A piece written for the Blizzard Fiction contest.
|Joriana's plated boots crunched the leaves in the Eastern Plaguelands. She had been following the trail of the sickly abominations to the citadel of Naxxaramas. She felt it was her duty to rid Azeroth of the blight infested citadel. Joriana turned her gaze to the darkened sky where the Citadel was supposed to have been. It was gone. The sentries at Light's Hope Chapel claim that it disappeared in the night to a new home, called by the Lich King himself. Joriana stroked the neck of her trusted steed, Xaros. He snorted gently and swished his tail, waiting for directions on where to go next.
"We need to get back to Stormwind, Xaros. Surely our superiors there will be able to instruct us further on how to find the thrice-cursed citadel. We will rest here tonight, and set out in the morning." Joriana said as an eager squire runs up to take the reins. Xaros backs up from the squire, flattening his ears and stomping his foot. "Sorry my friend. Xaros is not like other horses. He does not care to be handled by many people." The wide-eyed squire nods and backs away from the stallion to see to another animal.
Joriana dismounts and leads Xaros to the stables herself. She removes his armor barding slowly and carefully. She gives him a good bath, followed by a good brushing until his luminous coat shines. Her fellow paladins had made fun of her for taking such pains with a horse that has been dead for over a thousand years. Dead or not, Xaros seemed to appreciate the bath and brushdown. In Jori's mind that meant that he could and did feel it, and liked it very much. After she finishes with Xaros, she turns to the barding. She takes careful care to clean and polish the blessed armor that came with her prized friend. when at last Xaros and his gear has been seen to, Jori goes to the makeshift Inn to get a good meal.
The guards eye her as she sits down at the table and orders the special of the night. She keeps a hand on her hammer. as members of the Horde come and go. As long as they did not pick a fight with her, she would not spill blood this night. Just as she was starting on some succulent roasted quail, shadows loomed over her. Looking up, a tauren warrior and a tauren druid were standing there. From the expressions on their bovine faces, Jori had a feeling she would be eating cold quail.
"I am just sitting down to eat, there is plenty if you wish to join me." Jori says in heavily accented Tauren. Both of them sit down with a huff.
"Your mate has stolen our kill. The mighty beast Shy'Rotam was to be a celebration of our skills to be celebrated by many when we returned with her pelt." The warriors voice boomed as he pointed a plated gauntlet at Joriana. "You two tricked us and stole her away."
Joriana wipes her mouth gently with a napkin. Ahh, the memory was coming back to her now. Two tauren were tracking the beast that Kallanor had sworn to protect. The frostsabers are sacred to his people and Shy'Rotam was at the time, Queen of Frostsaber Rock. Kallanor had convinced Shy'rotam to use a decoy so they could take her away from the rock to safety. The young frostsaber queen was so grateful for Kallanor's assistance that she has followed him into battle since then.
"I apologize, gentleman. Shy'Rotam is of great importance to Kallanor's people. We did not steal her as much as we set her free so she would not be hunted anymore by your people." Joriana cuts into her quail gently and puts a piece to her mouth, chewing thoughtfully. After swallowing, she continues "As you can see, I do not have the young Queen with me. If you wish to follow this course to your untimely demise, you can seek out my husband in Sholazar Basin, in Northrend. I advise you though, his skills have grown, and the young Queen is his closest friend. If you are going to harm her, you will have to face him."
"He will die! We will kill the cat and bring her belt to our honored elders. You had best begin to look for another mate, paladin." The Tauren grunts angrily and swipes the quail off of the table. It clatters to the ground with a loud clatter. It gets real quiet as the guards watch to see what will happen. After all, they were just guards, they could keep the peace among the regulars, but when mighty armored heroes clash, that is just a bit out of their league. Joriana looks at the spilled quail and frowns.
"There was no cause to be rude. I have told you where to find my husband and the frostsaber you seek. I am simply warning you, that it may be harder than you think to dispose of her and him." Joriana stands and sets the napkin down. "If any harm comes to my husband, or Shy'Rotam, then may the light protect you, because nothing else on this planet will stop me from finding you and finishing the job that we should have done in Winterspring those years ago." She turns to walk to her room, she can hear them start to stand and follow her. "If you know what is best for you, you will not pursue me any further. I have already had a trying day and I do not wish to have bloodshed before I go to bed."
Joriana shuts the door to her room with a sigh. Kallanor will not be as forgiving should those two go to the basin in hopes of securing a pelt. When she is sure that the Tauren have departed and will not cause a scene here, Joriana removes her gleaming armor and sets to polishing it. When it is done, she opens her backpack and pulls out her night shift. Brushing her hair through a few times until she is sure the tangles are out, she sets the brush down and eagerly crawls underneath the covers. Her eyes drop as soon as her head hits the pillow.
Flowers. As far as the eye could see. Icecap, Mana Thistle and Icethorn. Joriana walked through the flowers slowly. This must surely be a dream as so many of these coveted blooms never show up in the same place much less in this quantity. She followed her own path, weaving her way through gently so as to not crush the flowers. it was so quiet, no birds, no other animals. Just snow and flowers. A sudden gust of wind blows through and the flowers ripple and turn into butterflies. So many flying to the same spot and forming a figure that Joriana knows so well.
"I surely am dreaming. It is a pleasure to see you again A'dal" Joriana says. Her voice echoes around.
"Greetings Paladin of the Light. Your heart tells me that you seek Naxxaramas and the foul monsters contained within," A'dal said. Joriana hated dreamspeaking, A'dal must have a reason for coming though.
"Yes. I have dispatched my team to the ends of Azeroth, to the Outlands, and to Northrend itself to find the location of this fortress that I may rid it of its foul master. We have had no word yet." Joriana answers, maybe A'dal had a different quest for her. Last time he took her away from Strathholme before she could finish off Baron Rivendare, and the time before that she was whisked away from the Steamvault while fighting Lord Kalithresh. Kael'thas was a much bigger target, and Joriana had led her forces into the battle there. She did not have the killing blow on him, though she did buy time for the main assault force to finish him off.
"Naxxaramas has moved to Northrend, in the area known as Dragonblight. There, floating in front of our fortreess, Winterguarde Keep, it has begun its assault to weaken our defenses. You are needed there Joriana. Take your strike team and put an end to the monster inside." A'dal's voice was soothing, but Joriana knew how cold Northrend could be. she would have ot reprovision for the trip.
"A'dal it will take weeks to get my team back together, maybe months we are spread so far apart. Will the citadel move again before we have gathered?" Joriana asks as the prospect of having to petition a Warlock to summon everyone was not a pleasing one.
"Do not worry, Joriana. I will ensure your team meets you at Winterguarde Keep. When you wake, you will already be there. Speak to the commanding officer there to get your provisions." A'dal's voice begins to fade as Joriana wakes from her dreamstate.
Joriana shivers as her eyes pop open. She is in a different bed, it is lined with furs and wool. After putting on her armor, checking her weapons and repacking her backpack, she steps outside of her room. she is definitely in Northrend. Stepping outside, she could see Xaros, saddled already and waiting for her. "We need to wait, my friend. A'dal said he would bring everyone here. We shall see if they like his form of travel." Xaros neighed with obvious amusement.
--------------------------- Socha, Gnome Warlock----------------------------
"No, that's not right, do it again." Socha scolded as she started the music again. Her assembled summoned demons groaned sorrowfully. She had been making them practice weird dance moves all night. it was now morning and she insisted that they needed to move a certain way.
"Master, I think you just like to see your skirts twirl. Can we take brief break?" The Zagramond the imp asked, the felhound Twitchy, whined and wagged its tail, preparing to pounce Zag once more.
"As a matter of fact, I do like the way my skirts twirl. I suppose you can have a break if you want one. I have some more soulstones to make. I am hoping the succubus has found the information we need anyway. I mean who needs to travel and do hard work when your minions can do it for you, right?" The gnome giggled and stopped the music. Her felgaurd, Korshun harrumphed and dissipated back to the demonic plane. Such meaningless jobs made him cranky, though Socha couldn't shake the feeling that this dance movement would be essential sometime.
Dismissing her minions she opens the door to see what the weather is like. What she sees is Joriana in the snow. closing the door, Socha counts to ten and opens it again. Joriana and the snow is still there.
"Lady Joriana, why are you in the snow and why isn't it seventy degrees and green outside my door?" Socha asked. She should know better than to ask, ti always led to something more, and that always led to Socha being attacked.
"Socha, I have found Naxxaramas. A'dal has made it possible for you to travel here quickly. Grab your things and step through the door, there is much to be done before we assault the citadel." Joriana explains. Socha sighs. Fighting, again. Oh well, that means there will be new souls to harvest. She gathers her things and steps through the door to the cold snows of Northrend.
---------------------Kallanor, Night Elf Hunter---------------------------
Kallanor moved through the jungles of the Sholazar Basin slowly. Shy'Rotam was at his heals, stealthily weaving her way behind him. He had been teaching his younger daughter, Kalania, how to hunt. They were playing hide and seek, and Kallanor had to admit she was getting good. He felt that she would soon be ready to go find another traveling companion as good as his Shy'Rotam. Since the day he had saved her from Tauren slayers, she had been a steadfast companion to him, aiding him in battle against the Horde. A mother herself, Shy'rotam's kittens have long since grown and returned to Frostsaber Rock to resume their position as the top cats. Kallanor heard an arrow whiz by his ear, he jumped to the side, rolled and came up to look around. Kalania was standing by a tree laughing at him.
"Found you, dad." she laughed, looking so much like her mother, made Kallanor miss Joriana's presence. He had combed every inch of the Sholazar basin looking for Naxxaramas and had not found it. He did however have time to show his daughter the ways of the woods.
"Good Job Kalania. Now that you have found me, go find Fordgemaster. He has been hiding here for days. I suspect he is getting drunk and eating steaks, should be an easy find. He will also tell you how to find and persuade some of the more powerful animal leaders to be your companion." Kallanor says as she gets up, brushing off the leaves from his clothes.
"Oh, I found Fordgemaster already. He is back at Nesingwary's Camp, and he is drunk, trying to shoot apples off of people's heads. With his eyes closed." Kalania says as she puts her bow away and dashes into the brush again to hide.. Actually it was Kallanor's old bow from his Molten Core days. He should get around to getting her own weapon made. Kalania's shriek made Kallanor run in that direction. A tauren warrior was holding his blade to Kalania's throat.
"You owe us a kill, Kallanor Horde-Slayer. You give us the cat, and we give you your offspring, unharmed." He snorted. "Though with as many of my kin you have slaughtered, your daughter is a fitting offer of compensation." Kallanor;s anger began to rise. He had three children. The twins, Kaliora and Jiyon were grown and well able to care for themselves. Kalania was still a youngling in his eyes. He remembered this warrior.
Shy'Rotam's roar came right as she leaped at the warrior, knocking him off balance and giving Kalania time to disappear into the brush. "Go back to the camp, Kalania! Stay with Fordgemaster!" He shouted as he leveled his gun at the warrior. "You will pay for your attempted treachery."
Another growl and a druid, in cat form, leaped and knocked the frostsaber off of the warrior. The two rolled snarling and exchanging blows. Kallanor jumped back shot his gun at the warrior, taking off a horn piece. The warrior charges at Kallanor as he gets two more shots off and runs in another direction, using the trees as a place to hide.