Having saved the Northern Barrens from a tormented sleeping druid’s nightmares, we returned to Ironforge to get our equipment repaired and take a bit of a breather. Azeroth is definitely a world tormented by more than just the Shattering and Deathwing’s appearance. Everyone seems to want to try and get the upper hand. I’ve even heard rumors that the Horde has infiltrated Gilnean and Night Elf territories! Luckily, they seem to have left my home, Aerie Peak, alone.
Kaide and I had drawn ourselves a pint to relax while Cordagan worked on stitching a new pair of boots for me. We chatted as he sewed, and it wasn’t long before Vi had joined us. Higher Authority is a small guild, and there aren’t often many others around, as we all tend to be adventuring throughout not only our own world, but also Outland. My own sister lives primarily in Shattrath, and another member, Kerridwen, seems bent on saving them from any further destruction.
Our chatting took the turn towards beer preferences, and we were getting quite lively, the four of us, when a Draenei walked into the room. Kaide could see the door, and she started, then visibly relaxed as she took in the armor of the woman. She was a paladin, and while she didn’t wear our tabard, we quickly recognized her as one of the most powerful members of our guild. Arianrose. Shoryl’s older sister, Taoiseach, was nowhere to be found.
Taoi and Ari had disappeared some weeks before I joined the guild, but there had always been mutterings about Arianrose. About how traumatic she’d found going back to Outland, and how she would hold no quarter for demons or anyone who consorted with them. She looked at me, took a moment to assess me, and turned away. I felt a sense of dread, and suspected she had gone to the point where even the Shadow was too close to demons. She did not raise her sword, though, so I was safe. For the moment.
She spoke to Kaide as if the rest of us didn’t exist, “Shaman!”
Kaide nodded, an impressively impassive look on her face, “I am.”
“What do you think of demons, Shaman?” Ari asked.
“Generally, that they need to be killed.” Kaide responded, “and my name is Kaide.”
Arching her eyebrow, Ari said, “Kaide, then. How daring are you?”
Kaide looked at the rest of us at the table, then back to Ari, “What’s the one have to do with the other?”
Ari laughed, then, and the laugh was downright insane. We were dealing with a madwoman who could probably kill us all before we could put a hand to our weapons. This did not make me happy, but she was most likely to turn on me, so I held my tongue. She spoke again, “Would you go into the heart of the Horde to kill demons they harbor?”
Kaide raised her own eyebrow, and responded “I have no quarrel with the Horde. But what is this of demons?”
Arianrsoe smiled, and actually sat down at our table, “In the heart of Orgrimmar is a place they call Ragefire Chasm. Within that chasm are borers, cultists, and demons. The cultists are, as I understand it, mostly orcs.”
“And how,” Kaide said, keeping her voice cold, “do you expect me to get into the heart of Orgrimmar to destroy these demons and cultists?”
“I have a way to get you there, and out again when you’ve killed Tagamen and his lieutenants. Your friends, too.”
Kaide looked at me. I shrugged. So long as I didn’t have to walk through Orgrimmar to get there, I could kill demons. Especially if it meant maybe not having to be looked through like Arianrose had done when she first arrived.
Turning her gaze to Cordagan, Kaide silently asked the question, and he said to Arianrose, “In and out?” A curt nod from the Draenei, and then, “Don’t see why not. I don’t mind sticking a thorn in Hellscream’s craw.”
Vi stood then, “I’m ready when you are.” he said.
Cordagan finished tying off his thread, and handed me the boots. “These should be better than those.” I smiled as I slipped them on. They were, indeed, better. And hopefully they’d keep my feet dry.
Kaide nodded to Arianrose, “We’re ready then.”
Arianrose drew a scroll from her pack, and facing us, read aloud. I felt the familiar lurch as we were drawn through space. As my eyes adjusted to the now-dim light, I realized I was in a rather hot underground cave. Behind us, I could hear the bustle of a city, and the rise and fall of foreign calls. I slipped over to a wall, a sense of forboding coming over me. We were, indeed, in the heart of Orgrimmar.
Vi paid no attention to the city behind him, for before him were the cultists. Robed in black, they were end-of-the-world nuts. Not the Twilight cult of Deathwing’s, but the Cult of the Damned. They, I knew, were worth killing. We began our march.
The enemies fell before us more quickly than they had in the past. Why Arianrose had not come here herself, I don’t know. Perhaps she was merely testing us to see if we were on the right side of the light. Perhaps she couldn’t get herself here so easily.
I hadn’t yet seen any demons, though the cultists were certainly a worthwhile opponent. Cordagan was letting fly fireball after frostbolt, and I was using mindflay on anything that looked remotely intelligent, while generally smiting the troggs. Vi had gotten even better at keeping the enemies occupied, and Kaide kept us all alive.
The cultists were little problem, though as we got deeper into the chasm, we found them in larger groups. The borers were even less of a problem, and we dispatched those so quickly that it felt like were were riding a steamtank. But there were also troggs. I had only seen the little troggs that were harrying chillbreeze camp before. These were bigger, gruffer, and smellier – probably from the heat coming off the lava pools within the cavern. Still, we’re dwarves, and dwarves are stalwart, intelligent, and even crafty. We prevailed.
As we rounded a bend, we came into a larger section of the cavern, riddled with lava pools. Natural bridges crossed the rivulets of lava between the pools. In the center was a creature who, with the exception of wings and a reddish tone to his skin, looked like a Draenei! I looked at Cordagan, who was looking, gape-jawed, at the thing, so I turned to Vi, “is that… a demon?” I asked.
Vi shrugged, “I doubt it’s a cultist, but I didn’t know Draenei could have wings.”
Then again, I mused to myself, he was wearing the trappings of the Cult of the Damned, maybe the wings were part of his clothing. I was shown to be mistaken, though, as he flapped those wings once and lifted himself a good ten feet off the ground, flames bursting from his hands. He was looking at Vi.
Vi leapt, and as the fire slid down his back, he bowled into the lower legs of the demon. The demon, in turn, landed, and began to attack Vi with what looked like viscious claws. Cordagan and I both started our own spells, and I heard Kaide call forth her totems behind me.
Vi was able to mostly keep the thing’s attention, but once in a while it would turn to me or Cordagan and throw a ball of fire. We tried to dodge, but the magical flames seemed to be able to follow us. After each searing burst, though, Kaide would follow with a heal, and we would continue casting our own spells. The fight seemed to drag on, and then, somehow, the demon grew. He let out a howl, enraged that we had persevered. I focused on my spell-casting all the more as the thing clawed at Vi, trying to pull away his armor. At least it had stopped casting spells at us as well!
I stood a moment, dumbfounded, as the creature fell, dead. We’d killed our first demon. “She said Tagamen and his lieutenants.” Kaide said, as we poked around the area near the creature, seeing if there was any treasure worth taking back with us.
“Well, I hope that was Tagamen, then,” I responded.
Vi pointed, “Looks like there’s a path. Let’s see what’s back there.”
“Better than going into Orgrimmar.” Cordagan said, brushing char marks off his robes.
We continued, killing more cultists, though thankfully we ran into no more troggs. The next demon we saw was smaller, and a caster. After the previous fight, it seems almost not worth mentioning. He fell comparatively quickly. We’d found one lieutenant, then, and this pointed toward the big demon being Tagamen.
It took us quite a while to find the path to the second lieutenant. It was against a shadowed wall, and we had to go single file to get through a particularly narrow spot. Luckily, we were not ambushed. If I were holed up in a spot like that, I would certainly put my minions on that narrowing in the passage as a choke point. I guess the demon figured we’d never find him.
Again the cultists fell with ease, while the demon failed to lift a finger to help, even in their death throes. This demon wasn’t a caster at all, but he swung his sword very quickly. Vi was hard-pressed to dodge his blows, and I think only partially dodged several, but we were once again the winners. As we finished that fight, I felt the now common sensation of being dragged through space.
When things settled this time, we stood in front of Arianrose once again. She looked at us briefly, then said, “so it is done?”
“Yes.” I said.
“Good.” She replied, turned on a hoof, and marched out the door.
We looked at one another. No thank you. No explanation. Just. Good. It was confirmed. Arianrose had gone insane.