Journals of Alhazred

Fiction based on the World of Warcraft game setting

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Further Down the Path: The Sacrifice of Surena

Journal Entry

Surena Caledon was to be my first object lesson concerning the authority of the Conclave. Surena was the renegade student of Gakin the Darkbringer. Gakin, while powerful, had always been known to take on female students more for their comely shape than any real talent or loyalty they might have possessed. Needless to say, this had caused Gakin to be censored by the Conclave on more than one occasion. Unfortunately, Gakin was also the senior member of a prosperous trading family in Stormwind and used to having his indiscretions sweep under the Conclaves rugs.

The populace at large might be surprised to learn that the Conclave is ever vigilant and tends to deal harshly with the renegades of our order. The sentence is usually brutal and swift. Most often, such tasks are given over to the younger warlocks of the order as both a test and reminder that the grace of the Conclave is mercurial at best. The Conclave is ever aware that we are always one atrocity away from the inquisitorial fires of the Church of Light. Certainly high priest Rohan and his crony; the paladin Lord Shadowbreaker; have been know to give rather pointed sermons on the perils of allowing the infernal to fester within the very heart of fair Stormwind.

So Surena’s fate was sealed and I was to be the agent of the Conclaves justice. Gakin would provide my payment when I had returned with a token of success; a bloodstone choker he had given his former student in exchange for a meaningless tryst. My fee for this butchers bill, the means to summon a voidwalker. According to Gakin, Surena apparently had joined a bandit party operating out of the Brackwell farm somewhere to the southwest of Goldshire in the Elwynn Forest. Armed with this knowledge, I packed my travel satchel and made for the countryside.

Stopping in Goldshire to get directions from the always resplendent and equally pompous Marshall Dughan, it did not take long to find the farmstead. The Brackwell Farm grew pumpkins and the harvest was in evidence as well as an abundance of wild hogs that apparently had moved in when the bandits had taken over. I glimpsed one particular sow in the middle of the patch that strutted through the rows with an entourage of two boars in tow. I was amusingly reminded of certain noble women I had the dubious pleasure of meeting while accompanying my teacher Graza to functions at the palace.

Bringing my mind back to the task at hand, I noticed a handful of sentries spread throughout the grounds with a small group clustered near a decrepit farmhouse at the back of the pumpkin patch. I decided that my best bet was to circle around the farm to the right sticking to the tree line as much as possible till I could come up behind the cottage.

Eventually I had a clear few of the back of the cottage and one sentry to the front left of the building. I decided this was the appropriate time to call up my imp familiar Gyax. Gyax materialized in his usual cloud of sulfurous stink and listened attentively while I outlined my plan. Moving to within 30 yards of the sentry, I gestured for Gyax to move off to my left and waited for the sentry to move away from the cottage. Gyax had called a fireball into his hand and intently focused on the human before him. After a brief moment, I quickly nodded my head and Gyax let loose with his hellfire.

The ball of hellfire streaked away from us and slammed into the back of the sentry staggering him and drawing a startled shout of pain. Whirling in our direction, smoke billowing from the back his of leather cuirass, the bandit pulled the short sword at his side and charged my servant. The surprise and shock of the attack had just the effect I had desired and I started to cast a spell of corruption while the foolish bandit was focused on Gyax. I felt the energy leave me in a rush as the bandit finally closed the distance between us and swung at my imp. I saw the rot start to spread across the bandits face as the shadow energy spread through his body. With a cry of pain and disgust, the bandit turned to me and attempted to take my head with a backhand swing right as I completed my second spell. My curse of agony struck quickly enough that the bandit convulsed and dropped his weapon in mid swing as I threw myself to the side. Gyax was by this point beside himself in glee at the destruction before him and with a shivering giggle leaped upon the fallen bandit. I just had time to see my familiar jam a flaming hand into the mouth of the flailing man on the ground as I snapped my head around to see what was happening at the farmhouse.

Coming around the back corner was the second sentry at a dead run, sword raised high. I quickly jumped to my feet and hastily muttered the words to a demon skin spell. As I felt the fel energies coalesce around me, I flung my hand out toward my coming attacker and shouted a word of power. The shadow bolt hit the enraged sentry in the chest but did not completely halt his headlong rush. As a consequence, my arm was opened up from shoulder to elbow as I tried to pivot to the side. Gyax at this point had finished off the first bandit and jumped upon the back of our second attacker. Reaching around with a taloned hand, Gyax began clawing at the throat of the bandit and I realized this needed to end quickly. Concentrating despite the pain, I gestured at the man and watched as his leggings caught on fire. Following up the immolation spell with another curse of agony, I stepped forward and stabbed him in the back with the dagger I always keep handy for just such emergencies.

I must confess, I was surprised that the whole farm had not risen in arms with the noise we seemed to have been making but as I looked around, I did not see any more guards making their way toward us and heard no sounds of alarm being raised. Thanking the fates for small miracles, I pulled a health potion from my pouch to deal with the gash. As I downed the bitter potion, I remember silently thanking my mentor Graza as well for his love of alchemy and his desire to impress upon me it desirable results. I vowed to make sure I took the time to keep a ready supply of the little concoctions on hand if I was going to be engaging in any more clandestine assassinations in armed camps.

Gyax made his way to my side after taking a moment to pull a choice tidbit from the carcass at his feet. I started toward the cottage and shook my head as I noticed the imp gulp down the last of the tongue he had recovered.

Pressed up against the back of the cottage, I placed my head against the wall and tried to discern how many people were inside. After hearing not a single sound coming from the cottage, I reached out with my magical sense and realized that a spell of silence had been cast within. This explained our unusual fortune in not rousing those inside. While a spell of silence is good for ensuring your secrets remain inviolate, it also renders you deaf to threats such as the one I posed. I know understood the number of guards I had spied through out the farm, as a meeting of importance must have been taking place inside.

I was just about to start making my way toward the front of the cottage when I heard shouting and the sound of clashing arms coming from the direction of the pumpkin patch. Keeping low, I snuck around the side so I could see what was occurring. I nearly laughed out loud when I saw that a band of adventurers had engaged the remaining sentries of the farm. This stroke of good fortune quickly eased my mind as to how I would proceed with those inside the building. Deciding that discretion was needed at this point, I watch as the bandits were quickly dispatched.

The party then moved on the farmhouse. With a definite flair for the dramatic, the lovely mage of the party hurled a flaming globe through the front door as her friends rushed forward. Before the warriors could barge into the confined space, a woman and two men came rushing out, cloths smoldering. While the two men drew their weapons and rushed forward to meet their assailants, I saw the female start gathering flaming energy in both hands. Well, it seemed that Surena was indeed home and not exactly disposed to entertain guests.

Surena hurled the gathered magical flame toward a burly warrior in cheap plate. The man was thrown from his feet to lay stunned more than a yard way. A young novitiate cleric moved quickly to his side to render aid while their comrades redoubled their efforts to bring down the bandit leaders. Surena was in the midst of a sorcerous exchange with the lovely lady mage when I decided to make my move. Quickly directing Gyax to assist the adventures with the two bandit rogues, I quickly began to move along the front of the house. I came up behind Surena and had just started to reach for her when she spun around and placed her palm against my chest and shoved. Augmenting her strength with magical aid, she managed to fling me into the cottage where I smashing into the back wall driving my breath out in an anguished yell. Believing me dealt with, Surena turned her attention back to the mage and started gathering flame for another strike.

Struggling to draw breath, I felt my rage and humiliation racing to the fore. I had not been handled so readily since I had arrogantly accepted a duel from a young warlock bravo during my first year of apprenticeship. By all that was unholy this was going to end! I quickly used my link to Gyax to bid him switch his assault to this arrogant renegade who would dare lay hands upon me and drew my dagger. Pulling myself to my feet, I saw that Surena’s attention was divided between the assaults of the adventurer mage and my familiar, so she was not prepared when I reached around her head with a handful of hell flame and seared her mouth shut. Spinning around in horrified shock, I watched Surena’s eyes bulge and lock with mine as I drew my dagger across her throat. Using my weight, I bore her to the ground and slowly pushing my dagger into her heart. I knelt there beside he, locked in our death gaze till the last light of her life fled.

I quickly tore the choker from her throat and stood up to see how the rest of the battle was progressing. I noticed that one of the rogues was down and the other fleeing into the woods with the party at his heels. Only the mage had remained behind, staring at me with a curious look. Finally with a small nod, she turned and raced after her companions leaving me there surrounded by the dead. I called Gyax to my side and with a sigh, turned and made my way from the now truly abandoned farm.

Later the next day I returned the choker to Gakin. I steadfastly refused his inquiries as to the method of her death, but would have gladly demonstrated her last moments on him but for the promise of the voidwalker. Knowledge and power demand sacrifice and Surena was mine. She would not be the last.

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


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