Part I Edit
For centuries, man has wondered who created him. The Greatest Secret is not the origin of his creation, but whom or what he can become given the right path. Potential is as limitless as the imagination.
She had relocated the Secret Tome of Knowledge at least a half-dozen times in the years before her death. It was a both duty and curse to her family, an iron chain to her since she Became of Age, forever tied to her surname. As the last of her lineage, the responsibility was a crushing weight that infiltrated every moment of her life. Death was not a reprieve; no, it was a strangulation, a fear of dereliction of her familial obligation. Even if she were ever released from the Lich King's control, she could not fathom her arrival in the Hereafter, providing there were such a place, and that the weakness of her heart at the firm grasp of the Lich King did not preclude her admittance, being a merry rejoining in the face of her neglect in producing an heir to carry on the obligation.
Her father, and her father's father, and her father's father before him had all been bearers of the family secret. Her father had become a Knight of the Silver Hand, a sacred Order of Paladins that was shrouded in mystery and contained elite circles within circles. The secret predated the Order, but it was known to them with her father's initiation. Her mother had not produced for her father a son, so it fell upon her daughter to become an initiate of the Order and follow in her paternal footsteps. It was her sole intention to earn the pride and respect of Sir Brennan Korik. She spent hours both in training and meditation, and her hungry mind absorbed all of her private tutor's lessons and demanded more. Always she had questions: science, astronomy, philosophy, religion, literary... the flow of information never ceased.
Then came the Scourge. How she had escaped the fate of her parents and so many others in the Order was nothing short of a miracle. She had been assigned to travel with a small party to Gilneas guarding a diplomat of Lordaeron who was charged with opening and maintaining trade routes between the kingdoms. It was not an uncommon request for a Knight or group of Knights to escort ambassadors and lords between kingdoms, but that fact never assuaged her guilt for being the sole survivor in the line of Korik. It was only one of the two greatest failures in her short life.
Her death came only days after her second decade of life. An Argent Dawn Crusader, the organization she had committed herself toward after the disintegration of the Knights of the Silver Hand, she had fought valiantly alongside her fellow soldiers in the Eastern Plaguelands, a part of the Kingdom of Lordaeron she would have once recognized as her homelands.
They seemed to be no match for our squadron, a few ghouls lurking in the streets of Corin's Crossing. We were to take the town and use it as a launching point to extend the back of the line toward Western Plaguelands, to secure the cargo lines between Light's Hope Chapel and Chillwind Camp. Our men and women were hurting for supplies. Little did we know what was in store for us, waiting in the shadows, in the buildings...
Sword sliced through rotted ghoul flesh as though it were butter, but it crept forward without thought, without sight. I had long ago become immune to the effects of these horrors -- for me, this was my job, day in and day out. There was no choice but to fight for our homes, our lives. And I will never forgive myself for forgetting the Secret Tome of Knowledge, for forgetting that there were even larger things at stake. But I was wholly consumed by vengeance for my family and grieving for the life I had once known. I had been a Knight of promise. I had planned to make my father proud.
It began with an eerie howl, as though the night wind were raising her voice in mournful song.
"Cover your ears!" came the shouts across the line. Men turned back and forth to find the source, a frenzy of bodies on the alert.
We were not unfamiliar with the wail of the banshee. "There! In the inn window!" A ghostly form floated at the edge, a glimpse of otherwordly white that winked out in an instant.
Behind us was the Town Hall. And the entire squad's attention was focused on that window. On that wail. We had no chance.
A great metallic bang resounded from one of the men who looked down at his chest and yelped in surprise. We all saw it; a great bubble in his armor protruding from his abdomen, blooming blood from beneath the plate he wore. The inside made the scraping sounds of metal-on-metal as he fell, first to his knees. He looked up at us in wonder, the fear in his green eyes unmistakable. We just glimpsed the heavy chain leading from his back before his body disappeared, whisked away into the night sky.
Screaming. Human. Inhuman. They swarmed our squad and we fought for our lives. Sword through ghoulish flesh, light searing through the bodiless spirits. The smell of burning, decaying corpses assaulted our senses, but no more than the acrid scent of fear and the metallic aroma of spilled, still-hot blood. Clang of sword-on-sword. Hollow-scrape of sword-on-bone. And then...
The cultist smiled at me, her human face transformed by the horrors she performed. She pointed a finger and magic took the breath from my lungs, knocking me from my comrades. Two shades surrounded me, formless black-shadow bodies sending tendrils of essence to my face. The cultist held me and grinned wider, taking pleasure in the suffering of her fellow man. She watched the tendrils reaching for my face, snaking their way into my mouth. I kicked and fought, but my arms hit no substance. The pain of the cultist's spell was blinding. I dropped my weapon. What was that sound? Sounds like the wail of the banshee. Is it me? Is that coming from me?
The tendrils pried open my helmet. Pried open my lips. Pried open my jaws. They entered through my ears. They entered through my nostrils, my eyes. They pushed and prodded and writhed beneath my skin, relishing every moment of my terror. They reached somewhere inside my body and did what can only be described as a spiritual sucking. I felt my grip on my own body tearing loose. My spirit tried to cling, but the pain was so unbearable. And that evil grin... it would be so much easier to surrender to the nothingness of death. My grip failed and my spirit tore loose.
The next moments were my awakening. I had no idea how long I had been floating in nothing, seeing nothing. I had not gone to the Hereafter. I had not glimpsed any sort of paradise, or any evil place for that matter. There was only void. This was, perhaps, more disturbing than any other thought.
"Arise." The word formed in my mind, a whispery-grating voice that compelled me to do as I was told. Eyes opened, eyes that had been to death were born again, transformed into the living corpse, the very thing I fought against. Wood. A wooden crate. A coffin. "Arise and serve." A body, my body, burst through the wood and scrabbled through the dirt. Superhuman, that strength that pushed through at the behest of those commands. I felt nothing. Not remorse. Not fear. Just nothing. I was a vessel filled with the Lich King, and the essence of me was somehow suppressed so far down, it was inaccessible. Humanity completely eluded me.
I cannot speak of my time in service to the Lich King... not even here in my journal. Each moment I close these reanimated eyes, I see the horrors I have performed. I am reminded of the monster that once lived inside me, the monster whom with every fibre of the being he has left for me, I loathe. Vengeance keeps me tethered to the world. Vengeance and...
the Secret Tome of Knowledge.
The last place I had hidden it was in the Stormwind Orphanage. Would the Matron even remember me?
The Matron of the Orphanage remembered me. Death Knights were common now, though I still took her breath away. She had another reason for the fear on her face. The Tome of Knowledge had been stolen. The locked chest that had contained it in the basement had been broken open. Nothing else had been taken. My family were the Keepers. Who else could know of the Tome besides the Keepers Korik?
Part II Edit
Come to me.
Elisia lifted her head, closing the tome spread on her lap. Come to me and I will bestow untold power upon you, as was always your birthright, La`Roche.
The Whispers were compelling. She had not heard them speak in some time. But now their voices were loud. Their voices were many. And their voices were one. Who are you? How do I come to you?
The time has come for you to learn the nature of the gift given to you and to serve me. I have lain in wait for my flock to gather. I grow in strength. My strength is your strength. My power can be your power. You must come to me.
But how? How will I come to you? For all my life, you have been my ancestors and innermost companions. Do I seek your final resting places to discover my destiny? She stood, staring into the fire in her luxurious library, seemingly transfixed by the flames. She directed the words inward insistently.
No response seemed forthcoming, but her gaze landed on a particularly dusty tome, a book whose faded lettering read The Lineage La`Roche. The book was tattered and worn, so buried in the uppermost corners of her library, that she had to climb a ladder to fetch it. But she could feel the unearthly draw, the compulsion that she retrieve the tome from its perch. She blew away the dust with a perfectly-rouged pout.
Back to her divan in front of the fire, she allowed the pages of the book to fall open upon her opulently-garbed lap.
The La`Roche estate was founded within the Kingdom of Lordaeron, where a La`Roche magician worked in service of the King in within the city, one of a contingent of liaisons from the esteemed and elite Kirin Tor. His status within the Kirin Tor's secretive circles elevated him to a nobleman's level of service, and he found himself and his family provided with a large estate within Tirisfal Glades.
She stopped reading as her sapphire eyes discovered a well-drawn map. She ripped the page out of the book.
Within the library of your ancestors, there is a false wall. Find it.
She guarded her face against cobwebs, sweeping them aside. Her embroidered robes swirled great torrents of dust. The building was in a terrible state of disrepair, but she found where the library had once been. The books were gone, ransacked, save for a few tattered pages here and a battered cover there. She felt along the rear of the bookcase, the panel behind, her nails scraping along the wood and disturbing the nesting spiders. She felt the wall give way only slightly, but it was enough to bring a smile to her lips. She pushed harder, and the panel fell inward an inch. She moved the panel to the side and it reluctantly slid open to reveal a dark, square hole and a battered, worm-eaten locked box.
The wood was so rotten, she was able to open the box without having to break the rusted lock. Within were several pieces of loose parchment, a deed, and what appeared to be a worn journal laced with loose, folded pages among the intact ones. She sensed she had discovered something beyond powerful, something that would mark her birth as the important moment in all of time that she had always believed it was, unlock the great potential within her to become the most powerful living sorceress, perhaps the most powerful sorceress that ever lived -- perhaps more powerful than the Great Medivh himself. Her hands were shaking as she reverently tucked the items into her satchel for transport back to a safer location.
Part III (by -K) Edit
General Kinney approached Menethil Harbor slowly. He had a topic that he needed to discuss with someone. He liked Menethil. It was a Dwarven town, but almost no one knew who he was. He liked it that way. He nodded to the Harbormaster and proceeded to the Graveyard. He approached a large quadruple Headstone with the names "Maureen Bronzebeard" "Khazran Bronzebeard" "Baladir Bronzebeard" and "Anita Bronzebeard", all of them have the same death date.
His dismounted and removed his weapons and plate gloves. He placed a rose at the headstone, and knelt. "Maureen... Good ter siya again. Lo's o'stuff has been happenin' lately an' I need yer help." He heisitates for a moment "I been servin' tha' King fer 45 years, an' ne'er have I been as conflicted as I be now... I dinnae know wha' ter do. Maybe me time has come ter leave tha' job fer a while... I dunno." He sighs heavily, and sits down. He "speaks" with her for the next three hours.
The night was colder than usual as he approached Ironforge. He returned saultes to all the Guards as they snapped to attention. He nodded to many people as he passed them by. A magistrate came up to speak with him about an issue but he shrugged it off "I ha'e pressin' ma'ers ta attnend ter." He pulled his ram up outside the Library of Explorers.
He walked in slowly, looking around. He spied the head Librarin and smiled "Ah. How're ya doin'." the man's eyes widen "General Kinney! Welcome!". Kinney immediatly cuts him off "Enough o'tha'. I ha'e a question fer ya." The man nods quickly "Anythin' Sire". "Have ya had any problems recently? Specifically of a break in or a missin' tome?". The man looks at him ridiculously. He chuckles weakly Ahhh... No Sire... We haven'... I ha'e a bit of work ter do, if ya need some help please let me know" The librarian turns back to his work.
Kinney sighs and turns around, looking for some sign of a break in "Jus' cause they don' know, doesnt mean there wasn' one..." He glances at the horribly jumbled book shelves and shakes his head "They wouldn' know it was mssin' either..." He moves around, surveying the area with a trained eye. He notices lots of footprints and scuffs. He shakes his head and sits down in a corner "I jus' don' get it... How could someone ge' inter Ironforge undetected..." He sets his hands on the ground and sighs. There was an ich in his beard so he lifted a hand to scratch it.
As he lifted his hand, he spied a white substance on it... Upon further scrutiny, he noticed that it was chalk... He stood up and looks around. He realzed almost immedialty that he just sat in the remains of a Summoning Circle... "Fel Magic..." He mutters with a grimace and spits to the side... "This doesn' bode well... I have ter get ta Stormwind..." And he hurried back to his Ram. Cantering quickly toward the Deeprun Tram. "Anawie.... Ya better be safe or Ill kill ya!" he mutters.
Kinney stepped aboard the Tram quickly, with about a handful of others. He was the only one in his section, or so he thought. His head was down as he was overwhelmed with Anxiety and Apprehension. He was thinking about what he had just discovered when the tram whistled and started to move. Slowly at first, but gaining speed quickly.
"So Dwarf... Tell me what you think you have found" said the deep voice. Kinney wheeled around quickly, very suprised, and instantly on alert. He reached for his sword only to realize it wasnt there... "Looking for this?" Said the voice, holding up his entire weapon belt. "Dont worry, it wasnt your fault... I numbed your mind." Kinney now realized that he couldnt see his adversary. From its height, it could have been An Elf, maybe a short Draenei, but its face was shrouded. Covering its face in total shadow. Dark blue robes covered the entire body except for a gloved hand that held out his belt. Kinney was infuriated.
"Who tha' hell are ya and what the fuck are ya doin' here?" He attempted to reach for his dagger, only to realize that now he couldnt move at all. The enemy laughed "Now now... None of that... I just want to talk. So tell me, who sent you to investigate the issue in Ironforge?". The temple in Kinney's forehead popped with effort as he tried to overcome the spell. The wind in his hair whipped his braid around as the Tram reached full speed
Only a little bit longer before we reach Stormwind... These people can help me He thought to himself... He decided to stall for time "I ha'e no idea wha' ya are talkin' abou' ya crazy Elf!" He yelled. The creature once again laughed "I am not an Elf... Good try though. You incorporate an insult or something of the sort into a valid question to have the enemy give up something about itself... How clever. Now tell me again, what do you think you have found?".
His eyes flitted about as he tried to find something to free himself with. He noticed as they passed under the first body of water that they were halfway there... Kinney grinned "If ya are goin' ter kill me, jus' ge' it over with now..." At this the creature sighed "You are a worthy opponent. I can see now you won't give up any information to me." It pulled his sword out from his sheath, and stepped toward Kinney "Goodbye Dwarf." and it ran Kinney's sword straight into his chest, somehow piercing his armor.
Kinney gasped inward instictivly. The pain was unbearable but he wouldn't let it show. He grinned, mouth full of blood "Ya aren't gonna live fer much longer. If I dinnae kill ya, me friends are gonna. They will destroy you an' any plans ya may have." He spat blood at the enemy. He tossed his belt on the ground and lept off the Tram. Kinney was released from the spell and staggered to the ground. His vision beginning to fade as he tried to squirm out of his armor. He managed with great pain and effort, only to discover that he enemy was totally inept... The sword had missed his Stomach entirely. He was still bleeding heavily though. He pulled out a bandage and slapped it on the wound. The sword must have hit a rib or his lungs a bit because he was breathing harder...
As the Tram rolled to a stop an adolescent Gnome ran over to his car "MISTER MISTER! ARE YOU ALRIGHT?" The child yelled, its parents following. Seeing the blood, they dragged Kinney out of the Tram and looked at him. Kinney motioned to his bag "In me bag.... *Breath*... Large stone... *Breath*... Quickly". The father nodded and rummaged through his belongings, pulling out the hearth stone and handing it to Kinney. He flicked it on and spoke into it...
Kinney strolled back into the Argent Dawn office in stormwind, the memories of the previous day heavy on his head...
I should of saved them...
He shook his head and stopped
No time for those thoughts now... I have a job to do..
Wearing his Argent Dawn Tabard, he snapped to attention and saluted, calling loudly "Sergeant Huran Stouthammer reportin' fer duty Sir!" This was something he wasn't used to, but had to be done. He thought about Wie and wondered if she was alright... As he did so, a Human in burnished armor walked forward and smilied
"Ah our injured officer from the front... How is your chest Sergeant?"
Kinney looked down at the large bandage showing through his armor and shrugged "Ill b'fine Sir." The Human chuckled. "You aren't going to be an issue are you? We wouldn't want you to get even more hurt now..." The man motioned him forward. Kinney spent the rest of the day learning the workings of the office. He found out that he would be one of two people that stayed there mainly. one one day, another the next day. He nodded and met his counterpart as well. An old grizzled Human who was missing an arm. He never learned the man's name...
That night, Kinney went and patrolled around Stormwind. He stood across the block from the orphanage for a good hour before he spotted Anawie. He smirked a bit as she played some child's game with the others. He also saw Jessie, still wearing her new armor, running around with a huge grin on her face. As he continued his patrol he saw what he was looking for. The Death Knight. It was way past the bedtime of the children, and she walked briskly toward the orphanage. He sensed a magical probe of some sort was over the area and he grinned
No magic on me darlin'
He watched her enter the building, and a half hour later, emerge with the Hearth. He wondered if he should follow... But then decided against it.
I would make too much noise... And my wound doesnt help... Ill wait for now...
He returned to the Argent Dawn barracks and climbed in, sleeping in the comfortable snoring of his comrades around
I certainly dont get this kind of treatment in Ironforge. Its... Refreshing...
Part IV Edit
A serpent was marked on the door of the appropriate building, a sinuous form that looped back upon itself in a figure-eight shape and was consuming its own tail. The symbol for eternity roughly carved into the wood was no larger than a thumb in the right-hand corner. All the windows had curtains drawn across them, though there was a faint glow emanating from the ground level.
The first hooded figure in the group tugged the cowl of his cape lower, then removed the glove from his hand. The others waited noiselessly, avoiding the moonlight by crouching in the shadows of the building's overhang. Their hoods were all pulled low over their Hollow's End masks. They did not even know the identities of one another. The leading figure pressed his bare palm against the door.
A faint shadow seemed to encompass the palm pressed to the door. Broad shoulders steeled themselves and he planted his soft boots as if to root himself to the location. The faint shadow deepened into a rich purplish hue, the fog shrouding his hand entirely. As quickly as it had appeared, it seemed to vanish back into the wood of the rather plain door, which swung open now of its own accord.
The hooded figures stepped over the threshold, each carrying with him or her a leather bag that weighed heavy on his or her shoulders. Forming a line, the seven weaved their way into the parlor which was lit only by a twin set of standing candelabra holding several black candles whose flames twitched in the sudden draft. A woman sat upon a chair cushioned in gold-embroidered black pillows, her purple-lacquered nails drumming idly against a silver-wrought wine goblet. All that could be seen of the woman's face were twin pinpricks of sanguine light within the void of the faceless purple hood embroidered in golden threads she donned. The seven immediately dropped to their knees on the woman's thick carpets, bowing their heads and awaiting her voice.
"And what have you brought me?" Her voice was equal parts soft seduction and fatal poison. It was barely above a whisper, but it did not have to be for her minions to obey.
Immediately seven bags emptied. Stacks of worn leather books piled on her plush carpets. Shielded by the void of her hood, she smiled.
Nikajah waited in the Ironforge Library for one Riggle Geartwist Blinkstop Guzzlewhistle... the names continued until she could remember them no longer. Gnomes always seemed to take pride in their self-given and enormously long names, and would frequently try to list them all in a simple introduction. She leaned against her staff lightly, the beaded feathers swirling with her shift in weight. She was here to follow up on the break-ins, to see if the libraries of Ironforge and Stormwind had discovered any missing tomes from their stacks. She wished she'd begun in Stormwind.
Riggle toddled up, thin wisps of a stark-white comb-over doing nothing to hide the shiny bald pate beneath that almost seemed too large for his body. Upon a bulbous nose stood a pair of spectacles, crookedly, shadowed by enormously bushy eyebrows like clouds of dusty white above each eye. She saw none of the files she had expected to see. Instead, he triumphantly held up a thin card, bristling with electronic bits.
"I have the data for you! I cross-checked which books are on loan with those we have checked in, not counting the missing ones prior to the date of the unfortunate break-in. But you will find no pattern amongst them! I already checked." He grinned sheepishly and adjusted the ever cock-eyed glasses perched upon his nose.
She took the disk, planning to find an engineer to retrieve the list for her. After having had to wait so long on the old librarian, she feared to ask Riggle for anything further. She still had yet another library to consult with before heading back to the office. She made her way to the Tram, her staff thumping in time to her walk.
Part V (by -K) Edit
Spent his days after the fight with the human either at the Argent Dawn office, Patroling around Stormwind, Checking in on Wie (Or occasionally Jessie, he had grown a bit attached to the small child, though he would never tell his comrade's that...), and taking care of Varm. Although his beard was growing thinner by the day, the Draenei was actually very interesting to have around. He helped Kinney clean up his house, even though Kinney didn't want him too, and also helped Kinney learn much about the Naaru. Although the child was young, he knew a good deal about his "Gods". When He heard that Heaven was awake again, Kinney was glad to get Varm back to her, he had been asking questions over the last couple days that Kinney didn't want to answer. He walked into his empty house that night and sighed.
Nika needs to get back with us... The King is starting to ask me what I'm doing... I can't keep avoiding him...
He sat on his bed, and looked at his hearth, as if willing it to give him his answer...
Part VI (by Catinan) Edit
The sun was shining down into the Stormwind Keep gardens as Catinan walked briskly through the grass in the direction of the Royal Library. As she stepped up to the library's entrance, she stopped and took one last deep breath of the open air before she stepped through the doorway. Her next breath was then filled with the musty smell of too much paper sitting in one place for too long, a smell she'd gotten far too used to in all her time spent studying magic in the very library she was now investigating.
However, unlike all the other times Catinan had stepped into the Royal Library, the place was a complete mess. Books had been pulled out of the shelves and then thrown to the ground all over the place, covering a majority of the floor in discarded books. Besides the physical mess, something else bothered Catinan as she stepped into the large room, she could feel some sort of magical residue, but it was only a small trace and even that was very faint. The magess took note of the traces of magic and filed it away in her memory for further investigation.
Moving deeper into the library, Catinan spotted a handful of librarians sorting through the mess, attempting to place all the books back in their proper places, she did not envy them that job. Seeing a librarian she recognized, Catinan then carefully picked her way through the mess and softly tapped the man on the shoulder.
The librarian jumped, dropping the books he'd been holding, and spinning around to face Catinan so fast that the monocle he'd had over his right eye came flying out to dangle from its chain in front of him.
"Oh goodness, I'm sorry madam, I've been a bit jumpy since I came in to find my library so torn up," the black-haired librarian, Milton Sheaf, said as he hurriedly put his monocle back in place.
"Oh no, don't worry Milton, I should be the one apologizing," Catinan said with a smile.
"Excuse me, do I know-" Milton said, squinting, "Catinan! Well it's good to see you again! Sorry that the place is such a mess, we had a break-in."
"Yes, that's why I'm here Milton, to investigate. Mind if I ask you a few questions?" Catinan asked.
"Go right ahead, I'll answer whatever I can, though I have to warn you, we don't know much."
"Well, it can't hurt to try," the magess said with a small smirk, "I'll start with the obvious one: do you have any clue who did it, and why?"
"No..." Milton said with a sigh, "The only clue we have is what appears to be a warlock summoning circle over there in the corner."
Catinan looked over her shoulder in the direction Milton was pointing, noting the purple glyphs on the floor.
"Ah, that explains the magical residue," Catinan said to herself, she then turned back to Milton. "Do you know what, if anything, was stolen?"
"All the paintings and other valuable objects are accounted for and as for the books..." Milton let out another long sigh as he looked around at the books scattered around his feet, "Well, it will be a while before we've sorted through everything to figure out what might be missing."
"Alright, well do you mind if I take a look around and see if I can't find anything you might have missed? Just to be sure," Catinan said.
"Be my guest, just please try not to step on any of the books."
Giving Milton a final smile and a nod, Catinan turned around and immediately went to get a closer look at the summoning circle that Milton had pointed out to her. Kneeling down besides the glyphs, the fel energies she'd barely detected earlier were now easily felt, and for some reason, they made Catinan far more uneasy than she should be. She'd been in the presence of fel energies far too much in her lifetime and had become used to their eerie feeling, but for some reason, as Catinan ran a finger over the purple chalk that made up the summoning circle, a shudder ran through her. The magess couldn't help but feel like she'd previously felt the magics of whoever it was that had made the circle.
Or maybe I've just gotten far more wary of fel magic... Catinan thought as mental images of her newly born son popped into her mind.
Straightening up and stepping away from the glyphs quickly, Catinan took another deep breath, the thoughts racing through her head pushing aside any thoughts of the library-smell and how much she disliked it.
This much fel magic means we have a warlock on our hands. A very powerful warlock. What in the Nether would a warlock want from the Stormwind Library?
Shaking her head with a sigh, Catinan began walking about the room, searching for anything out of the ordinary. But after going up and down all the rows of shelves and finding nothing but books, the magess realized there was nothing else to find here and, after saying her goodbyes to Milton, she made her way back out into the gardens and then out of the Keep. Catinan then began making her way back to HQ, hoping to find Nikajah to report her findings.
I'm sure she'll be so pleased to hear that we once again have a warlock problem...