Ruination: The Battle of Razor Hill

Morning dawned bright and early. The intense heat betrayed our location, but the weather seemed perfect.

At breakfast, we learned that Sathreyn and Relcha had disappeared. Not much of a surprise. After we’d seen the warlocks caged in the Cleft of Shadows, it was inevitable. No warlock would stay in Orgrimmar of their own free will.

As the sun peaked, Sorlain called us to order.

‘I trust everyone knows the plan?’ He asked briefly for confirmation, before launching into it anyway.

‘Because teleporting in Orgrimmar is forbidden after our lucky escape last night, I will have to remain here to ensure the passage of the rest of the Hand. Milva Jarath will be leading the charge as we move in a pincer movement to distract the defenders of Razor Hill while the Kor’kron attack from the front. If… this rebellion is to go ahead, then Milva Jarath must be taken out, and Vol’jin’s forces must win.’

‘How can we trust you?’ Khairan interjected over the comms.

That argument quickly devolved. ‘What we’ve seen under Orgrimmar does not bear repeating. If we cannot trust the Archon, then we are all dead anyway.’

Khairan, outside the city already, was to ambush the main Kor’kron force after they passed into the narrow canyons north of Razor Hill, with the rest of us forming part of the elven division and attacking from within. So we set off.

Milva Jarath was as vain as ever. Her trollskin cloak was more vibrant than usual, tinged with Darkspear blue, while troll-bone jewellery adorned every bit of exposed skin.

‘Ah, good. You’re here. Let’s go.’ Diverging from the large Kor’kron force of demolishers, a ground army and two caged Cho’thaki, we made haste across the desert, reaching the western edge of Razor Hill in under an hour. It was still mid-afternoon.

‘They are almost into the canyon.’

‘If no one else is going to give orders, attack whenever you think is best. If the demolishers and the Cho’thaki are in the canyon it’ll be harder for them to turn around.’

As Milva turned to give some sort of speech, I startled my hawkstrider and leapt off him, sending him charging through the carefully-ordered formation. Bo-bo followed suit, although the giant undead bear was slightly more effective.

The shredders accompanying us opened fire, setting the western wall ablaze. Gunfire filled the air and I tossed a grenade at the shredders, cursing as it didn’t go off. Caught by the surprise, the Horde forces briefly stood still, allowing Aleck time to cut their numbers in his usual beautiful fashion.

The air became smoky as a round fired from within Razor Hill itself, flinging Milva from her mount and into Thelnarion. Taleberaite was yelling something, I could no longer hear what, only able to see the Hand stood still.

Curses rang out around me as the betrayal was realised, while I desperately attempted to use my communicator. Why isn’t it working?

Then, everything began to go wrong at once. Huge explosions began to sound from the north – Khairan – and the Hand let loose, arrows upon arrows – upon us. I felt the muscle in my leg snap before I felt the pain, screaming as I fell into the dirt. Aleck was unconscious and the shredders kept firing, exchanging fire with some sort of cannon in Razor Hill – which exploded.

My vision faded as I saw snippets of the battle.

Thelnarion healing Milva.

Tauren reinforcements as the Kor’kron reached the village.

The elven forces fleeing in panic.

Thialen firing from one of the towers.

Trolls dragging bodies back to the village.

More curses, gunfire, explosions. The walls collapsed.

Darkstrike running – gliding – garrotting any orcs that came near.

Cho’thaki and orcs rampaging, confused.

A dark phoenix flying overhead, shadowflame plummeting around us.

Ruination: The Old Ones

They do not live. They do not die. They are outside the cycle.

They never leave. They always return. They come.

Flee.

‘Conquer your fear. Conquer the darkness. Conquer the depths. This is the only way that we can beat the Kor’kron to this fragment.’

I’m sure we only defeated Dawnseeker last week. It feels like it’s been months.

Suddenly, Sorlain is at some Horde ‘defence conference’ in Garadar. Suddenly, we’re in Serpentshrine helping the Kor’kron to reclaim a relic that they refuse to talk about.

Suddenly, the shadows have killed all of the Kor’kron, and only we remain. Suddenly, Darkstrike returns from exile, forgiven instantly after the murder of a hundred or more of the Shattered Hand.

Suddenly, Darkstrike is in charge and we are fighting the shadows for the relic. Because the relic is evil. The relic is an Old God fragment, stored here years past by the Naga.

Why are the Kor’kron after Old Gods?

Why are we fighting against them?

Why are we only fighting against them now?

The shadows are coming. They are always coming, and the Horde looks away. Garrosh pretends that there is nothing waiting behind him, ready.

Always ready.

We must be always ready, too.

But the shadows… They are more ready. They speak to me.

You are a slave. You are a slave to fear, to terror. You are frightened of the future, and you refuse to acknowledge the past.

Weak.

You are a slave. You are a slave to anger, to rage. You despise those who have wronged you, yet you let yourself be further abused.

Weak.

Weak.

They are not weak. They rise up from shadow, they drown the light. Nature succumbs to their whim, the elements silenced.

They come.

They do not wait for orcs or humans or elves. They are almost ready.

Are you?

~~~

Serpentshrine went well, I suppose. I was delirious for most of it. It’s quite blurry.

After our ‘success’ (Sorlain didn’t ask) we were promptly shipped off to Orgrimmar, held up only briefly by a short skirmish in the Blasted Lands.

Sorlain was… different in some way when he returned. Something has turned him against the Horde. Or, at least, something has turned him against Garrosh’s Horde.

Which works pretty well with everyone else’s agenda. Orgrimmar is no place for elves, not now. Our leaving is a matter of when, not if. The only question is whether we’ll get the chance – there’s supposed to be an attack on the Rebellion soon. Sorlain is downplaying it, as have the Kor’kron that we’ve encountered. Given my own experiences, I’d guess it’s bigger than they think. If the entirety of the Valley of Spirits is involved..

Our intelligence (Darkstrike, specifically) suggests that the Kor’kron in Serpentshrine weren’t alone – the rest of Garrosh’s army has been working on similar aims. Intelligence from goblins suggests that he already has a lot of weaponry stored within Ragefire Chasm.

So, in true Convocation style, we’re going to head into the Chasm itself, somehow, and investigate. And then also somehow get out without being detected.

I’m not that confident.

~~~

In some way, that went better than expected. In another way, we have far too much attention on us now.

Getting into Ragefire was easy, but rather messy. And involved my accidentally bringing down the roof of most of the Cleft of Shadows on a legion of Kor’kron.

Still, at least we got in-

A black goat with seven eyes peers through the bars. It shall consume your soul, in time. Flee.

Sha. All over the caverns. What in the fel?

What do you fear? Death is inevitable. It does not make it less frightening. Am I supposed to ignore it when it’s always so close?

What do you doubt? What if we’re not going to win? What if we end up swapping to the wrong side? Should I fight even if defeat is assured?

Do you despair? They killed him. My Sithrial. I have lost so much. Must I keep going and risk losing more?

What do you hate? Garrosh has ruined everything. My own kingdom is foreign, ripped apart. The Horde is crumbling.

What angers you? This could have all been avoided. Jaina could have prevented the bloodshed in Dalaran. The Alliance are to blame for this stupid war.

What are you proud of? I… I stay alive. I thought I stuck to my principles, but war is different. War changes people.

Why do you fight? I…

Give up.

I… no. I have come too far to give up now. Too many have died for me to fear to end up the same way. If I cannot do this for principle, I can do it for what I know to be right. I can do it in the name of Silvermoon and in the name of Sithrial, in the hope that the future will be better. I can be better.

I will be better. Better than Garrosh, better than the Horde.

I will join the Rebellion.

Ruination: Final Phase

Following our success at Bash’ir Landing, we proceeded quickly into the wilderness of the Netherstorm – more specifically, to Area 52.

More so than the rest of Outland, the Netherstorm truly bends the laws of reality more than anyone can expect. The great fissures and complex star systems that decorated the sky in the rest of Outland vanish, replaced with nothing more than the pure undulations of the currents of the Nether itself. The magic is not just palpable, it is breathable, more concentrated than you could ever have felt in any situation. There is not so much a flavour to the magic as there is magic to the flavour. Although beautiful, wild and varied, the magic here has had its toll. On occasion our members would be randomly drained simply by walking, and the land is utterly and hauntingly barren. Nothing grows, and all camps are reliant on the rest of Outland for food – which, with the Battalion’s supplies severed, we could use to our advantage.

Our primary focus was to establish the status of all five mana-forges, the great structures which had been adapted by the forces of Kael’thas from the Nether-utilising engines of Tempest Keep. Although Ultris, the northeast forge, had been long-since destroyed and abandoned, the closest forges – Ara and B’naar – were both still active. Although nominally under Scryer control, we assumed that this meant that both were de facto commanded by the Eclipse. Our first voyage to B’naar confirmed our suspicions, with most of the Scryers intact, but the leader under the control of Dawnseekeer.

B’naar proved a much easier task than Ara, whose forces were entirely comprised of the holed-up Eclipse Battalion, including Dawnseeker. Our progression there involved a rather complex bypassing of traps, and through sheer luck resulted in our acquisition of the entire mana-forge – when Dawnseeker teleported himself and his forces to Tempest Keep, leaving us with several primed mana-bombs.

Following Ara, we headed east. Although Duro (the closest manaforge to the Keep) was no longer in operation, Coruu was. More worrying than that, it was the only mana-forge actively supplying the Keep. As such, we headed towards the former location of Sunfury Hold (now again a supposed Scryer possession) to sever contact between Coruu and the Keep.

Sunfury Hold was supposed to be easy, and I suppose it was. With a cloaking spell administered by Archon Kal’es in place, we were picking off the Battalion quite well until one of my smoke bombs malfunctioned, setting fire to a corner of the keep – and some rather ingenious use of chemicals meant to extinguish said fire accidentally spread it to the entire keep, injuring Sathreyn in the process.

We reached Coruu to find it entirely abandoned, and quickly traced the members of the Battalion to, of all places, Kirin’var Village.

Because what better place to store mana bombs than in a site where they’ve already gone off?

We progressed into the village after a long debate and several cautionary measures, following the emanations of the bomb-

And then suddenly I was falling through the void. There was no Outland. Only void. And I couldn’t breathe.

I lurched, somehow, into a quaint pasture, alongside Sathreyn and Windblade. Miles and miles ahead of us stretched verdant fields.

We tested our communicators. No response.

‘What’s happening?’

‘My guess is that the borders between dimensions have been weakened by the mana-bomb. We may have fallen through one.’

Suddenly fel plagued our senses and the ground began to crack up before us.

‘The… Damn it all, we’re at the moment Draenor is shattered. We need to move, now!’

Disregarding safety, I traced the boundaries of the dimension we were in, fining a weak spot, and punched through. Utilising a rope, I went through.

I landed in a room. It resembled an inn of some sort.

‘Hello? Anyone here?’ I tested out the communicator gem, pulling on the rope to signal for the others to come through.

Over the course of the next few minutes we rendezvoused with the Archons, who had ended up in the same dimension as we, but outside the inn (where a rather angry crowd of humans were gathering). It was snowing.

‘Are we in Kirin’var before the bomb hits?’

‘Impossible. It didn’t snow here.’

‘These dimensions aren’t just time and space – we’re seeing things that never happened.’

With almost everyone now in one dimension (which, coincidentally was the one with the mana bomb in) we set to deactivating the bomb. However, this was easier said than done, as we found Khairan in the barn, being confronted with flashes of Sunfury forces coming through from other dimensions. I was too far back to hear distinctly what he was saying, but it certainly sounded like he was apologising.

When we managed to deactivate the bomb, we were caught by several more dimension shifts. I was briefly falling through nothingness again, then perched on an island in the middle of the Nether, before being roughly dumped alongside everyone else in the middle of Kirin’var Village. Intact, and in the right dimension.

Of course, the mana bomb was hurtling towards us.

Through some inexplicable feat, I managed to teleport everyone outside of the village on a mana boost before being summarily drained. The dimension swapped again, to shortly after the bomb had hit.

I found my head being flushed with memories of the bombing of Theramore again, and struggled to keep my eyes open. The last thing I saw before passing out was two Khairans – one getting punched in the face.

~~~

Following our success at Kirin’var, very little remained in the way of wrapping up our efforts against the Battalion. A rather climactic battle occurred, which I missed due to being unconscious in the main lobby of Tempest Keep – having already been shot in the leg and having lost several weapons against Dawnseeker’s tricks, I was flung into a wall when Dawnseeker became desperate and lifted Tempest Keep into the air, attempting to fly away along with us.

Ruination: Third Phase

‘Yes, lots of them came this week. Carried metal wreckage. One of your kind came, got very angry at them.’

‘Oh? Do you know who?’

I kept my face nonchalant, feigning disinterest as I decided upon a pair of binoculars from the Broken’s stall.

‘Not sure. Some Scryer, came from the Tier. Red hair.’

‘I see. How funny. How much are these?’

‘Two gold.’

Handing the money over, I returned through the marketplace to relay my information. We’d been able to make use of the influx of Lost refugees from Tuurem, and it turned out that quite a lot of Scryer technology had made its way with them. There’d been a rather public event just before our arrival, which had revealed the identity of the commander of the Eclipse Battalion: One Halen Dawnseeker.

A former Sunfury commander, Dawnseeker’s defection upon the fall of Kael’thas was not regarded as unusual (indeed, a majority of those who survived the Battle of Tempest Keep were welcomed into other blood elven institutions without question or punishment) and as one of the most powerful magi in Shattrath quickly rose to become one of the most prominent Scryers. That alone explained how the Eclipse Battalion had silently and quickly become a threat to almost every elven and Horde operation in Outland – and then you had to account Dawnseeker’s unsurpassed skills in mind magic (almost every Eclipse member we’d encountered was under the influence of something mind-related).

So, with the usual caution and tact of the Convocation, we snuck onto the Scryer’s Tier and moved to confront Dawnseeker directly. The former went easier than expected, due to the large amount of Scryer forces we found under Dawnseeker’s control.

Unfortunately, Dawnseeker was one step ahead of us, and as his forces moved to apprehend us his own life-draining weaponry came into play, knocking me unconscious as battle erupted.

Several hours later, following our advisable exit from Shattrath (and the diplomatic mess we had created) we began the journey northwards to cut Dawnseeker’s remaining forces off before they could regroup in the Netherstorm (the base of the Battalion’s operations). From the intelligence we picked up in Shattrath, as well as the use of logic, it became clear to us that Dawnseeker was in control of at least one of the five mana-forges in the region, which he was using alongside Ethereals to create the mana bombs that he had rather loosely thrown at Falcon Watch, Firewing Point and the Scryer’s Tier. What would hopefully be the result of our efforts in the Blade’s Edge Mountains would be the severing of the ties between Dawnseeker (who, stuck in the Netherstorm, would be unable to act otherwise) and the Ethereals, which would halt the creation of Dawnseeker’s mana bombs and give us the necessary time to deal with him.

The necessary route to our destination was paved with magical wrappings, however. The severing of the connection between the two camps was obtained by the summary obliteration of a crucial step on the chain between Bash’ir Landing and the closest manaforges – Razaan’s Landing. By pinning the attack on the Eclipse, we could get a foot in the door at Bash’ir Landing, and hopefully negotiate our way without needing to attack Bash’ir Landing as well.

And, aside from Sathreyn slipping and impaling himself rather painfully on several bladed edges, things actually went well. The ethereals proved receptive, and given the lack of payment that Dawnseeker had made, we were able to convince them to swap sides pretty easily. That just left Netherstorm – and Dawnseeker’s base of power.

Ruination: Second Phase

Once we reached Stonebreaker Hold, we discovered that their particular problem was an abundance of supplies.

Unfortunately, this was not the boon one would hope for. The supplies intended for Shadowmoon Valley’s forces had simply not been reaching their destination due to heavy interference from an increasing Quel’dorei presence – in the Horde’s torpor, the regional Alliance forces had widened their control from Allerian Stronghold all the way to the borders of Tuurem and Firewing Point. Friction between the Scryers at Firewing Point, the Lost Ones at Tuurem and the orcs at Stonebreaker had been significantly increased, a deteriorating situation only made worse by the inevitable slow death of the Horde forces at Shadowmoon Village so long as the supplies did not arrive.

Fortunately, a rather quick series of skirmishes and deceptions resulted in some sort of status quo being re-exerted. The Lost Ones, who had been in service to the Battalion, were tricked into holding off attacks on the orcs and Scryers long enough for us to determine that Eclipse-controlled Lost One agents had been sent to Shattrath. Posing as Scryers, we discovered that a rather zealous band of Silver Covenant agents were hunting Khairan down for his actions in Dalaran, and were content to tread all over the Outland peace pacts to do so. Another quick battle erupted for control of Firewing Point, before the Silver Covenant retreated and headed into Shadowmoon Valley.

Upon these discoveries, Khairan journeyed to Shattrath, intending to figure out why the Scryers had managed to let so many other forces overstep their territories, as well as safeguard himself from the efforts of Seliel Brightglow, the Silver Covenant commander, who, it turned out, had been a double-agent in the Scryers all along.

After a day’s rest, we too headed into Shadowmoon Valley.

Shadowmoon Valley is not a place that can truly bear description. It is like all the planes of death and destruction one could imagine, rolled into one and then multiplied to be a hundred times worse. The overwhelming mostly-sulphuric air and constant ash rain were avoided only by staying indoors.

It was not pleasant, but at least our attention was singularly-occupied: In her haste to force us to hand Khairan over, she had managed to turn most of Wildhammer Keep’s attention from the Legion to the Kor’kron who now controlled Shadowmoon Village.

Our utter obliteration was avoided courtesy of Aleck and Relcha, whose conjuration of Umbragosa and a legion of demons just east of the Keep re-diverted a large proportion of the Wildhammer just before Brightglow led an attack on the Village the following night. That worked in our favour, as the Village was not built to survive an attack, most of the buildings ending up wiped out in one way or another.

Compared to our force of around forty elves and forty orcs, there were upwards of eighty dwarves and forty Quel’dorei on their side, even after our diversions.

Luck, however, was in our favour. After sending a delegation to parlay with the Dwarven commander, I noticed the High Elves preparing to attack. The ensuing chaos between the elven-dwarven ranks quickly allowed for us to pick Brightglow and her forces off without many dwarf casualties.

Our path cleared, we headed for the only Scryer outpost in the region – the Sanctum of the Stars, which, of course, was in the midst of a random battle against the Eclipse when we reached it. Although we helped out, we again failed to obtain any prisoners.

Although we’d managed to interrupt a large chunk of Eclipse efforts, we were no closer to figuring out who or what was commanding them, and instead turned towards Shattrath, to try and identify the leader of the Eclipse via their network of agents there.