"Well?" Verien asked as she leaned over, looking down at the rune lying on the table. "What does it do?"
Furtwurtzler, sitting next to her while peering at the rune through a magnifying glass considered matters for a moment. The object he was examining was one of three runes that Verien had bought back from Azshara, obstinately at the request of her Warlock trainers. However, for some reason, rather then handing them over immediately, she had instead turned to her Gnomish friend for some advice. "Hmmm..."
"Hmms?" She asked. "What is it?" The pair of them were in the common room of the Slaughtered Lamb, obstinately one of Stormwind's less popular watering holes but, in fact, a front for the city's Warlock community.
"Well, I can confidently say this much," He announced, standing up on his high chair. Even then, and even accounting for the fact that Verien was rather short for a human, she seemed to tower over him. "I have no idea what they do."
"Awww..." She pouted. "Poopie."
"But!" He continued, raising an enthusiastic finger. "There is no secret that can be hidden from Furtwurtzler Q. Blinglebat, MD! I shall plumb my knowledge of all things demonic and esoteric to find the truth to these runes! I will not rest unit this small girl is happy!"
"Yay Furt!" She cheered. "You're so cool!"
"But first, we shall need some specialized equipment," He cut her off. "Verien, fetch... the cheese and crackers!"
The pair of them had decided to set themselves up on one of the tables in the Lamb's main room; there had been numerous reasons for this, the main being simply that it was a lot more comfortable then the catacombs, as well as being a lot closer to the supply of wine and cheese. It was this last factor that Furtwurtzler had identified as being the key element of their research, the one that would most aid them in unlocking the secrets that the artifacts held.
"Subject A," Furt began as he indicated to one of the runes on the table. "A runestone"
"Taken from some Satyrs at a place that Aish called Haldarr," Verien replied. "They were real grumps, but I had some fun with them."
"Interesting. The Satyrs being demonic in and of themselves may be a connection to the true lore behind this stone," He commented.
"Hey, I didn't think of that," Verien cocked her head. "Well now we've learned something already!"
"Subject B," He continued. "Another runestone."
"That one was from a big temple that Aish said was called Zin-Alor," Verien continued. "And it was full of Nagas who weren't nice. The temple was pretty though."
"And Naga have connections to the Old Gods and the Water Elementals," Furtwurtzler continued. "Maybe they had this one for a reason; while it is of a similar vintage to the one used by the Satyrs, the markings, while thematically linked, are different."
"Maybe its because they are used for the same purpose or came from the same thing and got split up when Azshara went asplodey," Verien offered.
"Good point. To be considered," Furt nodded. "Subject C. Third runestone."
"This one was at a camp with some Blood Elves. They were digging up some old ruins and such," She offered. "They had pretty robes too. I wanted to ask them where I could get one like theirs, but they weren't very friendly about it, the meanies."
"And Blood Elves are known to feed off Demonic energies and the like," Furtwurtzler continued. "So it's possible that they were planning to use this as some sort of power source or the like. Possibly another clue as to its origins."
"And I tried to ask them nicely too," Verien pouted. "They're such meanies, those Blood Elves."
"Sorry Verien," Furtwurtzler sighed. "But sometimes there are those who just don't wish to share, be it information on the demonic arts or the place to buy their happening duds."
"Maybe there will be some in the Booty Bay auction house," She commented. "I should pop down there when we're done."
"That could work," He nodded. "However, before that, we need to consider subject D." He indicated to a well stocked plate in the middle of the table. "A fine collection of cheeses straight from Trias' cheese. Darnassian Bleu, Dalaran Sharp, Dwarven Mild (a favorite), Stormwind Brie, Fine Aged Cheddar, Alterac Swiss and even a somewhat rare Stromgarde Muenster. Added to this is a full supply of crackers, grapes, olives and a bottle of red that I've been saving for just such an occasion."
Verien raised a critical eyebrow. "Furtwutzler?" She began, a note of apprehension in her voice. "Before we go on, I need to know one thing."
"Which is?" He asked, sounding slightly cautious.
"What kinds of crackers are they?" She finished.
"Well!" He beamed. "Having considered the situation I opted for several differ styles; regular, dry crackers, pepper crackers and even some of those rice ones that go so well with the stronger cheeses."
"Aha!" Verien giggled. "You've thought of everything."
"Why Verien, I have put many hours of research into the matters of cheese and crackers," He replied. "I have found that such matters are not to be lightly trifled with; such things are vital to the furthering of our cause, and must always be approached with the utmost seriousness and caution. A misstep ort lack of preparation could lead to the unsuspecting warlock being crucially short of cheesy comestibles at a vital juncture, leading to horrifically unforeseen circumstances! The very idea alone should be enough to make you stop and consider how well you have planned out your cheese situation before engaging in any serious research."
"Wow. I didn't realize how important cheese was to the modern Warlock," Verien finished.
"Exactly," Furtwurtzler finished. "One must never underestimate the power of the cheese. And now, with that being said, shall we commence our research? I think that a bit of the Swiss would be an excellent point to work from."
"Well this is odd," Furtwurtzler commented as he sliced himself a little bit of brie.
"Oh?" Verien asked, looking up from the tome she was pouring over. "What is it?"
"I was examining this rune," He continued. "And comparing it to there known symbols in my demonic inventory. It appears to confirm to those types used for summoning, but... at the same time I think there's something different about it, something unlike summoning runes we're familiar with."
"Ooooh," She commented. "What do you think it is?"
"I'm not sure, but I think it may be for summoning some sort of demon that is outside the usual chain summons that most Warlocks learn," He offered "But... I cannot say for sure as yet."
"That's... oh, hi there!" She beamed as she looked up from her tome. Furtwurtzler turned around to see what she was looking at, only a large human looming over the pair of them. Tall and imposing looking, he had dark skin and a thick black beard. He was dressed in dark robes, making his occupation as a fellow warlock clear to them.
"Can I help you?" Furtwurtzler asked, sounding relatively cheerful and, more to the point, not intimidated at all.
"I do not think that it is a matter of how you can help me, Gnome," The man replied, a heavy, almost ominous tone in his voice. "More of how I can help you."
"And that is?" He asked again.
"Allow me to explain. I am Markos Blackhand," he announced dramatically, and then paused.
The pair of them blinked. "I'm sorry?" Verien asked.
"I am a fellow warlock, one of not inconsiderable skill," He continued, loudly announcing the fact. "And I believe that my talents would be needed in this situation."
"Um, okay," Verien continued. "But I think that Furt and I have things well under control here."
"Ah, but I see that you are probing unknowable artifacts in an effort to unlock their deep secrets," He continued. "And this, perchance, happens to be a field that I have a great deal of experience in."
"I do too," Furt replied, placing a slice of cheese onto a cracker.
"Well..." He slumped a little. "Surely you need help with something."
"Can't think of anything right now," Verien casually replied, flipping through a couple of books, then tracing her finger down the page. "Aha! Take a look at this, Furt!"
The Gnome walked over to the book, still nibbling on his cracker. "I see," He began. "This is most fascinating."
"Oh I know!" Verien beamed. "Who'd have thought you could do that like that?"
"That does change a lot of things," He nodded. "And it reveals a number of fascinating possibilities..."
"Really?" Markos perked up. "Do tell." He sidled towards the pair of them, only to find that there were several chairs in the way.
"But the thing is that I never even knew that was possible," Verien continued, apparently not noticing the older Warlock.
"Well it shouldn't be," Furt countered. "The Fel energy drag coefficients alone should be enough to render such an incantation entirely out of the realms of probability. However, if I look at these arcane power to throughput ratios and factor in the amplification factor that these diagrams are suggesting..." He trailed off as he finished off his cracker.
"So that would mean this is indeed some sort of summoning ritual," She finished. "But I wonder for what?"
"Maybe If I were able to take a look at the materials, I would be able to use my ample experience to explain," Markos offered, a hint of desperation in his voice.
"Hmm... this is most fascinating," Furtwurtzler noted. "I would have to run a full fel spectral analysis of the quantum waveform packets exhibited by these runes, but I believe that through careful manipulation of the Kilrogg emisssions thrugh the Penta-Geometric Organizer will result in a Nether Mote count well below the theoretical maximums expressed."
There was a long pause.
"So, um, do you need me for anything?" Markos finally spoke up.
Verien looked over the table. "Actually, we could use some more cheese."
"Oh, right, cheese." He looked around. "Cheese well..." He slouched over to the bar, collecting several packets before slouching back to the table and placing them on their platter. "You, um, cheese. Yeah."
"Thankies!" Verien beamed.
He looked around a little more. "Well, um, if you need me, I'll be, uh, downstairs. At the ritual fire. Doing... ritual stuff. At the fire, downstairs. Yeah." He turned, glanced over them one more time, and slouched off, despairing behind the curtain that lead to the Lamb's catacombs.
There was a pause for a moment, then Furtwurtzler turned to Verien. "Can you past me some of the Alterac Swiss?"
When they had started out, the table had been pretty much clear. There had been just the runestones, a pair of tomes and, of course, the cheese platter. However, as Verien and Furtwurtzler's work to uncover the true meaning of the tomes had continued, the pair of them had begun to gather additional materials to work from.
By now, the table was cram-packed with various tomes and scrolls, as well as sheets of loose paper covered in random scrawls and scribing. Added to this were numerous devices that Furtwurtzler had broken out in order to examine the runestones in more detail, being a collection of bizarre and improbable-looking paraphernalia and gadgets, many of which appeared to serve no discernable function. A third layer of occult artifacts and debris also covered the table, with candles, scrying orbs, water bowls and even the Skull of Impeding Doom adding to the collection of devices.
Even then id didn't seem to be enough for the research that was needed. Furtwurtzler had wheeled out a massive blackboard, setting it up behind the pair of them. At the moment, it was covered with a mid-bending mixture of mathematical formulae and occult symbols which he would occasionally erase parts of and redraw in seemingly more mind-numbing ways.
"As you can clearly see, Verien, this diagram indicates the crux of the matter," He announced turning around while indicating to a mess of formulae which seemed to equate to an occult circle.
"That..." Verien squinted. "That all those letters and numbers and stuff add up to a modified version of the Teeteeoheeee ritual?"
"The what?" He looked up at the board, then seemed to jump. "No, no, no! That's all wrong! I've gotten it all wrong!" He began feverishly erasing and redrawing parts of the equation. "X should be differential to Q for those situations where there are less then three fel stones and the blood pact is in effect! I should have divided by the number of black candles, not multiplied!" The gnome seemed to vanish into a cloud of chalk dust as he quickly erased and redrew.
"Are those candles on skulls or not?" Verien asked, helpfully.
He paused. "Good question." He furrowed his brow, leaning his hand on his chin. "We shall assume no for the moment, which means..." He rubbed off a few more symbols and added a couple of new ones. "Aha! Just as I thought!"
Verien looked over the diagram, running her eyes over each line. Then she tilted her head sideways and tried to read it that way. "Nope. I don't get it at all."
"Aha! The thing is, Verien, if my analysis of these runestones is as correct as I believe it is, then we should be able to underscore and even prove Kanary and Fuchsia's theorems on the hypothetical flaws in established doctrine on the mass to fel energy ratio! We're geniuses, Verien! Geniuses!"
"That's nice but, um, who are Kanary and Fuchsia?" She asked. "And what does that mean?"
"Well!" Furt beamed. "Kanary and Fuchsia were a pair of demonologists who published a series of fascinating theorems that ran against all the established physics of Demon Summoning," He explained. "Their theories were incredibly controversial and not well received and have languished in obscurity since then."
"But... these stones are a part of that?"
"Exactly!" He all but bounced up and down on the spot, before turning back towards the blackboard. "You see, Verien, Kanary and Fuchsia were struggling against the fel energy to mass ratio."
"The... what?" She blinked.
"The amount of Fel Energy needed to summon a demon is equal to its mass times the square of the speed of the summoning ritual," He offered as he continued to scrawl on the board. "You see, as Warlocks gain power, they are able to summon progressively larger demons."
"But Zaggie's bigger then Helva," Verien offered. "And I was able to summon him before her."
"Ah, but Zag'juk, as a Voidwalker, has less mass then a succubus."
"I think that if you told Helva that she'd be upset," Verien pouted.
"Allow me to explain." He drew up a series of quick sketches of the major demon types. "The imp is the smallest summonable demon, and, as such, requires almost no power to do such. The Voidwalker, while far larger, is compose almost entirely of Shadowstuff. As a result, the Voidwalker, while bigger then the imp does not have as much mass as its size would imply. In fact, the Succubus has a lot more mass to it."
"I still think Helva would be upset if you said that," Verien repeated.
"The Felhunter is larger still, however," He offered. "Which is why it takes even more skill and power to summon and bind one." He paused. "Now note that in the case of the Voidwalker, the Succubus and the Felhunter, the power needed grows exponentially due to the aforesaid equations. That is why a Soul Shard is needed to act as a source of additional power, a catalyst as you would for the summoning process."
"And... that's why it takes special stones to summon an Infernal?" Verien asked. Even though she had learnt the ritual to summon one of the massive flaming creatures, she had rarely done such.
"Exactly. And why it takes a five-man ritual with special reagents, an avatar and the pot-luck sacrifice in order to summon a Doomguard," He finished, adding diagrams of the larger two demons.
"So then what does that have to do with these stones?" Verien asked again. "From what you say, they seem to be connected to this whole mass ratio thingy."
"Exactly!" He scrawled a few more diagrams on the board. "Kanary and Fuscia's theorems could never be proven because they lacked a catalyst powerful enough. However, from my extensive analyses of these stones, I am convinced that they act as some sort of power booster for the conventional soul shard, allowing the energy output of the summoned to be increased by an exponential factor and thus enabling a greater mass exchange ratio then would be possible with a normal summoning!"
"So..." She nodded. "We could use it to summon a bigger demon!" Verien leaped up and cheered. "That's fantastic!"
"Exactly my thought, Verien." He nodded sagely, or as sagely as a gnome could. "However, this will require a very well prepared summoning circle in order to make work."
"Ooh!" Verien all but squealed with excitement. "I know! I'll go get all my stuff like my doom skulls and my Satyr horns and my infernal shards and all that! This will be the best summoning ever!"
"Well, I found some Satyr blood," Verien began as she walked back into the room. "Satyr blood's great stuff. You can use it for all kinds of things like summoning circles and in making robes and stuff," She cheerily added as she examined a vial full of thick, red liquid.
"Uh..." There was a very large, imposing-looking female Night Elf clad in heavy armour and carrying a large sword looming over Furtwurtzler.
"Ah!" He beamed, ducking past the Elf. "Thanks for that!" he took the vial and swished it a few times. "Yes, I think this will work just fine."
"Oh sure." Verien nodded, then turned to her. "Oh, and hi there!"
"Uh, hello," The Night Elf began.
"My name's Verien," The girl continued. "I'm a friend of Furt's; we work together because we share common interests."
"That's... nice," She replied. "Uh, my name's FJ. I was just here to see him for a moment. Sorry to interrupt you." She indicated to the Gnome.
"Oh, not at all." Verien beamed. "It’s always nice to have visitors here. The Lamb doesn't get that many customers, which I always thought was a bit weird. I mean, it's a nice and cozy place, it’s got a terrific atmosphere, the food's great and its really convenient to the summoning-"
"So FJ, why are you here?" Furt cut her off. "How can I help you today?"
"I was just looking for some information, really," She offered. "I heard that Zogstra had been in town recently, and I was trying to track her down, see if I could find where she had gotten to." FJ shrugged. "I'm trying to reconnect to my past but... it ain't workin' so far."
"Zogstra?" Furt tilted his head and stroked his beard. "I do remember seeing her a while ago, but I couldn't say where."
"Oh!" Verien beamed. "You mean Anastasia Zogstra? Tall woman with red hair in a bun that's always impeccably neat and usually carries a reeeealy big hammer?" She stretched out her arms to indicate a hammer about as big as her body.
"You know her?" FJ asked, sounding genuinely surprised.
"Yeah," Verien nodded enthusiastically. "We're both members of..." She trailed off. "Well, I mean, we know each other from working together and stuff."
"Right. So, uh, where would she be?"
"I heard she was up in Wepple, working with the Argent Dawn."
"The Western Plaugelands," Verien explained. "WPL. Wepple, next to Epple. Its a cute nickname for the area, but I don't think it suits as they're really kinda icky."
"Well thanks," The Elf finished. "You've been a great help, both of ya." She smiled at the pair of them. "I guess I'd better be off then."
"Awww." Verien began. "I was gonna ask if you wanted to stay for some tea."
She smiled an awkward smile. "Thanks for the offer but... I'll pass, at least for now. I got things I gotta do and places I gotta be." She gave them a brief wave. "But next time I'm in Stormwind, I'll be sure to drop by and see the pair of ya."
"Sure thing!" Verien beamed. "And it was nice meeting you, Effjay!"
"Yeah," She finished, turning to leave. "Same."
"I didn't know that you had any Night Elf firends," Verien began. "Or that she knew Zog either. But she seemed like a nice enough person." She took a cracker and nibbled on it. "So, let's summon us a demon!"
"Okies! Let's give this a try!"
The pair of them had retreated to the catacombs below the tavern in order to complete their experiment. A leftover remnant of the orignal Stormwind destryed during the first war, the tombs had apprently been built over and forgotten by most. However, the Warlocks that used the Lamb found them to be most useful for conducting their rituals, which was one of the reasons why they chose that particular building as their base of operations.
Verien and Furtwurtzler had moved down to the lowest level of the catacombs, seeking as much privacy - and security - as possible for this experimental ritual. Sequestered deep within the musty vaults, they had gone to work on one of the prepared summoning circles used by the Warlocks. Furtwurtzler had first placed the three runes at what he belived to be the most optimal points in the circle, intersecting them with key glyphs emblazoned on the floor. Verien had then liberally added other reagents and materials, such as the all-important Satyr blood.
"Okies, this all looks ready!" Verien beamed as she looked over the modifed summoning circles. "We have our runes, we have our Satyr blood and we have everything else. Let's see what happens!"
"A most excelent idea, Verien," Furtwurtzler replied. "But, um, maybe you should do the summoning thing. Becuse, um, you have more experience and such." He paused. "I mean, in the field experience as opposed to years of training and study." He paused again. "And because whatever we summon may be dangerous and, as such, you'd be better equipped to deal with it."
"Okies," Verien repeated, a cheerful tone in her voice. "Let's just see what happens!"
She stepped into the circle (While Furtwurtzler reamined lurking nervously behind her) and made one final check of the circle. Then, confident, she smiled and began the summoning ritual. The circle blazed to life in a flash of brilliant purple energies, followed moments later by similar energies leaping from Verien's hands and channeling into the gorund. A second circle appeared around her, this one lined with arcane glyphs and slowly rotating as she completed the ritual.
The circle dimmed and dispursed as a massive shape appeared before Verien, towering over her. At least eight feet tall, it was humanoid in shape but heavily muscled. Parts of its charcoal-grey skin were covered in ornate red and gold armour, however its heavily muscled chest was left bare. In its hands it clenched a massive axe, longer then Verien was tall.
"WHO DARES SUMMON ME?"
The creature's "voice" boomed out at the pair of them, with entirely differnt results. Verien let out a small "ooooh" as the massive creature loomed over her. Furtwurtzler, in the meantime, dashed away to hide in the next room, his head peeping out from behind the doorframe.
Finally she spoke up. "Hi there! My name's Verien and I guess you're my new minion!" She beamed.
"I am Sharoon, Felguard of the Burning Legion! I am no human's minion!" It boomed back, swinging its massive axe. However, it stopped just short of her, hovering in the air in front of her. The Felguard, even though its face was mostly covered by its helmet, seemed clearly surprised by this.
"See, you're my minion now, Shazza." She continued in a cheerful tone. "So you've got to do what I say."
"I am no fool's min - wait, Shazza?"
"Well, your name's Sharoon and that's sorta like Sharon and so that makes you a Shazza!" She happily explained. "And this is going to be a lot of fun as I haven't had a new minion in ages, at least not since I got the Fuzz."
The Fel Guard seemed to almost slump at the realisation of what had just happened.
"So anyways, this is realy nifty!" She continued. "I got a new minion! Yays!"
Seeing that the room whas (somewhat) safe now, Furtwurtzler walked back in. "Well then..." he began, nervously eyeing the massive Fel Guard. "It seems like this experiment has been a smashing success. Well done!"
"Aww, I couldn't have done it without your help, Furt." Verien nodded as she turned around. "Though I can't wait to see what sort of doom Shazza can unleash." She added with a giggle.
"My name's not Shazza." Sharoon muttered
"And you are also, to my knowledge, the first person to summon a Felguard and bind them to your will." He Continued. "And as such, I think that a Demonological breakthrough of this magnitude calls for a celebration!"
"Yays!" Verien allmost leaped for joy. "More cheese and crackers!"
- This story was co-written
- Markos Blackhand appears with creator's permission
- The story takes place at roughly the same time as Reconnecting