Golden. Silvermoon City had always been golden and red. Magnificient and beautiful, peaceful, magical. In the distance, a lyre was played, a sad longing tune which awakened the yearnings of one’s heart and soul. Except, he had no heart. Akeion smiled bitterly as he turned from the tune and occupied his mind with something else. There were no hordes of followers, no servants, no slaves. Only Akeion Greythorn, a cranky priest swallowed in shadow, wandering aimlessly in the city. Oh, and an orc that trotted behind him, grumbling from time to time. Although he snapped and teased the elf whenever given a chance, Nehjo seemed a little restless. The priest had been unusually quiet and introverted lately, barely giving any responses to serious inquiries and normally just dismissing the teasing with a blank face. Noone understood what was happening with him, perhaps these visions he was having were finally getting to him and in his mind, Akeion was slipping into the darkness of his paranoia and madness.
“At least tell me where we goin’, huh?” the orc finally gave in, after passing by the Royal Exchange auctionhouse for the fourth time. “I could then just give ye a push when we are at the right turn. Saves us from goin around in circles like a pair of lunatics.”
Akeion stopped and looked at the orc with some confusion. What was he doing here, again? A moment or two later, he remembered. Ah yes, the orc… His bodyguard and strangely enough, a friend. He sighed and gave a shrug. “You can go have a rest for the night,” he spoke, voice hollow and dismissive. “Surely I am safe enough within the walls of the city?” At that, he sounded amused. It was among the people, in crowded places, that the most gruesome of all crimes happened. But Nehjo did not need to know that. Ake was fully capable of defending himself until help arrived, anyway. “Meh. Might as well walk around like an idiot,” the orc insisted and muttered as he stuffed his heavy shield away, lighter now and maybe just maybe a little more cheerful. Not that his company was a sunshine or anything.
The dreams had changed lately. Sunwell now varied with Moonwells, dark and damp, shiny and blue. Markings on the faces, claws, snarls and fangs… Everything was confusing. Like always. He knew he had to dip into the moonwells to empower their own strength, maybe to restore the Sunwell which had been many a times stronger and enlightening than a mere moonwell. His agents had snuck into Kal’dorei villages and cities and taken the samples. It hadn’t been a violation of their people, he had not told his spies to attack any of them. And yet now they haunted his dreams. And when something slipped into a vision, it usually had a meaning.
Akeion had to go on. HAD to see it through. The Prophecy would come true and he would be there when it happened. Only then could he rest his relentless drive. He could could rest. If eternally or simply retreating into a quiet life, remained to be seen.
Suddenly, his head was full of voices. Cries of anger and rage, whispers that alternated with screams. Grabbing his head, Akeion groaned, gasping in pain and fell to his knees.
“"We are… guardians….. Hyjal!" It rushed through his mind like a searing torture, ripping at nerves with cruel pleasure. He rocked on his knees, weeping quietly. He had had visions during waking hours before but none so strong it would cut his flesh. Hatred so raw it reached out of the spirit world and pained him in broad daylight, in his own city.
“What the hell’s wrong with ye now?” Nehjo stood closer and leaned down to pull the shaking elf to his feet only to have him fall over again. The warrior was confused, glancing around at random passers wondering just how idiotic this all looked.
Faces, angry faces, hate and pain flew through Akeion as he was caught off guard in such a indignant manner. It was maddening and not really possible. And probably just a silly leftover part of a vision he had yet to have. When asleep, he would be safe and wouldn’t hurt so much. In his awake state, it was horrible.
Grasping Nehjo’s armoured hand, he whispered. “Help me get in.” And the orc did. Hauled the elf over his shoulder like a twig and brought him inside. The damned pinky was becoming crazier by the day, he swore.
Somewhere, a lyre was played, a sad and lonely tune full of agony and bad memories.
A faint, eerie melody played through the ancient Runestratum estate. Inquisitive, and exceedingly foolhardy, listeners would have tracked the sound to an open window on the second story of the foreboding structure. The most determined of these, after climbing the rather conveniantly placed lattice located there, would have seen into a most odd room: bookcases from floor to ceiling stretching seemingly endlesly into the distance, mind-bending contrivances floating in the air, confusing shadows and shapes moving almost randomly throughout the room, arcane symbols flashing in and out of existance and, most disturbingly of all, the entire sight illuminated by faerie fire-wreathed skeletons patrolling the area. They might even chance to see, just before their flesh peeled from their bones and they joined the other overly-curious lanterns, a pair of ghostly gloves playing an imposing piano and an enrobed form standing in front of an intricately carved lectern, bedecked in magical sigils and illuminated by stray flashes of power arcing between these.
The Lord Mestopheles Runestratum tentatively stroked the head of a raven figurine, sculptured so masterfully it almost appeared to flit around its perch. This avian guardian kept its obsidian eyes on the lectern underneath it; its eldritch crackling reflected in the black orbs. "Ah the raven, so often represented by magical sculptures of old. I wonder what arcane tomes your eyes have taken in?" he mused to himself, "Soon you will have another entrusted into your expert care: I hear the previous guardian has succeeded in his paltry task." Mestopheles stayed there a moment; staring thoughtfully into the darkness and listening to the haunting tune coming from the piano. Sighing he waved his hand, dismissing the spell animating the gloves (which instantly sagged and fell onto the ivory keys), and ambled amongst his artifacts.
As he walked through the study a ghastly scene caught his eye: to his left there hung a most hideous painting. It depicted a scene, to Mestopheles' expert eye clearly within the nether, of absoloute emptiness. Such a thought is hard to fit into our material minds for we cannot begin to comprehend true nothingness yet here it was, etched in mere paint on a physical canvas. To stare into it long enough was to feel your soul tugging from its earthly tether, longing to float endlessly, lost in the abyss. It was the second to last painting in a collection created by the infamous Rodelby; a painter who had had a nervous breakdown while engaged in drawing Medivh's portrait and had made the mistake of removing his blinders to see all the more clearly. Shortly after this he was forced into an asylum in Dalaran for those affected by the abhorrent aspects of the arcane, his portrait of Medivh yet to be finished while he feverishly completed painting after painting, each somehow disturbing to the human eye. After finishing this particular specimen it is said that he threw his entire body and soul into completing the seemingly forgotten portrait; using his blood when he ran out of red paint. One day the orderlies walked into his room to find him gone, the portrait lying completed in the middle of the floor. This, the last and first of his unfortunate collection, was interred deep within this very study; locked in a cabinet to protect the minds of visitors. Reflecting on this ghoulish history brought back memories from a night, several days ago now, when the Lord had returned home one night to find an unexpected visitor.
The arrogant figure of Ahmras was lounging on a chair, drinking wine pilfered from Mestopheles' private store. His initial reaction was, understandably, anger but he was eventually mollified by the elf's ingratiating explanations. Determined to make the elf pay for his rudeness, however, Mestopheles had first informed him that the wine was the blood of murlocs (something the gullible fool had believed) and then went on to demonstrate an aspect of his power to intimidate the over-confident warlock; namely the opening of a rift in the nether in which to transport the book to any location on Azeroth (the chosen destination in this case directly above Ahmras' head). The elf had left with more questions than answers, something which pleased the nobleman no end. It was the next visitor, however, that had brought this memory to the fore: Sylvain. A recent initiate in the Iron Ring chapter, a rather secretive one at that. He had come to the house, supposedly to introduce himself to a senior Preceptor, making several claims about himself. Mestopheles had lived a long time amongst the courts of Lordaeron however and could sense something was amiss. Firstly Sylvain had claimed that Tremayne had given him his address but Mestopheles knew for a fact that Abraham, an old friend, understood his need for privacy and would not simply send a relatively unknown newcomer to his door. Secondly he claimed to have lost all magical affinity but the fel taint of demons sorrounding him was almost palpable. Determined to pay very close attention to what the man said, therefore, Mestopheles offered to give him a tour of the house; all the while watching his reactions and hoping to see into the motives of this stranger. The cause had seemed lost however until he showed Sylvain a Rodelby painting; his reaction to both the painting and the story of the man had been most perplexing. Shortly after this he had excused himself and the two parted ways, the lord's mind still considering the oddly reticient warlock's intentions.
Images of agony flashed through his minds like thunder raining lightning over the ocean. The horrifying sensation had been overwhelming him for quite some time now, but now at last it was receeding. He was slowly threading towards the lands of the awake again. Slowly the images became more definiate as Asandril started to realize that they were fragments of his memory of recent events. A cold dread almost subdued him when he suddently knew that if the images where memories, opening his eyes would verify the horrible truth. The imagined agony would become real.
Shrinking away from the inevetable was not the Kaldorei way but Asandril wanted to be more aware of what he would see when he opened his eyes; so he faced the agony and started to walk down memory lane.
The pillar of green fire was the first thing he remembered. A ghastly sick fire that had sprung up like a twisted demonic parody of the world tree in the foothills below what was now aptly named the felwood. He had started running toward it, quickly had he measured that it must have originated in the Grove of the Ancient Onu, where he had been just a day before to seek the wisdom of the ancient. The ancient, renowned for his affinity with the northwestern part of Ashenvale now labeled as "Darkshore" had been troubled, he recalled.
Twig and tree, root and bough. Images of running flashed before him next. The forest did not hinder him, the forest was his home and he had spent countless turns of the moons within it. In a time that was shorter than any of the mortal races would have managed he had sprung out into the sacred grove only to behold an image of terror before him.
Ashenvale forest where under atack. War had come to under the shadows of the trees again, not a decade after the Burning Legions invasion. The Pillar of demonic fire had been an assault on Onu himself by foul and twisted magicks forbidden for eons. Howlling with agony of being beset by such unholy corruption, the burning ancient had fought in vain. Asandril recalled stains of rot and corruption throughout his mighty body and had realized the ancient was dying.
He had been to late. corpses of two visitors to the grove laid horribly mutilated on the ground and the assailants had been leaving, appearantly satisfied with their deed. Asandril had glimpsed one of them for a split-second....
With a shudder of pain Asandril opened his eyes and sat up straight in one, rigid motion. Before him laid the Grove in ruins, befouled by the fires and corruptions of demonic magicks. He had known this though as he had realized his memories where true. What had caused him to jerk upwards was when he had remembered the brief glimpse of the assailant.
It had been one of the exiled Highbourne mastering the demonic fires. Asandril was sure of it. Once before had they brought ruin over them all with their reckless use of the forbidden and they had been banished for it. Now they appearantly did not regard their banishment and had returned to bring chaos to Kalimdor once again. A blow had been struck in a must treacherous way!
The fury brought the pain back, an intense throbbing at the back of his head. Something had struck him from behind he realized, leaving him senseless for Elune knows how long. Asandril disregarded it and stood up on wobbly leggs and limped towards the blackened ruin that was the body of Onu. He had to know for certain before he brought word to Auberdine.
A light rain was falling and probably had been for some time. The bark of the ancients body was covered in wet ash and in some places the rotting corruption had bit so deep that he could fit his fist into the wounds; but to his great relief the ancient was alive. Asandril had started his journey back to Auberdine then to bring world of the assault by the befouled highbourne and find a druid that could help mend the ancient.
Siteing in his offices like he always did, looking over the latest pappers about Council bissnius when the door was cast open. And Halduron Brightwing, the leader of the Farstriders enterd his hombel chamber. He was angry, no, furious. I his hand he had a report from his spies.
"M-my Lord Brightwing, w-what are you..." said Essmir.
"What is the meaning of this!" roared Brightwing and smased the report on Essmirs desk.
"I-I don't k-know what..." said Essmir and read the report. According to the report there had been a massacre on Iron Forg guards. And on them there had been a letter in common stating that it had been done in the namn of Royal Council of Silvermoon.
"N-no... No... This can't be..." said Essmir and whent through the Council protacals. There was noting there, no order on an attack. They had even voted agenst forming a Royal Council army or defens force.
"Look, it says that the Royal Council did not even form any armed forces. Or sent any assasins. This is a set up my Lord."
Halduron Brightwing inspected the protecal. Then nodded, and said:
"It would seem that someone wants the dwarfs to hate us... I comand that you send letters reporing this to the Royal Council!"
"As you comand my Lord." said Essmir and started writhing at ones.
/Me via alt
Tremayne glanced through the letter for the third time, pondering the contents of it. Someone had murdered dwarf guards in Ironforge and accourding to Mr Shadowarrow someone wanted to pin the murder on the Royal Council of Silvermoon.
He could not have asked for a better opportunity. The Lord Preceptor of the Iron Ring leaned backwards in his chair and smiled to himself. There was an enemy out there, an enemy to the Sin´dorei. Or at least the Sin´Dorei would percieve it so. There was also the possibility of someone claiming allegiance to the Horde that was behind this deed. Someone who wanted war.
Someone like himself.
It was best however not to publicly announce that possibility. The Sin´Dorei position within the Horde was weak and only recently had the barbarians in Kalimdor reluctantly agreed that they were of more use than bother when some Sin´Dorei emmissaries had come to Thrall bearing proof of the securing of the eastern parts of Eversong forest. It was still a tenous alliance and it would not do to have the Horde looking for traitors in every corner and again associating the alliance with the elves with trouble and grief. No, The Horde needed a common enemy and more so, the Sin´Dorei needed one. So did the Forsaken. Only in a state of war would they be seen as allies. Given a few years of peace Abraham was certain that the Orcs, Tauren and Trolls would turn against them.
If it was an enemy not of the Horde, then who could lay behind this attempt at war-mongering? The possibilities where myriad. The Burning Legion´s agents would benefit from an open war that weakened both parties. So would the Scourge and the Merchant Princes of Undermine would assuredly profit immensly in a state of war, with their alleged neutrality. The Kaldorei would have reasons to mount a war on the Sin´dorei, as they would be furious by now. The "Blood Elfs" where after all exiled from Kalimdor for forbidden practices that according to the dirt-worshipping savages were the reason that the world almost was ruined. Now many of the exiled had returned to Kalimdor and some even entered Ashenvale. This most be viewed as an abbhoration by those who exiled their kin, conveniantly overlooking the fact that they themselves had landed contigents of armed forces on the shores of Eversong.
It all came down to who was the most convenient enemy and that was an easy answer. It had been a long-term goal to escalate the dorei conflict and in this he would oblige his hidden enemy. Picking up a stack of papers Abraham dipped his fine quill pen in dark ink and started to pen down a few letters in a flowing delicate script.
The forsaken stood hidden amongst the rocks and trees observing the tranquil scene before him. The elven druids went about their tasks tending to the large form of the ancient tree elemental unaware of the storm that approached. The Ancient stirred briefly and Darkslade tensed, he had used all his abilities to move so close to the grove undetected but now he feared the Ancient would somehow detect his presence as an aberration amongst the teeming life of the forest around him. He relaxed once more as the Ancient settled once again.
Minutes passed and Darkslade began to wonder whether Ahmras and his force had run into trouble on the road from Splintertree Post. His musings were suddenly shattered by the roar of a green meteor plummeting down from the sky to plunge into the heart of the grove. Elves were flung in all directions from the force of the blast and even the Ancient cowered back attempting to shield itself from the green flames that spewed forth in all directions. From the rubble a huge demonic figure that Darkslade recognised as an Infernal from his Outland travels rose and began to attack the huge Ancient. In the same instant a large Troll appeared blades flashing striking down the Ancient's tenders still dazed from the blast. At last Darkslade spied Ahmras himself arrogantly striding into the grove, a forsaken was with him concentration etched on his rotting features as he battled to keep the Infernal in control.
The fight was swift and bloody and although Darkslade itched to join in he stayed where he was observing and memorising all that he would need for his report back to Bishop Tremayne. As quickly as it had begun a sudden hush settled over the area as the Ancient fell and the infernal was banished back to realm from which it had been summoned. Ahmras and his cronies surveyed the scene flush with their success.
We must strike against Auberdine," Darkslade heard Ahmras say, "They have asked for this wrath upon themselves."
This was not part of the plan Darkslade thought, the target had been the Ancient and this objective was achieved. Auberdine was a far different target, guarded if not heavily so and more than a match for Ahmras's small band he suspected. He thought about revealing himself and forbidding this strike and then decided against. Let the fool stir up more trouble, besides the distraction of the attack on the town would delay help arriving at the grove and would give him time to fulfil his second mission here.
He suddenly became aware of movement to his side, a young night elf, a hunter judging by his garb was creeping through the undergrowth to his right his mouth agape as he witnessed the devastation of the sacred grove. Ahmras and his band had begun their move North to Auberdine and Darkslade was unsure whether this elf would have seen the Blood Elf 's face. Stirring from his hiding place the forsaken began to silently move to intercept the night elf. The elf was oblivious as the Forsaken removed a padded club from his tunic and closed to within a few feet of the elf. Some hunters instinct suddenly made the elf turn but it was too late, the club impacted on his head with a resounding thud and the elf crumpled to the floor.
Without a backward glance the Forsaken made his way towards his second target of the night the small shrine set a few metres away from the grove. Pulling a small vial and a tightly rolled scroll from another concealed pocket on his tunic he approached the small glowing pool of water held in the Shrine's font. The Archmage Mestopheles had assured him that the scroll would nullify the magic of the water long enough for a sample to be retrieved safely. The strange words on the scroll seemed gibberish but he read them aloud over the font as instructed. As he reached the end of the scroll the light of the water dimmed. Gingerly the Forsaken dipped the vial into the water, cursing as his glove started to sizzle as his tainted flesh met the purity of the waters.
Nonetheless the sample was obtained and carefully making sure the stopper of the vial was secure before pocketing it the Forsaken melted back into the shadow's. It had been an interesting night....
Leaving Shadowfang Keep after his meeting whit The Master Burgrsch was had left the Gronn heart there. In the Keep where the Ghost had taken up his stay, the Home of the Council. He had taken a young Orc warrior whit him. A orc he had known for a lonh time, a Warsong orc. A good leader and comander.
A new Blackhand, only whit a brain this time. The Master had been more intrested in him then the Gronns heart. Witch the elder orc could understand. Soon the Gronn heart would be put to good use. Of corse he had heard the rummors. The elf where going to war, the Council could use this. To unite the Horde and build a network that could rule it.
Maybe even the world...
The elder sat down in the Inn in Garadar remembering the meeting he had just left.
The wind swirled and twisted through the leaf-dappled moonlight of Moonglade, tugging and teasing the long white hair of Eulyss Stormspear as he sat in contemplation beneath a mighty oak. His golden eyes half open, he gave no indication of seeing the arrival.
"Ishnuh a'lah, stranger." His soft, weary voice greeted the intruder of his meditation. He listened patiently to the news, reflecting that his brother would be the better recipient.
"Very well. I shall see that he hears of this. In any event, you have my support, by tooth and claw."
The stranger departed, leaving Eulyss to ponder how he would break the shocking discovery to his brother Eucharion, and who of the Order of the Abbey of the Dawn could be trusted to put aside loyalty to the Templars temporarily.