September 18, 2012
In the cool, pinched sunlight of early dusk Thieren James paused for a few moments, staring at the fenced road that snaked through Elwynn Forest. Riding cleared her head, and despite the lengthy trip back to Stormwind from Lakeshire her mind had drifted. She’d heard, of course. News traveled fast, particularly such horrific news. She’d considered the matter, but in the end there was little immediacy in personal action or words. She wasn’t an Alliance soldier, and hadn’t been for years.
Now, though… Now she felt the need to reflect.
She climbed down from her horse, a Balnir gray, and gave the mare a playful shove as she reached into her saddle bag and withdrew a battered leather journal.
“Stay close girl.”
She sat on the fence, crossed her legs, and balanced on her heels. The words came naturally and easy, and she wrote by the fading sunlight, racing the darkness to the finish.
If one believes that we are a family, that there is a common bond forged not by blood but shared experience, then I feel for my kin across the sea. Though many left our lands of origin centuries ago I think such a bond transcends time and space. Those who called Theramore home were refugees; refugees like my people now. They built a new home, forged a new banner, and prospered, though I don’t believe they expected the conflicts of old to follow them. Perhaps they didn’t, really, but they simply were waiting for them when they landed.
She paused as the mare shoved her shoulder with her nose. She grinned and shoved the mare again before turning her attention back to her pen.
To be sure, we now share another similar experience. The loss of a kingdom at the hands of monsters born from malice. If there is any truth to this bond then I suspect that we’ll discover a singular truth in this soon. A grudge has been written, and it is a grudge shared by Stromgarde and Stormwind and me.
She waited for the ink to dry before closing the journal and continuing the trip to Stormwind.
March 13, 2012
Alright noobs, listen up. Today, we’re going to talk about the most badass motherfuckers on the planet. These humans – these Adonsises of men – have owned their way across history, taking world firsts, one shotting Saurfang with a single cleave, and stealing away all your ERP partners for their harems. Yes, they remember to pillage before they burn, and woe unto any noobs or trolls who stumble across these individuals of valor and dashing good looks.
Who am I talking about? Why, Stromgarde of course!
See, these guys go back to the beginning. No, not to when Sargeras totally tricked the Eredar into joining his epic guild of evilness. No, not to when a bunch of foo-foo elves opened a portal and exploded the entire world. A bit later. When REAL history began. When a bunch of primitive screwhead humans were running around, inventing the wheel, and leveling to 60 by planting their axes in the skulls of forest trolls. You’ll see a running theme in killing trolls here. We love to do that. DIE TROLL DIE! Lawl.
Anyway, sitting around their campfire sharpening their axes so they could go out and kill more trolls one of these human tribes – called the Arathi – happened upon the idea that if all the tribes banded together they could totes kill more trolls. What a fine idea, huh? So, because these Arathi dudes were the smartest, strongest, and best looking they quickly united the tribes under one banner, that of Arathor. They built this city of awesomeness for the same reason anyone builds anything great, to show off how big their penis is. That city would come to be called Strom.
Anyway, the trolls run away and start picking on someone else. That someone is, of course, weaker, less pretty, and generally less intelligent than the Arathi. Also, they’re elves, specifically the High Elves of Quel’thalas. These elves were obviously losing to these brutes, and so they sent an ambassador down to Strom to OMGfamousguy! King Thoradin. In exchange for Arathor’s help the Elves would be indebted to the Arathi and would teach ’em finger wagglin’ arcane. Thoradin agreed, and the Arathi did what they do best, slaughter trolls! In the end, the forest trolls and their empire laid in ruins at the foot of the Alterac Mountains, crushed under the boot of Arathor military might and Elven magics.
Problem was, those pesky elves had spread their foo-foo ways to some of Arathor while teaching them magic, and these folks decided it was best it they packed up and started their own shit. They went on to found the magocracy of Dalaran, and we don’t miss them. Likewise, eventually, Thoradin’s heirs migrated south to found the city of Stormwind, and the nobility eventually ran off to start up Lordaeron. We don’t miss either of them either. In the end, the Empire of Arathor fell apart because all of the noobs left, leaving only the hardcore to carry on. They eventually renamed the city Stromgarde, and for centuries to come these badass motherfuckers did what they do best: kill trolls and protect the walls of the city.
Then they found a new green-skinned thing they like to kill. See, apparently those fools in Stormwind got wtfpwned by these crazy assholes from some other world. Lead north by the last Arathi badass, Andiun Lothar, these ragged stragglers ran to Lordaeron and begged for help. King Terenas Menethil of Lordaeron decided to put together a Grand Alliance, and called upon all of humanity to join. Stromgarde listened, but only because they had decimated enough of the troll population that they needed something new to kill. These brutes – calling themselves Orcs – marched into the Arathi Highlands and met Stromgarde steel. We suspect the odds were something like ten kajillion Orcs to five Stromgarde irregulars because Stromgarde was only able to hold off the Orcs for a little while. Also, apparently, another human kingdom called Alterac decided to side with the Orcs and betrayed everyone. For their trouble, Dalaran cooked the entire city with fireballs and dispersed its population. Lawl, way to go noobs!
Anyway, Stromgarde was sacked by the Orcs, but the time our troops bought for the rest of the Alliance allowed Terenas to regroup. Eventually, the tide of the war turned as the Orcs assaulted Lordaeron’s walls and the Orcs were steadily pushed back into Stormwind’s territories. There, in an epic battle of utmost epicness and awesomesauce, the last of the Arathi, Anduin Lothar, lead the Alliance in an Orc carving contest before he was rudely cut down by the Orcs’ leader. Still, the war ended, at least for the moment.
Stromgarde rebuilt her shattered city and lands as the Grand Alliance put together an expedition to deal with the Orcs on the otherside of the portal they’d opened to invade Stromwind. Stromgarde sent one man. Only one man. That was all they needed. They sent Danath Trollbane, nephew of the current king, Thoras Trollbane. On Draenor, Danath once again proved how badass Stromgarde is. He caved in skulls, slaughtered legions of Orcs, and all before tea. In the end, as the Alliance and remaining Horde forces carved one another up on the blasted lands around the portal the elder Orc shaman, Ner’zhul, decided to make his exit. In his haste he opened numerous portals, which shattered the world of Draenor, and stranded the Alliance Expedition survivors. Great job, asshole!
In the aftermath of the war Lordaeron decided to do the “humane” thing and not slaughter the remaining Orcs. Because they wouldn’t listen to Stromgarde about how much better it would be to cleave Orc skulls rather than keep them around, King Thoras pulled Stromgarde from the Alliance. For a generation, things seemingly went back to normal, but in the frozen north a great evil festered. Lordaeron developed a problem related to this evil, and they really couldn’t keep the dead from rising up and murdering the living. Eventually, after slaughtering an entire city to stop the spread of this plague, and chasing its origin to Northrend the royal prince, Arthas Menethil, returned and proceeded to murder his father and spread the plague across the kingdom, eventually consuming it entirely. They even sacked Dalaran! Stromgarde was all like, “whoa, wtf dood?”
Eventually, lacking in allies, Stromgarde stood alone against the rising tide of forest trolls, ogre tribes, and the remnants of Alterac (now a gang-like army called the Syndicate). We suspect they used loaded dice and got lucky with a few natural 20s, but most of the city was lost to these forces. Stromgarde, as it currently exists, is at its lowest point, but hope dawns. Though Thoras was assassinated by Alterac and his son was taken by the undead the reopening of the Dark Portal has revealed that Danath Trollbane lives still.
We will have our revenge. Oh, yes, we will have our revenge. Alterac is fucked. The trolls are fucked. The undead are fucked. The ogres are fucked. You’re all fucked!
March 12, 2012
She glanced at them from under her hood, blue eyes darkening in mute rage. That sense of fear – it’s potency a drag on her senses and, seemingly, even her limbs – drained in small, quick increments; dissolving away as her heartbeat stilled. She caught her breath, exhaled once, and with one hand touched her cheek. The pain and swelling was months in the past, but the touch of skin to skin brought back the memories well enough to push the last bit of surprise and fright from her mind.
She reached for the sword on her right hip, pushing aside the heavy red-and-gray cloak to expose the blackened steel blade.
Another breath, this one curling in front of her eyes in a chilled puff of wispy smoke.
In a flash, she drew, leaned forward and hurled herself forward through the calf deep snow.
She came on them as all children from home learned to do, without pomp or mercy; blades angled for a quick and savage kill – for survival. She straightened and swung down, waiting for the reverberation of metal on metal to scream up her arms and into her shoulders. Instead, she felt cloth, skin, muscle. The blade caught a moment at bone, and then angled through. She allowed the blow to carry her, dashing under the arms of the large, bulky figure she had just laid open and turning back a few paces past him. She flicked black blood from the groove that ran down the center before bringing it forward in a defensive posture.
The orc grunted and fell into the snow, blood running from his broken chest. The other, a much thinner figure in his dark robes took a step back, and she felt a dark, cold smile cross her lips.
They stood for a long second, her breath coming heavy into the frigid night air.
“I heard it ended here,” she finally said. “The Destroyer’s end. Broken on the back of one black blood and an Alliance gunship. The Cult is finished.”
The figure inclined his head and reached for his own sword with a bony, gray skinned hand. It stuck fast in its frosted scabbard. She charged, angling for the undead man’s neck.
II – Stormwind City
It’s raining here in Stormwind. It always seems to rain in the winter here. I find myself a bit lost in such an alien environment, I must confess. Where is the snow? Where is the peace of an undisturbed winter morning? This city is so busy.
I hope your time in Darnassus is proving fruitful, and that your brother is finding something resembling a life with your fellows. I know last year’s events weren’t easy, but take heart in that you’ve at least found some blood to tend to. It seems that even in these hard times there are moments for hope and reunion.
Pleasantries aside, I’m writing to let you know that I’m taking a bit of a trip. I’m anticipating a long boat ride, and something of a lengthy overland trip. There’s someone I need to meet with, an old friend from the days of the war in Silithus. I hope to be back by early spring, however, and I hope you are in the position to return to Stormwind by then. Events have taken a turn, I fear, and we’ll have much to discuss.
Stay safe, and I promise to do the same,
III – Dragonblight
By the time she finished kicking snow over the bodies and retrieved Tatum – pausing to cluck her tongue soothingly into the mare’s ear – dawn was hard across the sky. She hadn’t bothered to search either man. There was little point. They were the same as those who had come before; who had come for a handful of others she’d known back in those dark days. The difference is this time she was ready, all hard angles and tension with that chilly sense of anticipation that came with understanding what was to come. She felt alive, but in the sense that a wary animal feels when out in the open. She’d felt that before, and it she found herself fitting back into it like a puzzle piece while hating herself for the fact.
Still, it was an advantage, and she was ready. But were the others?
August 21, 2011
A strange dawn – strange, at least, to a human, Thieren James surmised — comes hard across the horizon, bathing the beach below in a sea of pinks and oranges before finally, after a log moment, bringing the full light of day gradually over the eastern waves. She shielded her eyes with a mailed fist, squinting, and looked down at the torn shore from the wall far above. Last night’s a battle had left a full fifty orc and troll bodies that would have to be cleared from the courtyard, but Northwatch had held another night. Above, on the tower still further up the bluffs, the flag of Theramore still flew, fluttering in the arid morning breeze of a central Kalimdor morning.
Absently, she flicked her sword, throwing off as much of the black blood from the nicked and worn blade as she could before wiping the rest with a discarded rag. With a heavy sigh she lowered her hand and slide the blade into its scabbard until it clicked into place.
“Long night.” The words, touched lightly by Gilnean nobility and education in Capital City, snapped her back from the carnage below, and she turned towards the filthy face of her cousin.
“Many more to follow for these people before it’s over,” she responded quietly, again painfully aware of the roll of her own accent against the refinement of Lellian Rowle’s. Then, hastily, “We should come here to do what we came to do.”
Leli gripped the strap of her rifle and slung it over her shoulder. She smiled thinly and nodded both in agreement and a grim resignation. It took only a short search to find Sergeant Rice amongst those regrouping further up the hill, and he offered them both a wane smile as they approached.
“M’ladies, it is good to see you survived the night,” he said.
Thiery returned the smile, relishing the grizzled, aging man’s accent and immediately placing its origin in the eastern highlands. He wiped his hands and offered a polite bow of the head, to which Leli uneasily returned.
“I’m not used to such circumstance, Sergeant,” Thiery said behind a chuckle.
“Aye, well I’m afraid the situation would ordinarily warrant more, but we can afford few of life’s niceties here and I suspect you both wish to be on your way before tonight’s attack.”
This time Leli laughed and Rice smiled. “This way then,” he said.
They followed him up the roughed in trail of the bluffs to one of the battered and burned towers that overlooked the shattered beach that had for months now served as a stalemate in what was rapidly becoming an entrenched, bloody theater between the Horde and Alliance.
“You’re lucky that I know a lad who is familiar with Alliance heraldry and that we have an armor who can find his bloody ass with at least both hands.” He paused and turned back towards them, milky gray eyes staring bearing down on her. “How did you come by the blade?”
She put her tongue in her cheek and met his gaze. “Before he left with Proudmoore’s fleet he gave it to me.”
“I knew a Lord Padraig James in the Stromgarde Brigade. I served under him, and he showed me a sword exactly like the one you presented last night. Forged in black Stromgarde steel and laid with red fire along the blade.”
He paused and again smiled.
“He did say he gave its twin to his new wife.”
A long silence, and Thiery squinted against the sun, matching the man’s lopsided grin. “Show me the rest, then.”
He nodded, and as the three ducked into the open air tower she felt the gentle touch of shade throwing off the malaise of the rapidly warming morning. Inside, she paused, allowing her eyes to adjust to the semi-darkness and smiled as the glint of stowed steel caught her eye. She knelt down next to the armor rack and bit her lower lip.
“We took it from the Rageroar orcs early in the siege when we broke them. I recognized the heraldy on the blade and the armor as that of a troll hunter. It is beyond me how they came to acquire it.”
Thiery ran her fingers down the heavy links of chain, relishing the feel of the finely worked metal links. “I know how it happened, Sergeant.”
“The James family took in a ward from the lands cut off by the Greymane Wall, a Gilnean with the surname Black. He was my husband’s squire when they left to fight here for Lady Jaina. After my husband fell his squire brought back his armor in place of his body.”
She paused and bit her lip again, swallowing the lump in her throat and brushing her forehead as she felt the first of what she knew would be many tears welling up.
“When the wall came down and he asked to rejoin his country and help against Lordaeron I gave it to him. It seemed fitting.”
The Sergeant nodded. “The Rageroar pigs took several Gilnean refugee ships. They butched many of the occupants.”
Thiery felt her jaw working and nodded. “I know.”
“This Black could be amongst the survivors. We sent them north to Darnassus.”
She closed her eyes and exhaled slowly, allowing the moment to hang in silence. “No, he wouldn’t have left it behind.” Then, “Is this all of it?”
“All of it, m’lady?”
She stood and flexed her fingers, clenching them.
“There was a spear that matched the swords.”
“You have all we recovered.”
A frown. “Could they still have?”
“It’s likely. But they could be anywhere in the Barrens now.”
She squatted on her haunches and pulled the helmet from its resting places, running the palm of her hand over the cool metal between the steel horns. Questions, she knew, and considerations of risk, the sort of thing that separates one moment from the next. She clucked her tongue against the roof of her mouth, and lifted the helmet so that she could see into the empty eye holes.
“Sergeant, please find someone who can properly store this for travel,” she finally said.
She waited until he had left the tower and then turned and looked up at Leli.
“I think we should head back to Stormwind.”
Leli smiled crookedly. “I hadn’t expected you to decide on that, luv.”
“I’m not. We have an orc hunt to plan.”
She turned back to the helmet, her heart racing. Her husband’s line was dead, and he had married a woman lacking in any noble blood. The rightful king was dead and turned traitor in his undeath while his more qualified cousin waited and gathered his strength. The world felt upside down and inside out.
August 2, 2011
Elune-adore, my friend.
I hope this letter finds you and yours well. I know that last we spoke your father had fallen ill and was unable to continue with his work along the rivers. I hope that he has mended well and found renewal with his family again by his side. I have also followed the war in Ashenvale since I’ve left, and though news is scarce across the sea I am pleased to hear that the Horde offensive has been broken and the Kaldorei have managed to reverse much of the ground they’ve gained. I mourn for your dead, as I am sure you mourn for ours, and if there is anything to be gained from such an affront it is that our two peoples are united by more than just common interest and friends. We are united by our experiences and the knowledge that those who we must fight seek only what can be won by the destruction of an entire race. Keep the faith, sister, and we shall prevail.
I do write with purpose, I admit, and that is first to all upon a favor for my cousin, Lellian Rowle. I know I spoke to you of her several times, and my previous letters have revealed our reunification following the invasion of Gilneas. I am sure you have celebrated as I have. Well, my favor is actually on her behalf, though I have sworn not to directly act without her permission in this matter. Such a promise seems surprising, does it not? I’m sure you can quite easily discern what actions I have taken in order to feel guilty enough to make that promise, too. Anyway, since returning to Stormwind she has expressed some interest in following her fellow Gilneans into the Cenarion Circle. I am only inquiring, of course, at this time, but do you have contacts amongst the druids you might be able to exploit?
I’m also asking for a personal favor. I am looking to inquire with Darnassus about a Gilnean refugee named Ian Robert Black. My request would take time, but I am hoping you could maybe make quicker headway? I’d like to explain more about this, but I fear this isn’t the medium to do so. I hope you understand that I am playing this close to the vest.
Write back soon, and Light Bless,
July 27, 2011
A letter buried in a burlap sack by a burned out barn in the Arathi Highlands.
I hope that should you ever read this it is because I was able to give you this letter in person. If not by my hand, then I suspect you found this buried at the foot of that old, gnarled maple that sat along my aunt’s barn. It was our spot before the war, and if it meant as much to you as it did to me you will remember what else we buried here.
I’m headed to Stormwind. Prince Galen is dead, Alterac has destroyed my home, and even in death Lordaeron is a thorn in Stromgarde’s side. If you’ve come looking for me here, perhaps you’re willing to come a bit further. Use the gold enclosed however you see fit.
Hopefully, one day the Wall will come down, and I’ll find reunion with the last of my blood. I hope everything is well in Gilneas. May your king’s line live long and rule true, and may your country prosper — even if it has abandoned us all.
July 23, 2011
The shakes. Every day this week I’ve been home. I think about the unpleasantness up north, and suddenly I’m shaking all over again. Thank the Light, they’re fading, but even after talking to that Highborne friend of Lesara’s they still scare me. Just a way of releasing tension, she told me, and I’m just the sort who buries stress in huge piles of shit. It’s the ones who don’t shake, who don’t have some sort of pressure valve that you have to worry about apparently.
I remember back in the Highlands when things were at their worse I’d shake until I cried. Give me a few moments, I’d say, and then I’d be alright. Methodical Thiery is back, doing what needs to be done, focused and clear, free of the shakes and tears. Then, at night they’d both come back. Laying there, thinking about it all, and my teeth would clatter and the tears would come up with the lump in my throat.
They were there in Silithus during the war against the madmen who are now back with a vengeance, and they were there when Lesara walked back to our lines in Ashenvale after the Orcs tore through Ashenvale.
Maybe it just shows I’m still human, right? I saw the light go out of that first Forsaken I killed when they ambushed Leli and I. I saw it, and I think he felt nothing.
I’ll take the shakes anyday.
July 18, 2011
Bloody Lellian saved my life. This alleviates some of the fears except for the fact that she can’t shoot to save her life. Calm, steady, rhythmic. I should have a go at teaching her even if I’m somewhat rubbish with a rifle myself.
I’d wanted to take Jeremiah in. I really did. I suppose that as much as I detest the rotting hand of Lordaeron and those traitors who have turned towards the darkness that resides there I simply cannot give look past what is right and proper in such situations. It is the new Lordaeron way to take what can only be had by the destruction and defilement of entire peoples and what is theirs by birthright. I am not the same.
But, dead he is. Again. There was little choice in the matter. He and those who arrived with him only wanted blood, and I don’t think they counted on my bow or Leli being as controlled and powerful as she is.
I’ll leave with this. I see why Lordaeron fears the worgen. By the Light, I get it.
July 5, 2011
Back from Redridge, and I’m not sure I can take enough baths to get the stink of gnoll out of my hair. Thankflly, it was a shorter trip than usual. Brought in both Syndicate members and turned them over to the magistrate in Lakeshire. he assured me they’d be processed through Stormwind and returned to the Highlands for justice. Worst part was putting their poor horse down. It was malnourished and skinny, and they ran it to death while carrying the both of them. I felt like crying when I put a slug into its head. Sometimes I wonder who the real animals are.
Lellian and I met a bloke named Latius who she knew from Gilneas. Apparently he was a friend of her brother, Drygen. Bad news here, as is always surrounding the Gilnean curse. Latius insists Lellian infected her missing brother, and I think this news has hit her particularly hard. She’s moving rashly, and that frightens me. She wants to go north and find that traitorous scum of a man she calls her father, and I don’t think any sort of rational statement could dissuade her.
A fine situation, Thiery James, you’ve put yourself into. Riding north with a Gilnean who is unsure if she can control herself when her blood is up and an infected Stormwinder you just met. I think she was joking when she said I should load my pistol with rock salt, but I assure you diary of mine that I am taking this suggestion under heavy advisement.
You know what? Just admit you’re frightened, Thiery. I’m scared. I am, really. I’ve heard the stories of this Lord Crowley spreading his curse to the remnants of Lordaeron so that they can’t be raised by the Foraken. Is that the choice we face? Will my homeland have to make a similar decision? Are we doomed to be monsters or languish as the servitors of the usurper of Lordaeron? I daresay that north of Khaz Modan we humans are now an endangered species.
Come home, Lord Trollbane. Come home and make the world right again.
Things to remember:
— The first snow of the winter in the Highlands. A thin layer of white over the cool, rapidly retreating autumn.
— My mother’s voice. She was a fantastic singer; her words moving and haunting as she sang about the long past glories of the Highlands.
June 18, 2011
Relaunch coming soonish.