Monday, September 5, 2016


               Somewhere there was some old sheet of paper with his name on it. That was the assumption he worked off of. It detailed what was expected of him, and had probably been updated over the years. Hell, it probably wasn’t just a single page anymore. Said set of pages probably detailed what his duties were since having been continuously cursed with different titles. Not that he hadn’t tried to have all of that nonsense stopped some time ago. Regardless, Redamous was almost dead certain of one thing. Nowhere on any piece of that document did it likely say “go find glowing rocks for elves”.

               Sure, there were probably details regarding dealing with potential allies in a positive manner. And these elves certainly seemed to be potential allies. All the same, picking rocks out of the ground and dealing with the mindless addicts that were prowling about wasn’t high on his to-do list. He paused his train of thought to bend over and toss another blue crystal in the bag he had going, slinging it over his shoulder once it was in place amongst the others.

               All in all this entire arrangement seemed to be a recipe for disaster. At any point if the supply chain stopped their would-be allies could easily slip into as mindless as a ghoul, and if someone along the supply chain decided it was time to starve their friends for whatever reason it would prove to be a rather nasty negotiation tactic.

               The worgen paused once more to kneel down at retrieve a few pebble sized crystals, adding them to the bag and again throwing it back over his shoulder when it was tied shut. As he made to stand up he paused mid-motion, an ear twitching. He remained halfway kneeled down for a minute or two, he had struggled with more exact timing since the need to sleep and such had departed, until he was certain that nothing nearby was moving. Some shambling elf had sprung themselves on him enough times to make him not want to relive the experience yet again.

               Continuing through the thicket of trees he had decided to cut through, he debated whether or not this was one of the bigger mistakes he had made in the past few days. On the one hand, there wasn’t a swamp here, far as he had seen, which made it better than Val’sharah in the sense that his bare feet weren’t getting all muddy and damp. On the other hand, Val’sharah, despite its corruption issues, hadn’t tossed its psychotic denizens at him from the tops of trees and under patches of grass. Sure, he had found more of these crystals off the beaten path, but the fact that there was less to be found on the path meant that there were less things hovering around the path. Either way, here he was.

He curved off to the left as he found some sort of cliff side, the top of which he couldn’t see through the trees. It was bound to lead out to something, and at present the most he was going to hope for was that it was a peaceful something. Getting lost was hardly a concern, what with the fact that a death gate made Acherus a few moments away. Red came to a halt as the cliff jutted inward somewhat, with the ground moving downward to follow suit.

On the one hand, descending into a dark cave was just asking for something untoward to happen. The other possibility was that other people had thought the same, and that there would be enough of these damned crystals down there that he could call it a fairly successful day. There wasn’t much debate on the matter. Anything that could make this go quicker was something worth at least a try.

Striking a torch he raised it close to the ceiling, descending into the cave, eyes peeled for anything blue. Within a few minutes of rounding corners he had added at least four or five to his haul, and only found more the further he went. By the time the cave had quit winding his bag was full enough to call the whole ordeal a success. Which was good, considering by the time the cave had quit winding his surroundings had changed enough to make him want to leave.

The first thing he noted were indentions in the wall, which appeared to be places to house torches at one point in time. Soon enough what seemed to be holes that had once housed traps, as shown by the old mechanisms that were broken and abandoned below said holes, a few of the piles containing arrows or old stones bearing runes. Once he had left the long hallway it became most apparent that someone had been here before he had. Long before he had, he assumed.

The hallway lead to a large circular space, with no exit save the one he had come through, far as he could tell. His jaw grew slack somewhat as he slowly entered the chamber. Peppered around the room were tables and bookshelves, all covered with aged instruments, texts, and pages of some script he could only guess was elven. Red lowered his bag from his shoulder, laying it against one of the tables near him as he slowly circled the room. There was nothing to be gathered from any of the books, unless he could convince someone from the area to translate for him, which wasn’t a struggle he felt like going through at the moment. Most everything else was too worn to be useful, or even recovered. The tables were damp and rotting, the glasses and beakers they housed broken or smashed. As he reached up to tap one of the more whole cylinders, his ear twitched once more at a small noise behind him.

The noise got louder as he turned, flicking the glass on accident as he did so. Near the entrance some slate of stone fell into place, a few spots on the ceiling blinking with light as it did so. The wards coming to life caught his attention long enough that he almost missed the fact that someone was actually standing in front of the entrance, and had likely just barely missed being smashed between the new stone and the wall.

Redamous stood as rigid as possible, waiting for the other individual to move. He allowed his hand to lower somewhat, directing the torches light more at the figure than the room on the whole. Their attire was almost entirely covering, and rather soft in terms of material, with not a piece of armor in sight. Their face was concealed under a hood, with a scarf covering the lower half of their head. Their torso was covered in some long-sleeved shirt and coat, a long cloak which appeared to be attached to the hood stretching from the front side of their right shoulder all the way down their back.

His company’s head tilted somewhat as they apparently examined him. Their arms remained at their side, fingers, occasionally twitching in their gloves, involuntarily tapping at the side of their legs. Their left foot seemed to follow suit, tapping along to some unseen beat. By the time the appeared to move of their own volition rather than some sort of tick, it was towards the bag of crystals he had left near the door. They paused in front of it, but didn’t lean over to pick through it. Their hand traced the wall as they circled the room, walking closer to the worgen.

“I would never fault someone here’s ability to keep someone from taking any of their things, even in death.” He turned as the figure moved along, keeping her, and it was a her far as he could tell from the voice, as they drew closer to him.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve gotten locked in by some stupid trap,” he muttered, keeping himself at the ready should what conversation there was turning sour.

The woman nodded, stopping as she reached the worgen. Up this close it was easier to identify the blue skin and seemingly curved face under the hood. Even if his interactions with the Nightfallen had been short up to this point, they looked different enough for him to know this was one of them. She didn’t stop to give him enough time to dwell on the matter, motioning for him to move to the side, which he did. Continuing to prod the wall, she glanced over her shoulder, voice somewhat forcibly steady, “What brings you to our woods, beast-man?”

Red couldn’t help but let out a snort, “Technical term’s ‘Worgen’ thanks. ‘Beast-man’ or ‘beast-folk’s a bit offensive.”

The response produced an uneven chuckle in the elf, who nodded, silently muttering “Fair enough.”

“And I were,” he paused, glancing at his pack for a moment, “Rock gatherin’.”

“Getting mana crystals for the locals. A relatable endeavor.”

She stopped in front of a section of the wall, pressing inward until a section of the rock sunk into itself. He could only assume she looked more than a bit smug as she turned to look at the stone door swing back open.

He worked his way around the room, in the opposite direction she had, finding himself facing her near the door. Slowly bending over to fetch his pack, he looked back to the elf, cocking a brow, “Assume you’re out doin’ the same, then. With it bein’ ‘relatable’.”

The elf paused, even down to her twitching fingers, as though she had suddenly become aware of them. “I suppose I am.” He could see her blink a few times, turning back to look at the room on the whole, “Sometimes it’s nice to forget about it for a bit.” She chuckled again, looking back to him, “A little distraction, or a brain-teaser.”

Redamous nodded somewhat, glancing down at his bag, pulling it open. He grabbed a few of the gems sitting inside, tossing them in the elf’s direction. She was apparently caught off guard enough that she nearly didn’t catch them. She looked between them and their donator for a long period of time, until he finally muttered “Make it a bit easier.”

They stood in silence for a moment, until he started his way out of the cave. She coughed to draw his attention for a moment, “Do you ‘worgen’ have names?”

He stopped, glancing over his shoulder to nod, “We do, as it happens. Redamous. Or Red, if that’s too on the long side a things.”

The elf glanced down at the mana crystals again, before looking up at the worgen with a nod, “Then I thank you, Redamous. And I do hope to see you further down the path.” Her attention shot back to her new prize for a moment, before a thought occurred to her as he began to walk off again, “I am Xanthe.”

Red sighed, stopping again. He turned somewhat this time to look the elf more in the eyes, and nodded. “Nice meetin’ you,” he said, offering a small nod, before turning around to exit the cave, and begin wandering back to wherever his delivery was due.

Sunday, September 4, 2016


               To his left and right were trees. Behind him, trees. As far as he could see in front of him? Trees. Cursed trees that were scattered and spotted across the land, all odd and twisted, with the occasional one that apparently had caught fire. Green fire. He tried to keep his breathing slow and steady as he kept up his pace, moving as fast as his short legs would allow him. Somewhere behind him he had lost his hat, but like hell if he was going to go back and retrieve it. That thing was still back there, and knew it.

               It had come from nowhere. Well, not really nowhere. It had come from the sky, after the clouds had turn a sickening green. Like a terrible thunderstorm, except the lightning had been replaced with glowing green rocks that housed hordes of demons all ready to maim and kill. Or worse. He had been out gathering some herd of rams, who promptly defected from any sense of order the moment the sky started spitting fire. Not that he blamed them at all. When his brain finally clicked into what was going on, he hoofed it too.

               His first thought was to head back home. He had to warn his folks, until it occurred to him that they had gone off to Ironforge for the day to pick up some equipment. Which happened to be a rather lucky choice, he noted upon cresting the hill that overlooked their humble home. What stone was above ground was cracked from some sort of nearby impact, and the door had been kicked in. Things were moving about, namely the rather large thing that happened to be heading in his direction. Somewhere inside of him something screamed for him to find some way to defend his home. The rest of him said that despite the longstanding history of the place, it wasn’t worth his life.

               So off into the forest he’d gone. On a better day he would have been able to navigate this particular bunch of trees with ease, but his focus had been thrown out the window a few minutes ago. He had taken enough turns now that there was no particular way he could consider to place himself. All he could really think to do was continue moving so that the thing couldn’t catch him. The pointy hatted, heavy axe-wielding thing. Demon. It almost had to be a demon, especially since he couldn’t imagine it being anything else. Druids were all about being green, last he had heard, but they weren’t so into crashing in from the sky and raiding people’s homes.


               Regardless of any better words he would have produced in other situations, especially when in the presence of his relatives, that seemed the most appropriate for now. So much show that he muttered it out loud more than a few times as he grew closer to the worldly structure he had dreaded to find. The steep rocky walls of a cliff all he could see. Worse still when he curved off in either direction to start working his way elsewhere he noted that he had wormed his way into the tail end of some canyon. He racked his brain to determine how far he must have ran to end up at the end of a canyon, and could only decide that he must have gone miles. How long he had been going he couldn’t even say. What he could say, based on the rustling behind him, was that he was going to regret coming this far.

               There was the most basic of hopes he could muster that he was going to turn around and see a wolf or something that had decided he would make a good midday meal. But no, it was that pointy headed thing from before, still lugging around that massive axe. It had a terrible grin on its face as it thumped along, its heavy armored feet leaving impressions deeper than just the snow and into the dirt that was frozen below it.

               He glanced off to the left and right, debating which way would give him more room to run and a bigger space between him and it, but didn’t get much time to consider the idea. There was a loud groan from the demon as it jerked its body forward, stumbling enough that it had to use the pole of its long axe to keep its footing. The dwarf had to squint to notice that the thing had been attacked from its flank, with something still clinging onto its back, dangling a few feet off the ground.

               The demon began twisting and turning until its attacker was successfully flung off, slamming into the tree. Squinting the dwarf noted that the pile of metal and fur that had dropped to the ground near the tree’s trunk appeared to be a Worgen, a large mace slung along his back. With a fair amount of muttering and cursing the Worgen picked himself off the ground and faced the demon, whose attention had turned from his previous prey to this new one.

               Despite the size of the mace he was lugging about, the Worgen continued on unarmed, dropping a foot back to prepare for the demon’s charge, which came soon after. It brought its weapon back for a forward swing, which the Worgen managed to duck under, barely missing the tips of his ears. The Worgen’s claws found their way into the demon’s shoulder as he swept upward from under the axe, before the quickly jumped backward to wait for another strike.

               The demon stumbled back, not from the blow far as the dwarf could tell, but rather something happening because of the blow. It hacked and coughed and scratched at the place it had been struck, grunting in pain as though someone had set a match against its skin. Its opponent took this as another moment to strike, making another slash on the demon before it was smacked away by the demon’s unoccupied hand.

               Crashing to the ground again the Worgen clawed his way to his knees before swiftly receiving a kick from the demon, grazing a tree and ending up further in the snow. The beast flopped onto his back, awkwardly laying on top of the mace, staring up at the sky for a moment while regaining his composure, lazily looking towards the direction he had been tossed from to find his attacker charging to do the same again. One of his claws slammed against the ground, a section of his glove glowing bright blue as the area under the demon’s feet causing it to fall forward at its sudden drop in momentum.

               With the demon grounded, the Worgen slowly clambered back to his feet, finally drawing the mace from its back. Before he got the chance to use it, the demon slammed its axe into the ground a giant burst of green fire knocking the Worgen back against the canyon wall. It slammed the blade of the axe against its iced feet, bringing it back to its full height. It stomped over to the Worgen, bringing a foot down on the beast before it could recover. It continued to do this until it seemed satisfied that the Worgen wasn’t getting up to oppose it for the time being, preparing to bring its axe down on its enemy’s neck.

               The Worgen lifted a hand up, flicking his wrist, a motion that was followed by another flash of light, this time red in color. The demon paused in its attack, apparently lifted up into the air by its throat, gasping for air. The Worgen heaved itself up, mace and all, bringing the former up to slam against the demon. As the weapon made contact the demon appeared to be released, allowing it to fly off into the forest, dropping its axe as it flew.

               Letting the head of his mace drag along the ground, the Worgen limped over toward the fallen demon. He flicked his other hand again, another       flash of blue light as the demon apparently froze to the ground, struggling against its icy chains. With a final heave, the Worgen brought his mace up over his shoulder, bringing it down against the demon’s head. The dwarf quickly looked away, grimacing and grinding his teeth at the sound of bone crushing. By the time he had looked back the Worgen had sheathed his weapon, and was in the process of letting out a sigh.

               The Worgen took a moment to glance at the dwarf, raising his voice so that he could be heard, “Find somewhere to hole up.”

               The dwarf blinked, looking down at the now-dead demon, “There’s more of ‘em?”

               The Worgen snorted, turning to head back into the forest, voice still raised, “There’s a lot more of ‘em.”