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Old 01-24-2009, 10:07 PM
Aldrius Aldrius is offline

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Default The Old Covenant

So as I'm sure many of you are aware, I wasn't ENTIRELY happy with Rise of the Horde. There was stuff I liked, such as the characterization of Ner'zhul, and stuff I didn't like. (The extensive focus on Durotan and the bizarre relationship between him and the Draenei. The needless retcons involving Gul'dan and the Blackrock Clan, etc. etc.)

This is really an elseworlds tale taking only the continuity of the WarCraft 3 manual into account. (Though I'm also including a variant on the new Draenei backstory, for reasons that will become evident down the road.)

I'm trying to keep the spirit of certain things from the novel (such as Kil'jaeden appealing to Ner'zhul, but not excusing him by having it be the spirit of his dead wife... and really that was just silly.) Anyway, not to over-talk the preface, I give you:

-

The Old Covenant

Prologue

The hills of Draenor were widespread and tall. Sweeping from the grassy plains of Nagrand, to the rocky cliffs and valleys in the lands of the Shadowmoon Clan. And it all belonged to one Orc. Not legally of course, Orcs had no concept of ownership or thievery. Where they lay their clothes and food was where they called home. They were honest and pure, in the truest sense. The lands belonged to this orc in one sense. He commanded the earth as one would command a pet. He spoke to the sky as one would speak to an old friend. Nature was at his complete and utter disposal.

Ner’zhul was a shaman. The best shaman, the most powerful of the shaman. Where others would barely be able to sway the current of a small stream, Ner’zhul could command large lakes to bend to his will. Where some were incapable of swaying the wind, Ner’zhul could spawn and control vast tornadoes. Where the smallest spark was out of the reach of the crude adept, Ner’zhul could spawn a bonfire with a thought.

That’s not to say Ner’zhul’s power ended with his mastery over the elements, however. He was as keen at the negotiating table as he was on the windy fields or in the oceans. When the Laughing Skull Clan had kidnapped the son of the Warsong Clan, he had resolved it with his sharp wit and silver tongue, avoiding combat altogether. When the Ogres had joined forces with the Thunderlords and attempted to bully the Bonechewers and Warsong Clans out of their land, Ner’zhul had negotiated it’s return.

These political victories had earned Ner’zhul the title of Elder Shaman. Though many would not admit it, and despite resistance from those such as the chieftan of the Laughing Skull Clan, it was obvious that Ner’zhul was the leader of all Orcs.

Despite this, however, Ner’zhul’s victories and triumphs had not come without a cost. Ner’zhul had lost his son to one of the few wars that he had failed to prevent, and lost his wife to one of the few diseases that he could not cure. He had paid for power with the cost of his family. And now that they were gone, unfortunately, there was nothing left to slow him down. Ner’zhul had his sights set on the only beings left on Draenor that were out of his reach: the Draenei.

The Draenei had everything Ner’zhul did not: power, grace, glory. Compared to what seemed like travellers from outer space, the orcs were nothing more than a bunch of primitive Neanderthals. Still cobbling together fire and wheels and making the hides of beasts into clothes. Much as Ner’zhul was a superior shaman to his lesser brethren, the draenei were a superior everything to the orcs.

Ner’zhul had only ever seen a Draenei once. In the thickets of the forest near the western edge of his clans’ land. Ner’zhul had their tall, majestic figures and complex advanced weaponry burned into his mind. Like some sort of dark reminder of what his people really were: inferior and simple.

And by extension, what he really was, despite his political savvy, despite his immense control over the elements, all of it was just so… easy. He had no real competition among his simple brethren, and so all his victories seemed so meaningless by comparison.

Ner’zhul made his way past the last crevice on his way home. The elder shaman made his life in a small cave overlooking the valley, where he had lived with his wife and son so long ago, now it was only him, him and the young apprentice that he had taken under his wing. Misty-eyed and fair, Ner’zhul saw what had once been his son in the young shaman’s features. And this apprentice, Gul’dan, was indeed like a son to him.

“Lok tar, apprentice.” Ner’zhul extended a greeting to the young orc as he stood outside the cave waiting for him.

“Lok tar ogar, master.” Gul’dan responded seriously, being a serious sort of orc. He quickly stood with his legs together and his arms crossed over his abdomen.

“How have things been since I was last here, my apprentice?” Ner’zhul inquired. Having been on a journey to visit the northern clans over the past few weeks.

“Relatively uneventful, master.” Gul’dan bowed his head reverently. “As usual. Nothing ever really happens out here.” Gul’dan said this last sentence under his breath, snidely.

Ner’zhul frowned and walked past the young shaman without another word. Gul'dan's words would reek of irony as Ner'zhul took his first few steps into his home. For there waiting for him, was a sight that he had seen only once before. In the forests on the western edge of his clan’s land. It was a Draenei. But unlike any of the other Draenei he had seen. Where their skin glowed with ivory and violet, this one’s burned with crimson fire. Where their eyes held tenderness and compassion, this one’s were simply empty, consumed by rage and chaos. Where they had hooves that were either soft and frail or strong and resolute, this creature’s were crooked and decrepit. This monster was truly a perversion of everything that Ner’zhul had understood the Draenei to be… and yet… he was intrigued.

“Are you… are you a Draenei?” Ner’zhul asked sheepishly, the obvious questions pouring out of his head before he could think to ask them, fear and bewilderment consuming him.

“The answer, is yes… and no.” the being spoke in a voice that was both smooth and appealing, but at the same time dangerous and frightening. Ner’zhul took a deep breath before asking his next question.

“What are you doing here?” Ner’zhul stammered.

“I’ve come to offer you what you desire most: competition.” Kil’jaeden’s mouth curved into a jagged upward grin. “Are you ready, Ner’zhul? Together we are going to mold your people from clay into gods.”
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Last edited by Aldrius; 02-07-2009 at 09:51 AM..
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Old 01-25-2009, 06:11 AM
Timolas Timolas is offline


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So far so good; my only real qualm being the use of 'Neanderthals' since that is an Earthly reference. It would be akin to using a description or mention involving a telephone, a car or the Empire State Building.
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Old 01-25-2009, 08:29 AM
Aldrius Aldrius is offline

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I was using the slang definition. Which is to describe a person who is boorish or crude. Which I guess doesn't entirely fit, but I wasn't intending to imply that the orcs were a group of ancient humans. That would just be silly.
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Old 01-25-2009, 10:34 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aldrius View Post
I was using the slang definition. Which is to describe a person who is boorish or crude. Which I guess doesn't entirely fit, but I wasn't intending to imply that the orcs were a group of ancient humans. That would just be silly.
Oh, I understand. It just felt a little out of place to me that's all.
Will you still continue your older fic as well?
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Old 01-25-2009, 11:39 AM
Aldrius Aldrius is offline

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Maybe.

I've kinda lost interest unfortunately, and I've completely lost track of where I was going with it.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:34 PM
Rowan Seven Rowan Seven is offline

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An interesting start. I don't entirely share your enthusiasm for rewriting "Rise of the Horde" for various reasons, but I can understand your motivation behind this. Anyway, as far as writing style goes you're off to a good beginning. Your word choices and sentence construction are depicting the tale strongly and without a sense of tediousness. The only part that really leaped out at me as feeling out of place was the use of "sheepishly" when Ner'zhul spoke to Kil'jaeden. I think "cautiously" or "uncertainly" might have worked better there. Characterizations and plot are all right so far, though I disagree a bit with your depiction of Ner'zhul. Pride and wanting renown rather than a desire for competition seemed to be his Achilles' heel, in my opinion. Regardless, thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading it.
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Old 02-01-2009, 04:45 PM
Aldrius Aldrius is offline

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Pride and wanting renown rather than a desire for competition seemed to be his Achilles' heel, in my opinion. Regardless, thank you for sharing this. I enjoyed reading it.
The two are one in the same I'd wager. =)

My take on it is that he wanted renown that actually meant something. Beating the other orcs in a match of wits didn't mean much when there were essentially space aliens standing over the next hill that made all of them look like a bunch of squabbling idiots.

Thanks for reading, though.
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Old 02-02-2009, 03:38 AM
Aldrius Aldrius is offline

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Here's the first chapter. I have a feeling that one of the things I mention here is going to wind up being a bit controversial. Basically I'm sort of establishing what this particular portion of the story is really about: the pact between Ner'zhul and Kil'jaeden and how it plays out.

-----

Chapter One: The Blood Pact

Ner’zhul looked suspiciously at the tall red demon as he tip-toed around Ner’zhul, sizing him up, looking over his face, his arms, his feet. Kil’jaeden had only watched these green-skins from far away, and truthfully he knew as little about the orc, as Ner’zhul knew about him. But so far he seemed to be saying all the right things. Not like it was hard to figure out what these little… gremlins needed.

“My name is Kil’jaeden.” He smirked at the shaman. “I’m a being from another world, and I’m here to make you an offer.”

“What offer?” Ner’zhul was still suspicious. Even amongst the orcs, he hadn’t become top dog by taking stupid chances or acting rashly. “How did you get in here?”

“I have the power to teleport anywhere I chose… “ Ner’zhul walked around the demon slowly, crouching down into a sitting position at his usual spot. He snapped his fingers, creating a small flame in his hand. He touched the flame to the woodpile in front of him, setting it alight.

“Astounding.” Ner’zhul said, sounding fairly unimpressed. He didn’t know anything about this guy, and it was his policy not to let the person he was talking to know what he was thinking about. Kil’jaeden raised one of his eyes, as one would raise an eyebrow.

“I see you’re a very shrewd orc, my friend.” Kil’jaeden grinned, swaying his tail from one side to another behind him, like a metronome. “I can appreciate that. I assure you, what I’ve come to offer you isn’t just smoke and mirrors. It’s… quite real.”

Ner’zhul picked up a small rock cup. He ran his finger along the rim at it’s top, filling the cup up with water from the air. He took a sip of it, looking at Kil’jaeden expectantly. Kil’jaeden grinned in response. “Why should you care?” Ner’zhul asked.

“I suppose if we’re going to be working together, I must tell you something about me and my kind.” Kil’jaeden opened up his wings, smoke begin pouring out from behind his back, forming a dark cloud around the pair. "Many eons ago, before this world was even in the forethought of the Aman’thul and the Pantheon. We Eredar were creatures of mystery, of power.”

The smoke began take shape. Forming the world of Argus around them, Kil’jaeden, without the wings and the red skin, without the burning eyes, and crooked hooves and limbs. He stood and looked like any other draenei long black robes, woven with gold thread wrapped around his body. Standing next to him stood two others. One older looking, with a long ivory beard and long white robes. The third was not nearly as fancily dressed as the other two. He simply wore golden battle-armour, standing far taller than the other two. Ner’zhul’s eyes were instantly drawn to him. He commanded a presence of power and control. Every Ner’zhul had seen of the Draenei, the mountain face of the peninsula, even the great master of illusions he had just met, paled in comparison to that god’s mighty posture.

“Taken aback by our mighty god?” Kil’jaeden asked the now awestruck Ner’zhul. “He is called Archimonde, and in Erudun his name means ‘first of the world’. He is the great military commander of my forces, his name is synonymous with death to the worlds he visits… and he, and the bearded one and I were once the high commanders of the Eredar. Together we brought an age of prosperity and power to our people, but it was marred by betrayal. Velen, the bearded one, the prophet, informed us that we had brought nothing but pain, corruption and misery to our people, and he stole our most sacred treasures for himself, and ran off with a batallion of our forces.”

“The draenei.” Ner’zhul put two and two together rather decisively. Ner’zhul took another look at the present-day Kil’jaeden before turning back to the images of the past. Ner’zhul sensed, rightfully so, that every other word Kil’jaeden had just spoken had been marred by lies and mistruth. But that was to be expected. “So what was the truth? Had you been corrupted?”

Kil’jaeden’s burning eyes burned with fury, and then softened, he wasn’t here to prove anything to this pup. “No. The scars I bare are simply the price I paid for my great power.” Kil’jaeden waved his hand, changing the illusion, Velen disappeared in a puff of smoke, and the noble Kil’jaeden was replaced with the demonic entity that stood next to Ner’zhul now. However, Archimonde stood unchanged, still as resolute as ever. Ner’zhul watched onward, as both of them were completely overshadowed by a shining beacon of light. A gigantic creature that seemed to be forged from gold, standing behind the two of them, and within a few seconds they were both trapped in iron-clad cages.

“It seemed, however, that Velen had friends in high places. It hadn’t been long on our path to power that a titan stood in our way. A being of more power than any I had seen, or have yet to see. He crushed our people, and the two of us, and placed us all in cages, in limbo. It was absolute torture. Nothing to see, nothing to do. We discovered at a later date, that after we had been captured, the titan, Sargeras, had engaged another race of enemies, the Nathrezim. Not powerful sorcerers and scientists like ourselves, they were beings consumed by lies, by fabrications. And it was them, with their words, not us with our great magics, that had defeated the titan.” Kil’jaeden recounted the tale of Sargeras with a real purpose: teaching his new pupil the worth of words and propaganda over power and strength of arms.

“He was corrupted…” Ner’zhul finished the story on his own, being a weaver of tales himself.

“He was… reborn.” Kil’jaeden interjected. “His flesh was transformed from bright gold, to dark iron, his face warped from weak, gentle flesh into hard, cold diamonds. With horns protruding from his brow… he released and became our leader, and since then, we have been spreading his wish “ Kil’jaeden stopped himself, realizing that this was the point in the story that he’d have to edit a little bit. “His wish that all creatures be free to pursue their own dreams and visions, not confined by self-righteousness or delusions of heroism. And this is the gift I’ve brought to you. The question is, do you accept my offer?”

Ner’zhul eyed Kil’jaeden suspiciously. “So, you want to help me mold my people into gods, as you molded yourself so long ago…? And how exactly are you going to do that?” Ner’zhul had no doubt that Kil’jaeden’s methods were not going to be to his liking, but maybe he could use this trickster to his own benefit, use the powers at this demon’s command to get what he wanted. Then, after taking everything he desired, leave him high and dry.

“By leading you, guiding your hand. Giving you access to magic and abilities beyond the confines of this world. Leveling the playing field.” Kil’jaeden grinned.

“Sounds good to me,” said Ner’zhul, now having lost all semblance of fear or hesitance on his part. Kil’jaeden was nothing more than another orc to him now, having read the truth within his lies. “So, when do we get started?”

“First things first,” said Kil’jaeden, extending his index finger on his left hand. His nail grew in length, until it was as long as a dagger. He sliced into his right hand with this claw, green liquid began spewing from his own flesh, covering his hand in the dark goo. “A warrior’s handshake, if you please.”

Ner’zhul extended his hand. “Not like that.” Kil’jaeden corrected him, picking up a jagged rock off the ground, handing it to him. ”Bloody your palm. This is going to be a blood pact.” Ner’zhul shrugged. Whether his hand was bloody or not, a handshake was just a handshake. He ran the jagged rock along his hand, piercing his flesh. He extended his hand, Kil’jaeden grabbed it. Black energy began crawling off of Kil’jaeden’s body, and into Ner’zhul’s arm, wrapped around his arm. Ner’zhul grunted in pain, trying hard not to show what Kil’jaeden’s insect-like energy was doing to him. After a few seconds, the energy was gone. Ner’zhul retracted his hand, and then looked at it. The wound he had, had only moments ago had completely sealed up, as if it hadn’t been there to begin with.

“Just a small taste of what I am capable of.” Kil’jaeden smirked again, his crooked smile boring into Ner’zhul’s heart like a crooked sword. “Now, send out the call to all your brothers and sisters, shaman. We have a lot of work to do, and their presence is necessary for my, master plan.”

Ner’zhul was once again in awe, and began to question the very, very dangerous game that he was now playing.
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Last edited by Aldrius; 02-02-2009 at 09:19 PM..
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Old 02-06-2009, 06:17 PM
Rowan Seven Rowan Seven is offline

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It looks like you're going with the Draenei workaround several people on these forums suggested as a way to have the Draenei in their current form without a retcon. That seems consistent with your goal of following Warcraft III continuity. I'm not sure what you considered controversial, though.

Anyway, there are some good parts to this chapter. Some of the descriptions stand out quite well, such as Ner'zhul using his magic to light the fire and fill a cup with water. It also sets things up for a speedy move into the next part of the story. On the whole, though, I think the direction you're taking is too straightforward and too fast. Kil'jaeden in particular seemed uncharacteristically direct for someone who's supposed to be such a schemer, and when you said that "he knew as little about the orc, as Ner'zhul knew about him" in the second sentence I was a bit taken aback. The Deceiver _not_ entering a situation with vast knowledge of those involved and the setting? Using the term "god" in relation to Archimonde also felt out of place considering Kil'jaeden's own position and power. Additionally, this might just be a consequence of my knowledge of the setting, but the conversation between Kil'jaeden and Ner'zhul sounded rather unsubtle at times. Kil'jaeden's disingenuous retelling of history wasn't all that convincing, and Ner'zhul doesn't come across as smart for partnering with him. I expected more deception and playing to Ner'zhul's pride like what was featured in "Rise of the Horde."

The story has promise and positives, but it also feels somewhat rushed. Kil'jaeden and Ner'zhul are both supposed to be especially clever individuals and there's a lot of potential for a compelling story covering the meeting and clashes of their intelligences, and you might want to highlight more of that aspect.
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