The sun was beginning to rise as the ragged Grin forces entered the swamps. A great fog erupting from the stagnant waters permeated all around them. Faquarl led the Grin deeper into the swamps while the flies buzzed around his ears and eyes. Moths fluttered around the giant flame of the torch he carried in front of him.
Faquarl quickly turned around to face the direction of the noise.
"Blech, I can't see a damn thing," exclaimed a cow now buried under the water and fog.
"Quiet, Feress! Did you forget why we are doing this in the first place?" Faquarl walked over to the spluttering shaman and lifted him out of the water.
"Sir! We should've stayed and fought!" Feress stared defiantly at Faquarl, reminiscent of only a few nights earlier.
"We've been over this a thousand times. Our war is over." Faquarl turned and led the group solemnly forward. The torch making them a bulb of light in the enveloping fog.
Two weeks agoEdit
"Hold the line, maggots!" Arrows flew through the smoke filled air. PLUNK! Faquarl looked at his shoulder, one had embedded itself into his thick leather armor.
"I'm fine! Why are you staring at me like some slack jawed ogre?!? Get in there!" Random sieges had been occurring on Taugrek's Stand ever since the Battle of Ironforge. This one seemed to be a hired band of mercenaries, they were well armed and plentiful. "Bellmont! Kill that priestess of theirs!" The undead rogue was locked in combat with a stout human warrior. Upon hearing the tauren's yell for him he shifted his weight. The warrior lost his balance and fell forward, taking this opportunity Bellmont quickly stabbed him in the side of his unarmored neck. He looked up at Faquarl to see why he was being called. "The elf!! She is..."
Faquarl stopped after he saw the elf priestess run towards Bellmont. She began chanting words of prayer over the fallen warrior. And he knew only too well what would happen after that. He ran towards Bellmont as the newly healed warrior made for the sword that had fallen out of his hand. Faquarl kicked him in the gut, denting the plate mail sharply into his diaphragm, and quickly cast a wrath in close range at his head.
"Kill that elf," he panted. Bellmont nodded and vanished into the shadows. Faquarl took a moment to check his surroundings. He saw Yalim tending to the wounded near the mouth of the cave. "Yalim! I need you to cover me, I'm going to charge their lines! These new grot are falling over themselves!" Yalim nodded and Faquarl began to morph into his moonkin form. His skin hardened into a thick hide and his vision became much sharper. Unable to speak, he looked at Yalim once and made his charge into the fray.
One week agoEdit
"Warchief, we need to cut our losses! They know where we live. The Burning Steppes are no longer safe for us." Faquarl looked around at his fellow officers to see if they agreed. The Sythegar, Warlord, and Warchief of the Grin all sat in the cave of Taugrek's Stand in conference.
"What're you trying to say?" Gorfrunch had just returned from a week's journey to revive the old treaty with the Amani. His scowl only deepened with Faquarl's suggestion; things with the trolls had not gone well.
"I am saying that while you have been off vacationing in the bungalows of the trolls, we have been dying! Your hard head and dimming vision are going to get all of us killed!"
"That a challenge?" The old orc picked up his axe and shield and charged at the druid. Faquarl quickly shifted into moonkin form and headbutted the charging orc. His horns caught the Warchief under the arms, and with a mighty heave, Faquarl lashed his head backward, sending the orc into the air, landing behind him with a crash as his metal armor crushed the chair under him. Gorfrunch crawled to his feet, shaking off the impact daze with a roar. He ran at Faquarl again, slicing downward with his axe. Faquarl caught the blow with the handle of his mace, holding both ends as he strained against the might of the greying orc. Gorfrunch used this precious moment to swing his shield under the bull's guard, catching the younger Tauren in the chest with his spike shield and pressing him to the wall. Silence filled the cavern. The last Sythegar to try to interfere had not come out as well as either Gorfrunch or Faquarl.
"You'll learn yer place some day, Jo." Faquarl stared into the old orc's twisted, smiling face and shifted into a prowler, Gorfrunch throwing a foot out forward as he fell into the wall Faquarl had been pinned against. He reshifted into a moonkin again immediately behind the orc, and willed what little life remained in the cavern to grow. Roots started ensnaring the warchief's arms and legs, restraining him down on the ground. Faquarl sighed as he began to cast wrath. The first wrath hit Gorfrunch in the back, as did the second. While casting the third and final wrath, Gorfrunch strained to get his foot into the armhold of his shield. Once secure he lifted with all of his remaining strength. His leg broke through the vines and his foot raised the shield. The last wrath rebounded off of the shield directly towards Faquarl slamming him on the side of the face.
The momentum knocked Faquarl down and he could no longer maintain his form. He deshifted back into a Tauren and remained on the ground panting. Gorfrunch grabbed his axe and used it like a crutch to lean on. He limped over to the druid with a look of disgust painted on his face.
"They're gone, Gorfrunch! Yagyu hasn't been seen since Ironforge, probably dead. Stokes left us. As did Eddard, Bread, and Wampus. Yagyu was the most loyal of us all and his blood is on your hands! You've become an uncaring shell since your return. I think you seek death for not only yourself, but all of us. Well just so you know, Warchief, if you die here. I will not let this clan mourn you, we will celebrate the death of a senile. The Second War is over, we have lost. Now we must rebuild." The two political powers stared at each other. “You have a patrol to lead, Warlord. I suggest you not forget your duties.” Having given the command, Gorfrunch stalked out.
3 days agoEdit
"Jo?" The warchief entered Faquarl's room in the cave.
"You... you were..." The orc paused, as if searching for words. "We can't train grot here. We will move to the Swamp of Sorrows. We will make base in a cave within the swamps....the Grin was destined to die in Ironforge, it seems. This world no longer has a place for us. Maybe the Alliance will forget us, and let us leave, and live."
"I spoke rashly Warchief. We will continue our efforts in Khaz Modan, we just need time to build and train the youth."
"No, as you said, I am an old orc. The Second War is over. Now go out there and order those soldiers to pack light, you leave as soon as possible."
"I am already packed, and will ride down to find us a place to call home."
"Yes, Warchief." Faquarl walked out of his room and closed the door. His booming voice could be heard reverberating off the rock walls. "GRIN! PACK UP! WE'RE DONE HERE! WE'RE FINALLY GOING TO HAVE PEACE!" An even louder roar echoed. Less joyous cheering than curses. The old orc listened and smiled to himself.
"Faquarl has lost faith with all of these unknowns attacking." The old orc muttered to himself. "He is soon going to realize my war is far from over. This is just an interlude." The orc laughed as he grabbed his pack. He smiled as he walked past Faquarl, the Warlord returned it. Gorfrunch mounted his dire wolf and headed toward the swamp.
Four hours agoEdit
" I lost track of him, Marcus."
"Nur is going to have our uniforms for this. I can't even imagine what he will say when we tell him that we let the 'Dreaded Warchief of the Grin' out of our sights." Two rogues from the Keepers of Stromgarde walked slowly through the shallow waters of the Swamp of Sorrows.
"It don't help that it is so bloody dark eith-" The dwarf never finished his sentence. An troll-shaped form emerged from what had looked like a tree root, and slid a sword easily into the dwarf's gut. He then rose and looked towards the human.
"Don't hurt me! Please! I have children! My...PLEASE!" He looked around frantically, but behind him were a Tauren and another orc, this one with black armor, and crimson shield and axe. The new orc walked toward the human and grabbed him by the throat as the other cleaned his sword on the tunic of the still-twitching dwarf. He pulled him close and spat at him in broken common.
"You... tell... leader, Grin... be... here" The old orc threw the human into the waters. Marcus quickly got to his feet and scrambled away in absolute shock. The Warchief looked at him with a suspicious glance, the human was running south towards the blasted lands. Stromgarde was north. Dushin shot him a questioning glance, nodding towards the north, then moving to follow the human.
Gorfrunch waved him down, he knew the rogue would tell someone. It would only be a matter of time.
Faquarl saw the black smoke rise. It was the Warchief's signal to meet there. He grinned, carrying a now unconscious Feress over his shoulder.
"I still don't see why you had to knock him out, sir," Felora said as she walked beside him.
"He wouldn't keep his mouth shut. This was the easiest way to get him to agree with me. Besides, I enjoyed it, and that is all that matters." Faquarl grinned at her and looked back at the smoke. It would be the beginning of a new age for the Grin, Faquarl could feel it. An escape...
Bayne's hooves let out a loud echo as they clopped upon the forlone, rocky landscape of Deadwind Pass. The armored skeletal steed's rider, Bellmont, sighed as he braced himself for the change in climate as his horse approached the murky waters of the Swamp of Sorrows.
Upon a few minutes of trotting into the Swamp of Sorrows, Bayne broke out into a gallop. This was not to hasten his speed in order to reach some urgent matter, but rather to avoid the swams of mosquitos that swooped down upon him.
Suddenly, Bayne let out a loud rear and threw Bellmont off of his saddle, rearing once more and then galloping off into the swamp. Bellmont hit the ground hard, obviously unprepared for his horses sudden fleeing. Getting up slowly, Bellmont begain externally voicing his protests of his current situation.
"DAMNIT ALL! I am sick of wastelands, I am sick of swamps, I am sick of haunted forests, Scourge infested towns, Enemy Fortress and any man, woman and child who ever stood under the banner of the new Alliance!!!!" yelled Bellmont, violently slashing at a tree as if it where Arthas or some other almagimation of his hatred.
"Now what of all things could have spooked that cowardly little beast!" said Bellmont, turning twoard the swamp to see two Orcs and a Troll with torches wearing the tabard of the Horde.
"Lok'tar, scouts. I am High Executor Bellmont on route to Stonard under the royal command of the Queen herself. I have little time to converse." said Bellmont, feigning respect in his tone.
However, the small band of Horde outrunners continued to gawk at Bellmont. By the time he realized the tabard of the Blacktooth Grin was clearly visible, the first Outrunner had already charged. Drawing his dagger quickely Bellmont parried the blow from the Outrunner, while swiftely drawing his longsword with his otherhand and cutting the Outrunner's arm off.
The Horde Outrunner cried out in pain and collapsed to the ground, grabbing the stump near his elbow now gushing with blood. The Horde Outrunner's cries of pain where quickly silienced with another quick movement of the longsword. There where two thuds where head as the Outrunner's head hit the ground, followed by the remainder of his body.
The Troll Outrunner immediatly took off, the remaining Orcish Outrunner was not as fortunate however, as Bellmont's dagger was thrusted through the Orc's jaw and into his skull. The Orc Outrunner grasped and fell over, spasming and spewing blood from as mouth as he lay dieing.
Carefully aiming, Bellmont whipped a throwing axe at the fleeing Troll Outrunner, the axe catching the Troll dead center in the back of the knee. The Troll let out a horrible cry of pain as he he collapsed into the murky waters of the swamp.
"Please mon! Don't hurt me! I didn' do notin' to ya mon! I got two lil' ones, please mon!!!" the Troll Outrunner begged as he struggled to stand, each attempt sending jolts of pain through his body and throwing him back down into the waters.
"I WON'T BE TELLIN' ANYONE DAT YA HERE!! PLEASE!!! I DID NOTHIN' TO YA!!!" the Troll continued to plead as Bellmont drew closer, drawing another throwing axe remorselessly.
The axe flew at great spead, cutting off a good portion of the Troll Outrunner's ear but still hitting the desired target, a Crocolisk slowly rising to the waters, attracted by the blood now clouding the already murky waters.
The Troll, startled and in shock rolled onto the the dry (Relatively dry, this is a swamp.) land and grabbed his partially intact ear as he began to crawl away from Bellmont. This time not wasting any time, Bellmont muttered some gutural words and seemed to disappear with a quick movement, reappearing in a portion of a second in front of the Troll Outrunner.
"Please... please" was all the Troll Outrunner could manage to say, the loss of blood and the intense pain draining his fatigue. Bellmont carefully picked up the Troll by the kneck, grabbed one of his tusks with his free hand, and with some force snapped it off at the midway point, bashing the Troll in the head with the blunt end of it. The Troll Outrunner, knocked out by the blow hit the ground and stayed unconscience.
Bellmont looked around, dragging the corpses of the two Orcs over near the Troll and looking around for a likely commiter in these acts, upon catching the movements of a crocolisk near the riverside, Bellmont approached the animal and silently spied on it's meal.
Though distorted, bloodied and torn, it was evident this was the body of a Dwarven Rogue with a tabard of Stomgarde.
"I was unaware Nur's intrests fell so far... perhaps this 'peace' Faquarl speaks so highly off will not be long lived, or perhaps this is simpily an unlucky adventurer." Bellmont inquired outloud to himself. Quickly snatching the bloodied and torn upper torso of the Dwarven Spie, Bellmont lured the crokolisk to the location of the two dead, and one unconscience Horde Outrunners.
Taking the sentry horn from the backpack of one of the fallen Outrunners, Bellmont let out a long call before stuffing it into the hand of the dead Orc. He then carefully placed the Troll's broken tusk into the hands of the dead Stromgardean (Stromgardese? Stromardian?) Agent and disappeared into the marshes.
If all went right, Thrall would hear tell of Stromgarde going on the offensive. And even if such a bold conclusion was not made, if the Troll was wise he'd keep quiet of the Grin's location and silently thanked the spirits for Bellmont's mercy. And even if he said such claims, it was hardly believable with the Keeper's corpse so near. Either way, this unexpected detour may have aided the Grin.
"There you are you idiot!" hissed Bellmont, upon finding Bayne outside a misty cavern. Upon glancing inside, Bellmont grinned and patted his steed on the head.
"Apologies, Bayne. You saved me quite the trek." said Bellmont as he grabbed his horses reigns and guided him, disappearing within the mists of the cavern.
Two Days AgoEdit
Faquarl walked into the lodge, and his nose was immediately assaulted with the acrid odor of an unrecognizable herb blended with the smoke from the fire. Bending low as he pushed aside the flap, he narrowly avoided tangling his horns with a woven mess of bones, shells, and assorted charms that were hanging from the low ceiling of the room. He nodded to the wizened troll seated close to the firepit as he entered, but received no response as he took a seat on a reed mat next to him. Faquarl cleared his throat and said, "Have you drafted my unit reports yet?".
The troll turned to him slightly, grimacing unpleasantly in what must have been a caricature of a smile. "Yah, ah got dem. But joo dont come tah mah lodge foh reports 'less dey be late. Wha' joo want, Jo?" Faquarl followed his movements intently as the troll slowly rose and rummaged in a sturdy desk he had claimed after a raid on Northshire Abbey. When the troll returned with a roll of papers bound by a leather strip, he accepted it wordlessly without giving it a glance. He accepted an offered flask with the same taciturn silence. The two sat like this for some time, drinking in peaceful quiet, sharing a comraderie that words would only weigh upon. At one point, the troll gestured to Faquarl, who left the lodge long enough to return with wood to place on the fire. Eventually, it was Jo who broke the silence. "What will you do now that we are going to be done with fighting, Pokes?" The troll began to chuckle, which turned to a gasping wheeze as he inhaled smoke thrown up by the green logs just placed. "Don'joo mean, what JOO gonna do? Ah know joo got no inneres' in mah days aftah de war."
Faquarl started and began to rise in protest, but the troll waved him down. "Come clean! Joo got no lies wid me, an' no reason foh dem. So ah give dat in return- joo foolin' jooseff. De day joo chose dis dance, dis dance chose joo. Joo may be done wid IT, but it shore as 'ell aint done wid JOO." Faquarl sat back down thoughtfully, biting his tongue as the troll continued. "...war oh nah, Chief oh nah, dem spirits wot sing dese songs gonna be a chorus ever'where joo go. Dem wot dead- Yagyu, Stokes, all de oddas- dem gonna sing too. Joo aint done wid fightin'! Joo fightin' even now, 'ere in mah lodge." the troll looked into the smoke, and sang a line quietly in Amani, before returning his gaze to the tauren. "Peace gonna come when joo learn tah accept dat." Faquarl ground his teeth in raw emotion and stiffly rose, not so careful enough to avoid tangling his horns this time. Wrenching his head away angrily, he glared hotly at the troll as he began scooping up the fetishes. "You have no idea what you are talking about, troll. I imagine that to a savage like you, bloodshed is as natural to everyday life as birth. I was foolish to come here. I expect your men ready to leave tomorrow, Sythegar." and with that, he left.
After he had finished cleaning up his charms and carefully rearranged them in their proper places, Pokes watched the flap that Jo stormed from, his face a mask of wistfulness. Drawing smoke from a bone pipe deeply into his lungs, he blew them out after the tauren whispering sadly, "Ah'm so sorry brodda...." With that, he rose and gathered his belongings- the Chief was relying on him to engineer a war, and his handpicked men were ready to ride.
Several Days EarlierEdit
“We are all here it seems. Then lets get on with it. Jerome and his Keepers have brought news to us Danath. They believe that the Blacktooth Grin did not perish in Ironforge. They are regrouping in Stonard as we speak.”
This meeting of Stromgarde’s leadership, was held in the Crypts like always, a meeting in shadow and darkness but one protected by the Three Brothers and the spirits of the fallen. Present were the last of the Trollbane lineage, Galen, Danath and Jerome. The Guardians of the Keepers, Palenti, Myrias and Nur were also present. In normal times Cassiopeia would have been present, but her whereabouts were unknown at this point. She had been gone for a few weeks now.
Jerome started “The Grin among many other tribes ran amok in Stromgarde. They destroyed our families, killed all our friends and left the place a desolate example of what it stood for. This is our home, the fallen our family and friends. They must be avenged. There is no question that the Grin have committed the most heinous crimes in our history, slaughtering man woman and child for no reason. We can not let them leave this land and return to the Outlands to rebuild.”
Galen and Danath were silent for a moment, before the older one spoke. “Jerome we have all lost family in this business. We have lost all those who we love, and I for one will be happy to rid the Grin of these worlds. But our response should be measured.”
“Measured by what Danath? Weakness? We have the ability to crush them and wipe them off the face of this earth. Their death will weaken the horde, and bring peace to the spirits in this very crypt. There is no measure for the Grin, why should we use any ourselves. Burning their damned fortress to the ground and burn them as well.”
“Your words betray you Nur. Have you fallen back on your past ways? There is much to be said about your bloodlust and those priestly robes you wear now.”
Nur was about to respond with an accusation, when Jerome’s plated fist slammed into his face. “Nur, you will not speak to Danath in such a manner. We are on the same bloody side. I suggest you keep your term and your tongue under control for the coming battle.”
Palenti, often the sage council for the Keepers, stepped up and merely took Nur by the shoulder into a corner. Myrias quickly tended to Nur’s wound. “Danath, my brother. Though I don’t agree with Nur’s harsh words I agree with the sentiment. There is no choice. The Grin must be destroyed. They must be eradicated from our world so that our people can rest in peace. Galen knows very well that children still dream of the Grin in their nightmares killing their family. Most children fear the burning legion and demons. Ours fear mortals of green skin. This has to end.”
Galen was the first to speak after a long moment of silence. “Very well. Kill them all. Let’s be done with this nightmare we have all been living through.” Danath continued “There is no need for measure. This is war, you aim to destroy those who have killed your own. The Grin showed us no mercy since the day they arrived and even since they have done nothing to earn trust or respect. Slaughter them like animals. If some do survive we will get them at the Gate. They will not be allowed to enter the Outlands.”
“My brothers, Honor Hold is now your second home. The sons of Lothar will stand by Stromgarde once again, as many of them are Arathor themselves. Consider Honor Hold your home away from home. We will provide supplies and clerics there.”
Jerome looked to the rest of the Guardians and started to issue orders at once. “Inform those battling in the outlands to make haste and head to Stormwind. We will use Stormwind as our base of operations for now. It is better defended than Nethergarde Keep and we can purchase supplies there as well. Inform Darimund and Tagoris we will need them right away. Let those of a healing persuasion know that they better hone their art as best as they can.”
“We ride to battle my friends. For Honor and Vengeance.”
“Gorfrunch! Gorfrunch!!” Bellmont rushed into Stagalbog cave knocking over a grot in his blind fervor.
“Alliance… tons of them…. Marching north from Blasted Lands” Faquarl noticed that Bellmont’s rotting body had no sign of fatigue other than the tone of his voice and his wheezing. However his breathing did not seem to give him any relaxation, perhaps due to his undead state. “They looked to be Keepers”
“Hrrrmph, alright rally the troops. They have five minutes to get into a defensive position. Get your best rogues and put a watch on Stonard, they’ll strike there first.”
Faquarl looked shocked at the news of another battle so soon. “We just arrived! Let them burn Stonard, they will pass over our cave without us having to bother. Why are they even here?!?”
“Warlord, now I guess is as good a time as any, in my scouting I found a dwarf body heavily mauled by the crocolisks. They may be out looking for him.” Bellmont’s explanation was good enough for Faquarl and he looked at the warchief to veto his rally to war.
“You don’t send an army to look fer a scout. Theyre here for war and Stonard hasn’t done anything recent to cause any reprimand from the alliance, the only change is our presence. We must assume the worst and defend our new home.” Many of the Grin were already wearing their armor relishing a chance at battle again. Faquarl’s idealistic peace had not settled well with most.
“Fine, but this is going to be our last battle. I swear it.” Faquarl kicked a murloc in frustration and went to grab his armor.
Thirty minutes had passed. The mud covered Grin sat camouflaged in the swamp water. Faquarl and Gorfrunch were receiving reports from the rogues stationed around Stonard.
“Alright Jo. You take ten men and hit from the east. I’ll take my ten and hit from the west. Wait fer my signal to charge them.”
“Yes warchief.” Faquarl may have resented the recent battles but he did not let it reflect in his leadership. War was war whether you are for it or against it. Might as well put full effort into it if you have no escape. “Mount up! You ten! Follow me!” Faquarl led the small band into more swampland and gave them the signal to stop. Another five minutes passed until a faint cry was heard. It was quiet but unmistakable.
“FEAR THE GRIN!” Faaquarl ordered his men forward following the warchief’s battlecry and the armies surged in. Loud thumps of armored boots slamming into mud caused an ambience that was all too common to the Grin. The orcs, tauren, and undead ran at the alliance who turned to meet the oncoming force.
Faquarl stopped in shock. They were Keepers…
But these Keepers looked different, they wore bright new armor and looked less haggard then he had remembered in battles past. As the armies clashed Faquarl saw the intensity of their fighting had changed as well. These were not the Keepers of a disintegrating army. This was an army of a thriving nation. Something that seemed impossible for Stromgarde.
Faquarl was brought back into focus after he was shot by an arrow, he began to feel dizzy as his mana began to drain. He refocused himself and ran into the battle. Firing wraths off into the chaotic war zone. He saw a dwarf paladin cut down one of the Grin warlocks. Faquarl turned his attention to him and started casting a starfire. After two of the great beams of energy had slammed into the ground the dwarf was encompassed by dust. Faquarl moved in to see if he had claimed the kill when he heard the familiar ring of a paladin’s shield. Sighing, Faquarl took it as a sign that this would be a hard fought battle.
Six Hours AgoEdit
Bellmont drew his longsword and swung his sword from out of the thick fogs, cung through the legs of one of the Stromgarde Horseman. The horse let out a loud cry of pain and crashed to the ground, sending the rider tumbleing to the marshy ground.
Bellmont lept up in the air, bringing his longsword down with all his weight straight through the rider's armor, rolling to avoid several arrows and fell back into the shadows. Shifting his position to behind a Dwavern Paladin, sticking his dagger in the Dwarf's kneck and dragging it from side to side. Blood spurted from the wound, as the Dwarf spurted blood from his mouth and cried for aid, Bellmont pulled his right arm back and thrusted his blade into the Dwarf's back, killing the wounded Stromgardian (Stromgardese?) Crusader and rushing to engage another foe.
He locked blades with a Stromgarde warrior, but the armor, the tabard and the skill of this warrior quickly gave pause to Bellmont. The majority of Stromgarde's normal infantery was relatively, weak, basic training. These soldiers where different, they're armor as stronger and well forged, they'd been trained and battle hardened, rather then the normally scrawney little milita. The tabard reminded him of ages past, though Bellmont could not place the exact origin it was evident that these tabards where that of the Stromgarde from the Second War.
Bellmont shook off his thoughts and broke through the soldier's defensive, thrusting the dagger into the soldier's chestpeice. However the dagger barely peirced through the armor, the soldier laughed and hit the Bellmont with his shield, sending the Undead Rogue stumbling sideways. The soldier rushed up and brought his sword down, Bellmont clapping his hands together on the blade as it neared him, pushing it aside and throwing the soldier off balance and sending him to the ground. Bellmont begain arming his goblin rocket launcher, shooting off an explosive projectile at the soldier, blowing him to bits.
Rushing to his feat he stood up and drew his blades, noting the dangerous level of this troops silently and rallying the other assassins before fading into the shadows...
Several hours agoEdit
The streets of Stormwind's Cathedral district were quiet, safe for the Keeper's assembly. Lathettius spoke:
"Watch out Stoutfist, you're gonna get another scar!"
Stoutfist gulped down another skin of ale and replied:
"I told ya I got that shcar when I wash born. It'sh a birth mark! Drinking ale can't give me scars..."
"If you get so drunk that you topple over it will."
"I don't get drunk, I get friendly!"
Jerome rode in on his warhorse, accompanied by another paladin, this one from the Hand of Argus. His armor was of both human and draenei design, revealing that he might have been outfitted by either the Alliance or the Keepers themselves. Jerome spoke:
"Honor and Vengeance Keepers. This is the most recent addition to our numbers, Auralaas."
Soldiers saluted, ladies blushed... Stoutfist was more interested in his job. And his ale, of which he drank another skin. Jerome spoke up again:
"I summoned you here for an important task. According to lord Danath, the Grin is not gone. You can imagine the screaming."
The reaction was immediate within the group of Keepers. Some were cursing, some whispering to each other. Stoutfist was wondering how his ale had been aged to make it this good. "I need ta get meself more of that." he thought. Jerome continued:
"Fortunately, we have received information that there is a large number of Horde soldiers residing within Stonard at this moment. They wear the tabard of the Grin. Our mission is clear; we ride to Stonard and strike now. Our orders are to slay anyone there and burn everything to the ground."
The last part caught Stoutfist's attention. Someone spoke:
"Even the women and children?"
"Everything." replied Jerome.
Stoutfist choked on the booze he was swallowing and coughed loudly,grabbing everyone's attention at the same time. After regaining his countenance, the anger was clearly visible in his eyes:
"You're asking us ta kill women and children? Are ya mad?"
Darimund spoke up: "What's wrong with that? Have you seen what they have done to Stromgarde?"
"I have seen it more than you ya damn idiot, ye weren't even on this continent until a few years ago. But what ye're asking, that's murder. That's revenge. It's not the way of the Light."
"Are you saying we should let the Grin go?"
"Seein' everything in black and white, are ya? I never said the Grin was exempt of sin. They must be stopped, now. But the people of Stonard have done nothing to deserve this. In fact, if we attack Stonard, it will be an act of war. We can't have war between the Horde and the Alliance, not at this time."
Stoutfist and Darimund stared each other down, which was rather awkward as the night elf was much taller than the dwarf. Jerome spoke up:
"You have your orders. We will meet in the Darkshire inn. Get a gryphon and head there."
The Keepers walked off to gather supplies. Stoutfist, his taste for ale drowned in disdain, walked up the marble steps of the cathedral. The interior was beautifully decorated, with large pillars of marbles on each side of the hall and a red carpet in the enter, bordered with what appeared to be golden tissue. Stoutfist walked up to the altar at the end and kneeled, praying.
"Light, give me strength in the trial that is to come. Direct my wrath to the wicked and shield the innocent from it."
He heard hooves walking up to him. He turned around and saw Auralaas walking up the hall. Stoutfist got back up and walked up to him.
"So, what are ye gonna do now?"
"Are they serious? Do they really wish to kill innocent women and children?"
"Ya never know. Some of them are virtuous people. Others will follow orders, whatever they may be. Others have suffered too much and seek to return the pain they felt. While others... Others are just as wicked as demons and revel in the death and pain of others."
"This is horrible!"
"Yep. That it is."
"What about you? What will you do?"
"I was assigned to the Keepers to assist them in defending Stromgarde. The wanton slaughter of innocents is not part of that deal. I will go, the Grin must be stopped. But I'll leave if I see innocents being attacked by the Keepers. You still haven't answered my question..."
"I don't know. I will think about it."
With that, Stoutfist walked out of the Cathedral.
Earlier in the dayEdit
Nur stood atop the walls of the Keep, in the Arathi Highlands, contemplating the battle of the night before. He had not been there, due other pressing matters for the sake of the Alliance. While his brothers and sisters had fought in the Swamp of Sorrows, he had been to Ironforge and Stormwind on a diplomatic mission of great importance. Stromgarde even with the return of Danath and the wealth found in the Outlands could not fight the Grin alone. Well rather they could not fight the Grin with their allies, alone.
As he starred at the Highlands watching the younger Keepers train in duels, his thoughts went to the briefing of the night before. They Keepers had successfully attacked Stonard and laid waste to the fortress. The Grin had come in numbers as usual and the battle was hard fought with both factions losing ground and gaining ground on a regular basis. The battle was supposedly even matched, though many in the ranks felt that more could have been done to gain the upper hand.
But that was not the problem. As he was in Stormwind attempting to get the pathetic leaders of the city to ride out and destroy the Grin once and for all, the horde had arrived to reinforce Stonard and the Grin. The outpost was abuzz with various other elements of the horde not just the Grin. There was not much that could be done in such a scenario. Being fool hardy is not a trait the Keepers tolerate in the regiment. A battle is won with intelligence not rushing madly into the fray and losing the lives of men.
Lord Jerome walked up the battlement to Nur. "They train hard today. The battle must have invigorated their desire to defend our land." Smiling, Nur responded "They don't defend anymore Lord Commander. You see the zeal in their eyes, that comes only when one believes that they fight for what is right, what is important. Many of these men are not Arathor, but this Kingdom is their home and they now ride out to avenge the deaths of those who they have loved and sworn to protect."
"War comes to us Lord Commander. But this time, it comes on our terms, at our will with only one outcome. Vengeance for our fallen. Stromgarde marches Lord Commander, and may the Gods have mercy on those who get in our way."
"Tried that a few times. Be surprised how ineffective it was, most go berserk immediately and kill a few whelps before we can put them down. What's your trick?"
The blade clicked against the glass as the hulking, plate-clad behemoth smiled fondly at the struggling Mag'har in the chamber.
"It must be pure. We have... the source."
Gorfrunch raised his voice to be heard above the moans and sobs of prisoners in the pens behind him and a strange, echoing beastial roar coming from the depths of the fortress that sounded almost like a voice.
"Hrrrgh. And the subject? Is the brown tone a transition? How long has this one been in the chamber?"
The plate sc***!d as the powerful stomach muscles beside him convulsed in a huge chuckle.
"Mag'har. Orcs caught in the blast of the world who have shrivelled and faded from their former selves. Attempts to try some of the Human expedition haven't worked well. These wretches seem particularly... empty. We simply refill them. Reinvigorate them."
Gorfrunch stepped closer, his breath joining the thin layer of steam already on the glass chamber in the sweltering fortress. The Mag'har glared at him, feebly struggling against its restraints, but convulsed with a sudden flow of energy, letting out a rage-fed roar.
"Beautiful. But I don't have much time. My forces will be flowing through the Portal soon, and we have plans to make about the Human fortress to the east. Not only are the Humans a problem, but the grasshuggers to the north..."
The two Warchiefs strode down the hall, Fel Orc scientists saluting sharply before returning to their instrument panels as the Bladefist passed, the small, green Smashblade not even coming up to his shoulder.
2 hours agoEdit
Stoutfist's gryphon landed in Darkshire. The place was as it's always been in the last few years, dark, dank and run down. He made his way to the inn.
The inn was filled to the brim with Keepers. Battle plans were laid out, officers were encouraging their troops. The innkeeper, a thin woman in her forties, was passing mugs around. Stoutfist spotted Jerome conversing with a few officers. He walked up to him:
"Jerome, think about what ye're doin'. Ye're talkin' about killin' innocents!"
Darimund answered with a mocking tone:
"No we're not, we're talking about killing members of the horde."
"Go to hell Darimund."
"Why do you care about these animals?"
"Ye're a filth."
Jerome remained silent.
"All right, here's the deal: I'll help ya. But if I see innocents being slaughtered, ye'll have ta do without me."
Again, Jerome remained silent. Stoutfist walked out of the inn, disgusted. He went to the side of the inn and took in a few deep breaths to diminish his anger. As he was making his way back, he saw Auralaas, sitting on the ground, looking at the sky.
"So, have ya made yer decision?"
"I will make it on the battlefield."
"All right. Jest make sure you make the right one."
The town's clock tower rang. The Keepers stormed out of the inn. It was time.
An hour of back and forth conflict had gone by. The battle had easily become one of the bloodiest in recent history. The swamp water was tinted red and the grass was caked with blood. The Keepers had given the signal to retreat only moments earlier and Faquarl couldn’t be happier about it.
Gorfrunch was right about one thing; they weren’t looking for a scout. They had come with the sole intention of killing Grin. They forgot all about Stonard as soon as the Grin had arrived and attacked with viciousness unfamiliar to them.
The Grin began to reassemble inside Stagalbog cave. The murlocs indigenous to the cave had decided to raid the Grin armory and could be seen flailing axes and swords about. The grots soon went back to work in their small war against the murlocs. The other Grin circled up to discuss what had just happened.
“Did you see their banner?” Gorfrunch seemed shaken, a quality quite rare in the warchief.
“You saw it too? It seems so familiar but I can’t remember where. It was from my days of life, so I know it was old.” Bellmont seemed to be one of the few who realized the significance behind the banner.
“All I noticed is that they were well prepared for war. Stromgarde itself wasn’t supplying them. The armor was far too fresh for that dying nation to provide.” Faquarl was nursing several burns. The mages of Stromgarde were deadly; he was one of the luckier ones in those encounters.
“They were banners of old Stromgarde. That was the sigil of Strom when Danath was their field commander.” The room became quieter after Gorfrunch had spoken. While few of today’s Grin existed during the Second War, many knew the history.
“Are you sure? Didn’t he die?”
“Doesn’t look like it. We need ter see this through. Jo, let’s go south.” Faquarl gave the warchief a nod followed by a sigh. He had a feeling this was the beginning of something he couldn’t stop.
The Dark Portal was standing in front of them, vast and seeping out fel energies. Faquarl and Gorfrunch looked all around them for clues.
“Lots of hoof prints around here. Looks like they came from Draenor.”
“You mean we’re going through that thing?!?”
“’Course we are. Just keep yer eyes open, I don’t know how that world has changed since I was last there.”
“And when were you last there?”
“Before it exploded.” The warchief gave a harsh laugh as they walked into the portal. The green energies wrapped around them Faquarl saw the Blasted Lands melt and the colors began to rearrange themselves into a blurry new surrounding. When things became clear he saw he was in the middle of a battlefield.
“CHARRRRRRGE!” At least fifty orcs came from around a corner and ran down the steps of the monument they were standing on. At the base of the steps was a demon that Faquarl could only recognize as a look alike to the staue in Orgrimmar.
“Lets go, this isn’t our problem.” Faquarl nodded at the warchief and they found a wind rider stationed in the horde camp. Gorfrunch took a wyvern and Faquarl shifted into a bird as they flew over the demonic holdings. “They didn’t notice we were Grin. I didn’t think we were gonna get a wyvern so easily.”
Faquarl just flew alongside the warchief thinking the same thing to himself.
“There!” Gorfrunch pointed towards a crumpling citadel made from pearl white stone. The banner that the Keepers wore was flying high amongst the rubble. As they flew in to see closer, a gryphon came from out of the sky and charged them. Faquarl flew lower and unshiffted out of flight, as he began to fall he threw a few wraths at the great beast causing it to fall from the sky. The warchief flew downwards to meet the druid.
“See anything warchief?” Gorfrunch looked grim and nodded.
“They are heavily reinforced. There is no way we are gonna break those lines. Danath is here though, I saw him. I saw him Jo.”
“And? How is this our problem?”
“He attacked US! We aren’t going to let that go. This is war, Jo.”
“You said it yourself, the citadel is far too reinforced for us to break alone.”
“Yeah. That’s why yer goin back. We need help this time. Get the Thunderlords, they’ll have the same goal in this as we do.”
“Where are we going to set camp?!? You cant be serious?”
“Listen ter me cow. Send someone ter Suncrown there is an elf base just west of here.”
“What makes you think Suncrown has any jurisdiction over here?”
“I don’t, but they pledged themselves to us in Khaz Modan. Worst comes to worse, we use them as hostages.” Faquarl snarled at the warchief. Things seemed to be developing far too fast. He couldn’t stop it, and so he did what he was trained and honor bound to do.
“Yes warchief. We will have made contact within a day.”
“Good, I’m gonna stay here and get the lay of the land, this place is much different.” Faquarl nodded and shifted into a bird again. He looked down at the warchief who was walking toward a monolithic black keep. As Faquarl flew back towards the portal he noticed something new to his left, an orcish city waving the flag of the new horde.
If Thrall was here, then things were going to be worse then he thought.
“So, I see that you are still wearing those pretty clothes,” Faquarl rumbled with a snort, his steps heavy against the marble of Silvermoon’s streets.
Arkonn whirled to put a face to the voice speaking to him, though he already knew who it was.
“What brings you to Silvermoon, Jo,” Arkonn replied with a somewhat resigned tone. There was no arguing with the dark-furred Tauren over his clothing and how they did not, in fact, make him look like a woman.
“I’ve got to ask a favor, Arkonn,” Faquarl began, settling his weight into a bench that creaked and groaned in complaint, “The Grin and the Thunderlords want to go into Outlands, and we need to set up camp. Thrallmar is right out, but Falcon Watch…”
The unfinished statement hung in the air like a rain cloud, full and ready to burst. Arkonn drew in a deep breath through his nostrils and exhaled gustily through his mouth. Ofearah, Arkonn’s striped cat, made a similar set of noises from his place at Arkonn’s side.
“You want to set up at Falcon Watch, and have me talk the Sin’Dorei there into letting you,” Arkonn finished, his words more of a statement then question.
Faquarl nodded his confirmation with a grim touch to his eyes and face.
Arkonn thought for a moment, weighing options. He ran his tongue along his teeth behind sealed lips. Finding the socket of the tooth he had given to Gorfrunch however long ago, his decision was made.
“I’ll talk to some people. Rellen’thas, the Suncrown, probably know some people that can help,” Arkonn tried to convey his uncertainty. Suncrown was an extended family of nobles and nobility. The chances Velurian would want to talk to the administrators at Falcon Watch on The Grin’s behalf were slim. Esere and Renault, however, might be willing to lend a hand.
“Good!” Faquarl exclaimed, the word sounding more like a bark than anything else. He clapped Arkonn roughly on the back, and began walking away before the hunter could reneg. Arkonn sighed heavily, watching his hulking friend walk away, and ran a hand through his hair irritably.
This wasn’t going to be easy.
“So, again, what do you need done?” Renault asked of Akronn, the older elf viewing the red-headed hunter over the rim of his spectacles.
Arkonn had come to the offices of the Fel’Solan, Suncrown’s House Guard, and had asked to speak with Esere, Vice-Captain of the Fel‘Solan. He hoped that she would help him without requiring an audience with Renault, who was Captain. Arkonn was not as lucky as he would have hoped, and now he stood in Renault’s office with Esere hovering in the background, listening to the conversation.
“The Blacktooth Grin needs a safe haven in Hellfire, and they can’t go to Thrallmar,” Arkonn held up a hand to forestall any questions to that point, “Falcon Watch is their only option. They need to have someone arrange for their stay…”
“… And they figured that we were just the elves to smooth their way,” Esere finished for Arkonn, a slightly bemused smile touching her lips, “I understand why they would avoid Thrall’s outpost in the Outlands. Captain, we’ve fought beside the Warchief before… certainly we could help them with this.”
Renault frowned a moment and furrowed his brow as he weighed his thoughts, making a decision. He pulled his glasses from his eyes and set them down on his desktop. A silent moment passed before he cleared his throat to respond, “Fine. I don’t see why not. Esere, have Lieutenant Elsadorian speak with her contacts at Falcon Watch.”
Esere nodded sharply to Renault, a full smile gracing her lips, before opening the door for Arkonn. Arkonn made a brief nod to both the Captain and the Vice Captain and left the offices as quickly as possible. Once outside, he whistled for his talbuk. He had a few things to finish before he made for Falcon Watch, himself… at least to check up on things.
“Ah, Lieutenant Elsadorian, how good of you to visit,” Ranger Captain Venn’ren exclaimed as he noted Analeia’s presence with him on top of the tower of Falcon Watch.
“A pleasure, as always,” Analeia responded with a jaunty smile, “I am here on business.”
“As always,” Venn’ren replied, “But surely business can be talked about over wine?”
Analeia made a short laugh and sharp nod, following after Venn’ren as they translocated from the tower’s top to his office. She settled herself in a chair in front of his desk, and accepted the glass of rich-looking red wine that he poured. She eyed him over the rim of the glass, sizing him up and judging his mood.
“So, what important business brings you to the Hellfire Peninsula, Lieutenant,” Venn’ren asked after his first sip of wine.
“I’ve some… allies… making their way across the Portal, Ranger Captain, and they will be in need of a facility to settle themselves into,” Analeia started, deliberately leaving details out of her sentence.
“Send them to Thrallmar, then,” he exclaimed in response, his eyebrow arched in curiosity.
“The Blacktooth Grin would not be so welcome at Thrallmar, Ranger Captain,” Analeia countered quietly, laying her cards out on the table.
Venn’ren stopped and swirled the liquid in his glass a moment before shifting uncomfortably in his chair.
“You mean to say that you want me to make some space and facilities available for a band of generally lawless marauders,” asked, not bothering to leave the sarcasm out of his tone.
Analeia nodded silently, meeting and holding the Ranger Captain’s gaze levelly. He shifted in his seat again before motioning for her to continue. Keeping her tone matter-of-fact and level, she took her time explaining the benefits, and even the detriments of allowing a collection of Orcs, Tauren, Forsaken, Trolls, and rogue Blood Elves into Falcon Watch.
By the end, Venn’ren was intrigued.
“Venn’ren assures me that you’ll be treated no differently than any other traveler here,” Analeia assured Faquarl as she led the long stream of Grin into Falcon Watch.
“My thanks, Analeia,” Faquarl grumbled in response, gazing with an odd sense of wonderment at the marble tower. What sense did having a tower of marble make in a place like Hellfire? It didn’t make any.
“The soldiers of Suncrown have bled with the Grin in the past, we don’t intend to stop now. Your luck seems to bring the best brawls to your doorstep,” Analeia responded with a smile.
“Just don’t forget about us after this, Faquarl,” she finished before making a final salute to Ranger Captain Venn’ren and riding off.
Blade's Edge MountainsEdit
"....Pokes! How are you brother!" Chief Zamarak enveloped the wizened troll in a crushing hug, his short, barrel chested body accentuated by the towering height of the forest troll in his arms. Pokes grinned down at him, his tusks protruding grotesquely, as he said "Ah be well enough, brodda. 'ows tings 'ere?"
The two walked and engaged in lively conversation for a time as Zamarak gave Pokes a tour of Thunderlord Stronghold, pointing out changes that had occurred since his last visit. Trailing at a respectful distance behind their commanders were Zurven and Burnsauce, who remained silent as they bore witness to the sworn brothers. "....and this is where our old wrestling ring was. You barely recognize it, I bet!" Pokes nodded in earnest assent, honestly surprised at how well the Thunderlords had done for themselves in Outlands. He continued following Zamarak on the tour until finally the orc called for a table to be set with food and wine in the courtyard for a mid-day meal.
As they sat and ate, and the time grew closer, a kind of tenseness overcame the meeting. They both knew that despite their personal relationship there was business behind this visit that would soon be broached. It was the troll who spoke first. "It be good tah see joo, but dere be bidness about dis as well. Ah be shore dat joo've received repohts about Grin advance scouts goin' t'rough de portah." The orc nodded tersely as he tore at a piece of talbuk flesh, and gestured with his free hand, "Yes. Thrallmar Intelligence sent a warning to us. Apparently a young officer at the portal has been defrocked for not recognizing two notorious members of your clan, and giving them wyverns." The orc snorted in flat humor as he reached for a cup of wine. Pokes gave Zamarak a shrewd, sidelong look and reached for a tube attached to his belt. "...what a nobah an' selfless ting oh dem tah do, hikin' all de way up 'ere jess tah give joo dat info." The Thunderlord Chieftain paused in his feast for a moment, a shred of meat comically hanging from his open mouth as he stared at Pokes in a moment of surprise. Suddenly, he erupted into laughter, his ears waggling in good humor.
"You always were a canny one, Pokes!" the orc stood abruptly, gesturing to his friend to follow as he left the courtyard into his hall. "Follow me, I have something to show you." They two, trailed by their honor guard, walked into the hall and turned sharply into a small room clearly designated as an officer's think tank. Maps, reports, and assorted literature were jammed into every conceivable place. Dominating the center of the room was a round table with a crudely stylized map of Outlands etched into it. The party took seats around the table, and Zamarak handed Pokes a small scroll that was once sealed with wax. As the troll read, Zamarak studied his face for any clue of his thoughts, but discovered nothing beyond the troll's concentration, as evident through his pursed lips.
When the troll was finished reading, he remained silent for a time, collecting his thoughts before speaking. "Joo git lettahs challengin' joo like dis often?" The orc cocked his head to the side quizzically, and asked "How do you mean?" Pokes tossed the scroll to the table disdainfully and clicked his tongue, "Seems tah me a bit fohwahd tah impose demands on joo in joo own clan territory. But den, ah suppose dat be de crux oh de debate between mah clan an' Thralls, eh?" Zamarak stared at Pokes, his expression equally blank. "I prefer to think of his 'commands' more as 'suggestions', especially given that the resources of the Frostwolf and Warsong clans are stretched very thin out here. You make a good point however, and it is one I have considered in the past." . As the troll opened his mouth, Zamarak raised his hand in protest. "Please brother, lets not go over this again. Regardless of my personal feelings, I must serve the best interests of my clan, and I do not believe that breaking away from the Horde does so. We should not fight this day."
Pokes pursed his lips again before saying, "Den we wont talk about dat. Ah get tah de point. Joo an' ah bot' know dat joo aint gonna attack de Grin, no mattah 'ow strong Thrall suggest it. Especially when our bidness 'ere be summat dat align wid de- 'ow joo say it? Best interest oh joo clan?" Zamarak nodded his cautious interest, and the Amani continued...
Zamarak and Zurven watched thoughtfully as Pokes and Burnsauce rode off south down the pass, deep cowls pulled over their faces and any identifying insignias not in public sight. When they broke line of vision as they turned a corner, Zamarak said quietly to Zurven, "Do you think I made the right decision?" The witch doctor studied his chief intently for a few moments before carefully saying, "Pokes say de right words. If we dont stand togeddah, den we die separate. De Alliance aint gonna stop wid dem." Zamarak glared at Zurven in clear irritation and stomped off towards his stronghold. Zurven jogged to catch up and asked, "What be wrong?"
The orc snapped at Zurven, "I meant, was it the right decision to not assist Thrallmar and Danath in crushing them once and for all!" the orc stormed away, the rawness of his emotion clear to others who quickly scrambled to get out of his path. Zurven watched after his chief sadly, and whispered in troll, "I know what you meant, my friend. I know all too well." As he left to prepare his unit for joint operations with the Blacktooth Grin clan, Zurven's thoughts were overcome with memories of his people, and the politics that left them at the mercy of their enemies..
"There's been some fightin' 'mong tha Illidari. Nothin' too serious yet, but I thought it'd be worth mentioning." The Wildhammer scout reported, easily keeping his gryphon hovering a few feet off the ground. Kurdran, Thane of the Wildhammer Dwarves, absently tugged on his beard while he digested the news.
"The Naaru think they can breach the Temple with that goin' on?" Kurdran asked. The scout shook his head.
"Nay. Even with tha in-fighting, Illidan's goons outnumber X'iri's boys. His orders are ta keep up tha siege and that's wot he's doin'."
Kurdran frowned. "Bah! Strike when tha enemy's weak! Still, what A'dal says goes. Good work. Get back to the flight." He dismissed the scout with a brief salute and the scout reciprocated before urging his mount back into the sky around the Stronghold. Kurdran watched him rise up, his mind running over battle plans and manuvers. He soon realized he was treading over old, stale ground and turned to a more interesting topic: the brief message he had recieved from his old comrade Danath Trollbane. The fellow Son of Lothar was heading for Wildhammer Stronghold, far removed from his own base in Hellfire Peninsula, apparently carrying dire news. Kurdran welcomed his old friend on any visit, but these days, he wasn't certain how much dire news they could still handle.
Grumbling darkly to himself about demons and windchimes that didn't know how to fight a proper battle, Kurdran trudged back across the Stronghold and into the Keep, hoping Danath would arrive soon to break the monotony of the endless siege.
The aging human did arrive soon, a few hours after Kurdran recieved his report from the front. He flew in on a gryphon, flanked by several bodyguards from Honor Hold. As the flight landed, every dwarf in the Stronghold stood at attention, sharing their Thane's respect for Trollbane. Danath gave the men and women of the base a salute and a bow, but did not waste time making for the Keep. Kurdran met him at the gates and the two clasped hands in a firm handshake, countless years of battle and fellowship between them.
"Danath, ya old relic! What brings ye ta me Stronghold?" Kurdran asked.
"Good to see you to, my stubby friend. Come, let's find a place in your Keep and we'll talk things over."
The two strode quickly into the large building, hurriedly followed by their retinues. Though outwardly they bantered and moved comfortably, Kurdran had tensed. If Danath did not want to waste time on talk, then the news must be dire indeed.
A few minutes later, they were settled deep inside the thick stone walls of the Keep and had waved off any bodyguards and attendants that attempted to linger. When they were alone, Kurdran leaned towards Danath across the small table where they sat and spoke quietly, "What's got ye so worried ye had ta come and tell me yerself, Danath?"
The man was silent for a moment, swirling the potent dwarven ale he had been given around in its mug. He took a brief sip of it before replying, "I was reached by some soldiers from my homeland, Kurdran. The Keepers of Stromgarde."
"A good thing, aye?"
"Aye, but the news they brought was not so good. You remember the Blacktooth Grin?"
Kurdran's face twisted in anger. "Oh, indeed I do. I remember the Grin we fought back in the Second, and I heard o' tha new Grin that tried ta make a mess a' Khaz Modan lately." Kurdran took a deep swig of his own ale and continued. "But they got beat when they tried to take Ironforge, eh? Bit off a bit more than they could chew?"
"I thought so too. The Keepers reported differently, however. The Grin survived, hiding in the Swamp of Sorrows."
Kurdran spat on the floor. "Bah! Then march on 'em! Tell tha Alliance or yer Keepers or whoever and stamp 'em out!"
"I did. The Keepers attacked Stonard to try and lure the Grin out and were successful in that sense. But..." Danath went silent, swirling the ale in his mug around again.
"But what?" Kurdran insisted.
"But the Keepers bore the old banners of Stromgarde. The banner of my family and myself. And they were defeated."
Kurdran's eyes briefly widened in alarm. "They alright?"
"The Keepers will endure and continue to fight. But the Grin know we live Kurdran, and I doubt they are happy to hear the news."
Kurdran slammed his fist into the table. "Then let 'em come! We smashed 'em once, we'll smash 'em again!"
Danath frowned and held up his hand to calm the dwarf. "Really? My men in Honor Hold are stressed to the limit, assisting with the siege of the Dark Portal and trying to fend off the Fel Horde at Hellfire Citadel. Yours are under near-constant assault here and also have to run supplies between Shattrath and X'iri's men at the Temple. The Sha'tar, the largest friendly army left on this rock, are split between fighting in Netherstorm, Terokkar, and virtually every other front. What force does Outland have to hold off a sudden influx of bloodthirsty Horde?"
Kurdran sobered and stared at his friend grimly. "Then what is your solution?"
"Azeroth does not face the same stresses our forces on Outland do. They can bring us the aid we need. Do you know of anyone back on our home who can come to help us?"
Kurdran thought for a moment, tugging his beard, and then grinned widely. "Aye. I can think of a few people raring for a fight."
There was little time to waste, so a few minutes after Kurdran finished writing his letter, Danath and his guards mounted back on their gryphons and prepared to lift off. The dwarf followed to see them off.
"Remember, that letter needs to be sent ta Aerie Peak. My boys there will know what to do with it from there."
Danath glanced at the rolled-up sheet of parchment in his hand before carefully placing it in his bag. "And you're sure they'll come to our help?" Kurdran nodded.
"Pretty sure. The Reveries have no love for the Grin and I'm sure they wouldn't want the Stronghold 'ere to get stomped."
Danath nodded. "Very well then. Let us hope that the next time we meet, one of us is carrying the head of the Grin's chieftain."
Kurdran smiled and gripped Danath's arm. "Aye my friend. That'll be a fine meetin'."
Danath's flight lifted off and Kurdran watched for a few moments as they glided north. Eventually, he turned and shouted out to the compound. "Oy! How many of ya miss the days a' bashin' greenskins?" Every dwarf in the Stronghold, though wearied from constant siege, roared in agreement. Their Thane smiled approvingly.
"Cause they're coming back again."
Ashenrock stood and shivered at the site of the barren waste know as Outland. The portal behind him was eerily silent as streams of soldiers passed by him. He wondered what the others were doing here. What was their purpose? He, who had once sworn never to return to this place, was now in fact back to fight for his new friends.
The only advantage to his return was that he was no longer bound to the ground beneath him. He quickly shifted into his flight form, pushed the air from beneath his wings, and took to the skies above. Suddenly his disgust and anger were gone and the exhilaration of flight once again sent his sensations into a tingle. It wasn't until he reached Thrallmar that he regained his focus on the task at hand.
The flight to Falcon Watch, while brief, was full of thought. He still wasn't sure exactly why he was about to continue this fight. He just knew in his heart that it felt right. The Blacktooth Grin had accepted him as their own and his loyalty to the friends that he'd made was as strong as that to his own flesh and blood. The adrenelaine started to pump through his feral heart and he could feel the warm rush of blood fill his head. Upon landing at Falcon Watch he quickly assumed his Ursine form, stretched his head to the sky, and released a roar that echoed accross the barren land. His focus was strong, his determination was stronger, and he was now ready to help this band of Horde ally together to bring down a common foe.
The march to the Hold had begun.
Mandeville eyed the notice inside Aerie Peak grimly. The priestess had been busy taking care of personal matters in the last few days, and she had not fully realized the magnitude of the situation with the Blacktooth Grin. The last she was aware, there were only scattered sightings in the Swamp of Sorrows, with no reports of real bloodshed.
"So they've pushed through the portal, then." Mandeville read the letter pinned below the notice. "That puts Honor Hold in great danger. And, If the Grin are able to escape Honor Hold's defenses, it will be that much harder to track their moves, which puts a lot more people in danger." Looking around, she noticed the decreased number of guards about the Peak, and she scolded herself under her breath for not seeing it sooner.
She shuffled through her bags until her hand clasped around her hearthstone. Activating the now glowing runes, she prepared to be transported into Outland. She would attempt to speak with the commander there, what was his name? Trollbane, at least she thought. Her time spent in Honor Hold had not been extensive, giving no reason to remember her face or her name, and she wondered if she could expect to be given any of his time in such a situation.
"It is easy to become comfortable with the enemy you know, Bellmont..." said Varimathras as he looked down at Bellmont, expanding his wingspawn to it's full length most likely to attempt to intimidate the Undead Rogue.
"Stromgarde... if your reports from years past hold true, then they indeed are the familar foe for Gorfrak's little warband." continued Varimathras, in his usual condescending tone of voice.
"Gorfrunch, sir." said Bellmont in a respectful yet uncomfortable tone, as if to express his irritation with such lack of respsect payed towards Gorfrunch.
"Orcs... humans... elves... it matters little of their names. All to bland and similar names to truely remember." said Varimathras, more to himself then Bellmont,
"Perhaps that is because the Nathrezim's have no less then eight syllables per word." said Bellmont, muttering the words under his breath.
Varimathras glared, but then quickly moved back to the main point of the conversation.
"The Midnight Reveries... the fools who believe in the powers of dreams, I believe." said Varimathras, "They've been at war with the 'Grin' since Gorfrunch's little campaign towards the Dwarves of Ironforge, correct, High Executor?" inquired Varimathras, only really asking to be told once again he was right.
"Yes, sir." said Bellmont, rolling his eyes.
"Good, we now know that you can at least remember what your reports say." said Varimathras, seeming to apply something. Then again, he always is, he is a Dreadlord after all.
"The 'Blacktooth Grin' have been valuable...." Varimathras paused for a moment as he searched for the right word. "hounds of the Dark Lady. Killing members of the League of Arathor was also quite the unintentional for me as well. And despite the fact that you, as well as past incidents, drove the Grin to such actions in the name of our people, we have rewarded them." said Varimathras, lifting up one large fingure to keep track of what the Undercity had done to aid the Blacktooth Grin,
"Kept Orgrimmar passive and confused as to their whereabouts, sabtouaged a good deal of Orgrimmar's vessels when sending that platoon to deal with what was left of the 'Grin' after the battle of Ironforge, and allowing you access to Deathstalkers, Apothecaries, Abominations and Deathguards to aid in the buisness of the Grin..." said Varimathras, searching his mind for any other favor the Forsaken may have extended the Blacktooth Grin.
"Yes, sir. All this is very much true. However you have pulled me far from my duties in both the Grin and the Forsaken for this little talk so I assume you have something more to say." said Bellmont, impatient to Varimathras' games.
"Outland currently holds no benefit to the Forsaken, the only reason we are even there are to 'strengthen' our bonds with the Orcs and the other various foul smelling, bipedal beasts of burden who now fight with us." said Varimathras with a chuckle upon remarking on the Trolls and Tauren.
"And I will give you three days time to give me, personally, a reason to continue to extend these rather costly favors to this warband if they are not benefitting us. Choose your allegiances carefully, High Executor." said Varimathras dismissing Bellmont.
Bellmont begins to head out of the Royal Quarter. He quickly spins around when he feels the rasping of boney fingers on his Shoulder.
"What is it?"
"Patience, Discipline." Grins the Blind Abbess.
"Ah, Archimandrite Vesytia, what a pleasant if not all totally predictable surprise."
A grinning Vesytia replies: " Power, Tenacity, Respect my dear High Executor. The Third order of The Forgotten Shadow has surveillance power that nearly match those of your beloved Deathstalkers. I come here to extend an offer."
"Here to absolve me of past sin, to aid me with my path to greater Undeath and Purity?"
"Oh Lords no." Grins Vesytia.
"All of my missionary work in Shattrath dear Bellmont is just more cloak and dagger work."
Vesytia lets out a chuckle.
Bellmont rolls his eyes.
"I see you're wearing the Tabard of S.V.P. now."
"I assume this is what its about."
Vesytia feigned a look of hurt and surprise.
"Why yes dear Bellmont, this is exactly what this is about. Mind joining me in my Cloister?"
The pair make their way out of the Royal Quarter heading towards the War Quarter.
"Castor and his band of Operatives have a great interest in this war of yours." "War means profit for a band of mercenaries such as us you see."
"The Grin thanks S.V.P. for their aid in past battles, the sting of your leadership not aiding with the Assault of Ironforge is noted though."
"I agree, we should have offered you more support than just prayers and stolen weapons shipments from Theramore. Which oddly enough is what this is about. Apparently we have come into possession of several crates of weapons, troop movement orders and other highly sensitive documentation that fell off a Cart that was making its way to Telredor."
Vesytia Hooks two of her long spindly fingers in the air above her head to add emphasis.
"How much, Vesytia." Bellmont says exasperatedly.
"We're not Goblins, Bellmont. I personally would give them away, since we were paid for that job, but S.V.P. is a business my dear friend. Have faith, it won't break your back."
"I'm rather busy Vesytia, make it quick."
"We know about your movement into outland, and I want you to know, S.V.P. will aid you in whatever means we can provide. Some of our operatives are feeling a bit bored with being hired goons for the Peace Chief and his petty resource wars. We hunger for glory. I must go now Bellmont."
Vesytia bows before the High Executor
"Keep in touch my dear friend."
The Diminutive Priestess and the Deathstalker part ways.
Maps were strewn across beneath a tent of Blood Elf design. Leadrs of the horde sat discussing the war thus far.
"The portal was messy, half baked plan." Zamarak bared his teeth at Gorfrunch.
"They knew we were coming, the portal's defense was weak, it was thought that Honor Hold would be the same. It just proves Danath is as deadly an enemy as ever." Faquarl was chewing his tongue as he spoke. It had become a habit for him recently. It helped take the pain away.
One Week AgoEdit
The horde had crossed the portal and began pushing to Honor Hold. Little did they know a defense was already set up to stop them. As horde and alliance rushed against each other like two rams clashing to prove their superiority, Faquarl saw the flux of alliance elites. Much Too Much had entered the fray with armor that put most of the horde to shame. Faquarl braced himself for the side attack firing wraths off into their numbers. A gnome warrior charged him with a sword nearly twice his size. Before the druid could react his left eye saw only red.
"We've been battlking for control of the towers fer weeks. Their defenses are susceptible to another attack. Bellmont tells me he found us a new source of men. This war isnt over." The warchief of the Grin spoke with an aura of finality but it didnt seem to appease the warchief of the Thunderlords.
"Whatever you all may decide, I want to press upon you the fact that Falcon Watch is not a bastion for war! You mustn't lead them here again!" Venn'renn had been yelling at them for the entire week for leading the alliance to Falcon Watch. Medics were running amok inside the tower tending to the wounded.
Faquarl stepped away from the meeting. He had already given more then he wanted to this war. He would let Gorfrunch argue with the others. He walked out to one of the ballistae and lifted is hand to feel for his white, unseeing eye.
Whispclaw tipped the night elf courier a coin as he read the note that had been sent to him. He recogonized his mentor's seal, and opened it curiously.
As you know, we have been very successful in persuading the Cenarion Expedition to see things our way and not the way of the Circle. This has been in no small part thanks to your efforts. Before negotiations can continue though, they need our help. Their outpost in the Hellfire Penninsula has reported aggressive attacks in the area by the Blacktooth Grin, who I believe you have experiance with. The leader in Hellfire, a human named Trollbane, has requested all aid in fighting the Horde and protecting thier home, Honor Hold.
Keep Trollbane alive and his home secured, and we may gain another step in gaining the Expedition's trust.
Whispclaw's eye's narrowed. He had seen the keep at Honor Hold, it was in poor condition and would not last long against an assault. The outlook was grim, but he knew he had no choice but to be there. And not just for his mentor's plans, but for his own. If the Grin were there, his enemy would be with them.
Adeou sat on what had once been a tower of the northern garrison of Honor Hold. The endless battle with the Legion had reduced the building to rubble, and the most recent assault from the Horde didn’t help, but the rest of the Hold still held.
Sure, the bodies of humans and orcs alike were strewn together by the hundreds. And even the honored Marshal Isildor’s charred remains lay testimony to the force of the Horde; but in the end, they had held them off.
Adeou picked up his war mace, examining the thick splotches of blood and other fluids that ran down its shaft. Rather than wiping it off as he may have done in the past, he runs a finger down its length, collecting some for the joy of sampling its lovely aroma. The pungent taste of iron mingled with other saporous ingredients to produce a bitter-smooth flavor he once attributed to herb tea.
His attention drew to the dead around him, noticing a few unmistakable tabards. A smile drew itself across his face. He was most disappointed, for reasons his own, when the Blacktooth Grin had vanished after their assault on Ironforge so long ago. But there is no questioning it now; the Grin is back in force. And they brought friends…
He looked westward, in the direction of Falcon Watch where the Grin had both come and gone. He had to resist the urge to fly there right now. Soon, he told himself.
He left quickly for Aerie Peak.
It was obvious that they weren't going to see eye to eye on this.
They marched back to Falcon Watch after the many hour siege upon Honor Hold. The shouts and excitement all around her were victory enough, and the pulse of her heart still rang loudly in her ears. She kicked the talbuk's sides with her heels and pushed him into a fierce gallop toward the Sindorei tower.
Celebration was the first order. Amidst the chanting of the Grin, she stood to the side with two of the Suncrown guard.
"I think after this, I have to request some time off," Kallise murmured at her shoulder.
"You shall have it, Miss Kallise." Esere nodded to Analeia too, and they both quickly departed.
"Hail Chieftan Gorfrunch!" She called over the din, edging around the rowdy Grin as she approached the old Orc. They exchanged words of congratulations and thanks all around, keeping alive the vows to support the other should they march to war again.
"If you have need, Chief, you shall have my help. And if Commander Venn'ren gives you any trouble...." she trailed off, smirking in the direction of the head of Falcon Watch who was attempting his best to not panic as the Grin started dragging supply crates from their semi-organized piles to push them into feast tables.
"Not much that he can do now that we're here."
"But he is a Sindorei, and they have a tendancy to whine."
Arkonn stepped near Esere's shoulder, slipping into their native tongue. "They came here seeking peace."
She drew in a deep breath, beating back down her less civil words. "You must carve out your own space of peace with your own hands." Just the edge of her vision was dedicated to watching the huntsman, even as her expression betrayed nothing of their conversation to the nearby Orcs, Tauren, Trolls, and Forsaken.
Arkonn rubbed the back of his neck, not nearly keeping his emotions so in check. "This is not Azeroth."
"I am -well- aware," she stressed, "of the differences between the Outlands and Azeroth. When you run out of land here, you fall into space instead of drowning." She turned, looking at the duel between a particularly roudy pair of Tauren.
Just slightly behind her shoulder, he continued, "They do not want war."
"Then they are free to leave, Arkonn. You managed it." This conversation was going no where, but he would not beat her on the moral high ground.
"They are my friends."
"And you had no right to bring Miss Fiora into this battle."
"I cannot control her," Arkonn sighed, also noticing that the young noblewoman stood on the other side of the gathering and tried to look uninterested in conversation with the Forsaken that had approached her. "I'm protecting her."
"You protect her. You protect them. You cannot control her. You cannot hope to control them." She turned to level her eyes at him, meeting his eyes for the span of several heartbeats before she called her windrider to her side and took to the sky.
Ashenrock stood on the ridge overlooking the road that led west of Honor Hold. He would fall behind them in order to cleanse the land that he could safely traverse, and send to rest the spirits of the bodies left behind. He could hear echoes of cheers coming from his allies below. Their war cries evidently upbeat. Rock did not celebrate violence, win or lose. He did, however, smile to himself. This had been well planned and well fought. He had fought hard for his friends and he was beginning to understand his place in the war he so hated to become part of.
They had come so very close to defeating Trollbane. Ashenrock, himself, still had pieces of the leader's flesh and blood ripe on his hands and claws. He could still smell the fear of the occupants of Stormgarde fresh in his nostrils. The Alliance would take them seriously now. Perhaps seriously enough to mount a counter-maneuver.
As he took to the air, he quickly surveyed the carnage below. There had been many more casualties than he had anticipated and the crimson reflection off of the land below only highlighted the magnitude of the forces each side brought to the table. He landed close to a fellow Tauren's body and quickly committed it back to the earth.
Suddenly a Night Elf Druid appeared from behind the cloak of shadow. The Elf looked up at Ashenrock confidently. nodded, and then turned his attention to one of his own fallen comrades. The time for violence had ended this day. They would let each other finish the task at hand. Ashenrock couldn't help but wonder if he'd meet this Druid in battle during the next incursion.
He finished his work and headed back to Falcon Watch, knowing that many more battles lie ahead.
Eleryn leaned heavily on her staff. She had not left Trolbane's side in a week since rumors of the Grin's attack first came to her ears. She had been there when the Grin and their allies had come crashing into the Keep.
There are Suncrown rogues in the buildings! They're everywhere!
The first shouts of the battle, and soo enough Eleryn and her fellow guards would be battling off a hand full of blood elves. But shortly after this nothing. Nothing for hours, till they finally broke through.
The Keepers and friends had been pushed into the Keep itself and the Grin made full advantage. They stormed to the top and entered the heart of the Keep, where Danath himself stood. Eleryn's attention fell on a Forsaken rogue, and she began hurling bolts of frost at him, attempting to freeze him. With remarkable skill he avoided her magical attacks, until he was feet away. Seeing the wretched grin on his face, Eleryn fired one last bolt at him, which he failed to dodge this time. Freezing his legs to the ground, several guards rushed into claim him. But he was not done yet, but with ease, he freed himself from the ice and vanished. One failed attempt. One of many to come. And Eleryn stood by Danath's side for all of them.
But now the battle was over, Danath was alive, Eleryn's gathering of men had not been in vain. She stood by the paladin Auralaas, saying nothing. They both knew the Grin would try again. And they'd be waiting.
"Well done, Lady Eleryn," The holy warrior said. "Go, take your rest, you need it. May the Light bless you."
She thanked him and left, only to relive the battle in her troubled dreams.
One Day AgoEdit
Bellmont rolled out of the way of the warhammer as it slammed the ground near him, the Paladin raising her weapon striking again at Bellmont, the sythegar evaporating into shadows as the warhammer neared him. Appearing behind the Paladin on his feet and driving his longsword through the surprised Paladin.
She let out a silent cry calling to the light to heal her. But it was too late, with a swift jerk of his left hand; he drew the longsword out of her body and decapitated the Paladin. Putting an end to her desperate prayer.
Bellmont faded into the shadows as a new wave of Midnight Reverie, Stromgardian, and other soldiers from various chapters of the Alliance’s more courageous Guilds came from the main gates of the hold.
The new wave of troops advance was quickly shortened by a sudden wave of ice and snow that swept them up and threw them to the ground. The archmage Shadiel’s incantations bringing down razor sharp blocks of ice from above and thick waves of snow and frost from all directions.
The Alliance’s soldiers began calling to each other. Trying to regroup and charge from this magical blizzard, praying for warmth and an end to this frozen onslaught. Sephris answered such a prayer. As Shadiel’s spell came to an end, the soldiers where greeted with an incorporeal dragon. Shortly there after a blast a flame that engulfed and charred the members of the charge that had survived Shadiel’s frosty bombardment.
Bellmont rushed over to Warlord Faquarl, leaping up and in mid jump sticking his dagger in the neck of one of Faquarl’s many attackers, dragging the attacker to the ground and garroting him in one swift movement.
Faquarl morphed into his moonkin form and bashed one of the Alliance’s soldier’s into the mid-air with his newfound strength. Bellmont grabbing the soldier in mid-air and with a surge of fury whipping him down upon the garroted attacker.
“Warlord, any word on how Suncrown fairs in their assassination plot on Danath?” inquired Bellmont, watching wearily for any more attackers.
“Not well… it seems the Alliance knew of our plans.” Said Faquarl,
“Perhaps one of the Reveries’ visions, or glorified educated guesses.” Said Bellmont in a partially sarcastic tone.
Faquarl and Bellmont both glanced over to their left upon hearing a familiar cry.
“GET ON YOUR MOUNTS YA GITS AND CHARGE FROM THE SOUTHEAST!” hollered Gorfrunch, mounting up with the remaining parts of the Suncrown’s assassination platoon’s members.
The rest of the Horde Warbands did the same, flying around the walls of Honor Hold to its flank and charging past the guards. The sheer number of the warband's cavalry trampling the Alliance's now meager rear defenses. Leaping off Bayne, Bellmont made his way into the keep with the rest of the army, cutting down various Alliance in his way.
Out of the corner of his eye, Bellmont saw Gorfrunch locked in a battle with a High Elven Paladin. Instinct driving him, Bellmont shoved various members of the raid out of the way, whipping blinding powder into his Chieftain’s face, and bashing the Half Elf on the head. Then knocking the Half Elf unconscious and kicking him down the stair case into the cellar.
Bellmont vanished into the shadows before Gorfrunch noticed Bellmont’s seemingly unprovoked treachery, the angered Orc wiping the dust from his irritated eyes and looking around for his opponent. Giving up after a few moments and turning his focus to the raid.
“CHARGE!!! STRAIGHT TO DANATH!!!” bellowed Gorfrunch, knocking down several of the warband’s members as he rushed to the head of it. Running up to the command center.
The warband was soon cut short by Marshal Isildor and a group of elite Honor Hold bodyguards.
“Men… it’s been an honor to fight for you. Bring up the barricades on Danath’s rooms… make sure he lives to see the end of these fowl barbarians.” Said Marshal Isildor, as he began chanting some guttural words.
Though Bellmont was sure Gorfrunch and the others mistook Marshal Isildor’s final order for a war cry. Bellmont was given pause out of respect for the Marshal; however he was quickly jolted to action by the thought of self-preservation.
“HOLD YOUR GROUND!!!!” ordered Bellmont.
A good number of the warband’s raid members turned their attention to this alliance hero and were overcome with bloodlust. The entire horde turned their attention to him and began rushing at the now fluorescent Marshal Isildor.
The Marshal empowered himself with the light as he saw the coalition of death charge at him. His muscles tightened and he began to rush into the fray. He lifted the sword he had taken from the armory and began to cut down as many horde as he could.
As the horde began to overwhelm him, Isildor listened to the noise upstairs. The chaos around him seemed to die down and the sounds of Danath giving orders could be heard. They needed more time and Isildor planned to die for them to have it.
He rushed Gorfrunch himself and locked blades with the orc. Both were aptly skilled. Isildor caught the old orc off guard when suddenly he was hit from the side by four blasts of ice. The elven mages smiled as Felora, in cat form, slunk in for the kill.
The horde barreled it's way up the stairs only to find the alliance completely regrouped around Danath. The two armies clashed once again within his chamber. After thirty minutes of intense combat the horde began to buckle beneath the alliance's renewed fervor.
“RETREAT!” ordered Bellmont to the remainder of the raid.
“DANATH WILL DIE TODAY ONE WAY OR ANOTHER SYTHEGAR! DO NOT-“Gorfrunch’s counter order was interrupted by Faquarl.
“CHIETAIN! Too many have died and we’ve yet to reach Danath’s position. If we continue on this path not only will you end the Grin but you will doom our allies. I will NOT allow this to continue.” Cried Faquarl.
Gorfrunch stood in parallel to his stood officers, as if ready to strike at either at them in a fit of anger. The old Orc growled and twitched, eventually giving a reluctant nod at Faquarl and Bellmont and making for the exit.
“TO FALCON WATCH!” yelled Faquarl as the raid began retreating, leaving behind an Honor Hold with a commander, but with ground warm with blood with both supplies and men.
Six Hours AgoEdit
“If I questioned your loyalty, Bellmont, I would have long ago dealt with you. You are not the one in question. The one that is, Gorfrunch, has been quite annoying of late. Under your request we picked up the Grin when they where down and bleeding, and your chieftain repays my efforts with what, almost killing the youngest of Windrunner blood? By almost killing my sister’s son?” inquired Slyvanas, looking down upon the kneeling Bellmont.
“My queen… he did not know he was the nephew of your highness, I assure you.” Said Bellmont,
“Perhaps. Do you, Bellmont, think that would have made any difference in his actions if he had known who he fought was Arator?” asked Slyvanas,
Bellmont stayed silent for a few seconds.
“No…” said Bellmont quietly.
“As I thought. This chieftain of yours has yet to speak with me personally, send an emissary or even so much as nod at us. The Grin was useful in the past, however now they are becoming another thorn in our sides. Another thorn we can not afford at a time like this. Do not think that the funds that keep Thrall’s eyes blinded would not be welcome to support our growing operations in Northrend.” Said Slyvanas, motioning Bellmont to rise. “Yes, my Queen. I will make sure that Gorfrunch makes no such mistakes once again.” Said Bellmont, standing and bowing.
“Good,” said Slyvanas running the side of her finger along Bellmont’s cheek, almost causing the Undead Rogue to faint. “Do not forget where your loyalties are, Bellmont.” Slyvanas finished, nodding at Varimathras to speak.
“Upon this Orc’s next folly, I will confront this fool, personally.” Said Varimathras with a laugh. “You are dismissed… High Executor. Now get back, and put a leash on your Warchief before I put a noose around it.” Hissed Varimathras as Bellmont left the Royal Quarter of the Undercity.
Sillen tossed the parchment back to the table from which she had picked it up with a huffy pout. “Who does he think he is? Did Fordragon’s stellar reconnaissance fail to notice our presence at the last two attacks on Honor Hold?”
“Calm down, Sillen, your anger accomplishes nothing,” her wise elven companion soothed her, eyes not lifting from his sewing table at their Stormwind apartment.
“Even now, you are still repairing the damage to my robes from the last battle! Perhaps we should send him the bill for the materials?” Sillen watched as Birr applied another patch to her fine silk robes, blending perfectly into the rogue-torn gash as though it were never there. The over-confident mage had yet again found herself entangled with some of House Suncrown’s finest assassins, and she had only barely escaped with her life. Not easily riled, Birr ignored her borderline-treasonous comment.
“Your energies would be put to better use by gathering what men you can find on this short notice and portaling them to the Outlands. We do not have much time to prepare, and we are under contract as you know.” Sillen sighed, inwardly admitting that as usual, he was right. Myzari’s contract negotiations with the Highlord had gone well; Much Too Much would be paid a hefty sum for their services. Convenient that Bolvar was reaching out to them now. Where was his precious army two days ago, or the week before that? What had changed that they were needed now?
“I think I will see if Mene is available to go… early. Something is amiss, and I don’t like it.”
“Do not endanger one of our premier assassins. Gorfrunch and his warlords would anticipate that maneuver, and Falcon Watch is too small to risk such a plan,” Birr scolded her, finally looking up. Sillen frowned, then rolled her eyes. She began to focus her energies on Ironforge, opening a rift in the arcane energies surrounding them to teleport herself.
“Fine. Make sure those robes make it to Shattrath with you later; I’ll be needing them.”
Easton pointed at the stripling undead warrior, who shook his head in confusion and slavered some unintelligible gibberish. "Who - has - sent - you?", the mage said again, slowly, shrugging his shoulders to indicate a question. The beast shrugged back, but seemed to have nothing more to offer. "My nation fell to this", Easton said in despair, indicating for his elemental minion to see to the death of the monstrosity, an execution soon aided by the two paladins who accompanied him. Easton strode from the basement and quickly made his way to the gates of Honor Hold's keep.
"It was inevitable," murmured Sillen, beside him. "They can kill anyone, if they are not defended," agreed Menelek." Easton shook his head in disappointment, regretting the loss of Trollbane, yet another of the heroes of the Alliance. Fordragon would not be pleased, and their cut of the pay would be reduced. What's worse, Myzari would be displeased. Easton resolved not to be present when the mercenary leader discovered their pay would suffer as a result of their inattention. It was past time to be gone from the decaying outpost in Hellfire, anyways.
It had been a well-fought battle, with Falcon Watch and its commander being similarly decimated, followed by a number of attempts at the well-guarded town of Thrallmar. Success was not to be theirs, however, and the deception was quickly discovered as word came that Trollbane was under attack in Honor Hold. Yet another dissapointment.
Striding to his gyrocopter, Easton began to turn the fuel crank, levering a foot across the strut to the clutch. Stretching his other arm into the air, he began the spin of the rotors, and pulled the starter with his teeth. He was rewarded for his efforts with a face full of soot. Not for the first time, he longed for his gryphon. He reached to the engine, and began to turn the fuel crank again. One of these days, he would buy some runes of portals and get back to the easy way of getting around. Until then, he would content himself with the whirr of gnomish engineering, and make his way slowly back to Toshley's Station and commence repairs on his robes and ride.
Bellmont shook wtih anger and fear. The others around him cheered and rejoiced, victory at last, and Danath Trollbane now was face down in a small pool of his own blood, as did many other Alliance soldiers.
Indeed it was hard to traverse Thrallmar without stepping in the fluids of some dead Alliance attacker. However, this mattered little to Bellmont. Anger brewed within his soul. In a clear act of treachery Bellmont had given Gorfrunch a detailed warning as to the intentions of Slyvanas if Gorfrunch incurred her wrath once more.
It had been laughed at, and thrown back in his face. Gorfrunch was even overconfident enough to suggest killing Arator, the nephew of Lady Slyvanas. The only reason Arator being spared from such actions being Danath Trollbane's death.
These relatives where not his own, it mattered little of Alleria died to him. She was but an aquitance he had met many years ago towards the end of the Second War and never seen since. Slyvanas however wanted her sister living, reguardless of her faction.
For a brief moment Bellmont had a sense of rightenousness. Let the old Orc be a fool! The very thought of Varimathras snaping Gorfrunch's kneck gave a rather blissful thought of retribution. However, this thought subsided quickly.
Bellmont's loyality to the Grin was unquestionable, and why he could not willingly allow it's destruction. If Gorfrunch was killed it'd be like the days of the Shattered Guard, all the officers sqwabling trying to take power for themselves.
And in this world that would surely mean doom for the Grin in general. He would prevent Alleria's death, and by extentsion Gorfrunch's and most of the Grin's higher ranking officers even if it ment risking his own life.
At this point, it mattered very little. He sat down in the Thrallmar in and began writing in common. Thinking of who perhaps on the Alliance would actually allow the Grin's Spymaster to meet them alone, be brought behind the walls of a city and given an audience with a hero of the Alliance.
He stuffed the letter in his bag finished all but to who it was adressing blank. He'd search through the census of the Undercity and the Grin once more. That had to be but one member of the Alliance who would be trusting enough... hopefully.
One week agoEdit
Zurven wandered the battlefield, lost and distraught. He has witnessed his Chieften die before him, then set upon a funeral pyre, as were his last orders. Zurven Raptorbane, Warlord and Witch Doctor of the Thunderlord Clan, felt he had nothing more to live for. He stumbled into Falcon Watch, bleeding from various wounds while dragging Machette with him kicking and yelling.
"LET GO OF ME RIGHT NOW ZURVEN! I WILL NOT BE TREATED THIS WAY! WHEN I GET OUT OF THIS I WILL---*WHUMP*" Machette fell limp, stunned by the blow to the head by Zurven's shield. "Don joo eva stop talkin?" Sighing, he summoned a earthen shield around Machette, keeping the shadowy priest subdued.
"Brudda!" Zurven looked up to see Pokes come running up to him "What happened?!"
"We were hit hard, we lost too many....Zamarak...he's....." Zurven choked on the words, unable to finish the sentence. Pokes nodded "It be ok Zurven, Ah'm here fa ya." He noticed the torn and tattered Thunderlord tabard then looked up at Zurven "Joo would betta in black brudda." Pokes held out a black tabard to Zurven who smiled at the other shaman. "Heh.......fear da grin....brudda."
Touque slowly opened his eyes. For a few seconds all he saw was darkness. Then the light from the candles and torches began to fill room. He began to see shapes move around him and then he noticed that he wasnt the only one laying on the cold, hard floor of this room. His head began to ache and he closed his eyes again. He then felt a cool touch to his forehead and he opened his eyes again as some pain subsided. Above him was a human women, smiling down at him as she touched his forehead. She muttered a few prayers under her breath and her hand turned warm and Touque felt relief.
"Hello there little gnome. Glad to see you pulled through." spoke the woman.
"Where am I?" asked Touque.
The human priestess smiled again, "We found you half dead just outside the gates of the Hold. You had a nasty wound to your head. We brought you into the infirmiry in the Keep and were able to patch you up the best we could."
Touque glanced around the room. The smell of ale mixed with blood filled his nostrils. The priestess saw his look of confusion and again smiled.
"No this isn't the infrimiry. When the Horde forces counter attacked us here, we were forced to move all the wounded to the basement of the Inn. They are gone now, but the damage has been done and the loss of life great. Hellfire Peninsula is turning into quite a dirty little war zone."
Touque's mind drifted off into space as he tried to piece together what happened........
Touque was unaware of the major hostilities going on in Hellfire until now. Since being released from the Stormwind stockades a few days before, Touque had tried to keep a low profile. He heard help was needed in Zangramarsh so he headed directly there to make some money, refine his rusty arcane skills after a year in prison, and to get out of the City. He had decided to take a trip to Honor Hold this evening to pick up some supplies. When he landed he saw a large gathering of Alliance warriors. Tabards of many of the Alliance's major guilds filled the grounds outside the Keep. One tabard that was worn by several of the gathered made Touques blood run cold, but he quickly focused himself and walked towards the group.
The Alliance force moved towards Falcon Point. Touque was on the back of his white war ram that was given to him for service with the Alliance over a year ago in Alterac Valley. Somehow Touque was convinced to join the group back at Honor Hold and now he was about to engage in his first major combat in over a year. His nerves held but they were definatly on edge. The leader of the force stopped them about a mile from the rear entrance to the Blood Elf base. As they all formed up he sounded the charge. The ground shook as they thundered towards the encampment. In the sky above several Alliance swooped down on their flying mounts and began to harrass the defenders. Touque dismounted and immediatly chose a target......
Touque stood amongst the carnage. Falcon Watch had felt the Alliance's wrath today. Dead blood elves and other horde races lay amongst the dead. Also among the dead was a few Alliance souls but overall it was a very easy victory. While a bit unsure and rusty at first, Touque had found his stride and his fireballs began finding their marks towards the end of the battle. His last kill had been a Forsaken priest who was on the canopy of the base's main tower. He was keeping the few remaining defenders alive. Touque had sent a fireball careening into the priest. The zombie burst into flame, stumbling around before falling off the canopy into the pile of dead.
As the Alliance forces began to relax and take in their victory, word came that a large Horde force was forming at Thrallamar. It seems that the work of the day was not yet complete.....