Skirvar - Ironforge
It does not take long for Skirvar to realise that he is being led west rather than east. The passing of the sun is evidence enough. What he does remember is that Ula-Tek is further east.
Ba'jal and his couple of guards do not slow down.
"Where ye be takin us?" Skirvar asks.
"Away where ya can't be causin' trouble to us, mon. I should kill ye, it's what the other tribes would do. But I got plans o' me own. The boss wanted me to keep ya alive." Ba'jal mumbles
Skirvar cannot shake off an uneasy feeling.
"Your boss told ye to take us to Ula-Tek din' he?"
Ba'jal turns his head to look back at the trailing dwarves and smiles unpleasantly. A forest troll's smile appears more like a frown or a grimace than a smile. Skirvar shudders.
"No, mon. Not Jin'thek. Jin'thek not know half of da big plan. I talkin' bout da boss here. Da big mojo. Now off with ya. Get moving. Get out o' Zul'Aman. I ever see ya here again, I kill ya."
Ba'jal and his trolls turn their backs and climb up into the pine trees, vanishing from sight. Urel and Skirvar are left on the borders of Zul'Aman, a fringe of land in which the trees abrupty stop and make way to an open grassland. Far below them is a new stretch of forest, but the canopies are of yellow leaves that make Skirvar think of Autumn.
OOC: Since it's what you were waiting for, and it's long overdue. I present, the Summertide Festival.
The Shadowpine speaker grunts and snatches a gold trinket from the grass. Jin'thek stares at him expressionlessly. "Take it, den. Thanks for your... information."
"We be seein' eachother real soon, mon. Real soon." The Shadowpine speaker says. "An' I be Ha'lin. Don' you forget."
Jin'thek nods and walks out of the Shadowpine village. His warband is waiting for him. Ba'jal has already left with the dwarves.
"Let's go home."
As the sun sets over the massive Shrine of Ula-tek, final preparations are being made. Witch Doctor Gruc'jen has been leading the effort, overseeing the preparation of food and incense. It is his responsibility to ensure that all goes according to plan. For an entire mile, Amani sentries remain perched in the trees every so often. Jin'thek is not taking any chances.
Over the course of a few hours, the rival tribe ambassadors begin to arrive. Jin'thek embraces Nuvazgal of the Mosstusk in a gesture of mutual respect. Nuvazgal slams his fist into his chest in salutation.
The Shadowpine are next to arrive, led by Ha'lin, their speaker. As expected, the Mossflayers arrive alongside the Firetree, Smolderthorn, Witherbark and Revantusk. Lastly, a single representative of the Vilebranch makes an appearance. She is a messenger from Jintha'alor, a disciple of the spider goddess, Shadra.
They are seated around a massive bonfire under the light of the moon and the stars, singing, chanting and playing raging tunes and songs of past glories. These tribes are the remnants of the Amani Empire, scattered though they are. For once, they chant as one.
Gruc'jen throws powders into the fire, and with gusts of wind the flames change colour, turning purple, green and blue, dancing and twisting according to the story being told, creating shapes and figures. It is a glorious festival.
Only the witness from Jina'thalor does not join in. She sits quietly, singing in praise of the spider god Shadra alone.
Eventually, Jin'thek stands atop one of the steps of the Shrine of Ula-Tek, and beckons for a moment of silence.
The assembled crowd looks to Javali with mixed feelings. Some representatives, such as those from Seashire, Tarren Mill and Andriano clearly approve.
The counts of Nevezia, Firezne and Venege, three of Hesperia's largest cities, appear deep in thought. Expressionless, the Hareveim remain ringing the banquet hall. Archareveim Zinizar stands at attention, leaning against the wall in the shadows of the corner of the room.
They are Javali's secret police. Those who do not conform today would have to be dealt with. Javali cannot suppress his nerves. His heart and soul have been poured into his words. Now to await the response to this feeling of nationalism.
"And what of the Witch Hunters, then?" Count Scipio of Andriano shouts. "The Lightist rabbles are marching through the countryside already! If you can't even keep the peasants and their rebel magi in check, how are we going to trust Dalaran to help us maintain unity? You, Javali, cannot even protect your own borders."
"All in good time." Javali says, motioning for Scipio to seat himself. "We have to teach the larger nations that they have no jurisdiction here. The King of Lordaeron is calling for a meeting of kings in a matter of days at Fenris Isle. There I can proclaim the birth of the Hesperian Alliance."
"We haven't agreed to anything yet!" Zartus of Seashire yells, shooting to his feet.
"We have no choice!" Dorian of Nevezia replies, throwing his hands up.
"I pledge Andriano to the new alliance!" Scipio suddenly declares. This shocks the crowd into silence. "I will never allow my people to suffer at the hands of Stromgarde again!"
To see count Scipio side with Javali sent a ripple of shock with the crowd. The old count was known for being brash and snide, but it seemed that Javali might have reminded him of something he feared worse than Dalaran.
"Then prove your words!" Mayor Juntridge shouts. He is the leader of the city of Tarren Mill. "My city is being oppressed by Alterac! Already they poison our wells and our supplies. They are preparing an invasion!"
At the shore of Lordamere Lake, Xie and his company stop at the ferry known as the Lakefold. Several small houses are situated here, guarded by villagers from the highlands. This hamlet is an extension of Strahnbrad, serving as a means of trade with the towns of Silverpine and Tirisfal.
"Find us a ship, do it I say!" Xie commands.
Caxagord teleports onto one of the docked ships, and looks around for the captain.
"Have ship, will travel!"
"Any of these be belonging to us?" Xie asks one of the guards.
"Yes liege, they are in Alterac, and you are the lord, so yeah, I guess that means you can take your pick." one of the guards answers.
"Are there any dolphins in this lake? I like sea mammals." Caxagord muses, returning to the company. "And I say we take this ship to Fenris Isle. Who needs a ship captain when you have a court wizard and a special army?"
They set sail for Fenris Isle. In this time of hardship, Alterac would need to parley like a house on fire to ensure that the country survived.
War was beginning.
Halfway across the lake Caxagord runs onto the deck frantically.
"Oh goodness! There are holes in the boat!"
"What you say?" Xie asks.
"Somebody put holes in the boat! It's a set up!" Caxagord answers.
Suddenly, a small fleet of ships appears from behind a nearby island. They are flying the purple sails of the Dalaran navy, but they are flying the flags of the Kirin Mora. These are magi who are not with Javali, the dictator. They are rebels.
"We get a signal." Caxagord says.
An archmage with two eye patches teleports onto the deck of the boat.
"What?!" Xie roars.
"All of Dalaran will belong to us soon!" the archmage cackles maniacally. "And you, treacherous supporters of paganism, will die! You are sailing to your destruction. I am Archmage Saadhal Mundis of the Kirin Mora, right hand of Grigori Dosantos. You have little time to make before we sink you. You have no chance to survive."
Suddenly Shade, the Assassin-Mage, barrel rolls into the invading Archmage Saadhal.
"Who say the man?! I'm the man!"
Saadhal teleports out.
Xie is left facing a tough decision. The ship is in danger.
"This still no explain why we sinking."
"Logic is a fallacy." Caxagord shrugs. "But I can teleport us safely to Fenris Isle, Lord Xie! On Fenris Isle we have diplomatic immunity! It's sort of like wearing a helmet of politics! We will be safe!"
Alford clashes blades with Canbrad. They stare into one another's eyes, not as lovers, but as opponents, both passionate about their cause.
Sherman is already cutting through the rebels which Thomassy froze. The panic of the crowds is finally working against him, though. People are rampaging to get out of the way, and as a result, are getting in the way.
Alford is a skilled swordsman, one of the best in court, but it seems that this old veteran has an edge of personal experience on his side. Canbrad feints and dives with ease, his silver ponytail dancing in the wind with the motion of his movements.
"Your line has been the cause of a tyrannical regime lasting centuries! It ends here!" Canbrad spits, pushing the king back. "Today I will free the people of this land!"
"You are nothing if not misguided!" Alford replies, maintaining his strength of will against the onslaught. "Why have you come here, rebel. Krowl has already forsaken you."
"I should have known Krowl would soften up and take it like a man eventually, but he's too good a symbol to waste on a public execution." Canbrad answers. "I am the true blade behind the People's Front. As long as I live, so will the people forever scorn your very name, Menethil."
"Thomassy, what the hell are you doing back there?" Sherman calls as he drives one of the rebels back.
Alford finally realises that his court wizard is locked in combat with a figure clad in a simple brown robe. The stranger blasts Thomassy back with a flash of fire, and turns his back on the fallen man. He motions to the rebels who are being pushed back.
Alford and Canbrad face one another, but amidst the confusion, realise that the matter has been settled already.
"We'll meet again soon." Canbrad growls, and pushes his way through the stampeding crowds. "Get us out of here, Oran!"
"For Brux!" the strange hedgewizard calls, as he covers the retreat of the rebels.
Sherman rushes to Alford and grabs a hold of him.
"Are you alright, my king?"
"Krowl! Where is Maximus Krowl!"
"We have him. It's alright, my king. Aside from the panic we did not lose many men, and we might still be able to hunt down the rebels before they escape."
"They had a pagan sorceror with them!" Thomassy calls, ambling over to them. "A servant of the Maroon god, Brux. That is something we could not have anticipated."
"What are your orders, my king?" Sherman asks.
OOC: Sorry for the short one, Xarthat. There's not much left to do here just yet.
Vizier Kalabrond continues to cower on his knees, but he seems resolved.
"I will do as you say. I will prove my fealty. I promise you."
"That is settled then." Phorcys says with a nod. "Now, my son. Shall we set sail for the mainland? That is, if we wish to go to this meeting."
King Eralas Trollbane.
That is the name of the lord and master of the lands of Stromgarde, successor to the nation of Strom under the Light.
In recent years, Eralas has ensured national isolation from the rest of the world. He has been working hard, harbouring secret dreams, labouring to a future that he has envisioned for his people. They have been secured. The countryside has been guarded, stabilized and farmed. Since the incursion into Hesperia decades ago, there has been relative peace.
That is, except for the Arathi Freedom Movement. So far they have been an idle threat in the mountains overlooking Hillsbrad.
A week ago, a messenger arrived in Stromgarde City, bringing word from Lordaeron. Eralas greeted the messenger courteously, allowing him to take in the glorious sight of the massive stone walls of his realm, and the rich markets and feasts at hand. It was always a wise idea to impress the messenger, so that he may take back word of the power of the kingdom.
"Why bother with such a meeting?" Dorath Trollbane asked his brother after the messenger departed. Dorath, an avid supporter of Stromgarde's new imperialist movement, thought that to leave the kingdom for such a diplomatic gesture would be futile.
Yet, Eralas was king for a reason. Despite being the older brother, he knew the values of wisely placed words. War, though usually inevitable, must be followed by negotiation. Every war must be followed by peace. Eralas knows the value in such.
Thus did he depart on the second day with a battalion of his finest knights, clad in the crimson splendour of the nation. At his side is his squire, bearing the banner of the gauntlet of Strom. The ride was uneventful, up until they reached the defensive wall at the border.
"Something is wrong." the squire mutters.
"Yes. I can't see any guards watching over their stations." one of the knights replies.
Eralas begins to feel uneasy, and yet, furious. Was it desertion? Whoever was responsible would have to be punished.
Suddenly, a hail of arrows whistles through the air, impaling the earth right before the riders. Nobody is hit, but the horses are startled.
Eralas sees a line of archers on the top of the wall. They are wearing yellow tabards.
They are Freedom Fighters.
"What have we here?" one of them asks.