Blooddawn: Return, Part 2

We had only been in the city for a half-hour when I brought up (rather angrily) the direction of the Cho’thaki.

‘How do you intend to tamper with them when we’re only being kept on in regards to paperwork?’

‘Why do you think I requested supplies?’

‘You have a habit?’ My wry response didn’t help. I’d been angry about the… things since they were revealed in the Lumber Camp. I failed to see how sabotaging them could prove helpful, given the already-abysmal relations between Silvermoon and Orgrimmar and the increasing pressure on Garrosh.

‘Well, I used to…’

‘And you’re the one in charge of this mess.’ My facepalm was palpable. I couldn’t see why the orcs trusted Forestfire of all people with managing this project. Still, I supposed Forsaken were experts in messing with the biological.

‘Congratulations?’ Was he celebrating?

‘If you want…’

‘No. You stated the obvious. Again.’ He seemed… bored, of all things, which only infuriated me more. I snapped back at him.

‘Well it makes sense, give the crazy undead charge of defiling more bodies.’

‘Your support for me is just suicidal.’ I was not in the mood for withering sarcasm.

‘Well, you’re planning to sabotage our chances in the war and undermine our only source of stable support… If I’m suicidal, what does that make you?’ It was bad enough messing with orcish genetics and potentially angering all of those that were less fond of Garrosh, but angering Garrosh’s forces by double-crossing them too was just plain mad.

‘Shut up, lass… Just shut up. I didn’t come crawling back to-‘

I shut off the communicator. The Grom’s Blood project had me angry enough; attacking Aleck further when he wasn’t going to talk would only make me angrier. I shoved it in my bags as my cheeks burned, and continued my slow creep through the Cleft of Shadow. I harboured no friendly feelings for Garrosh’s Horde, but I wasn’t suicidal enough to sabotage ourselves with the eyes of Hellscream perhaps being carried around in our bags.

Maybe it was a test. But why the commendations, rather than the iconography everyone received? Maybe it just imprinted a spell. After Theramore, the Divine Bell… Garrosh could be capable of anything. If it was a test, I doubted anyone else had actually kept the badge. Maybe the others suspected. That was why most of the badges hadn’t made it intact to Orgrimmar. But there was no time for suspicion now – I’d see soon enough if the badges yielded anything or not. I stuffed the things into the bottom of my pocket, silencing the pocket just in case.

From the incense of the Cleft I snuck out into the smoky twilight of the Drag, dodging across from dead tree to dead tree until I found myself pacing along the dark passage to the Valley of Spirits-

‘SCUM! Move, now!’ I pressed myself against the wall until I realised the angry yell had come from Kor’kron inside the Valley and not inside the passage. I moved closer to where the torches danced wildly, exposing the humiliation of the Darkspear.

It was not imprisonment. But it was… containment.

Kor’kron stalked the thin bridges and paths, glaring at trolls, daring them to speak out of turn. Each troll looked more scared than the last, and there was no leadership in sight. Their farms bore the evidence of thievery and trampling, their houses neglected and, in some areas, burnt. A quick glance downstream and the Slums looked little better. The Darkspear huddled in groups, looking malnourished and anxious. They shielded the children and the few out-tribers who had allied themselves to the Darkspear cause years ago.

So this was the Horde I had fought for in Ashenvale, Desolace, Pandaria. I chewed my lip, thinking of those I had lost, those that everyone had lost.

This was not the Horde I wanted to fight for. But I was, fortunately, not going to anymore.

Instead, I was returning to Silvermoon.

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Blooddawn: Return, Part 1

I pulled my cloak up against the red dust of the capitol. Orgrimmar was as hostile as I remembered, perhaps more so – but I paid little attention to it, instead inspecting the two pins I had gotten.

The wooden one yielded nothing. No energy, no hidden components – I could feel its emptiness as I stretched it slightly with telekinesis. So I warded it and kept it. It’d be a useful souvenir, although I cancelled out the flame enchantment to stop it burning my belongings.

So, I sat on a dusty rock in the shadows, instead inspecting the golden… sun? It was spiked and ridged, like an armoured fist too protected for its own good. I traced each line and edge, trying to find magic, but looking too long at the light bouncing off it gave me a headache…

‘Ow!’

I pulled my finger to my mouth, blood dripping onto the centre of the badge, and it burnt my skin all of a sudden. I dropped it, stifling a yell, and watched as the blood bubbled, moving in rivulets until it covered the entire badge equally. And then, at once, the blood rose up in steam, forming a bright red sun that shimmered in the air menacingly before dissipating.

A spring popped in the badge, and the top clicked open.

‘Well, well…’

Torrent: Forged of the Giant’s Blood

A thin silence fell over Ashenvale as the sun dipped below the western canopy, blanketing us with twilight. We had been called to meet with the Kor’kron overseers of the project the Research Division had worked on, which Sorlain only referred to as the ‘Grom’s Blood’ project.

Given the illustrious history of the elder Warsong chieftain (and his reputation for originating the Blood Curse), I was not exactly enthusiastic. Khairan and Forestfire had not proven forthcoming with the secrets of the project, though between training the furbolg, keeping track of Kaldorei movements, and the successful capture of Rayne’s Retreat, none of us had had much chance to try get information out of them. Sorlain maintained his mystic silence, only speaking to bark orders at us.

Times appeared to have changed rather suddenly. Brightstar kept her face covered at all times, rarely interacting with us, and Vrax had disappeared along with several troll troops. I had heard orcish whelps murmuring about desertion – but again, no one would speak. I was beginning to wonder if I was trusted. I was a fully-fledged member, but the Archons seemed content to withdraw to the safety of the circles they maintained with the Scions.

So, on what was to be a night of rest, we filed in to the dilapidated courtyard of the Warsong Lumber Camp, which now mainly served to collect clutter, the surrounding forest having all been clear-cut. Awaiting us was a small legion of Kor’kron of varying stature, and two oversized cages with dramatic covers, attended by Forsaken.

‘This all seems a bit unnecessary. What’s in those cages?’ Despite my natural curiosity, the pomp of Forsaken apothecaries was always too annoying to deal with. Given the effort we had put in over the past week while they had been busy with tablecloths, I was not in the mood for them.

‘Hail Hellscream!’ It appeared that I was not going to get an answer just yet. ‘Welcome, elves, to the unveiling of the Grom’s Blood project. You are to be the first to witness the Warchief’s newest soldiers, the product of weeks of research, aided in small part by your own members.’ He turned to Aleck. ‘I trust that the Cho’thaki specimens are ready?’

Aleck gave the closest a Forsaken could to a grin. ‘As they’ll ever be.’ The Kor’kron officer ordered the first cage to be uncovered, as he turned to address the various Kor’kron dignitaries that had also been assembled.

‘Everyone, do be ready to move back.’ Sorlain’s monotone voice crackled into my head through the communicators.

‘Wait, what?’

‘These are the unstable specimens, lass. They don’t count anyone here as friends, same as they do the night elves. Should teach the orcs to give us proper credit for the operation.’

‘You’re -sabotaging- the project that’s meant to win Ashenvale?’

‘No, lass, just these two beasts.’

We were distracted by the rather dramatic unveiling of the first cover, which was so large it knocked one of the Apothecaries over. Within the cage was a dire orc – no – yes –

It had been an orc, that much was certain, but whatever it was now, the orc within was gone. It evoked memories of the dire fel orcs that had been carried back from Outland on Thrall’s orders to show the dangers of fel magic. It was a sickly orange-yellow in colour, the skin patchy in places, other areas covered in rocky wart-like growths. Its body was at least thrice as big as that of a regular orc, but its massive fists (twice the size of any elven head) belied strength of a greater magnitude. It had gargantuan armour, some of which appeared to have been crafted from dark iron and glowed a metallic purple. The head was closer to the original size, but malformed, slavering curled tusks erupting from around the mouth. The skull appeared to have collapsed inward at the back of the jaw due to sudden stretching, and the resulting head looked more ape than orc. Glazed-over eyes blinked out from within. They were… not red, necessarily, nor green, but a curious mix of colours; I counted yellow and black foremost. It seemed almost dormant, but within a few seconds of being exposed to the nearby torchlight it began to study us, grunting primally. I did not doubt that it could have broken the cage apart if angered.

‘By the Light… You’ve created fel orcs!’

‘No, not fel. No fel was involved.’ Sorlain and the other archons required close to the front – had Kal’es been involved in this? How had this been kept from us?’

‘But those were orcs.’ My voice echoed in my head. No one had paid attention, as the cage was opening. I remembered that the beasts were apparently unstable and pressed myself up against a pile of lumber, ready to turn invisible if need be.

I ended up jumping the mark, because the majority threw themselves into the fray while I hid and watched, making the occasional comment on the barbaric things. They were surprisingly fast for their size – and the usual speed of creatures of such size and intelligence. What no one had bothered to say was that the fiends were magic-repulsive, and the combination of a phase-shift from Kal’es and a fireball from Khairan as well as a barrage of shadow from Aleck left the first one extremely angry while the Military Division struggled against the second. The Kor’kron lay scattered all over the place.

I broke cover to attract the attention of the angered one while its compatriot was felled rather ruthlessly by Draevon, Lareen and a mechanical shredder. The recoil winded me, and the rather lacklustre composition of I, Aleck and Khairan (all weakened) was fortunately aided by the others.

Recuperating after the event, I found myself shell-shocked. My decision to stay within the Horde suddenly looked a lot less clear-cut. I’d already been implicated for war crimes once. Just how far was the research department involved in this?

~~~

Several days later, everyone had reverted to their positions of keeping silent, as though nothing at all had happened. The Forsaken had repurposed Raynewood Retreat for the other three Cho’thaki – who Aleck assured us were safe. Given what I’d already seen, I trusted the undead about as much as – well, I didn’t exactly find myself in a position to trust anyone anymore. Edanna, who for all her muttering about Sorlain, was somehow involved. The entire Military Division obeyed Sorlain without thought, the very definition of the Covert Wing was treacherous. Khairan, as much as we had shared horrors on occasion, was a loose cannon. The loosest of them all. I had not been able to look him in the eyes since Dalaran, although he seemed to have calmed since.

We had spent most of our time going from base to base checking that things were in order, and after the final preparations were made with the furbolg we received word from Twist that the Kaldorei were on the move. So we assembled, ready for battle.

It was, of course, a rout. I had spent several incursions making sure that the deaths of Kaldorei scouts closest to our positions looked like furbolg work, so the night elves did not suspect a large army, much less organised furbolg. The following night was celebrated by the orcs, boasting of victory and honour – though Ashenvale had not been won by Garrosh’s grandiose plans for Magnataur or Kraken, and I doubted it would be won by this. Another loss of life followed by deadlock.

At the beginning of the next month, we were recalled to Splintertree as the moon rose high above the hills. All things considered, the commendations were handed out rather quickly. We were all given individual wooden badges bearing the Convocation insignia. How wonderful.

Various commendations in neat gold and iron, showing what looked like an exploding sun, were handed out. The mercenaries, the military division, the research division – everyone who had taken part was awarded something. Though no one seemed particularly enamoured with the creations. I spent a moment observing mine before storing them away. The orcs hadn’t given us commendations before, and we’d had more success in Desolace than in Ashenvale… Was ‘mass killing of night elves’ now a criterion?

Aleck and Edanna were given some form of governance over the Grom’s Blood project, though Khairan did not (but his disdain for orcs was quite renowned by this point).

‘And finally, the High Court of Silvermoon has sent word saying that you have been given permission to return to Quel’thalas. Apparently your recent efforts for the betterment of the Horde have attracted attention.’

With that, the Kor’kron left. The next morning, we began the journey back to Orgrimmar, where an orcish frigate would transport us to Silvermoon.

Silvermoon…

I was pleased, of course, to go back and see my family. But I was unsure about the whole thing. We still had enemies, no doubt enemies who wanted us out of the picture entirely. Garrosh’s Horde was more criminal, no doubt, but it was a lot more clear-cut than home.

Home… Was it really home, after so long?

Torrent: The Veil

Our journey with the caravan went fairly consistently, with the only major stop at Splintertree Post; although the further west we went, the more Kaldorei scouts we encountered. Remaining on rear lookout duty, I was afforded the chance to dwell on what this curious project was.

Sorlain had informed us that we would be making a detour to the Sunken City of Zoram, as the city was still a useful source of Kor gems, used in the creation of paladin armour and the binding together of separate magical disciplines. Though the city had been plundered many times over, the Cataclysm had revealed new underground courtyards and more gems had been expelled into the city from the subterranean mines the Kor gems once came from. We would not be alone, unfortunately. The city’s surface had been the site of several recent savage battles for territory between the local orcs, the Naga and the Kaldorei.

We opted to plunge straight into the ruins before any further battles arose during our stay. What we had hoped would be a simple expedition transformed, as always, into a complicated treasure hunt that led us north into Darkshore three times within a span of two days to hunt Kaldorei scavengers who had had the same idea as us and narrowly beaten us to the lion’s share of gems. Twist developed a curious – nay, incomprehensible – affinity for the vile furbolg, and through some odd manner we turned the furbolg against the Kaldorei and claimed the gems for ourselves.

Following such an acquisition we were promptly assigned to Hellscream’s Watch. Aleck, Edanna and Khairan were relocated to aid with the project, which curiously remained hush-hush. The rest of us would rejoin them later at Splintertree Post, after utilising Twist’s weird pull with furbolg to gain the ear of the local Thistlefurs.

It turned out that we were just in the nick of time, saving the furbolg village from an attack by Kaldorei disguised as orcs, thus earning their loyalty. I was considerably surprised by the actions of the Night Elves. Apparently they considered the furbolg too corrupt to save and were exterminating them in advance of a full-force attack on the Horde.

At least we’d be ready. And in the same way that many of the Horde’s races had joined it out of external duress, so too did the furbolg ally with the orcs and agree to help against the Kaldorei, at least for now.

Leaving Twist (the closest thing we had to an ambassador to the furbolg) in charge of maintaining the area’s defences and preparing the furbolg for combat, we swiftly moved east, where there was a rendezvous with the rest of the Research Division and a group of rather irritating Orgrimmar-based mercenaries.

The plan was simple. We would attack Raynewood Retreat, drawing elven attention away from the furbolg to give Twist a time to get the village in order, and then when the Kaldorei attacked we would surprise them by flanking them at Maestra’s Post and posting forces in the village to weaken them.

The Orcish version of this plan included the ending where the entire forest fell under Horde control.

Although Sorlain, in his undying love for Garrosh, believed this, I did not know of anyone else in the Convocation that did…

Torrent: Splinters

Nobody spoke much of that night afterwards, though we all thought of nothing else. Khairan’s anger was carefully balanced by his capacity to easily overexert and injure himself. Our luck improved, but I found my attention waning. We were exiled here, and I was not in the mood for business as usual. Not anymore.

~~~

Dalaran was… irreversible. It had been disgusting and barbaric, but it was by no means one-sided and it was by no means isolated. Theramore, Taurajo, Southshore, Angrathar… I could not keep pretending that the High Elves were innocent as much as I could not attack my own faction. The ease with which the Sunreavers had been summarily expelled showed that it had been a thought in many blue eyes for quite a while. Dalaran was bad territory as much as it claimed neutrality, because it had been anti-Garrosh long before Jaina became its leaser. If Silvermoon had been anything to go by the last time we had visited, Garrosh was not liked, but was equally not removable. Were we to survive and adapt, not just in the Convocation but in our race, we would need to prepare for an outcome where Garrosh remained just as much as we would need to prepare to rejoin the Alliance (though I saw no likelihood of that anytime soon).

~~~

I spent most of my time reading or contemplating what we would do in the future, as we regained our footing in Desolace. After arriving at Ghost Walker Post we left the druids briefly indebted to us. It was clear that they would ‘forget’ as soon as we left. If we were to help the Horde establish itself properly, we would need other allies – or, as was Sorlain’s plan, conveniently disposable allies who would be prone to oppose us if they were left strong when our task was complete.

So, in our usual style, we got messily involved in a centaur gang war. A brief interlude followed as a rendezvous with the Thousand Eyes let me rest from afar while their heavies dealt with one clan, earning us the favour of the other.

The plan was to waste their numbers on distracting the cultists while we retrieved the library book. Hurrah. Not much of a deviation from our usual plan, and I remained preoccupied with what to think.

~~~

I could not in good conscience excuse what Garrosh – what Garrosh’s Horde – was doing to the Horde I was used to. But the Horde I was used to had been Thrall’s. And Thrall had spent most of his reign trying to expunge the violent and downright evil nature of the Horde’s greatest heroes and turn them into martyrs. It was not hard to see why Garrosh had recreated the bloodthirsty war-mongerers of the Second War.

Still, after everything, I had hoped my people could rise above Garrosh.

None of those that resided in Silvermoon had displayed the same spirit I had seen in the aftermath of the Scourge. The banding together of groups, the knowledge that it had been all we had and that come undead or withdrawal we would never let the others go…

Garrosh was slowly crushing my people’s spirit. Yet the leaders of my own people were content to let the race be torn apart, strip by strip, until there was nothing left.

~~~

It had been days now. Things had gone swimmingly. The centaur were decimated, the Hammer were decimated, the Burning Blade were decimated, the Circle was weakened, the Alliance were mostly out of the picture, the satyr were dead… A brilliant success. One that was hollow and mattered little, because the only passes into Desolace were through the contested Stonetalon and the inaccessible Feralas.

The Horde did not control Desolace in any way, and I doubted that it would. We had merely paved the way for lawlessness to fail against the Cenarion Circle. More forests was a good enough outcome, regardless. We were on our way to Orgrimmar to receive some sort of… commendation, I supposed. It was hard to tell exactly what Garrosh was saying, because it all came out in the same mangled yell about death and honour and the Horde. Khairan spoke better orcish than the Warchief, and Khairan did not speak good orcish.

~~~

The Horde at its most base level could be considered an Alliance of convenience. Everyone had something else to offer the others, and we were better off together than alone… or were we?

Sylvanas (and, originally, Thrall) offered troop support against the Scourge from the south and the Alliance from… well, the Alliance was a naval power, we were protected from all angles. By forsaken ships who possessed the weapons to plague us, and orcish destroyers whose ballistic power was more than a match for the architecture of Silvermoon. Could it be said that it was more coercion than Alliance?

A thousand questions, all the exact same but in different forms: What was I to do?

I despised inaction. It was the greatest evil, because it was such inaction that had felled our kingdom. The same inaction had left Kael’thas forcing himself into the Violet Hold. I could not do nothing, because then I would not be able to change the repercussions in future. But still I was faced with the same question.

~~~

Following some mostly-successful meetings with the Warchief and a few Kor’kron officials, we had been assigned to a rather humble watchpost just outside Bladefist Bay, which had fallen into disrepair and was to be our base for as long as we were in Kalimdor. Though it was built of the same blood-coloured brick and dark iron that coloured Orgrimmar, it was significantly less impressive; the roof had several holes and the iron was beginning to rust, less pristine due to its proximity to the coast.

Things had truly fallen into a lull. Everyone was mostly calm, having settled into the new order, although Khairan refused to speak Orcish and spent most of our meetings staring out of the window, and if one listened closely the angry whisperings of Archon Kal’es could be heard just after every time Sorlain spoke. We had picked up several new recruits whilst in Orgrimmar, including a curious street-healing urchin named Twist.

An… extremely hazy episode followed due to a large amount of chloroform within one of Orgrimmar’s backalley hairdressers, whose proprietor (a short and rather vicious goblin woman) had been using the Forsaken-made chemical to take advantage of her customers (and their scalps). My most prominent memory afterwards was activating a lever which deposited me into an underground cavern which the hairdresser had used to hide both her corpses and her chloroform.

~~~

Sadly, this was not the Third War anymore. Looking out for myself above all was a viable survival tactic when you were alone against the mindless undead. Factoring in friends, family and colleagues (in a situation where enemies could be among any of those groups) changed the goalposts.

If I left either the Convocation or the Horde, there would be repercussions for my family. I had only gotten involved so deeply in this war to protect them from having to serve themselves. I wasn’t about to curse them because I disagreed with the regime.

But the regime was wrong, fundamentally flawed, and it was unfortunately unlikely to change. Perhaps the only way through was quiet resistance. I would have to wait until the time was right, at least to make my views properly known. Within the Convocation and the Horde, I was in a much better position to look out for my family than I would be if I went into hiding or exile.

And generally, elves do not tend to forget.

~~~

Not long after our success alongside the Kor’kron, we were notified of a Reliquary presence in Razor Hill, requesting a meeting. I was not looking forward to it. As a rule of thumb, those within the Convocation detested their hastily-assembled replacement, and the feeling was reciprocated. The murky involvement of both the Reliquary (who we had verbally crossed swords with in Krasarang) and the Sunreavers in our exile was still a sore and unknown topic, and it brought up a lot of resentment from several within the Convocation.

We packed in to the charred and beaten inn, the residual desert heat seeming to aggravate the tension between the smug, yet dishevelled ambassador and our own forces. I found myself snapping several times, though more down to the attitudes of my contemporaries. They seemed content to antagonise those most likely to be in charge of allowing our return to the High Kingdom. Eventually, I excused myself, too warm and flustered to be of use, and instead decided to join Twist, who had uncovered a camp bearing the Reliquary’s markings.

~~~

I could not foresee how the war would end, but I could continue to feign withering loyalty just as easily to Garrosh as I could to Silvermoon, whose outdated political system, unbearable pettiness and offensive sluggishness I found to be on a par of idiocy with Orgrimmar’s being made of metal in a desert.

I was not sure of the Regent Lord’s personal loyalties, but I remained hopeful that the tide of opinion in Silvermoon would turn. The Sunreavers as a majority appeared to take offense to their exile at the hands of Aethas, and Silvermoon appeared to be equally offended at Lor’themar’s decision to provide sanctuary to almost-Quel’dorei. Either Lor’themar would leave the Horde and force us to adapt, or Garrosh would lead to his own downfall. I had seen enough of Kael’thas’ reign to know it would either end in one of those ways, or the people themselves would rise and make their feelings known (this was less common in Silvermoon’s history than the regime usually ending itself through foolishness or wisdom).

Until something happened along those lines, I could remain quiet, bide my time and see how opinion swayed. The Regent Lord would not live forever, and his advisors were too divided to take over from him without risking civil war. Silvermoon was not a monarchless state, and it required a central figure or to adapt.

The ability of elves to adapt is notoriously absent, as our millennia-long history has shown.

~~~

My rendezvous with Twist yielded several snippets of information:

One, that the Reliquary were carrying most of their supplies with them;
Two, that they’d been in battle recently;
And three, that they had been nowhere near Desolace looking for us (as they had claimed earlier). They appeared to have come straight from Ratchet.

When this information was relayed back, things went better than expected. It turned out that the Reliquary had in fact been ambushed by a weak sect of the Burning Blade, who had made off with several of their artifacts. Although Twist formed some theory about a human and a troll, I surmised that the Reliquary had also been heckled by Northwatch troops.

Having left thoroughly humiliated (and with a disappointing false promise to look into our return) we were able to reclaim the artifacts for ourselves and take out the cultists without issue. Orgrimmar remained the same, and Durotar held little more promise.

Several days later, Sorlain informed us of a situation developing in Ashenvale which the Warchief wanted to capitalise upon. We were to aid in escorting a Kor’kron caravan to Splintertree Post and then further west to Zoram’gar.

It was a curious turn of events. But Sorlain refused to yield anymore information in the days leading up to our departure, and as we left all I had managed to garner was something about a ‘project’.

A project designed to win the war.

Torrent: Desolation

With Relcha in a cage, Khairan on watch for trying to break her out, Draevon absent (and having used Khairan’s daughter as a shield to prevent him attacking), Edanna and Sorlain smarting from being publicly humiliated, the Hand disseminated, and most of us furious for one way or another, we made our way into northern Desolace one week after leaving Silvermoon. Our mission this time was to locate, of all things, a stolen library book.

To be more clear, an ex-Arcanist had run off with a book on draconic spells and joined the Burning Blade covent in Desolace. We were to locate an undercover spy after recovering the book, and the spy would return it to Silvermoon.

‘And then?’

Sorlain refused to answer this question several times, fobbing us off with vague promises of plans. We had little choice other than to go along with it, since we were exiles. Sorlain seemed to be in denial. Relcha was in a cage, and usually snarled at anyone nearby. And Edanna kept to her tent. You could hear her cursing sometimes.

Fantastic.

In our rather shambolic state, we decided it would be best to look for allies before delving into cultist territory. We were met with little further success, as cultists controlled the northern fortresses as well as the southern wastelands. Our only hope was the Cenarion Circle. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting when we met with their emissary, but it was not a Twilight’s Hammer cultist.

So, we pressed ahead on our own, clearing territory to try and regain the book.

The Blade took several members cultist. Khairan summoned a Phoenix and, in tandem with Aleck, destroyed Thunder Axe Fortress and earned us the ire of the Circle, which took the former two prisoners as cultists.

Fantastic.

We led a pseudo-diplomatic mission into the Glade, where we discovered the place under the sway of the cultists and the old tauren in charge dying. We narrowly saved him and exposed the cultists’ leader, and all the cultists disappeared the next day.

Things seemed bright for a while, but the Circle refused to send any tangible aid in the face of its own weakness.

Fantastic.

So, we pressed into Sargeron the next night, on our own. Through some fluke, we survived against the odds, wiping out several families of satyr, and narrowly reclaiming the book. Then, we found no hidden agent amongst the entire area, and on our way back were ambushed by the Twilight’s Hammer – who knocked Kal’es unconscious and stole the book.

Fantastic.

Then, during a night at camp in what can only be described as a comedy of errors, things seemed to collapse.

There was still little news from Silvermoon, or at least Sorlain wasn’t saying a word. Khairan was injured and irritable, Varenus and Allaya had departed, Edanna was weakened and Relcha was still in a cage. Sorlain was staying in his tent, a common occurrence, attended only by Lareen and Draevon, who kept guard at all hours and enforced an uneasy silence in the camp. Twilight moved into the starry blackness, and nothing happened. Sorlain didn’t leave his tent. Draevon and Lareen didn’t move. And everyone seemed to get angrier, and angrier. It built, and it built.

And then someone snapped. I can’t remember who, because we all snapped as well. Arguments built and built, many against Sorlain and Garrosh, others against Edanna’s leadership, more against Relcha’s imprisonment. I started arguing with Khairan.

‘This whole wretched situation is all your fault! Just because you couldn’t control yourself-‘

‘They are traitors! They deserved to die!’

‘They were our people!’

As Sorlain exited his tent he very nearly walked into a mutiny as a commotion broke out nearby between several of the members of our party. I felt the blood burn in my veins, but I forced myself to look away and calm down.

Regardless, things ended badly, and an accidental death resulted from rather harsh treatment. Coupled with the corpse being immediately sent to Undercity for reanimation, the silent alliance between Edanna and Sorlain to keep the company in check was broken, and the two moved off into the night, arguing angrily about the death – which had occurred in the Research Division.

Meanwhile, silence slowly descended over our shocked camp as we realised that we had very nearly torn ourselves apart. Thelnarion sat stony-faced underneath a canopy, his inability to save one of us stunning him into rigid silence.

As I stared at the sea, the silence was flooded by Khairan’s angry retorts over the communicator channel we shared.

‘I hope you’re proud. Your work for the ministry of lies is responsible for this.’

‘You expect us to regain anything if we keep making things worse like in Dalaran?’

Our argument continued into the night as it grew cold and even the sulphur went stale, my hope slipping away.

Torrent: Home Sweet Homeless

The emergency portals threw us into the confused throngs of Sunreaver civilians not long before Dalaran’s take-off forced them shut entirely. People scrambled through the Main Lobby of the Spire in a confused stampede to try and find family and friends, hoping for their survival.

Who had betrayed us? Had we been betrayed? Had we been the betrayers, after so long?

Eventually I made it into the Court of the Sun, and after a while so did the rest of the Convocation. Guards scurried around in greater numbers, keeping civilians from seeing the debacle that was ongoing. We were told to go get some rest and regroup in the morning. I did not have much hope of doing the former, as my quarters were past the Main Lobby. After penning a quick letter home to let my parents know I was safe, I teleported up to my office.

The propaganda had been different, but the propaganda that was ordered after the Sunreaver Exile was… something else.

Silvermoon’s political position on the Sunreavers for the last four years had been ‘ignore them unless they’re useful.’ Now, suddenly, every aspect of a Silvermoon-orchestrated plight was being defended by Silvermoon, the only true defenders of the elves were the elves, we had to stand together more than ever… Mention of the Horde was gone, mention of Garrosh was gone. I didn’t understand.

Why would Garrosh suddenly be our enemy? Was he responsible?

As the hours passed, and the propaganda multiplied and silently appeared all over Silvermoon, I felt my pity for the Sunreavers subside, replaced only with anger. They had continued to aid us, and that had resulted in their exile. I was angered just as much towards the Horde for how it had resulted in the sudden homelessness of them, however.

My anger found new targets the next morning, but it did not abate.

‘The Horde announces the death of Anduin Wrynn…’

‘Success of new warfare…’

‘Destruction of the Divine Bell…’

The Divine Bell. The missing piece of the puzzle. We had delivered clues about its location to the Spire just days before our excursion to Northrend. The Bell had been in Alliance hands. Yet Garrosh had used it, killed Anduin Wrynn, and it had been destroyed… The Sunreavers were our closest ties to the Alliance. Their leadership, it appeared, was not so innocent. So I fumed further.

The Spire closed for the day. Production of everything halted, while the Magisterium took stock of the sudden influx. I retired to my quarters, awaiting call from the Convocation. Upon my bed, I found a letter.

To the children of Quel’thalas,

Surely by now you have heard of what transpired at Dalaran. Your kind, whether allied with the Sunreavers or not, were purged once more into the prisons – or, if they resisted, killed. This action was abhorrent on the part of those in the Alliance who permitted and encouraged it. But its cause lies closer to home.

The order which implied the Sunreavers as, in Dalaran’s eyes, criminals was given by none other than Garrosh Hellscream. And to suggest that he did not know what would happen would be to give him very little credit. He is not stupid – he is malicious. And he aims to drive your people into the ground.

Sylvanas plays a role in exerting your people beyond their capacity… but she far from acts alone. Let us not forget news from the front that in the Valley of the Emperors in the Kun’lai Mountains, Garrosh ordered a unit of civilian archaeologists and only a handful of soldiers to investigate a site within a raging warzone, without informing them that it was so. If this does not imply trying to get them killed, I do not know what would – and it is far from an isolated incident.

You know you do not fit his people’s ideas of strength. Every jeer you face when you serve alongside Hellscream’s people shows that, as do his own sneers whenever he stands before your troops… He seeks to end you and prove his dreadfully incorrect point, in one go. He knows you need time to recover; he knows you cannot afford to give the troops he demands. He leaves your homelands unprotected and then threatens to withdraw his support if you do not comply with his requisitions.

However, not all orcs abide by his despicable conduct. Many of us know how it is to have homelands and familie left vulnerable by the demands of an indifferent warchief. And we do not wish to see that repeated – not outside our own people, or anywhere. We wish to overthrow this Warchief and reforge the Horde into an alleigance who will assist the defence of Quel’thalas out of wanting to see your people safe… Who will see the Blood Elves as a part of itself, as brothers and sisters and equals, not as a resource to be manipulated to its own ends.

If you agree with these ideas, then watch the skies. We will need your help if we are to succeed in what we are going to try and do.

Stay vigilant. Burn after reading.
– The Burning Heart

I read the letter several times, and it went on for several pages. Garrosh was to blame, of course… but I doubted the leadership of Silvermoon. It was weak, and it had allowed these wounds to fester just as much as it had been paralysed to do nought else. I was… unsure. I was not about to threaten my family by helping overthrow the regime.

Shortly after I burnt the letter, a knock sounded at my door.

‘Come in.’

One of the Upper Spire’s messengers, a thin, pallid man with a permanent sneer, looked around before staying just outside the door.

‘Miss Dawndancer. A… pleasure, as always. Now, my messages are brief. I’m afraid the Magisterium will be permanently removing you from your post as 2nd Head of Official Propaganda, effective immediately. Your quarters are also to be requisitioned. You have ten minutes to remove any property from the room you do not with the Magisterium to keep, although the Magisterium reserves the right to requisition all your property should it suspect it was used for criminal activity.’

…My jaw dropped open, and I stared at him for several seconds. The elderly magister appeared to enjoy my reaction, taking it in with a snide smirk before beginning his next message. ‘And Archon Amaran requests your presence at Elrendar Sanctuary at 7 this evening. Good day.’

With a grim laugh, he left.

Why? Of all the things… I sat there for about five minutes, utterly confused as to why I was a criminal, threw all my books and potions into a bag and teleported to the other side of the city, making my way through the southwest gate and across the riverside to the Sanctuary, private property of the Convocation.

Within, an uneasy tension had settled over the silent members of the Convocation. The recent upheaval of the last few days had left more than a few unnerved… It had left me homeless.

‘You are no doubt wondering what is going on. After our efforts in Dalaran, the Reliquary has… accused us of war crimes. The Sunreavers are backing them up.’

Outrage pulsed through the room, and argument quickly broke out. I joined in, seeing as how the accusations were entirely true.

‘Silence!’ Sorlain waited for the room to settle. ‘The Magisterium is eager to not let this dent its reputation. I and Kal’es have taken full responsibility for the events, and will be punished by suppression collars and public whipping.’

Outrage continued, as the detailing of the loss of a third of our resources and temporary banishment from our laboratories was followed by a mission to Desolace, which would remove us from the political spheres long enough for everything to die down.

‘Desolace? That’s in the middle of nowhere!’

The arguments grew louder and louder until my head hurt and I stopped talking. Out of the blue, Relcha leapt at Sorlain, demonic aspects suddenly appearing on her, and the vials in the room shattered, toxic gases forcing us out into the hazy twilight perpetuating the courtyard. Curses filled the murky night air with our confused torment, aided by the clash of steel on claw and the wavy noise of magic.

(OOC: Credit for the ‘Burning Heart’ letter goes to Ursala of Sha’tar-EU: http://eu.battle.net/wow/en/forum/topic/6443805335 http://www.ask-ursala.tumblr.com)