Prada was still nowhere to be found, Cob and Vi had been called away on personal tasks. Cordagan, Kaide and I haunted the guild hall, not sure what to do with ourselves. Cordagan had taken up enchanting along with his tailoring, and Kaide decided to try working the skins she’d found, instead of selling the leather. I took up the scribe’s art.
It was quiet for some weeks. We listened to the stories the older guild members told, we drank, we plied our new trades. We were waiting for something, but even now I don’t know what it was we were waiting for.
I think Shoryl noticed our plight. While the three of us were hanging around as was our new tendency, Shoryl arrived with a young dwarf. Not being the type of leader who hangs back and lets things happen, she walked right up to us with this dwarf. “My friends, ” she said, “I beleive we have another companion for you, to hopefully get you back to honing your skills as heroes! I’d like you to meet Rosedove.”
We raised our mugs, and I noticed Sonaira setting a fourth mug at our table, then the two humans disappeared, leaving us with our somewhat reserved new friend. “Have a seat,” I said, trying to break the ice a little. “I’m Sruith, and this is Cordagan, we’re both skilled in combat magics. He in the arcane, I in shadow. Kaide, here, is a shaman, and a fine healer.”
Rosedove smiled as she slid into her seat, “I’m just a warrior, I…”
“Just what we need!” Kaide smiled.
“I’ve really only ever killed beasts, a few Dark Iron…” Rosedove protested.
“That’s all right, ” Cordagan chimed in, “We all started there, but we’ve been on some wonderful adventures since then, and Kaide has kept us alive through it all!” And then we beset her with the stories of the Deadmines, Wailing Caverns, and even traveling into the heart of Orgrimar.
By the end of the story of Ragefire Chasm, we had her hooked. She still didn’t think she would be much help, but we promised that so long as she could keep the creatures from hitting me and Cordagan too much, we’d take care of the rest.
“Now we just need to find something to do!” I said.
“But where should we look?” Rosedove asked.
“Let’s start with our trainers. They’re usually quite helpful. And if that doesn’t work, maybe we’ll run across someone else who needs something.” Cordagan suggested.
So we all went to seek out our trainers. As I arrived in the Mystic Ward, I was greeted by High Priest Rohan. The High Priest of Ironforge! “Ah, Sruith, there you are!” he said, “I was worried that you might not come by today, and so I sent a messenger to the guild. High Priestess Laurena sent word from the Stormwind Cathedral that she wants to see you.”
While I had set out to make a name for myself and my guild, I certainly didn’t anticipate it starting to happen so soon. Someone I’d never met, my own High Priest’s compatriot in Stormwind City, had called for me. I couldn’t ignore this summons, but what of the others? As if reading my mind, Rohan said, “Tell your friends you must go, but don’t be afraid. I would not expect that the High Priestess will not allow you to travel wherever you must with them.”
So I turned to head back to the guild hall, and saw that Cordagan was talking quietly with one of the mage trainers. As he turned away, I saw it in his eye, he’d been given some sort of message. We left the Mystic Ward together, and I learned that he, too, was being sent to Stormwind. I began to wonder if Shoryl was somehow behind this, as she was quite renown in her home city.
When we arrived in the guild hall, Kaide and Rosedove were waiting for us. “We’re to go to Stormwind.” Kaide said by way of greeting, “Both of us.”
Cordagan laughed aloud, “As are we! To Stormwind, then. I doubt this is some fool errand, I saw that it was High Priest Rohan who told Sruith. And it was Magister Sparkfizzle who told me. Neither have the time for such a joke.” We all laughed at that, it was true, each of us had been sent by the leader of our local trainers.
A trip to the Deeprun Tram took us into the glorious city of Stormwind. None of us had ever been there before, and so we were all busy looking around as soon as we got out of the tram tunnel. The tram station is located inside what is referred to as the Dwarven District of Stormwind, though you wouldn’t be able to tell unless you noticed that all of the shops and inns are run by Dwarves! There’s so many people of every race in the Alliance buying, selling, and trading their wares that it can be hard to see 10 feet in front of you.
And the heroes! I saw several priests, and several of them looked as if they’d been made of Shadow themselves. Someday, I would master the arts so well! But first, we had tasks to complete. I tried to ask a passing hero where the Cathedral was, but he leapt onto a dragon and flew away. A tamed dragon! So I settled for asking a guard, who was quite polite in answering. We weren’t far away at all.
Much to my surprise, Cordagan had to go to a place called the Mage District, and the others were sent to other locations. We decided that we would get our errands completed and meet at the inn just outside the tram. After all, it was a dwarven tavern, so the ale would be good.
I followed the directions I’d been given by the guard carefully, but at the same time marvelled at the close together buildings and open air. And the canals! They were fascinating. The architecture was nowhere near as grand as that of the dwarves, but… then I turned into the Cathedral District, and saw the Stormwind Cathedral. It was made of pure white stone, and had blue and gold glass windows. It fair emanated the Light! I strode up the steps of the Cathedral in awe. This was such a beautiful building. As I walked into the main hall, I was less awestruck, but on reflection, the simplicity of the chamber is a testament to the sacrifices of the heroes of the light.
I was greeted by a man in simple robes, and in turn I asked him how I would go about gaining an audience with High Priestess Laurena. I showed him the message I’d been given. He smiled at me, and turned toward the dais at the other end of the hall, “She’s right up there, and I see she’s not speaking with anyone. You can just go on up.” he told me.
I stayed my hand from pinching myself by force of will alone, and strode with as much confidence as I could muster up to the foot of the dais. As I neared, the High Priestess smiled at me, “Sruith?” she asked. I nodded, unable to find my voice. She beckoned me up next to her. “I’ve a particular task that I think you and your friends might be well suited for.” she said.
“You do?” I asked, perhaps a bit incredulously.
“I do. I’ve spoken with some of the other trainers in Stormwind, and we all think that the four of you are well suited to this particular task. Come with me, and I will fill you in on the details.” I walked with her out the the Stormwind Cemetary, and I learned that a magical staff could be made from items found in a place now known as Shadowfang Keep. She told me the story of Arugal, and of the Worgen. And then she told me that Genn Greymane was in Stormwind Keep, and had intimated to her that there were now Forsaken in this place. He’d sent a small force there to try to deal with the problem but they had been unsuccessful in doing so. “I believe a young night elf will be joining the four of you in your task. A Druid, if I recall.”
It was the Shaman trainer who provided us with our means of getting to the Keep, so that we could arrive without days of travel north across nearly a third of the Eastern Kingdoms.
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.
The four of us (Prada was still nowhere to be found) met back up near the pool in the Mystic Ward, and there a Night Elf ran up to us. He did not introduce himself, but asked, “Are you… members of Higher Authority?” I looked at the others. We were all wearing our tabards. Who did he think we were?
Kaide spoke up first, “We are. Is…”
“Shoryl sent me to speak with you, she said you’re just back from a trip to Westfall…” he was obviously nervous, and rushed. “We’ve been having some trouble, and she thought you could help. But… it would require that you go to Kalimdor.”
“Where?” I asked. Kalimdor was an entire continent. Narrowing it down would be helpful.
“Um… the Northern Barrens.” That explained the nerves. He continued, hurriedly, “I’m with the Cenarion Circle. We’re not sending you to confront the Horde… the problem is with a group of druids who are… well, causing trouble in the Emerald Dream.” I raised an eyebrow at that, but he hurried on, “If you were willing to go… I can transport you directly to the location, where you will meet with another druid, who can direct you as to what needs to be done.”
He looked nervously from one of us to another. I glanced at Kaide, who shrugged. Vi muttered a few things, but said, more loudly, “I don’t see why not. But… we may need a little more firepower.”
Cordagan smiled, “Mr. Circle Representative, if you could find a paladin to join us, I think we’d be more than capable of taking care of your problem…”
The druid visibly relaxed. “I will do what I can. May I send you off now?” We all nodded, and the druid began to cast a rather pretty greenish spell. The green swirled around us and we found ourselves in a cave. Standing in front of a Tauren. Another dwarf was with us this time. A paladin, from the look of his armor. He introduced himself as Murin.
Cordagan, standing behind Murin and Vi, asked the Tauren his business in the rather humid cave we’d found ourselves in. The Tauren smiled (I think), and patiently explained that another druid had attempted to use the Emerald Dream to revive the Barrens. While he’d been asleep, druids of another group, calling themselves Druids of the Fang, had taken over this warren, as well as creatures that had been twisted by the effects of something called the Emerald Nightmare on the sleeping druid. It was all beyond me, really, except that part about this Tauren in front of me wanting us to bring him several hides of the deviate creatures, and that to be able to wake the sleeping druid, we would need to kill the leaders of this Fang organization. Oh, and I wanted to be done with this whole thing quickly. There was an eery keening throughout the tunnels and caverns.
We prepared ourselves for the battle ahead, and Vi charged forward, towards a globby green thing that was oozing its way towards us. We dispatched it with ease. Around the bend, we ran into a few raptors, also dispatched with ease. Some of these seemed relatively normal, but we collected the hides of the odder ones for the Tauren. Kaide collected the normal hides to sell the leather later.
We moved out on to a raised area around an underground river, and saw our first druids. They were Night Elves! Consorting with snakes. Well, I’m no fan of snakes, so when one of the druids turned into a snake upon attacking us, I was all for killing them as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, one of the first druids we met turned out to be one of the leaders the Tauren had warned us about, and she went after Kaide first.
Murin quickly got her attention, though, then Vi shouted something at her that made her turn to him. I was too far away to hear exactly what he said. We went back to our methodic system of dealing out death. Lady Anaconda fell shortly thereafter.
We started to head over the stone bridge that was further along the path, then realized the druid had told us to head down into the gully the river had cut, moving to the west. We would find Lord Cobrahn hiding behind his vassals up a circuitous hill beyond where the river left the cave. Rather than wasting time going back around, we merely jumped off the bridge.
The Tauren was right, and after several more dead snakes, including the collection of their strange hides, we found the druidic leader. He was dispatched without much difficulty, and we were pretty pleased with ourselves. As we began to make our way back, I looked over the edge of a cliff-face I’d noticed on our way up. The view was of the path we followed to get where we were, and there were significant rock outcroppings along the face. “Hey, I think we can jump down this way!” I said as I took the plunge.
After hopping down to the ground, I looked up. Most of the others had followed, but Kaide had stayed above us until I landed. I watched her as she made her own jumps, and she smirked as she landed next to me, “It wouldn’t do for all of us to die for a shortcut.” I smiled, and we hurried off after Vi, who was muttering about using a giant turtle shell as a shield.
I had no idea why he was talking about a turtle shell. We saw alligators, which we’d encountered on our way through the water, but no turtles. Then I saw him. He was twice as tall as a human, about three times our own height, but he didn’t look terribly mean. In fact, it was the first creature I’d met in this place (the Tauren excepted), that didn’t attack us on sight.
But Vi was bent on get a shield made from a turtle shell, and so attacked the turtle. When it died, Vi triumphantly pried a particularly smooth bit of its shell away from the rest of it, and donning it, swelled with strength. Apparently the shell was magical!
We moved on, trying to find the last two lords that Tauren had told us would need to die before he could try and bring his master out of the dream he was in. We didn’t get much farther at all before we ran into A huge Stegodon, with lightning crackling in its mouth. It was obvious we were going to have to kill it to get any further.
After dispatching this creaure, we started heading up out of the water gully… and the plants were walking about on their own! I didn’t like that one bit, and it somehow reeked of what I had started to recognize as druidic magic… or maybe it was the emerald nightmare. Anyway, the druids here were directing those walking plants to attack us, and so we had no choice but to kill them, along with the druids. At least the snakes seemed to have disappeared.
We were climbing uphill again, but this time there were stalagmites here and there. I suspect some had even formed the walls of this tunnel-like section of the cavern. As we came around a group of stalagmites as tall as humans and wide as tauren’s, we ran rather abruptly into Lord Pythas. He started casting a spell at Murin, while Vi charged. This fight turned out to not be nearly as easy as the previous leaders had been, however, for shortly after we began to fight, he cast something that made my very bones tremble. I suddenly had no courage, and panicked.
I regained my composure and began casting again, but the Lord cast his magical fear on Vi, then chased after him. Vi darted behind one of the stalagmites, and Kaide shouted, “Hey! If I can’t see you I can’t heal you!!” then chased after him. Even though Pythas continued to cause terror in us, he only ever managed to do it individually, and we were able to still overwhelm him and take him down.
After his death, we moved further along in the tunnel. Lord Serpentis was the last of the evil druids needed to vanquish, and then the Tauren could start his ritual cleansing of the place. I was truly ready to be done with the continual wailing. As we went along, we came to a precipice. From a few steps away from the ledge, it looked like a dead end, and I was ready to turn around, but Murin had run right up to the edge, and a moment later he had jumped. I followed him up to the ledge, and he waved up at us from a lower ledge, so the rest of us made the relatively easy jump down, and continued on.
A few more druids tried to ambush us from around corners made by the tunnel, but we’d grown accustomed to dealing with them, and they died with little difficulty. We found ourselves finally facing Lord Serpentis, and to his left was a shambling… something. It looked like a living bog, and didn’t smell much better.
Vi attacked Serpentis before I had a chance to pause. He did have a couple of druids in his company, who we dispatched quickly. After the problems with Lord Pythas, Cordagan had managed to figure out how to stop Serpentis from casting the awful frightening spell, and so this leader went down with hardly any difficulty.
We looked at one another over the corpse of the fourth and final lord. The shambling thing had not come to intervene, and I asked if we should bother. Vi pointed out that while we could theoretically go back to the cliff behind us, that was a long drop, and we might not all make it down.
Kaide then said, “Hey, is that water I hear?”
Cordagan answered, “Well, I think we’re just over the top of the stream…” but Murin interrupted “She’s right! It’s a waterfall.”
“And it’s coming from…” I turned, trying to find the original sound amongst the cavernous echoes.
“That way.” Kaide said, pointing directly at the shambling thing. We didn’t argue. She was, after all, a shaman.
Vi nodded, and prepared himself, then launched into an attack. The mound fought back, but Kaide had definitely found her calling as a healer, and we had all become accustomed to each other’s tactics. The mound fell, and we approched the opening in the cave wall behind him.
I looked over the edge, and gulped. It was a long way down. If that water at the bottom wasn’t deep enough… Vi was over the edge, howling with glee as he fell. I’m not sure what made him think he was going to be able to swim back out of that water with his armor on, but Murin had already followed, and Kaide was preparing to… dive. I waited. It wouldn’t do for all of us to die in the fall. But Cordagan gulped, and looked at me.
Vi’s head popped back above the surface, and he waved furiously, letting us know he was all right. I still waited, but Cordagan made the jump. Then Murin’s head popped above the surface, and a moment later, Kaide swam up, and started paddling around on her back as though she had just found the best diving spot in all of Azeroth. I had no choice but to follow, which I did with a double back-flip. I wasn’t going to be outdone by a shaman!
Pulling ourselves out of the pond, we discovered we were at one end of the stream we had traversed as we’d made our way to higher ground. A moment later, we were standing in the gully near where we’d first started; and not long after that, we were standing in front of the Tauren, telling him what he already knew, that we’d succeeded. We also gave him all the hides we’d found, which he piled up, thanking us with not only praise but also coin. He promised us his superiors in the Cenarion Circle would hear of our bravery.
But, he said, he would like us to accompany him on his mission to wake his dreaming master. He was sure that the changes to the emerald dream in this place would cause unnatural things to emerge during the ceremony. We agreed, and set out.
He wasn’t kidding. Snakes and blobs tried to attack him as he worked, and we, in turn, protected the druid. But the worst thing of all came when the druid was almost done. It was a murloc, and it was taller than the Tauren! Vi was in a battle fury, though, and was not daunted as he rushed in to stop the thing. We all fought steadily, and sure enough, we were triumphant.
A few moments later, the druid had finished his spell. He thanked us again, and cast a spell, sending us back to Ironforge.
We watched a little longer, and Cordagan said “They’re not aiming. See those scorch marks? That’s where the cannonballs are landing over and over again.”
Vi ran forward, skirting the first blackened and smoldering section of dock to the right. As he ran, a large, colorful bird dove at him from the sky. We dispatched it quickly, but were beset by several of the birds all along the dock, while we tried to race past the scorched spots.
Having arrived at the gangplank, I noted that no one was trying to turn their cannons toward us. Vi barely paused but said as he ran up the plank “We’ll go to the right, there’s a scaffold that looks like it goes all the way to the top!” As we dispatched the squallswabbers and privateers, I took up manning the cannons, but turned them inward towards the would-be pirates. As we moved along the side of the boat, I would abandon a cannon for the next one down the row, after using my staff to lever the remaining cannonballs over the edge. It wouldn’t do for our enemies to sneak up behind us.
We made it to the scaffold, and I thought it would become tricky, but the Defias were, like the ogres and goblins before them, foolish enough to hang back, hoping that those before them would manage to finish us off. Even villainous humans seem to underestimate a group of dwarves! They even allowed me (well, I’m guessing none of them actually saw me) to ransack a sturdy-looking chest that was waiting to be moved on board.
On the verge of climbing atop the ship, Vi paused for nearly the first time the entire trip through the tunnel. He was certainly one stalwart dwarf! He whispered, “Looks like an admiral, wit that hat.”
Kaide responded, chiding, “You’re not afraid of a Worgen, are you? I don’t think they infect dwarves. Just Night Elves and humans as far as anyone knows.”
Vi looked at her sidelong, “You don’t think I’m Cob, now, do you? I’m not afraid of anybody… Okay, maybe Deathwing. But this chump? Let’s go!” And he was racing in, screaming some sort of battle cry as he ran.
The chump, however, had some sort of ability to bring a fog up around us, and he would disappear in it. The really annoying part of the fog, however, was that it would begin to coalesce into spectre-like vapors. We killed those as fast as we could when we couldn’t get at the Admiral. After a pretty intense fight, we were able to kill him, though, and the fog lifted, taking the remaing vapors with it.
We were just beginning to make our wait out, when the druid pointed toward the back of the cabin. I’d assumed it was the Admiral’s cabin, and that with his death, there would be no more threat. Vi turne to look just as a rather large murloc threw a cookpot out into the middle of the deck. Cordagan just barely dodged it.
Then the murloc ran forward, and leapt into the pot. I was still a little confused, but it started throwing food at me, which, in my book, is like attacking. Especially since some of the food was rotten! I did pick up a bit of ham that wasn’t, though, and somehow it made my spell-casting more efficient. I decided if anything else that actually looked good got tossed my way, I might as well take advantage of it. And trust me, you grow up hanging around taverns in a city like Ironforge, and you learn how to do all kinds of things while you’re eating your supper! Casting shadow-bolts in between the periodic morsels was no difficulty whatsoever.
Once we’d killed the Murloc, that ridiculous inspector wandered in and started ordering people around like he owned the place! Some nerve. I’m going right to the Visitor’s Bureau in Stormwind during our next recuperation period, and make sure they know he’s paying adventurers and probably taking all the credit. You just can’t do that sort of thing in Ironforge. At least, you couldn’t while Magni was still king.
Having finished what we set out to do in the Deadmines, we returned to Ironforge through the expedience of a portal provided by a mage lackey of the Inspector’s. I went directly to my trainer, I felt that I’d learned quite a lot during the expedition, and I wanted to know if he had anything more to teach me. Sure enough, he did, and also told me that Muradin was proud to have heard we had succeeded in our first foray. Muradin Bronzebeard! That’s even more exciting than Magni knowing who I am!
I arrived at the Ironforge bank at the time we had planned to meet. Cordagan had told me earlier that he might be late, but to try and find someone else amongst the Alliance to help us, should he be unavailable. Violetviper was there when I arrived, dancing on top of the mailbox. I shook my head, and went inside the bank to check and see if anyone may have checked in items for the guild’s use that I would find beneficial.
I was nervous, and didn’t want Vi to know. While I had successfully gained enough skill that others assured me I could be successful, the first time you do something is always the scariest. Not to mention, letting the Light decide where we would go meant we wouldn’t have any real way to prepare ourselves. Kaide arrived, and reassured me, reminding me that she had the ability to ressurect me should the worst happen.
We waited for a while after the appointed time, but Prada was nowhere to be found. Kaide and I got bored with standing around and waiting, so we also began to dance. while we waited, Cordagan arrived. Without Prada, I asked Vi if his brother was available. Unfortunately, for the sake of their mother, the boys had promised they would never go adventuring together. I didn’t ask why. Vi, however, did say that he could lead in Prada’s absence. And so I conjured the Light within me and stretched it out towards the others, to see where it would take us and who would be joining us.
We found ourselves standing in front of a human with the title of Inspector. He told us that we were in a tunnel that had been the hideout of the Defias, which appeared to still be in use, in spite of the dismantling of most of the far-reaching human gang. Briege had told me stories of how almost daily for quite some time various members of the Defias had been being captured and taken to Stormwind City. With so many captured, and their leader dead from bands like ours, how could the Defias have maintained this place? But here they were. And goblins were throwing bombs at a narrow spot in the tunnels, keeping the Inspector near the entrance, cowering. Silly human.
Along with this Inspector and his friends, there was a night elf. The Inspector outfitted each of us with a gnomecorder, presumably to let us do the dirty work while they stayed in the relative safety of the area they’d staked out for themselves. Silly humans. He was a druid, and transformed into his powerful cat aspect as we dodge between the bomb strikes. As it turned out, while they were of goblin construction, they were being thrown inexpertly by gnolls. There were also ogres, but no Defias that we could see.
We made our way relatively cautiously down the tunnel. A short way in, I started manning a cannon that had previously been manned by a gnoll (now dead). We slipped past several groups who didn’t seem inclined to raise any alarm. And then we were faced by Glubtok, who the Inspector had said was a bit of a tricky ogre. Silly human. Ogres, even their magi, aren’t particularly cunning. We prepared ourselves. Glubtok was apparently content to let us come to him. And Vi struck. I stood at a distance, casting my shadowy spells and trying to stay out of harm’s way.
Then Glubtok was suddenly next to me. In the heat of the moment, Breige’s sage words came to me, and I followed them without hesitation “go to your leader. Always go to your leader if they start to attack you.” Vi was right there, and shouted something at Glubtok, forcing him to try and beat Vi down again.Once or twice, this happened again, with Glubtok going to Cordagan, then Kaide, and even to the unnamed night elf. This Glubtok was turning out to be more of a handful than I’d expected. But we were doing well. Kaide had a totem down that increased the power of Cordagan’s and my own spells. Vi was using his shield and sword expertly, and the druid was raking and biting at the ogres back.
Then Glubtok ran back to where he had started, and began to cast spells. They looked like intertwined fiery and icy lightning bolts, but were only at his sides. I stayed well back, while Vi and the druid raged before and behind him. Cordagan stayed back like I did. After just a few seconds, Glubtok changed tactics. I saw reddish orbs begin to form, and from them sprouted a fire wall between the healer, mage and myself and the druid and warrior. Then, when that dissipated, red and blue lights began to appear on the ground below us.
I knew that couldn’t be good, so I ran off the light as soon as they appeared, then continued to cast my spells. The others were doing the same, whether by following my lead or not, I don’t know. Moments after a light would appear, an explosion would occur on the red lights, and the blue lights puffed suddenly into what looked like permafrost. Trust me. Dwarves know what permafrost looks like. This must have been Glubtok’s last ditch efforts, for only a few moments of this, and he was dead. Vi found a powerful two-handed mace in the corner, which we let him keep. The Inspector checked in with us at this point, happy to hear we’d managed to destroy Glubtok.
We pulled open the doors, and were met by… monkeys, chained to heavy balls, mining. And goblins. I’m sure many of the goblins were doing something with explosives, but there was also a female goblin carrying around drinks for the others. I didn’t know quite what to make of it, but the ones near us were attacking, so we fought back. We moved down this portion of the tunnel.
When we neared the doors, we were faced by a pair of Oafs. I didn’t know what they were, except uglier than ogres, until later. They were dispatched quickly, and we moved on to what had been called the mast room. And again, the Inspector spoke with us over our Gnomecorders. Apparently, he couldn’t tell us earlier that we might run into Helix Gearbreaker in here, but if we did, we should proceed with caution and kill him. We would, of course, be rewarded for our efforts. In my opinion, someone in Stormwind had best hear that this Inspector hasn’t lifted a finger to anything but his purse strings! Not that I’m complaining about being paid, just that if I’m going to continue to get paid, a little notoriety of the right variety might help. Especially since humans don’t seem to want to do anything for themselves, or at least not Inspectors. I suppose he was behind us inspecting our handiwork. But I doubt it, since we didn’t kill anyone who didn’t seem inclined to kill us. And certainly no monkeys that didn’t hit us first. I don’t think. Sometimes it was hard to see what Vi was doing.
Anyway, so we peered around the corner, and there Helix was, across the room, sitting on the head of a really big oaf. There were several oafs in the way, though, and we carefully pulled the oafs away from each other and Helix while Helix yelled at them to get us. Since the oafs didn’t seem to catch on to the idea that there were five of them and five of us, and that they were all bigger than us, and… well, let’s just say they didn’t have enough brain cells to realize that they might have stood a chance if they’d tried to help each other out. Maybe they thought we’d leave them alone after we killed their buddies. Or something. I don’t know that they thought at all.
When we’d killed all the Oafs but the one Helix was sitting on, Vi charged in an started trying to get at Helix, but, being a dwarf, he couldn’t reach him. I tried casting my spells at Helix as well, but he somehow managed to make the oaf he was riding get in the way. We managed to kill the oaf without too much trouble, then Helix jumped on my head, trying to ride me around like I was stupid or something! Unfortunately, I couldn’t see, but I *could* still cast spells at him. Which I did.
After a little bit, Helix jumped onto Cordagan’s head, and he seemed to be having the same trouble I’d had. Another couple of jumps, including onto Kaide, and Helix fell over dead. Nobody really wanted the Buzzer blade he had, but Cordagan said he thought he could sell it. The Inspector chimed in once again, with a job well done, and a little cash. I wondered once again what a human “Inspector” does. Dwarves don’t have Inspectors that I know of.
Moving on, we finally saw some Defias, and Kaide complained that we weren’t getting very badly hurt. Vi offered to take off some of his armor, but she quickly declined, saying that she could use some of the other fighting skills she’d already been taught. We made our way through the next section of tunnel to another door. There were ominous clanging sounds coming from beyond it. When we opened the doors, we understood why – it was a giant forge in the middle of rock. Do you have any idea how much racket that must have been when it was in full swing?
As soon as we opened the doors, goblins started racing past us, without heeding the fact that we might not be there to save them, screaming “It’s Alive!” We made our way down the ramp, and saw several harvest golems, one of which didn’t seem to be functioning at all, but which was significantly larger than the others. Without much difficulty, we dispatched the first golem, and I noticed a seat in it, so I climbed up. It only had three controls besides the piloting stick, and I tested each of them, but in only moments it had shorted out so I hopped back out and went back to fighting with my spells. Each time we killed one of the golems, an electrical bolt arced over to the big golem. (Hey! I’d been hanging out with the gnomes! That’s what they said it was). I took the few precious seconds of life left in each of the smaller golems as they stopped fighting on their own and plowed them into their brothers.
When the last one of the little ones died, and its electrical charge dissipated, the big one came to life. Vi raced over to it, and tried his best to keep its attention, but maybe because it was mechanical, it didn’t seem to think he was as much of a threat as any of the rest of us. Periodically, it would race out of control across the area, and poor Kaide was forced to run over to make sure she could still heal Vi before he took too much damage. Ultimately, however, we were victorious.
The doors from this room opened onto another section of tunnel much like the others we’d seen before. After dispatching more goblins and Defias, we were face to face with a door that wouldn’t budge. But there was a cannon next to it. The night elf hopped up and lit its fuse. A moment later there was a loud rapport as the cannon fired. Several sailors – no, pirates by the looks of them – raced towards us. We dispatched them as we had the other Defias who had come before.
Looking out the doorway, we saw the ship that Breige told me Edwin Van Cleef had had built in secret, right under Stormwind’s nose. Now, I’m not a sailor, and I’ve never been down to Menethil Harbor, or over to Stormwind, but that was a really big ship, bristling with cannons. That were being fired.
Let me introduce myself. My name is Sruith. My older sister, Breige, is a member in good standing of a guild called Higher Authority. Breige provided me with an introduction letter, since she’s currently retired and living in Shattrath city. She says it’s become much more peaceful there, and she enjoys jaunts out to Nagrand to exercise her pets.
I met with Sonaira, who is the second in command of Higher Authority, and she invited me to join the guild. She also told me that there had been several new recruits, surprisingly all dwarves, and all of about the same age. She suggested that Shoryl – the human paladin that started the guild – might appreciate it if the six of us could work on scouring the hidden dens of trouble around Azeroth. I agreed to at least meet these other dwarves.
The first that I met was Kaide. I’d actually seen her around when I was just getting started, though we didn’t talk much then. She told me that she had aspired to be a healer, and had been a little frustrated with the expectation that she go out and kill trolls, boars and troggs for the Council. I don’t think either of us was particularly sad about having to arrest the Dark Iron Emissary, though.
We had a pint or three before Prada arrived. Prada’s given name is Iwearprada, but we all agreed, over our fourth pint, that Prada was a much more sophisticated nickname. Prada is a paladin, so I’m sure she’ll fit right in with the guild, as there seem to be a lot of them hanging around. Prada mentioned that she’s protective of her friends, but doesn’t think she’d make a very good healer. I suggested that she could lead this merry band – for the three of us were indeed quite merry, having had another round.
Shortly after, Cordagan arrived at the inn. I eyed him carefully, for he was wearing the same type of robes I had acquired. But watching him move, he was no priest – and certainly not as well versed in the darker side of the Light as I am, however meager my talent might actually be. He pulled a chair up among us and ordered another round for the table. It turned out he was a mage, and though he didn’t tell us much about himself, he was quite relaxed even before he got to his second drink, which counted as my seventh.
Another round or two later, and another dwarf wandered in wearing the guild’s tabard. Since he looked to be about the right age, I hailed him. Sure enough, it was Violetviper. We immediately took to calling him Vi or Violet. He didn’t seem as friendly as the others at first, but a drink or two in him and he was muttering away, sometimes to himself, sometimes to all of us. Vi left after a little while, though, and Crimsoncobra, Vi’s brother, arrived. The two were like twins, though Cob was a rogue where his brother had taken the more direct path of the warrior.
And so, we had a great deal of ale, and a group willing to go forth together. For some reason, Vi and Cob never did show up anywhere together, but such can be the way of brothers. We decided that we would let the Light be our guide as to where we would go, and resolved to meet in two weeks’ time. I decided to take that time to rest well in Ironforge, and maybe get in the good graces of the gnomes, since I’m not all that keen on Moira Bronzebeard’s ‘politics’.
In a tiny guild, sometimes one of the disadvantages is that one or two people have to come up with most of the ideas. If you’re lucky, you get several people who are willing to shout out for group activities. But when your five active guildmembers tend to play at slightly different times, that can be hard. On the other hand, you can propose long-term stunts like having everyone roll a new dwarf (in a semi-coordinated fashion) for the purpose of leveling together.
What you have to do:
First, you need to set a start date and timeframe so that everyone can decide whether they can commit. You also need to know how you’re actually going to do the leveling. We chose instancing, because we all have altitis, so we do quests on our own. Besides, have you ever tried to quest with 3 players running around together, much less 5? Doesn’t sound like fun to me.
Next, you need to decide how to deal with someone not showing up. Do you just not go that night, and do something else? Do you use the dungeon finder to pick up your missing spots, and just roll with it? Do you figure out a way for those who miss to catch up?
And then there’s extras that can also skew experience gains: heirloom gear, rested xp, and certain professions can cause your experience gains to skew.
We set up a group of rules for our event:
1. Get to level 15 on your own (or with a partner if you want) by our start date. We gave everybody two weeks, just because that’s how our schedule worked out.
2. Do not pick up professions that will net experience or use heirlooms.
3. If you miss, you will be replaced via the dungeon finder. You can make up your missed xp out in the world on your own in the interim period.
That’s it. Since we picked dwarves, we have a shaman, priest, paladin, mage and warrior. A nice blend of gearing options and only one class that doesn’t have two different roles, which will allow us to almost certainly always have a tank and healer, thus making any pugging we have to do much easier.
Starting in early June (our first run is June 2), I’ll be posting every other Saturday about how this little event goes.