OOC: It's taken so long mostly because of the enormity of the updates I am having to write now making me hide and procrastinate. But let's get this moving again.
In one week I'm going to London and Amsterdam and I'll be away for two weeks... so let's try and get Fenris on the road before I leave.
Within the city of Andorhal, all hell continued to break loose. The fighting was reaching a climax, and Adaen Melrache had ordered the rush to reclaim the food stores and warehouses.
It was the creation of a single goal for the Lordaeron army to converge upon that restored to its troops a sense of unity and purpose. They were no longer just aimlessly milling through Andorhal. Now they had a target. The food capital of Lordaeron just over the hills to the north of town. Each and every soldier knew that if they allowed the People's Front to torch those supplies, their families would starve.
Thus it was that the white and blue colours of Lordaeron stampeded through the People's Front, cutting and slicing through the surprised rebels that clustered around the supplies. They were cornered, with their backs to the warehouses, and no avenues of escape. Oran, the Maroon wizard, shoved his way through them and ordered them to set fire to the granaries. "Raze them to the ground! Do not allow our sacrifices to be in vain! Torch everything! For the People's Front!"
Yet, his tired and weary rebels did not comply. Anger surged through Oran as he looked across his men, who refused to carry out their orders. "What in the hells is wrong with you? Obey my commands!" One of the men threw down his sword instead, his eyes narrowed and his posture bold. "No. We've already lost. Why should we condemn our own people? What will it achieve?"
Oran flew into a rage, and backhanded the deviant. "How dare you?" At this, the injured man grabbed Oran by the collar and threw him into the barricades. The surprised hedgewizard had no time to react before his head crashed into the wood, knocking him out. Just then, a line of Lordaeron soldiers surged over the barricades, converging around the final defenders of the People's Front.
However, the rebels had followed the example given, and had cast down their arms. The battle for the warehouses was already over. The patriot who had defied Oran inclined his head to the soldiers of Lordaeron. "I am Lieutenant Warren Greystone. We lay down our arms and put ourselves at the king's mercy."
Wrought with indecision, the de facto captain of the Lordaeron soldiers pondered what to do next. He had, after all, been ordered not to take any prisoners.
Meanwhile, Adaen Melrache and his personal entourage were wasting no time. They were rushing in the opposite direction; towards the town hall. Adaen knew that if Canbrad was allowed to escape, then the People's Front would live on. The removal of Krowl from the leadership echelon had not stopped the People's Front. Adaen knew it was because of this man; this one defiant old man who would stop at nothing to achieve his goals.
Adaen and his Witch Hunters found the town hall undefended. They charged in, and were met with a shocking sight. The magistrate of Andorhal was dangling from a rafter, a noose wrapped around his neck. At his feet were the corpses of who had no doubt been his clerks and advisors. Not one of them had been spared the sword.
"Animals." Adaen spat.
Finally, Adaen set foot in the main hall. It was a vast room, littered with chairs and tables intended to seat the aristocracy of town. At the very end was the red seat of the magistrate, upon which an old man sat, alone.
Adaen had only seen Canbrad once, and it had been at a distance. It had been during the attack on Lordaeron City. That occassion had been enough, however. Adaen knew without a doubt that this man was Canbrad. Canbrad's white beard and hair were dirtied and his armour was torn. His eyes were shadowed and his complexion was pale. This old man was clearly at the end of his days. "Welcome to the shadows of Andorhal." Canbrad announced, rising from his seat to applaud the Witch Hunters.
"Are you ready to die, old man?" Adaen asked, leading his Witch Hunters forward with swords raised.
Canbrad only smiled grimly. "I have been ready to die for years, youngling." he said with a sigh. "However, while I still draw breath I hope to serve my country. As you can see, I am not trying to escape Andorhal. This rotted granary will be my last stand. I have run from your petty king for long enough."
Adaen ignored the old man's rumblings, and motioned for his hunters to circle Canbrad. "Do you have any last words, Canbrad?" The old man barked a laugh. "Only this." he began, drawing his sword. "A storm is coming. What I tried to do was to open the eyes of the people, so that we could all stand together and survive the coming war. But it seems that my dream was in vain. You will all die. I have seen it in my dreams."
Now Adaen could see that it was exhaustion and despair which had reduced Canbrad to this state. Whatever was on his mind had taken its toll. "Like your hedgewizard, you speak nonsense. Now make your last stand."
Adaen could barely finish his sentence before Canbrad was upon him. Despite his disatvantages, the old rebel struck with animalistic fury. The Witch Hunters stepped back at Adaen's signal. This old fool would be allowed an honourable death. Adaen deflected several blows aimed at his chest, but soon found himself being pushed back. His injuries from the struggle in the streets were hampering him. Canbrad was, after all, the one with the advantage.
Not wishing to waste any more time, Adaen whipped out a throwing knife from his belt and hurled it. It spiralled and thudded into Canbrad's side, and the old man could not help but lower his defenses. In that precise moment, Adaen struck the killing blow, driving his sword through Canbrad's throat. The old man's eyes rolled back, and he gurgled blood. Then he was down.
"Our task here is complete." Adaen grunted. "Andorhal will be secured. Send word to the king and to Marshal Sherman of what has transpired here. We will await further orders."
Faldren Darafel's false smile slowly crumbled as he returned Van Dam's stare. He adjusted his collar, and then tapped his chin. "Intriguing." he repeated.
"Well?" Van Dam asked, prepared for the worst.
"Fenris Isle, you say? The Admiral of Kul Tiras? Plunder?" Faldren mused, clearly uncertain. "It sounds like suicide, my boy. Really, it does. I'm no fool. I've travelled these waters all my life, and if one thing is certain, I know that when a king is on the water, he's not unaccompanied."
"In that case." Van Dam grumbled, running a finger along the Fang.
"Don't get me wrong." Faldren cut in with a dashing grin and a wink. "I like danger. In fact, I love it, and danger loves me too! How else would a scary assassin end up on my ship? So I'll tell you what, comrade!"
"Do tell." Van Dam said. It was mildly satisfying to see this self-styled admiral tackle his words to save his own hide. Van Dam was also secretly satisfied that he would not have to test this admiral's mettle. Either way, pirates hated assassins, and it went both ways. It was an ingrained spite with origins that could not be traced.
"Well, I will allow you to squat on my ship on my way home. I'll investigate Lordamere, and by the gods I hope you aren't toying with me. Of course, in exchange, I hope you stick to your ninja, assassin or whatever you call yourself code. Repay the favour! Let's work together sometime."
"Perhaps." Van Dam allowed. He would not sign himself up for anything without knowing what he was getting himself into. At least he could get to Fenris in time this way, without signing any deals.
"Oh, and you'll have to share a room with Nibbles." Faldren said, his voice wicked with delight.
A large brown gnoll next to Faldren gave a snort and a bark. "You with me, human." it dribbled.
There were some things that Van Dam had not trained himself against, and the following nights were an example of such.
Despite the overwhelming stench of the pirates and their crude humour, the voyage north was, for the most part, rather pleasant. They passed through narrow valleys, creeks and waterways that most ships would have missed entirely. Faldren steered them clear of any dangers, often whistling or singing to himself along the way. Van Dam even found him to be decent in a conversation, although they had very little love for one another, and even less in common.
"How did you end up trying to kill me, anyway?" Faldren asked Van Dam one evening as they rounded a bend. By now they were in Alterac, and were taking a western river down towards Lordamere. "I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." Van Dam replied, looking off into the distance. "Very funny." Faldren grumbled. "In all fairness, I have a right to ask. You're a strange and scary man and you're sleeping a few feet away from me."
Van Dam shrugged. "But what about yourself, Admiral? Do enlighten me; how is it that a generous and kind man of your calibre ended up raiding and pillaging?" "Oh! What a tale! And how often I tell it and retell it. Of course, every time I change a few of the details around." Faldren replied. "But I'll tell you. For starters, I'm a half-elf. Or quarter elf. Born in Caer Darrow, I think. I'm not sure. Or perhaps I am something else, but I wouldn't tell you anyway. Either way, my human parent took me home to Alterac, where I was raised along the river, being heroic and fishing and wrestling bears. After murdering a dozen officials and making friends with the Chancellors, I became, admiral. Or something like that."
Eventually, the ship anchored and most of the crew rowed ashore. Van Dam and Faldren joined them, where they set up a small campfire. Naturally, Van Dam stayed well away from them, enjoying some fresh air under the shadow of a tree. Suddenly, one of the crew shouted in alarm. Van Dam jumped to his feet peered onto the beach. "Great. It better not be those pesky vengeful villagers." Faldren grumbled.
Van Dam could see that a ragged man was ambling along the shoreline. Realising that the pirates would likely kill him, Van Dam rushed forward and intercepted them. The ragged man keeled over, and Vam Dam got to his knees to inspect him. Faldren was soon at the scene, glaring in disdain. "Careful, you might get it on your shoes, assassin."
Ignoring the pirate, Van Dam rested the man's head in his lap. "Get me some food, quickly, Faldren!" Suddenly, Faldren's eyes were wide, and his mouth ajar. It was the expression of recognition. Van Dam eyed the pirate with equal surprise. "Do you know him?" "Perhaps. Bring him into camp." Within the hour, the man was seated next to the fire and had eaten. He had said nothing so far. The pirates glared at him angrily, but nobody wanted to cross Van Dam. Finally, Van Dam took the man aside, away from the pirates.
The ragged man was unshaven, his eyes wild. Under the mess, he was clearly just a middle-aged fellow, and quite unremarkable. He would have passed for a villager, had his rags not formerly been robes. Van Dam had his suspicions. "Tell me your name, if you can. You can speak freely now. As long as you are with me, you are safe." Nodding, the ragged figure raised his head. "My name is Caxagord. Who are you?" "Who I am is not important, Caxagord. What matters is that you tell me what happened to you." The man's facade crumbled, and he nearly burst into tears. He tore the rags off of his chest, to reveal a glaring eruption of pink skin, surrounding a scorch mark. Van Dam gasped. It must have been a terrible wound, though it had healed for the most part. It was surely a terrible burn.
Caxagord sobbed, and nearly fell over, but Van Dam supported him. "I was betrayed." Caxagord moaned. He was clearly delirious, barely acknowledging Van Dam. He simply ranted on, disregarding to who he spoke or why. "Lord Xie... I should have known better.... should have known I was next..." "What are you on about, man?" Van Dam asked, trying to gain coherency out of the frail figure. "I was Lord Xie's Court Wizard..." Caxagord moaned. "And then, that fool, Bergan, usurped me. I was left for dead..."
Slowly the story unfolded. Caxagord had been the Court Wizard of Alterac and servant to its king, Lord Xie. He had read the history of his nation; how the Xie bloodline, believing itself to be blessed, had inbred for generations. This had turned the family mad over more than a century, forcing Alterac's Chancellors to secretly assume command. Caxagord had been one of them, but he had witnessed that selfishness, and their disregard for the nation. Xie was just their puppet. Thus, Caxagord had turned Xie on the Chancellors, and most of them had been executed.
Save for a vengeful few...
It was one of the last Chancellors, Bergan, who had regained control over Xie, and had nearly killed Caxagord.
"That is my tale." Caxagord finished, his eyes red and strained. "The Chancellors are trying to regain control... and my beloved king tried to have me killed. Thinking I had been killed, Xie had me thrown into Lordamere Lake, but I swam to the shore... I've wandered along this river for days, trying to return to the capital to inform Gabranth of what has transpired..."
This must be why Faldren Darafel had recognized Caxagord... The Admiral would know his Court Wizard.
Suddenly, Van Dam swung around to face the shore. He could see the pirates staring at them.
"Caxagord, you must tell me, who is Faldren Darafel with? Is he a danger to us? Does he side with the Chancellors?"
"I don't know." Caxagord moaned. "Every group in Alterac serves its own ends... that is why I hope to reach General Gabranth, the regent. Maybe he can stand against Bergan."
"Unless he is working with Bergan." Vam Dam mouthed.
Van Dam then realised that he had gotten himself into the middle of a huge political war, and just on the beach was Admiral Faldren Darafel, one of the leading parties in this struggle. He knew that there was a lot at risk. Faldren had not tried to kill Caxagord yet, and had not even addressed him. There were unspoken words. A shiver ran along Van Dam's spine.
Jin'thek knew that he was likely in danger. Nonetheless, he remained stalwart in the face of this strange god.
Mueh'zala - a god of death. A whisper from his childhood memories.
"Shadra." Mueh'zala chuckled. "You would try to wake a mad spider? If you try to speak with Shadra, she will consume your soul. You would not be the first to try, troll. Her followers have tried to awaken her, but only manage to get themselves consumed. I will not stop you, but I sense great potential in you. I do not wish to see you wasted."
Jin'thek did not falter. "Yet it is my decision, Mueh'zala."
An eerie laugh crept into Jin'thek's thoughts. "So brave. Bravery will not save you from death, troll. I would know." he declared. "Yet, before you depart my company, I wish to know some things."
"What would you know, Mueh'zala?" Jin'thek asked suspiciously.
"I have not been visited in a long time, troll. My touch with the world... it has faded. I cannot see anymore. I dream here, blind. There was a time when I reigned... when the dark troll empire spoke with me directly through my son. But my memory... it has gaps in it. I forget things. Tell me, troll, tell me something about the world outside."
Uncertain of what to say, Jin'thek remained silent.
A furious rumble responded. "Your confusion is the sign of a weak mind. Is my request not simple? Mueh'zala grated. "I live in a timeless river of bickering gods and damned creatures... For brief moments I have fleeting visions of the world that forsook me... so few speak with me. Troll, there comes a point in eternity where one questions why one even exists. I am alone and cold. Why will you not speak with me?"
Jin'thek remained overshadowed by the blatant rage of this freakish god, trying to muster a reply.
"Go then, if that is what you will. Go and leave me to my isolation, if you cannot even tell me why my children are dead, why the world falls silent."
The fierce grip on Jin'thek's soul lessened, and the presence of Mueh'zala began to recede. Jin'thek knew that he could reply to Mueh'zala before he vanished, but he was no longer sure he wanted to.
If one thing was clear, however, it was that the followers of Mueh'zala were not truly hearing the voice of their master, whom they had forsaken. No, if there were priests of Mueh'zala left in the world, they only followed their own interpretations of their god, not his true wishes.
It was a sad fate that befell many Loa. Perhaps it was what had driven Shadra to madness; isolation. Yet, how could such a thing come to pass if Jintha'alor in its entirety worshipped her?
Jin'thek was not certain. Perhaps it was the influence of other gods which sickened these ones in such a fashion. There were ancient tales of malign gods of the old world who had the power to feed off of true gods.
Whatever the case, Jin'thek was far from finished in this realm.
Gustav Mageriff, Levin Rovandiel, Vasgren Haran, Herubrad Garithos and Mattheus Perinany - the names of the five that ultimately made the fist of the Perinany Legion.
The time had come to make plans and settle things. It would be necessary to deliberate the Perinany Legion's next move. War was coming, and Mattheus knew he would have to act responsibly if his men were to survive it.
Their base, Raven Keep, was several miles to the west in the mountains of Silverpine. Yet, that was not to be the place of the grand meeting. They wanted to speak with Grigori Dosantos. After all, he was the one who had contacted them.
News had reached Mattheus that Grigori Dosantos was based in Ambermill, and the dictator of Dalaran, Javali, was besieging him. For this reason, the noble Perinany Legion had gathered for the meeting close to Ambermill.
Levin Rovandiel had been sent to bring a message to Grigori, to summon him to the Glade of the Sword, one of the Perinany Legion's sacred meeting places. From the high point of the Glade, Mattheus could see Ambermill in the distance. Fires raged under the shadows of the night. There was much fighting. Mattheus hoped that Rovandiel would return safely, and he was certain that he would, for Rovandiel was resourceful.
Soon, the fist was reunited. Rovandiel rode into the Glade. Another rider accompanied him. It was a dark haired man, who dismounted and lifted his hood to reveal the familiar face of Grigori Dosantos.
"General Perinany." Girgori said. "I have come. I hope that you have good reason to call me away from my men. The Kirin Mora needs me to hold Ambermill. Yet, I know we cannot hold for long, dear general. That is why I come to you, humbly, seeking the assistance of the fist."
Mattheus regarded the other four members of the fist around him. The meeting had begun, it seemed. "I hear you, Grigori."
Back in Ironforge, tensions were rising. Research had long been underway on several projects, but all the while, the Highthane's health was deteriorating. Many looked to and fro, wondering what would transpire if the Highthane were truly to pass on.
Blackhammer had arrived from Port Baradin. The Dark Iron dwarf had been ambushed, it was said, but Thane Skirvar Thaurissian's forces had helped stave off the assault. It had put Blackhammer in Skirvar's debt.
Yet, Skirvar had been away from Ironforge for a long time indeed. Many worried that without Skirvar, a civil war might unfold if the Highthane died. Thane Featherbeard of the Wildhammers had become regent in Skirvar's absence. However, he had expressed no desire to take the crown.
The Bronzebeards under Rogni Bronzebeard seemed happy enough to attempt to take charge in case of the Highthane's death, and this put them at odds with the Dark Irons and Wildhammers. There was a lot of tension.
Finally, Blackhammer seemed suspiciously interested in gaining favour with the Highthane. Cagrelm Flamebeard, the Highthane's bodyguard, was having none of it.
In the midst of this confusion was Yarin. Yarin was the scout who had been sent to arrange the safety of Blackhammer. He was acting in place of Skirvar in the name of the Dark Irons until he returned.
One morning, he was approached in his headquarters by none other than Thane Featherbeard himself. It was an unexpected visit, and it seemed that the Wildhammer thane was doing it in secrecy.
"Yarin, if ye would speak te me?" Featherbeard intoned. Yarin bowed to Featherbeard. "Of course. What is it ye need, comrade? My doors are always open to ye?" "Highthane Anvilmar is dying, lad." "That aint big news, Featherbeard." Yarin replied. "No, listen to me, lad." Featherbeard replied. "It might be this very week. He's on his deathbed."
Yarin's brows knotted. "We're in trouble." "Aye, lad." Featherbeard replied. "But I got a plan. Tis' somethin we shudda done a long time ago."
Yarin had some idea of what it was. "D'ye mean the Highthane's lost son?"
Featherbeard nodded gravely. "He's the only heir, Yarin. We can find him. He'd take the crown in da face o' civil war."
"Aye." Yarin said. "I should contact Thane Skirvar. If he allows me, we can send a party to bring Relgast Anvilmar home."
This seemed to please Thane Featherbeard. "Good thing, lad. Ye should know that Relgast was last seen in the Wetlands, near the raptor city of Cary'leh."
That sent a chill down Yarin's spine. "Cary'leh? That's a dangerous place." Featherbeard folded his arms. "Aye, and that's why we must waste no time. I don' know what Relgast is thinkin, but we gotta bring him home."