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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 10:43 pm    Post subject: The Third Stone Reply with quote

or "A Study of Right and Wrong"

Highwind enjoyed a good beer. There weren’t many places to get a beer in Thunder Bluff and even less to find a good one. The Hunter’s Rise was one of those places. Even if there had been no beer, Highwind would have come anyway. The crowd here was far more to his liking than the high and mighty attitudes of his recent classmates. He was thankful to never have to see them again if his chose not to. Today was graduation day.

Every priest had some sort of training, formal or otherwise. Highwind had chosen to train in Thunder Bluff. They brought with them all the stuffyness a new seminary could be expected to have and it had rubbed off on all those who attended, except Highwind. This, of course, brought him no end of unwanted attention from the faculty but it was a small price to pay for remembering who you are.

And right now, Highwind was remembering that fact over an ice cold beer on an exceptionally hot day.

“Who said frost mages have no use?” he mumbled to himself just before taking a sip and peering over the top of his mug at the keg encased in ice.

He was determined to enjoy this moment and so far so good. The worst of it was some orc in the corner bragging as loudly as he could about his latest kill. Other than that, it was all aces, which reminded him he had a standing invitation for the Bluff Watcher’s weekly poker game. Time for one more beer and then off to bluff the Bluffers as he liked to call it.

Highwind held up his mug to the barkeep indicating he’d like a refill when the loud orc in the corner was drowned out by sudden cries of alarm from the rest of the patrons. Highwind looked over his shoulder to see what the commotion was just in time to take a hard shot right under his arm into his ribs.

“Ooof, what the?!” Was all he could spit out. He reached down to grab the by the scruff of the neck and put his hand in something wet, and warm.

“You’re bleeding on me” Highwind started as the man picked his head up and looked squarely in his face. Then it hit him.

“You’re a man! A human!” Highwind half stuttered half yelled. The man spit out something in the common tongue and grabbed Highwind’s tunic roughly before collapsing to the floor. Highwind’s first thought was to heal him but before he could even get off his stool, the Bluff Watcher’s had charged in. The pushed Highwind out of the way, gave the human a couple extra killing blows for good measure and dragged the body off.

Highwind had no love for human’s or the Alliance for that matter but he wasn’t a huge believer in violence for violence’s sake. Defend what you must and after that, let it lie.
“So much for poker tonight” Highwind reached into his tunic to pay the tab and felt something extra. A small package wrapped in plain brown paper. He opened the paper to reveal a small stone. It was unremarkable in every way except for the manner it had been delivered. The wrapping, on the other hand, had unfamiliar writing from top to bottom. Highwind suddenly realized that several people were staring at him. He quickly shoved the stone and paper back into his tunic and threw way more money on the counter than was his tab. He strode quickly out the door and straight home.

That was two and a half years ago.

(more to come!)
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2013 11:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

((*grin* you aren't wasting any time! Can't wait to see where this goes...
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

“So what you’re telling me is that you know you love her, because when you robbed her blind, you felt bad about it?”

“Right”

“And nothing about that line of thinking seems odd to you?”

The orc just stared at Highwind as if in time the logic would make itself known. Highwind had never learned this thief’s name but he probably should have. He had treated his wounds more than any other soldier here at the Ramparts. Every time they had sent this thief into Ashenvale he’d come back beaten, bloody and bruised.

“Well never mind that. You just get better” Highwind rose to leave and was met by a short but very stocky orc. “Why hello sergeant.”

“Highwind,” the sergeant had a way of making his name sound like a cures. “I was just coming to ask you if you wanted to volunteer for a raiding party into Ashenvale. Then I thought, it would be harder for you to piss me off, if you’re not here.”

“Yes, I can understand how asking for more bandages, cots and water for the wounded could be very irritating.” Highwind tried his best to sound sincere.

“Uh huh. Well get your butt over to wall for a briefing, they think this one’s going to get thick and they want a healer right there. I couldn’t pass up sending you off for a chance to die. Don’t hurry back.”

Highwind had often wondered if the old sergeant treated him that way because he didn’t like him or if he respected him enough to know he probably wasn’t going to die. He dwelled on that topic through the briefing, not really paying attention to where they were going or what they were doing. Healing people in combat didn’t really require you to know those kinds of details. He just rubbed his lucky stone and waited for them to finish. He spent the rest of the day making little notes for the sergeant on how to improve the camp and giving them to different people to deliver at different times. The sergeant was right, it would be harder for Highwind to piss him off, but not impossible.

They were traveling light and leaving as soon as it got dark. That meant they intended to move fast and far and hopefully return to friendly territory before the sun came up. He wasn’t afraid of hard work but now he wished he had been listening during the briefing so he would have known to grab a quick nap. The group was small, seven of them, eight including Highwind. He recognized a few faces but not many names. There were the twins though, Chograk and Chagrok. Everyone knew them. They were new, young fresh faces but they were huge orcs. Both of them far too nice for their stature. They both smiled wherever they went. It seemed like everyone in the camp had a reason to like them.

When the time came to leave they set a brisk pace into the woods. To confuse any would be followers, they made a lot of turns and backtracks but Highwind thought they were moving generally northwest. It was well past midnight when they finally reached their target. A small encampment was well situated in the surrounding landscape. Just one approach and it was heavily guarded. The squad leader stopped to discuss tactics and made sure everyone was ready to go. On his signal they burst from the brush and silently ran up the natural corridor.

For a moment he was certain they had caught the whole outpost asleep, but as soon as that thought crossed his mind he was blinded by an intense light. The others had been stunned by it too and by the time their eyes adjusted they were surrounded on all side. Highwind made out a shadowy figure in the back of the enemy ranks and as their eyes met, he felt a rapidly increasing burning coming from his chest. It was coupled by a huge wave of nausea . He looked down expecting to see an arrow or bolt in his chest but instead, his lucky stone was glowing red hot. The pain and nausea overcame him and he fell to the ground, his last image of that night was the shadowy figure staring at him from across the corridor.

Highwind woke slowly. It took several minutes to shake the confusion out of his mind. What had happened? Was he wounded? He suddenly remembered the stone and instinctively reached for it. It was still there. But where was he? He finally got enough of his senses around to check his surroundings. Highwind reached out to put his hands underneath him and lift himself up. To his horror he found himself lying on Chograk, quite dead. And next to him Chagrok. Highwind looked left and right, bodies in each direction. He had been tossed on a mass grave. He choked down his revulsion and climbed out of the pit.

Lost, alone and with no provisions he weighed his options. He reached for his lucky stone and stopped suddenly. How lucky had it been last night? Highwind didn’t have time to think about that, he had to get somewhere safe.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Climbing out of the pit had been the first step. Figuring out where to go was the next. The morning sun had not yet crested the hills but its warm predawn light gave him some idea of north and south. As Highwind took his first steps, the events of the evening ran through his mind. Why had he passed out? And had he been so bad off as to be mistaken for death? The answer truly didn’t matter, but he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He absently rubbed his lucky stone and all but forgot its strange behavior as he worked his way back to friendly territory.

Highwind did know a thing or two about evading the enemy. After all he wasn’t much of a fighter. Sentinels were easy enough to avoid but when a large party of alliance troops came marching across a small meadow, Highwind needed to find a place to hide and fast. Two large trees had grown close together, making an alcove on the right side of the rising sun. He would be in shadow and the new cresting sun would blind anyone looking that way. He rushed headlong into the shadows and slammed his back up against what should have been a tree.

“Ow!” came the hushed exclamation.

Highwind instinctively jumped forward but was yanked back immediately.

“Dis were my hiding spot, cow. Now shut up and hold still.” The troll accent was unmistakable.

Much to his disappointment, the Alliance party decided to use the meadow as a good place for a rest. Fortunately, they showed no signs of staying long, with soldiers leaving their packs on and just sitting on kneeling. A few ran off in the woods to do their business but a pair of lightly garbed humans made their way towards Highwind’s shared cubby.

“Hold ju breath” the troll said and Highwind did.

They walked past the tree and stood on the opposite side, blocking their view from the rest of the party. A small gap between the trees made for near perfect eaves dropping.

“I saw it, I know I did.” The first voice hissed.

“So you say” replied the second. “But you didn’t find it did you? The mage’s light glamour probably played tricks with your eyes. Why would the stone be here? Our man says the thief did in Mulgore.”

“That was over two years ago! It could be anywhere now, why not here? And I couldn’t find it because I couldn’t search that Tauren without everyone seeing what I was doing. They buried him now. We’ll have to dig him up to know for sure.”

“Fine, fine. The Bishop will want to know for sure now that you’ve sent an initial report. You should have waited. Finding the third stone is no small matter.”

“I did what I was supposed to do, now come on they’re moving out. Shadow and Death.”

“Shadow and Death.”

Shadow priests, Highwind was sure of it. That explained the haziness of the human he had seen. He had never known a shadow priest though much of what they were had been taught to him in the seminary. Not all shadow priests embraced the darkness completely, but the temptation was always there in varying degrees. Clearly these two chose power over safety. As they walked away, Highwind exhaled and became suddenly aware of a sharp object sticking into his ribs.

“Sorry ‘bout da sticka. But if ju make too much noise I hafta kill ya.” Highwind nodded though he was sure the troll couldn’t see.

The party moved on and Highwind and his new aquaintence stepped out into the light. The voice had given him a clue that the troll was female, but truly you can never tell by voice alone with a troll. She was attractive, as far as trolls can be. The dab of drool was not her best feature and her tusks could use a shine, but she had soft features that not many trolls did.

“I’m Highwind” was all he could think to say.

“I be Ritania” she said. “An dat Tekkie” She pointed up into the tree.

“’allo!” the small, pink haired gnome half whispered half yelled from a tree branch.

“Alliance!” Highwind sputtered and made for his dagger.

“Nonono! She wit us, ju see. Jus’ relax cow”

“I’m not a cow!”

“Uh huh, now wut ju doin’ out here?”

That was a great question. Ignoring that fact that he hadn’t even paid attention to the briefing, the events of last night and the conversation he had just heard made for more questions than answers. The time to figure out what his lucky stone really was had finally come. What had they called it? The third stone. That was where he would start, if his was the third, there must be at least two others.

editor's note: I know what you're thinking, "Tekkie died!" Its true and her death though tragic was not the end of her story. Tekkie's tale of death, rebirth and redemption remains unwritten for now. But it is roughed out and may someday be committed to paper. For now, know that she still enjoys the company of Ritania (Ritallia) and their adventures continue
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

(( TEKKIE! Yay! *hands her an apple* That last story was... just a setback, yeah?

I'm glad Highwind is still in the story, even if he's now relegated to bank alt or some such :)
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 18, 2013 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ritania rolled the stone over and over in her hands. “I never be hearin’ of a third stone. An I like treasure.” She stopped rolling the stone and stared for a moment. “If dis ting gonna get us in ta trouble, we need ta find out what it is.”

“Us into trouble? I have not asked for your company. I just want to get back to the Ramparts and report this travesty!” Highwind had had enough of Ashenvale for now.

“So bot tis say bot.” Tekkie Said. Ritania nodded and explained. “It be da rules of da quest. Ju meet us on da road and now we which ju. Tekkie say so, so dere be no denyin’ it. Besides dis ting might be worth sometin’ if dem humans want it so bad. I tink we stick around for dat.”

Highwind sighed. He couldn’t stop the rogues from following him but maybe once he was back at camp they would go away. Surely the Horde forces wouldn’t tolerate freelance thieves hanging about. And so without much complaint, he started back to the Northern Barrens border.
Ritania and Tekkie proved to be both useful and pleasant traveling companions. They both had a keen eye for Sentinals and always knew exactly where to hide. The conversation wasn’t too bad either. Ritania shared stories of heists and capers and whenever Tekkie offered something, Ritania would translate. Highwind wasn’t sure too sure about the accuracy of the translations. If she got it right, Tekkie, at some point had gored a golem in the Undercity, been a death knight and used a dragon bone as a pole vault. Of course that was all nonsense.

It was n’t long before they were back to the camp and Highwind made his way to the Sergeant first thing to make his report.

“Shit.” He began. Highwind was shocked at his concern for the fallen. “Everyone dies except you?” Or not. “I’m not sure which god’s puppy I ate this morning but one of them is mad at me. Well you look good, Highwind, how are you feeling?”

“I’m pretty ti-“ he started.

“Great! Glad you’re feeling well. The damn Blood Elves sent an envoy down here a couple days ago. Some paladin. And since I don’t speak The Light, you’re my new liaison. Get down there and find out what the devil she wants and figure out how to make her go away.”

Highwind left Ritania and Tekkie standing there with his Sergeant. That should be enough to drive them off, he thought.

“You’re cute.” The sergeant eyed Ritania.

“No tanks.” She replied.

He looked down at Tekkie. “Whats with the gnome?”

“Prisoner”

“No chains? Aren’t you afraid it will run away?” The Sergeant wasn’t even looking at them anymore.

“Ju see her legs? Where she gonna get to on dose?” Ritania bit back her smile as she felt Tekkie pinching the back of her calf.

“All right, just don’t feed it. I hear they get clingy if you do.” The sergeant was half turned around as he finished talking. Ritania turned to leave and noticed Tekkie was no longer standing next to her. She scanned the camp and there at a long table, Both Tekkie and a rather brutish orc had a fork stuck in either side of a large piece of meat. Tekkie was standing on the table just to be eye to eye with the seated orc and the two had a finger pointed in each other’s faces. Ritania sprinted towards the table to break up the inevitable scuffle. She hated having to explain dead or maimed orcs to the authorities.
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The paladin was easy enough to find. As a Blood Elf, it was the only tent in the camp that wasn’t brown. The Blood Elf was seated on a stool in front of her sleeping arrangements. She had parchment on a slate in her lap and was writing quickly interrupted by short breaks for what Highwind assumed were pauses for thought. As he got closer he noticed her armor on a stand up rack, polished white and shining brightly. Though the sun was shining, it was not so bright to reflect off the armor so brilliantly. Highwind smiled and thought to himself elves and their magic, always with such galmor.

Highwind finally crossed the distance and cleared his throat to get her attention, “I am Highwind, Priest of the Light and your humble servant.” He winced, that last part was habit rather than inention.

She looked up at Highwind for the first time as hi finished speaking. Her face was almost as white has her hair, which set her green eyes as a bold feature on her face. His first impression was “stren”.

“That is the closest thing to manners I’ve heard since arriving disorganized rabble parading about as an army.” she began.

Yup, stern.

“I am Lemoral, Blood Knight of Silvermoon and servant of Lord Lor’themar. I’m glad you’ve come, it saves me from mucking about this camp looking for you.” She paused to gauge his response.

“Highwind was too tired to hide his surprise, “You’re looking for me? Is it another mission?” He secretly was dreading the thought of being hauled off to Silvermoon for whatever the Blood Knights might want from him.

“Yes I am looking for you. You and your stone. The magisters are very interested in it and its brothers.”

“You know about the stone?” Highwind was getting nervous now. Too much had happened in way too short time for this not to get ugly.

“Yes the magisters have been scrying for it for some time. It wasn’t until recently that the other two went active and even more recently that yours did. They seem to be inert when they are separated, which tells me that you have been near at least one of the others very recently.” She stopped talking for a moment and scribbled more down on the parchment in her lap before speaking again. “I am here to collect all three and return them to Silvermoon. Such artifacts will be useful to our efforts in Pandaria. And you will help me. Your sergeant assures me you are very useful in the field” Highwind smiled and remained silent. “And he tells me you have two scouts that know how to get back to the last known location of the other stone.”

“Oh no, you don’t want those two, they…” but he was cut off by a heavy slap on the back.

“Highwind! Der ju be. I tinkin’ ju leave us an’ we no see ju ‘gain.” Ritania was all smiles.

“Where’s the gnome?” Highwind replied.

“She on ju shoulda.”

Highwind instinctively reached up to his shoulders but felt nothing. Ritania was lauging.

“Dey don’t weigh nothin’. Ju feel a gnome if it be on ju shouldas silly cow.”

“I’m not a cow.”

Lemoral interjected, “I was not told about a gnome.”

“Der’s a gnome; There’s a gnome.” They replied together.

Lemoral sighed. “One more complication. So be it. Pack your things, eat and go to bed early, we will be on the road before dawn. The less people notice us leaving the less questions and attention we get.”

“So where is Tekkie then?” Highwind looked around on the ground as he spoke.

“She in ju tent, goin’ tru ju tings.”

And while it was probably true, there was nothing Highwind could do except go back to his tent and pack, once again, for a trip into the forest.
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PostPosted: Sun Mar 30, 2014 11:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ritania had not been lying about Tekkie’s whereabouts. Upon returning to his tent, Highwind discovered the tiny gnome all ready fast asleep in the corner. In truth he might have missed her all together except for the shock of pink hair sticking out from under a blanket. High changed into nightclothes and was trying to find a comfortable position in his pile of hay when his tent flap was suddenly pulled back.

“Hey dere! Goin’ ta sleep early?” Ritania held up of flask shook it at Highwind. “Want som’?”

“No, I’m going to bed.” He replied.

“Ok den.” Ritania drained the rest of the flask slipped it back into her belt. “I’m stayin’ here tonight.”

“There’s room in the corner” Highwind began, but as he spoke Ritania peeled off her clothes and collapsed in the hay putting her back to Highwind. “No, uhhh, wait.” Highwind protested.

“Ju warm” Ritania said as she yawned.

Highwind struggled for the words, but it was too late, the troll was asleep as evidenced by her loud snoring. Too tired to wake her and argue, he closed his eyes and tried, very hard, to think of sleep.

To his surprise, both rogues were up and out of his tent before he awoke. He made his way outside and found them with Lemoral who was armed and armored. Her armor still glowing in the predawn light no one could mistake the toughness of the small, relatively speaking of course, paladin.

“You’re finally here.” Lemoral said. “At least the scouts are reliable.”

Ritania winked and Tekkie stuck her tongue out as they stood behind Lemoral. Highwind just sighed and noticed four packs in varying size. One for each of us he mused. He grabbed the largest and slung it over his back as the others grabbed theirs as well. They headed back into the woods and used the cover of dark to speed the first part of the trip. They slowed as the sun found it way through the canopy of trees and it was well after dark before they arrived at their destination. Ritania and Tekkie left the two less stealthy companions behind and went ahead to get a look at the camp. Highwind was hopeful this would all be done with before dawn but when the two rogues returned, they had news that would dash those hopes.

“Se tik ali bo set say set.” Tekkie explained.

“It be true” Ritania affirmed.

Highwind was so tired of sighing that he chose to roll his eyes this time. “What did she say?”

“She say da whole camp be empty, nobody dere.”

Highwind turned to Lemoral to see what to do next, but she was quizzically staring at Tekkie. Highwind coughed and Lemoral broke her trance. “We investigate.” She said.

They made their way into the long corridor where Highwind had been ambushed only a few days before. He was seething at this point. All those dead warriors for nothing. Had they waited only a few days they could have waltzed in and claimed the compound without unsheathing a sword. They camp truly was empty, no people, no supplies, just a few scraps here and there to let you know anyone had ever been here at all. The outposts main building, the only permanent structure, remained. “In there.” Lemoral pointed.

The building was small, only a few rooms. Most of it was as barren as the outside had been, but from the doorway in the back of the building came an eerie purple glow. Lemoral unsheathed her sword and made her way to the doorway. She quickly looked and then out her sword away. “Come back here” she said as she walked into the room. Inside, the floor and walls were covered in marking that still glowed with the dark magic they had been used for.

“Warlocks” Lemoral surmised.

“No.” replied Highwind. “Shadow priest. These are not summoning runes, they are glyphs of power.” He recognized some of the perversions of holy symbols. “Not the good shadow priests either.” He added.

Tekkie had buried herself ankles deep into a built in side board along the wall.

“Wut ju doin’ in dere!?” Ritania ran over to pull Tekkie out by the feet. As she emerged from inside, she held a stack of papers in one hand and a leather bound journal in the other.

“Cloo.” She said as she handed the items to Lemoral.

“They are reports. And this looks like a diary” Lemoral stated as she flipped through the book. She took a few minutes to read through and then skipped to the last entry. “Its dated two days ago.”

The stone activated last night. Armeus isn’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow so it wasn’t his stone that set mine off. The owner must be a priest or the stone would have killed him and we would have found it among the bodies. This presents a new opportunity. Armeus is powerful, but overbearing. I have no doubt that he would do away with Jakkor and I if he could so why not beat him to it? Instead of recovering the third stone for Jakkor, better to kill Armeus as he sleeps and take his stone. We’ll simply bring the other priest into the fold with me in charge. Assuming he is not all ready inclined to the Shadow, converting a Light worshiper may be the hardest part, but well worth the effort to be rid of Armeus. As for setting the trap, well that plan has been in place for months, I just need to do a little work in the back room.

Lemoral’s eyes widened as the relevance of the last sentence made itself clear. “We have to go!” The tension in her voice rose as the glyphs on the floor and walls began to grow even brighter. Lemoral tried to run but her legs would not move, the paralyzing effect working its way up her body. “Run!” she yelled. Ritania and Tekkie both invoked the shadows and disappeared. Highwind was all ready doubled over, the familiar pain of when the stone had last activated. It burned him, but his arms were too weak to lift let alone remove the stone from his pocket and cast it away.

“Like flies.” A male voice said. “Tornious will be so pleased.” Lemoral understood the human. “I am Jakkor, and we have a long way to travel.” He uttered a single syllable and the runes flashed, taking the consciousness of both Lemoral and Highwind.
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