Journals of Alhazred

Fiction based on the World of Warcraft game setting

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

The Fall of the Dogmen's Champion

I imagine that hubris is a trait that all practitioners of the arcane struggle with during their long careers. Channeling the energies of death and creation as well as those of the soul seems so much grander than merely welding a sword against destiny. I was certainly full of my power on the day of my quest for Hogger. After all, I was no novice to combat and fully believed that I had the measure of this gnoll regardless of his daring and obvious prowess.

He would teach me a lesson of conflict I have yet to forget. That while power and skill are equally as important as preparation, they will only see you as far as the first blow against a desperate enemy with nothing to loose. After that, Fate and Lady Luck rule the battlefield. If you are fortunate, the Gods will favor you that day and you will live to heed the lesson. It is said that the Gods are sympathetic to the foolish, given that I am sitting here writing this after all these years, I would say that I agree…

Journal Entry

Taking the gnoll’s past attack pattern into account, I felt they were mostly likely crossing the border from Westfall to make their raids, then fading back to the safety of the plains. Given the large numbers of Gnolls roaming the grasslands, it made the most sense for him to make camp along the West Elywnn River. This would put him in a good tactical position to not only watch the Westbrook garrison, but also the road from Stormwind in case the capital finally decided to take matters into its own hands.

Using the tracking techniques I had learned during my time with the boarder guard, it was not long before I found signs of raiders in the area. Deciding that strength was needed now more than stealth, I pulled out a shard to summon the voidwalker Voxil. As the soul energy opened the rift to Voxil’s domain. Voxil was twice the width of a man and full of the malice characteristic of his kind. I had seen the frightening strength that Voxil contained, so it was with some relief that I saw the shackles of my power materialize on its wrists before it fully entered our realm.

With its fierce presence at my shoulder, I continued moving along the rivers edge till I came upon a clearing. Peering through the trees, I saw a camp of the Hyena men. It was no real surprise to see that no sentries had been left to keep watch, but it was still unexpected that I would find them carousing and so totally off guard. As I watched, the Gnolls passed along great casks of wine I assumed must have come from one of their many raids on the caravans plying the trade routes to Stormwind. They even had the carcass of some large animal roasting on a spit over their campfire. Truly, it seemed they had little fear of discovery.

I continued to sit and watch the gnolls at their feasting till eventually I saw an abnormally large specimen get up and make his way into the woods. Judging from the deferential treatment the rest of the party showed this creature and the large necklace of boar tusks worn around its neck, I assumed this was my quarry. Realizing that he was most likely going off to deal with the effects of the large amounts of alcohol I had seen them all consume, I knew that this would be my perfect chance to take him without engaging the others. The trick would be to draw him far enough away from the others that they would not hear the fight, although with the boisterous nature of their revelry, I likely could have ridden a patrol of light calvary past their camp without drawing notice. Regardless, with any luck they would assume that he had merely passed out in the woods and was sleeping off a drunken stupor. Deciding a trap was my best chance; I had Voxil move on ahead of Hoggers direction with instructions to wait at the river.

Keeping to the trees, I made my way around the clearing to the spot that Hogger had entered the woods. Moving as silently as possible, I tracked him several yards into the forest and circled him till my back was once again pointed toward the river. When I judged that Voxil had had sufficient time to position himself, I deliberately stepped out from around the tree I was skulking behind and stepped on a branch at my feet. Hogger drew the sword at his back with a speed that was surprising for one in his inebriated state and turned to face me. During those precious few moments, I casually raised my hand and gave him a gesture that even one of his intelligence would have no trouble understanding then turned and bolted through the trees.

The audacity of a lone human standing there showing such contempt worked exactly as I planned, for with a ripping snarl Hogger took up the chase. To make sure that he would continue in pursuit, I reached into the satchel at my side and flung an apple I had been saving over my shoulder at his head. I admit, it wasn’t the most impressive display of bravado I could have made, but judging from the sounds I heard behind me at the time, it was effective.

When we finally made it to the river, I broke through the trees and gave a quick mental command to Voxil. In a faintly unsettling display of initiative, Vox had hidden himself in the water. With my command, he surged up from the river and sprung onto the bank. Even protected as I was from his power through the nature of his binding, I still felt the tail end of his enchantment as he sent a blast of augmented hatred at Hogger. Focusing on the new threat, the gnoll leader launched himself at the voidwalker.

Voxil, with his usual disregard for injury merely opened his arms wide to accept the bone jarring impact that flung them both back into the water. As they both broke the surface, I saw that Hogger had dropped his sword and was trying to choke the life from my servant. I took a moment to incant a demon skin spell at the same time I started the somatic gestures needed for my spell of corruption.

Hogger and Voxil’s struggle had taken them back onto the riverbank just as I finished the spell and I saw the first effects of the mystical rot take hold as the hair on Hoggers body started to turn gray. Despite the darkness eating away at his flesh, Hogger’s strength seemed to increase as his rage grew and as I watched in stonishment, Hogger lifted Voxil over his head and hurled him several yards away. I could feel through my link that Vox had been stunned and quickly went through the passes of an agony curse as the Gnoll sprinted toward me.

In what seemed like the blink of an eye, Hoggers massive paws were around my neck strangling the air from my lungs. As blackness started envelope my sight, I could feel the muscles of his forearms writhering in the grip of my curse. Truly, I knew my death was upon me for nothing seemed to affect this monster as more than a goad to further destruction. In desperation, I quickly gripped his head in both my hands and sank my thumbs into his eyes. As I felt one of his eyes rupture, Hogger flung me away with a howl. Never before have I ever been as thankful for my obsession for preparation as I was that day, for as I hit the ground the health stone I had prepared earlier that day broke in my satchel. I immediately felt the rush of stored vitality start healing my brutalized throat. As quickly as I could draw breath, I poured forth my terror into a word of fear that I spit out at Hogger. Pouring the remaining reserve of energy I had into the enchantment, it hit the reeling gnoll like a physical blow and drove him to his knees.

Gone were thoughts of tactics and strategy; gone were thoughts of the alchemical aids I had nestled in my pack. My only purpose was survival and to achieve it, I had to quickly end the life of this foe I had so badly underestimated. In my training, I had learned a technique to draw on my life force to replenish the well of my magical power. Although dangerous in my already depleted state, I siphoned off some of my remaining strength and staggered over to the warchief. At the same time, Voxil finally managed to recover from the mauling it had received. With a roar of its own, it rushed over to the kneeling and wounded gnoll leader and wrapped its massive arms around Hoggers chest in an attempt to crush the life from him. Giving no thought to the fact that my aid had returned or the fact that I now had precious time to make use of the restoratives I had prepared, I reached out desperately and grasped Hogger’s head in my hands again. With one last great effort I drew deep of my reserves and with a scream poured out pure darkness into his face. The bolt of shadow was almost a solid rope connecting us so furious was my casting. With a violent shove, I pushed myself away from the now silent and twitching gnoll champion. As my knees gave way to exhaustion and I sank to the ground, I saw Voxil take hold of Hoggers head and with a sound like thunder cracking, snap the gnolls neck.

Eventually, I regained my senses enough to take my small dagger and sever a paw from my fallen foe as well as retrieve the necklace of tusks. I realized that my word would hardly be good enough for the dear marshal and proof would be needed to stay any talk of falsehoods. I also finally had presence of mind to make use of one of my precious healing potions to mend enough of my wounds to allow me to make it back to the garrison of Westbrook. I was both weary in body and soul when I finally laid those grizzly prices upon the desk of the duty sergeant and it was with some reluctance that I turned down the offer of rest and food to recuperate. I wanted nothing more than two things before the sun finally went down. One was the sanctuary of my own room, where I planned on sleeping like one of the dead and second was to see the look on Marshal Dughan’s face when the runner sent by the sergeant reached Goldshire with word of my achievement.

In a sign of appreciation for my actions, the sergeant pressed upon me his desire that I at least accept some meager reward from his grateful men. Not wanting to be rude in the face of such sincerity, I made my way to their small armory and without much thought grabbed a fighting staff off the rack. I thanked the garrison for their generosity and using the staff more for a walking stick, started on my journey back home.

When I finally entered Goldshire, a throng of cheering peasants in front of the inn awaited me. As I made my way through the gathering, accepting their thanks and affectionate pats on the back, I finally came face to face with Dughan. With a smoothness that belied the anger I knew he must have been feeling, the Marshall gripped me by the shoulder and in a loud voice proclaimed that a speech was in order. With a weary sigh, I turned and faced the crowd. I told them then that what I had done was only what should be expected from those charged with the safety of our small town and that with the threat of such depredations a constant companion, the fact that the good towns people continued to ply their trades showed that heroism was not merely a trait of a select few or the stories of past accomplishments, but was something that was nurtured everyday in the lives of those that lived in these troubled times. As I turned and looked at Dughan again, I still believe that at that moment he would gladly have sacrificed his commission in his desire to throttle the life from me, so with was much surprise and some small amount of trepidation that I watched an unholy glee light the Marshall’s eyes as he leaned over and whispered in my ear that he had someone he wanted me to meet.

Upon entering the Tavern, it was quickly obvious that our destination was the well-appointed and heavily armed group at the bar. As we came up to them, the lone female of the group turned and offered me the same curious look I had seen across the body of Surena Caledon on the Brackwell farm. Caught momentarily off guard by meeting the beautiful mage face to face, I wondered what she and her companions were doing in the company of Marshall Dughan.

To cover my surprise, I took a moment to look over her attire. I felt my face blanch as I saw the crest on the tabard she wore over her silken robes. It was the emblem of the Orden de la Sangre Rosa, the Order of the Blood Rose.

The Order of the Blood Rose was the militant wing of the Church of Light charged with rooting out the taint of the Infernal. After the last Great War, the sovereigns of all four of the alliance races agreed that there was a need to safe guard the integrity of their realms from internal and external corruption. Taking the lead in the crusade against treachery and heresy, and with the tacit agreement of its sister religions, the Church of Light empowered a cadre of heroes. Drawn from the various monastic orders of the Great Races, with unprecedented legalistic powers, the Order was of the understanding that any excesses in pursuit of their mandate would be over looked.

Based in the Dwarven city of Iron Forge, the Order was rumored to employ the very same tactics and profane knowledge as the criminals they pursued as it suited their needs. Certainly one would need to have access to the same knowledge as ones foes in order to prepare for any eventuality was the general observation given on the few accounts the Order was called on to justify its methods and generally accepted as prudent in these troubled times. Acknowledged wisdom was not to delve too deeply in the business of the Order, despite rumors of corruption within its very ranks. My own order, the Conclave of Warlocks even allowed The Blood Rose to recruit from within its ranks as needed, despite the knowledge that we were certainly under constant observation by the Order. Even the zealots of the Scarlet Crusade were said to tread lightly when the Order was on the march.

With a grin usually only seen on the face of sadists at their play, Marshal Dughan introduced me to the mage whose name was Elthani. Elthani extended her hand as a chuckling Marshal Dughan turned and walked over to join her companions, who had moved to a nearby table. Despite the very real danger this Lady represented to one of my calling, I took the proffered hand. To do other wise was unthinkable and I resignedly accepted her offer of a flagon of mead in toast to my exploits, as well as to share a table with her and her companions.

The harrowing adventure of earlier today hardly seemed of consequence anymore… the Inquisition was in town.

By the hand of Abdul Alhazred
Vizier of the Conclave of Warlocks.


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