadow cast by his hood. He threw his hands wide and high, and Thurgrim knew roughly what was coming. Rushing toward the bed, the dwarf followed his instinct. Just as he reached his destination and started pulling the mattress off, he heard voices in the corridor.

"NO! Get out-" Was the only thing he had time to yell before Atar exploded. Thurgrim just had time to pull the mattress between himself and the blast wave, and after that everything went dark for a moment. There was a loud yell of pain. He didn't know if it came from him or someone else.

He came to on the alleyway next to the inn. The burned mattress was next to him, partly shredded by pieces of wood from the wall he'd been thrown through. With a wince, Thurgrim realised that one such piece had impailed his already-burned leg. Atar was lying nearby, his body letting out thick smoke, still with some of the knives sticking out of it. He'd been hit worst by his own attack, but it probably didn't matter to him.

Suddenly the voice Atar had spoken in earlier came again, but it had a distinctly different pattern to it, quick and more human. "Yes, yes, I am still in working condition. It hurts me when you do that, you-" It cut out, letting a few croaks as if the speaker was getting strangled.

There was a moment of silence, after which the voice continued, once again steady and emotionless: "Your quick thinking may have saved you once, Thurgrim, but you are wounded. Can you even stand up?"

The dwarf didn't have to try. He knew that even if he could stand, he wouldn't be able to escape or fight. Pushing the torn mattress off himself, he let out a pained grunt. One of his knives fell into the ground next to him.

Atar's smoking figure started rising. His back was turned to Thurgrim, and for a moment, he thought he saw something move under that dirty, ugly cloth, distorting its texture as it crept along the pyromancer's back. Not really stopping to think, the dwarf grabbed the blade next to himself and threw it at the thing.

The knife sunk into Atar's back, hitting right where it'd been aimed. A piecing scream filled the alleyway and Thurgrim rolled out of the place he'd been in. He had a strong guess as to what it was he'd just wounded. The pyromancer turned around and sent a jet of flame to where Thurgrim had just been. The dwarf was barely out of the way, and his legs hurt horribly from moving, but he survived.

Atar turned his head around wildly and leaned it forward, as if trying to squint his eyes and see in a particularly dark room. Thurgrim tried to edge his way off the alley.

Suddenly, a tall figure appeared behind the mage. Ethereal and ominous, it put its hand on his shoulder. "Calm down, Atar. Your assignment is complete. The dwarf won't be able to leave this town for weeks. That is all I need."

There was a short moment during which the pyromancer's head trashed around, he if he were yelling. No sound came out, but apparently Druj could hear him nonetheless. "It does not matter. He will be dead soon enough, now that it's ensured he'll not meddle further. Poor old Thurgrim will lie here and watch in horror as his world is swallowed by a conflict greater than the three wars he's witnessed thus far combined."

Their eyes met for the first time in eighty years. Thurgrim scowled. Druj pulled Atar's shoulder with a jerk, intent on serving as his replacement eyes. The dwarf didn't doubt they'd make it out of town without problems. The last time Druj had been here, he'd made a guard try to kill a random passerby.

Leaning his back against the wall of the Redwind, he watched as the devil's body seemed to fade out of existence, no longer willing him to see it, and Atar's still-smoking body in a singed, tattered robe walked off like a badly handled puppet.

"It's all out my my hands now", he muttered. He hadn't had any intention of getting involved in the situation more, but still, it felt very troubling to know that Druj had actually been worried about such a possibility. Cringing at a pain in his leg, he closed his eyes. "Don't screw this up now, kids..."
Funny story: I knew I had to give Thurgrim some closure after including him, so my original impulse was to kill him off. I decided on this instead, since that'd have been dickish and mean.

Anyways, we see the return of two bit-characters from the past. Atar appeared shortly in Stonetear, while Dorn, the last survivor of the Northmen, was mentioned in The Captain's Odyssey. He was the one who told Muradin of Frostmourne. Neither of these two had a name before, and in Atar's case I was trying to keep his gender ambiguous. However, writing or reading about a nameless, genderless character is a pain in the ass so I skipped that shtick.
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Quote:
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; 08-22-2010 at 02:02 PM..
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Old 08-24-2010, 05:40 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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You said I wouldn't like it - but I did, actually. It seems your writing has continued to improve, and the haphazard confusing style you employed for earlier chapters seems to have been replaced by something a lot more calm and effective.

I liked the characterizations, though it seemed strange that the pyromancer didn't finish the job, despite the explanation that it didn't matter any more. Still, I'm glad you didn't just kill Thobblejim off cheaply. It'd have been too mean, and indeed, sad.

You should give him a cameo towards the end.
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