OOC: Oh GURT. As always I burst into laughter unexpectedly.
To all players, Gurt has just basically opened the meeting, so find your appropriate letter he's written to you and sort your diplomatic stance with Ravenholdt out, basically. If you don't, that's your loss of opportunity. Update coming... tonight.
Archmage Dosantos smiled at the lords of the Perinany Legion, trying to disarm them with an open approach. He focuses on Mattheus, who's decision would decide the matter.
"General, I understand why the Perinany Legion would be weary to engage itself against Dalaran; for Dalaran, our heart of hearts, jewel of Hesperia, is, after all, what we would usually strive to protect."
These words make Mattheus' consort nod and murmur in agreement. Levin coughs to draw attention to himself. "Indeed, tell us Grigori, why should we move against Dalaran? Are you not the rebel?"
Grigori folds his arms stubbornly. "I will tell you why! Tell me, Mattheus, when you think of Dalaran do you think of one madman reigning over it? Or do you think of the Kirin Tor, and a system of justice and faithfulness for all? Dalaran has been taken over by one man, twisting elections to make himself seem like an elected dictator! There is no such thing!"
Mattheus grunts. "Still you do not tell us what your goals are, Grigori Dosantos. Why is it you occupy Ambermill against the armies of Dalaran?"
Dosantos laughs, and steps closer. "Isn't it clear? I am one of the last members of the original Council of Six. I am the Light and the strength, the fist of humanity, lord of the Kirin Mora rebellion against the dictatorship of Dalaran. Free it with me, Mattheus! Lead your Perinany Legion against the enemy army that is attacking Ambermill as we speak! If you do this, and help me liberate Dalaran, I will give you territories and rewards, for compensation. Choose wisely."
In the distant lands of Khaz Modan, a furious expedition was underway. Trudging and rushing through the snows and swamps of the realm, a company of dwarves was on its way to Cary'leh.
Skirvar had been contacted, and he had approved the plan of action. Several Dark Irons under lieutenant Yarin stood alongside Featherbeard and his best scouts. Featherbeard himself eyed these Dark Iron soldiers suspiciously, but said nothing of it.
Yarin grinned under his hood. The troopers he had brought with him were the result of years of special research. Clad in spiky iron and steel, Urkath's soldiers wielded flamethrowers which would surely make short work of the raptors of Cary'leh. That is, if all went according to plan.
Featherbeard and Yarin got along well enough, though they spoke little across the journey. The priority was finding the Highthane's son, Relgast, and there was no time to waste on idle gossip. They ate in silence and rested for only a few hours at a time.
It took two days of hard travel, scaling down secret mountain passes and riding hard upon the backs of specially bred rams, but they finally trudged down into the Wetlands; vast swamplands that stretched out to the seashore. Their trail took them north, however, towards the ominous mountains.
Eventually, they passed under the shadows of the mountains in question, and edged through crags and highlands cautiously. Featherbeard led the way, his druidic abilities guiding them safely past unseen dangers. Then they heard it; a terrifying screech.
"Ged 'doown!" Yarin said through gritted teeth. The dwarves got down. They peered over a ledge to look down into a shallow canyon. Below, they finally saw it.
The canyon floor was littered with bones, concentrated around a massive cave entrance. Scattered throughout the valley were strange, crude huts, probably built by piling shrubbery and waste in certain patterns. They were odd to say the least, and the most impressive thing was that they had been built by animals.
Not just any animals; the raptors of Cary'leh milled about in the valley floor in their hundreds, if not thousands.
Featherbeard pulled the dwarves away from the side. "Those beasts can smell anythin' lads. We're in big trouble if 'ey catch a whiff o' us."
Yarin drew his axe to reassure himself. "Well, were the 'ell is Relgast? These are big mountains, Featherbeard."
Then the raptors halted their grunting and muttering, and turned their attention to the cave entrance. Out stepped a short figure, decorated with a plethora of feathers, beads and tattoos.
Yarin sighed. "Is that Relgast?"
The raptors all lowered their heads in respect as what seemed to be Relgast stepped out amongst them. After a short while, he returned into the cave and the raptors returned to their business.
A company of very confused dwarves was left on the ledge above.
Hellen and her escort began their hurried journey; their one last effort to catch up with the Alterac agent of Tarren Mill. At least he had been driven out of the city, and the mayor was dead. It seemed that for the most part, the mission had been accomplished. The damage was being undone.
It was rather easy to pick up on several signs of recent activity on the highways. The problem was that they led across various routes into Alterac. Hellen found herself challenged to pick the right one.
In the end, she halted her company and addressed them sternly. "Boys, we've got a problem. The emissary could have headed along any one of these three roads towards Alterac City. We can't follow him all the way into the heart of my kingdom, but we can do the obvious; split up. Fayette, take your brothers and take the west road. I'll take the central, and Robere de Changee, take the rest and go east. Don't screw up this time. We meet up back here in an hour, no matter how close we come to achieving the mission."
Hellen wasted no more time, and was off riding uphill on a horse borrowed from Tarren Mill. She had to interrogate several merchants on the way, but it was clear that none of them were suspicious, evil agents of the Alterac regime. Of course, it was easier to recognize the armed cavalcade of soldiers bearing the crest of Alterac. They were clearly on their way from Tarren Mill, and they seemed exhausted in their rush.
She signalled to her followers who fell in close by her side, and after a series of complex hand gestures, Hellen led them to circle the tired Alterac company. In their centre, Hellen could identify what was no doubt the emissary himself, a greasy man with the absent facial expression of a village idiot. How typical of my distant cousin, Hellen thought, to surround himself with such gentlemen.
The Nightstalkers got to work, and though the Alterac gentlemen put up a valiant fight, it was not much work, to say the least. The enemy was dispatched rather quickly. All save the one emissary, who cowered before Hellen. She lifted him up by his collar and slammed him back down into the ground, snarling into his face.
"Who are you? What were you doing in Tarren Mill? Speak before I eat you!"
The man started crying.
Hellen inwardly sighed to herself; if money was the only thing keeping her in Ravenholdt, she would have packed her bags for the sun and sea of Stranglethorn years ago.
"For the love of Krol, get up and just tell me what you're doing. It will make both our jobs a lot easier."
The messenger dusted himself off and wiped his nose on one of his expensive fur gloves. "Me be Messenger Prax! Hand of his Lordship Gabranth of Alterakc."
Hellen's mouth twisted with displeasure. "Gabranth? That old sleeze? What's he doing in command?" "General Drace is in 'teh prisons. Oh and-" Then Prax's eyes widened with recognition as he looked at Hellen. "Ladyship?" "Yes, it's me." Hellen said, folding her arms. "As you lot might have noticed, I quit on the breeding program your precious Chancellors set up for my dynasty. If you lot thought I'd play the dirty groove with my cousin, you- You know what? Nevermind."
Hellen took a moment to walk away and clear her thoughts. In all honest, this was the closest she had gotten to the mountains of her home in a long time. The fresh air brought back many memories of court, and the vicious minded Chancellors such as Caxagord and Bergan. She held no love for them. It was fortunate, then, that Krol had whisked her away from her terrible fate on the eve of her sick marriage to the ruling Lord Xie.
Prax tried to take a run for it, which was unacceptable, and he sound found that out.
With a foot on his back, Hellen began to push down.
"No! No! Pa'leeze!"
"For the love of - just tell me what you were doing in Tarren Mill!"
Prax coughed and rolled onto his back. "Gabranth be makin' big plans, ladyship. Big ole plans! You see, he trainin a new order! An order of Assassin-Magi! He be the first to take the trainin', lady. He want to frame Ravenholdt for the chaos at Tarren Mill, and use it as excuse to rally against you! Gabranth doing this 'cause of you, ladyship. Alterac be coming for you! They want your blood and, uh, Xie's seed. Inside you."
Hellen spat in disgust. "And what does this have to do with Mayor Juntridge?"
Prax swallowed. "He found out what we were up to, but we made sure he was too 'fraid to speak by threatenin his family with Assassin-Magi. We say he helps us blame Ravenholdt, an' Tarren Mill be safe when Hesperia falls."
"Hesperia? I thought you said Ravenholdt, Prax."
"Oh yes, ladyship. Both are going down the shitter when Gabranth is finished! But he wants to kidnap you first!"
Well, that was it then. Hellen stepped back from Prax to consult with the Nightstalkers awaiting her. Robere and Fayette would be waiting for her by now. This was certainly grave news for Ravenholdt.
One short term thing had to be decided, at least. What to do with Prax. Perhaps he could be taken captive, or simply silenced. Hellen mused.
Having made his pact, Van Dam and Faldren set sail for Lordamere. After his encounter with the Duke, Van Dam took to meditation in one of the chambers of the keep. There would be a lot to negotiate.
It was that first night that a knock came at the door.
Van Dam did not say anything, and the door opened anyway. The Grandmaster remained on his knees, eyes closed. If the stranger drew steel, Van Dam would react in time. So he waited for the intruder to speak.
"I hope you don't mind my intrusion." a male voice spoke.
"What do you want?" Van Dam asked, his tone level.
"I know what you seek, Van Dam." the male voice announced. "Not even Ravenholdt's activities can be hidden from everyone."
"Is that so? I doubt you know as much as you think." Van Dam said, and turned to face the stranger.
For a moment, he thought it was Myrokos, as it was an elf dressed to conceal himself. Yet, Van Dam realised that this was certainly someone else. "Who are you, if I might ask?" Van Dam questioned, inclining his head politetly. "I am known as Relfthra." the magus admitted plainly enough. "And I have come because the order which I serve has certain interests in how this meeting pans out. You are much like us, Van Dam. Secretive. By admitting I am more than a mere scholar of Quel'Thalas betrays more than I should already, but know this. We may have a common interest."
"What interest is that?" Van Dam asked.
Relfthra opened his arms wide in a welcoming gesture. "We are both displeased with the activities of our new pagan friends!" "How would you know what my stance towards pagans is, Relfthra? I actually have no qualms with freedom of religion." The elven magus nodded. "I thought as much; however, I thought it wise to combine our interests. I will be clear with you. I seek peace, first and foremost. However, recent political shifts have made this very difficult. It is obvious that war is coming, and this meeting is assuredly going to set off the fuse."
Van Dam said nothing, letting Relfthra blather on. The more the magus said, the more informed Van Dam would be; the more he would know what he was dealing with. That was the fault of many a man, being unable to shut up.
"Grandmaster, we both have noble goals, and we both must assassinate at times, to preserve the peace. My order has decided that should war break out, it is the Church of the Holy Light whom we should support. I have been to Kul Tiras, and seen the incompetence with which domestic affairs are handled. We have seen Dalaran's leadership replaced with a dictatorship. So if you have anything else to say to me, now is the time. Are we truly on the same side?"
The response the Blood God gave was furious. "PRIDE HERALDS THE END OF YOUR WORLD. COME, MORTAL! FACE THE WRATH OF THE SOULFLAYER!"
Immediately, Jin'thek was assaulted by maddening pain. It felt like his life essence - his very blood, was being drained through every pore of his body. Despite the fact that this was the spirit realm, he could almost feel his physical body being torn to pieces.
Then he called out, grasping and envisioning the sacred blade Jin'rokh in his hands, calling to the Loa to aid him against the Blood God.
There was no answer, only laughter as Hakkar continued to dry Jin'thek.
It cannot end like this, Jin'thek thought to himself. He had only just unified Zul'Aman... there was so much work left to do. So much to settle before the end; and yet the end seemed to be engulfing him. Perhaps Nuvazgal or Gruc'jen could lead in his place... but what if Jin'rokh was lost? Who would care for his sacred bird?
"You fool. You have already been infiltrated! With or without your consent, I will triumph! And when you are dead, Zul'Aman will be mine!" Hakkar roared.
Jin'thek's retaliation against Hakkar was futile and useless. The Blood God continued to laugh and drink in his agony.
Then there was a faint light; a tiny breach in Jin'thek's mind, as if one saw the light at the end of a tunnel. Jin'thek saw it as an exit, and then he used it to escape.
The Blood God screamed in fury behind him, and then Jin'thek found himself on the cold floor.
He was back in Ula-tek. Gruc'jen was shaking him. "Mon, you alright? Jin'thek?"
Jin'thek looked around him, every inch of his body burning with pain. He realised he was in a pool of blood.
Gruc'jen continued to look over him. "I felt you were being lost, mon, and you started ta' bleed. Da' spirit world be dangerous. If I wasn' here to pull you back to the mortal realm, you'd be dead mon!"
"Thank you, Gruc'jen." Jin'thek wheezed.
It felt like a failure; Shadra had not been reached. Yet, Jin'thek had learned much on his journey. Hakkar was an enemy, that much was clear. There were powers at work against him. It seemed that whatever the truth about Shadra, she was far from tame. Her anger was directed against Zul'Aman, and it seemed she was not the only Loa in a fury.
Outside, back in the welcome fresh air of their village, Jin'thek and Gruc'jen were told that the mysterious Prophet had vanished, and so had Ba'jal. They had vanished, but Nuvazgal informed Jin'thek that plans were in motion.
The messengers had arrived from the other tribes. They would cooperate.
Gruc'jen looked over Jin'thek seriously, however. "You be sick mon. Your blood be Tainted."
Jin'thek knew that either way, he had work to do.