The flickering flames from the wall mounted torches danced around in a frenzy as they were caught by the gusts of wind howling through the castle. Brief flurries of snow whirled into the room from the narrow slit of a window at the end of the room before vaporising in the heat from the roaring fire. The view from the window was breathtaking as it showed snow dusted mountainous peaks from the secluded temple nestled in the heights of the Alterac Mountains.
Faint cries rung out from the courtyard below and the clash of steel could clearly be heard along with grunts of exertion and Knights in combat drills could just be seen at the bottom of the window from the tower overlooking it.
The muscled figure gazing absent mindedly down on his Templars snapped out of his reverie as a heavy thump echoed around his chamber. Striding to the heavy oaken desk that formed the centrepiece of the room he sat down in the immense thronelike chair that sat behind it. Broad of shoulder and with scarred hands from the nick of blades the man was clearly a warrior but with none of the brooding savagery or haunted expressions of many others, in fact, his face was almost serene and seemingly at peace.
The command wasn't shouted or barked but the strength of the voice behind it carried it clearly and the door swung open with a minor squeal from the hinges. The man who entered was almost the exact opposite of the one he came to visit. Seemingly carrying more years, his skin was dusky like that of many desert people and his head was clean shaven. The small goatee that adorned his face was peppered throughout with flecks of grey and his physique was lean and wiry, what little of it could be made out through the long robe he wore. His features were intense, lacking the serenity of his colleague and determination shone out from them.
"Ahh, brother Kinsul. I have been expecting you. I trust your business in Stormwind is now complete?"
As he advanced on the table, Kinsul waved a hand over his shoulder and the thick door behind him suddenly slammed shut with a reverberating crash and the mage's teeth were clenched with a look of almost impotent rage etched into his swarthy features. As he approached the table he threw a sheaf of documents onto it in disgust before sitting in a chair opposite the warrior.
"My lord, why do you send me on these pointless errands. As I predicted, those fools who claim to worship the Light refused to parley. They claimed that our status as an order of the Light is not recognised and that our militant approach is in conflict with the tenements of the faith... In short, they refuse to accept us as anything other than a renegade order from the same ilk as the Scarlet Crusade. Kinji, these people are fools and our decision to isolate ourself from them and their political interferences was correct... My only question is why we have deigned to make our presence felt by these imbeciles"
The anger in his voice was apparent and his knuckles were white as he grasped the goblet of wine offered to him by Kinji.
"Kinsul, while I value your counsel and knowledge within the order there is still one area that you are sorely lacking... In matters of faith. Athmet, Revi, Elinienne and many others of our more devout brothers and sisters have all reported feelings of forthcoming doom and unease. Kurel Ironfist did not split from the Stormwind Church all those years ago and lead us here to lead a life of solitude. We were bought here for a purpose only he foresaw and have not been honing our battle skills for the past decades merely for our own satisfaction... Something comes to Azeroth. Something Kurel himself predicted and had us prepare for. Something that will not be defeated by prayers and harmony. Something that will only be defeated by using strength and the enemies own dark arts against it. If the church will not accept that and let us share our philosophy with them then that is there choice... Just as long as they do not try to interfere or take any foolish action against us. I do not want a holy war with the misguided Church of Stormwind but I will wage it on them should they try to meddle with us"
Kinsul snorted in amusement.
"Unlikely my lord. Their priests are fat and slothful, more interested in political squabbles and meaningless debates on the nature of the Light than they are in taking action in the name of it. While I do not doubt for a second that they will nay say and attempt to belittle us or undermine our efforts with words they simply do not have the steel or stomach to act further. Even if they were foolish enough to try they cannot compete with us in the military arena without outside help."
Kinsul paused for a second and took a long swig on the goblet before him before continuing.
"There are few who would consider aiding them. Our order have been very active in both the Eastern Kingdom and Kalimdor and are seen as a force of good giving none a reason to take sides in what would be seen as internal religious politics. Should the church stand against us, they will stand alone"
Kinji's face was now almost as grim and purposeful as that of his Archmage as he digested the state of the political morass the Azeroth Templars found themselves embedded in and he steepled his hands in front of him before clearly coming to a decision.
"You have served me, as usual, well in this matter Kinsul but I fear it has been wasted effort. No more will we make overtures to the church as we have more pressing matters. Those who are more blessed with the lights insight amongst us sense the great change we have been preparing for is nearly upon us and that the dark days forseen by Kurel Ironfist are close at hand and we have other matters to attend. I regret to inform you that which we knew was inevitable came to pass while you were on your travels... Talgol has passed into the light not tendays past in his sleep."
Kinsul's features softened as he took the news in and he paused in prayers of silence for several seconds before replying.
"So, the leader of our Paladins is gone from us at the time we would need him most. Might I enquire who has been appointed in his place?"
A wry grin of exasperation flashed across Kinji's face followed by a brief grimace.
"Therein lies the problem. Our options for this role are limited. In your absence, I convened the council of Liethe, Mistsong, Mirtae, Aegis and Kaii and our decision for Talgol's successor was unanimous. Doorknocker was chosen and summoned to council where we offered him the position... He refused it. He feels that the distraction and burdens such an office will place on him are the not the direction the Light has in mind for him. As you can tell, this has left us with limited options"
Kinsul digested the news and thought for a moment before replying.
"I see that we have only two other potential successors in the order, Reviresco and Harzum. I'm afraid Revi simply does not have the exposure to battle and skills necessary to fill the position. His potential is plain to see but it is, as yet, unrealised. He is simply not ready for the role. Harzum on the other hand has impressed me since joining us. He is strong in the ways of the Light and his battle skills are readily apparent. The only mark against him would be that he has only recently joined the order. Like Revi, I feel it may be too soon for him but for different reasons. I can see how this is a troubling issue. The simple fact is that we still find ourselves lacking Rogues, Paladins and Druids. I shall redouble my prayers to the light and hope that it guides someone to lead our Paladins and more brothers to strengthen our other ranks"
Kinji looked troubled as he nodded along to Kinsul's appraisal of the situation then pushed the matter to the back of his mind.
"Kinsul, I am afriad I have more troubling news that I must place upon you. The Light knows your efforts are tireless and deserve some sort of break but the forces we sense clearly conspire against us."
Standing up and turning to a carved cabinet against the wall, Kinji withdrew a roll of parchment and handed it to his mage before wandering once more to the window to look down on his troops.
"Mirtae informed me that one of his hunters on courier duty travelled through the Burning Steppes and was not heard from. I despatched Kaii and Mirtae at once to find him and they tracked him to within the shadow of Blackrock Mountain... You have the detailed report there but it seems the missive he carried has fallen into the hands of the Orcs inhabiting the mountain. It must be retrieved at all costs"