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OOC: Wabbajack's post was the dialogue between Skirvar, Javali and Kariel conducted through MSN. I'll summarise it for you. Ironforge, Benefactors and Dalaran enter into deals. Which means that pagan factions are growing pretty powerful, so hardcore Lightists, watch out.

Ravenholdt


Warester Van Dam prepared to make the boarding as the corsair ship lugged ever nearer. This would not be a walk in the park. "Oi, any trouble on deck?" a voice rang out. Warester mustered his best northern Hesperian accent and replied. "Nay, comrades. Just a lil' trouble with a deckhand; thought 'e could outdrink the cap'n." The reply was less than amused. "Well, we pulling alongside ta' check. Didn' sound like a party ta me."

Well, it was not like Warester was expecting anything else. At least he lowered their guard. The Grand Master braced himself, lowering himself onto the tips of his feet and crouching low behind the rail. The enemy ship came alongside, and through the gloom, Van Dam could see the milling figures of the river pirates. "Well, bless me mother with the 'Olly Light." one of the corsairs muttered. "They're all dead."

Van Dam figured that now was a better time than any to make a grand entrance. He opened with a jump forwards and a savage kick, grounding the nearest river pirate. With the Fang in hand, the Grand Master looked over his foes to see where to strike next. They were an assortment of lowlives, with a couple of gnolls in attendance.

One figure amidst the crowd stood out far more than any others. Even at a first glance, it was clear to see that the captain of this ship was no ordinary man. Van Dam stood facing a fair skinned, thin figure, draped in a glorious purple coat. The pirate captain entertained a nasty grin, crowned by golden hair swept back into jagged strands, and unlike his comrades, he paraded elegance and grace.

"I hate thieves." the captain sighed, before addressing his men. "What are you waiting for? Kill him, before I get angry."

Van Dam did not wait for the pirates to make the next move. He followed his kick up with a whirl of blades, striking through gnoll and man alike. Their cutlasses could not touch him; one moment he was there, the next he was behind his enemy, knife flashing. The pirate captain watched bemusedly, heavy black boots planted firmly on the deck. "Damnit. Why do I even hire you goons? Get the hell away. I said; GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE ASSASSIN. NOW."

That put a stop to the fighting. Van Dam prepared to deal a direct strike to the captain, not doubting that this was just an attempt by the filthy pirate to buy himself time to escape. "Who are you, villain?" Van Dam asked, extending the Fang at his foe.

The captain bowed extravagantly, unleashing a wolfish smile upon the Grand Master. "You no doubt know my name already, darling. I am Faldren Darafel! Chief corsair lord of the rivers and lakes of Lordaeron and Alterac! I am the menace of the running waters, and the, uh, scourge of river vessels. Stuff like that. Nevermind. What matters is that you're trying to kill me, yes?" "That happens to be the case, yes." Van Dam conceded.

Still, the captain had been right about one other thing as well. Van Dam knew the name of Faldren Darafel. Faldren; notorious for his escapades of pillaging and looting through every body of water within the continent. He had been known to brave the coasts and seas as well when the rivers began to bore him. One thing that was noteworthy about this Faldren Darafel was that he was, in fact, the admiral of Alterac. Lord Xie of Alterac had employed this man to steal and murder, and to poison the wells of Tarren Mill as well it seemed.

"Well, at least tell me why you are trying to kill me." Darafel said with a smile. "Listen up, comrade. I'm not a criminal. You and I; we're both working for someone, yes? We need to earn a living. Else, you'd not be here in the first place. But how much are you being paid to take me out? Can't we establish a partnership? Tell me who sent you? And we kill him together?"

---

The Amani


That night, Jin'thek and Gruc'jen ascended the stairs of the Shrine of Ula-Tek. Theirs would be a difficult task indeed. They would have to find the ancient, hidden shrines of the Loa deep in the bowels of the catacombs, and use them to commune with the gods.

"I don' like this, mon." Gruc'jen whispered. Jin'thek led the way, bearing a great torch to light the path. "Don't be afraid, Gruc'jen." Jin'thek replied. "We are blessed. We will be safe in here." The old Witch Doctor wasn't placated, however. He shook his weary head. "No, Jin'thek mon. Few who enter Ula-Tek ever leave. Tis' the ancestral holdings of we Amani, but you know that since we lost the wars, the Loa been angry with us. They won't like us trespassing. We keepin our ancient treasures in 'ere, and they are protected from looters." Jin'thek stopped for a moment and put a hand on the Witch Doctor's shoulder. Then he drew Zin'rokh, the sword of trollish legends. "Look at this, Gruc'jen. What do you see?" "I see Zin'rokh, mon." "Then we are truly blessed." Jin'thek said. "We go now."

They descended into the bleak cold of the Shrine of Ula-Tek, leaving the sounds of village life behind them. The Summertide festival was coming to an end, and now the Amani were making preparations instead. Jin'thek would have a lot to do in the coming days.

They travelled deep and far, and began to lose track of the passage of time. The corridors they traversed started to seem the same, with no promise of taking them to their destination. "You know, mon, we don' know who built this temple." Gruc'jen murmured. "There only be stories. That this place been here before da' breaking of the world. When the land was one. This place; one o' the places we can hear the gods speak. But we gotta watch out real careful, else we hear the wrong gods talk to us. Not all gods are good, mon. Some whisper madness into yo' mind while ye sleep." Jin'thek only grunted.

Just as it seemed that they were truly lost, the two of them stepped into a huge room, branching off into the darkness. Just ahead of them were a series of altars, with massive statues and intricate carvings spiralling across the stonework. "Is this it, Gruc'jen?" "Aye, mon. I dun been here for many years, but the memory still be fresh in my mind."

Jin'thek walked up to the altars, and looked over each one individually. There were carvings and rows of statues with the likenesses of all sorts of beastly creatures. Gruc'jen ran a hand along one of the figures. "Visages o' the gods, mon. Ula-tek, Nalorakk, Akil'zon, Jan'alai, Shadra, Halazzi, Hakkar, Ueetay no Mueh'zala, Eraka no Kimbul... and more. All of them, mon. They're all here. Not all of these are our gods, mon. Know that much. This place is a place to commune with da spirit world, but it be a dangerous realm."

Gruc'jen turned to Jin'thek. "You will face great danger if you try to commune with them, mon. You might not even end up talking to the right god. You don' have to do this, Jin'thek. Many have been lost to this place." "I am no mere troll."

Then Jin'thek sat down before the statue of the great spider, Shadra, and prepared to commune with her. The truth behind Jintha'alor would have to be discovered. Gruc'jen eased Jin'thek into a trance, and activated the runes on the shrines.

Jin'thek passed out. His mind wandered into the borders of space and time; the spirit realm opened up before him. He saw the past, present and future sprawl before him in a weave, but he could not read the patterns. Instead, he opened up his mind and called out to Shadra to speak with him. He was met with silence.

No matter how long he tried, only silence responded.

At least, another voice finally rang into his soul.

It was promising to help him contact Shadra, if only he would open himself up to this voice. "I can help you. I know whom you seek. The lady slumbers. I will help you awake her."

"Who are you?" Jin'thek asked, his soul adrift.

"I am of the gods. I am and always have been. You trolls know me only as Ueetay no Mueh'zala. A god of death, but also of life. Just as surely as you live, thus are you also my son. What do you seek from Shadra that you could not seek from me?"

---

Lordaeron

(second half)

Meanwhile, around the outskirts of Andorhal, the main vanguard of the Lordaeron army drawing close to the city. Witch Hunter Commander Adaen Melrache commanded the legion in its entirety. Melrache was one of the favoured amidst Archbishop Marden's retinue, and there had been good reason to send him to lead here. Standing at the front of his steel-clad wall of swords and shields, Adaen Melrache could not help but smirk. Despite the losses that the vanguard had suffered fighting the People's Front in the midland, he hoped to finish off the rebels once and for all now that they were convening in this place.

Andorhal would be the site of the definitive battle for the midland. Adaen Melrache was only too glad to be the one to lead the sons and daughters of Lordaeron in this struggle. Trained in the dungeons of the Archbishop to rise to become the most talented Witch Hunter Lordaeron had ever seen, it was no surprise that Melrache was a feared man.

As the army got closer, it was increasingly clear that there was trouble brewing in Andorhal. Plumes of smoke rose from the city. Cries and shouts of battle emnated from within.

"Captain. Report." Melrache bellowed when the captain of the vanguard rode back to the army, after having checked out the city of Andorhal. "Commander Melrache." the captain said. "The gates are barred." Melrache stroked his chin. "Then the People's Front are already at work. Take two chapters of Witch Hunters and open the gates for us. I'm going to flank the city and make sure not a single rebel gets out of there alive."

The soldiers were rushed to various stations along the roads, while Commander Adaen himself gathered together several battalions to storm into the city. He waited for half an hour, and then quite suddenly, the city gates swung open. The Witch Hunter chapters were waiting on the other side. "Strike down anyone who does not pledge allegiance to the Light or the crown!" Adaen commanded, and led the charge of soldiers streaming into the city.

They quickly met savage resistance from rangers and axemen dressed for life in the wilds. These were the rebels who had hounded the vanguard from the cover of the forests, and struck at them when they were least prepared. The men who they were fighting now were the brutes of the People's Front; many of which had helped Canbrad infiltrate Lordaeron City on the eve of the public execution of Maximus Krowl.

Adaen Melrache had one target in particular. As a Witch Hunter, he would hunt down Canbrad's advisor; the Maroon hedgewizard, Oran. The man who had helped mastermind the attack in Lordaeron City, and the man who had fought Thomassy and helped Canbrad escape after the assault. Oran; a man who had served in Dalaran. Adaen had done his research. This Oran had turned to harsher magics, and had somehow ended up in the employ of the People's Front. He was no doubt the link between the Maroon Cult in Strattania and the People's Front. If Oran could be slain, the link would be broken.

"Push them into the city squares! Slaughter them in the dozen!" Adaen Melrache yelled, pushing through crowds of fleeing people to strike at those who raised weapons against him. The city guard still endured in some places, heavily besieged. Fortunately, the arrival of the Lordaeron soldiers had helped relieve them of their burdens.

Melrache soon found himself cut off from the rest of his party. He was accompanied only by a few of his personal guard and several Witch Hunters. "We need to regroup. Captain, do you have any idea which part of the city we are in?" Adaen asked. "Western part, sir, judging from the town hall to the east." "Well, push towards the city gates. That'll bring us closer to the army and we can use the walls to locate the rest of the men."

Adaen Melrache and his retinue continued their struggle, encountering spots of resistance on the way. The frenzy was quickly getting out of hand. It was difficult to distinguish friend from foe. Eventually, they managed to climb onto the ramparts, and look across at the city. "By the Light." Adaen murmured. From their viewpoint, they could see the bands of Lordaeron soldiers struggling aimlessly through the city. They were being picked off by a myriad of archers sheltering and firing from inside and on top of buildings. At every turn the soldiers of Lordaeron were being hounded and struck at, without a single target to focus on. "It's a slaughter."

Suddenly Adaen could see that the flag flying above the town hall was being lowered, and soon, a new banner was being hoisted. The crest of Hearthglen combined with the symbols of the rebellion; silver sickle and sword of the People's Front. "Canbrad must be in the town hall." Adaen murmured. "My lord!" the captain yelled. "Look! The warehouses!"

Teams of soldiers, no doubt serving the Front, were clambering up the hillsides in the north of the town towards the grain warehouses of Andorhal. The city was the food centre of the kingdom; if anything befell the supplies, many towns and villages would starve. Adaen and his soldiers charged down the walls, hoping to take the shortcuts in the streets to reach the warehouses in time.

A cold voice rang out behind Adaen just as they turned one of the corners. Standing proudly as ever was none other than Oran, the weathered Bruxist hedgewizard. He seemed more worn by time since their last encounter. "Commander! Thank you for coming." "I was hoping to find you." Adaen said through gritted teeth, tightening his grip on his Witchblade. "Put that away, before it is too late. Let us negotiate, Commander." Oran said. "We do not treaty with rebels!" Adaen spat. "Oh? You do not? Would it surprise you to learn that Maximus Krowl, our dear master, betrayed us?"

The notion seemed ridiculous. "I am not surprised! You are worthless scum, one and all." Adaen growled. Oran sighed. "It became evident when some of Krowl's lieutenants tried to sabotage our plans. Canbrad caught them himself. We tortured them. They confessed everything. Recall, not too long ago, how we tried to free Krowl from execution. We failed. Ah, or so it seemed. We know that Krowl is alive. The game is up, Commander."

However, Adaen Melrache was out of his league. Whatever Oran was speaking of, he had not a clue. He had seen Krowl die with his own two eyes; this rebel must be mad or truly misinformed. "You play mind tricks with me, rebel." Adaen grunted. "Oh, so you are just a pawn then, Commander? Forgive me for wasting both our time. Regardless, you have a choice. Break off the siege and leave Andorhal to us, or we will burn the warehouses to the ground. Already your forces inside the city are being slaughtered. You have no chance of victory, unless you take us all down with you." "You call yourselves the 'People's Front'? You would condemn the people to starvation. I'm calling your bluff, Oran." "Are you so certain?"

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