Author's Introduction: This tale may seem confusing, but it actually makes sense as you go on. At least, I hope it does. Still, it may not.
Chapter I: FrostwolvesEdit
The young orcish warrior stood on the hill, the braids of his black hair fluttering in the wind and gazed over the frigid landscape ahead of him. He wore heavy furs to protect him against the cold, with only portions of the brown skin of his face visible. There was only snow and ice as far as he could see, and the occasional white wolf, the frostwolf, after which his clan was named. But was that all? No, there was something else, a figure in the distance, approaching quickly. Now he recognized it: a worgen of the Death Glacier tribe. The homeland of the Death Glacier was far away from Frostwolf lands. What could be so important that they would come here?, the warrior wondered. Suddenly, the creature had gone out of sight. The orc started scratching his head, when the worgen crashed into the snow beside him, a terrible bite wound to his side, and a small piece of worked stone in his right palm. The worgen reached out his hand towards the orc, almost as if he wanted to give him the stone, and then collapsed from loss of blood. The warrior picked up the stone.
The escapade had attracted several other Frostwolf members, who started gathering around the scene, including Marneth, a junior shaman with a holier-than-thou attitude towards almost anyone not his superior amongst the Frostwolf shaman, and always dressed in the most ornate robes he was allowed to wear. He immediately went to the dead worgen and the confused warrior standing next to it.
"Well well well, what do we have here?", he said in a mocking tone. "Looks like you've killed a worgen, Nitor!"
"Of course I didn't!", the warrior said angrily. "Don't you see the bite marks? Do you think I bit him to death or something?"
"Well, that wouldn't surprise me, warriors are so brutal. No grace and subtely, like us shaman. I'm sure Cerrdyre would be so proud of you."
"Do not blaspheme against the War God, Marneth! I don't blaspheme against Nahdrikon, do I? I only wish you would pay the same respect to the warrior caste as you do to your precious spellcasting brethren!"
There was heavy tension in the air between the two orc. Indeed, most people were now looking at the confrontation instead of paying any attention to the deceased worgen. At least until a female orc, with flowing black hair and dressed in simple black robes, and flanked by two sword-wielding orcs in heavy black cloth armor approached the snowy knoll.
"Tell me now, what is the meaning of this?", the female inquired.
"I... I... I...", Marneth stuttered. "I am sorry, high priestess Ras'dana! It was never my intention to stir up trouble!"
"I don't care about your silly grudge with the warriors, Marneth! I want to know why there is a dead worgen at my feet!"
"I am not sure," Nitor said to the priestess. "But he had this in his hand," he said, and gave her the stone. Upon seeing the stone, priestess Ras'dana immediately snatched it from the warrior and placed it against her forehead. The stone flashed green with arcane power, and it seemed to transfer the power into her. After a few seconds, she took the stone from her forehead and gave it to one of her aides.
"Summon the council!", she exclaimed in a loud voice. "Immediately! This is a matter of the gravest importance!"
Not much later, the orcs of the Frostwolves were all gathered together in the huge tent that made up the town hall of the Frostwolf home. On the round wooden stage in the center stood the three most important characters amoung the Frostwolves: Ras'dana Amolit, high priestess of Ihna Gerymos, the Hex Goddess; Anogath Ishdulam, a tough-looking male orc in red, spiked armor, high warlord of Cerrdyre, the War God; and Celdoriuth Magath, a thin male orc in green-dyed leather armor, high shaman of Nahdrikon, the Nature God. There was much noise in the tent, but with one smash of his huge morningstar against the floor, Warlord Anogath silenced all voices at once.
"HEAR ME, FROSTWOLVES!", the warlord bellowed. "WE HAVE RECENTLY LEARNED OF A PLAN TO CRUSH OUR PEOPLE!"
The audience gasped. Priestess Ras'dana flinched from the shouting, and Shaman Celdoriuth stared down towards the ground for some reason.
"IT IS THE VILE WORGEN OF THE ICESPEAR TRIBE, LED BY THEIR LEADER MOKHER AGRUNAVID, WHO THREATEN US ALL! THEY HAVE ALLIED WITH MANY OTHER TRIBES, SUCH AS THE DARKFUR, AND CRUSHED THOSE WHO OPPOSE THEM, SUCH AS THE DEATH GLACIER, AND NOW THEY HAVE TURNED THEIR FOUL SNOUTS TOWARDS US!"
Many orcs lifted their weapons up above their heads and roared.
"WE MUST STRIKE AT THEM BEOFRE THEY CAN STRIKE AT US!"
Now the tent erupted in loud war-cries and the banging of weapons against armor. Even the shaman and sorcerers joined in eventually. There was no doubt about it: the Frostwolves were going to war.
As he was slipping out of the tent, Nitor was approached by priestess Ras'dana.
"H-high priestess!", the orc stuttered. "W-what can I do for you, mistress?"
"I will get straight to the point: I know that you are not very fond of the high warlord, Nitor of house Elringavath."
"W-what are you speaking about, priestess? M-my d-devotion to w-warlord A-anogath is a-absolute!"
"Do not attempt to fool me, Nitor. The Goddess has given me enough insight to discern the truth. I know what happened to your family. The tyrant needs to be brought down from his high wolf. I want you to slay him, Nitor, slay him, and make him pay for what he has done. Done to us all."
"What do you mean?"
"Horrible things. I do not wish to speak of it. All I wish is for you to put him down, once and for all."
"I understand, high priestess."
"Please call me Ras'dana. I am not your superior. Promise me now that you will kill him!"
"I promise, and I would rather defile the Red Colossus than to betray this promise, high pr... Ras'dana."
Chapter II: Wolf HuntEdit
Mokher Agrunavid walked through the burning ruins of what had once been the home of the Death Glacier worgen, with a heavy, serrated axe in each hand. He was the glorious leader and unifier of the worgen, but he was not entirely worgen himself. He was the offspring of an Icespear worgen warrior and an orcish woman of the Orcus tribe, the greatest of the orcish tribes. Therefore, he looked like a worgen with a ruddy coloration of his half-long fur, and a shorter snout than his canine brethren. The savage appearance disguised a military genius, a conqueror who had singlehandedly led his tribe to victory over the "lesser" worgen. He had grown up as a sort of outcast amongst his tribe, with only his father, a few worgen loyal to him, and his orcish mother, who had escaped from her family, devout Ihnaists, to live amongst the worgen, with which she felt a kinship.
When a new worgen ascended to the position of Icespear chieftain, one who had no love for anyone of orcish blood, he had Mokher's father and his servants executed. Mokher's mother narrowly escaped the maws of the executioners, and hid her newborn son amongst the Darkfur tribe. The Darkfur chieftain accepted the boy, but denied the mother's plea for sanctuary. She was then left all for herself in the wilderness, and that is as far Mokher Agrunavid knows of his parentage.
When he had grown up to become a highly capable warrior, Mokher returned to his original tribe and challenged the elderly chieftain to a duel to the death. The half-worgen, half-orc outcast won the duel, and became the new leader himself.
Now, with carnage in mind, the Icespear chieftain mounted his armored frostwolf steed, pointed his right hand forward, towards the Frostwolf lands, and shouted "CHAAARGE!"
And an army of worgen followed him.
Out from the mighty wooden gates of the Frostwolf home marched a great war-host, armed to the tusks, with the mighty warlord riding in front of them all. Just behind the warlord and in front of one of the large portable shrines, each holding a sizable red statue of Cerrdyre, the war god, rode Nitor. His head was full of thoughts: did he really have the guts to kill the Conqueror of the Silverplains, his own direct superior? How would he do so without being found out? And why did something seem wrong about this whole worgen-killing buisness? Something was definately wrong... Of course! The high shaman, Celdoriuth! He seemed awfully nervous at the meeting. And where were all shaman in the host?
He was just going to warn the others of his suspicion, when he suddenly heard a loud crash. He, and all other warriors, turned around towards the village, to see the east wall come crashing down under a massive onslaught. The high shaman had betrayed them!
In the village, the grand tent buckled and fell from a hundred claw rakings. Mokher's frostwolf savaged the chest of an orcish woman, while he himself struck down a priestess with a vicious blow from his two axes. His worgen lieutenants had savagely mauled down a significant portion of the population when the soldiers returned. It had now turned to a full-scale battle, orcish morningstars clashing against worgen talons and axes.
The fighting had gone on for several hours when the leaders of both sides finally caught up with each other. Warlord Anogath entered the supply tent which Mokher was pillaging, and the two immediately jumped at each other's throats. Anogath took a swing with his mighty mornigstar, but Mokher was there to block it with his axes. Mokher then took a slash at the warlord's legs, but he jumped away, and lifted his weapon high for a killing blow, when suddenly high shaman Celdoriuth entered the tent and struck him in the back with his spear.
"You traitor!", the warlord exclaimed. "You are a disgrace to the world!"
"Sorry, old friend," the shaman said calmly. "But I now realize that we orcs are of no more use to this world. There are powers greater than we can imagine out there. Mokher Agrunavid has realized this, too, and therefore I allied with him. In this world, only the strong survive."
Celdoriuth was just about to thrust the polearm to finish Anogath off, when an axe whirled in through a gash in the side of the tent and struck the surprised shaman straight in the head, killing him instantly. Only a mere second after this, Nitor walked in through the same gash. During this intermission, Mokher took the time to escape.
"You, grunt Elringavath!", the warlord said harshly, but with a dimnishing voice. "There is still time! Get one of the shaman! Quickly!"
But instead of getting help, Nitor took the spear and finished the high shaman's work.
"Sorry, warlord, but a promise is a promise, after all."
Amd then the young warrior walked out of the tent to behold the carnage. The Frostwolves had won this day, but most of the warriors of the tribe were now lying on the ground, either dead or crippled, and two of the three tribal leaders were dead, killed by their own tribe, in fact. Nitor grinned at the thought. But wait, where was Ras'dana? He immediately went off to look for her.
In a small tent near the gates of the village, high priestess Ras'dana Amolit stood facing away from the opening, but still very much aware on who had just entered with a serrated axe in each of his hands.
"Are you going to kill me?", Ras'dana inquired. "If so, do it quickly."
"Do not worry," the half-worgen, half-orc said in a triumphant, mocking voice. "You will not feel a thing. You will not feel a thing, mother."
Chapter III: Exodus into the WildEdit
With their village razed to the ground, the orcs of the Frostwolf tribe had no choice but to find another place to live in. Only a day after the massacre, the Frostwolves had set the blood-soaked remains of their former home in flames, and were on their way to locate a new homeland. With their leadership eliminated, the orcs had chosen the unlikely couple of Nitor Elringavath and Marneth Ardos'an to lead them, believing their rivalry would only serve to strengthen their resolve. Of course, neither the warrior nor the shaman had any high thoughts about this.
It was the third day of their journey. The Frostwolves had chosen to travel north, towards the lands of the great Orcus tribe, in hope of seeking refuge there, but the road was long, the weather harsh, and the beasts fierce.
"I don't think you have any idea of where we are at all!", Marneth said in an annoyed voice to his co-leader.
"Of course I do!", the warrior responded in a similar voice. "Look, there is the Mountain of Wrath, right?"
Nitor pointed at a huge mountain in the distance.
"And there is the entrance to the Outer Districts, right?"
Nitor pointed to a sizable stone gate in the ground not far from his location.
"Well, yes, but don't think for a second the "Grand Empire" will let us stay with them! They're dangerous! And evil! And, besides, I hate spiders..."
"Stop your whining, Marneth, I have no intention of begging the Imperials for help. But perhaps we can send you as a "gift" to them just so they won't ambush us later..."
"Alright, I won't. Anyway, we are running low on supplies, so we need to get to the Orcus as fast as possible. I am fairly sure that we are near."
"I am inclined to believe that you are correct. Look there, isn't that a typical Orcus frontier outpost?"
"Indeed it is. They must have expanded a lot recently. Come, let us go there!"
And so the orcish host went forward in a (relatively) quick pace towards the Orcus outpost. They were near their final destination.
"You can't do this! You have no right to keep me here!", the orcish warrior, bound at his wrists and ankles and lying on the floor, exclaimed. "Don't you know who I am? I am Kirend Ardos'an! Commander of this outpost! Next in line to inherit the Hammer of the Ardos'an! I demand you to release me!"
"Of course I know who you are, you insolent puppy," Mokher Agrunavid annoyingly told the bound orc. "Why do you think I let you live? Hostage, bait, or fresh food for later, influential captives are always interesting to have. Plus, you have all the security information we need."
"Who are we, exactly? I've only seen you. And by the looks of it, you don't need allies. You took out the enitre elite guard youself!"
"Flattery won't cut your bonds, but if you want to know, I will tell you. And by the way, elite guards? New recruits fresh from the academy, more likely. The only real opposition I met was you yourself, and all I really had to do was to shout "Look behind you!", and bash you unconscious with the flat side of my axe."
"It still hurts!"
"Shut your maw, mongrel! I do not understand why you "mighty warriors" ever let cowards join your ranks. But that is not the point. You wanted to know the identities of my associates, right?"
"My "associates" are vile and horrible beings from beyond time and space, abominable entities ancient when time was young! You would be wise not to stand against them."
"That is all you will know of that. Now, let us prepare a surprise for our "guests"."
"Guests? What guests?"
"Haven't I told you yet? The Frostwolves! There was a small accident involving me destroying their village, so now they have to move. And they're not far from here now! The fools, believing this outpost to be a safe haven."
"The Frostwolves, huh? Hey, my youngest brother is a member of that clan!"
"Well, how good for him. Or not. Definately not. Heh. He will, of course, perish, along with all the others."
"Look, mister whatever you are, you may have taken out my guard, but surely the Frostwolves have some warriors left, and shaman, and sorcerers. They will be more than a match for you."
"You would be completely right, if not for ingenuity of my employers. You see, I have a certain "device" that will help me put an end to the Frostwolves, an artifact of great power. Do you really think I would have come here without a plan?"
"How should I know? For all I know, you cold be a deranged, delusional lunatic."
"That's taking it one step too far, Ardos'an."
Mokher then proceeded to lift one of his handaxes, and swung it down in a wide arc towards the captive. The strike instantly severed the warrior's right arm, and resulted in a loud, high-pitched scream from him.
"That's right, you coward!", Mokher said gleefully. "Squeal like a wounded pig!"
The half-worgen warlord then took up the severed appendage from the floor, and took a large bite out of it. Kirend Ardos'an then passed out, both from disgust and loss of blood.
"I think I might have use of you, my mutilated adversary," the warlord said thoughtfully, and then dragged the unconscious orc out into the cold, among the half-eaten corpses of those warriors he had so recently slain.
As Nitor approached the outpost, his sensitive orcish nose smelled something. The smell of blood, the smell of death. And there, just a short bit from the warrior, in a pool of blood, was the mutilated body of an orc, with his right arm missing. Nitor immediately rushed forwards towards the body.
"He's still alive!", he screamed to his companions, especially Marneth and his shaman. "But barely!"
Marneth, as fast as he could, channeled spiritual energy to heal the most grievous wounds of the wounded one.
"By Nahdrikon!", the shaman exclaimed. "This is my brother! I haven't seen Kirend in years! What happened here, brother?2
The newly healed orc, who was still quite groggy, could nothing but mumble incoherently. The Frostwolf leaders tried to make him say some words of what had happened, and after quite some time, they succeeded.
"Brother Marneth, is that you?", Kirend Ardos'an said. "Do not enter the outpost! It is a trap!
At the very moment Kirend divulged this information, the ground shook, and two tall pillars rose out of the ground between them and the outpost. The pillars were made of metal, and each of them carried a crystalline sphere on top. When the pillars were at full height, vicious lightning started streaming between the spheres. From the middle of the electric current, a savage bolt of electricity shot out and burned three orcs in the Frostwolf caravan to ashes. The Frostwolves quickly reacted, and began a counterattack against the conductors. The battle raged on, shamanistic magic and iron axes clashing against the harnessed power of a thunderstorm.
On the roof of the highest watchtower of the outpost, Mokher watched the carnage unfolding. At his left side stood a mysterious black-robed individual, like a very tall and lean male orc, his head shrouded by a black cloth mask.
"Are you having fun with my gifts, Mokher?", the robed man inquired in a foreboding, otherwordly voice.
"Oh yes," the worgen hybrid said gleefully. "The machine is quite a plaything. The orcs will die now, guaranteed. Wait, where did you go?"
The robed man had disappeared without as much as a trace.
"Typical of him to just dissapear like that!", Mokher said, annoyed, before he proceeded to climb down the tower. But the moment he reached the ground, it collapsed beneath him, entrapping him in a traphole. Above him, at the edge of the hole, appeared two spiderlike creatures, but with semi-humanoid torsos.
"Is this him?", one of the creatures asked the other.
"Yes," the other answered. "This is Mokher Agrunavid. Just the man we needed to apprehend."
"Good. You go help the others bring down the curious machinery pestering those orcs. I will take care of this mongrel."
He turned to the prisoner in the hole.
"Mokher Agrunavid, you are hereby arrested for the murder of orcs under the protection of the Nerubian Empire, and the unlawful overtaking of a facility possessed by the aforementioned orcs. You will be taken to Nax'Orien to stand trial before the Council of Orcus. You have no right to remain silent, so I suggest you start talking, you weakling."
Chapter IV: Behold the IcecrownEdit
All hope seemed lost. The weapons of the warriors could hardly dent the thunder-spewing pillars, and the shaman had to use all their resources to shield the others from the onslaught. The few shaman left to the fight didn't make much difference anyway. But suddenly, when the noble Frostwolves had all but prepared themselves to join their Ancestors, a web-like substance seemingly out of nowhere began coating the spheres upon the pillars, rending them harmless. And then, from between the pillars, emerged a host of armed spider-men, the warriors of the Nerubian Empire. The arachnoid leader approached Nitor and Marneth.
"Greetings, friends," he said. "I am Anub'thune, champion of the Nax'Orien Brood of the Central Nerubian Empire. I gather you are the Frostwolves, of the Earthsnow Peninsula?"
"Well, yes," Nitor answered the nerubian. "We are. If you know who we are, do you also know the cruel fate that has been bestowed upon us?"
"Of course, Packleader Elringavath. Not only that, but we also have taken the foul Mokher Agrunavid into our custody. He is no longer a treath."
"That's most certainly a relief. Was he the one behind this ambush, as well?"
"So it would seem. But these... pillars, they cannot have been his work alone. I believe he has associates."
"So he said, yes..."
"Anyway, we have already informed the Orcus Council of your need for a place to live. You are welcome to stay in their lands, at least until they can find new land for you."
"The Orcus?", Marneth interrupted. "Since when are the Orcus in league with the Empire?"
"Since some years ago," Anub'thune answered him. "Since the construction of Nax'Orien first began."
"Waitaminute, Nax'Orien?", Marneth said, confused, with Nitor no less so either.
"Oh, you Wolves never heard of it, heh? It started with a great fire that devastated the previous Orcus capital. After that, the poor beings turned to us for help. And that was when Lord Osir'thep the Magnificent struck a deal with them: the creation of an aboveground citadel, a grand new capital of the orcs, and at the same time a power generator of sorts for us."
"Citadel?", Marneth asked, still as confused, if not more so now. "Grand Capital? What are you talking about?"
The nerubian sighed.
"I will just have to let you see it for yourself. After all, seeing is believing, isn't it? Come now, the others should already be there. Our webs have put the conductors out of action, we will send a team in later to topple them and take them into safe custody in Nax'Orien. Amazing technology, wonder how he got his filthy paws on that?"
And so three other nerubians from Anub'thune's party stepped forward, and begun chanting in a, to the orcs, alien language. Suddenly, a portal of green energy appeared in the air before the host.
"Follow me, all! Come to see!
After the nerubian had done so, Nitor moved through the portal. He felt a surge of energy taking hold of him, and next he stumbled out of another portal and fell onto the ground. He lifted his head upwards, and could scarcely believe his eyes. Floating high above the ground was a humongous citadel, a nerubian-style ziggurat, but many, many times larger. At the very top of the megastructure was a very tall spire, with a huge sphere of green energy on top of it, emenating magic that streamed down on the sides of the ziggurat, down into the ground. The ground? No, the citadel was situated above a great, quadratical pit in the ground. It was like noting Nitor had laid his eyes upon before. The nerubian commander came and stood beside the fallen warrior.
"Welcome, Nitor Elringavath, welcome Frostwolves, welcome to Nax'Orien, the Icecrown.
A dark and damp prison, a claustrophobic, featureless dungeon, with one trapdoor in the ceiling as the only way in or out. Not that anybody would stay there freely. The trapdoor opened, and a beaten person was thrown inside unceremoniously. Mokher Agrunavid, the worgen-orc, was now under the gentle care of the Orcus and the nerubians, inside Nax'Orien. Mokher, angered at his harsh treatment, turned towards his entrance, to find it closed. All was dark, but Mokher was not particularly bothered with it, considering his darkvision capablities. He scanned his new "home" for other inmates, and discovered a hunched gestalt cramped together in a corner. The co-inmate wore a grey, dirty robe, and, strangely enough, blood-soaked bandages around his, for it was male, head. He was alive, but barely reacted to his new comrade. Was that the only one? No, Mokher could sense, but not see, another prescense in the room. A dark prescense.
"Dark master?", Mokher cried out into the darkness.
"Yes, my servant," an otherwordly, disembodied voice answered. "I am here. But alas, I have other matters to attend to. Do not worry, you will soon be out of here. I have a word of advice: listen to your cellmate. I think you may know him.
And the voice went silent. The bandaged man in the corner raised his head.
"Mokher, heh?", the wounded man said. "How... Appropriate to meet you again. You can only guess what headache I have. Are you ready for the next stage?"
"As ready as I will ever be."
The Frostwolves and nerubians, with Anub'thune leading them, stepped forwards to the edge of the great pit right below the citadel. Streams of greenish energy covered the space between the bottom of Nax'Orien and the abyss. The nerubian commander reached out with his talon towards the energies, and spoke some words in the nerubian tounge, seemingly to nothing. But when Anub'thune finished speaking, a shock of energy surged out of the pit and enveloped the party. Seconds later, they found themselves standing in a great hall of ornate stone: the inside of the Icecrown. They were immediately greeted by a host of elegantly clad orcs. One orc amongst them had especially ornate robes in a dark purple shade with ice-blue trims, and the symbol of the Orcus, the wolf's skull made of ice, emblazoned upon the chest.
"Greetings, Frostwolves," the Orcus leader introduced himself. "I am Lord Akhalor Zeranim, Chief of Interracial Relations."
"Chief of Interracial Relations?", a confused Marneth whispered to Nitor. The Orcus lord heard the whisper, and replied.
"Yes, shaman, it is my position. I think you will find the Orcus even more... organized than we used to be. No matter that, you two are the leaders, shaman Ardos'an and warrior Elringavath?"
"I know this may seem irregular," Nitor said. "But, as you probably know, our previous leadership was eliminated by the worgen assault that destroyed our home."
"That much I gathered. Anyway, I need you to follow me. The Council has called for an emergency meeting to determine where you shoul build yourself a new home."
And so Nitor and Marneth followed Lord Akhalor to yet another portal, at the far side of the room, and went through it, with the lord following them. On the other side was a small room with a doorway flanked by two heavily armored and spear-armed Orcus guards. The guards warily eyed the newcomers, but removed their crossed polearms from the doorway when Akhalor also entered. Beyond the doorway was a larger and more ornate room, with a gilded, rectangular table in the center. On equally ornate chairs and facing the doorway sat the Council of Nax'Orien, as Akhalor informed the two Frostwolf leaders. They were the ruling body of the Orcus, consisting of the most honorable delegates from each of the major races inhabiting the citadel: orc (a grey-haired old man with a stern gaze, who reminded Nitor of Marneth for some reason), nerubian (he didn't sit, quite obviously), furbolg (quite a vicious-looking bear), Drakkari troll (a powerful witch doctor, by the looks of her), and a race neither Nitor nor Marneth had seen before, a fish-like humanoid, which Akhalor told them was a nerglish. The orcish delegate lifted a mighty (but short-hafted) warhammer and hit it against the table.
"Let this meeting now begin," he said, and the voice reminded Nitor of Marneth as well.
Chapter V: Deciding the FutureEdit
"Let this meeting begin," the old orc announced. "Today's topic is one of great importance: the orcs of the Frostwolf tribe have, as you all probably know, lost their homeland. Therefore, it is no more than right that we, the Council of Nax'Orien, find our compatriots a new homeland. The question before us is, where should that be?
All the other councilors began speaking at once, so the orc once again smashed his hammer against the table, only harder this time.
"Silence! We have no need for riots! Now, raise your hands if you have anything to say, and we will listen to you."
Each councilor raised his/her hand, or whatever passed as a hand. The orc pointed at the nerubian delegate.
"I have an idea," the nerubian said. "What about the Verdant Vale?"
Agitated murmur erupted from the others.
"The Verdant Vale?", the orc said, surprised. "Do you really think so? I was under the impression the nerubians wanted the Vale for themselves?"
"We have... changed our minds," the nerubian said slyly.
"Alright then," the orc replied. "Who else here votes for the Verdant Vale as the new Frostwolf homeland?"
Upon the question being asked, the nerubian, orc, nerglish, and furbolg councilors raised their hands to accept the vote.
"Any particular reason you did not accept the vote, delegate Shi'jin?", the orc asked the Drakkari delegate.
"Despite not trusting dat Aqir as far as I can hex a shoveltusk, mon," the troll said, annoyed.. "Da Vale is the home of da Dormant Cold. We cannot let outsiders defile it!"
"Look here," the furbolg delegate protested. "We have scryed the Vale a thousand times, and we have not found more than isolated carvings to prove that this "Dormant Cold" even exists, no more resides in that very vale!"
"Thank you, delegate Thornmaw," the orc concuded. "Since the majority of the Council has accepted the proposition from delegate Shub'otep of the nerubians, it is now decided. The Frostwolves will, as the first ones to do so, settle down in the Verdant Vale."
"Congatulations," Lord Akhalor said to Nitor and Marneth. "The Verdant Vale has everything you could wish for. You'll just have to adjust to the warm climate."
"I'm sure that won't be any problems," Nitor said, almost laughing.
The view of the concluded Council meeting dissolved, and the pool of water, situated amidst a lush jungle environment, went blank. The ice troll witch doctor that had mantained the scrying turned himself towards a group of three other ice trolls at his side.
"Mon, this be bad," the witch doctor told his fellows. "Da foul orcs defiling Drakkari lands! We will not allow dis to go on! Contact da othas of da Conclave, da Dormant Cold needs to... awaken."
"Awaken da Cold?", another of the trolls said, shocked. "Is da situation really dat bad? Are ya sure we can not just evict them ourselves?"
"No, mon," the witch doctor replied. "Dey have da full support of both da orcs and da Aqir. We are going to need an edge to be able to win dis. And what an edge it be, mon. What an edge."
Severals hours had now passed since the meeting, and Shi'jin of the Drakkari had returned to her quarters. A stone abode filled with eldritch statues, the room had an air of mystery and dread about it. The troll delegate kneeled before a statue depicting a winged serpent with ferocious talons.
"Oh, great Soulflayer," the Shi'jin started her prayer. "Help yo humble servant, help me to overcome da Council and keep da Vale for us!"
Suddenly, a rattling noise could be heard from within the statue.
"Hakkar!", the troll said in exitement. "Are yo answering my prayers at last?"
Just when she had finished saying that, a dart shot out from the mouth of the statue and hit Shi'jn straight in the neck. She was dead before she hit the floor. Out of the shadows crept several large, black spiders.
Chapter VI: In Cold BloodEdit
A middle-aged uniformed orc stood talking to a wounded guard at the prison area of Nax'Orien, while several others were investigating the gaping blast hole in the floor.
"What exactly happened here?" the uniformed orc asked the guard.
"I'm not entirely sure," the guard explained. "There was a huge explosion, I turned arond, and was hit by some heavy object coming towards me at high speed before I had the time to react."
"You're lucky we found you in time," another orc, wearing the robes of a shaman, said to the wounded guard. "That blow was severe. Judging by the wound, I'd say it was caused by an axe, one made for combat, no less."
The uniformed orc turned towards a younger orc at his side wearing a similar uniform.
"You, check out the weapons locker," he said to his assistant. "I have a bad feeling about this."
Several ice trolls, and some others, had gathered at the door of the Drakkari Council delegate's quarters when Marneth walked by it on his morning stroll.
"What's happened here?", the shaman asked one of the trolls.
"None of yo buisness, brownskin!", the troll said angrily.
"It's the Drakkari delegate," one of the orcs said in a much friendlier tone. "The door is sealed shut, and she won't answer, not even when we try sending spells. I'm afraid something has happened to her, as are we all..."
It was then the room exploded, shattering the door and the wall and sending debris in all directions, hurting several of the bystanders gravely. In the following seconds, the scene became filled with both worried (or just curious) bystanders and shaman and witch doctors trying to get to the wounded. What no-one saw, however, was the grinning gestalt watching the scene from a bit away, a battleaxe in each of his half-orc, half-worgen hands. Beside him stood a nerubian, watching carefully.
Marneth Ardos'an balanced on the treshold between life and death, in a dreamstate. He saw images of his life flashing past his eyes, of his mother, and how she died, on his father, the councilor of the Orcus, and on their estranged relationship. But something was out of place: a dark figure, approaching the shaman. It wore black robes, with a black cloth mask.
"You are Marneth Ardos'an, shaman," it spoke. "Yes, I know you. I know your name. I know your past. I know your present. And I know your future, Marneth."
"But how?", the confused orc asked. "How can you know all this? Who are you?"
"Who I am is of no consequence. You need only to know that I am good."
"I... I trust you. I do not know who you are, but I trust you. What does my future hold?"
"Your blood will survive, and your blood will be greatness. Your blood will conquer realms beyond imagining. But for this, you must live, and live you will."
The dreamstate faded, and Marneth became slightly aware of the real world.
"I think he's conscious!", a voice said.
"He is in pain," another said. "Heal him."
Marneth felt a wave of relief sweeping over him. He woke up. He was on a cold stone bed, surrounded by healers, and Nitor. His head hurt. He touched it with his hand.
"Careful!", Nitor said. "You have quite a nasty wound there. You're lucky to have survived the explosion."
"What... What happened? The delegate..."
"There was an explosion. And we don't reckon it was a mistake."
"Well... let's just say it wasn't a pleasant sight. As you can imagine, the Drakkari are demanding our heads right now. Even more so than usual. Still, the Council has agreed that we continue our settling down in the Vale. We've gotten the basic tents and supplies in place already, so it won't be long until we are done."
"How... how long?"
"How long you've been asleep? Quite some time, I'm afraid. Still, you haven't missed much. Oh, and the investigation isn't going anywhere either. Everyone is being eyed suspiciously, and Mokher is suspected, too."
"Yeah, he escaped not long before the explosion, along with some other prisoners, most of which have been re-captured."
"Ah, well, I guess you should get some sleep. In the meantime, I'll help with that settling down thing."
In the Verdant Vale, the orcs of the Frostwolf clan were settling down, raising tents and exploring their new homelands. Kirend Ardos'an, brother of Marneth Ardos'an, having recovered from his injuries and being given an artificial arm in return for his lost one, now had gone off scouting. After he had ventured quite a bit from base camp, he felt an unnatural cold creeping over him. It seemed to emanate from a neary cave. Curious as he was, Kirend went to investigate. The further he went into the cave, the colder it became, until he finally reached a pool of water, strangely unfrozen. He bent down to check the water, when suddenly, he became aware that he was not alone: several Drakkari trolls approached him from the shadows. He turned around towards from where he had came, but he was completely surrounded by the spear-wielding trolls.
"Look what we've got 'ere!", one troll spoke. "A brownskin! He'll make da ideal sacrifice!"
"Sacrifice?!", Kirend half-screamed, scared out of his wits. "What sacrifice? I will not be sacrificed! I am the heir of the Ardos'an!"
A troll hurled a javelin straight at his chest. He fell over into the water. Moments after he had fallen, a witch doctor stepped forwards to the edge of the pool.
"Accept dis sacrifice yo humble servants make yo, o Cold Who is Awakened! All hail us!"
Several more individuals stepped forward, including several orcs. They all spoke in unison:
"All hail the Twilight's Hammer! The Cold has Awakened!"
And a gigantic scythe-blade of ice shot upwards from the depths of the pool, soaked in the blood of the sacrificed orc. A gigantic explosion then occured, with the pool as it's center, not a normal explosion, but one of ice, snow, and frost. When the vapors had settled, a single, gigantic shape emerged, and spoke.
"The Frostlord has been summoned. All hail, and perish!"
Chapter VII: The Storm Before the InfernoEdit
Nitor entered the portal leading to the Verdant Vale, and fell head first into a pile of snow. At first, he thought that the portal had malfunctioned, that he had been teleported somewhere else entirely. But then he noticed the wounded Frostwolf warrior lying beside him, and the vicious-looking Drakkari troll standing above them.
"You... you must escape!" was all the warrior had time to say before he was impaled by the troll's spear.
Nitor quickly rose to his feet and tried to flee the scene, but the troll knocked him down with his weapon. The troll raised his spear, and was just about to finish Nitor off, when the cornered orc drew a skinning knife from his belt, fast as a viper, and struck his assailant in the throat. The Drakkari warrior was dead before he hit the ground. Nitor stumbled to his feet again, and tried to overlook the area, but a fierce blizzard was raging all around him, so he couldn't see very far. He passed out.
"Where is that nerubian?", an annoyed councilor Ardos'an asked the other delegates. "Shub'otep, f all people, should know to arrive in time! We have a crisis on our hands here!"
"'E's probably coverin' his tracks, mon!", the newly-appointed Drakkari delegate exclaimed. "It be clear as ice dat Aqir caused da death of Shi'jin!!"
"Listen now," furbolg delegate Thornmaw replied, angrily. "You have no right to blame the nerubians for your delegate's death! You probably killed her yourselves just to start a war with us decent people!"
The troll was now obviously very angry.
"Yo head would look good on a pole, bear-mon, an' yo blood I will enjoy drinkin' from yo polished skull!"
"This leads nowhere!", the nerglish delegate exclaimed. "This goes against our purpose!"
"What do yo feesh-mons know, feesh-mon? All yo do be living on da sea-bottom all yo lives. I don' understand why yo're even having a place on dis council!"
Before the councilors had a chance to kill each others, delegate Shub'otep entered the room.
"Did I miss anything?"
All councilors were now staring at the nerubian, obviously annoyed.
"Eh, probably nothing important. Now, shall the meeting begin? What is this all about, anyway?"
"What have you been doing the last hours?", the furbolg inquired angrily. "Sleeping?"
"That is of no concern!", Ardos'an sternly said. "What is of concern, however, is that the Verdant Vale has been overwhelmed by a ferocious blizzard without equal!"
"The Vale?", the nerubian asked. "Isn't the Vale supposed to be, you know, Verdant?"
"Look at da bug!", the Drakkari exclaimed in the nerubian's face. "'E's smart! OF COURSE IT BE SUPPOSED TO BE VERDANT, YO SPIDAH-HEAD!"
"CAN YOU PLEASE ALL CALM DOWN!", Ardos'an yelled. "That's better. We need to deal with the problem, not complain about other, irrelevant things!"
The troll delegate went up threateningly near the orc.
"I can tell yo what be wrong, mon. Reely, no thing be wrong, mon. This be all we evah wanted! Didn't we tell yo? The Dormant Cold be our edge, an' da dormant cold be awakened! Yo citadels will fall, and yo world will crumble! You be dead meat, mon! This be yo doom!"
The Drakkari tried to draw a blade to strike the orc with, but Ardos'an had already drawn his hammer, and struck the troll's head clean off.
"Doom, you say? Well, you should know one thing, and that is that the only doom you will experience is your own, delivered gracefully by this hammer here. Guards, bring the carcass away. And get someone to clean this mess up!"
A war-host of nerubian soldier marched towards the towering behemot laying waste to the once-Verdant Vale. The Frost-Lord took a sweep with his mighty scythe, and obliverated the first rows of the attacking spider-men.
"Is that all you have got, puny mortals?", the elemental bellowed. "Your world ends here and now!"
The Frost-Lord once again struck the nerubians with his weapon.
"Fall back!", Anub'thune ordered his troops. "We are no match for this monstrosity, not in his favored terrain!"
"Favored terrain?", his second in command yelled. "We would need a volcano to consider ourselves on favored terrain in this fight! We are going to need something extraordinary indeed if we are ever to defeat this menace"
"Foolish mortals, to even consider harming me!", the Frost-Lord exclaimed. "I am the favored champion of the Tidehunter and the Ones Who Were Old at the Dawn of Time! I am Ahune! Your mortal weapons can bear no harm upon me! You cannot hope to prevail! I will crumble your defenses!"
The Frost-Lord pointed his scythe towards Nax'Orien, and the blizzard was strengthened by a hundredfold, and engulfed the Icecrown in it's fell grasp.
The walls of the Icecrown were crumbling. This pinnacle of nerubian architecture was now basically only held together with spells and prayers. Marneth, alarmed, ran across the corridors, along with all the other citizens, when he heard a voice in his head, the same voice that had visited him in his dreamstate. It spoke to him, soothed him, told him what do do:
"Do not fear, Marneth Ardos'an. You need to gather your courage, for you are the only hope for survival, our only hope. You need to listen carefully, for what I tell you is what you need to do! You must... venture."
Marneth felt himself being lifted by some invisible force, being transferred. He closed his eyes, and when he opened them again, he found himself in a plain stone room, with a glowing, green orb, about twice the size of his head, suspended in the air between the floor and the ceiling in the center of the room. The vocie spoke to him.
"This is the heart of the citadel. This will be our salvation. Place your hand upon the orb, and you will have control of the Icecrown Citadel. Guide the citadel towards the raging beast who threatens our safety! Only then can we achieve true victory!"
Marneth was just about to place obey the black-clad man's commands, when suddenly, councilor Ardos'an bursted into the chamber through a freshly-formed portal, along with the nerglish and furbolg delegates, and two orcish guards.
"Marneth!", Ardos'an exclaimed. "What in the name of the great Cerrdyre are you doing?! Step away from that orb at once!"
As if awakened from a trance, Marneth jerked his hand away, and fainted.
"And who are you, then?", Ardos'an asked the robed man harshly. "You must be the one behind all this! But we've got you now! We saw through your ruse with the nerubian ambassador!"
The robed man chuckled within his black mask.
"As you pierce one layer, foolish mortal, another one is there to take it's place, even darker than before! Do you really think I would have been so careless with clues if Shub'otep had been my true agent? Thornmaw, seize them."
As he had said that, the furbolg delegate quickly drew a knife and placed it's edge against Ardos'an's throat.
"Thornmaw? How could you?!", the elderly orc half-screamed. "You, of all people..."
"Silence, fool!", the robed man interrupted. "Of course you never suspected anything. It was all part of my plan!"
He pointed his finger towards the orc guards, and they threw themselves onto the floor, screaming in pain.
"With the orcs gone, the world will be free to conquer! You will never be able to stop me, you pathetic scum!"
The orc guards began vomiting blood.
"And now, this world, no, this universe..."
The orc guards exploded in a cascade of blood and guts.
"Will be mine! ALL MINE!"
The robed man jammed his left hand into the orb.
Chapter VIII: The Grand FinalEdit
Nitor woke up. The blizzard had settled. All around him was debris and dead bodies, but also some who were merely wounded. He went up to his feet, and begun searching for survivors. He quickly saw that the portal had been devastated, so he took some medicinal herbs, and treated those who were wounded at the best of his capacity.
Nitor had treated several orcs, who were regaining their health inside a tent he had hastily set up, when he came to a shaman lying on the ground, his head bandaged.
"Don't worry," Nitor assured the wounded. "I will make you feel better."
To Nitor's surprise, the shaman chuckled.
"Oh, I feel much better already!"
"Wait a minute, didn't I kill you?"
But before Nitor had time to react further, he found himself impaled upon a spear.
"I won't let such a silly thing as death keep me from surviving!"
From Nax'Orien, a wave of energy shot out in all directions, dispersing the snowstorm, and momentarily halting the Frostlord's advance.
"WHAT TRICKERY IS THIS?!", Ahune screamed. "You will not get away with this, mortals! You may try to impede my onslaught, but you will never be able to stop me!"
The Frostlord rushed against the citadel, his scythe held high, when suddenly, a dark voice came to him, carried on the energy waves, a voice in an eldritch language never to be understood by mere mortals. When he had listened to the message, the Frostlord simply bowed down, and started to fade from the mortal world.
"I understand, master. Your plan must not fail."
And Ahune was gone, but the danger was not, for the waves emitting from the Icecrown intensified quickly.
"Can you not see?", the robed man, now glowing with greenish energies, taunted Ardos'an and the nerglish with. "It is futile to resist. Your deaths are imminent."
"Not if I can stop it!", Ardos'an yelled at his captor as he wrestled free of the furbolg's grasp and rushed towards the robed man, hammer in hand. As he was about to strike, the robed man simply waved his hand at his assailant, and a vicious bolt of lightning shot out and hit him straight in the chest. He fell to the ground, dead. His hammer was flung into the air, and landed on the floor.
"I guess you couldn't!", the robed man said, and cackled evilly. But his laughter was cut short when the orb he had his hand connected to was hit by a heavy striking, and collapsed into nothingness.
"Not he, perhaps," the hammer-wielding Marneth Ardos'an said, exhausted. "But his son was more than able! My blood will survive, wasn't that what you said, huh? I'm just keeping what you promised!"
And the citadel exploded. Lighting up the cold night sky, the explosion of green flames devoured the surrounding lands in it's cascade of destruction, and when it was gone, nothing was left.
From a scrying mirror, the robed man and Mokher Agrunavid watched the unfolding inferno, along with the nerglish ambassador.
"So it goes," Mokher commented. "A pity, really, it was a true masterpiece."
"I do agree with you on one level," the robed man replied. "But alas, it had to go. It was all part of my plan. Layer upon layer upon layer, is not that right, dear friend?"
"Of course I know you are right, glorious master," the nerglish said. "What do you have in store for me now that I have fulfilled my role?"
"Since you did so great in deceiving the other ambassadors, I will let you carry out yet another of my layers of smoke. Go back to your people, and prepare them."
The fish-man hurried away towars the nearby waters.
"I've sent the murloc away now, and as for you, gnoll..."
"He's a what now, and what did you call me?"
"Oops, I forgot that time IS of the essence here, hehe. Well, just go on and fend for yourself, Mokher, and all will be sorted out. You wish for a tribe of your own, a race of your own? Then so be it."
There was a puff of smoke, and when it had settled, the robed man was gone. The perplexed Mokher looked to his side, and saw an entire village inhabited by people who looked like himself, his own race. He didn't know the least of what had just happened, but nevertheless, he was thankful.
Nitor woke up. He was lying in a field of grass. He placed his hand against his chest. No wound. He looked around. On the grass there were many other orcs, beginning to wake up, including Marneth, and several other friends, bot Frostwolf, Orcus, and other tribes. He looked up towards the sky, a wholly different sky than what he was used to. He didn't know the least of what had just happened, but nevertheless, he was thankful.
"Ye bett'r come here an' take a look, Mimmer!", the dwarf said to his colleague. They were both part of an Explorer's League taskforce investigating a cavern system near Icecrown Glacier in Northrend. "I think me's found somethin'!"
"An' what be that, Biffer? Anotha one of tha cave paintins?"
"Sure is. But this one be special!"
"Ye've been saying that aboot jess' aboot every one of 'em paintins we've cammae across since we entered this hall!"
"That be becoose they be special, Mim, but this one be REEL special! I bet me beard tha League will wannae see this!"
"Sure, if ye say so, Bif, me'll cam over tha ye and check it oot!"
Mimmer went over to the wall his comrade was investigating, and took a closer look at the painting Biffer had been so excited about.
"By tha Titans, Biffer! Ye realize what this mean? I mean, be this what me think it be? Dat ramshoe-like shape an' thoose lil' pointy thingies..."
"Yep, Mimmer. It be clear as beer this be it. Their symbol. Tha symbol, of tha orcs!"
"Quickly, tell this to oor guide!"
"Ye know, that strange black-roobed fella, he with tha mask."
"Mimmer, we nevr had any guide. I thought ye said ye used tha inscriptions tha navigate!"
"Ye know that be impossible! An' besides, I've nevr said such a thing"
"Ye know Mimmer, methinks me got a bad feeling aboot this..."
"Aye, me too, Biffer. Me too."
And a sinister laughter could be heard echoing through the caves that night.