OOC: Long delayed update. As usual. So yeah, I'll update for our current parties at play. Poor Gurt only got one opportunity to contribute so far. I'll rectify this and give him his phase two, starting with him.
I also have a big question to ask of you all; would you prefer we write in the past tense or the present? So far it's been the present, and it is better for roleplaying in many aspects, but also a less practiced form, most likely with all of us, and I'm willing to just continue the game in the past tense if the general agreement is in favour of that. I'm asking you guys what you prefer, personally.
Warester Van Dam's unpleasant confrontation haunts him for the remainder of the day. He begins preperations for his journey ahead, but all the while is unable to shake off the unpleasant feeling that matters with Travot Ravenholdt are far from over. Naturally, the administrator would cause the argument to resurface, despite Van Dam's insistence on leaving the count's daughter alone.
Warester straps on his daggers and selects his poisons in the dim basement of the manor. He is soon alerted to the sound of footsteps descending the staircase. Instinctively, he slinks back into the shadows, ever prepared for the worst, the fate of the old Grand Master fresh in his memory.
His paranoia had saved him in the past, but this time there is no cause for worry. It is just Hellen von Xie, a distant relative of the ruling family of Alterac. She is considerably young for an assassin, but nonetheless has proven herself to be a worthwhile asset. She sets foot in the basement, eyes fast scanning the room. They settle upon Van Dam, who steps out to greet her.
"Milady Hellen, how can I help you?" Van Dam asks curtly. His superiority of rank is no cause for impudence.
Hellen smiles from beneath her encompassing dark hood.
"I hear you are setting off for Fenris Isle?"
"I am indeed. No news is long kept from you, is it?" Van Dam replies, turning his attention back to the racks of weapons. A few final selections have yet to be made.
Hellen von Xie fixes her eyes on Warester's every movement, and she purses her mouth as she considers the words yet unspoken.
"Van Dam, are you going alone?"
"I haven't decided yet." he answers frankly.
"There is another thing." Hellen says with a sigh.
"What is it, my dear?" Van Dam asks.
"An emissary just arrived. One of our contacts from Dalaran. There is a new contract. A contract you would be able to accomplish during the course of your visit."
Warester Van Dam's interest peaks. Whatever Hellen was suggesting had to be something noteworthy for her to be so hesitant.
"You sound reserved, Hellen. What is so special about this contract?"
"The target is the master of Kul Tiras. Admiral Thaumas Proudmoore, who is said to be attending the conference."
"Ah." Van Dam mutters in a low tone. Perhaps this would be problematic indeed. "Does Travot know?"
Hellen nods, biting her lip.
"He received the emissary in the first place."
Van Dam simply shrugs and finishes adjusting his belt.
"No matter. Such affairs are my business. I will have the final word. I don't even have to tell Travot what I decide. I am in a hurry."
Hellen folds her arms and follows him to the ground floor of the manor. As she pursues him, she continues to talk.
"Don't anger him, Van Dam. You know how he gets."
"It's too late for that, my dear."
"Van Dam?" she asks, as Van Dam climbs atop his mount in the courtyard.
"What of our contracts with Alterac?"
Van Dam is reminded of the deal that was brokered with Court Wizard Caxagord of Alterac, and General Gabranth. The middle-aged spellcaster and his general had requested that Ravenholdt poison the water supplies of the military garrison of Tarren Mill. What had once been a simple task had become a political problem, should Ravenholdt be found out. Tarren Mill had since become part of the Hesperian Alliance, giving it powerful allies. Business opportunities were running out. Van Dam could not help but wonder if he was being cornered into choosing sides in the conflict. Thus far, Ravenholdt had maintained interests against many powerful men and women in Hesperia, all of which now had the network to strike back. That was, of course, should they ever discover that Ravenholdt was behind it all.
Skirvar and Urel are left with their nerves on edge while the imposing elf considers their proposal. Surely he would not be foolish enough to refuse the opportunity to be friends with mighty Ironforge. No less, to have a pagan church and sanctuary constructed for his people. By dwarven standards, Skirvar was being rather generous. He only hoped that Kariel Winthalus understood that.
Finally, the elf speaks. He is clearly amused, and one of his fine, auburn eyebrows is raised.
"You would offer me what exactly, dwarf? Arms deals? Do you think we need your clumsy metals dragged across half the continent just to rust in a corner? And you would offer us churches? Churches! That is quite an entertaining notion. Yes, surely we of the Benefactors will travel to the cold, muddy south to wallow in such churches."
Skirvar can see that Urel is becoming enraged. Urel's face is broiling red, and his powerful jaw is clenched shut while his fists tense. However, the dwarves are surprised when Kariel speaks again.
"And yet, what is my alternative? To kill you? What would that achieve, dwarf? Nothing. I am no fool, believe you that much." Kariel says with a laugh. "I will accept your propositions. They are meagre in comparison to the splendour that we strive for, but they are more useful to us than your bloated corpses."
Urel finally exhales, and scratches his beard.
"Ye don' have much courtesy, elf."
Kariel grins at him and winks.
"And you smell like piss and toddle into my homeland without first wiping your feet. Now follow me. My spire is not far. There you will find your Light suckling bastard. I hope you can figure out how to unchain him yourself."
Despite the verbal confrontation, Kariel Winthalus leads his new guests to an imposing white tower rising above the golden canopy. Standing at the entrance are two figures, dressed in heavy green plate armour designed in the patterns of leaves. Kariel pauses as he walks between them.
"These are vindicators of the High Order. Their patron has donated them to ensure my safety. Don't touch them, don't breathe on them and don't look them in the eyes, or they will kill you."
Once inside, Skirvar and Urel are led upstairs. Much to their surprise, Jaril is not actually in chains. On the contrary, he is comfortably seated at a table, upon which a great feast rests. Aromas and scents tickle Skirvar's senses. He has just walked in on a banquet. Several other elves are seated at the table, including an imposing woman with ebony coloured hair. She is the first to rise and bow before Kariel Winthalus. "Master Winthalus, welcome home. I see you have found more bearded animals."
Kariel softens before the woman.
"Magus Rimtori." he whispers, clearly awed by her. "I apologize, but indeed, these are the rest of the party that accompanied our other short guest. Seat yourselves, dwarves. There is fine eating to be had."
Skirvar and Urel hastily take places alongside Jaril. They watch him keenly for injuries or signs of madness or mental damage. Their friend seems fine, however, and beckons them to relax.
"I started te' wonder if ye'd ever find me, lads." Jaril mutters gloomily. "I harly' been ere' for long an' already I'm dyin for some proper ale and real food."
Urel grabs him by the shoulder.
"What'd they to do ya, Jaril? Is all well?"
"Aye Urel, calm yourself. I'm fine, son. They interrogated me, but left me alone once they were done."
The conversation is interrupted when Kariel Winthalus clinks his glass for silence.
"Our finery has been desecrated by hairy midgets, and for this, I apologize. However, it appears that our dirty, pink kobold friends here are potential allies, despite the religious vocation of our first guest." Magus Rimtori clears her throat.
"How can they be our 'friends', Winthalus?"
Kariel smiles again, and explains Skirvar's offer.
There is a brief silence. Then Kariel speaks again.
"Dalaran has fallen to the Zinites of the Archareveim, and Gilneas too buckles under pagan weight. Kul Tiras remains, as always, a steadfast nation in its devotion to the Four Gods. We are not alone, my brothers and sisters. Tomorrow, we travel to Dalaran, where we will consult with our pagan brothers. The time has come for us to create a grand alliance against the Holy Light! We will restore this world to a time when our primordial deities ruled! I have forged a pact with the Prophet, and he has spoken. The time is now!"
That night, the dwarves are given a room to share. They finally have a chance to speak. After talking about their experiences in Zul'Aman, Skirvar and Urel confront Jaril about his own situation.
"Well lads, them elves were not gentle. I spoke too much, per'aps. But I see now that the Holy Light is in trouble. Skirvar, I am forever your friend. But ye cannae get tangled in the politics of this madness. Many o' us dwarves follow the Holy Light. Don' forget me either, Skirvar. I won' fight against my own religion."
Urel coughs, and twirls a finger in his bushy beard.
"Well, 'em elves were not exactly friendly or polite! But they might give us one grand opportunity. Per'aps they can give us the magic we need for our domestic affairs, a cure for the thane an' all. But we gotta make a decision, Skirvar. They seem to think we're gonna be poolin' our forces to side with 'em."
Skirvar realises that he needs the elves to get to Dalaran, and that they would probably harm him if he does not satisfy them once there. It seems to Skirvar that again he is a prisoner, or at least, a guest without much freedom.
"Whether ye' make an alliance with them pagans or no, Skirvar, it prolly a good idea to spy on 'em, tag along for the ride. See what they know, or what's useful to us. But still, ye gotta decide what choices ye gonna make for Ironforge. Kariel will prolly confront us tomorrow before the portal is opened."
OOC: You can include your reply to Kariel in your update, and you can even write the sequence to teleport the Benefactors and dwarves to Dalaran. There you can approach whom you want or make the next big choice yourself. I don't want to get you trapped in one place. You can also write as your lieutenant in Ironforge as well, if you want anything to be done back at home.
Javali cannot help but feel apprehension while asking for General Perinany's help. The Legion truly had no set obligations to help Dalaran at this time, and yet, if it did, it meant that the Hesperian Alliance would have a truly invaluable tool at its disposal.
General Perinany takes his time in replying. This only unnerves Javali more, as he is a man who always likes to know where he stands. At this point, he has no idea. His worst fears begin to materialize once the General replies.
"You are not Grigori Dosantos, are you? At least, you do not look like him."
"No, I am lord Javali, I-"
"Silence!" Perinany shouts. "I know who you are; there is no need to tell me. It was a rhetorical question, dear dictator. All I wish to know is why I should favour your call over that of the Kirin Mora."
Javali's mouth twists in disdain.
"I am the ruler of Dalaran. Grigori Dosantos and the rest of the Council of Six are history. History which will hardly be remembered for its paltry nature."
The General is not amused.
"And who decrees the right to rule in Dalaran?"
"I do." Javali replies. "My position has been legalized and the people flock to me. I am now the foundation that keeps Hesperia standing. I do not know how informed you are, dear General, but in your long absence, Hesperia has been united. The Kirin Mora is nothing more than a rebellion. Since the inception of that rebellion, I have killed two remaining members of the Council of Six. Only Grigori Dosantos remains, and he is a man more selfish than I. His own magi begin to desert him."
General Perinany can be heard drawing in a deep breath. Then he shouts.
"These things were not for you to decide! The Perinany Legion has defended Dalaran for generations upon generations, and forever have we served the Kirin Tor. Why would we insult them by aligning ourselves with you?"
Javali maintains composture.
"Because the Kirin Tor is defunct. Grigori Dosantos leads the Kirin Mora. They are a brief flame that will be snuffed out. Come home, Perinany. Our people need you. If you act against me, you will only destroy Hesperia and contradict your oath."
General Perinany takes a moment to contemplate.
"I will need time to deliberate. The Perinany Legion has been inactive for too long. We grow restless. But do not assume it is your side we will fight on. Not until you can prove to us that it is Dalaran that you serve, and not yourself."
It is Perinany who cut off the line of communication. Javali is left in the gloom of the chamber, the Legion Stone cold and dead once more.
Eventually, the time comes for the other leaders of the Hesperian Alliance to be called. The purposes of the meeting are catalogued as glassy images of each ruler of each city appear suspended around Javali in a chamber specially designed for such communications. No doubt each ruler was being assisted in the communication by special orbs like the Legion Stone, and magi to operate them. To this end, the smallest and weakest villages and towns of Hesperia were unable to attend. However, they answered to the larger cities anyway, so it mattered little.
As always, Count Scipio of Andriano leads the procceedings.
"You have called for a grand meeting once again, and we answered your summons, Javali. We thank you for the communication stones." "Anything to preserve our good relations." Javali says half-heartedly. "Now, for the matter at hand. I think it is right to bring to our attention the matter of the Fenris Isle conference."
"Ah, yes. That waste of time." pompous Zartus of Seashire mutters.
"Why attend such a thing? It is only so that we may be insulted by the selfish kings of our enemies!" Dorian of Nevezia shouts.
"Because, my friends, we must maintain integrity; announce ourselves to the world. In this fashion, we will be branded in their memories, and not soon forgotten. Is that not in our best interests?" Javali asks, extending his hands as if to appeal to each ruler in turn.
Count Scipio raises his voice.
"Perhaps. As always, I assume you want the role of representative?"
"It would be only right." Javali answers plainly. "However, I have other issues to discuss."
"Discuss them." Count Dorian of Nevezia utters gruffly.
Javali looks from one ruler to another.
"I am on the verge of finalizing an alliance with Kul Tiras."
This causes uproar. It is most evidently Zartus of Seashire who is most upset.
"You would ally with our enemy? It was Kul Tiras who helped Gilneas blockade Seashire in the first place so many years ago!"
"You forget one key point, Count Zartus." Javali intones. "It was, indeed, so many years ago. We must put aside old hatreds. The Tirasians are pagans."
"I am not pagan." Scipio grumbles. "Neither is most of Andriano. What does that have to do with us?"
"Or us." Zartus growls. "Seashire despises paganism!"
Javali raises his hands for silence. He suddenly begins to wonder if Zinizar's Hareveim did a good enough job in terrorizing the countryside.
"Ah, but you cannot ignore that the fanatics of the Holy Light are persecuting our people regardless of religion. Dosantos simply uses the zealotry of the masses to burn and murder our farmers with the excuse of paganism, no matter the truth! The Tirasians are thus willing to help us brunt this crusade. You must all recognize this, and declare war on the Kirin Mora to ensure the safety of Hesperia."
Mayor Juntridge of Tarren Mill seems to surrender to the propostion.
"I would rather have Kul Tiras as a friend than an enemy."
"Aye, I suppose. Although they did nearly sack my town yesterday." Zartus says, almost sarcastically. "If they will instead trade with me, I won't refuse them. And the Kirin Mora have proven to be nothing but a nuisance. We haven't been able to contact our families in Ambermill since the rebellion began."
"Outlaw fanaticism, then." Javali says, keeping in mind the next one of his ambitions for the meeting. "Then you will immediately make every witch hunt illegal, and protect your people. Begin drafting soldiers rather than allowing the unemployed to sit around lazily. The time has come to crush the Kirin Mora. Assist me in this!"
"I'm with you." Scipio declares. The rest confirm their dedication as well.
"Excellent." Javali says with relief. At least that settled one matter. It was certainly a breath of fresh air from the Perinany's denial of his demand.
Just as he steps outside of the room after dismissing the counts and countesses, he is confronted by Ulyssan.
"My lord, attempts are being made to form a portal in the courtyard. We can block off the attempt if you so wish it."
"Where is the source of this spell from?" Javali asks.
It had been awhile since such a thing had occured. There were few elves in Dalaran these days. Most had retired back to Quel'Thalas in the past two decades, viewing Hesperia as a decaying land and Dalaran as the jewel of such rot.
Meanwhile, several miles away, General Marius sits atop his horse, overlooking the potential battlefields before him. A towering region of highlands cuts him off from easy access to the distant town of Ambermill. One of the paths open to his army would take him along the coast and straight into the Ambermill rural areas.
However, it has been reported that one of Grigori Dosantos' best archmagi, Saadhal, is patrolling Lake Lordamere. It would be a risk to take the army along that route. On the other hand, travelling through the highlands would risk easy ambush from the Kirin Mora. The decision of how to move his legions of thousands upon thousands of men has to be made. Javali is counting on him.
OOC: There isn't much I could think of introducing for Thaumas in Dalaran just now.
Xanthus Alverold; regent of Kul Tiras until the return of Thaumas Proudmoore. A proud young man, and one dedicated to honouring his bloodline. A man tasked with the defense of Boralus and the defeat of Admiral Janus.
It has been but a few days since the departure of his Thaumas, and Xanthus has had his hands full handling domestic affairs. The Lightist population has been demanding that it be honoured for remaining largely docile instead of defecting to Janus. The Lightist artistocrat, Cyrus, was the one who ensured that tension between pagans and Lightists did not flare in Boralus. Xanthus was told that he was to work hand in hand with Cyrus to ensure religious tolerance.
Then there was Vizier Kalabrond. Something was amiss with the man. Phorcys had fumed at him, and ever since, Kalabrond was forced to prove himself to prevent his execution.
Xanthus is on a routine patrol through Boralus when a company of riders trots up to greet him under the shadow of the palace. It is the de-facto guard captain of Boralus, at least, until the return of Redpath from Hesperia. It is Captain Henry Caldwell. In his company is Cyrus, the Lightist artistocrat.
"Hail, lord Alverold!" Caldwell says, riding up alongside the young man.
"What news, captain?"
"I think we might just have a lead, my lord." the man says.
"A lead to what, may I ask?" Xanthus inquires.
Cyrus grins ear to ear, and takes upon himself the honour of presenting the information.
"As Admiral Thaumas Proudmoore chose peace with his Lightist population, he gained quite a few friends. It appears that some of those friends have divulged information as to the location of Admiral Janus' rebel fleet."
This certainly peaked Xanthus' curiosity.
"Tell me, then."
"It is said that Janus is moored at Zul'Dare, in a series of inlets. The population there has always been somewhat isolationist, and loyal to Muhar alone. Janus is hiding in the veil of their silence. A few Lightists on the island managed to get a message out, however."
Caldwell slams a fist onto the palm of his hand.
"This is our chance to prove ourselves! We still have a few couatl stabled, and we can scuttle the fleet in time. We just need you to organize preparations, lord Xanthus. If there are any tactics or approaches to make, I will leave you to detail them."