Journals of Alhazred

Fiction based on the World of Warcraft game setting

Monday, January 23, 2006

The Price of Belonging: A Forsaken Rogue's Tale

…I watched the family for most of the evening with my faced pressed against the glass of the great room window. The skills of stealth I had by necessity been forced to learn, ensuring that my presence went unnoticed. As I skulked there watching the family, the warmth and love they displayed toward each other left me desperately wishing I could enter and share the warmth of their fire and companionship.

Unfortunately, my quasi-life forever bared me from having so dear a comfort. It seemed ages already since I had last felt warmth, left alone the simple pleasure of family and given the fact of my undeath, I could look forward to a possible eternity on the fringe of humankind. Waking as one of the Forsaken had been a blow to my soul that I was still learning to deal with. Coming from a family tradition of glorious military service, it had been understood that eventually I would meet my end on some far-flung battlefield or in defense of my kingdom from invaders of her border, but the thought that I might possibly be denied peace in death had never entered my mind. It was thought that in the first days of my awakening I might possibly loose my identity and devolve into madness and near mindless hunger like one of the revenants of the Scourge.

Despite the general callousness of the undead, it was very much through the patient efforts of my Forsaken Advocate that I was able to piece together the broken fragments of my soul. The mortal coil of my attachments to all the things I had loved about my life was a constant hindrance in my acceptance of my new reality. With an obviously deeper understanding of my needs than I myself had, my Advocate has offered the salvation of duty to another purpose. Within the ranks of the assassins, I could channel my confusion into mastering the deadly skills they offered. It spoke to the state of my mind that I, someone who had always tried to live a life of honor, would so eagerly grasp the lifestyle of the assassin as a means to save my sanity. I poured the dedication I normally maintained into my study and quickly mastered the skills of subterfuge and poisons. It was this rapid acquiring of skill, that had led me to my present position looking in on this family at leisure. They were to be my last test, the confirmation of my acceptance of my new nature, but also my dedication to the Forsaken and their agendas regardless of how it might affect the living.

This brought me back to my current vigil. For three more hours I was content to merely watch them and vicariously drink in their living energy. All to soon I knew it must end and then my real purpose would begin…

*****

After the humans finally turned in for the night, it was simplicity itself to let myself into the house. Moving silently through the parlor, I took the time to browse amongst the mementos they had collected. Small portraits and souvenirs, each a memory, spoke to the devotion this family held for its members. The collection of precious and expensive books that stood in a corner shelf spoke to their devotion of learning. The large tome of fairytales, a lavish luxury given the price of books let alone one devoted to the entertainment of children, told me of the father’s love of his children. A trinket shelf devoted to the parents showed the handy work of items obviously made by the hands of youth. One in particular, a crudely carved statuette of a knight’s horse held my attention. Without really understanding why, I placed the horse in my pocket before moving on.

Upstairs I crept till I came to the master bedroom. Silent as death, I eased the door open and made my way into the room. I quickly took stock of the room and saw the woman and her husband were asleep. I moved to the bed and pulled out the specially ensorcelled dagger I had been provided. I saw the paralytic venom I had applied to the blade earlier still coated the blade. It would ensure that my work was undisturbed. A quick jab to both of them started the poison working, so quick was its action that neither had time to cry out from the pain or surprise. I quickly started on the second portion of my task and was on my way to the next room within several minutes.

One by one I moved from room to room. Each one a methodical application of the assassins art in pursuit of my goals till eventually I stood before the final door. Entering as I had the others, the enhanced vision afforded me by my undeath allowed my to view the details of the room. Obvious appointed in bright colors, it was filled with the lovingly crafted toys of a youth that enjoyed life. Yes, the room was study of the innocence I so longed to hold onto and this was no better expressed than by the youngling nestled in his small bed before me.

Moving up alongside the sleeping boy, I found myself merely staring at his sleeping form. The cherubic face, so pure in its youth, was untroubled by the horrors of the world beyond his window. Before I could stop, I found myself reaching out and gently brushing back a lock of the soft brown hair that had fallen across his face. Despite the whisper like touch, he stirred in his sleep and I took a quick step back. So undone was I by the human compassion I thought I had left behind, I stumbled into the bedside stand, knocking over a glass figurine in the shape of a griffin. The child was a light sleeper; for the noise disturbed him enough that he started to rub his eyes and to my dismay turned his head in my direction.

“Go back to sleep Jordan.” I told him quietly.

“Daniel? Is that you Daniel?” he asked me, still rubbing sleep away.

“Your just dreaming Jordan. Close your eyes and you’ll be back to sleep before you know it.” I said once again in a near panic.

“I knew you weren’t really dead Daniel. Momma and Daddy cried a lot when we got the news, but I told them you could never die. Not you Daniel, you were always so strong.” He said groggily.

“Everything dies eventually little brother. There are worse things than falling in battle. Now close your eyes, and think of another dream. Something nice, like when father would take us to see the changing of the royal guard, with all their finery and the big gilded horses of the knights.” I managed to choke out.

“ I love you big brother.” He said simply and snuggled back down into his bed and closed his eyes.

Staring at the ceiling, the last vestiges of my humanity screaming inside me, I silently pleaded for a forgiveness I knew would never come. I would never again be clean for I was certainly a damned thing for this nights work. After a moment to collect myself, I leaned back over the bed… The echoes of my anguished screams chased me from the house as I completed my work and stole off into the night carrying a sack heavy with sin.

****

Back amongst my own, I presented my offering to my Advocate. With a solemnity in keeping with the horror the sack contained, Grigor withdrew the bloody still beating hearts of my family.

“This final task severs your ties to the mortal’s world. You are this day reborn in truth and take your place in the ranks beyond life.” He said in ritual, “ As befits birth, you will take upon a new name. No longer will you be called Daniel, for that is another life beyond you. Hence forth , you will be known as Abdiel. Each of these offerings will stand in your place as sacrifice for transgression against the will of the Forsaken. Once they are gone, the full measure of our displeasure will be yours alone to bare.” Then in an unheard of gesture of understanding, he leaned forward and squeezed my shoulder in a companionly grip.

“What we ask is not easy Abdiel, but necessary. Mortal life will never again be in your grasp much as you are now beyond death. Harsh is the path we are forced to walk, and your heart must be dedicated to our purpose. We are your family now, and while comfort is not something in our nature to offer, we will offer you something to belong to and respect for your skills. In the coming centuries it will have to be enough, for it is all we have to give.” And with that, he turned to leave.

The dead cannot cry and of all the things I will miss about life, I believe that is the one simple act I will miss the most.

As I followed him from the room, I slipped my hand into my pocket and felt the ruff edges of the horse I had carved for my father when I was ten. I had one more thing to learn to endure in the coming years…regret.

Of Defias and Honor Betrayed Pt.3

Journal Entry

A fortnight to the day saw the fulfillment of my vow. Using my contacts within the Border Guard, I was able to locate four stalwart adventurers that shared my desire to see the back of the Defias broken.

Garibaldi was a promising mage whose sister had been defiled and murdered by a band of the thugs one lonely night on a stretch of the Elwynn road while making a journey to Stormwind.

Morrison, a battered and embittered young warrior whose twin brother had lost his life while safeguarding a caravan from Redridge, with a desire to fill the void in his soul with a river of blood.

Nathaniel the Priest, who forsook his vows of holiness and left his peaceful monastery to walk a path of vengeance when the young nephew he believed would follow him into the clergy was killed during a pilgrimage to the chapel of Northshire.

Ginner, a well trained rogue from Stormwind’s Old Town, rounded out our party. Cynical and prone to seemingly cruel acts, his generally self-indulgent life had come to a screeching halt when his wife, an equally accomplished rogue in her own right, had meet her fate at the end of a Defias knife after a disastrously failed burglary attempt of a Defias outpost.

We each entered the mine not with some glorious vision of heroism or civic duty, but in the service of Death. Thoughts of vengeance and retribution insured that no quarter would be given and even Nathaniel, the most likely to be conflicted with our path, showed a surprising ruthless practicality.

No, of them all, my own reasons for the slaughter we wrought were less than pure. Oh, I was true in my conviction to put to rest the spirits of Edward’s victims, but in the deepest part of my heart I knew I fought for another reason entirely… Edward’s madness resonated closely with an anger that had been with me for many years. As I watched the kingdom I was born to degenerate in decadence and the common people that were it’s backbone ground under the thumb of royal indifference, I found it all to easy to see the seductive lure of VanCleef’s rage. Given the power and will to make a change, I could not say that I would not rationalize the same acts in order to effect change.

Edward was a shadowy mirror of my soul posing questions to my conscientious that I was not ready to ask of myself. More importantly, he was a potential rival to any future plans I might have for power. His death would serve well to open door into the halls of power that my calling would normally close, so practicality if nothing else demanded his destruction. It was with these thoughts in mind that I followed my companions down into that den of corruption.

The upper level of the mine was an extensive network of excavations. As we moved deeper into it’s depths, we uncovered warren after warren filled with the bustling activity of lower level members as they sought the dredges of the precious metals that the mine still possessed as well as making even more room for new members and equipment.

Once the first of the miners turned his pickaxe on us, the killing began. After a time, I simply stopped caring let alone counting the dead. From tunnel to tunnel we moved burning everything we left behind till eventually we came upon the mine foreman. A massive ogre by the name of Rhahk’Zor. Under normal circumstances, he might have been a formidable opponent, but with the killing fury driving us one it was but the work of minutes before he joined his workers in death. The ogre had been guarding a heavy wrought door that separated this new portion of the mine from the old tunneling.

After Grinner used his specialized talents to neutralize the door, we found ourselves in a cavern filled with goblins running here and there hard at work in what was obviously a lumber processing station. As we watched, a huge lumbering mechanical golem came into view carrying a massive timber in its claws. So strange was the contraption, that it was a few minutes more before we noticed that a goblin appeared to the be directing the machine from a seat within what would have been it’s head.

Garibaldi took the initiative, standing and firing balls of flame into the wood works, as he made his way toward the golem-like construct. We quickly fanned out around him and started killing goblins as fast as they could throw themselves at us. So caught up in his need to burn, Garibaldi was almost brought low by a swipe from the lumbering monstrosity till Morrison intervened. While the warrior kept the attention of the driver, Grinner stealthily climbed the up the back of the thing and started ripping out cables and whatever parts his hands could reach. It seemed mere moments, till the machine started to spark and smoke. Grinner jumped from his precarious position just as the thing lost its balance. Jumping from his seat, the large goblin was able to roll to safety as his creation crashed to the ground. Of us all, it was Nathaniel that reached him first and with a swing of the heavy hammer he kept at his side, caved in the goblin leaders head.

As we moved farther into the mine, we eventually came to what appeared to be a smelting works. The sheer amount of industry that had been erected within the mines was startling. Once again, we were confronted with goblins busily rushing to and fro at their task. We engaged these workers with the same pitiless determination we had used to dispatch their brethren and it was not long before the bodies were once again piled high.

We eventually came to another massive door deep within the bowels of the mine. After Grinner’s attempts to get us past this obstacle met with failure, we made use of some of the blasting powder stored in the tunnel behind us to breach the door using of all things a mammoth bronze cannon not unlike those used aboard ships of the line. After the cannon made splinters of the door, we were confronted with an astonishing sight… A gargantuan cavern in which a huge heavily armed ship floated. Everywhere we looked, we beheld crew loading provisions and weapons. It appeared that Edward’s grand scheme was to eventually take to the seas not only to disrupt the shipping lanes, but also to bombard the walls of Stormwind while lying off the coast. Judging from the size of some of the cannons this plan, while obviously the product of a demented mind, may very well have been feasible. With this secret bolthole leading out to the Great Sea, Edward could play a cunning game of cat and mouse with the royal navy that would have disastrous repercussions for the kingdom’s already shaky economy.

What followed next was a dizzying fight to the ship. Defias pirates rushed us seemingly from everywhere. I remember ripping souls from my attackers as quickly as my mind could think of the words. Faces were a blur as we smashed them down in our run to the ship. By the time we reached the boarding ramp, I was saturated with the stole energy of who knows how many fallen and could feel their agony like a sweet dark wine that had me almost drunk with the godlike feeling of power it conferred. At that point, I could not have stopped the slaughter even had I been willing, so tight did it have me in its grip. My companions were much the same, all caught in the vise like grip of battle madness. I remember the fight through the warship as much of the same. One thing I learned was that in the midst of such carnage foes loss their individuality as each is equally deserving of your next strike. The cook, first mate and captain all fell before us like the rest of their crew till eventually the captain’s quarters and our real prize was before us.

The final moments of VanCleef’s life were lived as violently as the rest it. Though he fought with skill and passion, the outcome was assured the moment we gathered toward this end. I know some enterprising bard is not doubt at this moment frustrated that I would not provide forth coming details of that last battle, but I have no desire to afford Edward any tainted glory even in death. I will say that such was my blood fueled hatred by the end, that I chose to inflict the most sever vengeance it was in my power to enact. With hardly a thought, I ripped him from his body. While negating the chance of resurrection, it was also in my mind to deny him the dark embrace of the afterlife. No, his sentence was pain and an unending quasi-life. To this end, as we made our way out of the cove to the coast, I stopped long enough to throw the crystal containing his screaming soul as far out to sea as my arm would allow. It still fills me with an unwholesome delight to this day to picture him at the bottom of the ocean, screaming out his madness into that deep forgotten darkness for all eternity.

After returning Edward’s head to Sentinel Hill, I parted company with the party. No fond fair wells were exchanged between us. We had each done what our demon’s demanded of us, and while not people I would call boon companions, I still wished their souls some rest from the pasts that haunted them.


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

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Visions of Combat:Druid

While not completely combat oriented, I still think this tale will make you smile.

Visions of Combat:Druid

…It did not take me long to find the tracks of the young human who had invaded my forest sanctum. Even had the trees not whispered to me of his passing I would have still been able to pick up his tracks. It never failed to amaze me that no matter how much time they spent in the wilderness, humans still managed to leave a trail that a half-blind kodo could follow.

It took less than an hour to finally come upon him. Gun in hand, he was apparently stalking Grimclaw, the Ironfur bear that I lived in this part of the forest, for I could see Grimclaw’s spoor at his feet. For a moment, I was almost tempted to let the fool actually find the surly giant. It was after all getting close to winter, and the bear would certainly find the opportunity for a quick meal agreeable.

No, this one was mine and it was about time that he learned why people left this portion of the woods alone…

I quickly closed the distance between us, moving silently from tree to tree. When I had moved close enough, I allowed him a glimpse of me. Predictably, he quickly fired at the great gray shape he most likely thought was the bear. Moving once more from tree to tree, I continued to taunt him with brief glimpses while all the while he furiously loaded and fired the noisy smelly rifle he carried. He must not had planned to be out long, for eventually his ammunition ran out and at that point, I broke from cover and quickly blinded him with a flash of Faerie Fire.

Briefly blinded, he stumbled into a tree and I quickly called up the tree’s roots to entangle him. Once he was securely snared, I casually walked up to him and folded my arms.

“Well, what has fortune brought me today? I asked, as I leaned forward and peered into face. Blinking furiously, I saw his startlement when he finally beheld me in my entire elven splendor.

“Wha…What is the meaning of this elf!?” he asked furiously, “By what right do you attack me like this?”

“Why by the right of the death I smell upon you, as well as the interesting collection of pelts I see swinging from your belt.” I said with as much surprise and innocence as I could muster without cracking a smile.

I could see the panic start to take hold in his eyes. Any moment now, I knew the pleading would start and was not disappointed.

“Please let me go! I meant no harm. I was simply trying to earn a living. I only take what I can use!! If you let me go, I will never come back. This I swear on the Light!” he cried.

I pretended to give it some thought till he desperately said, “You’re a Druid. You’re supposed to revere life and harmony. Where is the justice or forgiveness in this? It was simply a mistake!”

“Tell you what human. If you can answer three questions I will let you go.” I told him.

“Ask me anything!” he said with eager desperation.

“Will a predator kill for sport?” I asked him.

“No! A predatory kills from hunger!” he exclaimed.

“Ah, but the great cats of Stranglethorn Vale will often play a delicious game of cat and mouse with their prey. Even animals need amusement.” I told him. And with that, I quickly changed my index finger into a talon and leaning forward, open a thin painful gash from his right brow to his chin. I leaned back and licked my nail clean as I contemplated my work and my next question.

At this point, his initial cry of pain had turned into a ragged sob and he blinked frantically to clear the blood from his eye.

“Next question.” I told him sweetly.

“How many animals have you killed this day?” I asked

With evident relief, he quickly said “Six! I took six animals!”

Waving my finger back and forth before his nose I told him. “Really? But I see a wolf pelt at your side and the only wolves in this part of the forest are Grinner and his mate Leaf Catcher and their litter. They whelped four joyous pups this past spring. Apparently you have robbed those younglings of one of their parents. "

"Given that this looks to be a harsh winter, one or more is likely not to make it to spring, since one parent will not be enough to hunt for them. So, in fact you have killed seven or eight if not ten."

"Throw in the fact that wolves mate for life, and I expect which ever one is left will waste away mourning the loss of its mate."

"So, that makes the total possibly eleven.” I then slashed his other cheek. After that, I rammed my altered finger into the hollow of his shoulder. Working the nail around , it was satisfying to hear his howls of pain. After a bit, I casually withdrew and proceeded with my next question.

“One more; just one more. If you answer this one right, I will let you go.” I promised, “What is the lesson to be learned from this encounter?

Lifting his head and staring at me with pain and hate filled eyes, he choked out “That you Elvin bastards are the only ones that have a right to your precious forests, may the Twisting Nether take you!” then slumped in his restraints.

I could tell that he had given up all hope of walking away from this, so I decided it was time for the game to end.

“Wisdom often comes with a harsh cost human.” I told him gently. Then to his surprise, I released the roots that held him. Dropping to his knees, it took him a minute to understand that he was free. Recovering himself, he quickly jumped to his feet, turned and ran.

I waited till he had made forty paces before I started my change. Looking over his shoulder in his panicked flight, I saw the terror on his face as he saw me shift. His headlong race for safety was quickly brought to an end, as with but a few bounds, I caught him and ripped the great muscle at the back of his right leg. Falling to the ground and rolling over to face me, he started to crawl backwards as fast as his damaged leg would allow him.

Changing back, I sauntered up and used my weight to pin him. He then started to scream and curse me. “Damn your lying black heart! My family will come looking for me, and when they find what has befallen me, your stinking woods will be filled with hunters looking to take your head you filthy beast!”

I leaned in close like a lover and whispered into his ear “I certainly hope so. In fact, I’m counting on it.” Then started to change once again. As my shape rippled from Elvin to dire bear, he started to scream in earnest. I started with his face first…

****

Later back in my den, I went through his belongings. I chuckled when I thought over our conversation. Stranglethorn Vale’s large predatory cats were not the only things that enjoyed a bit of entertainment with their meal from time to time.

Thinking about those last words shared between us, I sincerely hoped his prediction came to pass. Grimclaw was not the only bear in these woods that needed to prepare for his winter hibernation…

Visions of Combat:Warrior

This is the first in a series of vignettes focused on combat in its many forms. For while the results may often be the same, the methods and perspectives are unique.


...As the huge troll walked out onto the sand of the arena, I tightened my grip on the haft of Rivenspike. I could almost feel the mighty axe’s desire to spill black blood, and I smiled tightly as I looked over the edge of my shield at yet another challenge to my supremacy as Gladiatorial Champion.

Once, I would have been looked at such competitions as the product of degenerate societies. But as I felt the familiar rage and blood lust building, I knew that my people had forgotten the truth we knew when we were less civilized, that life is sweetest when walking the thin edge of destruction. The air was more crisp and colors more vibrant when fortune might at any moment strip them away.

The young bravo stopped a yard away and brandished his trident and net with a fierce yell trying to dominate my will. He had just started to swirl the net above his head when I felt the familiar energy of my hatred hit my heart. As my vision narrowed down till all I saw was this tyro before me, I gave a mighty yell. All of my anger, all of my bloodlust and the sheer raw joy of power and life I pulled deep from within me and put into that howl of defiance.

The sound hit my opponent like a solid blow and I saw his eyes widen in fright. The moment his arm started to falter in the swinging of his net, I sprinted forward. Covering the distance between us in a single heartbeat, he had not recovered enough to block my tackle as I rammed the spike of my shield into his collarbone.

Wind blasted from his lungs and reeling from the impact, he could not defend himself from the vicious swing I slammed into his side. I felt the impact of his ribs shattering as Rivenspike pierced deeply through his cuirass and I knew that at least his lung, if not his heart as well, had been punctured. With an explosive grunt of agony, he dropped to his knees and vomited forth blood and mucus on to the sand.

Taking an instant to adjust my footing, I brought the axe over in an overhead chop that I drove straight into the hallow joining his shoulder and neck. His chest piece may as well have been made of cloth for all of the resistance it offered, as I split his torso from neck to navel.

Blood fountaining over me, I planted my boot in his chest and with a mighty tug pulled the war axe free. Battle? Challenge? No, this had been an execution and as his body pitched forward, I casually brought the axe up and allowed the weight of his body to sever the head on the cruel keen edge of Rivenspike.

As I slowly came down from the rush, I could feel his blood thick on my face and body.
With the usual weariness and disappointment that came after a killing, I quickly replayed the fight in my mind.

Twelve beats of my heart to end this threat to my glory. Twelve beats… I have done better, but I was younger then.

I heard the arena master walking up behind me, bringing me my winnings. The money mattered little really compared to thrill, and as I turned to accept my reward with the adulation of the crowd ringing in my ears, I wondered if he would give me two next time providing I promised to share the purse…

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Of Defias and Honor Betrayed Pt.2

Journal Entry


My last few months in Westfall were occupied with ferrying supplies from Gryan’s contacts in Stormwind and Lakshire in the Red Ridge territories. While I felt that my skills would have been better utilized by further soirees against the Defias, I knew that this was Gryan’s attempt to keep me out of the clutches of the bandits, once he learned that a price had been put on my head by the Brotherhood.

Eventually, with constant and pointed comments, I was able to make Gryan see reason. If the Defias really wanted to claim my life, distance would not really be a factor given their reach. With my firm conviction that the time was ripe to strike a decisive blow against that raiders ringing in his ears, he decided it was time to beard the lion in its den. To that aim, I was directed to seek out an old rogue of Gryan’s acquaintance named Wiley at the inn in Lakeshire. It was Gryan’s belief that Wiley was our best chance to finally start putting a face to the shadowy leadership of the bandits.

-------------*----------------

Wiley was a cantankerous old goat, with a reputation as the town drunk. It took half the silver in my purse’s worth of lager and Gryan’s signet ring to finally convince the old man that he could trust my confidence, but I was presented with a much different person once we had moved our meeting to the room I have reserved for the night. Wiley it seemed, was actually a member of the royal intelligence service SI7. The image he cultivated for the citizens of Lakeshire was merely the cover of a shrewd mind and someone I rapidly came to believe was an Adept at his craft.

Lakshire was known as a resort town of the wealthy of Stormwind, and drunkards are often considered beneath notice. This placed him in a perfect position to over hear the private discourses of noble and commoner alike, but it was surprising to see real fear in his eyes when I turned the conversation to the Defias.

Fortune it seemed favored my mission, for Wiley had managed to acquire information that the Defias were planning a major offensive. He had also learned that the Defias were being aided in their plan by a mercenary group of Kobolds and Gnolls. Most surprising, was the knowledge that a group of renegade goblin engineers were working closely with the group. This last I found startling, not out of a belief in the inherent goodness of goblinoids, but because goblins were notorious for backing which ever combatant they felt most likely to win a conflict, as well as providing the most profit. The fact that they would align themselves with the Brotherhood was an ominous indication that what ever the leadership planned was serious indeed.

While I worked over this information, I asked if he had any insights that could uncover the mastermind behind the organization. Wiley’s demeanor became quickly agitated, but after an obvious internal struggle of some weight, he pulled a crumpled note from a pocket and pressed it into my hands then turned to leave. In the doorway, he turned and bade me pass along a rather cryptic message to Gryan… “The Stonemason’s fee will be paid.”

------------------*-------------------


While Gryan seemed rightly disturbed by the news I brought back, he was obviously puzzled by Wiley’s parting message. He obviously knew something concerning stonemasons, but did not believe it was relevant to our uncovering the leadership of the Defias. Not one to let go of any possible clue though, he decided I should take the news to Mathias Shaw. According to Gryan, Shaw was the spymaster of SI7 and in the perfect position to put the final pieces of the puzzle together. It seemed that Gryan and Shaw had fought together during The First War, and Gryan was finally calling in an old debt. I was told to check out the rundown militia barracks in Old Town. Old Town was a decrepid section of Stormwind rampant with crime and the seeder elements any large city attracts. Fitting that the leader of a group of spies and assassins would make his nest within the heart of Stormwind’s decay.


------------------*--------------------


Even had I been blind, I would have known the moment I entered Old Town. The ever-present smell of urine and rotting garbage warred with the distinctive smell of unwashed bodies. A festering pestilent collection of homes and shops, I most times could not bring myself to loath its inhabitants, even though I generally distain personal apathy. A life of backbreaking labor, hunger and poverty while in the midst of the obvious wealth the rest of the city enjoyed, made it easy to see why it was suicide to go unarmed even during the day.

Indeed, Old Town had forgotten itself even as the palace did its best to ignore its existence. As long as the plebs remembered their place, the rest of the cities inhabitants merely shook their heads at the instances of murder and larceny conducted in its shadowed alleys and commented that such could be expected from “Those kinds of people.” Truthfully, the only thing I found myself hating them for was the knowledge that their stink would permeate my cloths for days.

So, I was in no mood for the posturing of the young bravo guarding the front gate of the barracks. With the knowledge that this run down building was the headquarters of SI7, I was sure that there were mostly likely crossbows tipped with something deadly and poisonous pointed at me from the moment I stopped in front of the young punk, but that did little to dissuade me from raising my palm toward his chest and giving his essence a little tug to show him that I offered more pain than he was likely trained or paid to deal with. As I expected, after releasing him from the pull of my sorcery, he made no attempt to hinder my walking through the gate and up through the front door.

Once inside, I found myself in the hallway of a well-appointed facility. I did not cool my heels long before I was met by an unassuming older man in the livery of a butler and told that Shaw was waiting in his study. As I followed the gentleman, I had to smile at the thought that this manservant that looked so much like my grandfather mostly likely had forgotten more ways to kill a person than the entire garrison of Sentinel Hill, with the exception of Gryan, had yet learned.

Shaw’s office turned out to be well appointed in leather and exotic wood. Lush tapestries hung on the walls along with amazingly detailed maps of the Eastern Kingdoms as well as what appeared to be topographical maps of many of the regions of Lordaeron. The calm handsome man sitting behind the large desk that dominated the far end of the room watched me with intelligent hooded eyes as I walked forward and started to introduce myself. With a gesture, he bade me to silence. Shaw knew who I was and why I had come. Indeed, it was his respect for Gryan, and the fact that he did not suffer fools gladly, that had allowed me past the front door despite my actions with the guard, whom I learned was named Thaddeus.

After offering me a snifter of an especially excellent brandy, Shaw quickly got the point of my meeting with him. At his request, I handed over the note Wiley had given me, as well as recounting his comment concerning a stonemason. Shaw looked over the message, then got up and walked to a collection of cabinets that occupied almost the entire right hand side of the room. I saw as he opened one of the cabinets, that is was filled with folios stuffed with reams of paper. After a brief search, he pulled one from the collection and brought it back to the desk.

After giving it a quick perusal, he handed it to me and said that it contained the answers I sought. I must admit, it seemed awfully convenient as well as anti-climatic that he would have the answer to the leadership of the Defias Brotherhood so readily to hand. After saying as much, he told me with a strange smile, that a skilled woodsmnn knew that some fires must be left to burn for the good of the forest. But that the Master woodsman also knew how to read such fires, for eventually it would need to be extinguished. I was then told to make haste back to Gryan and lay the matter to rest.

While waiting on a gryphon back to Westfall, I looked over the folio. This was how I came to know the name Edward Vancleef and his connection to the Stonemasons and the Defias…


Edward it appeared was once a highly skilled engineer during the First War. Trained in techniques of stealth and insurgent tactics by SI7 itself, his specialty was infiltrating behind enemy lines to destroy the Hordes mechanical defenses. After the sacking of Stormwind and its eventual reoccupation, Edward turned to his equally exceptional talents in stonemasonry having been taught by his father, a master mason in his own right.

It was Edward that organized the efforts of the stone craftsmen in rebuilding the once great capital. Once the work was finally completed, Edward was one of the first workers exiled from the city gates at sword point when he sought payment for his efforts on behalf of the capital. Whether from a misunderstanding concerning the nature of the craftsmen’s desire to help, or simply from greed, Edward soon found himself joined by the rest of the men and women who’s backbreaking toil had restored Stormwind to it’s former glory.

With the nobility refusing compensation, or even acknowledgement of the efforts of Edward and his guild of masons as well as his fellow disenfranchised engineers, Vancleef soon grew bitter and rallied those of similar sentiment into a force with which to extract what they felt they were owed. Taking the name The Defias Brotherhood, the Defias tattooed the emblem of a cog upon their palms and held to the philosophy that “The machine will not run smoothly if the parts go renegade.” Indeed, it became their rallying cry

The following years saw the ranks of The Brotherhood swelled by outcasts and malcontents, as well as those technically skilled individuals that wished unrestricted freedom in their research, regardless of its potential danger to those around them.

Banditry, thievery and extortion became the order of the day and the means for Edward to continue his personal campaign to extract his payment of the flesh and blood of the realm that had betrayed him. All of that skill, technical knowledge and force of personality corrupted by his thirst for vengeance.



I hold to the old stricture of “An eye for an eye.” After all, even a dog that is abused by its master is justified in turning upon him. But Vancleef had become a diseased feral cur that savages all those around him in his need to inflict pain like that which he endures. Instead of seeking shelter within the very bosom of the people he and his represented, the better to foster sympathetic ties to the community, he instead brought death and hardship. In the end, he had become worse than the treachery that had spawned him.

It was with a cold and calculating fury that I returned to Gryan with his answers, and a vow that before a fortnight, Edward would pay for his butcher’s bill. The payment that was owed to Elywnn, Westfall and the rest of the Eastern Kingdoms, not in the name of the king, but in the name of those people like Gryan, Mister and Missus Saldean and my father, the common folk of the land who’s innocent blood cried out for justice. Their shades now had an advocate, and I would call him to accounting for his madness, or await him in hell.



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