Tag Archives: isilien

Good news, everyone

southshore4

We’re in business. Things are in motion, and one way or another, either we pull this off pretty soon, or we’re going home to some big problems.

After we did the ol’ switcheroo with Faranell – I guess I should start getting into the habit of calling him Edwin, but it just feels weird – I tried to keep an eye out for Tirion’s kid, but no luck there. Since Mokvar wasn’t going to be coming to the meeting with Isilien and Doan, I put him on lookout, with some help from Utvoch…that is, lookout help that still keeps him out of a position where he could really fuck something up, because seriously, enough is enough with that shit.

Faranell stepped out for a little while this afternoon to go see Kel’Thuzad – KT on his own this time, without Helcular in tow. He came back with some less-than-great news: KT has been noticing the Silver Hand people hanging around town, and is starting to wonder what they’re up to. Considering KT’s interest in necromancy, you can see how a bunch of paladins might perk him up some, especially with rumors flying around about the undead. If only he knew, right? Well, that’s sort of the point – I mean, things going on that KT doesn’t know. He basically was trying to find out if Edwin knows anything, especially considering his brother’s been spending some time up close and personal with the paladins. Edwin downplayed knowing anything, but Kel’Thuzad pressed him to keep an eye out and see if he could find anything out from his brother.

Besides the fact that this gives us one more wrinkle to worry about – which we’re going to have to keep worrying about until the Silver Hands get out of town so KT won’t have them putting ideas in his head – it’s also bringing us back to the problem Faranell’s brought up already: the fact that he doesn’t remember this business with Kel’Thuzad at all. I was already kind of worried about the whole time-distortion thing with Mokvar’s plan to hex Faranell v1.0 – I mean, how is our Faranell supposed to remember what originally happened here, when we take his past self out of commission so he won’t have lived those events to remember them, right? And plus, wouldn’t he at least remember, you know, being turned into a damn frog? But Liadrin insisted that it should work what with the way revised time works, with ripples from the changes not reaching out to us until the events play themselves out, or some kind of shit like that, and she seems to know what she’s talking about with this time crap, which she actually seems really interested in for who knows what reason, so whatever, I figured I’d trust her on that much. But now we seem to be getting more and more little pieces not meshing with the way Edwin remembers things, and that’s got me majorly worried.

Witness the latest little piece that seems to be playing out differently: turns out, when they were talking at some point, Isilien invited Patrick to come to our little meeting of the minds as well. On the one hand because he figured he could use all the brain power on this project he could find, and plus, apparently dude likes lighting a fire under Doan by bringing in second opinions from other magic users. Because, you know, if there’s one thing that’s a formula for success with these future Scarlet Crusade people, it’s encouraging their insecurity and paranoia. Yeah.

Anyway, though, Patrick came with us to see Isilien. We just got back a short time ago – well, most of us did – and luckily, Edwin and his on-again off-again super-memory was able to help Liadrin get the record assembled fairly quickly:

 

Isilien greets Garrosh, Liadrin, Edwin, and Patrick through a half-opened door and ushers them into the room quickly.

ISILIEN: Hurry in. I don’t want anyone to notice us.

GARROSH: Check.

LIADRIN: Have you seen anything to make you think someone knows we’re doing something?

ISILIEN: I just don’t want to take any chances.

DOAN: Bad enough as it is that this many people are aware of our plans…

EDWIN: Nice to meet you, too.

LIADRIN: Gentlemen, this is Edwin Faranell; I believe you already know his brother Patrick…

ISILIEN: <nods> Edwin.

DOAN: Do any of you have any cousins you’d like to bring along while we’re at it?

ISILIEN: Doan, that’s enough.

GARROSH: Hey, you know, if you’d rather not have our help…

DOAN: As a matter of fact—

ISILIENDoan. Lia is a sister of the Light, and we will show her friends the same courtesy we would any ally. Or do you think a paladin of our own order would be turned against us in favor of the undead?

DOAN: Fine. Let’s just get this done.

LIADRIN: Have you had any progress in your study of the crystal?

ISILIEN: Yes and no. I’m still certain it could be harnessed to repel undead attackers, but it’s a matter of how.

DOAN: Especially without the crystal being available to us directly for long.

ISILIEN: <nods> Alexandros is right to want the crystal forged into a weapon – that singular object would be a devastating force on the front lines when the undead inevitably come. But it also limits our options here.

LIADRIN: Isilien, would it be possible for me to examine it more closely myself?

ISILIEN: <nods> Briefly.

Isilien sets Mograine’s chest out on the table and opens it. The light crystal floats up from the chest and hovers over it, rotating slowly. Liadrin steps up close, with Edwin and Patrick following close behind her.

PATRICK: Heavens…

ISILIEN: The crystal’s energy is…curious.

EDWIN: How so?

DOAN: For one, it doesn’t resemble any kind of enchantment I’ve ever seen. I haven’t an idea of how the crystal could have been imbued with this much power in the first place.

GARROSH: Didn’t you imbue it yourself? Pouring all your holy spells into it?

ISILIEN: That triggered its transformation from its dark form, but no, it’s not as simple as us filling it with our magic. The power contained in the crystal is far beyond what we cast on it.

EDWIN: You mean the shadow and light forms of the crystal are just different manifestations of the same energy, that it already had?

LIADRIN: More that the crystal absorbed and generated holy energy…whatever was cast on it was taken in and magnified.

ISILIEN: Exactly…it’s as if it were a generator of sorts for that energy.

Liadrin steps closer as they continue to talk, and holds her palm toward the crystal. The crystal glows a bit more brightly, floats toward her, and rests against her hand; she gingerly holds it as the light pulses softly.

PATRICK: So it’s a power amplifier, in a sense? Potentially unlimited? Is that the curious part?

ISILIEN: Partly.

DOAN: But it also…it still seems to be carrying traces of shadow magic in it.

EDWIN: <leaning in closer> Remnants of its dark state?

DOAN: Possibly. Or not even traces, per se, so much as…well…responsiveness to shadow magic. As if it recognizes its presence and is drawn to it.

LIADRIN: Just as it was drawn to the light when it was in its darkened state.

DOAN: If it were a living thing and not a crystal, I would be tempted to say the shadow traces were more traces of memory.

ISILIEN: Crystal or not, it seems to…like you, Lia…

The crystal continues pulsing and emitting a soft hum.

LIADRIN: It does seem to…

The crystal glows more brightly, flashing more rapidly, then emits a sudden bright flash. Liadrin, startled, recoils and drops the crystal, which falls against the edge of the table. A small fragment of the crystal breaks off and bounces against Edwin’s arm; he lets out a pained shout and collapses to the ground, unconscious.

PATRICK: Edwin!

Patrick kneels quickly to check on his brother while Liadrin rubs her head and steadies herself again. The crystal returns to its normal glow and resumes hovering over the table again.

GARROSH: Is he okay?

PATRICK: He’s unconscious, but breathing.

GARROSH: What happened, anyway?

DOAN: I haven’t a clue. The crystal hasn’t reacted to anything like that before.

LIADRIN: <still rubbing forehead> I think that was me.

GARROSH: Patrick, help me get him onto the bed till he comes to.

ISILIEN: What did you do, Lia?

Garrosh and Patrick pick Edwin up and stretch him out on the bed nearby. Garrosh returns to the others while Patrick sits on the bed.

LIADRIN: I thought I could use some holy magic to get a better read on it…sort of a poor man’s Mind Vision, I suppose. I must have…startled it, for lack of a better word.

ISILIEN: That would account for the light surge. I’m not sure why that fragment would have harmed your friend, though.

Doan carefully picks the fragment up from the floor. It gives off a dull glow in his hand.

DOAN: Either way, it may have given us a possible way around our limited access to the crystal…

ISILIEN: Assuming this one has the same properties.

LIADRIN: Only one way to find out.

Liadrin casts Flash of Light on the crystal, which pulses a bit more brightly. Isilien casts on it as well, causing another increase in its brightness. Doan stares curiously at the fragment shimmering in his hand.

ISILIEN: So far, so good.

DOAN: It’s…very soothing. How did it feel when you were holding the crystal, Lia?

LIADRIN: <hesitates> Much the same.

PATRICK: Good news, everyone. I think Edwin is coming to.

GARROSH: What happened to him?

DOAN: I don’t know why a surge of holy magic would have been harmful.

EDWIN: I think I… How long was I out?

PATRICK: Just a few minutes.

EDWIN: <sighs and rubs his head> Just a second…

GARROSH: Maybe, I don’t know, just a random blast from when it cracked…

DOAN: It only hurt him when the fragment actually touched him, though.

EDWIN: Okay, so…

PATRICK: Don’t strain yourself if you’re still groggy.

EDWIN: No, I’m fine. So…I think that surge might have gotten me because I’d been spending a lot of time around Kel’Thuzad the last few days…

ISILIEN: What would Kel’Thuzad have to do with it?

EDWIN: <rubbing his eyes> He’s been experimenting with necromancy.

DOAN: I’d heard humors about that. Very troubling…

EDWIN: He was showing me and Helcular some of the magics he’s been working with. I think it might have left some residual necrotic magic around me that the light there may have homed in on…

GARROSH: Seems like that would make sense.

EDWIN: Yeah, so… <tries to sit up, then groans>

PATRICK: Don’t, you’re still shaky. Just lay back and rest while we work.

ISILIEN: If that’s the case with the fragment, though, that could be our way to use it.

EDWIN: <aside to Patrick> I’m fine, I’ll stay and rest. You go help them.

LIADRIN: What do you have in mind?

ISILIEN: Considering what we saw happen with the dark and light forms of the crystal, it makes sense to suppose this object thrives on a sort of dark/light duality. When dark, it seeks and absorbs holy magic in order to assume its light form. And while light, it’s drawn to shadow magic, in this case to more harmful effect.

GARROSH: You know, I think I know where you’re going with this.

Patrick returns to the others.

ISILIEN: Released in the presence of a more potent – almost living, even – source of shadow magic, I think we could set it up to respond with much greater force. Destroying, or possibly purging the magic it finds.

LIADRIN: In other words…expose undead to this and the light will target them, then either destroy them outright or dispel the undeath that’s reanimated them?

ISILIEN: I think so, yes.

DOAN: It should be workable. We just need to charge it with more holy energy and come up with a way to keep it contained until we would need to deployed to repel the undead.

PATRICK: I think I can be of some help with that.

Patrick starts rifling through a box of assorted junk and magic items he’d brought with him.

GARROSH: I was wondering what all that crap was.

PATRICK: Oh, just some odds and ends I thought might be— Wait, what’s this? <looking over what looks like a crystalline turtle> Probably not important. It’ll come to me later. <tosses it aside> Where was I? Oh, that’s right. Some assorted things I though might come in handy. <pulls out an ornate rod> Huh…enchanting rod…funny I’d have that seeing as I’m not an enchanter.

GARROSH: So how much stuff do you have in there that you don’t actually know what it is?

PATRICK: Oh, who keeps track of these things. <brandishes the rod> Also good for channeling, I suppose. Which I also won’t be doing…

EDWIN: I think Helcular could use one of those.

PATRICK: <shrugs and tosses it onto the floor> Here, give it to him, we don’t need it for anything. Ah ha!

GARROSH: What ah ha?

DOAN: Isilien, I’m starting to think this friend of yours might be a little crazy.

PATRICK: Ah! Good news, everyone, I found it! Just what the doctor ordered!

Patrick pulls a polished bronze canister from the box – less than a foot on each side, runes engraved in a horizontal band, and a rounded lid on top.

ISILIEN: What is it?

PATRICK: Let’s see how crazy I am now, Doan. The correct answer is very.

DOAN: Fine, fine, but what is it?

PATRICK: <hands the canister to Doan> Oh, just an ordinary canister.

DOAN: I don’t really see how that’s usef—

PATRICKThat’s no ordinary canister!

ISILIEN: Didn’t you just…

EDWIN: Just let him.  It goes faster.

PATRICK: This isn’t just your standard polished inscribed jewel-encrusted bronze box, oh no…

GARROSH: Actually, I don’t see any jewels…

PATRICK: Hey, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves.

EDWIN: That’s fine. Don’t listen to the incapacitated guy.

PATRICK: What we have here is a mirrored reliquary. Its interior is enchanted to reflect magic back on itself and keep it contained within the canister indefinitely – basically takes a magical source and forces it to charge itself up even further. Sounds about right, doesn’t it?

DOAN: Damn near perfect.

ISILIEN: Indeed. I assume the fragment would have to stay sealed inside the reliquary at all times?

PATRICK: Until we need its energies unleashed, yes.

ISILIEN: In that case, the only thing left is to come up with a way to set it to release the energy in the presence of undead.

PATRICK: Well, it’s not even so much the undead themselves, as the presence of shadow magic? Or…whatever it’s called, necrotic something-or-other, the energy that reanimates them?

DOAN: Assuming we can put this together, by the way, where would you suggest using it, Isilien?

ISILIEN: For all intents and purposes, we’re creating a bomb that doesn’t detonate until its target is right on top of it. I’d suggest we plant it in one of our cities, such that, should the undead begin to invade, it will serve the ward off the first wave.

DOAN: Where would you suggest? Andorhal? Stratholme? Lordaeron proper?

ISILIEN: There’s no telling where the undead might move first. But Southshore is where we made our discovery. I think it’s as good a place as any to receive our first attempt at safeguarding.

DOAN: Here in Southshore it is, then.

PATRICK: As for releasing the energy… I’m fairly sure I could work up some sort of gadgetry that would react to exposure to necrotic energy, and unseal the reliquary.

DOAN: You know how to do that?

PATRICK: I’ll have you know I’ve had a fair bit of training in engineering.

EDWIN: Granted, when he builds something, a lot of the time he gets a little too creative for his own good.

PATRICK: Oh, people just like to complain.

EDWIN: He’s all about the coulda, not the shoulda.

PATRICK: Fine, fine. Everyone’s always in favor of cloning dinosaurs, but harness one to a shark equipped with a ray gun and rocket boosters and oooh, suddenly you’ve gone too far.

DOAN: Wait, you mean you…?

EDWIN: <sitting up on the bed and stretching> Don’t give him a chance to dig out the blueprints, really.

PATRICK: <chuckles> Anyway, though… The point is, I’m pretty sure that we can assemble some sort of trigger mechanism that will react to nearby shadow energies. Then, out comes the powerful, cleansing light.

Garrosh helps Edwin to his feet, then looks to Liadrin, who returns his nod.

GARROSH: I seems like you guys have this under control, so I think we’re going to help Edwin here back to his room and let you all get to work.

LIADRIN: As fascinating as this last part of the project is, I’m sure those of us not mechanically inclined would only be in the way.

ISILIEN: Understandable. Your friend could stand to get some rest, in a place that isn’t full of people chattering on.

EDWIN: You have no idea, my friend.

ISILIEN: Thank you all for your help with this.

GARROSH: No problem, Isilien.

LIADRIN: Our pleasure, Isilien. Also, if I might offer a word of advice for after you’re finished here?

ISILIEN: Yes?

LIADRIN: Everything that’s happened in this room…it should stay in this room. Don’t spread word of what you’ve done – or what happened with Mograine’s crystal – to anyone.

ISILIEN: I know how to be discreet, so no concerns there.

GARROSH: Yeah, but at the same time, you also seem to like to bring people in for help. You want to be careful even about your allies.

DOAN: See, I keep telling you you’re too trusting.

GARROSH: I’m just saying, you need to keep your guard up about this stuff. I mean, even if someone looks trustworthy, you can’t just take them at face value. I’ve had my own…dealings…with the undead. They’re not all slobbering zombies stumbling around groaning about brains. You never know who you’re really dealing with, no matter how things look on the surface.

ISILIEN: <eyes growing wide> You…you’re right. The undead could be anyone – we can’t trust anyone outside our own circle…

GARROSH: Anyway! Let’s get Edwin back to his room. Night, guys.

PATRICK: I’ll come check on you later, Edwin.

LIADRIN: Goodbye, all.

EDWIN: Thanks, Patrick. Night.

Garrosh, Edwin, and Liadrin leave the room, close the door behind them, and walk down the hall toward their rooms.

GARROSH: So what’s the verdict about the crystal?

LIADRIN: When I was holding it, it felt exactly the same as when I felt M’uru restoring the Sunwell. That confirms what I already suspected – I think Mograine’s crystal is the spark of a dying naaru.

GARROSH: So you mean the Ashbringer is actually made out of…naaru essence? Crap, no wonder the thing’s so powerful.

EDWIN: Why did it seem to gravitate toward you?

LIADRIN: I’m probably the only person it’s encountered who’s been touched by another of the naaru. M’uru, A’dal… It changes you. I imagine the spark could sense it, maybe even perceived it as kinship.

GARROSH: Well aren’t you special.

LIADRIN: I rather am, actually.

EDWIN: And so, given all of its naaru-driven holy energy, I imagine that fragment knocked me on my ass because I’m… <glancing around to either side as they near their own doors> Well, you know… <holds his arms in an exaggerated marching-zombie pose>

LIADRIN: You are and you aren’t.

EDWIN: How do you mean?

LIADRIN: I mean that yes, the energy rendered you unconscious because of your…normal state. But that’s more of a…it’s hard to explain. Hold on.

Liadrin opens the door to one of the rooms, leads them in, and closes the door behind them.

Look at it this way. When we came through the time portal, we all took on human appearances. But it wasn’t as simple as a glamour or illusion spell. If one of us were injured and went to a doctor, the doctor would be able to examine us, work on us the same as anyone else. They wouldn’t be reaching through some surface illusion and finding an elvish or orich or Forsaken body underneath. Likewise if one of us died, we wouldn’t just revert back to our normal appearances. As long as we’re here in this time, we literally are human.

GARROSH: You’re TRYING to make me sick, aren’t you?

EDWIN: Huh. Interesting. But if that’s the case, I don’t see why the crystal would affect me at all.

LIADRIN: That’s the tricky part. We’re all still carrying vestiges of our old selves, sort of a shadow or overlay of who we normally are. In a sense both our forms still exist, overlapping in the same space, with our current state toggled onto this one on a quantum level, and…

GARROSH: Okay, okay, let’s just say we’re human with a little drop of whatever else before you make my brain go on strike.

LIADRIN: You’re just lucky it was merely the smaller fragment. If you’d touched the main crystal itself it could very well have still killed you, even in this form.

EDWIN: Ouch.

GARROSH: That could have been awkward.

EDWIN: Yes, I would hate to have an awkward death.

GARROSH: I just mean explaining it. Like to your brother.

LIADRIN: I did the best I could just to cover for what did happen.

EDWIN: Okay, well, let’s just drop it. I’ve already had enough real deaths to dwell on, without obsessing on the near deaths too.

 

So while we’ve been back here in our rooms, Patrick has been staying with Isilien and Doan trying to get their gadget assembled. The good news is that once it’s done, we don’t have to worry too much about tracking it down – we pretty much know that they’re going to plant it somewhere under the inn, which means the cellar, so once Isilien has had time to set it up, we can just get down there, take our readings, and high-tail it out of here.

Which, by the way, we can DO now, because while we were in our meeting, Mokvar managed to catch Tirion’s kid up in the lounge, got him playing with the frog formerly known as Faranell, and got the kid to agree to a trade for the shard. Want to hear the funny part, by the way? I got a kick out of this. I guess when Mokvar first offered to trade with him for the frog, he started out by asking Taelan for the toy warhammer he’s always carrying around, and then let the kid talk him down to the shard. I guess Mokvar figured if he came right out of the gate asking for the shard, the little snot-nose would be less likely to give it up.

Ideally I would have rather had the shard while we were in Isilien’s room, of course, but at this point it’s not worth running back in there and getting everybody’s guard up. My guess is that they’re going to have the reliquary ready by the end of the night, tomorrow morning at the latest, and at that point we should be good to go.

 

It’s not easy being hexed

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So credit where it’s due. Mokvar came up with a winner of an idea to kill two birds with one stone. Check this out: the reason he wanted The Noz and Chromie and what’s-her-face to enhance his hex spell is so he could use it on the YOUNG version of Faranell! Now I know what you’re thinking – what the hell good does THAT do? Well stay with me.

Liadrin stayed downstairs in the common room to watch for the Faranell brothers. While she was there she got into a little small talk with Kelly, did a little smoothing over after our…um…incident. You know, checking on how he was feeling since he seemed tired and delusional and shit, and reassuring him he didn’t have to worry about any livestock issues with us. Our Faranell remembered that he and his brother had been out walking earlier in the day, and he gave us a ballpark figure on when they would be getting back. More importantly, he remembered a window we would have to make our move.

Edwin and Patrick – the Faranells of this time period – came wandering into the inn right on schedule, and as they were making their way to the stairs, Kelly called to Patrick that a letter had been delivered for him. Patrick went over to the counter to pick it up, and while he was reading the letter, Edwin stood around waiting for him at the base of the stairs.

That was our chance. Mokvar had been waiting at the top of the stairs, and once Edwin was in position, Mokvar ran down to the first landing. While Patrick was too busy going over his letter to pay attention to anything else, Mokvar got off his hex on Edwin, and POOF, frog.

As soon as the hex was cast, OUR Edwin ran down the stairs to step in where his younger self had been standing. Mokvar and I both scrambled around like idiots trying to catch frog-Edwin, but after a few seconds, Patrick finished with his letter and looked back over our way, so Mokvar and Faranell started making like they were having a conversation at the base of the stairs, while I grabbed the frog and ran upstairs.

All of this was pretty much according to plan. Mokvar had a brainstorm on a couple of levels with this scheme: first of all, if we keep younger Edwin hexed, and sub in our Edwin, that makes the problem of him accidentally crossing paths with himself way easier to keep under control. And since older Edwin remembers everything he was supposed to have done and said right now – what with his supposed super-memory – he can just fill in for himself. In the process, we free ourselves up a LOT to come and go as we need to, without worrying about running into Kel’Thuzad or Helcular on the one side or the Faranell brothers on the other. And so we decided right off the top that once we made the switch, Edwin would introduce Mokvar to his brother as an old friend from Brill, just like he did with Kel’Thuzad, so we don’t have to be looking over our shoulders or juggling multiple cover stories. Granted, Patrick had already met Mokvar once by this point, but that’s easy enough to play off as coincidence.

So as soon as Patrick spotted Mokvar “chatting” with his brother, they had their “oh hey, you know this guy too?” exchange, they all got to talking, and Mokvar “recognized” Liadrin and brought her in, so now everybody knows everybody mostly and we can stop fucking tiptoeing around like a teenager getting home three hours past curfew and sneaking a rebellious draenei girl into his room past his lightly sleeping Greatmother parents. I mean who hasn’t been there, amirite?

So stop staring at me like that and just read the damn transcript.

 

LIADRIN: So…Edwin – Edwin, isn’t it? – where did you say you were from? Andorhal?

EDWIN: No, that was Patrick. I mean, Patrick’s the one from Andorhal, but yes, I’m Edwin. I live up in Dalaran.

LIADRIN: Ahh, it must be beautiful there.

PATRICK: Have you ever been?

LIADRIN: Not for quite some time.

PATRICK: It’s definitely worth a visit if you get the chance.

LIADRIN: So what brings you two down here? I would think you’d have much more interesting things to do in Dalaran.

EDWIN: Well, it’s nice to have a change of pace sometimes…

PATRICK: In my case, I wanted to come visit Edwin for a bit before I head off to study in Silvermoon.

MOKVAR: Ah okay.

LIADRIN: I see. What are you going to be studying?

PATRICK: Alchemy, same as Edwin here.

EDWIN: Well, except for how you’ve always been much better at it.

PATRICK: Mostly alchemy, at least. I’d like to work some more on the sciences in general.

Kelly brings several plates of food to the table. Edwin starts in eating immediately, looking at a few bites thoughtfully while still holding them on his fork.

LIADRIN: Thank you, Mr. Kelly.

MOKVAR: Thanks.

EDWIN: So, Patrick…

PATRICK: Mmhmm?

Edwin stares at his food a moment before continuing haltingly.

EDWIN: Who was…well…what was that letter you got?

PATRICK: Oh, that? Just an update from Emily. Good news. She just arrived and she’s getting settled in.

LIADRIN: Emily?

EDWIN: <gesturing to Liadrin matter-of-factly without looking up> Patrick’s wife.

LIADRIN: Oh, I didn’t know you were married.

MOKVAR: Condolences.

LIADRIN: Mokv—Movarius.

PATRICK: <nodding> Almost two years now.

LIADRIN: You said she’s getting settled in – I assume she’s gone on ahead to Silvermoon?

Edwin shakes his head while poking at his food.

PATRICK: Oh, no, she isn’t coming to Silvermoon too. It’s just me going there.

LIADRIN: Oh? Why is that?

PATRICK: Well, housing in Silvermoon isn’t cheap, especially for outsiders, and graduate students aren’t exactly rolling in money.

MOKVAR: You’re going to be getting a doctorate, right?

PATRICK: Cross fingers.

EDWIN: You know you’ll be running the place within a semester, professor.

PATRICK: <chuckles> Whatever you say, uncle. At any rate… Financially the easiest thing will be for me to stay in student housing while I’m there, and that’s not exactly luxurious. So Emily’s going to stay with family while I’m studying.

EDWIN: In Stratholme.

MOKVAR: Stra— Oh. It’s…nice there.

LIADRIN: Yes… I, um, I suppose it’s close enough that you could still visit each other…

EDWIN: I keep telling you, it’s silly to live apart for that long. It’s not like you’re talking about just a couple months.

PATRICK: Yes, yes, I know, how many times to we have to go through this?

LIADRIN: I suppose it’s a fair point. It does mean you’ll be apart for a few years at least.

PATRICK: <shrugs> I’m trying to think of it that this way – I’ll have that much more incentive to stay focused on my work and get finished quickly. No outside distractions, just me and my research, and maybe in the process I can get done faster and start get established.

EDWIN: Fine, don’t listen.

PATRICK: I’d think you’d like the prospect of us stepping up the schedule, uncle.

MOKVAR: Say…maybe I’m missing something, but why do you keep calling him that? He’s your brother, isn’t he?

PATRICK: Well, that’s what our mother keeps saying. I don’t know if I’m convinced. <smirks at Edwin for a moment> Oh come on, smile a little.

EDWIN: <still not looking up> “Uncle” is just this little nickname Patrick’s had for me the last couple years.

PATRICK: Basically as long as Emily and I have been talking about having a family. My dear, morose brother here, kid-hater though he is, seems to like the prospect of being an uncle.

EDWIN: I don’t hate kids. <glances toward the upstairs> Well, I don’t hate most kids.

LIADRIN: Ah… So you were—are planning to have children, then, Patrick…

PATRICK: <nods> Hopefully. Between you, me, and the walls, I’d rather like to have a couple sons. <chuckles, then to Edwin> Don’t let Emily hear that, I think she’d really like a little girl. But I remember how much Dad seemed to enjoy himself with us. Then again, he liked children.

EDWIN: I like children perfectly well. Just other people’s children. I can play with them and be the cool uncle and all of that, and then give them back and be done without having to deal with the crying and the soiling themselves and the stabbing me in my sleep when they’re sixteen.

PATRICK: Hence why you should be happy about me getting done with my degree sooner rather than later, uncle.

MOKVAR: So you’re wanting to hold off on the family until after you’re done with your degree.

PATRICK: It would be kind of crazy to do otherwise, really. If we start having kids while I’m still working, either I’ll end up having a whole slew of new distractions from finishing with school, or I’d end up sticking poor Emily with all the work of taking care of them. That would probably be the death of me.

Edwin cringes a little at the last sentence, which Liadrin seems to notice with concern.

LIADRIN: Well then…I’m sure you know what’s best for you and your wife, Patrick…

PATRICK: It’ll all work out in the end, I’m sure. Anyway, I should write her a quick note back.  Shouldn’t you be going to see your Kirin Tor friend anyway, Edwin?

EDWIN: My who?

PATRICK: That fellow from Dalaran you’ve been taking those walks with. Didn’t you say he wanted to talk with you about something else today?

EDWIN: Did he? That doesn’t… I mean, yes, yes I suppose so…

PATRICK: I’ll be upstairs. <stands up> Movarius, good seeing you again… Lia, nice to meet you.

LIADRIN: You as well, Patrick.

MOKVAR: Take it easy, Patrick.

Patrick gives everyone a nod and wanders back up the stairs.

LIADRIN: I’m sorry, Edwin. I know this can’t be easy for you.

EDWIN: Yeah, well…

MOKVAR: I guess we should let you go do whatever you need to do with Kel’Thuzad…

EDWIN: That’s the thing. I shouldn’t be doing anything with him.

LIADRIN: What do you mean?

EDWIN: I remembered talking to Patrick about Emily moving to Stratholme when the letter arrived for him. I remember pretty much every other conversation I had with him the rest of the way. But I don’t remember seeing Kel’Thuzad again from this point.

MOKVAR: Is that just another one of those things you seem to forget about?

EDWIN: No, you’re not getting it. It’s not that I might have seen him and I’ve forgotten. I can remember every single thing I did the rest of the day today, and tomorrow, and the rest of this week. I didn’t go to see Kel’Thuzad. Yesterday was the last time I saw him for…well for weeks, actually. There wasn’t any business about him wanting to see me again.

LIADRIN: That’s…rather troubling.

EDWIN: Nozdormu was right this morning. Something’s going wrong with the timeline. Somehow, something’s already changed because of us being here.

 

Because my life isn’t delightful enough right now, right?

Meanwhile, while all this happy news was happening, I was bringing frog-Edwin upstairs for the other part of Mokvar’s plan. Here’s where the dude really got thinking outside the box. He had figured, while we have this version of Faranell all frogged up, we can use him to kill two birds with one stone, because what better way to distract a snot-nosed kid from a shiny magic crystal that just sits there looking glowy, than with a real life hoppy potential pet? Not that the little punk is going to KEEP Faranell forever, obviously, but if we give him the frog, Mokvar figures that should keep him distracted long enough for us to find where he has the chameleon shard, or maybe do a trade or something. Anyway, it’s a possible way in without, you know, having to beat up a little kid. Which I still say Chromie seemed a little creepy eager to do, gotta tell you.

So anyway, I brought the frog upstairs to see if we could do the switch, only Taelan was actually off in one of the rooms with Tirion. So no opening to make the move there. We’ll have to keep an eye out and try to jump in when we get the chance. Probably will assign Mokvar to this job, since he can refresh the hex every so often if he needs to. In the meantime, Faranell and Liadrin and I can be getting set for Isilien tonight. With any luck things will start falling in our direction. Not that we’ve had much luck so far, but at this point you have to figure the law of averages is starting to owe us.

 

Past imperfect

southshore1

So we finally have things in motion to find out just what Isilien and Doan wind up doing with the light crystal. We’re hoping we can stay close to whatever we’re doing, and then get a read on whatever kind of magic they end up using the create the anti-plague effect. To that end, we brought a special magic component – something called a chameleon shard. When it’s put in close proximity to a magically-charged object or field, it attunes itself to it and basically recreates the magic properties inside its own…crystalline…matrix, I think it is? Anyway, point is, it sucks up a carbon copy of the magic close to it and locks it up so we can take it with us without it going kablooey, and once we have THAT done at the original, untriggered source of this thing, we should be able to use it to create a counter-effect.

Which leads us to the latest meeting of the minds from this morning…

 

MOKVAR: So what’s the game plan for tonight?

GARROSH: Isilien said we should pay him a visit after dark tonight. By that point, with any luck, he’ll have finished whatever he’s been working on with Doan, and we can get a look at the end results.

MOKVAR: What if it’s still a work in progress?

GARROSH: Well, then I guess we get to follow the ongoing work.

FARANELL: That could end up being helpful in itself. Depending on just what they’re doing, watching them actually formulating it might make it easier to determine a way to counter it.

MOKVAR: One thing, though. If you’re there, and they’re still working on it, won’t they want you guys to help them with it?

GARROSH: Probably.

MOKVAR: Won’t that be a problem? I mean, I’m guessing we weren’t supposed to create the problem we came back in time to try to solve.

LIADRIN: Maybe. Maybe not. For all we know, we were always part of the creation of this thing.

GARROSH: Either way, we can try to keep our help to a minimum, at least.

LIADRIN: It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to create the appearance of helping without interfering too much. Just listen to what they’re already thinking, then nudge them further in that direction without really feeding them any ideas they wouldn’t have come to regardless.

GARROSH: Also, Mokvar, I’m going to have you stay back for this one. You and Utvoch wait here in the room, or hang out downstairs if it looks clear, but I’m just going to go with Liadrin and Faranell, since they’re the ones who really need to check on this thing up close.

MOKVAR: Whatever you say, chief.

LIADRIN: Is there anything else we need to have in place before we go?

GARROSH: The only other thing is having the chameleon shard ready, in case they manage to get their little doohickey completely done tonight.

FARANELL: You’ve been holding it, haven’t you, Utvoch? I should probably give it a few arcane charges before we go, to have it warmed up just in case.

UTVOCH: Yeah, I’ve got it here.

Utvoch sets down his pack and starts digging through it.

MOKVAR: Say, Garrosh, I just realized, are you sure you don’t want me coming tonight to take notes?

GARROSH: <shakes head> Isilien was already less than thrilled about bringing in more people, and Doan didn’t seem like he’s going to be very friendly. I don’t want to push my luck inviting more people than necessary to the party, much less setting off any bells by having someone hanging around writing down everything everyone says.

MOKVAR: Yeah, true. I was just thinking this might be the part of the trip where we’d especially like to keep a record of things.

LIADRIN: I can always write it up after we’re done, as well. I do agree it’s to our benefit to record as much of this as possible, especially in case we need to keep our stories straight for timeline purposes.

FARANELL: I can help with that when you’re working on it. I have an eidetic memory, so I should be able to cover most of what ends up being said.

UTVOCH: <still rifling around in his pack> Wait, you dead what?

FARANELL: No, eidetic.

LIADRIN: It means a photographic memory.

UTVOCH: Oh. What’s photographic?

GARROSH: Hold on. You have an eidetic memory?

FARANELL: Yeah. I was tested for it as a kid and everything. <chuckles> Only reason Patrick didn’t wind up three grades ahead of me.

GARROSH: So can I ask you something?

FARANELL: Yes?

GARROSH: If you’re supposed to have this uber-memory, how come you’re always forgetting shit?

MOKVAR: You do seem pretty forgetful sometimes.

FARANELL: I don’t know why people keep saying that.

GARROSH: Because it’s true?

FARANELL: I’ll have you know, I can recite back to you every book I’ve read in the last five years.

LIADRIN: Well, it might just be that he has excellent recall of specific sights and sounds, or language? But broader events slip his memory sometimes?

FARANELL: “Our first day went as well as one can expect first days to go. Most of our time was preoccupied with making the necessary arrangements to establish a base camp. I located an ideal setting by a freshwater river inlet. Judging by the old, abandoned docks nearby, this site was inhabited sometime ago. As for the original inhabitants, only time can tell that tale.” Just saying.

GARROSH: Okay, fine, you have a perfect memory except for when you don’t. Go ahead and help Liadrin with the recordkeeping if it makes you happy.

UTVOCH: So, um, guys? I think we have a problem.

MOKVAR: Oh no.

FARANELL: Here we go.

GARROSH: What is it?

UTVOCH: Well, um…I don’t think the shard is here.

LIADRIN: That’s kind of bad.

GARROSH: What. Do you mean. The shard. Isn’t HERE?

UTVOCH: I don’t know, I was keeping it in my pack, only it’s not here now…

FARANELL: Let me see that.

Faranell grabs the pack from Utvoch and starts sifting through its contents, tossing assorted pieces of junk onto the floor.

GARROSH: Fucking hell, Utvoch, you had ONE FUCKING JOB on this trip…

FARANELL: Nope…nope… No – for goodness’ sake, man, how many comic books do you need?

LIADRIN: Could someone have gotten to it while you were away from the room or some such?

UTVOCH: No, it’s been in that pack since we got here, and I’ve kept the pack with me the entire time.

MOKVAR: You’re sure you didn’t leave it alone around someone?

UTVOCH: Of course I didn’t, what do you think I’m stupid or something?

Everyone looks around at each other for a moment.

GARROSH: You know what? Any other time that would have been really funny, but right now I’m not in the fucking mood.

FARANELL: <handing the pack brusquely back to Utvoch> Well, that settles it. It’s definitely not here.

UTVOCH: <looking through pack again> Hey, I had a Nutterbar in here that’s gone, too.

MOKVAR: Utvoch, nobody cares about your stupid candy bar.

GARROSH: Hang on.

LIADRIN: Oh no.

GARROSH: Utvoch, you’re SURE you’ve kept that pack with you the whole time we’ve been in Southshore?

UTVOCH: Positive.

GARROSH: <rubbing his head> Yeah… So…

FARANELL: Oh…no.

GARROSH: Shiny, gimmicky-looking crystal, AND a candy bar missing, AND he’s been spending almost all his time doing what…?

LIADRIN: <sighs> By the Light, Utvoch…

UTVOCH: Spending all my time…? Oh CRAP, you think the kid took it?

GARROSH: Tirion’s brat is the only person you’ve been around for any length of time since we’ve been here. Unless you think THRALL made off with it?

UTVOCH: Do you think Thrall would have taken—OWW!

MOKVAR: Hey, um, why is there all this smoke in here all of sudden?

GARROSH: Of COURSE Thrall wouldn’t have taken it!

LIADRIN: There isn’t something burning, is there?

FARANELL: No, this isn’t ffrroomm aa ffiirree.

MOKVAR: Wwhhyy aarree yyoouu ttaallkkiinngg ssoo ssllooww—oohh, nneevveerr mmiinndd…

GARROSH: OOhh bbooyyy. HHHeeerrreee wwweee gggooo aaagggaaaiiinnn….

The smoke thickens as Soridormi and Chromie teleport into the room, flanking the door. A few seconds later, Nozdormu strolls pimps [Word choice revised at the Warchief’s insistence. –Mkvr., ed.] into the room in slow motion.

NOZDORMU: Greetings, Warchief.

CHROMIE: Hiya, guys!

GARROSH: Hey— <waves his hand around in front of his face for a moment to see if it’s moving at normal speed> Okay, that’s better. Hey Noz.

MOKVAR: Is that really necessary?

NOZDORMU: Is what really necessary?

Soridormi, standing behind Nozdormu, shakes her head vigorously while waving one hand side to side.

MOKVAR: Never mind.

CHROMIE: <giggles>

GARROSH: So I’m guessing this isn’t just a social call.

NOZDORMU: Indeed, Warchief.

SORIDORMI: We’re concerned that something may be amiss with your mission.

FARANELL: Oh, you have no idea.

NOZDORMU: I’ve detected a disturbance in the timeline, located roughly around this point. At this stage it’s difficult for me to pinpoint its origin exactly; whatever the key events are, I suspect they’re still in their early stages of unfolding, and without my Aspect powers I find my ability to see through the cracks in the timeline more limited than they were. Nevertheless, something in the proper progression of these events has been disrupted.

MOKVAR: Yeah, um…

GARROSH: About that.

FARANELL: Really? So we traveled back ten years, got a bunch of Alliance from the future killed in the past, there’s two copies of me running around within like ten yards of each other, we’ve dropped a highly sensitive and powerful magical attunement device into the hands of a kid who’s going to grow up to be a xenophobic nutjob—

CHROMIE: You really want to get that back pronto, by the way.

FARANELL: —and  now you’re telling us that something has been disrupted in the timeline? Imagine my astonishment.

NOZDORMU: You know, it’s not too late for me to skip back about thirty years and arrange for a certain someone never to have been born.

GARROSH: At the rate this is going, could you get me too on the way back?

MOKVAR: Wouldn’t it be better just to erase Utvoch?

GARROSH: You know what? Good call. Let’s go with that instead.

UTVOCH: Wait, what? He’s going to do what to me?

GARROSH: Shouldn’t you be busy right now THINKING ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE?

UTVOCH: Sorry, sir.

NOZDORMU: At…any rate.

SORIDORMI: I wish we could give you more specific information, but unfortunately…

NOZDORMU: All I can really tell you is that something is amiss, but still very much in flux. You need to take extreme care not to cause any further disturbances in the events of this time, and get back to your own time as quickly as possible.

FARANELL: So, in other words, don’t mess up. Thanks, that helps a lot.

NOZDORMU: Or I could fast-forward you up to the day of your death. That could work too, you know.

FARANELL: Already been there, actually.

NOZDORMU: Would you like a return trip?

SORIDORMI: <giving Nozdormu a gentle tug on the shoulder> We…know this is a hectic and confusing time for you all. We simply mean to impress upon you the importance of the utmost caution.

GARROSH: Believe me, nobody wants to find the source of that anti-plague thing and get out of here without a fuss more than me.

LIADRIN: And by the looks of it, I’d say we’re not far off.

UTVOCH: Can I ask a stupid question?

GARROSH: Like nobody I’ve ever met.

UTVOCH: Huh?

GARROSH: Never mind. Ask.

UTVOCH: Well okay, you guys are going to try to see what caused that thing that’s killing the undead, right?

GARROSH: Only a week in and you’ve already pieced that together, huh? You’re getting sharp on me.

FARANELL: In other words, yes.

UTVOCH: Well then, begging your pardon, Warchief, not to question your great and imperious judgment, but while we’re here, couldn’t we just stop those guys from doing it in the first place?

LIADRIN, NOZDORMU, and SORIDORMI: <overlapping> No.

UTVOCH: Oh. Why not?

LIADRIN: Paradoxes.

UTVOCH: Wait, parrot oxes? You mean we’ll create some weird new animal or something?

CHROMIE: Oi, this one’s a shitake mushroom for brains…

UTVOCH: Actually, you know, parrot oxes could be kind of cool…

LIADRIN: No. Paradoxes. If we prevent the anti-plague from being created in the past, when we get to the future, the anti-plague won’t exist, but then there won’t be a reason for us to come to the past anymore, so we won’t, so then the anti-plague will be created, and so forth, in an endless self-canceling loop.

CHROMIE: See, see, I told you I liked her!

UTVOCH: …So you could have the parrot oxes plowing the fields, but while they’re doing that they could talk, and that would probably make the work go faster since I bet working in the fields for hours gets pretty boring, and—

Utvoch finds himself unable to finish his sentence, as his train of thought is interrupted by his unplanned transformation into a sheep.

FARANELL: Okay. That’s enough from him.

LIADRIN: Ha! You polymorphed him?

GARROSH: Dude, that’s…that’s just…I don’t even have a word for how much awesome that is.

UTVOCH: <bleats>

MOKVAR: Hmm, you know, that’s giving me an idea…

NOZDORMU: At this point I suppose we should leave you to your work…

CHROMIE: You definitely want to work on getting that shard thingy back fast.

LIADRIN: I would imagine Tirion would be a fairly strict father. I suppose if we told him we think his son might have stolen something, he would—

GARROSH: Maybe make the kid give it back, yeah, and maybe ask “Oh, so what is this thing my kid swiped? Oh, a magical shard, what for?” And maybe ask Doan about it, who almost definitely is going to know his chameleon shards. And maybe Tirion gets curious about what these people hanging out with Isilien have one of THOSE for…

LIADRIN: Hmm, true, probably too risky, I suppose…

CHROMIE: Oh feldercarb, you people need to stop dancing around it! Just grab the kid and steal it back! What’s he going to do, stop you? He’s a kid!

UTVOCH: <bleats>

FARANELL: Well, to be fair, he could call his fairly powerful, well-connected paladin dad, who we absolutely can’t harm while we’re here, so…

CHROMIE: Fine, fine, so you just keep him incapacitated while you steal it! You can…well jiminy, Faranell could sheep him just like Utvoch…

UTVOCH: <bleats>

CHROMIE: Or you could hex him, or, I don’t care, Throwdown or Repentance, or… flipping flux capacitor, you’ve got a room full of crowd control here, do you really need me drawing a diagram for you guys?

GARROSH: Wow, you’ve REALLY got a yen for us to mug this kid, don’t you?

CHROMIE: Hey, do you want your thingymabob back or not?

MOKVAR: Actually, along those lines, I was thinking… Since you all have powers over time, would it be possible for you to give one of us…well, a buff, I suppose. To prolong the duration of a spell like polymorph?

CHROMIE: Huh… What do you think, skipper?

NOZDORMU: It would be simple enough, though such an enhancement would have to have a very limited number of charges…

FARANELL: You’re thinking you’d want me to hit Taelan with a super-polymorph?

MOKVAR: Actually I was thinking more of my hex. What I had in mind—

The door to the room swings open and Kelly the innkeeper barges in.

KELLY: Hey, what’s going on up here? I’m hearing all kinds of noise down in the… <looks down at Utvoch the sheep> …lobby…

GARROSH: Oh, hey, um…

LIADRIN: There’s…a very simple explanation for that.

FARANELL: Yes, there is, although regrettably it reflects rather poorly on all of us…

UTVOCH: <bleats>

KELLY: What the blazes are you people doing with a sheep up here? We don’t… <glances over and notices Nozdormu and Soridormi> …High elves? Gracious, we haven’t seen high elves in Southshore in I don’t know how long. I didn’t think you went slumming far beyond Dalaran…

SORIDORMI: Yes, well…

GARROSH: Um, yeah, I can explain them, too.

NOZDORMU: You can?

SORIDORMI: He can.

NOZDORMU: I hope so.

KELLY: I’m listening.

GARROSH: Look… Mr. Kelly… I’m going to level with you. Clearly you, um, you’re an observant guy, so you must be aware that there’s a lot of strange business going on around here these days.

KELLY: Mostly since you lot turned up, yes.

GARROSH: Right. Well. Um, yes, that’s why we’re here, you see. My people and I are…um…special investigators sent by the king. We have a…a number of leads concerning some suspicious activities leading us to Southshore, and me and my fellow royal investigators are here to…um…investigate. Royally.

FARANELL: <aside to Garrosh> Smooth.

KELLY: The king sent… Wait, which king?

GARROSH: Which king? Oh, well… <aside to Liadrin> Who’s the king now?

LIADRIN: <aside> Of which kingdom?

GARROSH: <aside, hissing> Just GIVE ME A FUCKING NAME!

LIADRIN: Terenas!

GARROSH: Terenas! Yes, yes, good old King Terenas!

KELLY: Ahh, all right, so you’re sent from here in Lordaeron. For a minute, as strange as you were acting, I thought you might have been sent from Stormwind or some such damn thing.

GARROSH: Oh no, no, we’re definitely looking out for dear old Lordaeron.

KELLY: A good thing, too, as I was going to have words for you if you said you’d been sent by that hot-headed damn brat of a king they have down there!

GARROSH: Wait, brat…? You mean Varian?

KELLY: Yessir! Fuck that Varian, if you ladies will pardon my language!

GARROSH: Oh HELL yes! I KNEW I liked you, Kelly! I’ll be sure to give a fine report on you to good old Tyranus.

LIADRIN: Terenas.

GARROSH: Whoever the fuck he is!

KELLY: Well hold on now.

GARROSH: Hmm?

KELLY: First of all, you say you’re royal investigators, and that sounds all well and good, but how do I know you’re telling the truth?

GARROSH: I…have an honest face?

KELLY: Lots of liars do! If you’re really sent by the king, you surely must have sort of papers to prove you are who you say you are.

GARROSH: Oh. Right. Where did I put those…um…

Nozdormu and Soridormi exchange a look, Soridormi nods, and Nozdormu sighs briefly.

NOZDORMU: Did you forget…Inspector? You asked me to hold your royal orders.

GARROSH: I did?

NOZDORMU: <glaring> I don’t know, did you?

GARROSH: OH RIGHT. I did. Yes. You have the documents on you, then?

NOZDORMU: <handing Garrosh some papers> Here you are, Inspector.

GARROSH: Uh, but these are blank—

SORIDORMI: I’m sure, Inspector, if you let good Mr. Kelly here review the documents, he’ll find everything is in order…

GARROSH: Right, right, sure…

Garrosh hands the papers to Kelly, who flips through them for a moment.

KELLY: Well, you’re right…I would know Terenas’ seal anywhere… I suppose you are who you say…

GARROSH: Hell yes! Now if you’ll excuse us, Mr. Kelly—

KELLY: <turning to face Nozdormu, Soridormi, and Chromie> I’m still curious what business high elves have with this investigation of yours, though, Inspector. And…a gnome?

CHROMIE: Hiya!

GARROSH: Ah. Right, well, you see, Mr. Kelly, these are special undercover agents, on loan from Silvermoon and…someplace where there are gnomes. Regrettably. Anyway, these are my top operatives – The Legs, The Noz, and Mrs. Robbin’-Son.

CHROMIE: I hate you.

GARROSH: No you don’t.

KELLY: Huh. I see. Well I suppose that explains that—

Behind Kelly’s back, Utvoch’s polymorph wears off and he poofs back into his human appearance.

UTVOCH: The hell was—

Liadrin slaps a hand over Utvoch’s mouth, and she and Faranell pull him back to stand with them.

LIADRIN: Ssshhh!!

KELLY: —but you still haven’t accounted for having a damned sheep in your room!

LIADRIN: What sheep?

FARANELL: I don’t see a sheep.

UTVOCH: Did you guys not see—OWW!!

KELLY: <looking around> It was right here when I first came in.

GARROSH: Are you sure?

MOKVAR: I don’t remember there being a sheep in here.

FARANELL: I’m pretty sure I would have noticed if there were a sheep in my room.

GARROSH: I wouldn’t be much of an inspector if I’d missed something like that.

LIADRIN: Certainly not one of the king’s select agents.

GARROSH: Yep yep. Right hand man of King Terribad, that’s me.

LIADRIN: Actually, it’s Tere—

GARROSH: It’s what his friends call him.

LIADRIN: Of course.

KELLY: Hmm… Well… It must be gone now. Though I haven’t a notion of where it could have gone. I know there was something up here making noises!

LIADRIN: Mr. Kelly, perhaps you should get some rest. I’m concerned that you may be working too hard and starting to imagine things.

KELLY: I’m not imagining things, missy. I’m sure I heard a sheep up in this—

Kelly finds himself unable to finish his sentence, as his assertion is interrupted by his transformation into a sheep.

GARROSH: Well I’ll be damned. He’s right.

LIADRIN: Faranell!

FARANELL: Did you have a way in mind to get him to leave? That didn’t also involve gallons of delightful irony?

GARROSH: Okay, okay, Utvoch, you herd the innkeeper on downstairs real quick, and then we can get back to business.

UTVOCH: Yes, sir.

NOZDORMU: And, for my part, I believe the time has come for me to make my exit. Before I’m forced to witness any more absurdity that I can never unwitness.

GARROSH: Later, Noz.

SORIDORMI: <aside> I don’t know why it surprises you, of all people.

NOZDORMU: <aside> It’s not that it surprises me, it’s just… Ugh, that one in particular.

SORIDORMI: <aside> Well don’t blame me. I didn’t have to find a nice Mag’har girl to get to coincidentally cross paths with Grom…

NOZDORMU: <aside> I know, I know, I thought it would calm him down a bit.

SORIDORMI: <aside> And how did that work out?

 

So anyway…as much as I’d like to invest some more time in beating some sense (or unconsciousness) into Utvoch, that’s going to have to wait for now. Mokvar seems to have some kind of brainstorm for something we can do, and we’re starting to run short on time, so we’ve got to get things rolling. More soon.

 

kelly

“Why do I have a sudden craving for dandelions?”

 

Knights of the Silver (withered) Hand

lightcrystal

Extra followup from Mokvar after he’d gotten back from his dinner break. Faranell’s brother apparently had just met Tirion and the rest last night – he was eating alone at the next table over, so Tirion invited him to come join him, Isilien, and Abbendis. Probably so he could have one more person to yammer on to. Anyway, Mokvar says Tirion and Isilien both seemed to take a liking to Faranell the Younger…erm…Younger and Other… Okay fuck it, hang on.

Okay. Just checked with Fara— OUR Faranell. So the brother’s name is Patrick. Whereas HIS name is Edwin. Yeah, I know, right? I would be a last-name guy too. Anyway, though, that should make this easier.

So as I was saying, Tirion and Isilien seemed to hit it off well with Patrick, especially Isilien. Abbendis seemed a lot more standoffish, with Patrick AND with Mokvar, who ended up sitting with them for a few minutes while they were finishing eating. Related side note – thank GOODNESS Utvoch mostly kept his distance at the bar. A rare moment of sense.

Although…he didn’t waste too much time returning to character once he an Mokvar came back upstairs…

 

MOKVAR: Hey, did you all know that that guy downstairs is Faranell’s brother?

GARROSH: Yeah, it’s his younger brother, sort of a boy genius in alchemy.

LIADRIN: He’s paying the Faranell of this time a call on his way to study in Silvermoon, where he’s fated to meet his end during the Scourge invasion.

MOKVAR: So…I missed a meeting.

UTVOCH: Holy crap, Faranell, did you know about this too?

MOKVAR: Sorry, Faranell, about how long…wait. <stares at Utvoch>

FARANELL: …

GARROSH: …

LIADRIN: That’s…remarkable.

FARANELL: Um, Utvoch…

UTVOCH: Yeah?

FARANELL: Let me make sure I’m following you correctly here.

UTVOCH: Okay.

GARROSH: Personally I think you’re just pulling the bandage off slowly now, but it’s your call…

FARANELL: You’re asking me if I knew that the man downstairs, who is my brother, is my brother?

UTVOCH: Um, yeah, I guess.

FARANELL: <blinks>

GARROSH: They weren’t frigging separated at birth, fuckwit.

LIADRIN: Utvoch?

UTVOCH: Yeah?

LIADRIN: Go play with the child.

UTVOCH: Oh, okay. <thinks> Wait, it’s pretty late, he’s probably asleep—

LIADRIN: Go check for him.

UTVOCH: Um, okay. What if he’s not th—

LIADRIN: Then check some more.

UTVOCH: Yes ma’am.

Utvoch leaves.

FARANELL: See, you’re starting to fit right in.

 

She’s actually really good at dealing with stupidity. I might have to see if can lure her away from Silvermoon to come work with me more often. Maybe offer her a promotion or something, although I don’t know how much she would groove on a job other than being head honcho of the paladins up there. Pansy-ass fuckers though they are. Eh. Still might be worth a try.

So anyway, that was last night.

Today, Liadrin and I spent most of the afternoon camping out downstairs watching for the Silver Hand people to do their thing. Finally as we were getting late into the afternoon, the full cast of characters turned up and gathered around one table near the fireplace. Liadrin and I watched as closely as we could without being too obvious about it, but from where we were standing we couldn’t hear much that they were saying, other than a few words here and there. Luckily we already knew from future-Tirion the basics of the meeting.

Mograine was pretty clearly running the show most of the way, and after a bit, while the rest of the group tried to huddle around to conceal what was going on (successfully? not so much), he did the big unveiling and brought out the dark crystal that Tirion had told us about. I couldn’t see it clearly the whole time, but every time I was able to get a clear line on it, there was just something… uneasy about even looking at it. Liadrin seemed even more disturbed by it than I was – or maybe just intrigued. Either way, at that point she wasn’t making much of an effort to hide the fact that she was staring at the thing.

At one point, Mograin took off one of his gloves and showed the others his hand – it was withered and skeletal, exactly like the undead look, only in his case it was just his hand rather than his whole body. Tirion mentioned Mograine being “scarred” by touching the crystal once, and I’ve seen plenty of disfiguring injuries, but this seemed much more creepy.

Eventually the bunch of them started pouring their holy spells in the crystal, and it started to glow and even hum a little, and then finally it transformed from dark to light, just like Tirion had described. By this point, Liadrin was already in full perked-up mode, but I think her eyes lit up a little extra at that. Mograine touched the crystal, it healed his withered hand with a soft yellow glow, and they all went round and round in whispers – so that’s how it started. The Ashbringer wasn’t made yet, but the idea for it was invented, and in a way that was more important. After they were done, Mograine sealed the crystal in its chest again, then seemed to have a pretty intense discussion about something with Isilien and Doan.

At that point the Faranell brothers wandered into the inn, passed by the Silver Hand bunch, and headed upstairs. Having had a chance to get a closer look at them now, I’m not sure why I didn’t realize on my own that they were related – they’ve definitely got a major family resemblance going, especially around the nose, and, hell, they’ve even got matching cloaks going style-wise, blue for Patrick and gray for Edwin.

Anyway, they were only around for a minute, but I was distracted enough by them being there that I didn’t realize that Liadrin had gone over to the Silver Hand boys and was talking to Isilien, Tirion, and Doan now. I was planning to do any talking we needed to do, but whatever. There goes us getting anywhere through charm. Still, it looked like she ended up winning them over by rolling out a few of those flashy paladin spells – Holy Light or Divine Shield, or Holy Hand of Divinity, or Holy Shock, or Holy Shield, or Shock of Divine Light, or Shield of Divinity, or Holy Hell I’m Shocked You’re Holy or the Holy fucking Hand Grenade or WHATEVER the hell those paladin spells are called. Like seriously, take “holy,” “divine,” “light,” and any other two words you can think of, throw them in a hat, and pull out two, and that’s the name of some ability of theirs. And you wonder why everyone gets so sick of them.

Where was I?

Oh yeah, Liadrin was talking to the Silver Hands. Tirion excused himself and went upstairs, so I decided it was safe for me to go join the discussion. Because honestly, I’ve been trapped in enough tedious conversations with Tirion in my own time, I don’t need to treat myself to any prequels. Anyway, Liadrin and Isilien were hitting it off fairly well by this point, although Doan seemed sort of standoffish, and eventually he excused himself too and left Isilien to talk to us by himself.

The long and the short of it is this. Liadrin was able to convince Isilien the she was a kindred spirit as a paladin, and got him to bring her into the know. Isilien, for his part, is all on board with Mograine’s idea to use the light crystal to create the Ashbringer, but he’s also thinking that the crystal might be a source of power that they could draw on to help defend against the undead in other ways. He’s persuaded Mograine to let him and Doan study it for a day or two – just like the Tirion from our time said – and see if there’s any potential there.

For our part, Lidrain’s convinced Isilien that she and some of her friends, myself included, might be interested in the endeavor. He was wary about bringing too many more people into this, but considering he’s working with limited time, he figures he’s not in a position to turn away help. He’s going to spend the day tomorrow working through some ideas with Doan, but then, tomorrow night, he’s invited us to stop by his room here at the inn to put our heads together. So here we go. Coming down to crunch time. More soon.

 

 

[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!]

 

A bad comedy waiting to happen

hillsbrad

Pieces are starting to come together here. Maybe a few too many for comfort.

Tirion Fordring – the younger, not-quite-so-old-and-gray version – arrived here late last night, with his buddies Isilien and Abbendis in tow. We overheard Tirion talking with Kelly the innkeeper (lucky for us, young Tirion isn’t much more concise than old Tirion, so it wasn’t hard to keep up with his end of the conversation), and from what he was saying it sounds like Mograine and his people could be arriving any time today. So we’re coming up on go time for the mission here. And just when I thought things were lining up conveniently for us for once, what with us having just enough lead time to get ourselves positioned perfectly, of course the other shoe has to drop.

Let me explain. The original plan was to have Liadrin and Faranell camp out in the inn common room to see what they can gather when the Silver Hand people are all assembled – those two made the most sense for the job, seeing as they’re sort of the experts, Faranell on all matters plaguey, Liadrin on the possible light crystal angle. Meanwhile, I was keeping Mokvar and Utvoch out of sight in the rooms upstairs…what with Kel’Thuzad still being on the loose, and having seen those two, I wanted to keep them out of view as much as possible, just in case. And I know what you’re thinking, shouldn’t I be just as concerned about Faranell being in plain sight in the common room? Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s not ideal, but I wanted him down there as an expert witness and shit. I was going to keep myself stationed outside, so if Kel’Thuzad turned up, I could high-tail it inside and give Faranell the signal to make himself scarce.

And yeah, how about that? After all these years, promoted all the way up to fucking Warchief, and what job am I stuck doing out of necessity? Fucking lookout. The things I do for the sake of the mission…

Anyway, it wasn’t a perfect plan, I know, but it was the best option available. That is, until Fuckyall, the pissy god of Not So Fast Garrosh, decided to throw us another plot twist, because guess who else picked tonight to turn up in Southshore? Yeah, you guessed it, Faranell the Younger. Or Faranell v1.0. Whatever you want to call him. He came sauntering into town this morning with some other dude I don’t recognize, which sent me right on into the inn – in every bit the happy mood you would imagine – to rush our Faranell on out of sight. Ain’t that just a bitch?

So now, I’m going to be helping Liadrin watch over things in the common room, while…well…absolutely everybody else stays hidden away upstairs. Oh, and for one extra little sprinkle of joy over all of this, Tirion also happened to bring along his little snot-nosed kid, who must have eaten EVERY LAST PIECE OF CANDY IN ANDORHAL on the way down, if his foot-stomping wall-bouncing little-kid-screeching sugar high is any indication. The kid’s mostly been hanging around upstairs, so on top of being sequestered, the rest of the guys also get to be stuck right underneath the little walking noise machine. Which…you know, come to think of it, that’s actually kind of funny. Especially the part where Utvoch’s one of the ones stuck there.

Anyhow, with any luck things will start happening here quickly. I’ll keep you all updated.

 

 

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

 

YOUR WARCHIEF IS A GENIUS

noz

Not that you guys didn’t already know that, but you know what, I’m going to repeat it, BECAUSE IT BEARS REPEATING.

YOUR WARCHIEF IS A FUCKING GENIUS.

Why, you ask? YOU MEAN YOU CAN’T THINK OF THREE OR FOUR REASONS OFF THE TOP OF YOUR HEAD? Okay, fine, maybe you just suffered head trauma or something, or you’re Dontrag or Utvoch, so I guess I can let it slide. Just this once. Anyway, I suppose I should explain what I’ve come up with.

So, you know how we’re trying to figure out a solution to the whole anti-plague thing in Southshore, and how we tracked it back to that meeting Tirion had with his other Silver Hand people, and that dark crystal that they turned light and used to make the Ashbringer with…only, that lead wound up being a dead end, literally, since Tirion’s the only one who was there at the time who isn’t dead now? Well check out this flash of brilliance – yeah, sure, those people are all dead NOW, but they weren’t ALWAYS dead, right? And I know what you’re thinking, “Uh, yeah, Garrosh, that’s the way dead works, people don’t start off dead, they come out the gate not being dead, not being dead, not being dead, still not dead, not dead yet, OH FUCK now they’re dead, the end.” Well SHUT UP and LET ME FINISH. Fucking hell, you and your damned interruptions. Point is, we can’t go question people like Isilien and Doan NOW because they’re dead, but who says we can’t just go track them down at some point when they WEREN’T dead? Because guess what, it just so happens I have an in with some people – loosely speaking – who know a thing or two about time travel.

Yup, that’s right. I’ve already contacted Thrall, and as we speak he’s talking to his old Deathwing-slaying buddy Nozdormu, and so as soon as we get the details squared away, I’ll be rounding up a team and heading down to the Caverns of Time.

GARROSH, YOU GENIUS, YOU’VE DONE IT AGAIN.

Anyway…while Thrall finishes making nice, I’m going to get a jump on prepping for the trip. I’ve only met Nozdormu the one time myself, and I didn’t really get to talk to him so much, so I might want to be ready to make nice myself when I get down there. I’ve heard he’s got a real sweet tooth when it comes to pastry, so I’m thinking I might get Marogg to whip up a batch of Greatmother’s lemon squares. Anything to grease the wheels, you know?

More updates soon. Don’t be surprised if the next time you hear from me, it’s from Tanaris.

 

 

[Header image provided by regular reader and commenter ZugZug, used here with permission and many thanks.]

 

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.”