Category Archives: Words from a Scribe

Second Guesses


You know, I realize that Garrosh has mentioned this about the pandaren more than a few times, but they really do love to drink. I’m no tea-totaler myself by any stretch of the imagination, but I don’t even approach these folks. I’m not sure how I never noticed it with Ji. I suppose I got distracted by the food. Maybe that was a sort of smokescreen. Only with gravy.

Maybe I should back up.

After my mixed results with the sha yesterday, I traveled over to the Jade Serpent Temple grounds. The Shado-pan are working there to clean up some more of the aftermath of the Serpent’s Heart outbreak. Even though the Sha of Doubt was defeated some time ago, there are still lingering lesser sha that it had spawned still infesting the area. I’m still not exactly sure how that works — whether the defeat of the prime sha means that no new lesser sha can spawn, or if they can spawn but at a slower rate, or for that matter whether the prime sha’s destruction means that the lesser sha will simply die off on their own, like vines withering after the root is dead, so that all the Shado-pan need to do, ultimately, is keep them contained until the inevitable end comes.

I ended up spending a fair bit of time with Elder Sage Tai-Feng. He’s managed to shed some light on the nature of the sha creatures. He’s not certain — nobody appears to be, ultimately — where the sha manifest from, but their essence seems to exist in non-corporeal form before they spawn physically. Strong negative emotions — fear, anger, hatred — can catalyze that emergence. In some cases, the sha takes physical form in a body of its own; in other cases, the sha energy seizes the person who’s giving off the emotions as a host and infests their body.

The sha are drawn to powerful emotions like fear and anger, but they also have a strange symbiotic relationship with them, particularly when the sha are occupying a host. They draw on those emotions to become stronger, but they can also feed them back to others, their host bodies especially. From what Tai-Feng tells me, the sha don’t control people exactly, and they can’t make them do anything against their will. But they can intensify emotions like fear and despair that people are already feeling, so they’re more prone to act on them — even in ways that they might not normally be inclined to. I guess that amounts to pushing you harder into your worst impulses? Not really controlling you, but in a way doing something even worse.

So I think I have a better idea of why things went down the drain as much as they did yesterday. I mean, I’m far from immune to questioning myself, but I don’t usually dive that deep into the self-doubt pool. It’s kind of creepy how it sneaks up on you, though. I’d heard about sha influence before, but I’d always imagined it felt more like something that was forced on you, kind of like a priest’s mind control (not that I’ve had any first-hand experience with that, mind you). This wasn’t at all like that, though; it just slides into your head and feels like something that was already there naturally. And in a way, it was, which makes it that much more disturbing.

Still, it serves me right for not putting two and two together earlier. I mean, the prime sha around here was the Sha of Doubt, after all. I’m kind of embarrassed that I somehow managed to miss something that obvious. Sometimes I think I’ve been hanging around Garrosh too long. (Do not tell him I said that.)

At any rate, that brings us back to the drinking. I had my whole discussion with Tai-Feng over a few drinks… okay, several (it was his idea, I swear!)… then he suggested that I give my experiments another try now that I had a little liquid courage in me. And maybe it was the 15% blood alcohol level, but it seemed like a good idea, especially when the elder sage offered to have a couple of his Shado-pan guards come along to help watch my back, just in case.

I stayed pretty close to the Shado-pan base and tried channeling the powers of the Nether Prism on a few of the sha that were lurking nearby. I can’t say the second round went off without a hitch, but it was definitely an improvement over yesterday. The smallest, weakest sha fell in line fairly easily; the one larger one that I tried my luck on put up more of a fight, but after a little wrangling I was able to control it, too. For a short while, at least. Getting everything to click took a little longer than I would have expected, and the whole process felt shakier, but that probably had something to do with all the booze I still had in my system. (Seriously, have you even tried harnessing fel energies on a full gallon of beer? Stay clear of that Seed of Corruption is all I’m going to tell you.) Still, no breakdown on my end of things like last time, and, maybe more importantly, no smaller sha dinging their way to larger sha. So at least I managed to sidestep some of those problems, even if my head was a little too groggy to be working as crisply as I might like.

So, the overall verdict is that they definitely are susceptible to Nether Prism influence, though I’m pretty sure they’re not demons. Not exactly. There’s some overlap there, and I’m not sure where they do come from if not the Twisting Nether, but then, voidwalkers aren’t demons either, strictly speaking, and the Prism — and fel influence — works on them. As a matter of fact, I noticed that the adjustments I had to make while working on the sha bore a few similarities to the differences in handling the ol’ blueberry.

That is, a voidwalker. That wasn’t supposed to be some kind of weird draenei euphemism for… you know, never mind. I think that might still be the beer talking.

Either way, though, the academic questions about exactly what the sha are can wait for whoever studies that sort of thing. For my purposes, the important thing is that the Nether Prism seems to be working. Not seamlessly, and not easily; it’ll take more practice, and I may need to find some way to augment even the Prism’s influence in order to make it work reliably. But, we’re getting there. If nothing else, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to bring a progress report back to Garrosh that won’t end with me being punched.

I think.

I may want to put some more work in tomorrow just in case, though. You never know when the boss will wake up a little tastier than usual.

Testier! TESTIER! Testier than usual! That was the beer again, I swear! Ugh. Spirits help me, now I think I need to go drink some more just to wash that out of my head.





Shadow Safari


After my stopover with Garrosh and Gurtash at the Tavern in the Mists, I made my way to the Terrace of Eternal Spring, which was the location of a pretty major sha infestation not too long ago. As it turns out, it was still long enough ago; there wasn’t much sign left of the outbreak, and the guardians of the terrace already had the place pretty well under control. They weren’t exactly unwelcoming toward me — I doubt they saw much distinction between me and the “newcomers” who’d helped defeat the Sha of Fear — but they also didn’t seem to know what to make of me just showing up. I figured it was probably better for everyone involved if I didn’t have to ask questions.

By this point, I’d parted ways with Garrosh and Gurtash. They had something of their own that they had to tend to with that pandaren elder and his hozen friend, while I had my investigations to conduct in the field. I flew by myself up to the Jade Forest, to an area called Serpent’s Heart near the Temple of the Jade Serpent. From what I’ve heard, there was a major sha outbreak there not long after General Nazgrim and his forces arrived in Pandaria. Evidently, there was a battle at Serpent’s Heart between Horde and Alliance forces that freed one of the major sha, the Sha of Doubt, which had been contained or buried underground. That sha took refuge within the temple but was defeated not too long afterward. Still, all the lesser sha creatures that it had unleashed were still around the area making a mess of the place. The Shado-pan were making steady progress clearing them out from the temple grounds, but their work wasn’t done yet. I was content to leave them to their work for now, and try to do my research around Serpent’s Heart where — hopefully — I could keep out of the way and avoid attention.

I’d been hearing about these sha ever since the first reports started trickling back from Pandaria, but this was my first chance to see them up close. I’m not sure what to make of them. There are definitely greater and lesser sha, but I’m not sure what kind of hierarchy they have, if any. The greater ones seem to be able to create — or summon? or… splinter into? — additional lesser sha, but the lessers aren’t dependent on the greaters for their existence. So these lesser sha at the temple are still up and kicking even after the “main” Sha of Doubt’s been killed.

Or was it? Are they killed? Can they be? Or do they just return to some prior state, where they can be called into being again?

So do they have their own Twisting Nether that way? Are they connected to the Twisting Nether, for that matter?

I suppose that last question takes us back to the bigger question for our purposes: are they demons?

I spent some time around Serpent’s Heart trying to test out the Nether Prism on the sha. With ordinary demons — even fairly powerful ones — the Prism would enable me to control them, much moreso than a warlock’s usual powers would allow. Even for a demon that would normally be beyond my power, the Prism would give me enough of a boost that I could exert some influence over them, even if I couldn’t seize outright control. With these sha, though, it’s not quite so clear-cut. They don’t respond to the Nether Prism the way most demons do, but something about it definitely reaches them; it just takes a lot more focus and effort on my part, sort of like trying to force two puzzle pieces together that almost fit but not quite.

I was able to manage brief control over the weakest of the sha — those little crawlers — but it took a lot of doing. And even that much didn’t last long. I was already uncertain if the experiment was going to work, and once I started feeling my hold slipping, things unraveled quickly. I tried to repeat the process on a few others, but those unraveled faster than the first one. I can’t say it was much of a surprise; after the first attempt went sour, I had a bad feeling about the subsequent ones, and it seemed like they only got stronger the harder I struggled to get a grip on them. Magically speaking, that is.

The weird thing is that when I lost my hold on the third attempt (and believe me, by that point, losing my hold didn’t take long at all) the little sha crawler lashed around for a few seconds, then swelled up into a larger sha. I’m not sure if that’s just part of the gestation of a sha — maybe the smaller ones are just a type of larva stage? — or if something else triggered the transformation. Either way, though, at that point there wasn’t much else to be done. The larger ones were definitely beyond me. I’m not sure yet if it’s because I’m going about it wrong, if my own abilities are too limited, or if these sha are just operating on a completely different wavelength altogether.

The whole time working on them, I couldn’t help feeling like the attempt was doomed to blow up on me. Still, I was able to reach some of them, so there’s something there. I can’t shake the feeling that there’s something familiar about the energy they have about them. I just wish I could put my finger on how.

I’d arrived here planning to try to fly under the radar and conduct my research without drawing any unnecessary attention from the Shado-pan, since that would probably have led to at least a few questions that I’d just as soon avoid answering. I’m starting to think, though, that unnecessary Shado-pan attention might be necessary after all if I’m going to salvage this project. When I offered to help Garrosh control the sha, I really believed that the Nether Prism would give me my means to do it, but now I’m far from sure and getting further by the minute. I think I’m going to have to head to the temple and see what I can learn from the Shado-pan. Maybe there’s some missing piece they can fill in that will pull it all together, but based on the early returns, I have serious doubts.




Trial of the Black Prince


You know, it’s a funny thing about spending a lot of time around Garrosh. After a while, the particular brand of blinders through which he looks at the world becomes oddly endearing. Case in point, that last bit Gurtash drew up. I have to admit, I actually sort of missed it while I was off the grid for a while.

Stopping at the Tavern of the Mists was my idea. Garrosh didn’t really have any business of his own there — unless you count inspiring Anduin Wrynn to regain mobility ahead of schedule — so he decided to go take a look around the area. Gurtash grabbed a drink from Tong downstairs (um, nonalcoholic hopefully, but I didn’t think to watch) and went out behind the tavern to rest by the steam pool.

That left me to have a little one-to-one time with the real reason I’d wanted to stop here on the way through.


WRATHION: I don’t believe I know you, friend. Is there something I can help you with?

MOKVAR: There might be. It’s why I came here looking for you.

WRATHION: Interesting. Ordinarily, people only come to seek me out when I send for them.

MOKVAR: Well, do that enough times and I suppose word will tend to get around.

WRATHION: Well then. Clearly I’ve been overestimating people’s sense of discretion.

MOKVAR: Don’t feel too bad. I make a point of having several ears to the ground.

WRATHION: We should get along well, in that case. Or not at all. It can be so hard to predict which way that will go.

MOKVAR: Let’s be optimistic and say option 1.

WRATHION: Indeed. In any case, you are here and I am being rude. <calling downstairs> Tong! A drink, please, for my new friend, mister… ah, I don’t believe I got your name.

MOKVAR: Mokvar.

WRATHION: <calling downstairs> Mr. Mokvar!

Wrathion turns back to Mokvar.

I suppose he doesn’t really need to know your name to serve you drinks, but I did start to tell him, and I would hate for the old fellow to feel I’d left him hanging. Is it Mr. Mokvar, by the way? Or Mokvar something?

MOKVAR: Just Mokvar.

WRATHION: No family name?

MOKVAR: Do you have one?

WRATHION: Fair point. Although advertising my particular family probably resides somewhere between unnecessary and inadvisable. At any rate, I was just curious. “Mok-var.” Does it mean anything?

MOKVAR: Nothing. Just Mokvar.

WRATHION: No? Don’t orcish names usually mean things? “Death of” this and “victory to” that and honor blood glory and such?

MOKVAR: Not everyone’s. Some, yes, like the Warchief’s, for instance.

WRATHION: Yes, I had assumed it meant something subtle like “Scream from Hell.”

MOKVAR: Well, I was talking more about the “Garrosh” part, but sure. Anyway, the point is, in my case it’s just a name.

WRATHION: Ah. Well, that’s less colorful.

MOKVAR: I’ll try to be more entertaining next time.

WRATHION: I would appreciate that. Ah, here we are.

Tong comes upstairs with a tray.

Our drink! Here you are, Mr. Mokvar. I hope you enjoy plum wine.

MOKVAR: I’m allergic to plums, actually.

WRATHION: Ah well. More for me, then! Thank you, Tong.

Tong leaves.

In any case — you have no wine, you have no last name, you’re not terribly entertaining, but here you are. What brings you out to my little sanctuary in the hills?

MOKVAR: Reputation. I’ve heard you’ve been recruiting help for a… well, let’s call it a project of some kind.

WRATHION: You might say that. I prefer to think of it as safeguarding the long-term safety of our world. You might even call it a family business of sorts.

MOKVAR: Well, other than the part where your father lost his mind and tried to destroy the world.

WRATHION: Well yes, there’s that, but who doesn’t get a little cranky in their old age?

MOKVAR: Hopefully you’re young enough that we don’t need to worry about that with you for a while.

WRATHION: One would hope. I do so love to keep people guessing, though!

MOKVAR: I guess I’m less of a daredevil. I like knowing these things for sure. For instance, this looming threat you seem so keen on protecting the world from.

WRATHION: Granted, I don’t really know you, Mr. Mokvar, but unless I’m wildly off in my estimate, you’re old enough that you shouldn’t need me to spell out that threat for you.

MOKVAR: I figured you meant the Burning Legion.

WRATHION: There you go. You’ve answered your own question.

MOKVAR: I’m not so interested in it being the Legion in general — you’re right, it’s common sense to figure they’ll strike again, sooner or later — but I’m more interested in the details. For instance… are you just making some “sooner or later” guess that any of us might, or do you know something more about what’s coming?

WRATHION: Well, I hate to show my hand too much. But suffice to say that as convenient as it would be to possess detailed foreknowledge of the Legion’s plans, I have to settle for something less precise. You might think of it as an inherited trait. My flight was charged with the protection of this world, after all. It stands to reason we might be imbued with an innate sensitivity to looming threats, particularly of a demonic nature.

MOKVAR: Well, apart from the whole deal where—

WRATHION: Yes, yes, I know, the business with the rar-rar-crazy and trying to destroy everything. I know. The flight lost the script for a while there. There’s no need to keep bringing it up. You don’t see me dragging the discussion back to your people’s somewhat checkered history in certain similar matters, do you?

MOKVAR: Wow, you’re sensitive about this, aren’t you?

WRATHION: You would be too if your every conversation were a time bomb ticking down to the inevitable Neltharion-splosion. You would think that after all the time and effort I spent tracking down and exterminating the rest of the black flight, people would see fit to stop lumping me in with them, but oh no.

MOKVAR: Well, technically, didn’t you recruit rogues to—

WRATHION: It’s called delegating, my friend! Goodness, do you spend all your conversations nitpicking like this? You must be a joy at parties.

MOKVAR: Deliana tells me that all the time, too.

WRATHION: Who is that? Your wife?

MOKVARNo, she’s not my — ugh, why does everyone always think that…?

Wrathion looks at Mokvar quizzically.

Right… just… never mind.

WRATHION: Indeed… Well, in any case. My sensitivity to the threat facing this world is a holdover from that ancestry. It may well have surfaced in me purely because I’m the only untainted black dragon to have come along in an age.

MOKVAR: Are you sure this… “dragon sense” of yours is something specific to untainted black dragons?

WRATHION: There’s no way to know for sure, now is there? I am the only black dragon left alive, untainted or otherwise, so I suppose there’s no alternative for comparison.

Wrathion looks at Mokvar quizzically.

Why? That’s a rather… odd question to be a random inquiry.

MOKVAR: Just because there aren’t any black dragons living in this world — assuming you definitely got them all—


MOKVAR: Bully for you, then.

—doesn’t mean there aren’t any black dragons, at all. For instance, the not-quite-living variety.


MOKVAR: Just a thought.

WRATHION: A thought inspired by…?

MOKVAR: Remember what you were saying before about not showing your hand too much? We’re rather alike that way.

WRATHION: Still, I think I can guess at a few cards. Evidently, there are some remnants of my kin stumbling around in some state of…undeath?

MOKVAR: Possibly.

WRATHION: Hmm. You would think that killing a dragon once would have been enough.

MOKVAR: Believe me, son, you’re preaching to the choir on that one. The gist of it, though, is that it looks like something may have woken some of your former family up from their nap. And the lead that first sent me stumbling in their direction involved some vague portents about “something coming.”


MOKVAR: Which sounds a little familiar now.

WRATHION: Yes, doesn’t it…

Wrathion glances behind him to his bodyguards, Left and Right, and makes a brief gesture.

And… what, pray tell, was it that sent you poking around… well, wherever you were poking around.

MOKVAR: Hypothetically.

WRATHION: Yes, of course. Hypothetically.

MOKVAR: It was… a personal matter.

WRATHION: Isn’t everything?

MOKVAR: Probably. But it does make me wonder what might have happened to stir up the Black Dragonflight even in death.

WRATHION: I don’t know. I can’t say I’m privy to the details of what’s putting the Legion in motion — or what will. It might not even have begun yet.

MOKVAR: How does that work?

WRATHION: Oh, one of the interesting things about precognition is that it can sometimes make one aware of an effect before the cause even takes place. Isn’t time fascinating?

MOKVAR: Preaching to the choir again.

WRATHION: All I can say, my friend, is that events are in motion that threaten to bring the Legion down upon us. And my every instinct calls for me to ensure Azeroth is ready to face them.

MOKVAR: That’s what I hear you’ve been telling people.

WRATHION: You don’t need to sound so conspiratorial about it! I’ll have you know, I’ve been working with some of your own kinsmen to that end.

MOKVAR: So I’ve heard.

WRATHION: You can rest assured, of course, that in the conflict we find ourselves embroiled in, my loyalties lie with your H—

MOKVAR: You don’t have to go through your usual song and dance with me.

Wrathion blinks.

WRATHION: Beg pardon?

MOKVAR: I know you’ve been recruiting people from the Horde and the Alliance. You don’t have to go through your usual pretense of professing your loyalty to whichever side you happen to be talking to at the time.

WRATHION: Er… I… that is… <laughing nervously> Mokvar, my friend, I haven’t an idea what you… that is… You, um… You know about that, eh?

MOKVAR: Like I said, I get around.

WRATHION: Apparently so much so that you’re privy to fairly private discussions across faction lines!

MOKVAR: Let’s just say I have a few useful contacts.

WRATHION: I see that. Nevertheless, what you don’t realize—

MOKVAR: Look, I’m not all that interested in what your endgame in all this is.

WRATHION: I… oh. You don’t? Because I had this whole speech ready on the off chance the situation ever came up, and—

MOKVAR: I assume it’s some type of deal where you think you’re serving some greater good, and playing both sides against each other is a means to that end that you think is justified.

WRATHION: Well… yes, I suppose that’s more or less… um… Are you sure you don’t want to hear the speech?

MOKVAR: And whatever the finer details of it are, they don’t really matter much to me, not least of all because whatever you have going on, you’re just pushing people harder into faction conflicts they were already fighting anyway.

WRATHION: …because it included a few turns of phrase I’m actually rather proud of.

MOKVAR: Could you let it go with the speech already? Believe me, I’ve already had to transcribe enough monologuing for one lifetime.

WRATHION: Oh fine. It’s your loss, though. There were motifs and everything.

MOKVAR: Well whatever the plan is, motifs and all, if you’re smart you’ll rethink it before you get any deeper than you already are.

WRATHION: Oh? And why is that? Are you threatening me?

Left and Right take a step forward, raising their crossbows.

I hope you’re not trying to threaten me. Tong gets so very cross when people make a mess of his place.

MOKVAR: You’re not hearing me. I’m not saying to rethink what you’re doing or else. I’m saying rethink it, because if you do, and you’re smart, you’ll realize you’re getting yourself into the middle of something you don’t want to meddle with.

WRATHION: The only thing I’m trying to do, my friend, is bring an end to this destructive conflict as quickly as possible. Or perhaps you’d prefer to continue watching the Horde and Alliance whittle away at each other while the house burns around them?

MOKVAR: And what I’m trying to explain is that you’re trying to tame a crazed worg. You think you can insert yourself into the Horde-Alliance war and bring it to heel, but you can’t. This is bigger than you. It isn’t subject to your whims.

WRATHION: You seem far too willing to resign yourself to the whims of chance.

MOKVAR: I’m willing to accept that chance’s whims have a lot more sway than ours. But, fine. If you don’t believe me, don’t believe me. Don’t say nobody warned you, though, if you keep meddling in things that are larger than any of us and you end up being bitten by it.

WRATHION: Mokvar, my good fellow, I’ve been enjoying your company, but don’t presume to lecture me. I am the last of the Black Dragonflight, chosen by the makers to safeguard the world. I see things you couldn’t imagine, and know things that would set your… pedestrian mind ablaze.

Mokvar looks thoughtfully into the distance for a moment, then nods.

MOKVAR: In that case, Black Prince, I suppose I’ll take my leave.

Mokvar turns and starts to walk away.

Good fortune to you in your endeavors.

WRATHION: And to you in yours, sir.

Mokvar reaches the door, then stops and looks back over his shoulder.

MOKVAR: A propos of nothing… does the name “Sabellian” mean anything to you?

Wrathion narrows his eyes and peers at Mokvar for several seconds.

WRATHION: Should it?

Mokvar shrugs.

MOKVAR: Probably not. Just something I heard somewhere. You seem like a knowledgeable guy. I figured I’d ask. I’m sure it’s nothing.

Mokvar turns back to the door.

Good hunting, your highness.

Mokvar exits.


Not sure if I made things better or worse there. I suppose we’ll see. Plenty of time still to worry about that. Hopefully. In the meantime, I have more research to do.




Four Heads are (Slightly) Better than Two


You know, it’s a funny thing how sometimes, when you think you’ve reached a dead end, life ends up throwing you a bone. (Or maybe a mixed metaphor?) Ever since I looked in on Golmash — that worg that Ogunaro Wolfrunner reported showing some disturbing behavior (major undersell, by the way)  — I’d been trying to research a few possible ideas involving shaman and warlock magic, but hadn’t been able to find anything. I felt like I’d run out of ideas.

That changed yesterday afternoon during a meeting between Garrosh, Lantresor, and a few others. Lantresor mentioned that he’d been accompanying Mogor the ogre down to Brackenwall Village every now and again, but Mogor (the ogre) had learned his way around well enough that he was going by himself to see Draz’Zilb.

That’s when it occurred to me that Draz’Zilb is pretty knowledgeable when it comes to shadow magic. Garrosh had brought him in on a project or two a while back, and he always seemed pretty sharp… you know, once you got past the evil. Then again, with my personal history, that’s something you learn to shrug off pretty quickly. Oh well.

I excused myself from the rest of the meeting so I could go look for Mogor. The ogre. Since I knew Garrosh had a security conference with Malkorok afterward, though, I sent for Taktani to cover for me with the notetaking. Granted, I don’t think Garrosh necessarily had anything he needed recorded in that particular meeting, but I couldn’t pass up the chance to leave Malkorok having to endure Tak’s, um, aggressive cheerfulness. And the hugs. No matter how much grouchier they made him. Which would only convince Tak that she needed to try harder to cheer Malkorok up. Now, sure, I wasn’t around to see any of this, but I can imagine it. And I do. Often. Whenever I’m having a bad day. It always puts a smile on my face. You should try it sometime.

I managed to track down Mogor  just before he was about to leave for Dustwallow and convinced him to let me tag along. When we got there, Draz’Zilb set Mogor up with some sort of potion he’d been working on that restores a major chunk of Mogor’s intelligence. (I guess Mogor used to be a lot smarter. Don’t ask me what happened to him.) From what I gather, the effects of Draz’Zilb’s potion wear off after a matter of hours, which explains why Mogor’s been making a habit of going down there to see him.

An added benefit for me was that Mogor’s a shaman, and used to be a pretty good one, back before… you know… something happened to his head. Whatever it was. That meant he was able to join us in the conversation I was having with Draz’Zilb and actually contribute something from the shaman side of things. The whole thing had the added bonus of taking place in a remote location far removed from any prying eyes that might ordinarily be trying to peek in on business.

I won’t bore everyone with the details of the conversation. Lots of warlock and shaman shop talk. It ended up sounding pretty familiar, though, or at least reminiscent of some of that business Draz’Zilb was helping Garrosh deal with involving Magatha a couple years ago. Mogor was able to chip in a few odds and ends involving shaman incantations, particular some things he’d seen from some of the old orchish shamans back in the day. The end result of the discussion didn’t really tell me anything definite, but the more we talked, the more Draz’Zilb and Mogor were able to connect some dots from based on their experience, and what they had to say rang just true enough to make me think I may be on the right track.

I think I have a few avenues to take to try to follow up on this, mostly after we get back from Pandaria. The down side is that even if I’m thinking along the right lines, I don’t know how to test what I’m thinking, at least not without killing Golmash. Which I would imagine would defeat at least some of the point of the exercise. More importantly, though, if Golmash dies, I honestly don’t know what will happen. Or what we actually lose, or just how important the loss will be. But it has to be something important, because if I’m right, someone went to a lot of trouble and blurred a whole lot of lines. But I don’t know who, or when, or why. Part of me doesn’t even really want to find out.

Because here’s the gist of it. You remember when I said that the wolf’s growl sounded full, like there was more in there than even his voice could contain? If what I suspect is true, then I was more right then I realized. Only it’s not that there’s something more inside him. It’s that there’s someone.

I think Golmash is a soulstone.





“Contrary to popular belief, I can fix stupid.”


Interdisciplinary Studies


There’s been enough going on lately that I haven’t really had a chance to follow up on that wolf — Golmash — that Ogunaro Wolfrunner’s been having issues with. (Now don’t start getting after me about time I’ve spent since then at things like the Pandaren Noodle Festival  — I have to have some down time, don’t I?) After the last time I was there to see Golmash, I knew it was going to take some research — into both shaman and warlock matters — to get to the bottom of the situation, but the research in question was going to go way beyond anything I could do easily.

The first shaman I would think to talk to would be Thrall, but he’s not an option at this point for at least half a dozen reasons. Given my recent career change (re-change?), I doubt anyone else in the Earthen Ring would be especially eager to talk to me, and anyone from the… well… garden-variety range of shamans simply wouldn’t know enough to be able to help very much with this.

On the warlock end of the spectrum, I’m not in much better shape. Again, what I really need is someone with a fairly high level of expertise and experience, but good luck finding a viable candidate there. Pretty much anyone down in the Cleft of Shadow is out of the question, if only because anything I discuss with any of them is sure to make its way back to Neeru Fireblade, and why give him any more to gnaw on? He already has enough of an unsettling interest in what I’m up to because of the Nether Prism, and the last thing I need is for him to start getting curious about even more of what I happen to be doing with my day. And while we’re thinking along Nether Prism lines, I would even be half tempted to try to find a remaining members of the Council of the Black Harvest, but I don’t know if that would go over so well in light of how things played out with me and Kanrethad. The only one of them that I figure would be very receptive at all would be Jubeka, and I figure she already has enough on her hands because of me.

For a while, I thought I might have an in with Xorenth down in Ragefire Chasm — since he’d been a warlock himself until fairly recently, when he became a shaman… of sorts… it seemed like he might have an ideal range of experience. I started to try to discuss my suspicions about Golmash with him, but I realized pretty quickly that that wasn’t such a good idea. He started getting way too interested way too quickly; it made sense, I suppose, given what he’s been up to with his shamans down in RFC. Still, I didn’t want to open the door for Golmash to become another one of his pet projects, at least not until I knew for sure what we’re dealing with. Luckily, I think I was able to maneuver my way out of the conversation without giving away too much or inviting too much suspicion from Xorenth.

At least I hope so. It’s hard to tell. I have to say, it’s hard trying to talk about your extracurriculars, while also keeping them classified, when you’re already in the middle of playing everyone against everyone else.

Sometimes I wonder if Jubeka got the better end of the deal back at the Black Temple.

Any way you cut it, I guess I’ll be going it alone on this one. Guess it’s time to hit the books until I come up with a better idea.




House Call


You know, I have to say, I was fine with it — more or less — when Garrosh ordered me to take up inscription. And I wasn’t in much of a position to object when he assigned me to be a spy, essentially, with Neeru Fireblade. But all kidding aside, I really may have to draw the line if he gets it in his head to make me be a veterinarian, too.

For the time being, I suppose it’s good to have a break from the Cleft of Shadow and Ragefire Chasm, if only for an afternoon. Garrosh asked me to go over to the Valley of Honor today, to the main stables. Garrosh has been in contact with one of the kennel masters there, Ogunaro Wolfrunner, off and on for a little while now, and evidently there’s been a problem with one of his wolves. Ordinarily, that wouldn’t be a job for me; I don’t know much about wolves other than how to ride one. In this case, though, Garrosh said there was a situation that might call for — how did he put it? — my unique set of skills. Based on what Ogunaro reported, it seemed like this wolf’s situation might have connections to the magics of both shamans and warlocks. And, well, given the string of career changes I’ve compiled over the years…

Just like me to fall ass-backwards into being an “expert” without ever feeling like I know what I’m doing. Oh well.

Ogunaro seems like a good enough guy. Really earnest. I mean really, REALLY earnest. He seems like the kind of guy you’d love to have in your corner, so long as you don’t have to actually talk to him too much. It just gets exhausting after a while, you know?

He took me to a pen he’d set up out back for this wolf — named Golmash, evidently, after Garrosh’s grandfather. (Not that I’m one to talk, but really, could this guy be trying any harder to ingratiate himself to Garrosh?) The wolf had an indoor stable, plus a small pen outside, set apart from the other wolves. Even though it was a pretty nice day today, Golmash didn’t seem to have much interest in going outside; he just stood around in his shelter, mostly staying in one corner. Ogunaro said that was pretty typical for the wolf — keeping to himself and hovering around in the shadows.

I ended up spending a couple hours studying Golmash. Ogunaro was right; there’s something not quite right about him. The wolf’s eyes glowed green, the same pale, sickly green shade that I know only too well. Definitely unnatural. Definitely unnerving to look at. The weird thing is, as much as I tried to get a read on him, I couldn’t detect any of the telltale signs of fel magic. At least nothing resembling a curse, or a fel affliction of some sort… Something’s wrong about that wolf, but for the life of me I can’t think of any spell I could cast on him that would come close to having that effect.

And then there’s the growl. Golmash was mostly quiet while I was there, but at one point, I tried to move closer to him while I cast a few spells. Thank goodness we had a couple Kor’kron beastmasters on hand to rein him in — he jumped and snapped at me, and… that growl.

How did Ogunaro describe it? “Hollow”? I suppose someone could describe it that way. Someone with no experience with shamanism. There was the echo, yes… like the overlapping barks of the spirit wolves a shaman can summon, layered over each other, only coming from one source. But that’s not a hollow sound to me. It’s full. Like the wolf has more in its voice than even its voice can contain.

Anyway, at that point, it was pretty clear that Golmash was in no mood for any more nonsense from me, plus I already had a few things to think about. Which is what I’ve been doing since I’ve been home.

I have an idea or two — or the beginnings of them, at least — but there are a few more things I need to check out. There are possibilities I have to check, and more than a little research for me to do. Some of which might send me back over to one of my other side jobs that I never asked for.

But I think I might be on to something.

I hope I’m wrong.




[Header image provided by Khizzara from Blog of the Treant, used here with permission and many thanks.]


Divided Loyalties


Since I’ve been back in Orgrimmar, I’ve been kept so busy most days that I’ve hardly had time to stop, catch my breath, and really get back to the normal, mundane business of everyday life. It hasn’t just been the meetings with Garrosh, or the time spent in Ragefire Chasm with Overseer Elaglo or the Cleft of Shadow with Neeru. (Who hasn’t gotten any less coolly unsettling, by the way.) The biggest time sink has been getting my life back together in tangible terms. I suppose most people never need to worry about the practical ramifications of their own deaths, but believe me, when you’re exiled, then declared dead, getting all of that backtracked and your life out of mothballs is a giant pain. Honestly, I used to chuckle at Garrosh getting all irritable over paperwork and triplicate forms. Never again.

In retrospect, it’s a little ironic that Neeru mentioned the other day how unlikely he thought it would be for me to hide the Nether Prism at my house, where someone could break in and steal it. I don’t know if there’s anyplace in Orgrimmar that would have been MORE secure; at that point, my old place was still sealed up under Kor’kron security orders. Any rogue this side of Garona would have had an easier time stealthing into Orgrimmar than breaking into my place. After returning to town, I ended up spending more time cutting through red tape than anything else – getting my house unlocked, my old stuff pulled from storage and returned, my name removed from death records all over the place… Although, honestly, if the tax office wants to go on thinking I’m dead, I probably won’t complain about that one.

Still, all the time I’ve had to spend getting my life back together, combined with all the time spent meeting with the people I’ve needed to, means that until now I haven’t had much time to get caught up with some of the people I’ve wanted to.


JI: Oh… so… are we not having lunch?

SPAZZLE: Uh oh. Here we go…

MOKVAR: Lunch? Well, no, I hadn’t really… Are you hungry?

SPAZZLE: Wow, you really have been away for a long time.

JI: Oh, I wouldn’t want to be a bother.

MOKVAR: Okay. Yeah, sorry, Ji.

JI: It’s just that I suppose I assumed, given the time you said to come over, that we would be having lunch…

MOKVAR: Right. But, no, Ji, I wasn’t thinking lunch. Just that we could sit back and have a few drinks and talk.

JI: Drinks are good!

MOKVAR: Okay, great. So why don’t you guys—

JI: I suppose it’s my mistake. I should have thought to eat earlier.

MOKVAR: Um… would you like me to get you something, Ji?

JI: Oh, I wouldn’t want to be a bother.

MOKVAR: Right. So…

JI: I could swear I smelled something cooking, though.

MOKVAR: Yeah… that’s, um, that’s some clefthoof stew I have simmering for dinner tonight.

SPAZZLE: You realize you’re just digging yourself deeper, right?

JI: Oh, I see… so it’s not ready yet?

MOKVAR: Well… it is, but… I mean, it’s one of those things where it gets better the longer you let it simmer. So I usually let it sit for most of the day, and…

JI: Oh, I’m not picky! It doesn’t have to be perfect.

SPAZZLE: Aaaaaaaand here we go.

MOKVAR: Would… you like some, Ji?

JI: Just a small helping, if you please.

MOKVAR: Um… okay. Why don’t you guys have a seat while I…yeah.

Mokvar retrieves a large pot from the hearth while Spazzle and Ji sit around a circular table.

SPAZZLE: <turning to look at side of his chair> Mokvar, what’s up with these stickers on your stuff?

Mokvar returns and sets a plate on the table before Ji.

MOKVAR: Oh, those? That’s from Kor’kron impoundment.

SPAZZLE: Yikes. How much did they take out of here?

MOKVAR: A lot.

Mokvar scoops a small ladle of stew onto Ji’s plate. Ji leans down to inspect the food a moment, then looks up at Mokvar quizzically.

Is… something wrong?

JI: Well, I did mean a little larger small helping.

MOKVAR: Well maybe it would save time if you just took the whole—

Ji snatches the pot from Mokvar happily.

JI: Thank you, Mokvar!

Ji starts ladling large scoops of stew onto his plate.

MOKVAR: <turning back to Spazzle> Did you want some, too, Spaz?

Ji looks up from the food with an expression of faint concern.

SPAZZLE: No, I’m good.

Ji beams and continues shoveling stew onto his plate.

MOKVAR: Anyway… yeah, they took most of the stuff out of here. Pretty much anything you could carry without needing a second set of hands.

SPAZZLE: Yikes. Your computer, too?

MOKVAR: Oh, man, that was the biggest headache to get back.

SPAZZLE: Did they go through your files? Or could you even tell?

Ji sets down the pot and ties a napkin around his neck.

MOKVAR: I don’t think so. <chuckles> My password lock showed something like five hundred failed attempts to log on.

Ji rubs his paws together, then starts to eat eagerly.

SPAZZLE: Eesh. You know, I’ll bet you anything Malkorok was beating his head against the wall on that one personally.

MOKVAR: Oh no doubt. That’s why I made a point of setting a password he’d never think to try.

SPAZZLE: Oh? What was it?

MOKVAR: “Malkorok.”


JI: <mouth full of stew> Daff’s fweally thpart, Bokbar.

MOKVAR: Um…thanks. Need any salt, Ji?

JI: <back to eating> Doh tahk yew.

SPAZZLE: That was pretty clever, though. I bet it ticked him off something fierce not being able to crack it.

MOKVAR: I’m half surprised they didn’t bring you in to try to hack in. I’m sure you could have.

SPAZZLE: <shrugs> Who knows. I was probably under suspicion myself by that point. Speaking of which, actually…

Spazzle starts digging through his backpack, then produces a small totem of orcish design.

You gave me this. Back in Everlook. I know you probably don’t need it anymore, or even… well, you know, what with you not being a shaman anymore, but…

Spazzle hands the totem to Mokvar.

I figured it should come back to you either way.

MOKVAR: Thanks.

Mokvar looks at the totem in his hands for a moment, then carries it to the mantle over the hearth and sets it down. Ji looks up at what Mokvar is doing, then turns his attention back to ladling more stew onto his plate.

I don’t figure I’ll have much use for these anymore, yeah. Who knows, though, the way Elaglo and Xorenth are blurring the lines between shamans and warlocks.

SPAZZLE: With the dark shamans, you mean?


SPAZZLE: What are they doing down there, anyway?

MOKVAR: Mostly working on improving their elemental command spells. They’re pretty much trying to maintain better control of summoned elementals, making it less of an “elements hear my prayer” and more of an “elements do my bidding.”

Mokvar walks back to the table.

SPAZZLE: Like the molten giants at Northwatch.

MOKVAR: Yeah, exactly.

Mokvar looks into the now-empty pot sitting on the table next to Ji, then looks to Ji himself.

All done?

JI: <looks down at his empty plate, then smiles> It was very good, thank you!

MOKVAR: Sure you won’t have any more?

JI: <looks at his plate again, then back up> Is there any more?

MOKVAR: No, there isn’t.

JI: I thought not.

MOKVAR: Yeah. So…

SPAZZLE: For what it’s worth, you’re getting off lighter than I did the last time Ji ate at my place.

MOKVAR: Why? What happened?

JI: Oh bother.

SPAZZLE: He got stuck in the door on his way out.

MOKVAR: You’re…kidding.

JI: It wasn’t my fault!

SPAZZLE: Well it all comes from eating too much.

JI: It all comes from not having front doors big enough!

SPAZZLE: Well, next time, you can host.

JI: I will!

MOKVAR: Well, anyway…

JI: What should I make?


JI: When you come over.

SPAZZLE: I… we didn’t even really plan it.

JI: Well yes, but I like to plan what I’m cooking in advance!

SPAZZLE: I, um, I’m easy to please.

JI: I might need to go shopping, after all.

SPAZZLE: Really, Ji, you don’t need to make anything special on my account.


JI: Oh, nonsense. You’re a guest. <thoughtfully> Now, there’s also the Pandaren Noodle Festival to think of…

SPAZZLE: The what?


JI: Well I wouldn’t want to repeat something being served at the festival and seem lazy, after all…

SPAZZLE: No, really, anything you would make—

JI: You’re sure? I would hate for you to come all that way and not have something you enjoyed.

MOKVAR: Ji, I think what he means is that he’d like to be surprised.


JI: Oh!

MOKVAR: That’s part of the fun of being a lunch guest…right, Spazzle?

JI: I like surprises!

SPAZZLE: Um… Oh. Yeah! Surprises. Yes sir, nothing more fun than…uh… surprise lunch. Yeah.

JI: Oh, this will be fun. I can try making— oh, oops, I almost spoiled it.

SPAZZLE: No spoilers!

JI: Yes, yes, silly me. I— wait, when are you coming over again?


MOKVAR: That’s part of the surprise.

JI: <blinks> Oh.

SPAZZLE: Uh, right!

JI: Well I suppose that’s… <tilts head> I should have thought of that. How silly of me.

Mokvar slumps into a chair.

SPAZZLE: So hey, now that you’re working over there with those dark shaman guys, have you been able to find out how Garrosh managed to bring them on board?

MOKVAR: How do you mean?

SPAZZLE: You know, like after he shut them down when they were in Ragefire Chasm before.

JI: They used to be enemies?

SPAZZLE: It was before you got to town, Ji. But yeah. Rumors about them were flying all over the place, but no one ever really got any solid information. All anybody really knows is that we had expeditions going down into Ragefire for a while trying to shut down whatever they were doing.

JI: Oh. So now they’re on our side?

SPAZZLE: Apparently.

MOKVAR: Yeah. About that.

SPAZZLE: Uh oh. It’s never something good when people start like that.


Mokvar sits quietly for a moment.

SPAZZLE: Oh geez. That bad, huh? What did Garrosh have to offer them to bring them over?

MOKVAR: It’s not that. They were always over.

SPAZZLE: The what you say?

JI: I’m confused.

SPAZZLE: Welcome to Orgrimmar.

MOKVAR: The dark shamans were always Kor’kron operatives. Even in the beginning, when it looked like they were renegades making trouble in RFC. The whole business about them being some rogue shaman group was just a front they were putting up.

SPAZZLE: They— but why?

MOKVAR: Plausible deniability, I guess? In case their dark shamanism angle turned bad? Meanwhile… the expeditions that were sent down there to “clean up” the problem were just… training exercises, pretty much. A way to weed out the weak – on both ends.

SPAZZLE: Wait – so Garrosh knew about this? He planned it?

MOKVAR: Big picture, it was his plan to build a force of dark shamans. How much he knew about the nuts and bolts… I don’t know. I’m guessing at least some of the job of making the trains run on time went to Malkorok, but… I don’t know. I’m still being kept in the dark about a lot of things. I probably know too much as it is. Hell, I probably shouldn’t even be telling you this much.

SPAZZLE: Gee, thanks.

MOKVAR: I don’t mean like that. Hell, Spaz, I wouldn’t…

Mokvar trails off, looking back at the extinguished totem on the mantle, then gestures to it as he turns back to Spazzle.

I wouldn’t have left that with you if I didn’t trust you. I just mean I’ve already dragged you into too much trouble as it is. I don’t want you to be stuck keeping more secrets again now.

SPAZZLE: Uh… yeah… About that…

Spazzle looks around uncomfortably, then stares at the floor for a moment.

<quietly> I’ve been talking to Vol’jin.

MOKVAR: You’ve… been…

SPAZZLE: A lot. For a few months now.

MOKVAR: Uh, Spaz, I know you’re a shaman and talk to ancestral spirits and all…

SPAZZLE: Well, in theory.

MOKVAR: Yeah, well, the point is, I didn’t realize that the spirits in question included trolls for you.

SPAZZLE: No, no, they don’t. I don’t mean I’m… Vol’jin’s alive.

MOKVAR: He— wha— how?

SPAZZLE: I actually blogged about this, you know.

MOKVAR: Yeah, sorry, that must have been during that period when I was sort of preoccupied with not being corpsecamped by spectral assassins.

SPAZZLE: Yeah, well. He’s alive. He’s recovering from injuries still in Pandaria, but he’s alive.

MOKVAR: Okay, so… Vol’jin’s alive, Jaina’s a warmonger, Garrosh has a half-draenei kid – what else did I miss? Is Utvoch dating Magatha? Did Alleria and Turalyon finally turn up? Did Grommash actually not drink the blood—

SPAZZLE: Well now you’re getting ridiculous.

MOKVAR: Well who knows at this point? How is Vol’jin alive? He survived the saurok attack after all?

SPAZZLE: It wasn’t a saurok attack. I mean, there were saurok, but… One of the Kor’kron tried to kill Vol’jin. Nearly did. He left him for dead, and Vol’jin’s had his supporters keeping up the lie that he is dead since then.

MOKVAR: Oh fel… And Garrosh…?

SPAZZLE: Doesn’t know. And he can’t find out.

MOKVAR: So… you mean he…?


MOKVAR: You’re sure? I don’t know why I’m even surprised, but… you’re sure?

SPAZZLE: The Kor’kron staged a takeover of the Echo Isles right after word of Vol’jin’s death broke.

MOKVAR: Spirits…

SPAZZLE: They had the place under military occupation until Thrall and a few others overthrew them.

MOKVAR: Does Garrosh know about this? I can’t imagine he does, otherwise – and I can’t believe I’m about to say this – I have to figure he would be in a much worse mood these days.

SPAZZLE: No, he doesn’t. Only a few people do.

MOKVAR: But how? I can see the Vol’jin thing being kept quiet, okay, but how could he not have found out about this?

SPAZZLE: There were still a few Kor’kron who trained under Saurfang, who are loyal to Thrall. Captain Gort, a few others… They’ve been reporting to Orgrimmar and maintaining the appearance that the occupation is still going on.

MOKVAR: Spaz… you have to know where this is heading.

SPAZZLE: <nods> I’ve been trying not to think about it.

MOKVAR: So you haven’t told Garrosh… Are you…?

SPAZZLE: <shakes his head> I haven’t been doing anything for them other than keeping quiet. I told Vol’jin before… I won’t work against him and Thrall, but I won’t betray Garrosh, either.

MOKVAR: You know if he finds out about this…

SPAZZLE: I know.

MOKVAR: Especially after… oh, man, Spaz, I’m sorry I dragged you into my whole mess. Both of you.

JI: You didn’t do anything. You’re a friend. You needed help. <shrugs> Anything else is just distraction.

SPAZZLE: Don’t worry about me, Mokvar. You’ve got enough on your plate as it is.

JI: <perking up> Wait, is there another plate?

SPAZZLE: Figuratively, Ji, figuratively…

VOICE: Well, there is

A whooshing sound is heard, then, in the empty chair next to Mokvar, Deliana unstealths, holding a plate of what appears to be a few leftover bites of stew.

DELIANA: I had to move fast just to get a mouthful for myself before you inhaled it all.

Mokvar eyes a surprised Spazzle and Ji, then shrugs.

MOKVAR: What’s one more layer of compromise at this point, right?

SPAZZLE: Oh…man.

JI: Does Garrosh know she’s—?

MOKVAR: What do you think, Ji?

DELIANA: There aren’t exactly a lot of Alliance-looking types strolling around Orgrimmar unkilled.

JI: Well, that Shayari is a draenei…

DELIANA: Oh, don’t get me started on little miss fancy-hooves.

MOKVAR: You’re just mad because she turned you into a sheep.

DELIANA: Oh, good, annoy your security net. That’s a smart plan.

MOKVAR: I’m just saying.

SPAZZLE: So wait, how long have you been in Orgrimmar?

MOKVAR: Pretty much as long as I have.

DELIANA: I’ve had to sneak in and out a few times, but yeah.

SPAZZLE: What have you been doing?

DELIANA: Mostly giving Mokvar an extra set of eyes that no one knows is there. And some help on stand-by in case something goes bad.

MOKVAR: With everything that’s going on with the shamans, and Neeru, and… hell, I can’t even be sure Malkorok might not still try something at some point.

DELIANA: I can watch his back, and stealth around to check on things. And if nothing else, we know I don’t have anyone I have to answer to.

SPAZZLE: Yeah. You’re lucky that way.

Everyone sits quietly for a moment, looking back and forth between them.

MOKVAR: Well… whatever happens from here on, one way or another, I guess we’re all in it together now.

JI: Weren’t we always?

MOKVAR: You’re a good kid, Ji.

SPAZZLE: So… question is… what side are we on?

Mokvar looks back at Spazzle uneasily, then glances to Deliana. Spazzle exchanges looks with Mokvar and Ji, while Deliana leans forward against the table, drumming her fingers. Ji returns Spazzle’s glance, then turns to Mokvar and Deliana before looking back down at his plate. He considers the last bit of potato for a moment, then nudges the plate away from him and slumps back in his chair.





And your enemies closer


Well, time to add “guest” blogging to the list of things I’ve been picking up again for the first time in a long time. I’m not sure how regularly I’ll be able to post like this, or for that matter, how much Garrosh will even let me. From the look of it, he’s had Spazzle tighten up some of the permissions for my login, which is a little ominous, but then again, I don’t know how much I can blame him, in light of everything that’s gone on. It’s probably best just to get on with the task at hand and not worry about it too much. Things will work out the way they need to, eventually.

After I left that, um, somewhat tense meeting in Grommash Hold, I went to look for Overseer Elaglo in Ragefire Chasm. On my way through the Cleft of Shadow, though, I came across a familiar face who seemed more than a little surprised to see me…


MOKVAR: <leaning in entrance to hut> Neeru.

Neeru Fireblade looks up from a pile of scrolls.

NEERU: Well now.

Neeru sets a scroll down and leans back in his chair.

I would say you really do get around, but I suspect that would woefully understate the case.

MOKVAR: You have no idea.

NEERU: I think I do. I’d heard you were dead.

MOKVAR: I was. I’m better now.

NEERU: Highly debatable. Still… <eyes Mokvar carefully> I can see why your elemental spirits would finally have had done with you.

Mokvar shrugs. Neeru continues to stare at him with narrowing eyes.

Did you find it?

MOKVAR: <grins faintly> Find what?

NEERU: Don’t be coy with me, dammit. You came to me looking for information about the Prism last time, remember?

MOKVAR: I remember. Your leads checked out.

NEERU: You have it, then.

Mokvar looks back silently.

Oh, fel, stop trying to be cute. You’re not fooling anyone. Where is it?

MOKVAR: Somewhere safe.

NEERU: <narrowing his eyes> You wouldn’t just leave it back at that shack of a house of yours, where any petty thief could make off with it. Even you’re not so great a fool.

MOKVAR: My mother always did say I was fairly bright.

Neeru stands and walks around to Mokvar.

NEERU: You don’t have it on you, though.

MOKVAR: Maybe. Maybe not.

NEERU: You don’t. You’re not nervous at all.

MOKVAR: My threshold is a lot higher than it used to be.

NEERU: You might be fool enough – or arrogant enough – to stroll into the Cleft of Shadow with the Prism on you, but even you couldn’t be oblivious enough to do it without a twinge of anxiety.

MOKVAR: You just make me feel so welcome and at home here.

NEERU: This pocket of Orgrimmar is packed to capacity with warlocks who would happily kill a sibling for the chance to tinker with that relic for even an hour. And you know that. No, you’d at least be worried if you had it on you. So where?

MOKVAR: Like I said, somewhere safe.

NEERU: Dammit, Mokvar, it’s the blasted Nether Prism – there is nowhere safe for—

Neeru straightens.

What was that?

MOKVAR: What was what?

NEERU: I heard something.

Neeru looks around, then turns back to Mokvar.

You didn’t hear that?

MOKVAR: Hear what?

NEERU: There was a sound.

MOKVAR: There are lots of sounds.

NEERU: <narrowing eyes> What are you playing at?

MOKVAR: Me? Nothing. I’m just a guy saying hello on his way to a meeting.

Mokvar turns from the door and gestures behind him.

I can be on my way if you prefer.


Neeru looks past Mokvar, following his gesture to the entrance of Ragefire Chasm.

There? What does that fool Hellscream have you doing now?

MOKVAR: Can’t say I know, myself. All I know is that he wants me to help Overseer Elaglo with something. I think Invoker Xorenth is involved too, somehow.

NEERU: Well, Xorenth is working with Elaglo, yes.

MOKVAR: You know him?

NEERU: <nods> He was part of my coven for a good many years. I don’t know if the “Invoker” title is still called for, though.

MOKVAR: Why’s that?

NEERU: You’ll see soon enough. He’s had something of a career change. Not unlike you, actually.

MOKVAR: How do you mean?

NEERU: He seems to have developed more shamanistic interests.

MOKVAR: Hmm. Well, my “career change” was the other way around, then.

NEERU: This time, yes. Who’s to say how long this one will last?

MOKVAR: Hopefully this will be the one that sticks.

NEERU: We can only hope. You can only keep playing both ends against the middle for so long before it ends up blowing up on you.

MOKVAR: I’m not playing anything against anything.

NEERU: Oh come now, Mokvar, you’re naive but not that naive. Of course you are. You went from being a warlock with pretensions of being a shaman to a shaman with delusions of being a warlock. A week with Xorenth laying out totems in front of you and you’ll start thinking maybe you’re clever enough to straddle the two a little more. Sooner or later, though, you’re going to need to figure out what you are and pick a side.

Mokvar and Neeru watch quietly while a team of peons carries several large crates into the cavern.

MOKVAR: Huh. Are they doing construction down there?

NEERU: <nods> It’s been going on for some months. See what you miss when you go all dead on us?

MOKVAR: I suppose there’d be some cleanup to do after those renegade dark shaman were stirring up trouble down there last year.

NEERU: Oh yes. Yes, they certainly caused all sorts of trouble.

MOKVAR: What are you grinning about?

NEERU: Again…you’ll see soon enough.

Mokvar shrugs.

MOKVAR: I should head down and see what this is about.

NEERU: In that case, I’ll let you be about your way. Don’t be a stranger, Mokvar.

MOKVAR: I’m sure I’ll be by again.

NEERU: Oh, and Mokvar?


NEERU: Put your damned scribe paraphernalia away. People engaged in secretive, clandestine operations are rarely put at ease by strangers carrying note pads.

MOKVAR: Huh. Good point.


So…flying sans pen for a little bit. I left Neeru and went down into Ragefire Chasm to look for Overseer Elaglo. When I got there, he was…well…overseeing. Elaglo was hovering over a work crew that was doing some construction, reinforcing the cavern walls and installing what looked like the framework for gates in a couple places. When I approached Elaglo, though, he was cagey about what was going on down there, and clearly wanted to keep me within a very constricted area of the place.

Elaglo brought me to a side chamber of RFC where a group of shaman were practicing some sort of summoning ritual. They were being supervised by Xorenth – clearly no longer an invoker – and after I’d been there for a few minutes, they managed to summon up a small pack of lesser flame hounds, evidently straight from the Firelands. It turned out that that was one of the reasons that the two of them – Xorenth especially – had an interest in me: my recent experience navigating the Firelands, and the fact that I’d somehow managed not to lose my neck in the process. The other reason, which was less of a surprise than it would have been even a few hours earlier, was the fact that I’ve had experience as both a shaman and a warlock. Xorenth seemed intent on developing ways to blend a shaman’s invocation of the elements with a warlock’s powers of dominance and control. He didn’t need to talk very much about the undertaking before I started to see how they – Garrosh – envisioned me and, potentially, the Nether Prism entering into the equation. And it didn’t take long for the entire discussion to summon up memories of the attack on Northwatch Hold last year, when a group of Horde shaman summoned and controlled – briefly and forcibly – a handful of molten giants. Shaman – except dressed in the dark robes typically adopted by warlocks. Dark shaman.

It was a strange conversation. I got the distinct impression we were both testing each other, fencing verbally, each of us trying to see if he could get the other to divulge more information without doing the same himself. I can’t imagine that the training of dark shaman and the practicing of summoning rituals could be the entirety of what’s going on in RFC. Everyone had already seen what happened at Northwatch Hold, after all. The cat was out of the bag as soon as those giants started lumbering about.

I suppose I’ll just have to be patient. Garrosh wanted me working with these two, so I suppose I’ll find out more when I need to. I can’t say it’s not a little unnerving for everyone to suddenly be holding me at arm’s length and keeping me in the dark until they’re sure I can be trusted. But I have fences to mend and promises to keep, and there’s too much at stake for me to get it into my fool head that it’s beneath my dignity to have to prove myself again. I would be naive to expect otherwise. Just a matter of weeks ago, after all, I was an exile, and a wanted fugitive before that; I couldn’t reasonably have expected to walk back into Orgrimmar and just have the run of the place. Stroll around like nothing had ever happened. Welcome home. Open arms. Same old Mokvar, the guy everybody’s known for years. I would have been naive.

I have a feeling this is going to be complicated.




In the Pale Moonlight


The less said about Ironforge, the better. Even if I wanted to discuss it, which I really don’t, now isn’t the time.

Deliana returned with me from the Eastern Kingdoms, and we met Ji briefly in Ratchet. He had good news (relatively speaking, at least) from the errand I’d sent him on, even though it had ended up running him from Desolace to Feralas then all the way back up to Stonetalon. After we all exchanged notes, I sent Ji back home to Orgrimmar. He resisted at first; he wanted to come with us for this next step. But he was already deeper in this mess than I’d wanted him to get, and besides, this was my fight, not his.

Liana and I arranged windrider passage from Ratchet down to Mudsprocket. From there, it was a fairly short ride over to the Wyrmbog, and the cave that used to be the lair of Onyxia.

We entered the cave. We didn’t venture far, just deep enough to find a corner where every point of entry was visible. Onyxia’s been dead for years, of course, but that didn’t stop it from being unnerving to go in there. I’m sure it would have been unsettling in any case, but considering the rumors Theldren had brought back about Nefarian’s old forces being restless again, I found myself still half-expecting a black dragon to come jumping out of the shadows at any moment. After all, Nefarian and Onyxia had both come back from the dead once already. Not that I’m one to talk; I’ve died a couple times myself. Spirits willing, I’d like the last time to stay the last for a good long while.

Eventually, we heard footsteps, and saw the light of a torch approaching from the same direction we’d come. The footsteps slowly drew nearer, until a single tauren stepped into view. Between his dark fur and the shadows that shifted around him in the dim cave, he probably seemed a lot larger than he really was.


TAUREN: You are Mokvar?

Mokvar nods.

MOKVAR: Are you alone?

The tauren tilts his head and cocks an eyebrow.

You know what I mean.

TAUREN: We honor the terms of the meeting, of course.

MOKVAR: <faint grin> So in other words, the rest of your friends are waiting right outside the cave.

DELIANA: Do you want me to check outside and see—

TAUREN: If we’d wished to harm you, little one, you would already know it.

MOKVAR: There’s no need, Liana. He has a point – if we’re screwed at this point, we’re screwed no matter what.

The tauren looks back and forth between Mokvar and Deliana, then back up the passageway through which he’d entered. He lifts a horn to his mouth and sounds a low blare. Deliana continues to watch him closely; the tauren returns her gaze bemusedly.

TAUREN: You’re going to make me think you don’t trust us, little one.

DELIANA: You might say you have something of a reputation.

TAUREN: <nods toward Mokvar> So do the orcs. That doesn’t seem to have affected you.

DELIANA: <shrugs> I like green.

The tauren chuckles. From the passageway, footsteps become audible again and grow progressively closer. After a moment, Magatha Grimtotem enters the chamber and scans the scene.

MAGATHA: Ah, Mokvar. It’s been too long.

MOKVAR: Magatha. I’m surprised you remember me, to tell the truth.

MAGATHA: I never forget a face. <looks to Deliana> This one is new, though.

MOKVAR: Yes, she is.

Magatha smirks.

MAGATHA: You’re not going to introduce us, Mokvar? How rude of you.

MOKVAR: On top of everything else, Magatha, do we really need to maintain the pretense that we’re friends now, too?

MAGATHA: I’m merely trying to be cordial. <to Deliana> Is he always this prickly?

DELIANA: No. You must have that effect on people. <looks to Mokvar, then back to Magatha> But, if it makes you feel any better… Deliana Hawthorne.

MAGATHA: The pleasure is mine.

DELIANA: It would have to be.

MAGATHA: I’m beginning to see why you two get along.

Magatha looks around the cavern.

This is an interesting choice of venues, Mokvar. Something of a step down from your usual accommodations, isn’t it?

MOKVAR: A change of scenery now and then can be a good thing. For instance, last I heard, you were on the run even from your own tribe.

MAGATHA: You’ll find the Grimtotem tend not to hold grudges long against their own kind. And I can be very persuasive.

MOKVAR: Just as well. It made it a little easier for Ji to get my message to you.

MAGATHA: I must say I was intrigued. I’m not unaccustomed to being the object of some…pursuit…but usually only from your Warchief’s usual lot of knuckle-dragging lackeys. Your furry friend, however…

MOKVAR: Not your typical Orgrimmar grunt, I know.

MAGATHA: Yes, he had a polysyllabic vocabulary. And spent a not-inconsiderable time musing over whether we had anything extra to eat.

MOKVAR: That’s Ji, yeah.

MAGATHA: Regardless, I’m quite curious as to why you would seek me out, given the company you usually keep. Then again… <looks to Deliana> …I doubt your current companion would be well received in Orgrimmar herself.

DELIANA: Maybe he’s trying to make me look better by bringing in one of the only people who would be less welcome.

MAGATHA: <chuckles> As plausible a theory as any. <looks back to Mokvar> But not the right one, I suspect.

MOKVAR: I have some business that’s going to require me to travel to the Firelands. Trouble is, I’m still relatively inexperienced as a shaman, and my ability to influence the elements isn’t nearly strong enough to keep me safe there. You, on the other hand…well, whatever else I might think of you, there’s no disputing you’re a powerful shaman.

MAGATHA: You flatter me.

MOKVAR: Take it with a grain of salt. It’s one strength offsetting I don’t know how many despicable things about you.

DELIANA: I bet she’d also go great with fries.

MAGATHA: If we’re going to be racist, I’m sure you would be quite adept at climbing trees and picking bananas. <sneers> Especially green ones.

MOKVAR: The point is, I think you might know a trick or two that could help keep me alive when I go. That’s why I wanted to meet with you.

MAGATHA: And why turn to me, Mokvar? There’s certainly no shortage of shaman in Orgrimmar you could have turned to.

MOKVAR: I’d prefer to keep this trip to the Firelands off the record.

MAGATHA: The Cenarion druids at Mouth Hyjal? Thrall and his Earthen Ring?

MOKVARVery off the record.

MAGATHA: It must be quite the scandal you’re sitting on if you’d rather turn to me than confide in your supposed friends.

MOKVAR: I have my reasons.

MAGATHA: And those reasons would be…?


Magatha grins.

MAGATHA: Cairne would have liked you.

MOKVAR: Then it’s a shame he was murdered by a traitor before he got the chance to know me.

MAGATHA: You shouldn’t talk about your Warchief like that.

DELIANA: As much as I’m enjoying going back and forth with this…

MAGATHA: Indeed, let’s cut to the chase. You need my help, Mokvar, so now for the real question: Why should I give it to you?

MOKVAR: We both know you don’t harbor any ill will for me, Magatha. I may work for Garrosh, but your quarrel is with him, not me. He’s the one you hate.

MAGATHA: True enough. But that’s merely why it wouldn’t be worth it to me to go out of my way to hurt you, Mokvar, not why it would be worth helping you.

MOKVAR: You’re focusing on the wrong part. Think about this, Magatha. I work for Garrosh. I’m there in Grommash Hold every day. Do you not think that makes me someone who would be…useful to have indebted to you?

MAGATHA: Surely you’re not naïve enough to assume I don’t already have my informants.

MOKVAR: Are they in Garrosh’s inner circle? Do they attend every meeting with him? Keep a written record, literally, of nearly everything he says and does?

MAGATHA: <smiles thoughtfully> Interesting…

MOKVAR: I thought you might think so.

MAGATHA: I think I may have an item or two that might help augment your abilities sufficiently for what you have in mind. Nothing worldshattering, mind you…

MOKVAR: That’s fine. I’ve already lived through too many shattered worlds as it is.

MAGATHA: We can meet again here for the exchange. Tomorrow at this time?

DELIANA: How do we know you won’t just be setting a trap?

MAGATHA: How did you know I wasn’t setting one tonight? There are two of you – three if you count your bouncing bear friend. I could bring dozens with a word. But Mokvar was right about one thing – I have nothing to gain from harming him. And whatever else you might think of me, I’m not in the habit of doing harm when there’s no benefit to myself or my tribe.

MOKVAR: Tomorrow night, then.

MAGATHA: Tomorrow night.

Magatha gestures to the other Grimtotem, and they make their way back up the passage.

DELIANA: Are you sure about this?

MOKVAR: Not even remotely. I may spend the next year washing my hands.

Mokvar peers up the dark passageway for several moments.

I think we’re clear.

Mokvar and Deliana start to walk up toward the cave exit. As the passage narrows, a low whooshing sound is heard. Deliana hesitates a moment while glancing around.

DELIANA: <whispering> Did you hear that?

Mokvar nods.

<whispering> There’s someone stealthed in here.

MOKVAR: <whispering> It’s Garona. She came in not far behind us when we arrived.

DELIANA: <whispering> You knew she was following us?

MOKVAR: <whispering> I was counting on it.



We’re staying in Mudsprocket until we go back to Onyxia’s lair tomorrow night. With any luck, things will go off without a hitch there, and Magatha will have something useful for me. Then that much will be over and done with.

Then comes the hard part.





Desperate Times


Neeru Fireblade may very well have been right about the Council of the Black Harvest not being willing to talk to me, but for now that’s going to need to be a “cross that bridge when I come to it” concern. For now, the much bigger problem is going to be finding them. My best in is probably going to be Ritssyn, given his Orgrimmar ties, but he’s still far from a sure thing, and even that’s assuming I can track him down. He was supposedly on his way to the Firelands, but that’s not exactly a place to go take a casual stroll alone without really knowing what you’re getting into, especially if you’re like me and your command of the elements leaves a lot to be desired in the first place.

So, I’m going to need to take the indirect approach to this. I have Ji out helping me with part of it; this morning he left to do some investigating for me in Desolace. Meanwhile, I just came from a private meeting with Eitrigg. At least I think it was private. I didn’t notice any stealthy whooshy sounds while I was there, but who knows?

I gathered from Eitrigg that Garrosh isn’t exactly thrilled with what he’s been hearing about me – no shock there – but he hasn’t sent along any specific orders where I’m concerned yet. Considering that he’s known me for several years now, Eitrigg’s willing to give me the benefit of the doubt for the time being, although even he expressed concern about whether I’m sure I know what I’m doing. The truth of the matter is, the last thing in the world that I am right now is sure, but circumstances aren’t affording me a luxury of options.

Still, without showing too much of my hand, I managed to persuade him to let me borrow one of the sets of diplomatic tabards and banners that we issues to the emissaries we send various places. While I have those colors displayed – and remain visibly unarmed – I’ll be allowed free passage into nearly any territory, including within Alliance borders.

I’m about to take a trip to Ironforge.

Right now, I can’t really go into more detail than that. Ultimately, if things work out the way I hope they will, you’ll understand why. Still, I know I’m taking a considerable risk here, but it’s a necessary one. If I don’t have this all resolved and accounted for by the time Garrosh gets back from Pandaria, he’s more likely to have my head on a platter than anything else; and if these spectral assassins keep coming after me, I’m just as dead. Even with Garona watching over me – which I’m sure she won’t keep doing forever – it’s just a matter of time before the assassins start coming often enough and in great enough numbers that they’ll finish me off before anyone can do anything about it.

I’ll be leaving soon to meet Deliana in Ratchet, and from there on to the Eastern Kingdoms. It’s probably going to be a few days at the very least before I have the chance up write anything here. If you have any extra fingers, cross them.