I hate doing battle scenes... so why do I write so many?

Wohoo! We can see the end of this thing now! Although there’s still an appendix where Sarah gets to speak for herself in a very rare moment. Whee!
And this bit unspoils the spoiler for Thomas’ fate in that Thrall/Jaina thingy, too.

The sail from Booty Bay to Ratchet may have been boring, but Thomas felt grateful for the lack of adventure on the high seas. When “uneventful” pretty much meant that he didn’t have to fend off naga or murlocs climbing onto the deck in the middle of the night, he wasn’t one to complain. No one in their right mind would.

It did also give him good time to plan what he would do once he got to Theramore.

From helping out on the ship with various little things that needed done – a lot of heavy lifting, as it were – he earned himself a place on the payroll. That money was to be paid out once they reached Ratchet. However, Thomas spoke with the captain about that, knowing that the ship’s cargo included clothes manufactured in Booty Bay. 

Back in the day, the goblins in Stranglethorn quickly picked up on the native trolls’ use of the abundant wool flowers – a peculiar bloom much like cotton, which grew high up in the trees and could easily be spun to thread. The clothes made from it were tough and cheap – Thomas’ own, one, remaining set of shirt and pants had definitely seen better days. The new clothes he managed to haggle with the captain cost a whole lot more than they should have, but it was money that he never saw, anyway. He was merely taken off the payroll again. 

On the ship a truce existed between Horde and Alliance, being a neutral zone for anyone paying for the trip. Knowing what it meant to break that peace, the passengers kept to themselves and at most threw annoyed glances at anyone whose existence they found offensive. By the end of the long sail, however, people had gotten so used to each other that even the blood elf in the dark robe could walk past the night elf swordswoman without either of them trying to murder the other with their glare.

Thomas took note of these things, but he and everyone else knew that it would be back to the old ways the moment they stepped ashore. 

Not so much with the crew. At one point Thomas watched with great fascination as the first mate Mesker put both feet onto a tauren’s hands and was hoisted upwards – with one of the goblins standing on the human’s shoulders. All of this to reach a throwing dart stuck out of reach in the mast. Judging by their discussion leading up to this, they felt the circus act preferable to tossing a coin over who got to play monkey and climb.

There were more members of the Horde on the ship apart from that blood elf – the crew could not be called true to either faction, working for the goblins as they were. Yet, Thomas did not attempt to strike up conversation with any of the orcs or trolls at any time. A sense of paranoia stole over him the first day and refused to let him go. Just what if news of his “treason” reached Ratchet or Theramore before he did? Though he deeply loathed himself for his weakness, he let this fear control him and make him cautious. 

For the entire trip he kept a low profile, pretending not to understand when the orcs stood within earshot and spoke with each other in Orcish. They ignored him too, as he left the most noticeable pieces of his armor in his room and appeared not as a paladin but just a traveler among others.

Still, he couldn’t help wondering if there were people on the ship who knew Vo’don or any of the others.

Once they reached Ratchet, the passengers all split in all directions – most of them surely eager to forget sharing a vessel with their enemies. Thomas stayed and helped unload the cargo, however. For the pay he got from that he got a room at an inn that was cheap, but not cheap enough to leave him in worry that he would be robbed. The money was enough to get him a new – cheap – sword, and still left him a few coins to get food for a few days.

In an unruly area such as this, with constant attacks from the beasts of the land, that made a decent start.

True that Thomas had earned himself a “Sir” title, but that was through the blessings of the Light. He too started out as a recruit once upon a time, and he was not too bothered by the following, rough days. They could have been much, much more unforgiving, considering.

Through odd jobs and some monster hunting in the sweltering landscape he managed to build up a small amount of money again. A mix of hope and cynicism – enough money to bring him to Theramore, but also enough to bring him away from there again, if things did not work out.

It was with a great sense of anxiety that he finally put on his carefully cleaned and polished armor, and went to the harbor to assure himself a fare on the ship he knew would shortly sail to the city state on the edge of Dustwallow Marsh. 

Travelling from Ratchet to Theramore by ship only took a few hours. Odd, then, that those hours seemed so much longer than the weeks spent on The Maiden’s Fancy. 

A thick, brownish mist blew in over the mountain tops towering between the sea and swamp as the ship sailed on, enshrouding the vessel. The sun reached down through it only with great effort, creating an odd, thick light to match the murky smell in the air. Thomas stood on the deck, gazing into the fog and as alert as anybody else onboard. Anything could hide out there under these conditions. Conversations ceased, everyone listening for any suspicious sound.

But there was only the waves and the creaking of the ship. 

As they got closer to Theramore Isle, the wind bit by bit chased the mist away and they emerged unscathed into a more welcoming air. Yet the sky here was heavy with clouds, very unlike the unforgiving blue in the Barrens.

After the hot days in Ratchet Thomas should have welcomed the cooler weather, but the smell of rain and grey heavens didn’t manage to lift his spirits. Theramore looked downcast and sodden as he stepped off the ship and walked across the harbor to reach the city. It was no better within the walls. People walked carefully not to slip on the mud of the smaller roads and the slippery stones of the paved streets. It didn’t rain now, but it obviously had during the night and more was coming.

Unease gripped Thomas’ heart even harder, and he hurried towards the citadel. He wanted this over with.

It took several introductions to bring him where he wanted, first to a guard, then the clerk the guard sent him to, then another clerk who showed him the way deeper inside. It went in a blur, but finally Thomas found himself left in a comfortable waiting room with three other petitioners. All three of them looked a whole lot formal than he did, wearing formal robes and sitting with rolled up documents in their laps.

Thomas didn’t speak beyond the initial greeting. Past that he sat in one of the sofas, lost in thought while the other men occasionally exchanged a few phrases. Fruit and drink stood on a table in the center of the room, but Thomas had no appetite at all despite the hours that had passed since his breakfast.

One by one, the petitioners were called in. Two new ones had time to arrive before yet another clerk opened the door and announced that Lady Proudmoore would see Thomas. He wasn’t sure how much time had passed by then, and it didn’t matter. Taking in a deep breath he stood up and followed the clerk back into the corridor and through the looming doors leading to the throne room. Guards stood on both sides of the door, glancing at him only briefly as he entered. 

The throne room was built in the same pale stone as the rest of the city, and tall windows let in the soapy, rain heavy light from outside. Although there was a throne, however, the leader of Theramore did not sit in it. She stood in front of it, hands easily folded against her back and a friendly smile on her lips. Her white dress looked rather stark against the green and gold flags adorning the walls, but that was not the first thing that struck a spectator. 

Willpower alone kept Thomas from raising his eyebrows when he saw Lady Jaina in person for the first time. He had heard that she was a tall woman, but he had not quite believed those who claimed that she might be able to look a night elf man straight in the eye.

“Welcome to Theramore,” she said as he stopped on the carpet.

 Military training supported him as he automatically moved into a strict, straight pose as he saluted. It actually made him feel a little better, more familiar with the situation – although he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that he should carry a helmet in his free hand.

“Thomas Southstone of the Silver Hand, my Lady.” He bowed his head slightly, still saluting. “I’m deeply honored by you taking the time to see me.”

Though honestly, he had no idea if he was still a member of the Silver Hand. Certainly not if Edward had made it back home by now, with witnesses. But since he wasn’t sure, he clung to it as a precious way to distinguish himself. 

“At ease, Sir Southstone,” Lady Jaina said, in a warm voice. “Any member of the Alliance is always welcome here. What is it that you wish to tell me, paladin?”

Lowering his hand, Thomas took in a brief, steadying breath. He would only have this chance – if they would not have him here, he knew not where to go. 

“I hail from Stormwind and has served the Silver Hand from there,” he said. “However, I stand here today to ask you to accept my pledge of fealty to you and Theramore, my Lady.”

A strange little smile grazed the Lady’s lips. He took note of it even though she quickly hid her mouth behind her hand in a thoughtful gesture. Later, he would understand it, strange as it was. Right then, her words gave him no rest to be curious. 

“Tell me, why do you wish to serve Theramore?” she said.

Thomas bowed his head briefly again.

“It pains me to say it, but I have come to question the sense of righteousness prevailing in the Eastern Kingdoms,” he said. “It is quite a story, however, and I don’t intend to intrude too much on your precious time.”

She watched him with the same calm expression through this short speech, despite the fact that his words could be considered those of a turncoat. 

“I have decided to take the time to hear your request,” Lady Jaina said as he finished. “Speak freely and do not feel pressured.”

“I thank you graciously.”

The many long, calm hours on the ship had given Thomas ample time to plan how to put his story, and the intense few days in Ratchet had not dulled it. He left out nothing crucial, but spoke economically not to take up too much time and bore Lady Proudmoore. Odd, really, how the events in Un’goro that changed his life could be summed up in so few sentences. Stranglethorn felt so much more palpable, but that too seemed strangely brief when he spoke of it now. 

“I understand if this is all hard to believe, my Lady,” he finished. “I swear that it is all true, however.”

“A strange tale, indeed,” the Lady said, and he could have sworn that there was a hint of amusement in her voice. “Not many people would readily admit to a story like that,” she continued, the corner of her lips rising slightly. “Except when they talked about somebody else being a traitor.”

Thomas’ heart sank. Had there already been reports from those men and elves, in his disfavor? He had given them his name, and even if Thomas had not done so himself, Edward – with Martin in tow – would surely provide any information about the traitorous paladin. 

But he squared his jaw.

“I stand by it, my Lady,” he said, looking Jaina in the face. “Those trolls saved my life and the orc healed me. To just let them be killed would have violated everything I know about ethics and compassion. Although I shudder to think of it, I owe gratitude even to the Forsaken woman.”

“I am glad to hear that. Although, perhaps I should rather offer pity when it comes to your debt to the Forsaken.”

“Thank you, my Lady,” Thomas said with a straight face.

“If you would serve Theramore, I gratefully accept your fealty,” Lady Jaina said. “But I would ask you not to serve as a guardian of the city, Sir Southstone.”

Thomas blinked.

“My Lady?”

Something that almost looked like a sense of amused mischief flew past on Lady Jaina’s features. It was the look of somebody who knew something more than the person she spoke with did.

“I have heard that you can speak a little Orcish,” she said. “Is this true?”

“Yes, my Lady, a little…”

Surprised as he was at this turn of the conversation, he did not at once remember that he had not mentioned his language skills to anybody ever since leaving Booty Bay. When he did recall this crucial detail a second later, he straightened up sharply.

“Pardon me, my Lady, who told you that?” he asked.

Her eyes twinkled.

“A reliable source,” she said. “How well would you say that you can speak Orcish?”

Even though surprised, and unsure where this was heading, Thomas still managed to pull himself together. 

“I understand far more than I can speak,” he said. “What I can speak is pretty basic, but I got by with the mixed company in Stranglethorn. I would learn more if given the chance.”

“That is far more than many would care to do, even here in Theramore,” Lady Jaina said.

She paused for a moment, looking him over.

“I will be frank with you, Sir Southstone,” she said. “I had already heard the tale you told me from two different sources. I fear that the Silver Hand wishes to question you about accusations brought forwards by a Sir Edward Twain and a handful of witnesses…”

Thomas pinched his eyes shut, feeling the muscles in his neck tense in knots. 

“… however, I am satisfied with the blanks you have filled in, and I believe what you did was right. If you truly wish to serve Theramore, I will sort things out with the Hand for you.” Her smile was not very pleasant, but it was not aimed at him.

The knotted nerves relaxed in an instant as he looked up, watching her with surprise and gratitude. 

“That is far more than I could have hoped for, my Lady,” he said, touching a fist to his chest. “I am more grateful than I can say, that you believe me.”

“Think nothing of it,” Lady Jaina said. She glanced at the high windows, shaking her head. “I thought that it sounded odd when I was given the report. They accuse you of aiding a group of trolls, orcs and Forsaken who attacked them in Stranglethorn and poisoned two of their number, both which survived but suffered terribly.”

Thomas had to take in a deep breath to stay calm, but he felt sure that Lady Jaina must hear his teeth gritting. Her voice changed from thoughtful and regained that odd, amused edge as she continued. 

“That would be their version of the story. Since I have heard another version from you and someone else, I feel inclined to believe those instead.”

As she spoke of this second, unnamed source of information again, an image took shape in Thomas’ mind. When it did, his clenched jaw relaxed in pure disbelief. Perhaps Jaina read the wonder on his face, because her eyes twinkled again. 

“You have nothing to fear in Theramore, Sir Southstone,” she said. “The Alliance are not the only ones who can provide witnesses, and Warchief Thrall is not amused at his people nearly getting murdered in an ambush.” She showed off that unpleasant smile at empty space again, then turned back to him. “As I understood, neither does Vol’jin of the Darkspear tribe. I have yet to hear anything of what Lady Sylvanas has to say on the matter, but I believe we can disregard that.”

[i]“I’ll follow Vo’don and the kids back to Grom’gol and then take the zeppelin to Orgrimmar.”

Those two…[/i]

Realizing how far up Vo’don and Dor’ash had gone with their reports made Thomas feel faint. They had known he was going to Theramore, hell… Dor’ash had even suggested it. Had they actually…?

“Sir Southstone?”

Jaina’s voice shook him out of his thoughts and he almost jumped. Pressing his fingertips against his forehead to compose himself, he faced her properly again.

“I beg pardon, my Lady,” he said. “This is just a little bit overwhelming.”

“I understand.”

And he understood now, why she had that look of near-mischief hidden just beneath her calm expression – astounding though it was.

“You are welcome to serve Theramore, Sir Southstone,” Lady Jaina continued. “However, there are already many soldiers in this city. What we do not have is an official diplomat for relations with Orgrimmar. Considering your history, I feel that this position would be very suitable for you.”

Thomas’ had not removed his fingers from his forehead, and now he pressed them down again before forcing himself to lower the hand and at least appear to be composed. It probably didn’t work, but there was no judgment in the Lady’s eyes as she watched him. 

“You hardly know anything about me, my Lady…” he managed.

“When I received the message from the Silver Hand,” she said, and she half smiled, half grinned, “it included a lament about how you possibly could have fallen so far after such a long, faithful service. Also, you do have impressive references.”

For a brief moment Thomas thought that he would laugh hysterically at how bizarre all of this was. Luckily, the only thing that escaped him was a breathless chuckle – probably thanks to the words of the Hand being so bitter, even in the way that Lady Jaina played them against themselves.

She seemed to read something of the chaotic emotions in his face, because her smile softened and she returned to a business-like tone.

“I would give you a chance to speak for Theramore with the orcs, if you accept this task,” she said. “From what I have heard so far, I have faith in that you could do it.”

Taking in a deep breath, Thomas took a firm mental grasp of his mind and forced it to stop spinning. He clenched his fist and pressed it against his chest, bowing.

“I humbly and gratefully accept your offer, my Lady. I swear to do my outmost not to fail you.”

Lady Jaina smiled, regally nodding her head.

“Then, you are hereby a citizen of Theramore and our official diplomat, Sir Southstone,” she said. “The Warchief informed me that he would welcome a first meeting with his representative as soon as possible. I will suggest to him that it take place in Ratchet in a week, to give you time to prepare.”

Straightening up, Thomas saluted again, although he had to hide the puzzlement at this talk of her meeting with the Warchief so often. True that it was said that they were friends still, but…

He shook it off. It was not his business, not even in his new position. He would deal with the official matters, not the unofficial ones. Although he dearly needed a while to sort all this out inside his mind, there was only one thing to say. 

“As you wish, my Lady.”


Thomas gazed out one of the window in the room he had been given, hardly seeing the sprawling streets below, the soldiers and people illuminated by the reddening evening glow. He was busy still feeling quite amazed at how things had developed. The sudden shift in his life still seemed dizzying, although he had now gotten several hours to sort out his thoughts – but he felt no fear of the responsibilities thrown into his lap. Only a hint of nervousness when he wondered how the first meetings with the orcish representative would go. As soon as that went well, everyone should know where they stood – including him.

It should not be too difficult to get a hold of Vo’don and the others and thank them properly for all they had done. Far more than he had known when saying goodbye in Booty Bay, and more than he ever could have asked. 

He had to get a hold of Collins somehow, too. The rogue would have a ball with the story of what happened in Stranglethorn, and he too had spoken about what happened way back in Un’goro last time he met with Thomas. The thought made the paladin turned emissary chuckle to himself. 

A knock on the door broke Thomas’ line of thought, and he turned around.


The door opened, and a soldier wearing the typical silver and gold Theramore uniform entered. At first Thomas could not quite tell the age of the man, but finally realized that the soldier could not be much older than he himself was – perhaps even a couple of years younger. Yet, something about the look in this man’s eyes made him seem beyond his days, and there were hints of grey in the hair growing just above his ears. In his hand was a heap of papers, and he saluted with his other hand.

“Simon Nebula, reporting for duty, Sir,” he introduced himself. “I will be accompanying you to Ratchet for the first meeting with the orc representative next week.”

“At ease.” Thomas smiled in greeting, but could hardly keep from frowning. Something pecked at his mind.

Simon took the papers in both hands and politely offered them. 

“As per your request, Sir, here are reports of the current peaceful activities between Theramore and the Horde. I thought I would bring them to you myself since we will be working together.”

“Thank you. I assume that there are a whole lot more on the negative aspects,” Thomas said with a sigh and took the bundle of reports. Still, that was quite an amount to read. More than he would have thought.

Simon’s lips twitched. 

“Very true, Sir, and an awful lot of that in there too.” He pointed at the papers.

“I see I have quite some homework then.” The joke was distracted, however. Thomas put his thumb at the edge of the heap and bent the papers so that they flipped past, kept somewhat apart by his finger. A few words flew by under his gaze several times, such as fish, crops, Ratchet and Brackenwall. The texts appeared to mainly be about what little trade was still kept up.

Even as he did this, there was still something else on Thomas’ mind. Something bothered him, and he couldn’t quite-

“Lady Proudmoore also asked me to inform you this,” Simon helpfully added, looking at Thomas with some curiosity, “we just received word that the orc representative for the first meeting would be a shaman named Dor’ash Coldbane, Sir. If you don’t mind me asking, the Lady gave me the idea that he would attend the meeting because you had met him before?”

Thomas could not help chuckling a little, furthering Simon’s curious look. Although the paladin’s first thought was one of wonder at how this news could have made it so quickly, he next thought of Lady Proudmoore’s easy talk of speaking with the Warchief.

What a strange city state this was, when it got down to it. Or rather, it’s leader was something else. 

“I see,” Thomas said, more to himself than to Simon. He looked up at the soldier. “Yes, we have met, although I did not have time to learn to know him very well.”

Turning towards the desk, he was about to add “Neither him nor his bony friend, luckily”, but the puzzle piece slammed in place into his brain and his eyes widened. 

Light, no. Couldn’t be…

He clenched his teeth to keep from looking up sharply at Simon. Instead, he dropped the papers on the desk in the corner of the room and turned around, forcing a relaxed look.

“It’s quite a story,” he said. “Perhaps I can tell you on the trip to Ratchet.”

Simon nodded.

“I’ll look forwards to it, Sir,” he said. “Anything else I can help you with?”

“Nothing else for now, I believe,” Thomas said.

He hesitated, pressing his thumb and pointing finger to his chin in a thoughtful look to win another moment to think. No, it was too cruel to be so. Too much of a coincidence. 

But he had to know for sure. 

“Although, excuse me…” he said, slowly, dreading the answer he sought. “You have a rather unusual last name, I must say.”

“An ancestor of mine was an astronomer. We were only farmers, though.” Simon frowned a little. “Pardon me, Sir, it is a strange question…?”

Thomas quickly shook his head and thought very fast. 

“Yes, of course. It only struck me because I once knew a woman named Samantha Nebula.”

“I see.” Simon’s lips scrunched up in a bitter smile. “Not a relative, as far as I know. Though I did have an older sister named Sarah.” He suddenly looked very old, eyes haggard.

A cold hand grasped Thomas’ heart and squeezed. 

“I see…” he heard himself say.

“Yes.” Simon looked away, rubbing his chin intensively. “The Plague took her and everyone else, though.” There was a certain look in his eye however, one Thomas had seen many times before – when soldiers heard of dead comrades and dully murmured I hope it was quick. But Simon’s eyes rather said At least I hope it was the Plague and not the Scourge. One reached that point, when the guilt of being left alive could only be quelled by the hope that they died a less gruesome death. Either way, he had to live with the knowledge that they may very well have been dragged out of their graves – if they even ever got a funeral – as abominations under the Lich King.

“I’m… very sorry to hear that.” Thomas swallowed hard. “I apologize for bringing up such painful memories.”

Simon tried to smile a little. 

“You could not know that, Sir. Thank you for your concern.” The smile failed, but his tone made it clear that he honestly appreciated the condolences.

They exchanged some distracted goodbyes, and then Simon left.

Once alone Thomas leaned against his desk, pressing a hand to his forehead. That the world could be so cruel, it seemed too much. Had Simon been spared the Plague because he joined the military before it hit, then fled with Lady Proudmoore to Kalimdor? Most probably, for such was the general story. Then he must have survived the battle on mount Hyjal, fighting for his own, his friends and all the people of the world’s lives against the undead abominations led by the demon Archimonde. And lived with the knowledge that the Scourge may have slaughtered his family, if they did not die in the Plague. Either way, his own family could have been among those monsters on Hyjal, for all he knew.

Learning to smile again must have taken years, the pain in his eyes upon speaking of the dead relatives- 

Try as he might, Thomas could not tell if there were any similarities in Simon and Sarah’s appearances – her face was too sunken and gone, and he had tried not to look too closely at her. It still seemed too much of a coincidence… but the family name could not be so common.

Whether true or not, he had no intention to tell Simon that his sister might be a servant of Lady Sylvanas. No matter how at ease Sarah seemed about herself.

A second realization hit, and he almost fell onto the chair by the desk, fumbling for a pencil and paper. 

It seemed reasonable that Dor’ash would not take the risk of muddling a friendly conference by bringing an undead along, but this was not something Thomas could leave to chance. 

His occupation as a diplomat certainly took on a grim start. The future might hold brighter things, among all the hard work he already expected, but right then he could not think of anything positive. 

Poor sod. He can never catch a break.

So Terry Pratchett these first two sentences :wink: Can I smell a whiff of LOTR “we are not taking you back to the city, rofle you go to your favorite occupation surprise!” in Jaina’s not accepting him as a meat shield?

My only comment is that the transition from the first part, which is mostly narration, to the second where dialogue comes back into place (I mean, where he begins talking to Jaina) could be marked as a different part, by a simple line break and asterisks or w/e, as the writing style changes noticeably.

“All three of them looked a whole lot formal than he did, wearing formal robes and sitting with rolled up documents in their laps.”
Double formal. How about “official” in the second one?

fighting for his own, his friends and all the people of the world’s lives against the undead abominations led by the demon Archimonde.

In some cultures, calling one’s sister an abomination could be considered offensive. Words from the wise. XD

“Poor sod…” is the official ending, right? Good job.

The masters haunt me, apparently XD I didn’t consider the likeness or anything, but now that you mention it…

In some cultures, calling one’s sister an abomination could be considered offensive. Words from the wise. XD

But this IS Sarah we’re talking about! :hahaha;

“Poor sod…” is the official ending, right? Good job.

That wasn’t the plan (it’s just a final comment from me), but hey, maybe… and thanks :slight_smile:

Oh what the hey. I superglued the rambly pieces of this appendix together into one big… series of scenes.

[STRIKE]It’s my unlife and I’ll angst if I want to…[/STRIKE]

The sun was just nearing its highest peak above the Barrens. It was a lazy time, when most of the inhabitants from raptors to orcs preferred not to get involved in anything too violent, because the heat could take the edge off of any fighting spirit.

Many small farms littered the land, but always with a watch tower within sight. The countryside was vast, if not perfect for growing crops, but good for the orc families who raised pigs and hunted. A considerable part of Durotar’s main source of food came from here. 

Dust rose up around the horse’s hooves as it came down the road from the east. Neither it nor its rider cared one bit of the heat. All they might feel if being out in the sun for too long, was a stiffness of muscles and, in the case of the rider, an inability to speak properly due to her mouth drying up. That would be a problem if she had to fight of course, but for the time being she didn’t care much.

Forsaken never rest. They never sleep. Sarah’s thoughts were as alert as any other time, unconcerned with the stifling heat that made living creatures lazy and slow. Her mind had to be sharp, like all other Forsaken. Having thoughts constantly running through her head was the only way to drown out the dark whisper dark down. It never fell silent, calling insistently. One had to just learn to ignore it, and its promise of power and glory for the Scourge.

Although she didn’t remember “life” as a mindless slave, she certainly had no desire to try it again. But neither did she want that unknown life she had once lived.

Blast Patrick to hell. Yet, he served a purpose for the moment. Thoughts of him and everything he might know about her past worked excellently to drown out the Lich King’s murmur. 

Where others saw amnesia as a curse and seek cure, Sarah counted it as a blessing. The power of having no memory gave her the strength to sneer at all those Forsaken who bitterly dwelled on their memories, who could do nothing but eternally seek revenge on those that had cast them aside after death. No thirst for dark justice bound her every action, she did not crouch in the shadows planning the painful death of somebody who had slighted her, or swore for hours when her prey managed to get away.

The one person from the past whom she did hate with a passion was the Lich King, but there was no way she could raise her hands towards him until that time when all of the Forsaken could make their move. In fact, the hate felt more arbitrary than anything else. She certainly did want him dead no less than any of her brethren, but for now and nobody knew how long he remained as untouchable as a god. It was like hating a raincloud. His incessant whisper deep inside her mind remained a small annoyance, but easily forgotten if she only kept herself busy.

As far as Sarah was concerned, her life began when she crawled out of her grave, weak as a kitten and utterly lost. With no experiences to draw from she had only felt uneasy confusion, but not fear, when several skeletal, rotting creatures surrounded her and brought her down into Deathknell. She could not remember that things had ever been different, and thus the other Forsaken simply appeared to be the way of the world to her. Only later and with some assistance did the truth “come back”. 

But she was born a Forsaken, and there was nothing else inside her head except a thirst for freedom and the road – that wish for freedom had to be what allowed her to break free of the Lich King in the first place, and remain herself ever since. Probably. She could not tell if that was true, and it didn’t matter. It kept her safe from him now, and hopefully for many more years to come.

Curiosity made her press on and leap into battle, not bitterness.

That was why she despised Patrick, so much that it was the closest to fear she could experience. He knew the past that had let her go, and a nagging feeling told Sarah that whatever he could tell her, he would gladly share one day just to see what it did to her.

She didn’t want to know. She didn’t like the way he smiled. 

“Who would have thought little Sarah could be a mage?”

That much he had let drop the first time they met, before she shouted at him to shut up. It had told her enough, far more than she wanted to know. 

She had been weak. 

How weak? Weak enough to, if she remembered, crash in her merry arsonist skip through the world, to suddenly look at all the things she had done in the last few years and scream and scream and scream in horror?

Patrick knew, and smiled at her. 

The road led up a slight slope, and she shook herself out of those thoughts as the horse plodded up on the top. A small hamlet – more like a few sporadically placed farms – laid before her. The houses were of clay with red rooftops, built mostly in octagonal shapes in typical orc fashion. Sturdy fences surrounded the homesteads and several watch towers loomed nearby, but the houses themselves were not adorned with as many spikes as those in Orgrimmar or Razor Hill. This was a peaceful community – as peaceful as it got. Anybody starting trouble with these farmers would have to deal with the same kind of orcs as anywhere else. The kind that hit hard and brutal.

The inhabitants proudly called it Drakamash Village in honor of the Warchief’s mother, despite the fact that their home was so small that it didn’t appear on most maps. The name was mostly due to several members of the Frostwolf clan being in the original group of defenders, when the farms were first founded.

Perhaps it was a little pretentious to choose a name like that, but they had it and nobody seemed to mind.

Sarah didn’t care, apart from the Frostwolf clan bit. She rode down the road, passed the first watch tower after a brief discussion with the grunts stationed there. But they knew her by now, and where she was headed. Continuing was no problem.

Her goal laid near the “heart” of the village, as it were. Just another farm among the others – fenced in, with only a house, a barn and a shed, all matching each other. Tough vegetables struggled under the sun in a large patch beside the house, and pigs sleepily grunted.

She hopped off her horse and opened the wooden gate. The fence held the pigs in, and most scavengers out, unless they could climb. Without a word or sign from her, the skeletal horse trotted inside and she closed the gate behind it. When she waved at it, her mount continued on along the fence, as far away from the main building as possible. 

A few fat, brown pigs lazily gazed at her from the shadow of their barn, but made no move to get up and look closer. Same with the huge, familiar wolf mount slouching in the shadow by the door of the house. He just swept his tail against the ground in greeting when he noticed her.  

None of the inhabitants of the farm seemed to be outside, or at least not within first sight. A pleasant smell of meat stew hung in the air, although Sarah could feel it only very faintly. 

The widow was cooking in her kitchen and all was well on her farm. Heh. 

A thwack and clattering sound came from behind the main building, and Sarah’s lips curled into a smirk. She left her horse to its own devices and ducked around the rounded, spiky house. 

Standing in the shadow of the wall of the woodshed, sweat matting his bare back, Dor’ash picked up another piece of wood and placed it on the chopping block before him. One swing of the axe sent two halves clattering to the ground and he bent down to collect them. Uncut slabs of wood laid piled in a heap to his right, more easily handled, hacked up pieces on his left.

She had seen this before, many times, but that man had not had green skin or looked like a mountain of muscles. It ran off her, because she mentally doused the feeling with molten lava. 

“I die a little bit inside every time I see you like this.” Letting out an annoyed groan, Sarah stepped forwards.

“Grema says she likes it better if I work without my shirt on,” Dor’ash said without looking up.

“Oh please, don’t make me puke. You’d regret it.”

Dor’ash hacked the axe stuck in the chopping block and turned to Sarah. One fist at his side, he looked her over.

“Now, how are you?” he asked.

Chortling softly, Sarah pushed the hood back and moved closer to let him have a better look. After a lot of – uncomfortable – work, the combined forces of the apothecaries and the priest had patched her back up. Literally replacing the burnt sinew and skin. Although, she knew she was a fair bit lighter, since they had only cared about the most vital parts. The rest had simply been cut off and discarded.

“I can move and talk properly again,” she said, pulling up her sleeve to show him the new flesh that had replaced the destroyed. “That’s enough.”

And that was all she meant to tell him about the process. Luckily, he nodded in satisfaction.

“Good,” he said, “having you stiff as a board was pretty annoying.”

“Bah!” Sarah threw out her arms. “Speak for yourself. You didn’t have to live it!”

“Aw, but wouldn’t you have looked even scarier if they kept some charred parts?” came another female voice, causing both of them to look up.

An orc woman grinned at them, big hands at her hips as she studied Sarah. A few black strands had come free of her braid and fluttered around her face and shoulders.

“I thought about that, actually, but they said it’s enough that I already frighten small children,” Sarah said, sneering right back at her.

“Just children?” The woman, Grema, walked closer while tilting her head. She stopped before Sarah, bending forwards to get to the same eye level. “And I heard you scared the crap outta some big bad humans and elves.”

When Dor’ash stood beside another orc, his heritage became more apparent. Grema’s skin was a rich green, while his had a bluish tint. They were not of the same clan, but that didn’t matter. 

“Shh!” Sarah pressed a finger to her thin lips. “Don’t tell my superiors that I’ve been taking lessons from a bogeyman.” She made a not too subtle motion in Dor’ash’s direction, earning an amused grunt of protest against this new title.

For a second Sarah sneered at him, but when she turned back to Grema, the orc woman’s grin had softened.

“Thank you,” Grema said, touching the undead’s shoulder.

“Stop that, you’re going to cook with that thing.” Sarah shrugged the big, green hand away, but her smirk was not only scornful.

“Naw, the stew’s boiling along on its own right now. I have time to clean up.”

Despite saying so, she absentmindedly brushed her hand clean – against Dor’ash’s pant leg. He didn’t seem to mind. 

Sarah would have rolled her eyes if she’d had any.

“Speaking of which,” Dor’ash said, grinning around one tusk. “I reported what happened in Stranglethorn to the Warchief. It seems he told Lady Proudmoore in Theramore about it, and when Thomas made it there she set him up as a diplomat of sorts.”

“Aww, our baby is all grown up!” Sarah cooed, clasping her hands over the part of her chest where her heart might or might not be.

“About that…” Dor’ash said, and a strange look flashed past in his eyes, “the Warchief asked me to represent the orcs on the first meeting between us and Theramore’s new emissary, since I already knew him.”

“Oh, really…”

 Sarah tapped her chin, peering up at Dor’ash’s green face. 

“And you don’t think that bringing your smelly pet along is a good idea, in case she makes a mess on the red carpet, do you?”


“Pff. You don’t have to look so guilty, I ain’t crying my eyes out. For obvious reasons, of course. You meeting in Ratchet or what?”

Strangely, Dor’ash looked a little bit more relieved than seemed necessary. She discarded it. Probably just worried about letting his beloved Warchief down. Grema said nothing, only watched the two of them. 

“Yes, in a couple of days,” Dor’ash said. “I was thinking of leaving tomorrow.”

“Just my luck, can’t catch a break.” Sarah threw up her hands, sighing dramatically. “Fine, I’ll camp in the Crossroads until you’ve stopped playing with the paladin. Ah yes…”

She pulled her backpack down her arm and pulled it open. 

“I’ve got something for you.” Saying so, Sarah plunged her arm into the bag and dug around in it for a while, under the curious gaze of the two orcs.

Finally she drew out a small item carefully wrapped in a grey cloth. With her tweezers-like fingertips she unwrapped the packing, revealing a small, clear vial filled with an oddly colored liquid. It looked green one moment, but when the light shifted it rather seemed to be bluish. 

Grinning, she offered it to Dor’ash.

“Here,” she said.

“What is this?” he asked, holding out his hand so that she could place the cloth and vial in his palm.

“You said that you didn’t want to worry about my bottles breaking and leaking all over,” Sarah said. She carefully tapped a fingertip against the glass, creating a soft tink-tink-tink. “This won’t counter everything we’ve currently got, but it’s strong enough to at least slow down almost anything.”

He looked at her for a moment. So did Grema, raising her fleshy eyebrows. 

“That,” Dor’ash eventually said, “somehow sounds less reassuring than it should.”

“I know. And it cost me my right leg, so be grateful.”

It was all he got, coupled with a sweet smile. Slowly nodding, he wrapped the vial in the cloth again.  

“Also, don’t drink it concentrated,” Sarah added as an afterthought. “Mix two drops in a cup of water and dab it on a wound. That’s a me-sized cup, not a you-sized.”

“And if that, spirits forbid, isn’t enough?” Dor’ash asked.

“Then you drink it.” She flashed most of her teeth. “And it tastes so bad it makes us undead throw up.”

In the thoughtful pause, Dor’ash studied the small package he held. Grema didn’t comment, but her expression wavered between amused and disturbed. 

“No,” Sarah said in earnest. “You do not want to know what’s in it.”

“Why do I have a feeling that this is one of those things that are going to come back and bite both of us someplace where the sun doesn’t shine?” Dor’ash commented.

“Do you want it or not?” she asked in a huff, hands on her thin hips.

“Yes, yes.” He gave her a slanted smile, rapping the back of two fingers against her arm. “Thank you.”

“Much better.” She turned around and started to walk away, while hoisting the backpack onto her back again. “Now… suppose I ought to scare the kid, since I’m here.”

“Tell my pup that the food will be ready in half an hour, if you’re going to go tease him,” Grema said.

The only reply was a bony hand waving above Sarah’s shoulder. She disappeared around the corner.

Silence settled between the two orcs.

“I want to tell her, sort of,” Dor’ash finally muttered.

Grema watched him for a moment. 

“But then, we might have to clean up after a killing spree,” she said. “And it would be very, very messy.”

“Indeed… they tend to not take living family lightly. But she… wouldn’t. Probably.”

He stared blankly in the direction where Sarah had gone, until Grema slapped his shoulder.

“Be a shaman,” she said, nearly stabbing his nose with her finger. “Tell her when the spirits say so.”

“I don’t think the spirits dare trying to understand her,” he said, shaking his head.

Slowly, Grema nodded. What a pet they had. 

Dor’ash looked down at the small package in his hand. 

It had been one of those extremely rare moments – apart from when she did something drastic to save his life or protect him – that Sarah showed something else than smug disinterest and morbid amusement, and actually seemed to care. Of course, he always believed she did care, just chose not to let anyone see it. Otherwise he wouldn’t trust her like he did. 

A shared sense of humor alone does not a successful team make. 

Although sometimes he did wonder if he knew her at all. The wish to tell her about this Simon Nebula, whom Thomas had met, returned in full force. Still Dor’ash kept his peace. 

He honestly didn’t know how Sarah would react.


Sarah shook her head at the world at large as soon as she was out of sight.


She wasn’t jealous of Grema, that wasn’t it. She had her own “lover” of sorts in another Forsaken mage, Jonathan Schiller. She could never love Dor’ash like that, either. Her being dead was only one of the reasons.

Dor’ash meant something wildly different to her. Yet, he probably wasn’t ready to hear the truth about that, yet. And he wouldn’t like it when she eventually had to tell him. 

Just… bah. 

The one thing she never made a joke about was that she ought to kill Grema for taking Dor’ash away from his pet owner. He wouldn’t laugh at that. 

Even if he knew Sarah didn’t mean that threat honestly, either.

She pushed the thoughts aside as she laid eyes upon the barn, and a smirk tugged at her lips as she walked closer. 

The sunlight just barely reached the figure inside, revealing his green skin, the simple tunic, and the thick, black braid dangling down between his mighty shoulder blades. He was just leaning over the fence to one of the smaller animal boxes of the large pigsty. 

“The pet zombie of the man taking your mother away from you has returned,” Sarah said as she entered.

Karg turned and gave her a dark look. He was still young, going on his sixteenth year. Two more years until he could serve the Horde.

Two more years until Dor’ash would give up travelling for Grema’s sake. At most.

How old can Forsaken become? Impossible to tell, and when they “aged”, it wasn’t like the living. The living had the blessing of simply dying. 

“She shouldn’t have to be alone out here,” Karg said through his fangs, and splattered water on the nearest pigs rather than filled their trough. They hoarsely squealed and fled, snorting in anger.

“Very mature stance, that,” Sarah said. She leaned her arms on the fence and looked at the pigs inside of the closed off room. The smarter ones chose to recoil. “I take it he talked about your training again.”

Snarling, Karg flung the bucket at a corner and stomped towards the barn door.

“That’s not mature,” Sarah muttered. She turned to follow him, snatching up the discarded pail as she went.

And she tried hard to ignore the fuzzy sense of déjà vu when she walked out into the blast of sunlight, heavy bucket in hand. The farm was full of those senses of familiarity. Not a difficult riddle to solve, the reason for that. Farmer girl. Luckily, any and all solid memories stayed away. 

Hearing her approach, Karg turned and accepted the bucket back without a word. Together they headed for the well. Glancing around to make sure that neither his mother nor Dor’ash were nearby, the young orc muttered to the small woman walking beside him.

“He wants to make me something I’m not, that’s all.”

I’m fairly sure his exact words were “Your father was an honorable grunt. There’s nothing wrong with following in his footsteps and I won’t hinder you if that is what you wish. Still, I know that you have a potential that should not be wasted.”

Sarah just shrugged, watching Karg fasten the bucket on the rope and lower it into the well. After a few moments there was a soft splash, and he easily hauled the large container upwards again. It looked like light work for his already thick arms, with their corded veins. To him, it probably was. 

She shook off another whisper of a memory she could not grasp, didn’t want to grasp.

By Arthas, she hated this place. In a way. It was difficult though, sometimes. 

“Well, you know,” she said, folding her arms and tilting her head. “I’m the one who will have to carry you around. I’d like you to be able to cast a healing spell or two.”

His eyes darkened again.

“I won’t need your help,” he said.

Snorting, Sarah looked at the upper side of her hands and polished the bits that would have been nails against her robe. 

“Did Dor’ash admit what happened in Stranglethorn, yet?” she asked.

He just grunted, proving that he had been told the story. And the fact that he did not say that they should never have run away like cowards, but fought the hopeless combat to the death by arrows – that said that he thought not like a single-minded grunt, but as the warrior who wanted to survive, not necessarily go down fighting a battle that held neither hope nor glory. As such, he was a product of the young Warchief’s hope for his people – and, perhaps, truly what Dor’ash hoped of the boy. 

Yet Karg honored the memory of his father, and Dor’ash had not gone on a courtship hunt with Grema. They were not family, yet. The boy was not ready to dare see himself as something else than a warrior, and training a shaman required commitment and time that Dor’ash just could not settle on right now. He still had things to finish for the Horde, for his clan.

But he looked at me, just like that, even before Stranglethorn, and said “I ought to stop going into dangerous areas. I want to come back alive.” And I called him a wimp, didn’t I? And he almost got killed by goddamn humans and nelves.

Sarah looked down at her arms. The memory of the pain and the maddening inability to move remained fresh in mind. Setting herself on fire had to be the most insane thing she had ever done. More than one person in the Undercity had asked her why. She could have gotten away otherwise if she had just tried. 

To scare the crap out of a bunch of Alliance assholes, of course. That was an explanation that worked. Insane, but amusing.

For Sylvanas, for the Horde?

But what did they care about one or five lives lost, in the greater scheme of things?

No. For herself, and… yes, for Dor’ash.

She grimly smiled to herself.


Nighttime swept a pleasant coolness over the Barrens, and the village. Not that Sarah could enjoy that anymore than she suffered from the heat. Midnight found her lying on the floor inside the house, curled by the fireplace and staring into the sleepily glowing embers. All was dark apart from that, just a little bit of moonlight creeping inside through the smoke hole in the wall.

Now and again a nocturnal bird cawed outside, or some other creature howled in a distance.

And all three of the orcs snored. She rolled over on her back and gazed upwards at the second floor where they slept – a thing of the living.

I don’t need these people. They don’t mean anything to me. I can walk away from Dor’ash whenever I want and never look back even if he’s hanging on the edge of a cliff.

Often, probably too often, Sarah told herself that she only followed Dor’ash around because she just had to see what he would do and say next. Someday he would bore her.

She kept mentally insisting that, pointedly not allowing herself to think about how she lied to both him and the Royal Apothecary Society to protect Dor’ash from their suspicion. 

I can quit whenever I want.

Except deep down she knew that “whenever I want” would only be by Dor’ash’s last breath, and depending on how it happened she [i]would[/i] have bitter wishes of revenge driving her from that moment on. 

She was not as free as she wanted to believe. Claiming anything else was a lie.

No… she could never quit. She pressed a thin hand to her face, pursing her mouth. 

[i]And he looked at me, just like that, and said “I’m getting too old-”


“… Right. Anyway.” Eyes, eyes, eyes, voice. “When I stop travelling, will you watch over Karg instead?”

And I snorted but he knew I would, knew, knew. [/i]

Forsaken don’t know how long their “lives” are, and old age means feebleness of mind. Losing themselves, not being able to think loud enough to drown the Lich King’s whisper, until his will becomes the stronger again. There’s only one thing to do with those who start faltering beyond hope. When that time came, she didn’t want Karg to be the one who put her out of her misery.

But, if she travelled with Karg when it began, he could at least bring her back to Dor’ash. She could live with that knowledge.

Claiming that she didn’t need Dor’ash was the biggest lie of them all.

It wasn’t love – she did have Jonathan, but she wouldn’t have him save her when she no longer could fend off the Lich King’s mental control. She wouldn’t allow anybody but her pet orc to do that. 

Because, well… 

She was his pet zombie, now wasn’t she?

Methinks the lady doth protest too much, nay? :wink:
Jonathan Schiller was that other mage in Wail, Baby, Wail, by the way.


After I wake up I make a connection with the spirit of fantasy writing. After I break fast it goes away, to digest and take a nap. Also, I had just read a Pterry book, so…

That wasn’t the plan (it’s just a final comment from me), but hey, maybe… and thanks :slight_smile:

I know it was a comment, but hey, it fit. You’re welcome :wink:

The power of having no memory gave her the strength to sneer at all those Forsaken who bitterly dwelled on their memories, who could do nothing but eternally seek revenge on those that had cast them aside after death.

Nice touch, this one. Btw what is this time when the Forsaken will rise? Something to do with Sylvanas?

But she was born a Forsaken, and there was nothing else inside her head except a thirst for freedom and the road
Live to ride… Who knew undeads have a thing for Harleys?
corded veins

Corded veins, sinewed muscles, lithe bodies and cat-like movements are pernicious descriptions. They’ve been used too often :wink:

I wanted to do something before sleeping and I couldn’t bring myself to read a physical book, so I read the final part (Sarah’s famous “To unbe or not to be” speech) of this instead. A landmark for every writer, putting people to sleep XD. Any last words for this fic?

You know that if WoW was set in more modern times, the Forsaken would be roaring over the hills on skull-adorned, fire-spouting Harleys XD

About their rise, I meant that as a hint at whenever the whole world says “foc u!” to the Lich King and heads off to Northrend to kick his frozen ass. Also whenever Sylvanas heads there, leaving the ruling of the Undercity to Varimathras - and I’m pretty sure that sentence is a secondary spelling of “this is a very, very bad idea!”

This fic would have had so many more clichéd expressions if not for your and my beta’s watchful eyes, my dear Rig :smiley:

Hmm, final thoughts… I wanted to do several things with this fic. Have Vo’don and Thomas meet again, and make a connection between my two earlier OC fics, and the driving plot point was definitely that scene with the human and nelf gankers (because you know that’s what they were XD).

Sarah and Dor’ash took over a little too much. In reality I wanted to focus on Vo’don and Thomas’ friendship, but dammit, the pet orc and pet zombie are a couple of attention whores. I have a few more fics about them in the works (yes, all at once. Masochist = me) where they keep exercising their amazing ability to get into trouble. For better or worse this fic works as a good springboard for things to come. Blood elves and nagas and brothers and draenei and Forsaken… oh MY GOD!

Well, I like Vo’don and Thomas a whole lot too, but Sarah and Dor’ash are just hilarious to work with - and as shown in Sarah’s thoughts here, it’s bittersweet although he doesn’t know it yet.

Now, whether [STRIKE]the weather be hot, whether the weather be not, will weather be weather and weather whatever whether we like it or not[/STRIKE] to send them to Azshara (and, among other things, face off with Patrick - which will sting a lot) or to Alterac Mountains (and I try writing horror again) next… though Azshara is more logical now, since they’re on Kalimdor.

Well… here’s an appetizer :smiley:

“You go get some of your friends, I’ll get mine,” Jonathan said, speaking through clenched teeth.

“Very well, I’ll see you at the base of the tower in one hour at most,” Dor’ash snarled back.

Jonathan nodded and flashed out of sight. Jaw set in stone, Dor’ash headed for the Valley of Strength. 

As he materialized again Jonathan nearly stumbled because of the sloping path, but he fisted his robe to keep it away from his feet as he hurried on downwards. The sunlight was at his back, but he dove further on into a dank, purplish light. Shadows danced over the rounded walls and the air probably grew thick, but he did not notice such things. Merchants and strange figures in dark robes looked up from their discussions with lazy curiosity at the disturbance. Normally, people did not run in the Cleft of Shadow, for the people frequenting it had pretty strong ideas about dignity. 

Jonathan would have ignored them, but he had to at least look around for the person he sought. 

Doing this would risk his position on Sarah’s Winter Veil gift list, but just rounding up a group of allies for an assault in hostile territory on short notice was not that easy – unless you went to the right people. This should be interesting enough for that particular basta-

Ahead of him a succubus stepped out of a tent, turned around and stroked aside the canvas acting as a door. An undead man walked through the opening, talking to somebody still inside over his shoulder. Jonathan slowed, but made it the last few steps in a brisk stride. 

“Pardon me, master Nebula,” he said in Gutterspeak, pressing his palms against each other as he came to a halt.

The warlock twisted his head around and glared at Jonathan. 

“And you are?” he demanded.

“Who’s there?” the rumbling voice of a male orc asked from inside the tent. The warlock held up a hand as a signal to wait, never taking the glow of his eyes off the intruder.

“Jonathan Schiller,” Jonathan said, bowing briefly. “You may not remember me. I am a friend of your sister Sarah.”

“Is that so?”

Patrick Nebula straightened up and looked over his shoulder at the occupant of the tent. 

“Nothing to worry about, master Fireblade,” he said in Orcish. “Merely a message from a family member.”

A disinterested grunt was the only reply from inside. The succubus let the canvas go, but a stronger, purple light shone through around the borders of the cloth. She remained silent, watching the two undead men with a bored expression on her beautiful face.

“Now then, what is the meaning of this?” Patrick asked, returning to Gutterspeak – but with a little more interest than annoyance.

Oh, she’s going to kill me.

“I’m afraid that your sister is in a spot of trouble up in Azshara, master Nebula,” Jonathan said. He quickly explained what he knew of the events in the autumnal landscape, then continued: “Her pet orc is pulling together some people to help crush the blood elves. Would you be so inclined to lend your assistance?”

Patrick, who had listened with increasingly twitching lips, bowed his head and pressed a decaying finger against his mouth. 

“Oh my,” he finally said, “little Sarah has fallen off a rock and broken her arm again.”

And the world will say “foc u” choosing the ancient [strike]Scottish[/strike] Dwarfish battlecry! They’ll regret touching Arthas when the Burning Legion descends in terrible glory, its opposers spent in infighting, and the gong will toll once again as mortals’ sanity leaves them like a Lovecraft story. Ah, the lesser of two evils.

Wait, you mean this thing works? Culling of the cliches, Quest Completed. 1385 EXP gained! 20 gold found! Pen of Alertness +1 found! Chocolate/Pistachio Ice Cream of Deliciousness found! Rondor’s Blue Eye of Reading Speed +5 found! Seems it does then :wink:

“In the autumnal landscape”. Heh, I like that.

And don’t be afraid experimenting with new settings or trying your hand at horror again. Variety’s the spice of life (after cinnamon). Let me know if you try horror.