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It had once seemed to some of the Kirin Tor, the magical conclave that ruled the small nation of Dalaran, that the world of Azeroth had never known anything but constant bloodshed. There had been the trolls, before the forming of the Alliance of Lordaeron, and when at last humanity had dealt with that foul menace, the first wave of orcs had descended upon the lands, appearing out of a horrific rip in the very fabric of the universe. At first, nothing had seemed able to stop these grotesque invaders, but gradually what had looked to be a horrible slaughter had turned instead into an agonizing stalemate. Battles had been won by attrition. Hundreds had died on both sides, all seemingly for no good reason. For years, the Kirin Tor had foreseen no end.
But that had finally changed. The Alliance had at last managed to push back the Horde, eventually routing them entirely. Even the orcs' great chieftain, the legendary Orgrim Doomhammer, had been unable to stem the advancing armies and had finally capitulated. With the exception of a few renegade clans, the surviving invaders had been rounded up into enclaves and kept under secure watch by military units led personally by members of the Knights of the Silver Hand. For the first time in many, many years, lasting peace looked to be a promise, not a faint wish.
And yet...a sense of unease still touched the senior council of the Kirin Tor. Thus it was that the highest of the high met in the Chamber of the Air, so-called because it seemed a room without walls, only a vast, ever-changing sky with clouds, light, and darkness, racing past the master wizards as if the time of the world had sped up. Only the gray, stone floor with its gleaming diamond symbol, representing the four elements, gave any solidity to the scene.
Certainly the wizards themselves did nothing in that regard, for they, clad in their dark cloaks that covered not only face but form, seemed to waver with the movements of the sky, almost as if they, too, were but illusion. Although their numbers included both men and women, the only sign of that was whenever one of them spoke, at which point a face would become partially visible, if somewhat indistinct in detail.
There were six this meeting, the six most senior, although not necessarily the most gifted. The leaders of the Kirin Tor were chosen by several means, magic but one of them.
"Something is happening in Khaz Modan," announced the first in a stentorian voice, the vague image of a bearded face briefly visible. A myriad pattern of stars floated through his body. "Near or in the caverns held by the Dragonmaw clan."
"Tell us something we don't already know," rasped the second, a woman likely of elder years but still strong of will. A moon briefly shone through her cowl. "The orcs there remain one of the few holdouts, now that Doomhammer's warriors have surrendered and the chieftain's gone missing."
The first mage clearly took some umbrage, but he kept himself calm as he replied. "Very well! Perhaps this will interest you more.... I believe Deathwing is on the move again."
This startled the rest, the elder woman included. Night suddenly changed into day, but the wizards ignored what, for them, was a common thing in this chamber. Clouds drifted past the head of the third of their number, who clearly did not believe this statement.
"Deathwing is dead!" the third declared, his form the only one hinting at corpulence. "He plunged into the sea months ago after this very council and a gathering of our strongest struck the mortal blow! No dragon, even him, could withstand such might!"
Some of the others nodded, but the first went on. "And where was the corpse? Deathwing was like no other dragon. Even before the goblins sealed the adamantium plates to his scaly hide, he offered a threat with the potential to dwarf that of the Horde...."
"But what proof do you have of his continued existence?" This from a young woman clearly in the bloom of youth. Not as experienced as the others, but still powerful enough to be one of the council. "What?"
"The death of two red dragons, two of Alexstrasza's get. Torn asunder in a manner only one of their own kind -- one of gargantuan proportions -- could have managed."
"There are other large dragons."
A storm began to rage, the lightning and rain falling upon the wizards and yet touching neither them nor the floor. The storm passed in the blink of an eye, a blazing sun once more appearing overhead. The first of the Kirin Tor gave this latest display not even the least of his interest. "You have obviously never seen the work of Deathwing, or you'd never make that statement."
"It may be as you say," interjected the fifth, the outline of a vaguely elven visage appearing and disappearing faster than the storm. "And, if so, a matter of import. But we hardly can concern ourselves with it for now. If Deathwing lives and now strikes out at his greatest rival's kind, then it only benefits us. After all, Alexstrasza is still the captive of Dragonmaw clan, and it is her offspring that those orcs have used for years to wreak bloodshed and havoc all over the Alliance. Have we all so soon forgotten the tragedy of the Third Fleet of Kul Tiras? I suspect that Lord Admiral Daelin Proudmoore never will. After all, he lost his eldest son and everyone else aboard those six great ships when the monstrous red leviathans fell upon them. Proudmoore would likely honor Deathwing with a medal if it proved true that the black beast was responsible for these two deaths."
No one argued that point, not even the first mage. Of the mighty vessels, only splinters of wood and a few torn corpses had been left to mark the utter destruction. It had been to Lord Admiral Proudmoore's credit that he had not faltered in his resolve, immediately ordering the building of new warships to replace those destroyed and pushing on with the war.
"And, as I stated earlier, we can hardly concern ourselves with that situation now, not with so many more immediate issues with which to deal."
"You're referring to the Alterac crisis, aren't you?" rumbled the bearded mage. "Why should the continued sniping of Lordaeron and Stromgarde worry us more than Deathwing's possible return?"
"Because now Gilneas has thrown its weight into the situation."
Again the other mages stirred, even the unspeaking sixth. The slightly corpulent shade moved a step toward the elven form. "Of what interest is the bickering of the other two kingdoms over that sorry piece of land to Genn Greymane? Gilneas is at the tip of the southern peninsula, as far away in the Alliance as any other kingdom is from Alterac!"
"You have to ask? Greymane has always sought the leadership of the Alliance, even though he held back his armies until the orcs finally attacked his own borders. The only reason he ever encouraged King Terenas of Lordaeron to action was to weaken Lordaeron's military might. Now Terenas maintains his hold on the Alliance leadership mostly because of our work and Admiral Proudmoore's open support."
Alterac and Stromgarde were neighboring kingdoms that had been at odds since the first days of the war. Thoras Trollbane had thrown the full might of Stromgarde behind the Lordaeron Alliance. With Khaz Modan as its neighbor, it had only made sense for the mountainous kingdom to support a united action. None could argue with the determination of Trollbane's warriors, either. If not for them, the orcs would have overrun much of the Alliance during the first weeks of the war, certainly promising a different and highly grim outcome overall.
Alterac, on the other hand, while speaking much of the courage and righteousness of the cause, had not been so forthcoming with its own troops. Like Gilneas, it had provided only token support; but, where Genn Greymane had held back out of ambition, Lord Perenolde, so it had been rumored, had done so because of fear. Even among the Kirin Tor it had early on been asked whether Perenolde had thought to perhaps make a deal with Doomhammer, should the Alliance crumble under the Horde's unceasing onslaught.
That fear had proven to have merit. Perenolde had indeed betrayed the Alliance, but his dastardly act had, fortunately, been short-lived. Terenas, hearing of it, had quickly moved Lordaeron troops in and declared martial law in Alterac. With the war in progress, no one had, at the time, seen fit to complain over such an action, especially Stromgarde. Now that peace had come, Thoras Trollbane had begun to demand that, for its sacrifices, Stromgarde should receive as just due the entire eastern portion of its treacherous former neighbor.
Terenas did not see it so. He still debated the merits of either annexing Alterac to his own kingdom or setting upon its throne a new and more reasonable monarch...presumably with a sympathetic ear for Lordaeron causes. Still, Stromgarde had been a loyal, steadfast ally in the struggle, and all knew of Thoras Trollbane's and Terenas's admiration for one another. It made the political situation that had come between the pair all the more sad.
Gilneas, meanwhile, had no such ties to any of the lands involved; it had always remained separate from the other nations of the western world. Both the Kirin Tor and King Terenas knew that Genn Greymane sought to intervene not only to raise his own prestige, but to perhaps further his dreams of expansion. One of Lord Perenolde's nephews had fled to that land after the treachery, and rumor had it that Greymane supported his claim as successor. A base in Alterac would give Gilneas access to resources the southern kingdom did not have, and the excuse to send its mighty ships across the Great Sea. That, in turn, would draw Kul Tiras into the equation, the maritime nation being very protective of its naval sovereignty.
"This will tear the Alliance apart...." muttered the young mage with the accent.
"It has not come to that point yet," pointed out the elven wizard, "but it may soon. And so we have no time to deal with dragons. If Deathwing lives and has chosen to renew his vendetta against Alexstrasza, I, for one, will not oppose him. The fewer... --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
So far this Archive holds some of the better stories I have read so far in the Warcraft line of novels.
Being a parent who wishes he spent more time reading, I found these books to be a great way to extend his interest in WOW, and have him read as well.
I would recommend this to anyone who is looking to learn more about the Warcraft world, or for fans of the Fantasy genre of books.
I have read many World of Warcraft books and this didn't disappoint!Published 7 months ago by Teresa Thomas
Solid book, got it for ' of blood and honor' saves room on my bookshelf.Published 8 months ago by Colton Daniels