Prologue: Rise of the Sun Warriors, Part 1

“How ’bout it, elf?”

“I already told you, it was simple. I wanted to join the war effort, my king said no. Stormwind was obliterated, my king still said no. Then Quel’Thalas burned, and my king said yes. That’s all there is to it.”

“That’s not very fair, Thal. The rest of us have bared our hearts and souls; claiming ‘I’m boring’ just isn’t fair.”

“Fine. But I warn you. I’m not the best at telling stories, and I may get sidetracked and talk about my food or my daughters too much. Just speak up if I’ve been rambling about cake.”

~

“No. Absolutely not.”

Thalorien Dawnseeker frowned. “Lord Bloodwrath, these creatures represent a threat to all life on this world. We cannot stand by-”

“And why not?” Bit out Solanar Bloodwrath. “Why should we commit any of our numbers to a war that will not affect us? Why should we devote our soldiers to defend any human kingdom, let alone one so far to the south, it’s considered isolated even from other human realms? You would have us send our sons and daughters half a world away, to bleed and die on a battlefield not our own.”

Thalorien shook his head. “Lord Bloodwrath, you put far too much faith in our defences and the incompetence of these invaders. Our runestones and Gates are powerful, yes, but they will not stand against an enemy of this magnitude. If the human kingdoms fall-”

Solanar sneered. “Listen to yourself. ‘This magnitude.’ Please. What magnitude? They threaten only one kingdom, and are barely capable of doing that. They attack caravans and prospectors deep in the swamps of the far south. They are aimless raiders, bandits. They are disorganized trolls. Nothing more.”

“I have reason to believe this threat is far greater than you imagine, Lord Bloodwrath. My sources-”

“Your sources. Oh I see. Now we have to believe you. You have sources. Pray tell, what are these mysterious sources? Have-”

“If I may.” Interrupted Prince Kael’thas Sunstrider. “The Blade of Silvermoon is referring to me, Lord Bloodwrath.”

At that, Solanar arched an eyebrow. “Really, my prince? I thought you better than fool notions such as this.”

Kael’thas ignored the slight and continued speaking. “We in Dalaran detected a… an anomaly, very near the southern tip of the continent. An enormous amount of energy being created then used. We’re fairly confident that it was exceptionally powerful portal magic, though there were traces of summoning magic as well.”

“Meaning…?” prompted King Anasterian Sunstrider.

“Meaning, father, that I and my fellow mages have reason to believe these are invaders. As in, invaders from somewhere else entirely. Another planet, another dimension perhaps. These small raiding parties are likely scouts, testing the waters, so to speak, before they arrive here in greater numbers.”

“As you can see, Lord Bloodwrath, we-” Thalorien tried speaking again.

“I have been convinced of nothing, Lord Dawnseeker.” Solanar had used Thalorien’s proper title for once. At least he was finally taking this seriously. Seriously-ish. “The core of the matter has not changed. Before this questionable revelation, these marauders were a far away threat that had nothing to do with us. Now, these marauders are a far away threat that has nothing to do with us.”

Thalorien blinked. “Are you mad? These things could very well threaten the entire world! We cannot simply stand by. We should mobilize our armies, send our fleets to reinforce them, we should-”

“Even if we accept that these pointless raids could pose a threat to the humans, even if we accept a worst case scenario, and every human kingdom burns, it is still no concern of ours.”

“Outrageous!” shouted Kael’thas. “How can you possibly feel so little about their lives?!”

Solanar eyed the prince coldly. “My mandate is to protect my people. My people, the elves of Silvermoon and Quel’Thalas. My duty is to them. Not a collection of flailing hairless monkeys. If we enter this war, elves will die. You may have betrayed our people with your… dalliances in Dalaran, but I-”

“YOU DARE!” Kael’thas was livid.

Solanar’s smile was as cold as his eyes. “So it is true then. I had thought it blatant rumour mongering, but if you and that woman-”

“Silence.” The king spoke, and his word was law. Silence descended. “My son, is this true? Have you had… relations with a human female?”

“I… father, I-”

“Enough. I can see it in your eyes. You… disappoint me, Prince Kael’thas. Leave.”

“But-”

LEAVE!” Anasterian thundered, all signs of old age vanishing as he pushed himself out of his throne. “You have SHAMED me! You have shamed your people and this crown! You… you…!”

He sat again, the echoes of his anger fading. “Leave. We will discuss this… failure, later.”

Prince Kael’thas stood, his face unreadable

“She has a name, father. She is not-”

GET OUT OF MY SIGHT!

His back stiff, he left without another word.

The silence continued for some time.

“Lord Dawnseeker has a point, however.” Interjected Lady Sylvanas Windrunner, Ranger-General of the Farstriders. “Some of my rangers have fought these creatures, and they are exceptionally fierce. Not the brightest opponents, but the destruction even one of them is capable of surpasses that of any other race we have heretofore encountered.”

“Even so,” said Solanar, “We have our own defences. The runestones have stood for eight thousand years, the Gates for nine. There is nothing that can threaten us here.”

“Why are we even discussing defence?” asked Auronor Iramhir, Admiral of the Navies of Silvermoon. “We are literally on the opposite end of the continent from this threat. No matter how little faith we have in the humans, they are more than capable of defending themselves.”

~

“Wait, how many people were at this meeting?” asked Tirion.

“Well, there’s me, the Blade of Silvermoon. Sylvanas, the Ranger-General was there, the prince was for a while, the king, that lunkhead Bloodwrath, the admiral, and the grand magister was there. Just essential military leaders. There’s usually much more, but this meeting was specifically for military intervention, so-”

“Alright, I get it. What does that Blade title you have mean, anyway?”

“Right, er. In essence, I am the left hand of the throne, if you consider the prince the right hand. I am the highest authority of the judiciary, and am in charge of the Church in regards to military matters. I am on equal footing with the other military leaders, I carry-”

“Forget I asked. Does anything exciting happen? Maybe something involving griffons? Stump’s story had griffons.”

“You don’t think this is exciting? This entire war could have been completely different if my peers weren’t such stubborn, ignorant fuckwits that can’t find their own asses despite having their heads shoved in them so deep… what?”

“Nothing, just never heard an elf swear before. What was that you said? Fuck wit?”

“Tirion.”

“What? It’s a good curse. Fuck wit. Fuck. Wit. Fuckwit. I love it. Rolls of the tongue rather nicely.”

“Right. Have fun with that. Maybe I should just summarize?”

“How long did thae meetin’ go on fer?”

“Uh… several hours. I have a very good memory, I can recite most of it word for-”

“Spare us lad! Jus’ give us the summary!”

~

“Our primary concern, our only concern,” Bloodwrath was saying, “is the continued preservation and defence of the Quel’Thalas and the high elf people. Nothing else is of any importance.”

“And what of our treaty with the bloodline of Arathi?” Grand Magister Rommath Selendi said.

Bloodwrath snorted in contempt. “The kingdom of Arathi fell over three thousand years ago. Yes, technically the Arathi line still exists, a general in Stormwind still bears the name of Lothar. How long are we to honour such a treaty? Indefinitely? Do the humans even remember that such a treaty even existed?”

~

“We do remember.” said Uther quietly. “We pinned most of our hopes on that treaty. This… Bloodwrath fellow, he seems, quite…”

“You can say it Uther!” goaded Tirion. “I know you want to! I can feel the hate in you. Give in to it! Say a naughty word!”

“… Obstinate.”

“You are no fun at all, Uther.”

~

“The technicalities should be irrelevant.” said Rommath. “The human kingdoms, all of them, are our allies. We have stood by them for millenia. Are we to simply discard that proud tradition every time a threat appears that does not immediately endanger us?”

“In short, yes.” said Bloodwrath. “The Aegis is willing to make any sacrifice necessary to protect Quel’Thalas. Last I perused a map, Stormwind was not Quel’Thalas.”

“Well, what of our priests? Does the Church stand with our allies? The Farstriders?” Rommath asked.. “Their mandates extend beyond our borders, do they not?”

Sylvanas nodded. “The Farstriders have ever been involved in human military campaigns. In fact, several contingents of my… our rangers have already participated in combat against them, in case you’ve forgotten. I agree with Thalorien. They are every ounce the threat he claims them to be. We should respond accordingly.”

“Thank you, Lady.” Thalorien responded. She inclined her head.

“We have everything we need. What the humans need is none of our concern.” Bloodwrath waved a hand dismissively. “We are talking in circles. Let us cast and be done with it. The Aegis does not stand with Stormwind.”

“The Magi of Silvermoon do not stand with Stormwind.” Grand Magister Rommath said.

“The Farstriders stand as tactical and strategical support, we do not fully commit.” said Sylvanas.

“The Church and Blade of the Throne both commit to the full extent that we can.” said Thalorien.

“The Navy of Silvermoon does not stand with Stormwind.” added the admiral.

The votes cast, the Council of Silvermoon waited expectantly for the king’s decision. King Anasterian rarely participated much in these discussions. He would occasionally prompt for more detail on a point here or there, but that was all.

“I respect the decisions of my military commanders. Lady Windrunner, Blade Dawnseeker, you will provide tactical and strategic support only. Admiral Iramhir, you will provide logistics support for what forces we do commit to this southern war. Blade Dawnseeker, you are denied permission to fully commit the Church to this cause.”

The king paused, closing his eyes briefly. “We simply cannot afford to entrust so many elven lives to some war the humans have embroiled themselves in. All intelligence points to another resurgence in Amani activity. We need to prepare for possible war on our home front.”

“My king, at least allow me to go along as a guardian escort to what priests are sent.” Thalorien pleaded. “They will need prot-”

“Denied. The Blade will not leave this nation except under the direst of circumstances. What Farstriders are sent will be support enough.”

Thalorien struggled to keep his face neutral. “Of course, my king.”

“This meeting is adjourned. Lady Windrunner, please meet me in my map room.”

And with that, likely the entire outcome of this war with the orcs had been decided.

Thalorien left the room with a bitter taste in his mouth. He wasn’t sure why, intuition, perhaps the intervention of the Light. He knew, knew, these weren’t simple raiders. Something was horribly wrong.

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Prologue: Wild Hammers

“And that’s about the whole of it.” Finished Uther McConnohie. “Eleven more were brought into the order after me, our order swelled from there.”

“Really, Uther?” said Tirion, raising an eyebrow. “That’s it? No mention of how you single-handedly saved Ironforge, or how you broke the siege of Dun Boragh overnight, or the heroic charge of Greenholde?”

Uther shrugged. “I just did what any man-”

Tirion smiled wryly. “The ‘humbler than thou’ routine is getting old, Uther.”

“It’s not…” Uther stopped. “Oh. You’re mocking me.”

Tirion laughed. “Only a little! Light knows we all need a little mockery.”

Thalorien Dawnseeker nodded, the elf unnaturally grim. “The last few days have certainly been… trying.”

The paladins and what remained of their forces had been trapped in Ironstorm fortress for nearly three weeks. They had held, against impossible odds, day after day. The orcs hadn’t attacked in four days, instead maintaining a total blockade of the fortress. They were either waiting for reinforcements to break the paladins, or were content to starve them out. Or hoping the Alliance soldiers would go mad or for morale to sink too low to offer much resistance.

More than likely, it was all of the above. The orcs had proven to be very clever when they needed to strategize beyond ‘lots of orcs’. Whatever was commanding these orcs was likely just studying the limits of the paladins. Not one paladin had lost their life since the siege began. They kept morale up, they healed wounds, they kept watch all day, every day.

“This is more unsettling than anything else they’ve tried.” continued Thalorien. “There they sit, not a mile away, doing… nothing. Like horrible green gargoyles. I think I’m losing my mind.”

“Not much else to do.” said Uther, stretching.

“Anyone else have any good stories?” asked Thalorien. “We only have, oh I don’t know, infinity hours to kill here.”

“I could giver a shot!” said Stumps.

“Light save us all.” mumbled Tirion.

“Shet ep. It’ll be a good one, I tell ya.”

~

Rirain ‘Stumps’ Vault hurtled through the air, only vaguely uncomfortable with the knowledge that the ground was very quickly rising to meet him. He honestly was not sure what had happened. One moment he had been pushing hard for Aerie’s Peak, the body of his mighty griffon Deepwing surging beneath him. He had felt Deepwing suddenly spasm, then he was falling.

~

“Wait, your name is actually Rirain?”

“Did yeh honestly think meh name was STUMPS!? Ya daft elf, shet ep and lemme narrate.”

~

There would be time later to figure out what happened. For now, the most important thing was to avoid becoming a stain that was only somewhat reminiscent of a dwarf. He called out to the air, the element responding immediately. His descent slowed, then became gentle. He landed peacefully on the ground, none the worse for wear.

He quickly breathed his thanks to the wind, then gathered his thoughts.

He had already seen the… green things. He didn’t know what they were. As tall as a man, though twice as wide, rippling with far too much muscle. And they were everywhere. Tens of thousands of them, scattered through the forests.

He called out to water for clarity.

Shadow magic. A bolt of dark energy had come from the trees, killing Deepwing almost immediately. He could see it clearly now, where it had come from. An advance scout? What kind of scout used powerful magic? A good one, he reckoned.

Still. He had only heard of such shadow magic as rumours. To witness it first hand, an unknown magic, being wielded by an unknown enemy, was… unsettling. To say the least.

He called out to earth for stability. He knew what he had to do.

Whatever this enemy was, they were obviously marching directly to Aerie’s Peak. In enormous numbers. These green monsters were likely the cause of the silence out of Ironforge. The Wildhammer dwarves had parted somewhat amicably with their underground brethren and still maintained some economic ties. Though a month of silence was not unheard of, it was unusual.

He had to warn his fellows. Likely there were other scouts winging back as fast as they could, but who knows how many of them would actually make the journey. If they had already advanced scouts this far…

He called out to fire. The goal was clear. Make it to Aerie’s Peak, by any means necessary. First things first. Retrieve his Stormhammer, eliminate the scout that had killed Deepwing. It would do him no good to leave a scout that was aware of him alive.

He tried to tell himself that, anyway. Deepwing had served him well for two decades now. He knew he was probably motivated by revenge more than anything. Fire, at least, approved. The other elements said nothing.

He called to his Stormhammer, and it crackled into existence in his hands. A fine piece of craftsmanship, the Stormhammers were linked to the souls of their owners. They could be thrown anywhere, left anywhere, and could be called back to the owner quite easily. A very old, rudimentary shamanic power, it was nonetheless very time consuming to attune a Stormhammer properly. Only the stormriders were gifted with them.

Then he went hunting.

He found the caster scout very quickly. The green thing had been hunting him, too. It managed to squeeze out a single syllable before Rirain’s Stormhammer, hurled with as much force as he could muster, crushed its skull.

Hmm. Headless, the thing kinda looked like a giant stalk of broccoli. Appropriate.

The broc collapsed-

~

“Oh, no, you… you aren’t serious. You cannot possibly be serious. That’s why you call them brocs?!”

“Damnit yeh pointy eared goon monkey, I told yeh to let me narrate!”

~

The journey to Aerie’s Peak was uneventful after that. The elements did not seem that pleased with him. Fire was exultant, the others were very quiet. He wasn’t sure if he had angered them or not, but he asked for forgiveness nonetheless. He had loved that damn bird, was he not allowed a bit of oversight in regards to the killer?

Water, at least, understood that, though its disappointment was palpable. Change was coming. To the world, to Rirain. He would be called to something much greater, water was saying to him. Rirain had never been a very good shaman. He could hear the elements, speak with them, but he was very clumsy when it came to wielding them. Air seemed to know why, but it only ever gave him cryptic comments about a different energy.

~

“Okay, wait, so, do the elements actually speak to you? Like, I can give you this rock, and you can have a conversation with it?”

“No and yes. Is like, imagine if yeh’re having a conversation with yerself, but it isn’t really yerself, its like a part of yerself that is apart from yerself, like another you in you that can talk to… yeh’re not getting it.”

“Literally none of the words you just said made any sense on any level.”

“Good thing yer not a shaman then!”

~

Rirain had managed to catch the attention of a few other Stormriders. They had rescued him from continuing his entire journey by foot, and allowed him to reach Aerie’s Peak much sooner. Thankfully, his news wasn’t news, and in fact the dwarves had already been saved. A massive army of humans had been mobilized already, intent on beating back the hordes of orcs. The humans had acted to cut off the orcs advance on the Wildhammer thanedom, saving the dwarves from certain eradication.

The thanes swore to stand by the humans, to whatever end. If this war demanded every last dwarven life, so be it. Wildhammer honour demanded it. One of the humans, one Uther McConnohie, said such a drastic debt was unnecessary, as the human armies had merely done what was right.

The thanes responded that they doing the same. They were doing what was right, cultural differences be damned. Uther was not able to argue that.

It was discovered that the orcish advance into dwarven territory was a feint. The actual bulk of the horde was pushing north, towards the elven kingdom of Quel’Thalas. A small amount of elves were present with the human armies, anxious to defend their homes. The Alliance army was quickly rearranging itself to save yet another nation from annihilation.

There were, however, enough orcs still threatening the area around Aerie’s Peak. Many thousands of orc forces remained. The Alliance would have to split its forces.

It was this controlled chaos Rirain returned to. He had met the paladins then, seen what they could do, and felt… right.

~

“As if ev’ry part o’ me life had just snapped into place. I wasnae meant tae be a shaman. I could hear ’em, aye, but tha’ was jes’ because I had an innate sense for tha supernatural. The Light… it, spoke to me. Clearly. Forcefully. I’d ha’ clarity through water before, but, nothin’ like that. Nothin’ like tha’ at all.

“You humans take it for granted, yer precious Light. We Wildhammers, we doan have priests or mages or anythin’ like that. We’re shamans, we doan share yer beliefs. And yet, there it was. The Light. Me, my… purpose in life, finally revealed to me, after decades of strugglin’, givin’ my all, to be below average at everythin’. Bein’ a disappointmen’ to yer family, for years, jus’ cause yer called to somethin’ that doesnae exist in yer society.

“Yeh have no idea how… good that felt. For me life to finally have meanin’.”

~

“I, Rirain Vault, vow on me life, me word, and me hammer, to uphold the code of the paladin. I will help those who be needy. I will pr’tect those who cannae pr’tect themselves. I will conduct myself wi’ respect, wi’ tenacity, wi’ compassion at all times. I will fight fer honour, fer truth, fer justice. I am bound tae defend all tha’ is holy, tae avenge thems I pr’tect, tae bring unwaverin’ retribution to thems who would threat’n the innocent. These duties I assume willin’ly.”

“Rise, Paladin Rirain Vault. Welcome to the Order of the Silver Hand.”

“Thank yeh, Lord Paladin.”

“There is no need to thank me, Rirain.”

“Nay, there be. So. Thank yeh.”

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Prologue: Inventing the Light Part 2

A bevy of emotions rushed through Uther. Intense pride. Immense sadness. Unbreakable resolve. Inadequacy. Righteous anger.

“What if I did give you that sword and shield? Would you use them?” Archbishop Alonsus Faol had asked him the evening before. Uther had answered at once. He did not make idle promises.

The Scarlet Monastery was a huge, sprawling mass of structures. The Abby had living quarters for many thousands, though it currently held tens of thousands of refugees from the ruined kingdom of Stormwind. The chapel was just as large and grand, capable of seating upwards of two thousand. It, too, was filled to the brim with people.

All of them with their eyes on Uther, soon to be the first Paladin.

Pride. Uther had always lived to serve those around him. From a very young age, his innate altruism had set him apart from the other children. Nobody was surprised when he showed boundless aptitude in holy magic. This lack of surprise continued when he chose to become a priest of the Northshire Abby. Now he was to be the inaugural defender of the entire human race by the Archbishop of the entire Church of the Light. An unbelievable honour.

Sadness. That it had come to this. That he, a priest, a healer, would be required to don armour and weaponry. That so many had already died. That more would die. It was inevitable.

Resolve. He was to be a paladin. A defender of the light, a bulwark against the darkness. He would not allow more death. He would stand at the front lines, unmoving, unshakable.

Inadequacy. He was one man, made of flesh and bone. He could be killed so easily in any number of ways. He was weak. He could feel fear, his heart pounded with it at the orcish war cries. He could break, would break, and all would be lost. He was absolutely not ready for this responsibility.

Anger. Anger at the orcs and whatever dark masters they happened to obey. For the senseless loss of life. At himself for allowing the war to continue as long as it had. He should have done something, could have done something.

He would do something.

Alonsus Faol was speaking to the assembled crowds. This was to be the day of triumph, the day the war turned. Today, in this chapel, victory began.

Uther was called upon.

He faced the thousands gazing at him with… awe. Hope. Trust. Faith. How could all these people put their faith, their very lives, in the hands of a total stranger? It was a humbling thought.

He turned to the Archbishop, he knelt before his mentor.

He began to speak.

“I, Uther McConnohie, vow on my life, my word, and my sword, to uphold the code of the paladin. I will help those who are in need. I will protect those who cannot protect themselves. I will conduct myself with respect, with tenacity, with compassion at all times. I will fight for honor, for truth, for justice. I am bound to defend all that is holy, to avenge those I protect, to bring unwavering retribution to those who would threaten the innocent. These duties I assume willingly.”

Alonsus was beaming. “Rise, Lord Paladin Uther McConnohie.”

As Uther began to stand, the clouds of winter outside broke apart, scattered by a sudden wind. Sunlight, pure and intensely bright, beamed directly into the chapel, illuminating the entire interior of the structure with powerful light.

Uther’s armour glittered in the sunlight, which inexplicably seemed centered on him.

The chapel erupted into applause.

“It seems the Light itself has given you its approval, Lord Paladin Uther.” Alonsus said.

Uther, for his part, felt utterly overwhelmed. He had used holy magic most of his life, lived side by side with many strong casters and wielders of the Light. None of that compared to this. The Light pierced him, scoured him, blasting through every fibre of his being. He felt… immense approval from… something.

As fast as it had come, the feeling faded. He felt… clean. As if his soul had just been polished to perfection.

“I… yes.” Uther agreed, finally able to speak. “It seems it has.”

Alonsus’ eyes twinkled knowingly. “Now, Lord Paladin Uther, what shall we name this new order of holy warriors you have founded?”

Uther turned, sweeping his eyes across the cheering faces. Every one of them believed in him utterly. “I… I am not…”

“Speak from your soul, Uther.”

“… Yes.” Uther took in a deep breath. “I shall call it the Order of the Silver Hand.”

Alonsus nodded. “Excellent. Shall we continue?”

Between them, Alonsus and Uther had chosen several other men and women to serve as the first members of the Order. Including Uther, there would be twelve paladins in total.

Uther beckoned.

“Step forward, Tirion Fordring.”

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Prologue: Inventing the Light Part 1

It should be noted here that I have absolutely no plans whatsoever to follow Blizzard’s established Warcraft lore. If you see anything that is a deviation from established lore, you can be almost sure that I’ve changed it. For whatever reason, I probably like my version of it better.

For example, in Arkenheart’s version of Warcraft, there is no King Variann Wrynn. Rather, there is a Queen Varianna Wrynn. Same personality, just he’s a she now.

Most things are small changes, like spelling Stromgarde with a u, to get Stromguarde. I like it better that way.

Anyway.

And yes, the prologue stuff is supposed to be in anachronistic order.

-=-=-=-=-=-=-

Alonsus Faol gently closed the encyclopedia he had been reading. The chair creaked as he leaned back, a sound he felt his back would soon make. He rubbed the bridge of his nose, and wondered if he was being punished, tested, or if all this was merely a very cruel twist of fate. Whatever the case, he was too old for it.

Hard to believe that only a year ago he had been a mere bishop at Northshire Abby, tending to a gentle country with a gentle hand. As a southern nation, Stormwind did not even experience winter, only more rain. He spent most of his days tending to the vast library of the Abby, helping young priests and scholars with their works.

It had been a good life. Humble. Happy.

Snow gently floated to the ground outside the window to his small library. He’d heard about snow before. Lordaeron apparently was subject to immense amounts of the stuff. It looked so peaceful, this snow. Such calm. It seemed almost laughable now.

“Uther”. He called for his apprentice.

“Yes, Archbishop?” came the man’s voice from the other room.

Alonsus sighed deeply. “I already told you not to call me that. Please, call me Alonsus. I am undeserving of that title.”

Uther entered the room, concern etched across his face. “Archbishop, you should not talk that way. Your leadership is the only reason any human kingdoms remain standing at all.”

“And what good has that leadership done, really? Stormwind is ash, its people lost refugees. Millions dead, millions more are going to die. We can’t stop them!”

A frown began to creep across Uther’s face. “Archbishop-”

Alonsus stood, grief and anger colouring his voice. “Enough with that title! I fled with the dwarves, I watched my Abby burn! So many gave their lives for me, me, so that I could bring hope! How am I to do that when my own faith is shattered?!”

“Archbishop-”

“Ironforge has been under siege for months now. We haven’t had any word in weeks. They might all be dead now. Stormwind was the mightiest fortress we humans had to offer. It fell in a single night! What hope is there for us, Uther? What hope can there be against an enemy that kills everything for no gain?”

“Alonsus, you must have faith i-”

“In what, Uther? The Light? My priests have been butchered, left to bleed and rot in the mud. We are doing nothing but waiting for their next attack, holding our collective breaths until we, too, are put to the sword! In what should I have faith?”

“Yourself.” Uther answered immediately.

“What good is that going to do…” Whatever rage had filled Alonsus faded into exhaustion. He was getting too old for angry outbursts, too. “I am a soft man born and raised for soft times. A messy divorce, I can handle. A mine collapses, a dozen good men are killed, that is a tragedy I can handle. But this? This? Our entire race is threatened with utter extinction. I am an old failure, Uther, nothing more.”

“Alonsus.”

“I failed you, Uther. I failed our kingdom, I failed my people, I failed your family… all those people who gave everything they had to ensure my survival. What good is it? How far has my own faith carried me?”

“Alonsus.”

“My faith is worth nothing, Uther. The Light has abandoned me, us, to our deaths. I… no. Leave me, Uther. Just leave a broken old man to his books.”

“No.”

“… What did you say?”

“No. I will not leave. Your faith has left you, I will not. If you do not believe in yourself, then I must be here to do so on your behalf.”

“Uther, what-”

“It was you who said that faith was humanity’s strongest virtue. If our own faith fails us, that is why we have loved ones, to carry that burden for us. If you do not believe in yourself, then, at the very least, have faith in me who has faith in you.”

Alonsus sat again in his chair, nearly collapsing into the welcoming leather. Silence descended in the room. Uther did not move. He merely stood, patient, an unmoving bear of a man.

“Uther, my oldest friend… what have I become?”

“Lost.” Uther answered. “Allow me to show you the light. We have not had contact with the dwarves in weeks, you say. Give me a blade and a horse, I will make contact. Stormwind was our strongest fortress? Give me mortar and bricks, I will build it again. My people are threatened with annihilation, give me a shield, and I will protect every last one of them to my dying breath. I will break the enemies of humanity with my bare hands if I must.

“I have faith, Alonsus. In you, in humans, in elves, in dwarves. In the Light.” Uther lifted his hand, palm facing upward. A powerful golden light filled the room.

“You say we are doomed. I disagree. The knights of Lordaeron have yet to retreat from a single battle. The cavalry of Stromguarde have broken dozens of orc offensives. The orcs destroyed Kul Tiras, so the Tirans live on ships instead. They endure… We, humans and everyone else, will not be defeated, because we have faith, Alonsus.

“’It is this faith, this unbreakable will, that allows us to stand against the darkness when all else has fallen.’ I’m sure you remember who said that.”

“No need to remind me of my own sermons, boy. I am not yet that old.” Alonsus stood once more, steel and fire having returned to his eyes. “Once again I am reminded of why I chose you specifically as my apprentice. Thank you. Apparently I am old enough for despair to grip me now and then.”

Sometimes, when one has lost all reasons to hope, an act as simple as another believing in them is all it takes to rekindle everything. He smiled wryly. He’d written no less than five dissertations on that exact subject.

Alonsus extended his hand, adding his own light to the room. “Uther.”

“Yes, Archbishop?”

“I have an idea.”

Posted in Fantastic Fiction | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Prologue: Defense of the Wall Part 1

More than anything, he missed the taste of Treestride Wine, a wine he could only describe as “rich”.

It was powerful, as far as wines go. A single bottle was capable of rendering a hundred men drunk for a week. It was also incredibly expensive. The fermentation process took eighty years to complete, required a highly skilled mage, and depended on the bark of Sunstrider trees, of which only forty nine specimens existed.

Alas, the orcs had burned every one of those trees down. Life would never be the same. Woe.

He supposed he should be a good husband and miss his wife the most. Or perhaps a good father and miss his daughters the most. He hadn’t been home in almost six months, the youngest was probably walking by now. And he had missed it.

But they would still be there when the Alliance won the war. There would be no more bottles of Treestride Wine. Woe.

Shouts on the horizon.

The orcs were starting their attack.

Thalorien Dawnseeker sighed. How he hated those mongrels. Every single time he started a fresh pot of tea, they attacked. Without fail. Woe.

Oh, and of course they represented a terrible threat to all life on Azeroth and his country and family and so forth or something. That went without saying.

Still. Tea. These leaves did not grow just anywhere. In fact, they came from a specialized farm situated very close to the Sunwell, imbuing a certain pleasurable sting to the aftertaste, provided the tea was brewed in-

“Azeroth to Thal, wake up son, we have a war to fight, and last I checked only Stumps had actually killed an orc with a teacup.”

Thalorien sighed again. Uther the Lightbringer was the first, oldest, and arguably most powerful paladin, and was also his direct superior. Tragically, he did not care for tea.

“I am merely contemplating the sheer audacity of these orcs. Have they no care for decorum? It is eleven in the morning, a time once held sacred for finely brewed tea and delicious pastry.” Thalorien said. “Stumps, at least, knows of what I speak.”

Stumps, the pointiest dwarf Thalorien had ever seen, grunted in response. “Git yer elven arse up an’ kill some feckin’ brocs. Then you kin sit down and drink some tea with ol’ Stumps!”

Bizarrely, Stumps was a tea fanatic. The very idea of trimming his eyebrow beards was insulting, he had a vague notion of what bathing was, and spat to say hello. Yet the dwarf adored everything about tea. Even the fragile cups. His knowledge rivalled that of Thalorien, and though the elf would never admit it, actually brewed far better tea.

Stumps didn’t care when he drank it, however. Anywhere, no matter the time, was tea time. The horror, the horror. No respect for tradition whatsoever.

He pushed himself to his feet, gazing forlornly at his abandoned teapot. “Any indication that the orcs learned from yesterday’s rout?”

Uther shook his head. “None. I assume they think they have us trapped here. We can’t retreat from here, but our defences are absolutely impeccable. As long as our trebuchets have ammunition that is.”

Stumps grunted then spat. “We git two days wortha big rocks left, Uther. We cannae hold forever.”

A brief grin tugged at Uther’s face. “We’re paladins. We’ll hold forever if we must.”

Stumps spat, grunted, then spat again. He added “Aye, that we will, commander.”

There was no need to dress for combat. Preparation consisted of grabbing their weapons from wherever they happened to be resting. The paladins slept in their armor, if they slept at all. Magic weapons, magic mounts, the ability to fight for literally days without tiring; the orcs were right to fear the mighty paladin.

Thalorien retrieved his sword with a gentle reverence. His hand closing on the hilt, he whispered, “Hello again, old friend. Come, more war awaits us.”

Stumps shook his head. “Yeh really shouldnae talk to yer sword. ‘S’unhealthy.”

“This blade is far older than I, Stumps. Forged by dragons untold thousands of years ago. It has a name and will of its own. I feel it only appropriate to grant it the same respect of any other living being.”

Stumps rolled his eyes. “Elves.”

“That’s High Elf to you, mister dwarf.”

“Aye, that goes without sayin’.”

Uther cut in. “You talk to your axes Stumps. What was it you called them?”

Stumps glared and spat. “I… no, tha’s different, it… Bah, whatever, there be brocs to kill, let’s git to it.”

“Defensive line, form up!” Shouted Uther. “We hold! Trebuchets! Archers! Fire!”

Posted in Fantastic Fiction | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Where Was I?

Meh.

School got hard (my fault for taking history classes, where entire books are assigned on a week to week basis), so I ran out of time for everything. Something needed to get axed, and I picked writing

That was pretty stupid. Kick the one productive hobby I have? Bah.

Then one day I woke up vomiting blood and I had to go to the hospital. That was a fun couple of days. Turns out the blood vomiting wasn’t that serious, beyond, you know, vomiting blood. Something else entirely different was wrong. Oh joy!

I’m keeping the details private, but essentially I’ve had to radically alter my diet in order to stave of certain death.

Just in time for Christmas. Whatever.

So!

Upon finally returning here after a few months of melancholy, I decided I’ve been gone far too long. Too much time in the ER, not enough time scribbling stupid stories.

I, uh, am not a fan of my own work. Not at all. I hate everything I’ve published so far. Rubbish! Crap! The flailings of a third grader who dares categorize himself with alumni such as Stephanie Meyer.

It all stays up though. A testament to my eternal shame and failure.

I’m going to start over. One shots can stay, whatever. The overarching Arkenheart story, however, is in desperate need of attention, retcon, rewrites, and outright obliteration. So I’m going to do just that, and hopefully version two will be much more coherent and suck slightly less. Doubtful, but I’ll be happier with it (I lie. It will still suck and I will still hate it.)

Well, fuck. Not much else to say is there?

Let’s get on with the crappy writing.

(Cataclysm thoughts for those interested.)

I’ve shifted my main entirely to paladin, primarily retribution spec. Arkenheart hit 85 less than 48 hours after Cataclysm launched, cause I’m just that hardcore. My mage has largely sat utterly ignored, though I did manage to pull him up to 81 about a week back on a whim. I’m just… not interested in magery anymore. Don’t really know why. Face smashing all the way from here on out, I think.

Retribution, however, was awful in PvP for quite some time. Survivability was crap, my heals were crap, no snare, no gap closers at all. The only thing I was good for was defensive support, mainly by giving freedom to other people and healing them with super powered Words of Glory.

It was a dark, dark time. A dark time us paladins had been predicting for months and months on the beta. (So I rolled a warrior, and it was stupidly OP. RIP warriors, may your nerfs be less stupid in the future.)

Hey, a few buffs later, and now ret paladins are actually on par with the other top classes. Some would say overpowered, but I just think those people haven’t had to treat ret paladins as a threat before, and now that paladins actually are threatening, they just cry nerf rather than learning2play.

Ret’s mobility is now very good, except against hunters/DKs/mages, where it’s still terrible. Fortunately blizzard seems to be pushing for all melee to have terrible mobility (for some bizarre reason), so I guess that’s fair.

Our damage is strong, though badly designed as its utterly reliant on RNG. It’s entirely possible for me to be out dpsd by a DK pet one arena, then utterly curbstomp a clothie in five globals the next. Frankly the entire idea of holy power is another example of “good idea, horrendous execution.”

Offhealing is still very strong, thankfully blizzard hasn’t nerfed that yet. They’re going to, I don’t know why. Offhealing is how I peel for my teammates. Other classes can stun/snare/CC enemies, I can’t. When my friends come under attack, the only option I have to save them is to heal them. Word of Glory is my peel.

And, of course, we finally get a defensive cooldown that isn’t absolute garbage. Hurray and enjoy it before it gets nerfed, because god knows paladins aren’t allowed to not be terrible. Except Holy, which is exempt all the time for some reason.

If anyone is interested beyond this at all, ask away in the comments. I pretty much only do PvP on ret paladin these days though.

Feh. Enough pointless chatter. Good health to all, and may my stories entertain you at least somewhat while you poop.

Posted in Pointless Drivel | 29 Comments

The Worst Thing I Have Ever Written

I have never been able to cry. Not properly. Not in the cathartic, ‘just let it all out’ sort of way.

Sometimes, late at night, my face might scrunch a little, the sides of my mouth might downturn just enough for you to tell I’m sad. And maybe, just maybe, I might shed a couple silent tears. Everyone tells me I will feel better after a good cry. I always feel worse.

I’ve often wondered why I can’t cry.

I think it’s because of what I feel.

Shame.

I think that’s the key. I am ashamed of it. Of being so weak.

I guess I have you to thank for that.

Maybe you weren’t sure how to raise a child. Maybe you did the best you could.

I fell down the stairs at age 8. I ripped open my left leg. I still have the scar. You told me not to be so clumsy.

They would say hurtful things to me at school. You’d tell me to man up and stand up to them. Be a good boy, a strong boy. Then berate me for being so stupid when I came home with a broken nose.

I know I cried as a child. I can still remember the tears. The hot sensation. The disappointment on your face. The sting of the backside of your hand on my face.

I tried to be strong.

I tried to be good.

I tried so hard to be good in school, to make friends you approved of.

I tried so hard to be the son you wanted.

I didn’t even defend myself when you said you wished I’d been a boy.

I didn’t even cry when mom died.

Shame.

That was the only thing that kept me going.

The only thing that stopped me from killing myself.

That stopped me from telling anyone about the rapes.

I couldn’t bear how ashamed of me you’d be. How you would never tell anyone what happened to your frail daughter. How weak I would be, to just let something like that happen to me.

I joined the military, just like you wanted. I became the good soldier boy, just like you wanted.

I tried so hard.

I tried so hard to not be the daughter you never wanted.

Please don’t hate me when I die here.

Mae Mercer was killed in combat at the age of 22. Her father did not attend her funeral.

Posted in Fantastic Fiction | 22 Comments