Two weeks after the fall of Naxxramas
The twilit sky was filled with the same soft glow that permeated the treetops, casting a gentle light over the secluded region. At the southern shore of Lake Elu’nara, a tall figure sat in contemplation of the tranquil waters, clad in a strange, richly detailed suit of plate armor that looked like black, red and golden robes, with a pair of pauldrons shaped like open tomes and emblazoned with the scales of justice. Its face was hidden by a mask of the same style and a black cloak was hanging from its back. As it heard footsteps, it got up and turned around, revealing the black and silver tabard of the Argent Dawn.
Before him stood a hunched, lurching undead, clad in flowing black robes with silver embroidery and clutching a long staff topped by a round glowing red gem. He pulled the hood off, revealing his shaved head and addled bluish skin. His mottled eyes had a dull yellow glow and he took a deep breath, apparently enjoying the air despite his undeath.
“So… did you have any trouble getting here? I hope the Timbermaw didn’t hassle you too much.” the armored figure said.
“Gaining their trust is a simple task.” the newcomer replied in a hoarse voice. “It is all a matter of selective destruction. And removing the corrupted furbolg tribes will make the restoration of Felwood easier in the long run.”
“Good. So, what news do you have for me, Somber?”
“Naxxramas has fallen. The Argent Dawn has finally gathered a sizable force of volunteers. But even though the head of Atiesh was recovered at last, there is something amiss.”
“It was only a matter of time. I wish I could have been there, but I was delayed in Silithus. But what’s the matter Somber?”
“For starters, Mograine’s second son has vanished… and the Ashbringer along with him. To make matters worse, Kel’thuzad’s phylactery has disappeared without a trace. It was supposed to have been turned over to the Argent Dawn to be properly destroyed, but Eligor Dawnbringer claims it never reached him. I would not be surprised if the Cult of the Damned was involved.”
“And what of Heldall and Anerion? Weren’t they in the area?”
Somber sighed and looked into the distance.
“Somber?” the paladin asked.
“They are… missing in action.”
“What? What happened?”
“Things got messy. From what I gather, just as they were making their way out, Scourge reinforcements started flooding into the place. That is all we know. Garum and Elrhon are combing the Plaguelands for any sign of them.”
“I should have been there… Anerion is still a teenager… I promised his mother I’d keep him safe.”
“Elyseon… You cannot be everywhere at the same time.” Somber said. “Now I know you will want to fly there as soon as possible, but trust our companions. They are seasoned trackers and if they are still there, they will find them. Besides… I have more news that require our attention. The demonic infestation at Darkwhisper Gorge worsens by the day. We must act before it spreads across Winterspring. Hyjal is safe for now, but the outlying areas must be secured.”
“Never a dull moment…” Elyseon said. “Well, let’s go then. The sooner we deal with this the sooner I can get to the Plaguelands and join the search.”
As Elyseon whistled a short melody, a white charger clad in golden armor trotted towards him from the woods. Somber uttered a word of power and a seven horned black dreadsteed with fiery eyes, spiked mane and burning hooves materialized in a burst of flame.
“I know you’re undercover, but I didn’t think you’d go through the trouble of getting one of those.” Elyseon said with a hint of amusement as he climbed on the charger.
“It would seem suspicious for a warlock to go around in a regular mount. Just be glad you are not the one working on the Horde side. The Forsaken are twisted and beyond sadistic. One trip to Hillsbrad and you would want to kill them all.”
As soon as both of them had settled on the saddles, they swiftly rode towards Timbermaw Hold, the dreadsteed startling a couple of druids who were sleeping under a tree. As they made their way through the tunnel, some furbolgs smirked at the dreadsteed’s hellfire. They hardly needed another reminder of the extensive corruption of Felwood and their kin, but they knew this particular warlock was on their side in the fight against the taint and those seeking to spread it further.
The two were soon riding across the frozen land of Winterspring, the dreadsteed’s fiery hooves leaving sizzling puddles in its wake. As they took the road to the south, riding past Everlook, Elyseon remembered his odyssey in the Plaguelands to save the soul of Joseph Redpath and release both the honorable man and his daughter Pamela, who had been wandering as a ghost in the ruins of Darrowshire since its destruction. With some help from the Bronze Dragonflight he had bent time to join the battle and alter its outcome, saving a good man from the grip of the Scourge.
“Do you remember our battles in the Plaguelands?” he asked.
“How could I forget?” Somber replied. “In your fury, you barely managed to keep your powers in check. I almost thought you were going to explode.”
“By the way, I wonder what Haleh has been doing. I imagine Mazthoril gets pretty lonely now that Onyxia and Nefarian are dead and nobody goes there looking for her advice.”
“We should probably stop there along the way. The extermination of the demons in Darkwhisper Gorge also concerns the Blue Dragonflight, since they occupy part of this land.”
As they made it to the mouth of the cavern, they came upon the six-limbed dragonkin that patrolled the area. Those creatures usually attacked anyone on sight, but a glare from Somber was enough to send them on their way. They remembered what had happened the last time they had gotten in his way. Leaving their mounts outside, they walked through the winding cave, until they reached a glowing blue rune on the ground, standing out amidst the ice. As they stepped on it, they were teleported to a plateau atop Mazthoril, where a being in the shape of a female high elf with golden hair and blue eyes clad in blue robes stood, looking into the distance.
“Well met.” Somber said in Draconic. Haleh turned around and nodded.
“Welcome once again, Stargazer and Starstrider.” she replied. “What brings you to Mazthoril?”
“We were on our way to Darkwhisper Gorge to take care of the demon infestation once and for all.” Elyseon said. “We thought you’d like to know.”
“I see. I am glad that someone is taking care of that at last. I would go there myself, but there is something that has filled me with unease.”
“What seems to be the matter?” Somber asked.
“There is… something strange about the ley lines. Some great disturbance in a far-off place. I fear there is something happening in the frozen wastes of Northrend. But none of my flight have answered my call.”
“These are dark times for dragonkind.” Somber said. “The Green Dragonflight is being warped and twisted by the Emerald Nightmare, driven to madness… Deathwing’s bastard offspring still infest the dark corners of the world, despite the destruction of their apparent leaders… Ysera sleeps on, silent… and the Blue Dragonflight is still scattered to the winds.”
“And then there are the arrogant fools from the Bronze Dragonflight.” Elyseon said. “Chromie is reasonable enough, friendly even, but that idiot Anachronos keeps attacking people on sight. I imagine he’s guarding something, but there’s no need to be such a jerk.”
Haleh smiled at Elyseon’s incensed remark.
“Indeed, some of the Bronze could use a lesson in humilty.” she said. “But while you are out there on your journey, would you do me a favor? If you hear anything of the Blue Dragonflight, anything at all…”
“Say no more. I will let you know at once.” Elyseon replied.
“Now to destroy the demon filth, and remove their taint from the local water sources.” Somber said. “By your leave.”
Eastern Plaguelands, Eastern Kingdoms
Two days later
The orc grumbled as he finished cleaning his gun, a special long-barreled sniper rifle he had received as a gift from the Argent Dawn. He took a moment to carefully wipe the scope’s lenses and then grabbed the leather strap and hung it over his shoulder. Wiping some of the grime from his black chainmail armor, he stroked the head of the large tiger that was lying down next to him and turned his gaze to the blackened sky. There he saw a particularly large owl flying towards him.
“Well well… Cronus is coming. I wonder if the elf has found something…” he thought. The bird landed on his shoulder and he carefully removed a small rolled up piece of paper from a tube strapped to its leg.
“Mannoroth’s blood…” he cursed as he quickly read the message.
'Still no sign of them. The Argent Dawn is still trying to sort the corpses. Petty fighting between mercenaries and would-be adventurers for the towers is complicating the search, but at least things have calmed down on Stratholme now that Balnazzar and Rivendare have been dealt with. Will be staying at Quel’Lithien for the night."
Garum remembered the Quel’Lithien Lodge all too well. He had worked with Nathanos Blightcaller, the Banshee Queen’s champion, to cull local pests such as plaguehounds and overgrown bats, and undertaken some missions against the Scarlet Crusade. But when Nathanos had ordered him to attack the Lodge, slaughter its inhabitants and retreive some registry that apparently contained some personal information he wished to destroy, he had told the Forsaken to take his orders and shove them in a place the Lich King wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.
He knew how much the elves had suffered by the Scourge’s hand, and as a hunter, he felt a kinship of sorts with them. Though he had fought against Alliance forces at times, he was wary of the constant squabbling, which in his eyes was merely weakening both sides while other threats lurked.
The one exception to this feeling, the one act of destruction he was proud to have commited was the razing of Bael’Modan in the Barrens. The imperialist dwarves of Ironforge had displaced and butchered an entire tauren village, and all for what? Some so-called archaeologic excavation! To him they were no better than the Venture Company, which had already devastated most of the Stonetalon Mountains and had even had the insolence to encroach upon Mulgore, thinking their presence would be tolerated.
He had some strange views for an orc, and those views had eventually led him to cross paths with the elusive Forsaken he knew as Somber. The seasoned hunter had a feeling there was more to the warlock than met the eye, and he had been proven right when Somber had introduced him to three paladins, Elyseon, Heldall and Anerion.
Elyseon was a wanderer who seemed to be on some vague mission. He could be reasonable for a human, though on some issues he was completely inflexible. He didn’t trust the Forsaken as far as he could throw them, except for Somber, and he absolutely hated cowardice. Garum had seen him hurl curses, stones and hammers of solid light at thieves, troublemakers and idiots, and he had beaten up adventurers and mercenaries from both the Alliance and the Horde when he had caught them ganging up on some poor sod who was minding his own business.
Heldall was a grizzled veteran of the Silver Hand and a former resident of Stratholme. The slaughter of its inhabitants by Arthas had driven him temporarily insane and cursed him with the ability to hear the whisperings of the dead. Elyseon and Somber had found him at the city’s gates, mad from grief, barely conscious and half starved to death. Once he had recovered, he had joined the Argent Dawn and sworn to reclaim the city, both from the Scourge and the lunatic zealots of the Scarlet Crusade.
Anerion was the youngest of the group, barely sixteen. The son of a paladin who had perished during the fall of Lordaeron, he and his mother had escaped to Northshire, where they had eventually met Elyseon. The boy was more than eager to follow in his father’s footsteps, and with a more experienced paladin to guide him, he had managed to persuade his mother to let him become his apprentice.
Along with a few others, they were part of a secretive covenant, an organization akin to the Argent Dawn, though they never mentioned its name in public.