Tag Archives: hillsbrad

30 Days of Character Development #3: D&U

[Each week, a post will profile one of the blog’s many supporting players. (See the first profile for more details.)  Since I didn’t get around to posting a profile last week, this time around I’m making up for it with a double of sorts. Feel free to chime in with recommendations for other characters you’d like to see more about!]

 

d-and-u_profileNamesDontrag and Utvoch

Occupation: Horde infantry soldiers (ranks: Dontrag—Sergeant; Utvoch—Scout)

AgeDontrag—31; Utvoch—29

Race: Orc

Class: Warrior

Group affiliations: Horde (members), Overlord Krom’gar’s army (former members)

Known relativesDontrag—Adrasa (sister), Ug’thok (nephew); Utvoch—Krila (aunt)

Earth Online notes: D&U play EO with mains GilbertRose (Dontrag) and SteveKravitz (Utvoch), and are members of Garrosh’s guild <Warchief>. Utvoch briefly changed his character’s name to “Dranosh,” but was roundly criticized for the name choice, because really. He reversed the name change shortly thereafter. Also, guildmate Sylvanas Windrunner appears to take particular amusement in baiting the duo into arguments about which of them is which.

First appearance: “Visiting Zoram’gar” (first mention), “Underneath the bunker” (first full transcript appearance)

Key posts and plot points:

  • An unsuspecting Garrosh first encountered Dontrag and Utvoch at Silverwind Refuge in “Visiting Zoram’gar” and dispatched them to join Overlord Krom’gar’s forces in Stonetalon. He would later encounter them during his investigation of Krom’gar’s operations in “Underneath the bunker” – featuring D&U in supporting roles in Mokvar’s first transcript.
    (D&U can be found in-game both at Silverwind Refuge and in the Deep Reaches beneath Krom’gar’s fortress. In the latter instance, they’re joined by goblin questgiver Blastgineer Igore; blog readers may take a certain amusement in Igore’s quest-text commentary on our cerebrally challenged friends.)
  • After Krom’gar’s “dismissal,” D&U remained stationed in Stonetalon, under the command of newly appointed Overlord Cliffwalker. They were frequently recalled to Orgrimmar and other locations for various missions, but remained officially assigned to Cliffwalker in Stonetalon prior to their dispatch to Pandaria.
  • Evidently, according to a letter from D&U in one mailbag, Utvoch has (or had) enrolled in some extension courses, including diplomatic writing. Academic records from the undertaking have not been released. At one point, Utvoch convinced Dontrag to take a class with him, but the pair failed the course when they were caught handing in the same paper. To the same instructor. Yes, really.
  • Utvoch – sans Dontrag – traveled to old Hillsbrad, ten years in the past, with Garrosh, Mokvar, Liadrin, and Faranell during the Anti-Plague of Southshore storyline. Like the other members of the group, Utvoch later found himself trapped between two fluctuating timelines; Garrosh and Mokvar noted, with no small degree of amusement, that this situation likely led to many confusing discussions between Utvoch and Dontrag.
  • Utvoch met and befriended Taktani in Mulgore just before she started writing in to Garrosh’s mailbag; Dontrag would meet her as well not long after. Since Taktani’s arrival in Pandaria, Garrosh has charged D&U with keeping an eye on Tak and generally helping her navigate the complexities of the adult world, a job that Utvoch appears to have taken to somewhat more enthusiastically than Dontrag has.
  • Many people, Garrosh prime among them, frequently lose track of who is Dontrag and who is Utvoch – which is actually rather peculiar, given that they don’t really look very much alike. Sylvanas, in guild chat, seems to understand which of them is which, but deliberately baits them into arguments on the subject anyway.
  • Regular readers will be well aware of Garrosh’s habit of giving people (often dismissive) nicknames. Dontrag and Utvoch are among his most frequent targets; some of his favorites for them include the Dumbass Duo, Ketchup and Mustard, and the Wonder Twins.

In their own words:

dontragutvochDescribe your relationship with your mother or your father or both. Was it good? Bad? Were you spoiled rotten, ignored? Do you still get along now, or no?

I didn’t know my father. I think he was killed in the attack on Shattrath. I got along pretty well with my mother, though. She always used to tell me how I could be anything I wanted to be and accomplish anything I set my mind to. Then I started working with the trainers and she had her first parent conference. After that she mostly saved the thing about being whatever you want for my sister. –Dontrag

I don’t really remember my parents. They both died in the first war after the Dark Portal opened. My aunt ended up raising me until I was old enough to fend for myself. –Utvoch

How vain are you? Do you find yourself attractive?

I guess I was a little vain for a while, during that year in the Barrens when I was trying to get away with the comb-over. I started losing my hair early and it took a while for me to accept that I wasn’t fooling anyone. –Dontrag

I don’t think I’m bad looking or anything, but I don’t really think I’m anything special. Luckily I spend most of my time hanging out with this guy, so I figure I must end up looking like at least a 7. –Utvoch

What are your most prominent physical features?

My thick, full head of hair. –Utvoch

Screw you, Ut. –Dontrag

Name one scar you have, and tell us where it came from. If you don’t have any, is there a reason?

Well, I’ve got this one scar on my forehead, on the right side. I was trying to explain which of us was which that time in Karazhan, and, um…well, the Warchief kind of got impatient and backhanded me. –Dontrag

du_profile2I’ve got one across my left cheek. It’s just above the line of my beard, so I don’t think you would really notice it unless you were looking for it. I got it when I got those people killed by that yeti in Hillsbrad because I accidentally went out of my way to kill a giant moth, and the Warchief got really mad and belted me. Although the worst part was how he yelled. He got that tone that he gets. –Utvoch

Oh, yeah, I’ve got one on my face, too, right under my left eye, from that time the Warchief— Wait a minute, when you said to name them, did you mean you wanted us to name them name them? In that case, I think I’ll call the one under my eye Al. –Dontrag

I think I’ll name mine Dranosh. It means “Heart of Draenor” in orcish. –Utvoch

Everybody knows that, you idiot. And it’s still not cool to use that name. Anyway, for the one on my forehead, maybe I’ll name that one The Reminder. –Dontrag

I don’t get it. But I love the idea of a name that’s “The” something. I have to remember that if I ever have kids. –Utvoch

What does your desk/workspace look like? Are you neat or messy?

Depends on which of us used it last. I try to keep our desk sort of organized back at the barracks. Donty’s a slob, though. I always end up having to pick up after him. It’s like having a second job half the time. –Utvoch

Depends on which of us used it last. It’s not so much that I’m messy, really – it’s more me being lazy. I don’t care enough to put in the extra effort to put everything in order. And I mean, I would if I had to, but I figured out a long time ago that Ut’s compulsive enough that if I just leave it alone, he’ll do it eventually himself. So, like, it’s not so much that I’m messy as I delegate well. –Dontrag

Do you have any irrational fears?

Other than the Warchief getting a little madder than usual one day and stabbing me? Fire makes me antsy. I always get nervous around fire mages. Or mages casting fireballs in general. I always get this weird creepy feeling like I’m about to get torched–Dontrag

Owls freak me out. Not even, like, giant ones, either. Although those are even freakier. Just plain old regular owls. The way they stare at you, and plus, when they go “who!”, I always feel like they’re mocking me and Donty. –Utvoch

If you could time travel, where would you go?

Probably old Hillsbrad, since I didn’t get to go last time, just to see what the big deal was. –Dontrag

Maybe back to that time we went back to old Hillsbrad, and let Donty go instead? That whole thing was really confusing, and I think the Warchief got even madder with me than usual, and plus there was that whole thing with the end of the world, which wasn’t a whole lot of fun. –Utvoch

What might your ideal romantic partner be?

I won’t lie. I’ve always had a thing for tauren women. Can’t resist them. (It’s the hooves.) –Utvoch

You are a sick, sick orc, Ut. –Dontrag

 

The future never happened

hillsbrad

The time portal was more dizzying than usual, but when we finally emerged on the other side, there it was – Hillsbrad, just like it looked a few months ago. Ten years ago. A lifetime ago, it seemed, and for all that’s happened, maybe it was. It was early in the morning, and the first rays of sunlight were just starting to peek through the trees.

At one point while we made our way toward Southshore, Edwin asked if it was a good idea for us to be taking the road like we were. At first I didn’t realize what he meant – I thought he was worried we’d run into someone who would recognize him, but I figured we could always improvise a cover story if we needed to.

Then I looked at my hands.

I don’t know if something went wrong with the portal, or if maybe Soridormi was making such an effort to get the timeline crossing to work that she couldn’t bother with anything else, but when I came through, apparently, I wasn’t changed into a human form. I was still my normal (and let’s face it, dead sexy) orcish self.

So yeah, we got off the road and into the outskirts of the woods right quick, because the last thing we needed was some patrol to see an orc rolling around loose down the road from Durnholde like it was something to do.

We made our way down to Southshore and hung around the surrounding woods. It was still early in the morning, but we could see the first signs of activity as some of the townspeople started to emerge from their homes and tend to their livestock. We waited a while longer, and finally a few people came out of the inn – Alexandros Mograine, along with Fairbanks and Doan. They went around to the stables, carrying bags. The rest of the Silver Hands would be checking out soon.

I reminded Edwin that our opening could come any minute, and ran through the details I knew for probably the fifth time since we’d arrived: at some point the kid Herod would turn up with younger-hexed-Edwin, older-Edwin would sheep Herod and break younger-Edwin’s hex, older-Edwin would go invisible and bolt. Guy-who’s-with-me-right-now-Edwin (and wow am I getting sick of specifying) nodded all the way through, but I got the sense he was getting sick of me reminding him he’d only have a short post-hex pre-invis window.

Finally, after a few more minutes, a young boy came running up from the docks chasing a frog. He caught up to it just in front of the inn.

Herod was in position. It was almost go time.

Edwin didn’t need any prompting. As he started getting up to make his move, I shook his hand and wished him luck.

From the entrance to the inn, a second human named Edwin Faranell appeared.

The Edwin who’d come with me turned just long enough to shove a folded-up paper into my hand and say “Good luck to you, too,” and then he was off.

I didn’t even fully register the paper – I was too concerned with watching Edwin go, and I tucked it into my belt. While Edwin ran into town, I kept looking around, because let’s face it, this is US, and the universe wouldn’t let us get through something important without some kind of final infuriating wrinkle. Sure enough, the universe didn’t disappoint, because look who was riding toward town on horseback, from the northern road: Kel’Thuzad.

Right off I thought of about half a dozen ways KT could make a mess of this, most of them involving some variation of the phrase “Why are there two copies of that guy I know in front of the inn?” All I could think was Kel’Thuzad couldn’t be allowed the chance to spot Edwin. My head was too busy racing in circles to come up with much in the way of a clever plan on the fly, so I ran with what I know best: the simple approach.

I jumped out of the bushes, charged Kel’Thuzad, and knocked him off his horse before he could reach the town square. As soon as I was in plain sight, two of the town guards saw me and ran to intercept, yelling about an orc intruder. They were pretty weak, and I slapped back what passed for their attacks pretty easily, but I didn’t work too hard to put the smackdown on them. Let them pay attention to me. Let the whole town pay attention to me. Just for a few more minutes.

More shouting was coming from the town, and when I looked back over my shoulder, Mograine and his two Silver Hand flunkies were running up to help the guards. Doan stood back and tossed some fireballs at me – stung a little, but nothing I couldn’t shrug off. KT, on the other hand…yeah, those frostbolts of his were no joke. Meanwhile, I had Mograine and Fairbanks and the two weak-ass guards swiping away at me from all sides.

I kept trying to look back at the inn, but in all the commotion, I couldn’t really see anything anymore. Then, while I was trading swings with Fairbanks, Mograine managed to grab me by my shoulderguard and spin me so I was facing the square, with my back to him.

And then a sharp, warm pain in my back.

It’s a funny thing. For all the bizarre distortions and traveling in time we’ve done, it’s the moment that has nothing to do with time magic that stands out – when time slows down for all its own mundane reasons, breaks down into flashes, reduces itself to images that come drop by drop.

Looking past the crowd in the square. Catching the shortest glimpse of a third Faranell appearing in front of the inn as if from nowhere.

The blur of my Faranell rushing toward the other two.

My eyes dropping to look at my chest. The blade of the Ashbringer, jutting out, coated with dark blood.

The fact that it didn’t even hurt nearly as much as I’d think it would. The thought that maybe that was still coming.

Looking back up, to the sight of flickering yellow cracks spreading silently in the air around the inn. A pulsing yellow ball of light swelling up without a sound, then bursting out in all directions.

And I remember looking down again at the sword bursting from my chest, and the blood coming in slow-motion spurts. And I remember, just as the wave of warm yellow light washed over me…I think I remember laughing.

The rest is darkness.

And then I woke up.

 

 

[Header image provided by Angelya from Revive and Rejuvenate, used here with permission and many thanks.]

 

Let’s do the time warp again

dalaran

It was late when we arrived in Dalaran. After the bunch of us got off the Windrunner, Dranosh ordered Drok to take his crew and report to Bolvar and the Argent Vanguard to help however much he could. As the ship made its departure, we got going to the Violet Citadel.

On the way, we passed through the center of the city. It was an eerie sight for me. In the middle of town, on the spot where there should have been the monument to the defeat of the Lich King, there’s a memorial honoring Tirion and the heroes who were lost with him in Icecrown Citadel. Liadrin stopped for a minute and offered a prayer for the fallen. Jaina. Dontrag and Utvoch. Saurfang.

A gnome was making his way around the city lighting all the lampposts when we arrived at the Violet Citadel. Rhonin was waiting for our arrival and was pacing around in the main hall like a restless animal. Liadrin started to break the news to him about Jaina, but Rhonin cut her off. I think he already knew, as soon as he saw us walk in without her.

He took us upstairs, where he summoned a portal for us to the Caverns of Time.

 

 

cavernsoftime3

People get so used to taking mage portals that before long they forget how disorienting they are at first. You’re in one place, then there’s a flash of light, and for half a second you’re nowhere. You feel this dizzying whoosh run through your whole body and you feel like you’re falling, and then all of a sudden you’re somewhere different. New sights, new sounds, new everything. After you’ve done it a few times, you learn to roll with it and regain your sense of direction quickly, but every so often, when you first arrive in a new place, something happens to throw you out of your routine and reminds you just how unsettling it can be.

The ground shook violently under our feet as we arrived at the Caverns of Time. Not even just the ground – the walls, the ceiling, somehow even the air seemed to shudder around us. Bronze dragons were racing around, and bunches of drakonids ran up the ramp toward the surface. Anachronos was rumbling around, barking orders, rallying the cavern’s defenders. I don’t think I’d ever seen him so animated. After a minute, he spread his enormous wings and flew up the winding passageway with a handful of bronze drakes close behind.

In the middle of the chaos, Chromie teleported in right on top of us, talking a million miles an hour, and finally ushered us back to Soridormi, near the Hillsbrad portal, before teleporting away again.

 

SORIDORMI: Thank the Titans you’ve made it. We don’t have much time.

GARROSH: Do I even want to ask?

SORIDORMI: The Legion must have pieced together what we might try to do, as I’d feared. They started their attack some hours ago. We’ve been holding them back, but the battle has been a costly one.

The entire cavern quakes as shouts echo from the surface passageway.

DRANOSH: Well, we brought you a present.

Dranosh steps back and gestures to Faranell, who is holding the Focusing Iris.

FARANELL: <handing the Iris to Soridormi> Will you be able to do it?

SORIDORMI: <nods> It will take me a few minutes to open the portal and stabilize it, but I can get you back to Southshore, yes.

DRANOSH: Wait, Southshore? What’s in Southshore?

LIADRIN: A very long story

GARROSH: Well now for the 50,000 gold question – what do we do when we’re back there?

MOKVAR: Please don’t tell me we have to go in and kidnap old-Edwin and switch him with young-Edwin but also do something with original-young-Edwin while we’re at it to make sure old-us don’t still grab original-young-Edwin by mistake, because, I mean, not enough aspirin in the world.

LIADRIN: Not to mention we would have to do something about the chameleon shard attunement in that case, if this Edwin doesn’t end up tending to it…

DRANOSH: Is there a reason why everyone but me seems to know what’s going on wherever it is we’re going?

LIADRIN: Honestly? Because everyone but you was there the first time.

GARROSH: We were all there before, Dranosh – the four of us, in old Southshore, about ten years ago. That’s how all of this started. That’s why the Legion and the Scourge are winning now.

LIADRIN: None of this was ever supposed to happen. It’s only happened this way because events in the past were altered, and have snowballed into what’s happening now.

DRANOSH: <blinking> Okay, I think I need a second here…

GARROSH: While you’re doing that… Sori? What’s the plan here?

SORIDORMI: I can get you to Hillsbrad the morning of the last day you were there. That’s when the disruption began. And ultimately, this rests on Edwin.

FARANELL: Oh great…

SORIDORMI: You’re right, Mokvar; trying to switch off versions of Edwin would be far too complicated and leave too much room for something else to go wrong…

The cavern shudders again, more violently.

GARROSH: Okay, this is sounding like we’re going for the simple approach. I’m a big fan of the simple approach.

SORIDORMI: Ordinarily, the one thing one must never do when traveling in time is to interact with oneself. In this case, though, that’s exactly what Edwin will need to do: force a crossing of timelines between both – or rather, all – versions of himself present in that time. If Edwin can make physical contact with both iterations of himself at once, it should short out the crossed lines and snap each version back to where he’s supposed to be.

LIADRIN: That last morning – that was when future-Edwin broke past-Edwin out of Mokvar’s hex.

MOKVAR: There’s our window. They’ll both be within a few feet of each other.

SORIDORMI: If he can do it, the shorting out should trigger both realities into resetting themselves and separating.

GARROSH: You get all that, Doc? Today’s your turn to save the world…

The ground shakes once again, and the cavern walls around the surface passage buckle. A handful of bronze dragons rush down into the cavern, with a swarm of demons close behind. Behind the initial wave of demon shock troops, Varimathras and Prince Malchezaar descend into the cavern.

CHROMIE: <calling out while circling around the cavern in dragon form> They’ve breached the cavern! Fall back and regroup! We have to hold them!

LIADRIN: Soridormi, do you need all of us to go back?

SORIDORMI: Edwin is the only one who has to go.

DRANOSH: <to Liadrin> I think that’s our cue for one last battle of the line.

Liadrin nods, draws the Ashbringer, and runs into a pack of terrorfiends, tearing through then with one spinning swipe of the blade.

<to Garrosh> This was your mission from the get-go, Overlord. Go see it through, and I’ll talk to you when it’s over.

Dranosh starts to turn to join the battle.

GARROSH: Dranosh!

Dranosh looks back. Garrosh looks at him in silence for a moment.

…Give them hell.

DRANOSH: <smirks> I don’t really think they’re running short. <starts running toward the demons> Now go be a hero – that’s an order!

Dranosh leaps into a group of felguards and bursts into a Bladestorm.

GARROSH: You’re the boss. Lok’tar, Warchief…

FARANELL: Soridormi… I’ll try my best at this, but even if it works…

Soridormi nods to Faranell and starts to channel a spell through the Focusing Iris into the time portal.

Well…Garrosh said that…the other me may have thrown off the timeline without even meaning to, just because of what he knew. But now me…I’ve seen so much, how do we know I won’t disrupt history all over again?

Soridormi reaches into a belt pouch and tosses a small tuber to Faranell.

SORIDORMI: This is a Nepenthe Root. Is grows only here in the Caverns of Time. Eat it once you’re through the time portal; it will take an hour or two to take effect. The root is a powerful purifier on the mind – its effects will ripple through your entire timeline, purging any memories out of synch with their natural timeframe.

GARROSH: It’s not going to oops-mindwipe him completely, is it?

SORIDORMI: No…the worst side effect he might experience would manifest itself as sporadic and random lapses of memory.

 

The demons continued flooding into the cavern while Dranosh, Liadrin, and the dragons fought to hold them at bay. A group of doomguards managed to get all the way back to the Hillsbrad portal with us. Mokvar, Edwin, and I managed to fight them off while Soridormi continued channeling her spell. Once they were dead, Mokvar pushed his notes into my hands and said to take care of Edwin while he helped the rest with the demons, and ran off into the fight.

I looked past Mokvar as he ran into the fray and saw Dranosh going toe-to-toe with Varimathras, then leaping up and sending a Mortal Strike tearing straight into the dreadlord’s throat. One more swing and he had Varimathras’ head off altogether. He caught it, spun around, and sent it flying at Malchezaar — pointed so that the dreadlord’s horns pierced straight through Malchezaar’s eyes.

The portal glowed brighter as Soridormi poured more magic into it. Then the ground shuddered again, and large chunks of the stone around the surface passage broke away. With a demonic laugh announcing his arrival, Kil’jaeden, Lord of the Burning Legion, stepped down into the Caverns of Time and started walking directly toward us.

Liadrin tore through at least twenty demons with one of her Divine Storms, and ran between Kil’jaeden and us. The demon lord extended his hand toward her, palm extended, and released a torrent of shadow magic. Liadrin held the Ashbringer over her head and projected a shimmering shield of holy magic around herself. The two stood there, facing each other down – Kil’jaeden kept pouring more power into his shadow torrent, Liadrin kept drawing on the Light and the power of the Ashbringer to hold it back. As she exerted herself more and more, a gleaming white light shone out of the Ashbringer and around her whole body – and after a moment, just as Soridormi called out to us that the time portal was ready, the glowing, pulsing light surrounding Liadrin sharpened into the shape of a naaru.

Liadrin looked back at us. Her eyes were white and glowing. For all the fighting and screaming and magic eruptions, I should never have been able to make out an individual voice, but just for a moment I could hear hers – in my head. It was accompanied by a musical chiming, and echoed by a second voice, one I’d heard but not quite heard once before…the voice of A’dal.

We can’t hold him forever.  GO!

I grabbed Edwin’s arm and pulled him through the portal as the ground shook and the walls quaked. The Caverns of Time disappeared in a dizzying rush of light, and the sounds of battle ringing in my ears faded into a memory of the future as I felt myself sliding back into the past.

I’ll see you on the other side.

 

Durnholde Keep

escapefromdurnholde

After Mokvar and Faranell dropped their respective timeline bombs on us, we hashed out how best to juggle things to keep the risks to a minimum. In the middle of things, Chromie popped in just to…I don’t know…go “gee willickers” a couple times and remind us that Mokvar and Faranell absolutely must not interfere with their former selves, like we didn’t already get that. And then she blathered on about all the crap that could go wrong with the timestream if they do, and most of it pretty much just came off as “WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS WORDS BAD.”

So yeah, we’ve got to be careful about this, but the way around it seemed pretty obvious. Mokvar couldn’t run into himself at Durnholde Keep, so okay, he just wouldn’t go. He stayed back at the inn in Southshore and kept an eye out for Tirion’s people arriving while we went to Durnholde to take care of Thrall. Meanwhile, Faranell can’t interfere with his old human self, so he came with the rest of us to Durnholde – get him away from Southshore for a little while, minimize the chance for a random run in, and plus this way he could be traveling with the bunch of us at all times so we can all be giving a sort of buffer zone in case Faranell v1.0 turns up. Liadrin also had a pretty sharp idea, to have a sign/countersign for Faranell, just in case he’s ever separated from us or if anything happens where we need to make sure we’re dealing with the right Faranell. The way things tend to go for us, it’s probably a good idea not to leave anything to chance.

Side note, I’m not sure if Faranell is worried about running into his younger self, or if seeing Kel’Thuzad and Helcular just threw him or something, but he’s been acting kind of strange since he and Mokvar got back. A couple times now I’ve caught him just staring at himself in the mirror, touching his face, just seeming all kinds of distracted. Not sure what to make of that. Hopefully he’ll be able to keep his head in the game until we finish what we came for.

So anyway, I finally headed out with Faranell, Liadrin, and Utvoch, and we made our way over to Durnholde. And I’ve got to say, I don’t know WHAT was going on with that defunct Alliance group that was supposed to handle this, that they thought they needed five people to handle this job. The Noz might have been erring on the side of safety, or maybe those Alliance scrubs really do suck, but no joke, I can’t possibly exaggerate how easily we rolled over those Durnholde guards. We had to clear out the lower barracks first, where some of the orcs were being held. And then I guess one of the officers came running in, some dude named Drake, at least that’s what Liadrin tells me. I wouldn’t have thought there was anything special about the guy myself, what with how he dropped like a rock after one good chop from Gorehowl.

Anyway…at that point we were set to head into the keep proper and get Thrall. It took a few minutes to hack up the handful of guards on the way in, and then, lo and behold, there was our Warchief-to-be chilling in the basement cell. And you know, I’ve got to say, you always figure the whole time travel business is pretty straightforward as far as the do’s and don’ts, but you don’t realize how hard it can be to bite your tongue until you’re standing there with a younger version of someone you know. I had to keep stopping myself from saying things to him, not that half of what I would have to say would make any sense to him coming from my fake-ass human face.

Here’s the other thing, though. I wasn’t expecting him to be so young. I mean, I knew how old he was, it’s not hard to take now-Thrall and roll him back ten years in my head. But even beyond the ten years…he was just so YOUNG. You could see it. Even locked in a jail cell, he just seemed so…unburdened. His eyes looked so much less tired. I never even realized how much Thrall seems like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders now, until I saw what he used to be like. Anyway.

One thing that was still the same, though – past or present, credit where it’s due, Thrall’s kind of a badass any way you cut it. In fact, I think I liked past-Thrall a little more, just because he seemed a lot more unapologetic about it. Like for instance, we broke him out of his cell, and he ran up to the keep’s armory to grab some armor and a weapon for himself. And there was this armorer guy standing watch there, and he started screaming bloody murder when he saw Thrall roll in, and before you could say “open-hand bitch-slap,” well…see for yourselves.

thrall1

thrall2

thrall3

thrall4

THRALL KEEPS THE PIMP HAND STRONG.

“That’s enough from him” is right, Thrall. Roll with it, man. Hell, bottle some of that shit up and send it to yourself ten years from now, you could use it. True story.

Anyway, the stupid humans sent a bunch more guards to try to stop us on the way out, and we made hilariously short work of them, and then I guess there was some captain that we polished off without me even realizing he was supposed to be someone important because OMG SPLAT. At that point, Thrall had the bright idea that he wanted to use the captain guy’s horse to high-tail it out of there…even though the horse was barely moving faster than we were on foot. I mean, seriously, were these the best mounts the humans had available back in the day? Really? And meanwhile Thrall was looking absolutely ridiculous sitting on top of this thing, PLUS if he was moving any slower he’d be going backwards, and for real, dude, have you just not learned ghost wolf form yet? Because even that would have been faster than this reject horse.

Anyhow, you don’t need every last painful detail. We got Thrall to Tarren Mill, and killed some more humans – always a plus – and then some of those Infinite Dragonflight guys showed up, and we handed them their asses easily enough. And then out of nowhere this fog rolled in, and – you guessed it – The Noz came pimping in to check on things, and confirmed that the timeline has been secured against the Infinite Dragonflight’s interference, and that’s nice and all, dude, but how about you leave a memo for yourself not to be a frigging douche-tard down the road so we don’t have to waste time stopping your future chronies (SEE WHAT I DID THERE?) from screwing around with things?

Oh and also? Just have to say – Thrall’s human friend Taretha? SPITTING IMAGE of Jaina. Seriously. Crossbow to my head, I could not tell those two apart. And you know what? Draw your own conclusions about her. I don’t even want to know.

We’re back at the Southshore inn now, and we just need to hold tight until Tirion and Alexandros Mograine and all those people show up. I’ll keep you posted on what happens. Or, you know, you can consult the nearest history book.

 

 

[Header image provided by Rioriel from Postcards From Azeroth, reproduced here with permission and many thanks. Click here to see the souped-up Postcard version!]

 

So it goes

chromie

So check this out! I’m writing to you FROM THE PAST! How freaky is that?

Okay, so, Mokvar just pointed out that ANY writing I’ve done would have to be from the past, seeing as I would have to write it, and then at some point AFTER that you would read it, and so I would ALWAYS be writing from the past, and yeah, thank you, Mokvar, way to piss on my excitement and muddy up what should have been a cool moment. Fuck.

 

Okay, I had to be smack him around a few times for a minute there. I’m back now.

Anyway, though, the point is, I’m not writing to you from the plain-ol’-regular past right now, where I write a blog post and a couple hours later you see it. No, no, I’m writing to you from TEN YEARS AGO. Because GUESS WHERE WE ARE, bitches! Um, I mean, WHEN we are. Although that doesn’t roll off the tongue quite as well. Anyhow.

That’s right, right this minute I’m writing to you from old Hillsbrad. Well, right this minute, to me. To you it’s still ten years ago…okay, you know what, you guys know what I mean, so I’m going to stop trying to keep my verb tenses straight, I’m just going to give myself a headache if I try to keep this shit up.

Anyway, I know what you’re wondering – how the hell can I be connecting to the internet and accessing the here-and-now blog from Hillsbrad ten years ago? I mean, hell, they were still using fucking dial-up back then, right? Well here’s the thing: I had the foresight to bring my laptop on this trip, complete with the why-fly doohickey Spazzle hooked me up with, and so I’m still able to get online using Nozdormu’s wireless network. And I know what you’re going to say next – “but, but, ten years ago!” Well here’s the thing, part two.  The Noz’s wireless network is fucking AMAZING. Everything he does is all time-warpy, and his network is no exception. Hell, ten years is nothing – you can connect to that thing from fucking CENTURIES ago. Not to mention, his built-in spam filter? Not only does it BLOCK all the spam and pop-ups and all that crap, but it locates their source and sends a fucking bronze dragon to roflstomp it and pretty much wipe it clean out of the timestream before it even has the chance to exist. I think he calls the feature iPwn.

So, let me catch you all up on the situation. I traveled through the portal to old Hillsbrad with the rest of my team: me, Mokvar, Faranell, Lady Liadrin, and Utvoch. Dontrag ended up staying out. The Noz made a fuss about six of us going on the trip…for some reason, sending five of us back was no problem, but six, oh boy, sending six was going to be all kinds of logistical headaches. Apparently the time portal takes a huge amount of power to maintain – 1.21 gigawatts, if I remember him right – and trying to squeeze an extra person in was just going to make them blow a fuse or something. At first I tried arguing with him, and made the case that really, Dontrag and Utvoch should only count as one person between them, because seriously, you’ve met them, right? But oh no, he wouldn’t budge, so I just had the two of them do their coin-toss game to see who got to go. Utvoch won – which broke Dontrag’s 89-toss win streak, by the way – and so here he is.

I got the last laugh on the Noz, by the way. Since he wasn’t going to let Dontrag come with us, I told Dontrag to wait for us with Nozdormu and keep him company. BET YOU DIDN’T SEE THAT ONE COMING, did you, Noz? HAH!

I was having a good chuckle over that while we took the portal, but apparently karma really is a bitch, because Utvoch didn’t waste much time making me think maybe I should have brought the other one. Or neither. Come to think of it, neither’s starting to sound pretty good.

So anyway…we go through the portal, and the bunch of us are getting ourselves situated and checking out each other’s new fugly human looks. Mine’s not a disaster, although I don’t know WHAT’S going on with this beard. Oh and Faranell, check this out, HIS human form? It’s not even a fake human form — he looks like his old self, like what he looked like as a human before he died and got turned undead. Crazy, huh?

Anyhow, we’re all checking this stuff out, when I look up and see Utvoch is already getting mixed up with something. He’s wandered a little ways off to the nearby hillside, and he’s managed to piss off some giant moth that’s buffeting him around with its wings. By the time I can yell “The hell are you doing, fuckwit?” he’s already got the moth dead, but still, we’re supposed to avoid messing around with anything that isn’t necessary while we’re back here. Still, I don’t think too much of it, because what are the odds of any kind of fallout from killing a moth, right?

Yeah. Hold that thought.

So, we take the scenic route so as not to be noticed, sneaking past the outskirts of Tarren Mill past the south road. We make our way south just past the watchtower, and we’re about to make the turn down to Southshore, when what do we spot in the field just off the road? A giant fucking yeti, totally owning a pack of five humans. And like, seriously, this wasn’t one of your garden variety yeti, this was the super-gigantic wendigo variety with the big curving horns and shit, the kind I thought you only saw up in Northrend. And this motherfucker is no joke, because he’s totally laying waste to these people even though they seem to be adventurer types, like with a healer and a volunteer meat shield (although seriously, who the fuck volunteers for that job?). Although by the time we see what’s going on, the meat shield guy is a lot less shield and a lot more meat, mostly of the dead variety, and so now the yeti is running around smacking the rest of them down, and within another minute or so they’re all dead.

At that point, Mr. No Fucking Around Giant Yeti Guy spots us and attacks. Naturally I charge in to intercept him before he starts eating someone squishy like Faranell, and I mostly manage to keep him focused on me while everyone else helps burn him down. Even though, come on, who do you think really did most of the work on that one? Anyway, we get the yeti dead without too much trouble, and we go to have a look at the pile of dead humans, when who should pop in on us but the Noz’s pipsqueak buddy Chromie, and…well, here:

 

Chromie teleports in amid the group.

FARANELL: <jumps> AAH!  Don’t…don’t do that!

CHROMIE: Hiya guys! How’s it—

She looks around at the pile of bodies.

Oh fudge crackers. No, no, no…

UTVOCH: That sounds kind of good, do you have s—

GARROSH: <smacks Utvoch> I’m expanding your ban to all words.

UTVOCH: Sorry, sir.

GARROSH: <pummel> Those were words.

Chromie rubs her forehead, then looks around again.

CHROMIE: Really, guys, you haven’t even been here an hour yet. Gramps is not gonna be happy about this…

LIADRIN: What’s wrong?

CHROMIE: <sigh> Remember how we’d sent some adventurers back here on a mission a few years ago?

LIADRIN: Oh no…

MOKVAR: Crap.

CHROMIE: Yeah. So… <looks around the bodies> That’s them.

FARANELL: I don’t get it, though – we haven’t done anything since we’ve been here, have…?

Faranell trails off as the rest of the group turns to look at Utvoch one by one.

GARROSH: You. Fucking. Idiot.

UTVOCH: Yes sir. <pause> Um, but why, sir?

GARROSH: <pummel>

UTVOCH: OWW! Sorry, sir…

MOKVAR: Not to be the secondary idiot here, but I’m a little confused, to be honest. I get that it has to have something to do with the moth, but how did that end up getting these people killed?

GARROSH: Please tell me they were Alliance, at least.

CHROMIE: Yup, they were.

GARROSH: Okay, silver lining, then.

CHROMIE: And as for the moth… <sighs and rubs her head again> The big guy here was a wendigo named Yettimus, and—

LIADRIN: Really? “Yettimus”? People call him that?

FARANELL: Not anymore.

MOKVAR: It is a little on the nose.

LIADRIN: Should I start calling Mokvar or Utvoch “Orcinator” or some such?

UTVOCH: Oh hey, that would be kinda coo—

GARROSH: <pummel>

UTVOCH: OWW!!

GARROSH: Word ban.

UTVOCH: <starts to open mouth, then nods>

CHROMIE: Sooooooo… Yettimus here used to stay pretty secluded up in the hills until fairly recently – by your time, that is – and he mostly kept himself entertained chasing butterflies.

FARANELL: Simple minds, I guess.

GARROSH: Maybe I need to get a butterfly net for you-know-who.

CHROMIE: But, when you guys arrived, Utvoch wound up killing that moth, and in the original timeline that was supposed to happen, that moth was the one that kept Yettimus occupied for most of the afternoon… And when it wasn’t there to keep him busy, he got bored and went wandering around the fields here, and, well… <sigh>

GARROSH: Ugh… Okay, so, what now? Can we maybe pop back out to our own time, and then come back a few minutes earlier and straighten this out?

LIADRIN: I would imagine not…

CHROMIE: Nope.

GARROSH: How come?

CHROMIE: You can’t double back on your own timeline. Once you get mixed up in a certain set of events, you commit to that timestream, and can’t interfere with your own past.

LIADRIN: Otherwise, you create paradoxes and other like anomalies, correct?

FARANELL: When did you become an expert on this?

CHROMIE: No, she’s dead-on right.

LIADRIN: I’m a student of the philosophies of the Light. I happen to enjoy theoretical discussions.

CHROMIE: And don’t even get me started on the beehive you can get into if you cross your own timeline and interact with yourself. Not even gramps can do that without causing all kinds of problems.

GARROSH: Okay, so we can’t get a do-over on the moth…and I’m guessing you can’t just yank these people back out to avoid getting curbstomped by the yeti…

CHROMIE: Nopers.

GARROSH: Okay, so…what do we do now?

CHROMIE: Well, the you part of the “we” just got a new job while you’re here. And while you do that, the me part of the “we” gets to go update Nozdormu on what’s happening here, which he’s not going to like at all

MOKVAR: So now we need to go make sure Thrall escapes from Durnholde like he’s supposed to?

LIADRIN: It would make sense, to correct the disruption in the timeline…

CHROMIE: I like her! She’s smart.

GARROSH: Not something I get to hear about my minions often…

FARANELL: You know we’re all standing right here, right?

LIADRIN: Wait, “minion”?

MOKVAR: I’m really not liking this business of having to go into Durnholde…

CHROMIE: Well maybe you should have thought of that before you let your ADD squirrel-chasing puppy friend go running around without a leash! Jeepers!

GARROSH: Okay, okay, fine… We’ll go take care of Thrall, just have to juggle that with the original mission, and…ugh…do we at least have time to check on things in Southshore to make sure we’re not already screwed?

CHROMIE: You’ve got a little time before Thrall absolutely has to be in Tarren Mill, so yup. Just be sure to make good time getting in and out of Durnholde when you get there! I’ll check in again later — have fun!

Chromie teleports away again.

 

So, we’re at the inn in Southshore now. One stroke of luck – none of the Silver Hand people have gotten here. Liadrin talked to Kelly the innkeeper and made a little show of some of her paladinny holy crap to make it seem like she was one of Tirion’s people, and found out he’s not expecting his other paladin guests till tomorrow sometime. So we’ve got a little time to work with if we move fast.

While we were getting settled here at the inn, I sent Mokvar and Utvoch to round up the bodies and bury them somewhere. Faranell volunteered to go up with them, too, to help speed up the process. That left Liadrin and I to get us a couple rooms here at the inn, although Kelly gave us a look when I told him she and I each wanted a separate room. Like, dude, really, grow up. Then I mentioned how we had some other people who would be joining us, so we’d need space for more than one in each room, and OH BOY the look from the innkeeper got an upgrade. Like SERIOUSLY, dude, GROW the fuck UP. You run an inn, stop acting like a fourteen-year-old. Or who knows, maybe these humans are easily shocked or something. None of the innkeepers in Silvermoon would bat an eyelash at any of this shit.

Anyway…once the gravediggers’ commission get back, we’ll get rolling on the whole Durnholde thing. Hopefully we can make quick work of that, because the last thing we need is more complications.

 

 

[Header image provided by Rioriel from Postcards From Azeroth, reproduced here with permission and many thanks. Click here to see the souped-up Postcard version!]

 

Wibbly wobbly, timey whimey

cavernsoftime

We arrived at the Caverns of Time just a short while ago. Soridormi greeted us on arrival, and I let her take the rest of the group on the tour of the place while I made a lemon squares delivery. Like I mentioned, the big guy really loves his pastry, to the point that he actually has a couple of personal bakers right here in-house. Turns out Nozdormu was still off somewhere busy, so I dropped by the bakery to leave the goodies with his bakers, and figured while I was there, what the hell, I might as well leave them a copy of the recipe. Maybe win a few bonus points that way. I wound up hanging out with them there while I waited for everyone to get back. Not sure what to make of those two. I mean, they seemed happy enough to take the recipe, and one of them, Tom, seemed really cool. Awesome guy. Can totally see him being the kind of dude that everybody loves. Colin, though…I don’t know, he just seemed like kind of a dick.

Anyway, after everyone was done having a look around the place, Nozdormu came out to see us. Eventually. I’ve heard that’s kind of his pattern. Even after the tour, he took his sweet time showing up. So we were just stuck sitting there a while, me and Mokvar going through his notes to catch Liadrin up, and meanwhile Dontrag and Utvoch (yes, I brought them, it never hurts to have a couple low-grade flunkies around for the heavy lifting) managed to kill some time flipping coins. In which, by the way, it looked like Utvoch really took Dontrag to the cleaners. Or maybe the other way around. I still have trouble keeping them straight sometimes.

Anyway, eventually Nozdormu got his scaly ass out to see us. You should have seen the way he breezed on in. First of all, I swear somebody started cranking out smoke right before he showed up, and then, when he finally came strolling on in through the fog, he did some kind of time distortion thing that made everything seem like it had slowed down to half speed. And so here he comes, pimping on in through the smoke, in slow motion. Gotta admit, it was pretty fucking cool.

Anyway, Thrall had already given Nozdormu – or, as I like to call him, The Noz – a brief rundown of the situation, and Faranell and I filled in some more of the details for him. He mostly just nodded knowingly in that way he always does, kind of floating somewhere halfway between really cool and really annoying. Eventually he said he could probably help us out, provided we could stick to a few rules. I told him that shouldn’t be problem, because if there’s one thing yours truly is all about, it’s discipline and self-control. He just kind of stared at me a little when I said that. Not sure what the deal was there. But yeah, so he filled out the picture for us, and…you know what, why am I yammering away paraphrasing this? Mokvar was there. Here, I’ll have him hook us up:

 

NOZDORMU: As it happens, we have a time portal already established to Hillsbrad in the era you’re speaking of, so it shouldn’t be hard at all to send you there.

GARROSH: Well that’s convenient I guess. Would you not be able to open a new portal if you didn’t have one running already?

NOZDORMU: That would be…more problematic. We of the bronze dragonflight still have dominion over the timeways, and can travel along the pathways of time, but since the defeat of Deathwing, my ability to manipulate those timeways enough to open new time portals is…limited.

GARROSH: I was wondering about that, actually. Like how does that work with you guys? I would have figured losing your Aspect powers would have put this place out of business.

NOZDORMU: Not quite so simple. It’s true, we former Aspects expended our ancient power in order to charge the Dragon Soul, and we are now diminished, as compared to what we were. Mortal now, most notably…

GARROSH: Actually, if Deathwing and, you know, Malygos were any indication, you guys were sort of always mortal…

NOZDORMU: Well that’s different.

GARROSH: How is it different?

NOZDORMU: Malygos and Neltharion were killed in battle. Without the intervention of their slayers they would have carried on as immortals for eternity.

GARROSH: So, they were immortal as long as somebody didn’t kill them. Gotta say, that’s a pretty loose definition of “immortal.”

NOZDORMU: Did you really come here to argue semantics with a millennia-old, Titan-appointed caretaker of reality, just before asking him to do you a favor?

GARROSH: I know, I know. Just sayin’.

NOZDORMU: Where did that expression come from, incidentally? “Just sayin’.” If you say something insulting or presumptuous, how does tacking “Just sayin’” on the end of it make it any less insulting?

GARROSH: Okay, okay, you’re immortal, fine. Well, were.

NOZDORMU: Nevertheless, each of the flights holds dominion over one of the primal forces of the world, and even without our Aspect empowerment, the flights maintain those bonds. Ysera and the green dragonflight, for instance, continue their attunement to the Emerald Dream, just as the red dragonflight maintain their stewardship of life. Likewise, we bronze dragons are able to travel through time, and I personally retain my heightened perception of temporality.

GARROSH: What about Kalecgos?

NOZDORMU: What about him?

GARROSH: Well, he was the Aspect of Magic, right?

NOZDORMU: For about a week.

GARROSH: Well, still.

NOZDORMU: I don’t know. I guess he can still…well… He probably still knows a few card tricks, I guess.

GARROSH: Oh.

NOZDORMU: I’m not sure, though.

GARROSH: Ah, okay.

NOZDORMU: Yeah.

Garrosh, Faranell, and Liadrin exchange awkward looks.

GARROSH: So about the Hillsbrad thing.

NOZDORMU: Oh yes, that. As I was saying. We have a portal already established to Hillsbrad circa a decade ago, so it would be simple enough to send you through. I can further assign Chronormu—

Chromie, a bronze dragon assuming the form of a female gnome, teleports in and bounces happily next to Nozdormu.

CHROMIE: Hiya!

NOZDORMU: —to check in on you on occasion, to be sure there aren’t any unforeseen complications.

GARROSH: Wait, she’s a dragon? And what do you mean, complications?

CHROMIE: Yup, that’s me!

NOZDORMU: Yes, she’s one of the bronze flight. I suppose you haven’t met—

CHROMIE: Oh sure we ha—

NOZDORMU: I mean he. Hasn’t met you.

CHROMIE: Ohhhh, right, skipper. <making a zipping motion across her mouth> Sshhh!

GARROSH: Should…I be worried about something here?

FARANELL: I probably would have been worried long before this, but that’s just me.

CHROMIE: Ohhh don’t you fret over little ol’ me. I don’t bite. At least not in this form! <giggles>

GARROSH: Speaking of which, do you really have to be a gnome?

CHROMIE: Why? What’s wrong with gnomes?

Mokvar, Faranell, Dontrag, and Utvoch all utter overlapping groans.

MOKVAR: Oh boy, here we go.

DONTRAG: What’s wrong with gnomes, she says…

FARANELL: Even I know better than to…yeah…

UTVOCH: We’re going to be here a while, aren’t we?

MOKVAR: Every day with the gnomes…

LIADRIN: <to Faranell> Um, what did Lor’themar drag me into?

FARANELL: Give it a little time, really. It seems weird at first, but after a little while it actually becomes kind of fun.

DONTRAG: If he’s going to start in on the gnomes, you want to toss a few more coins?

UTVOCH: Yeah, no thanks, eighty-nine straight losses is enough for me in one day.

GARROSH: Okay, okay, will you people SHUT UP?

NOZDORMU: If one of my progeny taking the guise of a gnome is really that distasteful to you, I suppose I could appoint someone else, although I must say Chromie is one of my very best operatives, and…

CHROMIE: Thanks, gramps!

GARROSH: Yeah, okay, it’s fine. I’m not thrilled about the gnome thing, but whatever, I’m a professional. I’ll rise above it.

UTVOCH: Most inconceivable of you, sir—

GARROSH: <smacks Utvoch> We’ve been through this before about you and that word.

UTVOCH: Sorry, sir…

GARROSH: Okay, so fine, your little pipsqueak friend can be our contact.

CHROMIE: Woot!

GARROSH: But what was that thing about complications?

NOZDORMU: Well, Warchief, time is, after all, a rather complex and delicate thing, and one must be rather cautious when traversing its pathways. A certain, shall we say, delicacy and finesse is called for.

GARROSH: Dude, I am all about the fucking finesse. Right, guys?

Crickets.

NOZDORMU: At…any rate. You must simply take care not to interfere with past events more than is absolutely necessary. Speaking generally, you should not underestimate the potential impact of seemingly minor actions. You cannot imagine the magnitude of the consequences that can unfold from even a minor alteration in the timeline. More specifically, you will be traveling to a time and place that witnessed certain crucial events that cannot be disrupted…

GARROSH: Yeah, okay, that shouldn’t be a problem, this is 90% a fact-finding mission anyway, so…

NOZDORMU: So you say, and I do not doubt your intentions. But you must take care not to do anything that might interfere with certain key events playing out as they were meant to. Specifically, for one, the forging of the Ashbringer. You will be witnessing the fulcrum of an intricate convergence of events, which cannot be disturbed. The crystal carried by the eldest Mograine represents the spark which sets in motion events that must occur; this cannot be undermined.

GARROSH: Okay, check. No smashy-smashy on the crystal. Anything else?

NOZDORMU: One other matter. The reason, in fact, that this particular time portal was opened in the first place. You will be arriving at the moment in history when a young Thrall escapes from his human captors in Durnholde Keep. It is the singular event without which the Horde as it now exists…would not.

GARROSH: Wait, I get why that’s an event we can’t fuck around with, but why would you have opened a portal there if it’s so important that nobody interfere with it?

NOZDORMU: Because someone already did.

GARROSH: The what you say?

MOKVAR: I swear these time loop stories make my head hurt.

NOZDORMU: Agents of the Infinite Dragonflight had attempted to prevent Thrall’s escape, in order to…well, suffice to say, they sought to alter the timeline to ill effect. Some time ago, the bronze flight in my absence elicited the aid of a group of adventurers to travel back to this point in history and ensure that events played out as they should.

GARROSH: Okay…but, in that case, you already have people there keeping tabs on things, right? And they succeeded. We’re all here, and the Horde’s still here, so Thrall escaped and the world didn’t go kablooey or whatever, so your people did their job there and it’s a done deal, isn’t it?

NOZDORMU: It won’t be when you’re there. Those events are past to us, yes. And they have happened – now. But when you step through the portal, they will be as real and present to you as this conversation is now.

MOKVAR: Yeah, see, I really should have brought some aspirin.

GARROSH: I mean, yeah, I get that we’ll be seeing things happening live and in person. But if we’re sitting here having this conversation, that means whatever we end up doing there DOESN’T change anything, right? I mean, say you send me to the past. It’s still the past. So if I DID accidentally change things, wouldn’t we already know?

NOZDORMU: Except the actions you take in old Hillsbrad aren’t only the past. They are also, from our point of view in this moment, your future. Those events remain unchanged, until you actually change them. And only then do the ripples spread to the present.

LIADRIN: This is actually kind of fascinating.

NOZDORMU: Have you ever experienced déjà vu, Garrosh? Or had a memory that was so vivid and real to you, even though you knew, objectively knew for a fact, that the events didn’t happen the way you so clearly remember them?

GARROSH: Well, yeah, I guess…

NOZDORMU: That’s time rewriting itself. It happens all around us, constantly, in countless tiny ways we never notice except the cracks that flicker in the corners of our eyes. Well, you don’t notice. It’s all I ever see.

CHROMIE: Here we go, skipper, time for your favorite speech!

NOZDORMU: It’s what all of my flight sees, really; I simply have the most sensitive perception. When I look at you, Garrosh, I don’t just see you as you are now. I see everything you’ve done, everything you might do, everything you must do. They’re all written in your face, every minute, and with every choice you make, some of the endless possibilities reshape themselves, others melt away… Every single one of you here, accompanied constantly by an army of past and possible selves. Almost as if there were a thousand of you standing right here before me, Garrosh.

MOKVAR: Don’t let Garona hear that, can you imagine—

GARROSH: If you finish that sentence, I will END you.

LIADRIN: I’m…missing a lot of context for you people, aren’t I?

FARANELL: Don’t worry about it too much. I’m still pretty new, too. You catch up fast.

DONTRAG: Ohhh, I get it, you mean about how Garona’s been trying to—

UTVOCH: SHUT IT, nobody cares about her rolling an alt.

FARANELL: For instance, they’re idiots.

LIADRIN: Well yes, I gathered that much.

GARROSH: ANYWAY.

DONTRAG: No, not her alt, I mean—

GARROSH: <pummel>

DONTRAG: OWW!!

GARROSH: So okay, I think I get it. Past events can always change, time revises itself right out from under us when they do, but some events have to stay put. So say, like with what you were saying about looking at me and seeing my past and future… Like say next Tuesday I’m going to slip on a banana peel, but me falling on my ass sets off some other events that are really important, so even if you want to, you can’t be like “Hey Garrosh, watch out for the banana peel.” Because there’s some stuff in my future that HAS to happen.

Nozdormu stares at Garrosh somberly for a moment.

NOZDORMU:  I think you grasp the basic idea, yes.

GARROSH: Oh so hey, is that why everybody’s just accepting how eventually you HAVE to go Murozond on us and cause all that trouble with the Infinite Dragonflight yourself?

NOZDORMU: Hey, listen, if you want to start poring over people’s misguided futures, I can—

CHROMIE: Whoa, whoa, cool down a little, boss! Ix-nay on the iege-say, right?

NOZDORMU: Ahem. Yes, yes, of course.

GARROSH: Umm, the hell was that shit about?

NOZDORMU: Hmm. One moment.

Nozdormu closes his eyes and takes on an expression of intense focus.

.tnemom enO  .mmH :UMRODZON

?tuoba tihs taht saw lleh eht ,mmU :HSORRAG

.esruoc fo ,sey ,seY .mehA :UMRODZON

?thgir ,yas-egei eht no yan-xI !ssob ,elttil a nwod looc ,aohw, aohW :EIMORHC

—nac I ,serutuf dediugsim s’elpoep revo gnirop trats ot tnaw uoy fi ,netsil ,yeH :UMRODZON

?flesruoy thgilfnogarD etinifnI eht htiw elbuort lla esuac dna su no dnozoruM og ot EVAH uoy yllautneve woh gnitpecca tsuj s’ydobyreve yhw taht si ,yeh os hO :HSORRAG

GARROSH: Oh so hey, is that why everybody’s just accepting how eventually you HAVE to go Murozond on us and cause all that trouble with the Infinite Dragonflight yourself?

NOZDORMU: Yes, basically.

CHROMIE: Whew.  That’s better.

NOZDORMU: Much.

CHROMIE: Why dodge a bullet when you can wind it back into the chamber, right?

NOZDORMU: Indeed.

GARROSH: Uh, what are you two babbling about?

NOZDORMU: Oh, nothing you need concern yourself with. Shall we start making preparations for you to begin your mission? There are a few small specifics we’ll need to go over.

GARROSH: Yeah, sure… Hey, actually, did I ask you that thing about Murozond before?

NOZDORMU: No, I don’t think so.

GARROSH: Huh, weird. Déjà vu.

 

We’re getting ourselves set to take the trip shortly. Mostly making sure we have any supplies we might need, getting a general briefing on what we’re allowed to “know” and “not know” if we talk to anyone in the other timeframe, all that fun stuff. Also, to make sure we blend in, The Noz says when we go through the portal we’ll be affected by a glamour that will make us look like we’re human. Not exactly a pleasant thought, but I can see why it’s necessary. Still, I hope whatever human form I get ends up being a LITTLE palatable. I don’t want to go literally strolling down memory lane looking like an asshole.

 

Where did all the words go?

hearthglen

We arrived in Hearthglen this morning and were ushered up to meet with Tirion Fordring in Mardenholde Keep, which as I’m sure you can imagine was an exercise in joy for me. Luckily I at least managed to come prepared this time, with company and an exit strategy. Part of the company, by the way, being Mokvar, so if you’ve been reading the blog for any length of time, you know what’s coming up…

 

Garrosh, Mokvar, and Master Apothecary Faranell are escorted into the Highlord’s command room by the night elf Daria L’Rayne.

DARIA: Highlord Fordring, the Horde delegation has arrived to see you.

TIRION: So I see, so I see indeed, good Daria, and great thanks to you for so kindly seeing them in. Truly is it by the aid of such as yourself that great alliances are forged, and great deeds are brought to fruition!

DARIA: Okay…yes, sir. Thank you…I think.

TIRION: And rightly do you think! As right and just are the thoughts of all those gathered here under the banner of peace, in this hopeful age ushered forth in the wake of the Lich King’s demise! For surely what challenge might not we surmount, having proven in the icy wastes that we can come together before a common foe, and unite in our resolve to forge a brighter world! None indeed! Would you not agree, noble elf?

DARIA: Um…so, you have visitors, sir.

GARROSH: Sup, Tirion.

DARIA: Good luck, Warchief.

Daria makes a very, very speedy exit from the chamber.

TIRION: Warchief Hellscream!

GARROSH: Here we go.

TIRION: A pleasure it is to see you once again, old friend! Too many winters have passed since last we spoke face to face, since those noble days in Icecrown when we stood together against the Scourge, and oversaw the fall of Arthas and the delivery of justice upon the hated Lich King! Human and orc united in unwavering defense of home and hearth, brought together in a far-off land to lay waste to an odious common foe – what valiant days those were! Ones which, I see, have served not only as testament to your courage, but as proof positive to your people of your leadership, a validation of your rightful rise within the ranks of the Horde, which I see has brought you in the intervening time to the highest of stations, Warchief of your people, as great a tribute as your comrade Thrall might verily bestow.

FARANELL: So, in other words, hello.

GARROSH: Yeah. Hey.

MOKVAR: Afternoon, Highlord.

TIRION: And I see, good Warchief, you have deemed fit to bring noble counsel with you for your visit – no doubt picked from the most esteemed of your sage advisors. And moreover, I see, spanning even beyond your own kin into the ranks of the Forsaken, whom – I will assure you, assure you most firmly indeed – shall find no animosity within these walls. For regardless of the fervor of our struggle to subdue the spiteful reach of the Lich King’s hated Scourge, far be it from me to presume ill intent from those whose only crime is to have fallen victim to the Scourge’s curse of undeath, for well I know, your will restored under the care of your Banshee Queen, your capacity for heroism knows no more bounds than any in our world, as proven by those Forsaken who fought and, yea, fell beside me in the battlefields of Northrend. For just as fate has shown that humans may prove as vile as the blackest Scourge, just so might orc or undead prove more noble than any king, most revered! And so it is with an open hand and generous heart I greet you, good sir.

MOKVAR: Wow, really?

GARROSH: I told you.

FARANELL: So, in other words, also hello.

TIRION: And might I ask, my Forsaken friend, whom have I the pleasure to meet this good day? The beginning of a great friendship, forged in amity and fellowship, no doubt. Lend me your hand, good sir, that we might pledge unto each other’s goodly aid.

Tirion grabs Faranell’s hand and starts to shake it just a bit too enthusiastically.

FARANELL: Um…you know what? It’s okay, I’m just some guy. No need to trouble yourself.

GARROSH: Ohhhhhhh no, you don’t get off that easy, Skin’n’Bones.

FARANELL: Crap.

GARROSH: So yeah, Tirion, this is Master Apothecary Faranell, head of Sylvanas’ Royal Apothecary Society. And I think you’ve met Mokvar?

TIRION: Indeed, indeed, I remember him well, and good day to you, noble Mokvar. Though I will confess, remember you well though I do, fondly and with reverence, it saddens me that I cannot yet lay claim to knowing you so half as well as I might wish. A regrettable condition I am sure our efforts here today shall surely change, and lay the foundation of a friendship – nay, a kinship, for we who strive together for the good of Azeroth, I dare suggest, are nothing if not kin, a family brought together by devotion to all we mutually hold dear – that time and trial shall validate as stuff of legend.

FARANELL: So, in other words, yes.

GARROSH: Right, okay. So what I wanted to—

TIRION: And so, good Mokvar, I welcome you with open arms to Hearthglen, and look forward to the progress of our blossoming acquaintance. Though I will confess, great Warchief, it does bring a faint sadness to see you have chosen not to bring the noble Eitrigg with you today, as far too many a year have passed since I’ve cast eyes upon my orcish friend, to whom, I’m sure you are aware, I owe a debt of honor. It was Eitrigg, after all – I shall take a moment to clarify for the sake of your colleagues here who may not know the tale, I am sure you shall not begrudge a momentary digression—

GARROSH: What the hell, at this point.

TIRION: —whom I encountered an age ago in the northern reaches of old Lordaeron, dwelling in an abandoned tower. Unaware as yet of the nobility of your eventual lieutenant, and predisposed – misguided – ill toward any of orcish kind, I engaged Eitrigg in battle, a furious melee joined between two worthy combatants, in which neither would give quarter nor long hold the upper hand. Truly our contest was one for the bards, as we traded blow upon blow, gaining and ceding ground, victory dangling precariously just beyond the grasp of us both.

FARANELL: Huh. Were you killed?

GARROSH: <chortle>

TIRION: Fitting you should ask, good Faranell, for though I suspect a jesting tone, your words recall a harrowing turn in the battle in question! For deep into our duel – and long indeed did we take arms, so long into the night! – the aging tower that formed our battlefield, weakened and cracked in the wake of our combat, began to crumble, and a heap of stone and mortar, breaking forth, came crashing down upon me. Consciousness abandoned me as I fell beneath the rubble, broken and bleeding, left to the mercy of my adversary, and further: injured enough that, lacking prompt medical aid, no adversary would be needed to bring my life to end. Hours passed, and in time I awoke to find myself in my own familiar bed—

FARANELL: Oh, so it was a dream?

TIRION: A dream, my good fellow? Perhaps! Perhaps indeed the realization of one—the dream of orc and human fellowship, which the truth of the tale would prove! The birth of the greater dream of encompassing peace and camaraderie between our peoples which even yet eludes our hopeful grasp! Truly stated, truly stated, my friend; you have, I think, anticipated the epiphany that would light upon my bedridden thoughts!

FARANELL: Actually, what I meant—

GARROSH: Dude, just let it slide. Tick tock.

FARANELL: Ah. Yeah.

TIRION: For once consciousness had returned to me, and friend and family came to check upon my health, I learned from them the circumstances of my discovery: some days prior, they had found me, wounded and unconscious, tied to my loyal steed and sent trotting back toward home. Only one explanation would make sense: that the orc whom I had presumed an agent of evil had, in fact, saved me from a solitary death, and taken pains to return me in my need to friendly hands. Later would I seek out the orc – the sage and noble Eitrigg – and thus began the friendship that would span so many years. And yet, far too many of those years have slipped away like sand through our oblivious fingers since I have had the pleasure of seeing my dear friend face to face. And so, good Warchief, while I have no doubt your reasons were wise, it saddens me indeed that you have opted not to bring him here today. Upon your return to Orgrimmar, then, I would entreat – nay, implore! you pass my greetings and highest blessings to your dear advisor, and endeavor to ensure he know, though separated by days and distance, the thoughts of Tirion Fordring are with him, as are the shining memories of our kinship, which even now live on in my heart as though mere moments old.

FARANELL: So, in other words, say hi to Eitrigg.

MOKVAR: Check.

GARROSH: Okay, yeah, I’ll do that. So anyway, Tirion…

TIRION: Indeed, gentlemen, indeed, I know you’ve business to attend here in New Hearthglen. Shall we take our seats and begin our discussions?

GARROSH: Yeah, I think I’m going to need to sit down before too long here.

Tirion – still talking – leads them over to the nearby conference table.

TIRION: Indeed, indeed, then certainly, my good fellows, make your way thusly, and relieve your weary feet presently. I will apologize for the rudimentary caliber of my furnishings here: surely not the quality and comfort one of high station might come to expect in diplomatic parlay—

GARROSH: No, it’s—

TIRION: —but  these chairs were gifted to me by the workmen of the nearby lumber mill, and product of their very labor, crafted with painstaking care albeit limited material for embellishment, and so a certain humble pride compels me to retain them, even realizing that there are far beneath the standard of luxury as might befit ambassadors and heads of state.

GARROSH: Dude, seriously, it’s cool. I grew up in a hut made of sticks and fucking mud, believe me, I’m okay with B-grade fucking chairs.

FARANELL: My skin is tattered and falling off around every joint in my body. A lack of seat cushions is way, way down on my list of discomforts.

TIRION: Now, good gentlemen, as we are now more properly seated, what boon may I grant to you on this fine day? Know, surely, that the hand of Tirion Fordring stands ever ready to lend its aid—

GARROSH: Much appreciated, Tirion. So—

TIRION: —for surely, just as our glorious victory in Northrend could never have come to fruition without the united efforts of Horde and Alliance, Argent Dawn and Silver Hand, Ebon Blade, and more—

GARROSH: Ah. You weren’t done.

TIRION: —just so, I know full well, might enterprises of great pitch and moment, upon which might hang the very future of our kind, just so might these endeavors languish fruitless save for the will of good men such as ourselves, to stand together despite those petty differences that might divide us.

GARROSH: Um, yeah. Cool.

TIRION: And so, gentlemen, how might I be of aid?

Garrosh, Mokvar, and Faranell sit quietly a moment, watching Tirion.

GARROSH: That was it, right?

TIRION: You confuse me, Warchief Hellscream. That was what, exactly?

MOKVAR: Just go.

GARROSH: Yeah, never mind, not important. So here’s the thing.

FARANELL: Don’t pause too much between sentences.

GARROSH: We’ve got a situation down in Southshore. Somehow or other the Forsaken there managed to set off some kind of magical effect that’s neutralizing their undeath and killing them all.

FARANELL: It seems to be functioning, basically, as a reversal of the plague of undeath, and dissipating the necrotic effects that reanimated my people.

GARROSH: It’s more or less contained right now, but it’s going to spread, so we’re trying to find out exactly what it is and how it got there, and since we’ve heard that some of your Silver Hand people were down there at one point and you’ve always had an interest in the Scourge, we were thinking you might be able to fill in some blanks.

TIRION: Ah, interesting, interesting. I do recall a time when I did journey to the scenic port of Southshore, in answer to a summons from Highlord Alexandros Mograine to confer, indeed, upon the emergence of the Scourge. Even then, Mograine knew the threat the undead – forgive me, friend Faranell, I mean, of course, to say the Scourge – would pose to this world, even though in those days, unbeknownst to us all, their true menace was truly in its infancy. You see, these were the days before the fall of Arthas and of Lordaeron—

GARROSH: Right, we know.

TIRION: —when the Scourge, then commanded by the nefarious orc warlock Ner’zhul, was merely a pawn of the dreaded Burning Legion. The Legion, you see, led by the monstrous Kil’jaeden, had decided that their prior attempts to invade Azeroth had been doomed by the infighting and divisiveness within their orcish armies. Folly indeed, as I am sure you will agree, to suppose that their failure rested in the orcs, when rather they were doomed from the outset to fall to the courageous defense put forth by the steadfast people of our world!

Garrosh shrugs and opens a backpack, which he had set down on the table.

Nevertheless, the Legion under Kil’jaeden’s vile judgment took upon themselves to build a new fighting force, one united by a single mind, and so the warlock Ner’zhul was remade as the odious Lich King and cast, trapped in an icy block, into our world, in the icy wastes of Northrend. There he began to build his forces, slaying all within his reach and raising them as mindless undead, bound only to his will. Gradually he built his forces and would send them forth to wreak havoc in the Eastern Kingdoms. But even in those early days, while the undead legions were still only beginning to stir and their hateful sweep through Northrend was merely the start of their rise—

Garrosh removes several wrapped sandwiches from the pack and begins handing them out.

GARROSH: You wanted the pastrami, right?

MOKVAR: Yeah, please.

TIRION: —even then, noble Alexandros had the vision and foresight to perceive the threat they would soon pose to our world. Though I wonder at times if truly he could have anticipated that which they would become, the true extent of their evil, let loose over time when the scheming mind of the Lich King would turn upon its masters and break away, freeing the Scourge from its demonic shackles such that it might stand alone in its pernicious pursuit of dominion over the world of the living. Indeed, how could he? Who, in their worst imaginings, would dream of what would befall Lordaeron? What mind could in its darkest hours imagine that the very king’s blessed son would fall to darkness and turn upon all those whom once he loved, slay his own father, and forego his presumptive kingship with another, darker one, one which would bring him to the Frozen Throne in Ner’zhul’s stead?

Meanwhile, Garrosh et al are eating.

FARANELL: Did you bring any mustard?

GARROSH: Yeah, you need spicy brown or yellow?

FARANELL: Spicy.

GARROSH: Here you go.

FARANELL: Thanks.

TIRION: Nevertheless, Alexandros rightly foresaw the threat the Scourge would pose to our world, and called upon we Knights of the Silver Hand to gather in secret in the town of Southshore in order that we might lay plans to defend our homelands. I journeyed to Hillsbrad with two of my closest allies – Brigitte Abbendis, daughter of the High General, and Isilien, both of whom, sadly, would one day turn their backs upon our cause in order, like my own son Talaen, to embrace the madness of the Scarlett Crusade. Alas, it seems that madness would consume many in the aftermath of the Scourge’s invasion, and the outbreak of the plague that would leave a kingdom in ruin. Even my dear uncle Lucius, a longtime resident of the rural outskirts of old Andorhal, would find his grip on reality slipping in his later years, admittedly by no connection to the Scourge invasion – so far as we know. But indeed, in his later days he found himself immured in the fantasy that he was, in fact, the late Llane Wrynn – hardly late in his eyes, of course – the dear fallen king of Stormwind, and father of its current ruler, King Varian. His wife my aunt and several of my cousins would attempt to appeal to whatever reason might still have lingered beneath the delusions, but to no avail: the dementia had taken hold far too deeply, and Uncle Lucius would spend his days allowing his delusion to lead him off on one misadventure after another, until he finally settled into the final stage of his madness, sparked by blue paint and a spatula. But I fear I digress, gentlemen, and far be it from me to waste all of our precious time on capricious reminiscence.

Everyone continues eating as a moment of silence passes.

GARROSH: <looking up, surprised> Oh. You were done?

TIRION: <blinks, surprised> Warchief Hellscream?

GARROSH: Um, yeah, okay, I guess I must have zoned out there for a minute.

FARANELL: I think there was something in there about a meeting in Southshore.

MOKVAR: <skimming back over notes> Yeah, I have him down for a meeting about ten years ago, with Alexandros Mograine, Isilien, and Abbendis.

GARROSH: Man, you really are committed to the job, Mokvar. Props.

MOKVAR: Eh, beats being unemployed.

GARROSH: Okay, so for one thing, was that it for that meeting, or were there any other people there that we should know about?

TIRION: Those were the principals from my perspective, Warchief; Alexandros having called the meeting, and Isilien and Abbendis having accompanied me in my journey to Southshore. If memory serves, the Highlord’s lieutenants Fairbanks and Arcanist Doan were present as well.

FARANELL: Whew. Things didn’t exactly end well for a single one of those people. Not liking your odds there, Tirion.

GARROSH: So what was the meeting about?

TIRION: As I had begun to say a moment ago, Warchief Hellscream, the meeting was born of Highlord Mograine’s wise anticipation of the threat the rising Scourge might pose to our world; he called us together to begin to make preparations to defend our homelands against the inevitable assault of the undead.

FARANELL: What kind of preparations?

TIRION: To gather our forces; to train in earnest in anticipation of the battle to come; to ready friends, family, and rulers alike for the possibilities of what awaited us. A forthright effort to increase our awareness, mainly, and to dispel whatever complacency might dull our eventual readiness… As well as…well, there was one further outcome…

GARROSH: Which…would be?

TIRION: <pauses> At the time we all were sworn never again to speak of it. But that, I suppose, was a long time ago, and much has changed since then…

GARROSH: Huh, that must have been rough.

TIRION: Begging your pardon, Warchief?

GARROSH: I’m just trying to imagine you sworn not to talk about something.

MOKVAR: <mutters, chuckling> That one’s…getting…the nice printing…

TIRION: I suppose the time has passed for this one secret, at least. Alexandros…also showed us an item he had held in secret for a decade by that time. A dark crystal, black as the void, a focus of hideous, destructive power…a living embodiment of shadows. Alexandros believed that the existence of such an object, a manifestation of darkness, implied the possibility of its opposite: a manifestation of light, which he believed might prove the ultimate weapon against the undead. He was soon proven right, though not in the manner he would have supposed…

FARANELL: Starting to tick a few boxes here…

GARROSH: So what does that mean? Did you guys find the matching light crystal or something?

TIRION: No, Warchief Hellscream. We did not find it. Without even setting out to, and very much to our surprise, we created it.

FARANELL: I think I see where this is going…

TIRION: Some of our group doubted Alexandros’ faith in the crystal’s importance, and attempted to destroy it through the powers of the light. The crystal, however, merely absorbed whatever holy magic was cast upon it – spell after spell, we poured our power into it, until the dark crystal transformed into its own radiant counterpart.

GARROSH: Oh shit.

FARANELL: Where did the dark crystal come from in the first place?

TIRION: From Outland, originally…

MOKVAR: Please don’t tell me you got it from the arakkoa…

GARROSH: Huh?

FARANELL: The what?

TIRION: We never learned where in Draenor the crystal had originated. We only knew it was carried by an orcish warlock, a lieutenant to Orgrim Doomhammer, during the assault on Blackrock Spire during the Second War. Alexandros took the crystal from the fallen orc’s body and kept it hidden.

GARROSH: So what happened to it? Did you end up using it for some kind of weapon?

Tirion brandishes the Ashbringer and stares at it a moment.

TIRION: Aye.

GARROSH: Oh shit again.

FARANELL: Um, I’m going to step back a little, if it’s all the same to you guys.

GARROSH: So that’s what you were doing in Southshore? Forging the Ashbringer?

TIRION: No, Warchief, the blade was not forged that day. Our meeting in Southshore merely laid the groundwork. It was only some time later that Alexandros and Fairbanks brought the crystal to Ironforge, where King Magni Bronzebeard himself forged the sword.

GARROSH: And in between, what happened to the crystal? You kept it under lock and key, or hid it somewhere, or what?

TIRION: The crystal remained in Alexandros’ possession until he decided the time was right for the Ashbringer to be made. From that day in Southshore, its locked chest was ever in his keep.

FARANELL: And that was it? The dark crystal was converted to light, you sealed it up, and Mograine held onto it until Ironforge?

TIRION: Indeed, my friend.

FARANELL: Hmm…that leaves us without a lot to go on, unless the sword itself was unaccounted for at some point.

TIRION: <shakes head> Nay, the Ashbringer’s succession is known, and before its forging the crystal was indeed never… Wait…

GARROSH: Uh oh, here it comes.

MOKVAR: We’re going to have to go kill something, aren’t we?

TIRION: Now that I set my thoughts to it… I do recall, just after the crystal’s transformation, Isilien and Doan both grew intrigued by the object, an intellectual curiosity, it struck me, as to the crystal’s nature. I believe Alexandros granted them some leave to examine it while at the inn, though I’m certain he would never have allowed it to leave the premises.

GARROSH: Okay, so in that case we just have to track down Isilien and Doan—

MOKVAR: Dead.

FARANELL: And dead.

GARROSH: —and of course they’re both dead, because nothing is ever fucking easy.

TIRION: And as for the integrity of the Ashbringer’s line, I can assure you it has never fallen into the wrong hands – or rather, hands who might have used it for such purposes as concern you here. For most of its existence, the Ashbringer was carried by Alexandros himself – indeed, he came to be known as the Ashbringer – as he waged battle gloriously against the Scourge in its early days. Even after the dreadlord Balnazzar corrupted Alexandros’ own son Renault, driving the lad to slay his own father, the blade would soon be restored to its original bearer, as the lich Kel’Thuzad would soon after raise Alexandros’ to undeath as a death knight of the Lich King – a truly horrid end for one such as Mograine, a mockery of all he had fought for in life…

MOKVAR: So, we good here?

TIRION: …The blade itself recoiled against the treachery of Renault, and became twisted into a corrupted form, one in which it would remain for years hence. During that time, as you may well have heard – and indeed, I can attest, the whispers speak truly – the corrupted blade remained in Alexandros’ risen hands, as he served the Lich King in Naxxramas, leader of the Four Horsemen.

GARROSH: Yeah, I think so.

FARANELL: I don’t think he’s going to have anything else for us.

TIRION: It was in that time, however, that Mograine’s younger son, Darion, unable to bear the knowledge of what had become of his father, unwilling to see so great a man’s legacy besmirched by his actions in death, gathered a party from among the Argent Dawn and led a mission into the dread necropolis. Therein, reluctantly, the son slew the father, and thereby laid his father’s weary spirit to rest – but at a terrible, terrible price.

GARROSH: Okay. Cue Operation Bait-n-Switch.

TIRION: Darion, indeed, would take up the blade – as well as his father’s place in servitude to Arthas. He would carry the Ashbringer in its corrupted form until passing it to me during the great Battle of Light’s Hope. I am, of course, simplifying the tale in the interests of time; you will, I hope, forgive my occasional reductive glossings…

Garrosh and Faranell start to gather their belongings while Mokvar walks over to the doorway.

MOKVAR: Sergeant Pain and Scout Suffering, you’re up!

TIRION: While I commend you gentlemen for your impulse toward cleanliness, I assure you, there’s hardly a need to take pains gathering your belongings at this early juncture. I’m sure our discussions will allow ample time for a less rushed approach to…

Dontrag and Utvoch enter.

GARROSH: Okay, so, Tirion, quick introductions.

TIRION: Ah, I see you have summoned further aides to supplement our discussions – I must commend you, Warchief Hellscream, on your insistence on thoroughness in these deliberations. Though, again, I note that I find myself again presented with two additional members of your kin who are, regrettably, not Eitrigg…but I am sure these fine gentlemen will prove invaluable to our efforts.

FARANELL: In a manner of speaking.

DONTRAG: Greeting, Warchief.

UTVOCH: Good day to you, sir!

GARROSH: Sup guys. So anyway, yeah, Tirion, this is Scout Utvoch, and the spikey-haired dude is Sergeant Dontrag.

UTVOCH: Um, actually, sir, I’m Utvoch.

GARROSH: Isn’t that what I just said?

DONTRAG: No sir. You said I was Utvoch.

GARROSH: I did?

UTVOCH: Yes, sir. You said Dontrag was the spikey-haired one, and that’s me, when Dontrag is actually the one who’s bald, mostly.

DONTRAG: Bad genes, sir.

UTVOCH: At least you stopped trying to do the comb-over.

DONTRAG: Well you could have told me how ridiculous it looked.

UTVOCH: Huh? I did, like a dozen times.

TIRION: Ah, I recall having that very discussion with Doan on more than one occasion.

DONTRAG: Yeah, that year in the Barrens wasn’t really a pretty time for me.

GARROSH: So yeah, anyway, you two, this is Tirion Fordring.

TIRION: A great honor to make your acquaintance, good sirs.

DONTRAG: Hey.

UTVOCH: So wait, weren’t you killed in Northrend?

DONTRAG: How could he have been killed, he’s right here.

TIRION: <chuckles> No, no, my friend, though I will admit a harrowing time or two, I can assure you I returned from the frozen north very much alive.

UTVOCH: How come I thought they said some Fordring died up there?

DONTRAG: Maybe it’s another Fordring?

UTVOCH: Did you have a cousin up there too?

DONTRAG: Or maybe like one of his kids or something?

UTVOCH: Oh crap, did you have a kid get killed? I’m sorry I brought it up then.

DONTRAG: I think you’re right, though, I remember hearing about a Ford-something dying up there too.

GARROSH: Um, are you guys thinking of Fordragon?

DONTRAG: Yeah, actually, it might be.

UTVOCH: I think so, yeah, one or the other.

DONTRAG: Definitely some kind of name like that.

UTVOCH: So yeah, was it Fordring or Fordragon that got killed in Northrend?

TIRION: Actually neith—erm, that is…Fordragon. Yes. It’s Bolvar Fordragon that you’re thinking of. Who died. In Northrend. That’s what you were thinking of.

UTVOCH: Oh okay.

DONTRAG: Was he a friend of yours?

UTVOCH: Oh yeah, because if their names sound alike I guess that means they must know each other because that’s how things work, right?

DONTRAG: Oh shut up, stupid.

UTVOCH: You shut up.

TIRION: Actually I did know him quite well; Bolvar and I were friends of many years, like brothers, in fact…

UTVOCH: Oh man, I guess things DO work like that, I’ll be damned. That’s messed up.

DONTRAG: I’m sorry your friend died then, sir.

TIRION: As am I, my good orc. But I am, alas, no stranger to tragedy. Why I was just moments ago relating to your comrades here the doleful tale of my dear Uncle Lucius, who dwelled for many years near Andorhal before madness touched him and he grew obsessed with the delusion that he was, in fact, King Llane.

Garrosh, Mokvar, and Faranell exchange glances and nods.

UTVOCH: Good thing he never met Garona, that might have been weird.

TIRION: His life from that point on was weird enough, I assure you, between his endless wanderings, parcheesi board ever in hand, and his final preoccupation racing through Tirisfal, chasing bats with a spatula.

DONTRAG: Well, at least bats make sort of decent eating, if you use the right breading…

TIRION: A delicacy I cannot claim to have the pleasure of sampling, though I have no doubt the proper hands could produce culinary marvels. But no, dear Uncle Lucius’ tastes were far more mundane, as he was perfectly content to treat each meal as a simple breakfast of bacon and toast – provided he could acquire a suitable marmalade to accompany it, as he was something of stickler in such matters. Raspberry ideally…

GARROSH: Aight, T-Ford, Imma bounce. Peace!

DONTRAG: So what’s the difference between marmalade and jam, anyway?

TIRION: Curious you should ask, as there is, as it happens, an interesting tale behind the distinction…

Garrosh, Mokvar, and Faranell make a hasty exit through the doorway.

 

Also, note to Eitrigg: Dude, was he always like this? How the fuck could you stand it? Fucking hell, I wasn’t even there for that long and I already feel like I need a day off.

 

daria

“Daria’s Pro Tip for Dealing with Tirion #11: If he asks you if you want to hear a story, say yes. He’s going to tell you either way, but if you say no, he’ll just take longer getting to it. Think of it as steering into the skid, only with the skid being a tedious barrage of words.”

 

Spare the rod, spoil the Helcular

helcular

So Helcular wasn’t exactly the most help in the world. I’m not sure if he’s just been sort of batshit ever since he was raised as undead from the Southshore graveyard a few years back, or if he was always kind of unstable, or what, but dude could not stay on topic for all his flipping out and panicking about what had happened down at the ruins. To be fair, I suppose being at ground zero of some freakish anti-necromantic explosion that took out most of your team, and just barely escaping from having the unlife sucked clean out of you yourself, well, I guess I can see how that might freak you out. And Helcular being a mage, and kind of a bookish one at that, I can see how he might not exactly be the battle-tested kind of guy who deals with adversity well.

But DUDE, I can’t POSSIBLY overstate how much he was spazzing out over everything. Could not keep him on topic for more than thirty seconds at a time, so I spent practically the whole conversation having to slap him around to try to get him back on track. Now granted, I probably didn’t help matters when Kaal arrived with an update from Southshore, and I let him give his report in front of Helcular. Turns out, those shimmery purple lines are still expanding outward – slowly enough that you can’t notice it with the naked eye, but still moving and stretching little by little, apparently gravitating toward other centers of necromantic energy. As in, places where there are lots of undead. So eventually – slowly, but eventually – this thing is going to spread.

Which as you can imagine, is just what panicky jittery Captain Freak-Out Hercular needed to hear, and yeah, a few more beatings ensued to get him to stop fluttering about. Eventually, after enough enforced focus to make my frigging hands sore, I was able to drag this much out of him: Helcular used to live in Southshore, where he knew Kel’Thuzad back in his pre-lich days, and had studied necromancy under him. Because nothing could go wrong there, as we all know. But he couldn’t think of anything they could have done that could have had a hand in what’s happened – the training and practice he did in the vicinity of the town was all small-potatoes stuff, and from what he could remember, Kel’Thuzad kept his distance whenever he was doing anything major. He did remember one point some years back, though, when a bunch of people from the Knights of the Silver Hand were hanging around the town. They were being pretty hush-hush, but were still attracting enough attention that he could remember strangers turning up in the town and lurking around snooping on them…so there’s a fair chance they were up to something. And considering how those paladins wound up taking an interest in the Scourge, it sounds like there’s at least enough of a possible link to be worth following up on.

And again, let me just stress that pretty much every sentence of that was spread out over two of three smackings and a frustrated “Man, will you PLEASE try to pull yourself the fuck TOGETHER?”

Anyway, though, we’ve got another lead to follow, even though I’m not exactly thrilled where it’s leading. But, I’ve already had Eitrigg send a message up to Hearthglen in the Western Plaguelands, and I’m getting ready to head north. Not going to lie to you, I’m not looking forward to this at all, but it’s our best in with the Silver Hand, so I guess I’m going to need to go have a sit-down with Tirion Fordring.

 

So much for the Frostwolves

drekthar

Cromush has moved down to Southshore with some of his people, and has started trying to get the worgen back under control. Meanwhile I tried contacting Drek’Thar this morning to see if I could convince him to send some Frostwolf assistance down there. Granted, the last time somebody tried calling on him for aid, it didn’t especially go well, but I thought maybe the current situation might persuade him to reconsider.

So…yeah, so much for that idea. I tried making my case for sending some help, and he launched into this big epic speech about the honor of the Horde and the atrocities of the Forsaken, and how what’s happening to them now is just comeuppance for the crimes they’ve committed against all decency, and how he’d be damned before he so much as lifted a finger to help breathe life back into the rightfully dying embers of their misbegotten existence, and it was all really powerful and moving and badass. And then he shit himself. Man, old age is not kind.

At that point he got into this yelling, screaming argument with somebody who wasn’t even there, something about whether or not they’d stolen the last of the boar kabobs and given them to the man in the hat, and then he yelled at Galvanger to wheel him back to his room because it was time for his stories. And seriously, I really truly hope I die gloriously in battle at some point in the relatively near future, because I positively do NOT want to roll the dice on growing old.

Meanwhile, Sylvanas has been doing some more testing on the undead who’ve been…well…re-deaded? by the anti-plague thing. Her latest effort has been seeing if her Val’kyr lackeys can re-reanimate one of the bodies. No go there. Seems that whatever this anti-plague does, it not only purges the body of necrotic effects, but actually immunizes it against any more afterward. So no going all Ner’zhul on them.

So…still working on it. In order to help with the process, I’m going to make a trip to the Undercity with a few other key people. Hopefully between the bunch of us we’ll be able to come up with something.

 

 

[Header image provided by Rioriel from Postcards From Azeroth, reproduced here with permission and many thanks. Click here to see the souped-up Postcard version!]

 

Death of the dead

brill1

I swear it’s just one damn thing after another around here. I guess when you’re Warchief there really is no rest for the awesome. I hadn’t even finished unpacking from my trip to Nagrand, when Sylvanas gives me the latest news from her neck of the woods, and it’s a doozey.

Just before I had left for Outland, Sylvanas’ people – or whatever the hell you want to call them – started running into some problems down in Hillsbrad. According to her, they started experimenting with some new strains of plague down there based on my orders…you know, when I was fuming and kind of, well, crazy. Anyway. While they were at it, though, and running some tests in Southshore, seems they set something off. Not like a bomb, that is, but for lack of a better word to describe it, it’s like they triggered some kind of anti-plague.

You know that thing in physics about how for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction? Yeah, me neither, because I wasn’t a fucking science nerd in school, but still. From the way Sylvanas tells it, it’s like this thing that hit them in Southshore was the equal and opposite reaction to their plague. Any Forsaken who were in the vicinity of the experiments got slapped back by it and…well…anti-infected. That is, it swept through those Forsaken and basically neutralized the necromantic magic that had reanimated them in the first place. So those undead got the “un” slapped clean out of them, and dropped right then and there, restored back to the forms of their original, pre-risen human and blood elf bodies. What’s more, the anti-plague has started spreading through Southshore just like a plain ol’ regular plague, which is turning the place into a growing pile of Forsaken corpses that aren’t even recognizably Forsaken anymore.

I’m having High Warlord Cromush send as many of his troops as he can spare down from Tarren Mill to try to secure the area while we work on figuring out what’s going on. In the meantime I’ll be trying to coordinate with Sylvanas’ apothecaries to figure this out. I’m guessing this might be the kind of thing some of the goblins especially might be able to sink their tinker-happy teeth into. As far as the Forsaken are concerned, Southshore is now a quarantined area.

And I know what you’re probably thinking, why am I going to knock myself out to keep this thing from taking out the undead? It’s not like I’ve ever been much of a fan of them, right? Well, for one, if you take the Forsaken out of the equation all of a sudden, now you’ve got a huge void in Horde forces in Eastern Kingdoms without orcs or tauren in place to maintain our holdings. Hell, as it stands now, even with this thing just taking out a chunk of the undead in Southshore, we’ve got worgen swarming in trying to make their move on the place already. Can you imagine what happens if it spreads up through Silverpine into fucking Tirisfal Glades? What do you think the Alliance will do if they catch wind that the Forsaken are weakened and Lordaeron is vulnerable?

So that’s one thing, the tactical side of it. And then there’s this: it’s my fault this is happening. Whatever this thing is, Sylvanas’ people set it off after I ordered her to start up her plague research again. I gave the order, she got her apothecaries going in Southshore, kaboom. By the time I came to my senses and ordered her to put a stop to it, it was already too late – news of the anti-plague was already on the way. If I hadn’t given them the go-ahead, there wouldn’t have been any plaguey business going on down there in the first place, and none of this would have happened. I basically ordered Sylvanas’ people to their (un)deaths without even knowing I was doing it. So I think I owe her on this one.

Updates to follow. I have a few meetings to get to today concerning all of this. I’ll keep you all posted on where this goes.