Black Fathom Deeps - In
      Real Life

Pearlhunt in Blackfathom Deeps


As we neared the entrance of Blackfathom Deeps, the Naga, that were a menace here along the shore of Zoram Strand, became even more aggressive and seemed determined to keep us away from that smelly pit. Even though they themselves never went in there. So, a quick run inside freed us from their attacks.
But not from the stench. It was revolting. Every benefit we had from our previous meal vanished instantly and the mere thought of eating would make our stomachs turn.

The heaviness of the stench was attacking our health, as well as our will to live, so in order not to waste away there and then, we hurried down the stairs.
They were slippery from sand and scum, that had been deposited when the water-level had been higher and the walls were covered with dead seaweed that was responsible for most of the overwhelming smell.
Our Priest put a Spell of Renewal on each of us, to counter our declining health, but the Warrior said that it was of no use, because soon we would reach the bottom and were to go into that pool of filth that is down there. There would be enough healing to be done, once we would get out of that, nearly half dead.

It became more and more dark, the deeper we went and at the same time the stairs became more treacherous. We told the Warrior to slow down a little, lest we fall all the rest of the way down. But she kept going and we tried to keep up with her as best as we could.
No-one would like to be caught without a Warrior at your side, in a place like this. Save perhaps for the Shaman. He carried a shield of his own and was looking pretty grim in his Dark Leather gear.

He was bringing up the rear and helped the Priest as good as he could.
The poor Priest! He was struggling to keep up, his bony legs not used to running.
At least he was not bothered by the smell. I think being Undead does that for you.
They say that the whole of the Undercity is filled with green slime that stinks at least as bad.

I looked at my Spirit-level and saw it was still quite a bit in the safe zone, so at least I would be able to cast unimpeded, we should be nearly there anyway - and slammed into that damned Rogue. Why was he standing still in a place like this?! There were no traps here, people had been going down these stairs countless times. Oh, sure! A great time to loot a crystal! What would he need that for?! This guy was going to be more trouble than he was worth, just as I had told them before we went.

We should have taken that Warlock-girl but nooo, she was tooo inexperienced, they said. But at least she had a Void-Walker with her, which could have given us an edge in case the Tank was going to have a hard time. Who ever wants a Rogue in their group?
Well, at least one less Clothie to roll against, I guess.

We neared the Warrior who was standing at the edge of the pool of slime, all that was left of the water that had been in here. For some reason, it was no longer being replenished, as it had been, long ago. Strange, that such a deep pit, so close to the shore, would not fill back up with water.
I took a deep breath - it was agony filling my lungs with that stank - and saw the Priest, being bodily dragged along by the Shaman, come into view. We were about to face the worst bit so far.

The Warrior had already stowed all her metal gear and was looking rather frail and sad.
She would be of little use once we would emerge on the other side.
It would all come down to me, to make the fire and the Shaman and the Rogue, to keep the Priest and me alive.

"Ready?" I said, looking at the Priest.
He nodded with a big grin. I suppose he can't really do much else, can he?
"You have your daggers still out", I snapped at the Rogue. But he said that OF-COURSE he does not need to stow them since they ALREADY have poison on them.
Sure, whatever, this water is more like acid, but who cares?!

"Let us go." said the Shaman, his deep voice resonating between the walls, as he strode into the goo. I quickly followed him.
The others should follow right behind us, if they knew what was good for them.

From the corner of my eye, I saw the Priest get into the wake of the Shaman and then the water level made me close my eyes. It was just a few yards and not even very deep, but it was only by touch and you had to not lose your way. We had explained it to the Priest as well as we could, while we traveled to reach here. It was the best we could do. Everyone, whose first time it was, had to go through this unsettling and nerve-wracking feeling of not knowing where you had to go, while being unable to breathe.

There! My hand grabbed the edge. That welcoming edge! And I dragged myself out of the sludge.
Wiping the goop from my eyes, I saw the Shaman putting down a fire-totem.
Fire! We need to have a fire as soon as possible. I found the bones, the stones should be right in front of it.
But these were not the right bones! Someone must have died here since the last time. Where was the place with the stones?
Frantically, I felt around for the stones, until a flash of the fire-totem made me see them. I had not advanced enough. But there never used to be more bones here! Quickly, I grabbed in my bag for the wood. It was not a good sign that the fire-totem had already found something to shoot at. They would be upon us any moment.

The Warrior was still busy getting on her gear and where was that Priest? He had been right behind the Shaman. No time to think of that now, we need to have a fire! I had put the wood in the circle of stones and started to cast.
The Rogue was emerging, finally! He really had taken his time, didn't he? And why did he get out, all the way over there?! He might attract more Naga, if they would spot him!
Speaking of Naga, there were already two that were attacking the Shaman. He was doing OK keeping the male at bay, but the female was casting some nasty bolts onto him, that were eating up his health way too quickly.
"Get that Naga-Seabitch off of him!" I yelled at the Rogue.

That was too much for my casting and it failed. It failed!
Quickly, I re-casted, a small fire-bolt, it had to do. There was no more time to cast a big one.
It caught, thank the spirits! The fire was burning!
I started to cast onto the Sea-witch.
"Get ready to heal." I told the Shaman. "I will take care of her."
The Rogue was moving towards the Sea-witch. Why?! Could he not see that I was already taking care of her?! She was quite far in the back. In the time needed to reach there he and the Shaman could have finished off the Naga-Warrior.

All in all, we were doing reasonably well, I even had time to lob a quick bolt onto the Naga-Warrior, who was nearly dead. If only the Priest would show up! The Shaman could not be expected to do serious healing, not for long, at least.
"Don't worry! I can have him!" I heard the Rogue shout and looked up. Oh-h no! He had ran into another Naga! This one was clearly no match for him and he was dishing out appalling amounts of damage. It should be illegal for someone to be able to do so much damage so easily.

But then it happened! The Naga threw a net onto the Rogue and made a run for it.
He was well out of my reach so I quickly ran towards him, he could not be allowed to escape!
"Find the Priest!" I yelled. "He is getting away!"
The nearly dead Naga made it round the corner and was gone, permanently out of my reach.
That meant that a flood of Naga would soon be upon us.
Oh! What a great start this was.

I ran back and saw the Warrior sitting by the fire, trying to get her Spirit back up. She, having to get in that awful pool with no gear, was the most affected by the plunge and also had to put her gear back on without being able to clean it all off. I did not envy her the least. We Trolls are pretty clean, when it comes to it and we don't like to smell.

Unlike the other races! If I had to choose, I would think that the Tauren smelled the least bad. It was strong, but not a bad smell, like the Orcs. They said they had been cured from the blood of Mannoroth, but they never got rid of the stench, it seems.
And Undead, well, they are actually smelling very dead-dead, all be it more faint.
At least the fire was burning fine.

But where was that Undead? He still had not emerged from the water!
"I should go get him, don't you think?" I asked the Tauren.
He nodded, while he was bandaging his arm.
"Are you guys gonna be OK?" I asked again. He nodded again.
I knew what they were going to face and they knew too.
"OK then." I said and ran towards the water.

Getting back out was much easier, but still yech!
Why do we even go here? I thought.
But everyone knew the answer to that.















When I surfaced on the other side, I did not see the Priest.
That was not good. Had he got stuck somewhere, perhaps?
They can stay under water for a very long time, since they do not have to breathe the same as we, but it had been a pretty long time.

I started to cast a fireball into the wall, an old trick: it would light up the whole place like the inside of a Core-Hound.
Whammmm! The impact echoed deafening against the walls. If he could not see the light, he surely must have heard this!
In the decaying glow, I quickly looked around. Was that a leg? It was, but not of our Undead friend. This friend had been dead-dead for quite a while.
That must have been a bunch of pitiful noobs, that went in here, leaving someone like that, brr.

Suddenly, there was a bony hand on my shoulder and I let out a little yelp.
"It is only me," he said, "I can't seem to find the other side."
"I knew that", I snapped, "that's why I came back to get you. We must hurry, they have already run into some and more are coming soon. Grab the end of my staff and don't let go and try to feel where I go and to not slow me down, since I can not stay under like you can and I can actually die here!"
I spat it all out in one go.

"Sure, no problem," he said, with his grin, "and if you die, I will make sure to resurrect you."
I did not say anything and took a deep breath. I really did not wanted to die here!
I went under and started to feel my way with one hand, whilst holding my staff in the other hand. This was going much slower, but at least I did not have to drag him along. I could not feel him holding the staff, much, if at all. Had he let go?
Don't think about that, I told myself, you have to get out of here.

My heart was pounding at my temples, as I inched forward, not wanting to lose touch with what I knew was going to lead me out of here. We were nearly halfway and I was getting tired, doing it all with one arm. I kept my breathing-wish under control, further! Soon you can breathe, just a little more.
I reached, trying to find the edge, a bit further then?
I started to see stars in front of my eyes. The edge must be right here, where was it?
I had to come up for air, there must be air here, please let there be air here! I thought.

Gasping, I broke through the surface.
More dead than alive, I dragged my body halfway out of the water.
I felt so sick and miserable, I was ready to throw up.
"Where are they?", said the Priest while he was climbing onto the shore.
I wiped my eyes clean and when I opened them, it was just as black.

"Oh no," I groaned, "the fire is gone. They must all be dead."
"Uh-oh" said the Priest, "it seems there is work to do."
"You don't understand", I said in a raspy voice, "without the fire, our Spirit will be too low to do any serious magic."
"But you can light the fire again, can't you?" asked the Priest with an anxious yelp.
"I don't know where we are," I said, "or where the fire place is and there is little hope to find it in this darkness."
"So what can we do then?!" Shrieked the Priest.

"You could come over here and toss me a heal, Carebear!" It was the voice of the Rogue, all the way to the left.
"Are you at the campfire?" I yelled back. "And where are the others?"
"Dead.", came the Rogue again.
If I could find my way back to the fireplace, we would have a chance, but getting there, in this blackness, was not very likely.

"We should try to get over there," I told the Priest.
"Oki.", he, said and he rummaged in his bags. "I have this nifty wand", and a timid green glow sprang into life at the end of a thin stick he was holding. It lit a pale green circle on the ground.
This was looking much less impossible, all of a sudden.
"We are coming your way!", I yelled at the Rogue.


















We still had to move carefully, staying clear from pits, of who knew how deep and treacherous rocks hanging from the ceiling, but we got at the fireplace without too much troubles.
I saw the circle of stones and it was as I had expected: all the wood was gone. The Naga must have kicked it away in their hurry to put out the fire.
"Can I borrow your wand for a while?" I asked the Priest, "So I can find the missing wood?"
"Sorry," he said, "I can not give it, it is bound to me. But, I can cook and therefore I also can make a fire." Again that toothy grin.

An Undead that can cook? I thought. Who ever heard of that!? They were rumored to eat their fallen victims!
But he was already busy stacking wood in a nice little pile and went on to hit with a stone against something. What was he doing? Was he going to make fire with stone??
But then it struck me: this was ancient! That stone must be a Flint! An ancient, magical stone, that could make fire!
I always had wondered how such a stone could make a fire and now I was going to see it for real!

He was still hitting with the stone. Nothing much else happened. Sometimes a tiny flash sprang from the place of impact. That was all.
But he seemed undeterred and kept on hitting. Till suddenly he stopped.
He must have given up. He bowed his head towards the fireplace, was he crying?
I heard him make a slight noise. He was blowing, onto something he held in his bony hand.

A tiny wisp emerged from his hand. Smoke?! How was that possible?
He kept on blowing and the smoke became more and more, until he gingerly dropped the bundle of smoke onto the wood, where it suddenly caught fire!
Never before had I seen such a thing! This must be some powerful ancient magic!
I looked fascinated how this wondrous fire started to eat the wood, just like normal fire would do.

The light filled up the place and I could see the Warrior, lying at the edge of the circle of light.
She had fallen onto her shield and her crushed helmet was lying beside her, her Axe gone. The fire is burning again














"Do you feel you can resurrect her?" I asked the Priest.
"He should heal me up first," said the Rogue, "I have been waiting long enough!"
He did not seem to be hurt that much, but since he had been through this ordeal, I decided not to say anything. And really, I felt too weak to argue about it anyway.
"I could do with a Renew too, if possible." It was nothing more than a whisper, but there was just not enough left in me for more.

The Priest started to cast and I felt the desperation lessen in my body. But my mind was still a black void. I shove more towards the fire and shivered.
"Oh! You have a Gloom-Orb in your hair!" said the Priest. "Can I have it please?"
A Gloom-Orb! I must have picked it up with my hair dragging along the rocks while I tried to get back up in the air.
"Yes, take it", I said weakly. "Why would you want to have such a thing? Do you want to become a Shadow-Priest?"
"Perhaps", he said and untangled the Orb from my hair.
Those bony hands, so close to my head! I shivered again, but I could notice the difference, light started to dawn again in my mind.

"Where is the Shaman?" I asked the Rogue.
"They killed him first", he said. "We were here, defending the fire and he had used up all his Mana, so..."
He did not finish his sentence. He must have run in and tried to slay or wound as many as possible, buying time for the others. An Honorable deed, but I felt more like crying. But I was not going to cry! Not with him being so matter-of-fact.
"They started to cast bolts of Lightning onto her", he continued, "from many sides, all far away. There was not much she could do, or I, for that matter. Anyway, she went down pretty fast."
Again this cold measured speech.

"Then they started to cast Lightning onto me, while a bunch came running towards the fire. I had taken quite a few hits already by the time they reached the fire and was ready to take out at least a couple of them, but they kept coming, there were more than eight at least. They basically ran me over and I had to jump out of the way. They did not seem to care about the fire at all! I had to Vanish and saw them kick the wood away and quickly run off, while the last glow of the fire died."
"The cowards!"
I could tell he said it out of habit, but I sensed doubt in his voice.
He must have noticed it too.
These attacks were not like their normal behavior...

















I saw the Priest, next to the body of the dead Warrior. What was he doing to her? He should not raise her as an Undead or something unnatural!
"Should we not get her next to the fire?" I asked him. But he shook his bony head,
"No need", he said.
I really had my doubts. Our priests always used fire.
Had he not said that he wanted to become a Shadow-Priest? A Face-melter! They are more scary than Warlocks even!
They can make people shed so many tears, from desperation and fear, that the skin of their face bloats, until it completely drops off from their naked skull. If the poor souls had not already clawed off their own face, out of sheer existential dread.
You wanted to stay away from someone like that, as much as possible.
There was little anyone could do against that shadowy magic, that came from beliefs from inside. Warlocks were more like us Mages, in that regard. They would cast Shadow and Corruption onto their targets, like we do bolts of Fire or Ice.

He started to cast the Spell of Resurrection.
It was going to be a long cast, much longer than any Spell I had.
I kept watching, holding my breath without realizing it, not wanting to risk anything that might cause it to fail.

That was it! She was surrounded by a golden aura and light was emanating from every part of her body.
It quickly diminished and was gone.
Had it worked?! I could not see any difference, had she come back to the land of the living?

Then he started to cast quick Healing Spells onto her, in rapid succession, to help her Spirit take hold again and mend all the damage that she had sustained when she died.
She was going to be OK! I felt such a relief! I quickly got up and went to her.
"Welcome back!"

"Thanks," she said weakly. "I've not been of much use so far, haven't I ?"
I wanted to reply, but I was cut off: "Yer not gonna be much use still, with no Axe, Lady."
That damned Rogue!
But he was right, without her Axe, she would not be able to tank.

Maybe we can find your Axe, I wanted to say, but I held it back. They easily could have dropped it just about anywhere and we would never be able to find it.
"Shall we go find the Shaman? I need to resurrect him too, I think?" Said the Priest.
He seemed eager to go, I, however, felt no such eagerness at all.
But yes, we should go find him, even if we would decide to get out of here.

"Do you remember in which direction he went?" I asked.
"If you could light up, we can go look", said the Rogue.
He was right, again. I went to the fireplace to create a Fiery-Orb, that I could attach to my staff. With the fire burning, it would not be such a drain on my Mana to create it and keep it alight.
It was a feat I was particularly proud of: a well-prepared and well-studied Mage would never find herself left in the dark. It was my great desire to reach the mastery-level of this spell. Then I would be able to cast it instantly, no matter what circumstance and never be caught off-guard again!

We searched and found just his shield after a while.
Why had he thrown off his shield? Shaman don't do Berserk.
On we went, looking on either side, until we found the ground slope down and become sandy.
There were marks in the sand, something heavy had been dragged along here.
The track was going out of sight, round the corner, where I had lost that Naga.

"I don't like this", said the Rogue, and I agreed wholeheartedly.
"I go to check it out. Be ready in case things turn bad."
And he Vanished, right in front of our eyes.

Since we could not see where he went, we could only wait, in anticipation of his return.
The Warrior had stashed her shield and was wielding a Battle-Axe. It was an old Axe and it looked terrifying and she looked really menacing, but I knew it was mostly show. She was not as trained, nor skilled for that matter, in the use of such a weapon. A lucky hit would probably kill an opponent, but to have to depend on luck does not let you grow old.

She was practicing swings and stances, to get into the feel for her weapon.
"I wish that he would hurry", she said, "I could do with some real practice!"
I smiled: you could see that holding a big Two-hander did do something to a Warrior.


2H-Warrior




















"I found him", said the Rogue, stepping into the light, "and I don't like it.
They have laid him on some makeshift altar or something.
It is too dark to make out anything else, so we have to take position around the corner.
If you girls would go in front, then I can keep an eye on our life-insurance", he chuckled, pointing at the Undead.

I wanted to protest, but this was his area of expertise and it would not do to speak against it.
Still, I did not like it one bit, how he commandeered us 'girls' around.

We went past the corner and we could see a pile of stones with the great bulk of the Tauren on top. There was nothing else to see, so we checked both sides of the tunnel. When those seemed clear we advanced towards the Shaman's corpse. They hadn't been very careful with him and he was going to need some serious healing, once he got resurrected.

"Well, there are no Naga here," said the Warrior, "let's get him ress'ed and then we can go on."
"Perhaps you forgot how you got killed, Lady. I told you how I don't like it here. So I suggest we be very careful."
What was going on here? The Rogue being all concerned all of a sudden and she was so impatient, I hardly recognized her.
I looked at the Priest, was he noticing anything? It was his first time here, it could all be normal as far as he would know.

But it did not feel normal to me at all. "He is right," I said to her, "we must be careful."
"Are you going to say the same thing now as your Rogue-friend?"
She said it in such a way, that left little doubt about what she meant. What had gotten into her?
"I think you behave strange", I said.
"And I think that I am going to pee, if we are not going to ress him quick," she said.
"I think I am going to do that anyways."
And she walked out of the circle of light.

"I can start the preparations while we wait for her to come back", said the Priest in an effort to defuse the situation.
"Can you see if there is any Magic hidden in that pile of stones?"
I casted a Magic Detection spell. It came up empty. "It's clear", I told him.
"Great!" He said, "that saves us a lot of work, dragging him to the side." "I can begin once she returns, OK?"
"You can start, as far as I'm concerned, darling! I'm nearly done."
A few moments later she stepped back into the light.
"I'm fine now," she said, "I really needed that. Let's get our fuzzy friend back, OK? Then we can go."

The Priest looked at the Rogue, who said; "Are you sure you are OK?"
"Yes, I'm fine!" she said. "I will shut up now, OK? Then we can get going at least."
"OK, then", grumbled the Rogue.
The Priest started to cast.

"I get sooo pissed when people keep asking me if I'm OK, that I really have to take a piss.
But now I have pissed and I still feel pissed."
"I thought you were going to shut up, Lady," said the Rogue in his familiar cold tone. "He is casting, you know?"
"He is casting, he is casting", she echoed. "Let's see how he is going to cast this!"
And she swung her Axe onto the Priest, but the Rogue was quicker and blocked her swing.
"Mind-Control!" he shouted.

Mind-Control! That was why she acted so strange and now she was trying to kill the Priest!
I did had my doubts about the priest when he said he might go Shadow, but she was attacking him now! And he was still casting the Resurrection-spell.
So where was it coming from then?!

She came in for another swing and the Rogue had to parry.
He was in a disadvantaged position, due to the Priest limiting his movements.
"Don't kill her!" I shouted.
"Find the one who is doing this!", he said with a grunt.
A flash of panic struck through my body. Then the training took over.
Detect Magic would be of little use here. The caster had to be in Line of Sight, but still we could not see him.
So he must be Stealthed.

I ran towards the side of the tunnel, casting explosions of instant Arcane damage around me. Nothing here.
To the other side.

Beng!
Beng!
Beng!

The explosions lit up the wall, but there was nothing.
That left the far end of the tunnel.
I ran again.

Beng!
Beng!

The noise reflected on the walls and rang in my ears.

Beng!
Beng!

I saw them!
"There's two of them", I howled.
"Satyrs!"






























I had to make them stop casting, in whatever way possible.
They were too far apart to hit with an explosion, and that would take too many hits anyway. Not to mention the huge amount of Mana. How could I take out both of them at the same time?

Only recently, I had learned a special Spell, to turn an adversary into a harmless sheep.
But just one and only for a little while. It had to do. Luckily it was not such a long cast and poof! - one fluffy sheep was walking up and down, aimlessly.

Now for the other one! I started to cast a fireball, it burned him, it was effective, but it was not going to make him stop casting. Not until he would be dead.
I tried a volley of Arcane Missiles, every hit of which interrupted his casting, but only for an instant. They costed too much Mana anyway and I needed Mana to re-cast the sheep-spell, before it would run out.

Frustrated, I swung my staff at him and I hit him with a satisfying bash.
That interrupted his casting too!
And so I settled into this weird routine;
Bash!

Bash!

Bash!

Sheep!

and again Bash!

I was not used to fight fights in melee. My arms started to hurt and I ran short of breath.
This Satyr was like a statue, enduring my hits as if he was in trance.
He had taken quite some damage, but still not enough that I could risk to finish him off quickly.

Bash!

Bash!

How's the sheep!?

Bash!

Bash!

"Guys!" I wailed, "Hurry up!"

Bash!

Bash!






















"Welcome back!" said the Warrior, "You really saved my skin!"
"Thanks! You're welcome," I said automatically.
What happened?
"Yes. Welcome back", said a deep Tauren voice.
"You were dead when we found you", said the Rogue.
"I have ress'ed you" smiled the Priest. "I told you I would do it!"
"You probably ran out of Mana," said the Rogue, "or one broke free from his Sheep-Spell early. It does happen sometimes. But you did a good job. We got her out of the Mind-Control!"

It started to come back to me, The Mind-Control! Was it really over? The Rogue was still saying nice things!
"And the Satyrs?" I asked? "There were two Satyrs!"
"We did not see no Satyrs", he said. "They must have run away. The Cowards!"
He was back at his cold behavior, but I was too happy to be alive again to complain and I had seen that there was more behind that cold facade.
"Five more minutes, OK?" I said.
"Yes. You rest now. He is going to cook something for us" rumbled the Shaman, pointing at the Priest.



"Fish! It's good for the brain", said the Priest. Happy smiles and all.
Fish! I did not want to spoil his good mood, but fish?! I was not going to eat that!
Those cold and smelly things!
But this was not smelling bad at all, actually...

"Sagefish!" He declared. "The food of the Wise!"
"It brings Health to the body and Power to the mind.
And it is a good source of Mana too", he added.
He passed the Sagefish around and soon we were all sitting, munching down on warm, deliciously smelling fish.

"Why can you even cook?" asked the Warrior mouthful.
It was as if she had pushed a button, and he sprang into action.
"I was an apprentice cook in the kitchens of Lordaeron, the seat of the King."
His voice had a different ring to it, all of a sudden.

"A coveted place of work, where I was to become a Master Cook, in the fullness of time.
I used to dream, of how it would sound: Gregorius Raleigh Burch, Master Chef, at Your Highness' service!
But you can call me Gregory, or Greg," he said and went on:
"I was named Raleigh after my fathers best friend, Raleigh Andrean, who was the greatest Chef of all of Lordaeron!"
His rattling came to a sudden stop.
"And then we all died", he concluded.



"I will cook some more, for later, if you guys want?"
There were sounds of agreement coming from all of us and he went back to his cooking.

Cooked Sagefish





















It was strange to think that this Undead guy, Gregory, he must have been quite young still, at that time and at the same time, it all had happened so long ago, that he was very much older than any of us.

"My Name is Lah'Mawhani, I volunteered, Hani for short, and she is called Lah'Wilani, we just call her Wilani, or Lani, if she is nice." I smiled.
"Hani and Lani hmm? Nice to make your acquaintance", he replied. "Are you related? Your names being so similar?"
"She is my mothers youngest sister, but I am older than she is", I said with a big grin.
"Not even by one Moon!" She blurted out.

I smiled again. "We grew up together," I continued, "we were inseparable, until she decided that she wanted to become a Warrior and had to leave for her training. They must have bashed her on the head a few times too many, because she never was the same after she came back!" And I dodged out of the way.
"And your Mom never bashed you enough, young lady!" She sprayed bits of fish and tried to hit me, but I was already gone.
"Yes, I can see the resemblance, you two are evenly matched", he said wisely.
And that ended the hostilities.

















The Shaman had been sitting quietly, eating. Tauren get their names from the Earthmother and those are sacred, not to be revealed to anyone but family or the closest of friends. And everyone knew that it was no use to ask a Rogue for his name, they had so many, they changed names quicker than they changed their clothes.

He had gotten up already, not getting as much sustenance from the fish as we Mana-users did and was doing something with his bags.
Probably putting poison onto his daggers again. I could not tell, he was sitting with his back towards us.
They never did anything into the open if they could prevent it.

But turning his back to us, that showed lack of concern. I did not expect him to trust us, a Rogue does not trust anyone, but that meant that he felt we could not be of any real threat to him and that meant that this guy was really not what we thought him to be when took him in our party, back in Orgrimmar. But if he was indeed that good, he would not give away any information like that.
It made my brain start to hurt. This was a dead end.
I could not figure this guy out.























"One Silver for your thoughts?" said the Warrior with a smile.
It shook me awake.
"None of your business", I said, airily.
"Are you thinking about your Rogue-friend again?"
"Are you being M-C-ed again?" I retorted.

He is not my friend, I wanted to say, but that would be just oil on the fire.
She looked disappointed, that I was not giving her more leverage, it was almost as if I could hear her say: Your Mom will hear of this!


"She must be a strong Spirit to have both you as a sister and her as her daughter", said the Shaman.

I could not believe my ears! Was he reading my mind?!
Tauren never spoke much and when they did it was always in some mysterious way.
It was things like: "Ah! I have just the thing for you." Or: "I have been expecting you."
Sure Lady, you sell things, that is why come I to you. Something you say to all your customers.


"Had," said Lani flatly, "she was killed by Murlocs."

By nightfall my Mother had still not returned from the other village.
I wanted to go find her, so desperately that they had to lock me up; I was not allowed to go out in the dark.


"They found her after four days", said Lani.

What was left of her!! I screamed internally. Murlocs were never to pass over an easy meal.
They could not even find her skull! How was she going to be taken up among the ancestors!?


"She is in the care of the Earthmother", spoke the Shaman again.

Yea, sure, I thought, whatever!


"I only heard of it when I came back from my training", said Lani with a bitter tone in her voice.

I had wanted to go tell her!
Oh! how I wanted to go find her, but we did not know where her training was held or when she would return.
All those Moons that I was unable to speak to her! We had always shared everything!

And when she had come back, it was not the same as before. Nothing was the same!
She was always out, practicing this stance or that weapon or whatever they did!
All I had left were my studies.
















"Anyway," said Lani getting up, "it is time to get a move on."
"Yes," said the Rogue, returning to the fire, "I have been thinking about that."
"I think we should have a vote on it," he said, "but only after you guys have heard my concern."
This guy kept amazing me: an Orc, who was thinking and spoke more than one-word sentences. Incredible!

"You all may have noticed the strange determination shown by the Naga.
Although they are sentient, they never behave any different from aggressive animals, much the same as Murlocs do and that is not what I have seen here today.

And then there is the Mind-Control." He looked us over, sitting around the fire.
"The odd Satyr-Rogue, perhaps, stealing from the Naga, minding his own business, who would not dare to attack a group of five. That is all of the Satyr we have seen in here for many years.

And now suddenly there are casters who can do Mind-Control and risk to attack us! What reason might they have?
And then there're the little things: her missing Axe, that makeshift altar where they dragged you onto. Uncommon behavior, all without a clear reason.

We could go back to Orgrimmar, report it and everyone would laugh it away and not take it serious. But we would be alive and well, save for some cheap jokes about our lost Honor.
Or we could go on and see what we can find out.
This is a good group, even though she can not tank, unless we find her a suitable weapon.
We can work around that, if we care to do that.
But it is up to you all", he concluded.


"I can make a Portal to Orgrimmar right now, but I can also do that later", I added unsurely.
"Yes," he said, "but what do you want yourself?"
"I, I don't know."

I was thinking about those boots that I hoped to finish soon. They only needed a pair of Iridescent Pearls. It was the main reason I had come here. Foraging Murlocs often found pearls that they kept without doing anything with them. I would put those to much better use. And it would be quite some time until I would feel the urge to make another trip here.

"I would like to go on," said the Priest, "it is my first time here, but that means I can't really say much about it."
"I would go on, if you guys would go", said Lani.
"The Earthmother has given me a small task", said the Shaman.
"She is patient and forgets not. I will find again a group, if I must."

You had to get used to Tauren-speak: He would go in here for sure, today or on another day, just to do some simple thing, like putting a flower somewhere or pouring some water over a stone and it would be done when it was done and that was then the right moment.
They sure lived their lives different from us, I thought.




flowervial









Everyone was getting up and went on preparing their bags and things. Somehow a silent agreement had formed. I had seen this before, in groups that had been together for a long time, like Lani and me, but this group was only made today!
Even so, it was miraculous and a good sign too.

I had nothing to pack, so I went to the fire to replenish the Fiery-Orb.
While the fire was still burning, it was like free Mana.

"Here, for later", said Gregory, and he put a Cooked Sagefish in my hand.
"Thanks!" I smiled. I was not used to be given food.
Mages were always asked for food, since we can magically create it, and drinks, too.

The drinks would replenish Mana, like nearly all drinks do that aren't booze, but the food was only good for keeping you alive. It did not give any other benefit.
Unlike these fish. He was right; They were really good for the brain.
I smiled, I think I had become a fish-convert!

















We set off, Wilani in the front, at the edge of the light, the Rogue behind her at her flank.
They were casting long shadows that merged into the unknown blackness.

I held the Fiery-Orb on my Staff high in front of me, making it shine as bright as possible, in order to have a decent gap between us.
The Priest and the Shaman were right behind me, ready to spring into action if those in front got jumped by something nasty.

The ground still sloped downwards and was covered with sand everywhere, so there were no hidden pits to fear and we made good progress.


From time to time, or when there was a sharp turn, they signaled us to a halt, to listen.
Our ears were peaked and we tried to stop our breathing and if we could have, our heartbeats, to pick up any sound in this stifling silence.
But only sounds that we had brought with us were heard.


Only after a long time, we started to hear a sound, a constant drone.
It was the surf and the accompanying ground-swell, conducted all the way down, here, through the great weight of rock and water above us.
We were going under the sea!







Other sounds of water added themselves to the drone, drips in unseen pools and such.
The sand was now wet and this made the going a lot easier. The air was also markedly cooler and a tension that had been unnoticed left the group.

I dimmed the Orb a bit, the walls here were shiny and wet and had their own pale glow of blue light.
That was a welcome change and quite bright after that long walk in complete darkness.

We moved along more freely and I dimmed the Orb some more, to let us get used to the different kind of light and to not alert any nasties from far away.


The ceiling got higher and the tunnel narrower and it started to branch out.
Most of these branches were dead ends, some literally so, there lay bones of unfortunate ones, who had taken a wrong turn whilst trying to flee, or they might have been ambushed with no way to escape.
I looked around while we waited till our vanguard had checked them all out.

This then, must be the right tunnel but I don't remember it being so narrow.
But it widened soon enough.
The sand here was covered with a thin layer of water and there were huge shallow puddles that held big blind crabs.
They were harmless and quite tasty. We really should get some on our way back.
But first, pearls!





Iridescent Pearl










We must be getting close to where the Murlocs would be, there was more and more water everywhere.
But it was not the Murlocs we found.

"Naga!" whispered Wilani back to us.
The Rogue Vanished on the spot, ready for an ambush, while we held back a little more.
And poor little Lani was there all alone, it seemed.





2H-Warrior






It was an Elite patrol, big, gleaming scales, one with a trident, the other a huge saber.
They rushed in, ready to slay this trespasser fast.


She blocked the incoming trident but was too late to completely dodge the one with the saber.
It hit her on the shoulder and slid off her armor.

He closed in to flank her and was nearly hit by her enormous Axe-blade.
She spun the Axe round like a madman, but they were undeterred.
Much heavier than she was, there could only be one outcome.
A well-trained Warrior could have given them a run for their money, but she was not going to be a serious threat.


Trident-guy was harassing her, forcing her to lose ground while Sabre-guy was moving around, looking to get closer.
They were working to pin her to the wall.
That did give her some cover, but it made escaping virtually impossible.



Sabre-guytrident-guy



It seemed they had found their positions now and they began their onslaught in earnest.
Perhaps they felt it had taken long enough.
Someone else had the same thought and Sabre-guy reared up with a dagger in his back.
It put his throat in the path of the oncoming Axe and he was nearly decapitated by it.
The Rogue finished him off quickly and took his daggers back.

"Let me have this one, OK?" panted Lani. "I need the exercise."
She changed tactics, mostly parrying now, her Axe was so much slower than the Trident.
She choked up on the Axe-blade and started to use it more like a shield.
A very edgy shield, that she could put forward suddenly with her other hand.

It suited her tanking instincts much better and I was surprised to see the fight turn around.
Up to now I had been a bit concerned for her safety and could not see her win this fight at all.
Of course, we were ready to step in if needed.


The Naga was spending a lot more energy with his long slashes and his arms were losing scales, but he was still so much stronger. How long was this fight going to last?
I was flexing my hands, ready to cast, a Frost-bolt or something, but I would not interfere, nor make her lose her concentration.
Come on,Lani! I thought.

















The Naga was slowing down, unable to keep up his frenzy but his blind determination was not affected.
It was slowly becoming a spectacle instead of a fight.

Suddenly the great bulk of the Shaman stepped past me and towards the Naga.
He was carrying a Staff now and not his shield and mace.
An instant Frost-shock hit the Naga and was followed by a Lightning-bolt.

"Mine!" Shouted Lani.
"The Tide of your opportunity has passed", rumbled the Shaman.
He flung another Lightning-bolt while Lani swung onto the Naga once more.
The Frost-bolt I had been keeping at the ready hit him at the same time.
The Rogue stepped in to finish him off, but I think he was already dead when he hit the ground.

Lani was steaming! Her body as well as her anger.
"I was going to finish him myself!" she shouted at the Shaman.
His silence made her even more angry. Fearing she was going to attack him, I called her Name: "Wilani!" on which she directed her anger to me. And she was still holding that big Axe!
"Please," I said, "put down the Axe, Lani, before someone gets hurt."

A tiny bit in me was afraid that she was going to say something like: "I will show you who is getting hurt!" but to my relief, she tossed the Axe aside, only to pick up the Trident that the Naga had used.
"It is a bit dinged," she said, "but I can have that repaired", talking as if she was at the market of used goods! Her anger had left her without a trace as if nothing had happened!
I looked at the Rogue and I saw him put away his Sap, he had been ready to hit her on the head!
He felt my gaze and came towards me, "We must talk soon", he said quietly.

I looked at the Priest. He had not said anything and looked like he was nailed to the ground.
I went to him and said: "Hey Gregory, could you perhaps check on Wilani if she needs any healing?"
It seemed to unfreeze him.
We went on, leaving the two dead Naga behind.


2H-Axe-L












Lani was talking to Gregory, probably explaining to him all the benefits of her new prize.
The Rogue came to walk beside me and handed me her Axe, if I could put it away for now.
"Sure," I said, "but I think that was not what you were going talk to me about."
"Those two Satyrs," he said, "can you remember how you were killed?"
"That was not what I was expecting, either", I said.
"I will come to that", he replied. "You were not visibly hurt, so I would like to know how you were killed."
"I can really not remember", I said. "I had one Sheeped and I was hitting the other one with my Staff and I was getting pretty tired. Then I woke up."
"Just tired?" he asked. "It is important", he added.
"Well," I started, not very happy to speak about it, "I was feeling very much alone and desperate. I did not know how long I could keep up the fight."

"You know Wilani for a long time", he said, it was not a question.
"You feel she is not the same as before and it makes you feel alone."
"What are you getting at?!" I exclaimed irritated.
"Hmm", he said, "I have to ask you to keep this a secret, for your own safety as well as for hers.
But I think that she was not Mind-Controlled and that you were killed by enhanced desperation and loneliness. Let me finish.

This Spell is called Induced Insanity and there are a few Satyrs that have gained this tremendous power.
That they would be here is so unlikely, I can not even begin to think about it, but it seems to be the case nevertheless."

"Why do you think she was not MC-ed?" I said, "We all saw her trying to kill the Priest!"
"Mind-Control takes over a persons will instantly and makes him act against his own will.
Induced Insanity makes use of what is already present and enhances it till Insanity is reached.
You saw how she gradually worked herself up to the point she was ready to strike, didn't you?"
"Yes!" I said, "And you fed her even more until she flipped!"
"Well, yes," he said, "I had to, to see if she was willing to go through with it."
"That is terrible! Do you mean to say she is a murderous person?", I said, getting angry.
"No," he said, "I don't think that she is. It was planted in her, most likely at her Training. We are not exactly sure how."

Her Training! I thought, I always had known she had not been the same after that.
I said: "I know you are not going to tell me who 'We' are and to trust a Rogue is a sure way to lose your life and everything, but I can only say that I think youre right.
This outburst of hers, that vanished without a trace, that is not normal behavior. And I don't want to lose her completely to this Insanity.
What must I do, to make it stop?"
"We don't know", he said. "All I can ask is to keep an eye on her, knowing that she can not be expected to be her own self all the time."

"Are you going to inform the others?" I asked.
"No," he said, "Gregory is still pretty young, if you can call it that, and he," pointing behind him, "he knows things without the need of anyone telling him.
He will be our greatest help in this, just because he is who he is."

"You knew about this, when we were picking you up in Orgrimmar," I said accusingly, "and you made them not choose that Warlock-girl."
"I expected it", he said, "and no, it happened like that.
You have my word", he said with a grin.
The word of a Rogue.
I showed a sparse grin too.









I saw how Gregory and Wilani were chatting.
It is always a good thing when the Tank and her Healer have a good understanding. The performance of the whole of the group, and not to forget, it's survivability, depend on the synergy between those two. They are the core of every successful party.
Since the ground was covered with water, ankle-deep only, we made a lot of splashing noise. It was unavoidable. So our voices were hardly to blame, if we were heard.

"I have been thinking", I said to the Rogue.
"Those Naga at the start, they must have used a shortcut. There is no way they took that same long path over the dry sand that we have followed. Especially that nearly-dead Naga, he would have been dead even before half-way."
He looked at me in a way that was hard to describe.
"And we didn't see anything." I continued. "We were so occupied with the altar and the dead Shaman and the attack that followed, that we have missed it."
"Very sharp!", he said.
It was my turn to show a grin.
"Maybe, there is a hole in the ceiling that they use, if it is high up, we would never see it."
"Or a Portal, perhaps?", he said.
"Those Sea-witches are not real Mages", I replied, "they are Shamanistic."
"Hmm. Intriguing", he said, "and very sharp of you!"
I showed an even bigger grin.
That was the moment that Lani turned her head towards us, to tell us that soon we would be running into Murlocs, and if we could be more quiet from now on.
Oh! I could hear her already, as soon as she would have the slightest opportunity.










There were caves here, along both sides of the tunnel. All filled with deep pools of water. The ideal place for Murlocs, so we approached quiet and carefully.
But there were no Murlocs. In one cave we found three Naga Sea-witches.
It was a short fight: they were startled and tried to get away to be able to cast from afar, but the pool was too small for that and they succumbed quickly to the onslaught of the Rogue and the Warrior, aided by the casting of the Shaman and me.
All the other pools were empty.
Till, after we checked yet another empty pool, we heard a sound.
Quietly again, we moved closer, Rogue in front, this time.

It was clearly talking, in strange harsh voices and I had no idea of even what language was spoken.
"Dwarves!" Whispered the Rogue, and signaled us to stay back.
He slowly went closer while we waited.
Dwarves! I thought. They are very dangerous! I only had seen them from far away. Short but strong and always busy and not to be underestimated. They were as clever as any old Troll Witch-doctor!
The Rogue winked us to come to him and we silently reached by his side, at the mouth of a big cave.











Quite a bit inside, there were two Dwarves, clad in Naga-scale armor.
One was sitting and the other one standing over him and doing most of the talking.

He had gray hair and beard and his armor clearly showed that he was of higher rank than the other Dwarf.
His subordinate had brown hair and a shortish beard. He was sitting down, his bare feet hanging in the water and he seemed not so much bothered by the dressing down from his boss.
He had taken off his gloves and shoulder-pads and was only holding a burning torch.



Bare-footed DwarfBoss
        Dwarf



They were fairly loud, not trying to be quiet at all while they argued. So they must feel pretty safe here. That was a thing of concern.
We all moved back, away from the mouth of the cave, to make a plan.




"They are heavily armored", said the Rogue, "something to be expected of Dwarves, of course, but it is clear that someone is spending a decent amount of gold on their gear. Naga-scale armor is not cheap to make and since it is always wet and shiny, it is highly resistant against Fire." Here he looked at me.

That was bad news, because Dwarves are by Nature resistant to any Frost-damage. One of the many reasons why they were so dangerous.
"They also wear chain-mail-cloaks", he continued, "which is bad news for me."
"So, what to do?" he concluded.

I was surprised, I had expected him to come up with a plan, but it was the Shaman who spoke:
"The Earthmother has showed me this cave in my Dream.
It is here where I must fulfill my task."

Well, that ruled out quietly sneaking away and leaving them be, I thought.
"Here is not their righteous place, they must go."Said the Shaman again.
Wilani said: "I will take on the barefooted Dwarf, if you can keep his boss busy."
"OK," said the Rogue, we will take out the younger Dwarf first."












So, we had a plan.
We moved into position and the Shaman started to cast a Lightning-bolt onto the boss-Dwarf. He wavered but swiftly gained his composure and readied his shield and a short sturdy Axe.
With a loud cry, he stormed at the Shaman.
Wilani stormed past him, to charge at the younger Dwarf, who was getting up hastily.

She hit him with her Trident flat on the back while he dodged to escape her fury. Staggering, he swung his torch in her direction while she came in for another hit.
The torch left a swirling string of fire behind that coiled around her arms and head. She screamed in agony and went clear past him, backing off in pain.

"Wilani!" I shouted and went all-out, casting Arcane-missiles onto her assailant. "Get away from him!"
She was badly hit and I heard the Priest casting Healing-spells onto her while I shot more missiles. The Dwarf did not like that at all and came running towards me.

I engaged him and casted my Fire-ward-spell; we Mages can endure a decent amount of Fire this way.
He whipped me with Fire while I kept casting volley after volley.
When he saw how little it affected me, he took his Axe from his side and advanced towards me. He would chop me to bits with that thing! I quickly casted a Frost-Nova and Blinked, out of his reach.

Even though the Frost had little effect on him, it froze solid the shallow water he was standing in. He used his Axe to cut himself free but he had to be careful not to chop off his own toes!
I looked around. Wilani had moved to the boss-Dwarf and was taking turns with the Rogue. They had little impact on the sturdy Dwarf but he was becoming more and more agitated.

"Help me finish off this one!"I called out to the Shaman. The younger Dwarf had freed himself and was now hell-bound on turning me into fish-food. I had to run for my life.
The Lightning-bolts of the Shaman, made him stagger a bit and that gave me a chance to cast another volley.
We were getting him down!

In the meantime the Rogue had received a nasty gash and the Priest had to heal him a lot. This upset the boss-Dwarf so much that he decided to go kill the Priest first.
Foaming with anger he ran to poor Gregory who froze on the spot.
But I had underestimated him. He casted a protecting Shield onto himself and sprang out of the way.
That shield would only hold one or maybe two hits, so he had to run for his life.
Now everyone was running!

Except the Shaman. He threw another Lightning-bolt at the Dwarf, who fell to the ground.
I ran towards him to cast an Arcane-explosion. And that was the end of him.

I took his Axe and shouted: "Here! Wilani! Take this!" I waved the Axe in the air and she came running to me.
Now she had a weapon again that enabled her to use her shield.
She dropped the Trident and took out her shield.
Then she let out a blood-curdling Challenging Shout!
Our Warrior was back in business!!


Wilani challenges








She ran to Intercept the boss-Dwarf, blocking him from reaching the Priest.
This was a language he understood and he let out a Challenging Shout of his own.
Shorter and sturdier, he was difficult for her to handle, but she was backed-up by a healing Priest while he wasn't. She could take more risk than him, and it seemed to cool him down from his anger, having to parry most of her attacks.

Backing up now, he saw how the odds were, definitely not in his favor.
I started to cast Arcane-missiles on him and he made a run for it, deeper into the cave.
Lani was on his heels and we were all running behind her.
But then, suddenly he stopped and bursted out laughing. The laugh of a madman.

He started to talk now, in his strange, coarse, language and winked us to come closer, while he went back, carefully.
We followed him, deeper into the cave and then we saw what he had seen: Murlocs!
Dozens of Murlocs!
They were walking and sitting around in the knee-deep water.
So, that was were all the Murlocs had gone; they were imprisoned here by the Dwarves.
And now their warder was dead. It was all to clear what would happen if he would run into there and stir up that big group. Once they had killed him, they would not stop there. They would be free!
Nothing would keep them from running into poor us.
He laughed again, seeing how we were taken aback. And even louder when he saw our anxious glances over towards the Murlocs.
He was clearly mad and it made him the more dangerous.

Lani backed off a little, by the time she would catch up with him, they both would be spotted by the Murlocs. This was cause for even more joy to the Dwarf and he laughed again.
"He must not be allowed to escape" said the Shaman.
And I shot a Sheep-spell at the dwarf.

It was a desperate act: once he would turn back into a Dwarf, he would be his own fresh and undamaged Self again. But this way at least, he could not laugh any-more.
We all went back a little more while the sheep wandered aimlessly about.
The Warrior ran her new Axe along a Sharpening stone, but that Dwarf-made Axe had little to gain, so sharp as it was.
The Rogue applied new poisons onto his daggers.
The Priest topped-off everyone's Health.
And the Sheep wandered over towards the Murlocs!

"Run!" I said, while I casted another Sheep-spell onto it, just to be sure.
If we were lucky they would only kill the sheep and be busy eating it.
It would buy us some time until the first inquisitive Murlocs came wandering this way.




Wandering sheep










I felt a stone in my stomach.
No-one had said anything. No-one had blamed me for acting impulsively.
I wished we could run away. So many Murlocs!

The Shaman looked at me and said: "You are in Touch with the Earthmother.
She works through you. Know that you are blessed."


It felt as if a bomb had gone off inside me!
I stepped away for a bit to regain my composure.
Those Tauren! Always so unexpected!
I let out a deep sigh.


Big emotions were wrestling inside me to gain the upper hand.
I wanted to cry!
I wanted to scream!

But there was no time for that now!
We were going to have an enormous fight on our hands soon.
It HAD to wait.














I felt anxious, what could we hope to bring to bear, facing so many Murlocs?
A mage can indeed fight many when they are in the same spot, by casting spells that cover a greater area and do damage to all in that reach. But this was such a big group, what if I would miss some?
Those not affected would certainly come to grab and kill me instantly.

Frost-nova, yes, and then Blizzard to make ice-shards rain down on them.
I was going over the actions in my mind.
But such a big group! I never had taken on so many, ever!


I was pacing up and down, whilst thinking it over, when my foot hit the torch that the younger dwarf had used. It lay in the shallow water, extinguished.
Perhaps I could light it again and use it to keep the Murlocs at bay!
I picked it up and went back to the others.


"Where is the Rogue? I asked."
"He went to have a look and maybe draw the attention of a few wandering Murlocs." said Gregory.
"We are waiting for him to return. He won't be long."

So they had started without letting me know!
Or had I been in thoughts so much that I had not heard them?
I looked at the others, they were all watching the spot where the Rogue would show up again, on his way back.
How many Murlocs would he bring?
What if they would come all at once?!




This uneasy feeling was still there.
I looked at the Shaman. He seemed calm enough. Even Gregory had spoken with just excitement in his voice.
The only one who was some kind of tense was Wilani, but she had to spring into action as soon as the first Murloc would show up. Her normal Warrior's job.

So why was I so nervous then? No-one had suggested I should take on that whole group.
It did not matter, I still felt a stone in my stomach.















There he is! I wanted to shout, but I did not want to make a spectacle of myself and I was able to say nothing. He was running towards Wilani, who was standing in front. "Four!" He said, a little out of breath, while he ran past her and then he Vanished.
The Murlocs ran straight towards Wilani and since they could not see their former target, they went to assault the Warrior.

This was what she had trained for, making sure all the Murlocs would attack her and only her.
I targeted the one that was closest to her and casted a fire-bolt onto it. The Shaman and the Rogue were doing the same and the Murloc was going down really fast. Gregory was tossing many heals onto her, since she was getting hit from four sides, so he was really busy. When I saw she turned to the next Murloc, I followed her lead while the first Murloc died at the hands of the Rogue. With one less, it was a little easier and number two was going down even faster. When it was the turn of Murloc number three, I saw that Gregory was using his wand, in between the now fewer heals that he had to do. The last one died almost directly after the third.

That was a well-executed fight! Nothing had gone wrong! I gave a cheer of relief.
"There are at least ten times more, Lady", said the Rogue. "I don't think we want gamble on being this lucky, ten times in a row!"
Ohh! This guy! What was I thinking?! He was just the same as before!















"Well I have found this!" I said and held up the Dwarven-torch. If we can light it again, we can keep those Murlocs at bay!"
"Do you know how to light it?", he asked.
"Well, it is a torch...", I started.
I looked at it closer: the handle was made of wood, but the wood was un-burned. The part on the top was made of metal and that was blackened by fire. Had they used some magic to keep the fire in-place? It had been different from my Fiery-Orb, that did not whip-out strings of fire.
"But it is unlike any torch I have seen before. I don't know."

I felt deflated, my initial enthusiasm had vanished without a trace.
"Perhaps I know", he said, "if I may have a look please?"
"Sure", I said. "But wait, what is this?"
As I held the torch upside-down, I saw on the bottom of the metal part a sort of button. I pushed on it, in the hope to light the torch, but something fell out instead. It dropped in the shallow water where it left an oily circle that slowly became bigger.
I picked it up from the water: it was a small glass vial, nearly empty, only a little oil and water was in it.

"Well, now we can be sure it is not going to work." said the Rogue.
"I can put it back in." I said hastily.
"That's not the problem, Lady", said the Rogue. "The oil is finished.
And by chance I did not happen to bring any oil with me." He added wryly.
"In my bags there is some fish-oil." came the deep voice of the Shaman.
"Shaman need it to Water-walk." he clarified. "It is for future use that I gather it."

"Well, it is not Fire-oil, but it might still work." said the Rogue. "I probably have to adjust the burner."
Since he seemed to know what to do with it, I handed him the torch and the Shaman gave him a vial, somewhat bigger than the one that had fallen out.
"I need something from my bags for that." he continued and turned away.
"Keep watching out for any Murlocs!" he said over his shoulder.
















"Even if we can keep all the Murlocs in one spot, I can not kill all of them on my own! They have too much health, I will be Out Of Mana before they are dead."
I was explaining to the others that I could not be expected to cast area-damage-spells onto all those Murlocs. But I think I was just trying to convince myself that I was not going to do that.
Somehow a pity. It is the trademark of a Mage to slay many in one go. But one has to be realistic.

"To kill without need is not the way of the Earthmother." said the Shaman.
"You can say that again!", said Wilani.
"There was nothing to Need for: empty shells and broken stones! Nothing worth anything, we threw it all away."
She and Gregory had searched the dead Murlocs for pearls.
"Not even a fish-head", said Gregory. "They must be as hungry as church-rats!"
I had no idea what kind of rats that must be, but if bony-Gregory thought they were hungry, they certainly must be starving.


"Their freedom is in their hearts", said the Shaman, "They will be glad to leave from here. Then Her task can be fulfilled without disruption."
"Hah!" we heard and we turned towards the Rogue: He was holding up the flaming torch. It was giving-off a lot of black smoke and did not look at all like how it had been burning when the Dwarf had held it.
And not just smoke! There was an enormous fish-smell coming from that thing!

"You guys go hide out of sight, quickly", said the Rogue "while I will go round them up and herd them out of this cave. I don't know how long this thing will keep on burning, so I don't want to waste any time.
Now go quickly! And don't worry about me, I can always Vanish!" he told us while he ran further into the cave.

We all got up, like stung by a bee and scrambled to find some good hiding spots along the side of the cave.
Oh! To run in without preparation is a sure way to die!
But it could not be helped. He was already gone.



















I had only just found a spot when we heard the Rogue scream. His voice was getting louder, he was coming back towards us! "Out of the way!" he yelled as we saw him running back. He kept on running and instead of herding the Murlocs, they were chasing him! The fish-smell from the torch was irresistible for the ravenous Murlocs.
More and more Murlocs were running past us, even when he already went out of the mouth of the cave.
I could not help wondering if Vanish would help if you smelled like fish.


Murloc



The last Murlocs had ran out off the cave but we all stayed where we were. What if they would come back?
The Shaman was the first one to get up from his hiding-spot.
"Now that they are free, they won't come back." he said.
"This has been a bad place for them. However, for your comfort, I will inspect the tunnel outside this cave."
"I will come along, in case you need Healing." said Gregory.
"We all come" said Wilani, standing up.
There was not much else left to do, so I followed without much enthusiasm.



At least we did not get killed because of that brash act. It could easily have gone bad.
Very bad indeed.
As for Mr. "Lee-rogue Jenkins" himself, it still had to be seen if Vanish had saved his skin.
Of-course I did not wish him to be dead but such an irresponsible act would warrant some kind of repercussion, would it not? And what would we encounter if we had to go look for his corpse?
No, it would be best if he would show up soon.



















But the tunnel looked empty in both directions.
Wilani bashed on her shield with the flat of her Axe and shouted: "Hey Rogue!"
I held my breath, but there was only silence.
"Since we have to wait for him, we might as-well go back inside, so you can do your thing." she said to the Shaman.
That was a good idea and we all went back in.


We came to the part where the Murlocs had been.
The water was a bit deeper here, nearly knee-deep and we were sloshing about.
At the back of the cave there stood a rough Altar: a big boulder that rested onto three smaller ones. If it had not been for the flattish top and the gigantic pearl that was lying on it, it could well have been just a pile of rocks.

But that pearl! It must be as big as a Murloc! That thing would be priceless!
But so big, no-one could hope to take such a thing anywhere.
And for what? Who could even pay for what it was worth?

The voice of the Shaman ended my dreams of boundless riches.
"The Earthmother had showed me this Altar in my Dream.
I will prepare for my Task, now. Please leave me until I return."
So we turned away, back to where we had come from, while the Shaman slowly neared the Altar.




altar













Owwaargh!! We heard the Tauren scream.
Shocked we quickly turned back and saw an enormous Murloc standing on his chest, clawing at his armor and biting his shield. He tried to cast a healing-spell onto himself, but he was greatly hindered. He had to keep his head above water and was unable to get up.
Horrified I watched how this monster was tearing patches of leather with it's flat fingers, out from the Shaman's armor.

But Wilani was already charging in, shouting and bashing her shield. Did she not know any fear?
Gregory was casting heals onto the Shaman and all I could do was watch.
Lani was slamming her shield on the Murloc's head, to make him let go of the Shaman. She was really going all-out.
And I started to cast the biggest fire-bolt I could make.


















At last, the Murloc turned towards the warrior and the Shaman could get back up.
"Strength of Earth!" he roared and planted a totem and a fire-totem too.
Wilani was having a hard time just to keep standing, while the Murloc was clawing and biting at her.
"Help me heal her!" said Gregory to the Shaman "I can not keep this up for long!"
He had to equip his Staff to be of any use for Healing and then they were taking turns healing the Warrior.
I was casting great balls of fire and my Mana was draining fast. I was the only one now, doing any kind of significant damage to that monster and it had still more than half of it's Health left.

Suddenly, the Murloc tossed Wilani back and jumped back towards the Tauren. Whilst also kicking down the totems; it happened so fast. He quickly had to take up his shield again. Gregory had to switch his heals fast and was trying desperately to keep him alive.

Wilani was back on her feet and tried with all her might to make the monster turn back to her. It finally worked and the Shaman was able to crawl out of reach. He was badly hurt and only managed a little heal onto himself, using up the last of his Mana. My Mana was also reaching it's end and the Murloc was still far from dead.
The last bit of Mana from the Priest and the quickly diminishing health of the Warrior was all that separated us from a grueling death.

"Sheep him!" shouted Gregory. "I have no Mana left!"
"I am OOM too" I replied.
"You have to take a potion!" said Gregory again.
There was no other choice. Mana-potions were a last resort. They were not cheap and could only be used once. In order to take one, you really had to make it count. There was not going to be a second chance.

I quickly took one, even though they were not used often, they were always held at the ready.
Then I quickly casted the Sheep-spell onto the Murloc.
If it would fail, it would all be over fast.



Mana-potion











And poof!
All the danger and horror was now contained in this harmless looking sheep.
It was verily a time-bomb!
Everyone was getting away from it, taking cover behind the Altar. But poor me had to stay in reach, to be able to cast the spell again, before it wore off.


Sheep


Bandages were used now, to help to heal, since Mana was scarce and needed to be conserved. The fight was not done at all!
I was OK, except for the little Mana I was left with. And the terrified feeling inside me! That monster had been so fast, I was not sure if there would be time to cast a new sheep-spell, in case it would fail prematurely.


I heard exited voices coming from behind the Altar. It seemed they had found something special.
"Guys!" I called. "It is not dead, yet!"
Lani came running towards me. "We found all kinds of nice things there!" she said enthusiastically. "But we have to kill that thing first, of-course."
The Priest was coming this way too, followed by the Shaman who was wearing some kind of dress now instead of his badly damaged armor.
"I had not expected to wear the ceremonial dress into battle", he said.
And I had to smile: it is not often that you heard a Tauren say that he did NOT expected that.






Shaman















They were all back to full health now and Mana too and even I had regained some of my Mana. I would need more time, though, before it was full again. They came to stand around me, the Warrior between me and the sheep, the others behind me. It made me feel quite a bit safer now. But I was not forgetting the sheep!

"It is clear that we can not take him head-on."said Wilani.
"Yes, he hits too hard" said Gregory. "We must stay away from him."
"He is too fast for that" I replied.
"And he does not seem to be so eager to bite on metal all the time." said the Shaman. "I need to think about this."
"Don't think too long!" I warned him, "I can not keep him Sheeped forever!"
But as time passed, my Mana went up slowly, bit by bit.





"The Elements are powerful allies," said the Shaman, "however, sometimes Strength is not the answer. The Earth, that supports everything, also has the power to hold things in place. And even Water, that flows everywhere can be used to freeze something to the spot, as you well know." Here he nodded towards me.
"I can clearly see before me, the Path that the Earthmother is showing me. The Earth-bind totem and Frost-shocks will slow the Murloc down, so I can stay out of it's reach. You can assist me with your Frost-nova and your Frost-bolts." he said again to me. "But don't overdo it," he warned, "you don't want him come over to you. And you both should stay prepared in case something goes wrong." he said, talking to the Warrior and the Priest.
"It is going to be a very long fight and it will test all my powers to the limit."

I was speechless. Never had I heard a Tauren talk so much in one go. But Gregory said brightly: "I can use my wand, yes? It won't cost any Mana" "Sure", said the Shaman, "all help is welcome."
"It is best if we all would stay on the side", said Wilani, "so you have room to maneuver. Cast one more sheep-spell onto him, Hani, then we get out of the way."

So I did and we all took cover behind the Altar. Except for the Shaman. He planted an Earth-bind totem in the center and readied himself to cast a Frost-shock spell onto the Sheep. It would instantly break the Sheep-spell and turn it back into that monster of a Murloc again. Taking position so the totem would be between him and the Murloc, he unleashed the Frost-shock.
















The Murloc ran immediately towards the Shaman, but markedly slower than before and the Tauren started to run in a wide circle around the totem. I looked fascinated how the Murloc tried to catch the Shaman, but he was able to keep his distance.
I knew this game, Mages did practice it too, it was like juggling Death. One mistake and you were in big trouble, if you were not killed on the spot.

I started to fire my smallest Frost-bolt, to slow down the monster even more. Gregory had begun to use his Wand, which casted Shadow-damage onto the Murloc. Only small amounts and together with my small Frost-bolts and the Shaman's occasional Frost-shock, it was only nibbling on the Murloc's health. This was indeed going to be a long fight!




























All the time, the Shaman was running, keeping an eye on his totem to see if it needed to be replaced. Those were the critical moments where I assisted by casting a Frost-nova, to give him a moments respite. We needed utmost concentration, not to make a mistake. It was definitely nerve-wracking.










The fight dragged on, endlessly it seemed. I felt like in trance; everything around us was vanishing from my awareness.
We were nearing the point where the monster's health had diminished to half. I looked at my Mana; there was still at least three quarters of it left. So somehow we were in a better position than in the first fight. But the Shaman was visibly getting tired; he had been running non-stop.

I was tense like a bow-string, what if the Murloc decided to loose interest like he had done in the fight before? He would certainly throw himself onto me! Not wearing any Leather or metal-armor, he would tear me to shreds instantly.
"Lani!" I said with a hoarse voice.
"Don't worry, dear," she said "we can have him, he is already half-way down."

I don't know if it was his tiredness, or if our talking broke his concentration, but the Shaman stumbled and the Murloc was able to almost grab him. He had to run for his life and would not have any time to spare to put down a new totem again. It was disaster waiting to happen.
"You have to save him, Wilani!"
"Keep your shirt on.", she said and charged in.








She expertly landed right between the Shaman and the Murloc. Even tossing the Murloc back a little due to the impact and blocking him from reaching the Shaman who was able to create some more distance. He quickly planted a new Earth-bind totem and readied himself to continue his rounds like before. But Wilani was not having any of that.
She blocked the Murloc's every move while he tried to get back onto the Shaman.
"You're too tired!" she shouted, "Help Greg with the healing!"

Her Fury burned with a white flame, that she unleashed onto the monster in front of her.
All this waiting on the side had made her explode like never before.
It made me cry, seeing it.
Lani, Lani, I thought, what have they made you into?!















Faced with such primordial wrath, the Murloc had to give her all his attention. There was no longer the risk he would attack someone else now and I started to cast for serious. It was now or never!
Bolt after bolt flew towards the Murloc and the Priest and the Shaman were tossing heals onto the Warrior.
We had to get this monster down!








"You have quite a fight going on here.", I heard a voice beside me say. It gave me such a fright that I failed my casting.
I turned to the side and saw the Rogue. "What do you want me to do?" he said.
"KILL IT!!" I screamed. And he ran into the melee. I was foaming with anger! This guy again! If we would survive this, I would, I don't know what I would do to him! Something bad, turn him into a frog, I don't care!

But an angry Mage is not an effective Mage. I had to get myself in check. Mages were not known for their temper. On the contrary, Icy Veins is as what some of us are referred to.
So I checked the health of the monster and how much Mana I had left. It looked all good, so I upped the damage a little more.
We were going to win this fight!

As it's life neared it's end, the Murloc tried to flee and the Warrior had to run after it. The Rogue set in a sprint and was immediately back on top if it, while I fired off a big Frost-bolt, slowing it down. Nearly dead, this monster was still dangerous.
But then, it was dead. Finally! And somehow also suddenly, although that seems weird, isn't it?
It is dead! It is dead! It sang in my head. We had won! We were alive! Yes! I felt elated.

I was so happy that I could even hug the Priest, undead and all. I didn't of-course, but I turned towards him to congratulate him with a job well done. But what I saw made me scream in terror. "He's dead!" Gregory was lying face-down with a Dwarven-axe in his back.
"Gregory is dead!" I shouted again, before it started to dawn on the others that there was something amiss.

Then we heard that maniacal laughter echoing against the walls of the cave.
We looked around and saw the insane Dwarf standing at the far end of the cave.
And then he was gone.
The Warrior and the Rogue sprinted after him, only to return some time later, they had been unable to find him.
The Dwarf had escaped and had left us a nasty surprise.
















Everyone was talking in chaos: "Where had that Murloc come from?", "How could that Dwarf kill Gregory without anyone seeing him?", "How had he been able to survive all the Murlocs?", "How have you been able to survive all the Murlocs?","Why did it take you so long to come back?", "Why did you have to sneak up on me like that!?", "Who is going to ress Gregory?","What are we going to do now?", "What about all that loot that we found?", "What loot?", "We found lot's of things behind the Altar".

"Gregory is DEAD!!", I yelled at the top of my lungs.
"We can not leave him here, like that." I continued on a more normal volume. "It is his first time here and he could not even get in here without my help. There is no way his Spirit would be able to find his corpse again."
All seemed to agree with this account of the situation.
"So what can we do about it?", I continued.

"All Shaman can resurrect the dead." said the Shaman. "However, I am not trained in this, nor did I ever perform this on anyone. Therefore I am hesitant to offer my help. Furthermore, I have not finished the Earthmother 's task. Perhaps her guidance will come to my aid."
"I will need to meditate on this." he concluded.

"Yes people, let's give the guy some room. And hope he will not attract any more of those monsters." said Wilani grimly.
The Rogue and I followed her into the front part of the cave where there was less water.
I felt dead tired and was looking for a place to sit at least.

We settled down at the spot where the barefooted Dwarf had been sitting. It seemed ages ago.
I missed Gregory. And his cooking!
A fire would have been nice but there was not enough room to make a fire here. Except for the bit where we were sitting, there was water everywhere.
Oh! How I wished to get out of this cave and make a camp in some nice spot.

Wilani and the Rogue were talking about how he had escaped from that big horde of Murlocs and what had happened in the fight with the big Murloc, but I did not really hear it. I had not even the strength to be angry on the Rogue.
Somehow, I dozed off.


















When I woke up, I saw Wilani lying, with her head on her Shield, fast asleep it seemed.
The Rogue was nowhere to be seen. I did not know how long I had slept, but it felt as not enough.
I decided not to wake her, she had really gone deep in that fight with the Murloc. She could do with some rest.
As I got up, my splashing steps alerted the Rogue. He was standing at the mouth of the cave.
So he had not left us unguarded.

"How long has he been in there?", I asked the Rogue, pointing to the back of the cave.
"Must be almost two hours." he said. "He is just sitting there, in front of that Altar.
I went to check on him, maybe half an hour ago."
"Do you think he can ress Gregory?", I asked.
"I certainly do hope so." he said a bit mysteriously.

"That was quite some fight, with that enormous Murloc.", he said.
"Yes, I don't want to talk about it right now. I am glad it is over." I replied.
That left an uneasy silence between us.
So be it. I thought.
He went back to mouth of the cave again and I sat back down, my knees pulled up and resting my chin on it.
I stared over the water, waiting.
















I had come here, expecting to find pearls and perhaps something nice and useful. But now I just wanted to go home. It had been disastrous from the start and although everyone was doing their job as well as could be expected, it had been one unfortunate event to the next. And now the Priest was dead and we were not sure if we could resurrect him. It could well mean the end of this adventure and as far as I was concerned, I would not mind it at all.
I had already had my doubts by the time I had proposed to make a Portal to Orgrimmar, but everyone had wanted to go on, so....

And now I was sitting here, thinking gloomy thoughts. That was not good. I wished something would happen!
"Be careful what you wish for, lest it come true." came into my mind, but it was if I heard it being said by the voice of the Shaman!
That was it! No more thoughts!
I got up and went to have a look of what was going on over there, in the back of the cave.
But before I reached there, I saw Gregory and the Shaman coming towards me, their arms full of things.
"He is back!", I shouted.




I ran towards them to greet them.
"Welcome back!", I said. "You have been away for so long, I was afraid it would be the end."
"Yes! I got lost again!" he said with a big smile. "The spirit-realm is s different, long winding passages, all alike".
"It was a long search before I found him." said the Shaman. "His Spirit had drifted far away." They looked at each other. "The Earthmother's guidance helped me to bring him back to life." he said finally.
"Yes, thank the Earthmother!" exclaimed the Priest.

That made me raise an eyebrow! Both eyebrows!
An Undead giving praise to the Earthmother?!
Something special must have happened there, in that mysterious realm.
Unlikely that I was ever going to hear the details of that.



















"There is a much smaller cave, on the opposite side of the tunnel," said the Rogue, "a bit further up. I checked it out, it has only a small pool of water and the rest is dry sand. If we can make a fire there, we can have a good look at what you guys have found."
"That's a splendid idea!" I said. The prospect of a place to sit, next to a nice fire and probably some fresh cooked food filled me with renewed enthusiasm.

I went to wake up Wilani. Tapping her Shield gently with my foot, I called her name.
It was always best not to roughly awaken someone who carried such a sharp weapon.












Once there, we found that the pool held several big blind crabs, that were watched by Wilani and Gregory with a shared interest. And I found the remains of a big old chest. It had been broken open long ago and given up its treasure, but the wood was still good enough to make a big fire.
I broke off some pieces and lit them, Mage-style.

Wilani threw a big crab-body onto the fire, after she had broken off the shears and the many legs. This to the dismay of the Priest who complained that she was throwing away the best parts and that she probably never had had any Cooked Crab Claw. He would show her what real cooking was, not just throwing food onto the fire.

With the fire burning and the preparation of the food on the way, I looked at the Rogue and the Shaman, who were ordering the things that we had found in the other cave.
Among them, I could definitely see some nice big pearls!

Eight pearls, four of them Iridescent Pearls and four smaller ones. The Shaman said he would forgo on them, so that meant one for each of us. Then I needed at least one more for my boots.
A Pearl-encrusted Spear, that none of us could use, except for the Warrior, who said that she had no particular interest in it, since she had already the Trident, that she liked better. So that went into the pile with other, less significant things that were going to be divided later.

Clearly the two best items, as far as I was concerned, were a Staff and Ring, both of which were well-suited for casters like me. But that meant that Gregory and the Shaman would also be interested. The Staff would be of more use even, for a Priest, than for a Mage, so if Gregory was opting for that, then I had a good chance to get the Ring.
The Shaman already had a Staff, a lot nicer-looking than mine, so, most likely, it would be between him and me for the Ring.

I had long hoped to find a good Ring. I could make all my cloth-gear myself, if needed. And, not being rich, all that I was wearing was self-made. Except for my Staff, of-course, which I had been carrying around for a long time. A better Staff would be really nice but a good Ring was hard to find. Most were not of much use for Mages. It was if all the other Classes were much better off, if it came to Rings. So far I had not even found one.



ring























Lani was not rich either. She spend all her gold on her gear; that needed constant repairing, or to be replaced. The little she was left with, went into Potions and some food, for when I was not around to magically make it for her. No, to be rich, you did not want to be a Warrior!

Rogues were often rich. They always seemed to have gold to spend. And looking at his Daggers, those were definitely of above average quality.
"All what you don't want, I can Disenchant." said Gregory, from his place at the fire.
I was speechless. Enchanting! That was such a costly affair, it was only practiced by those who already had everything. And now this Priest, younger than me even, could afford to destroy items that could be sold for good silver or maybe more!

Somehow, it looked so obvious, how Wilani and me were from some insignificant village, while the others were all so world-wise, living in their capitals.
We Trolls did not have such a thing as a Capital City. Of-course we were welcome in Orgrimmar, but that was an Orc-place. And I did not feel quite at ease there.
Thunder Bluff, where the Tauren-Capital was located, was nice and quiet and the Tauren were nice too, but it was out of the way and it being so high up in the air, made me feel uneasy. I knew, it was done for safety, but it meant that one wrong step there could have you plunge to your death. That made it unsafe again in a different way.

"How can you even afford to practice Enchanting!" I exclaimed.
"If you come with me to the Undercity, I will show you a little secret." he said.
The Undercity! The hidden Capital of the Undead. I was told to go there some time, if I wanted to learn more of Tailoring. More than the Tailors in my village, or even those in Orgrimmar could teach me. But it was so far away! Hardly anyone I knew, would risk the long trip in such a dangerous thing as a flying Zeppelin! Flying was for birds! What if it would fall to the ground? Everyone would certainly die!


zeppelin









I heard the Rogue and the Shaman argue over a pair of Naga Battle Gloves. Even I could tell it was a very nice pair of Leather gloves and I could see how they both would like to have it. But to my surprise they were trying to convince each other that it would be best if the other one would take them.

"They gave me this complete set of gear, to use these Gloves, good as they are, would break the set and therefore give not much of an improvement. It is best if you take them." said the Rogue. "You can take them and keep them for later." insisted the Shaman. "The Earthmother has shown me a new path. Therefore I shall no longer need Gloves like these."
"We still might need your assistance in melee" said the Rogue again, "and besides, I am not sure if they would appreciate me using something other than what they have issued me. I did not come here to find things, but to find things out."

It ended with the Tauren putting the Battle Gloves in his bags.
"The Mage would like the Ring, perhaps", he said. "The Staff being best suited for the Priest."
I was happily surprised, that was just how I had hoped it would go. And Gregory was content too.
"I will have to finish that Robe now, that I have been working on." he said, "Then I will really look like a Priest."


Gregory in dress











An unremarkable Scroll was left, together with some even less attractive looking bits of stone.
I knew better than to not value such a piece of writing: It could harbor knowledge of how to create some useful item or perhaps a powerful Spell. It turned out to be a Cooking Recipe: How to make Murloc Fin Soup.
"I think Greg should get that," said Wilani immediately, "he has been cooking for us all the time and he even showed me how I can improve mine."
Since none of us were doing any Cooking, we had not much say in it, but I said: "But Wilani, you have not gotten anything, other than one Pearl!"
"It doesn't matter" she said, "I have a new Axe, what more can a girl want?"

"Now you speak of that," said the Priest, "I had been planning to give you this, and now that you gave me this nice Recipe, I am sure that you should have it. Even though I had not much say in how it was 'given' to me, I think I can rightly say that I want you to be the one to have this." And he handed her the Dwarven-Axe that had killed him. "You can use two, I think?"
"I sure can!" she said with a big grin. "Watch me!" She got up and turned into a whirlwind of sharp, blinkering steel that ended with both Axes buried into an unfortunate Crab, killing it instantly.
"He he heh" laughed the Rogue, "it looks like we got some real competition there."
"I'm never gonna use a Shield any-more!" she shouted happily.
"That was a generous gift!" I said to Gregory.
"Time to eat, guys!" he shouted "Now we have to eat that other one too!"


Everyone was happy, and there was lots of food. It was the perfect setting for a story.

"Yes," rumbled the Shaman, "we should not let it go to waste, that is not the Way of the Earthmother."
"Do all Tauren live by Her rules?" asked the Priest.
"All Tauren hold Her in great esteem. It is everyone's choice, to what extent one wants to pay heed to the consequences of ones actions. She does not demand and everyone is free to do what they want, but understanding enables one to avoid the creation of sorrow.
Perhaps I can tell you, how I came to decide to serve the Earthmother."















How the Shaman had decided to serve the Earthmother.


"Now, already three moons ago, I was asked by an Elder of my Clan to go and find some Star-wood. A rare type of wood, that is used for Enchanting. The stock we had was running low and it would be a dishonor for the Clan to have to say that we were unable to provide. The Dawnstrider-Clan has always Practiced, Taught and Sold anything related to Enchanting. It was the Honor of our Clan, that I had to uphold, not just another errand and I felt proud that our Elder had thought me worthy for this task.

I would have to travel, all the way south of the Barrens, into this ravine, commonly known as the Thousand Needles. Many, who have not been there themselves, think that the name refers to the many stone pillars that are left standing there. Our legends say, that there used to be water there, coursing through that deep valley, leaving nothing but the hardest stone.
The water has long since gone, none of the other races even seems to remember. Now, dry, hot winds lash the stone, shaping it even thinner. It is this hot wind, carrying dry dust and stinging man and beast alike, like thousand needles, that gave rise to the name.
It was here that my journey would lead me. A harsh place, dry and unforgiving, but with life in unforeseen places. One of these places was harboring the trees that were the source of Star-wood.





Thousand
        Needles













I had been in the Thousand Needles once before, visiting family in Freewind Post. But this time, I was going there alone. I prepared myself thoroughly, knowing that this could be seen as a rite of passage. I left Thunder Bluff and by sunset I had arrived at southern-most part of the Barrens. Here was the Great Lift that was used to bring and haul travelers to and from the bottom of the ravine. In the company of the brave Tauren that were guarding the Lift, I waited till the early morning, before making the descend.

The light of the sun had not yet reached here and it was still dusky. It was prime hunting time for the great cats and that meant that the hyena's would not be so bold yet. Those went in small packs, of three or four and needed to be avoided at all cost. I had to proceed carefully. This was no longer the Barrens, anything that was able to survive here, would pose a serious threat and more than one opponent could well mean my end.

My destination was on the opposite side of the canyon and just as far to the west. I followed the road southward, till I came to the East-West road. The signpost showed Freewind Post, to the left. That was not the way I would go this time. I had to go west. From here on-wards, it would be all unknown terrain for me.

















So far, I had been lucky and had not have to fight any Cougars or any other dangers. To stay on the road is always advisable; creatures tended to avoided the road but it did not mean you could depend on that. Even so, I reached Whitereach Post unhindered.
There were three Tauren here and only a small building, used for trade, not for defense.
They had a fire going, so I sat down, to have some food.

They looked me up a bit, slightly amused, how one so young and inexperienced as me, had ended up here.
"Are you sure you are going the right way?" they said. "Going West?"
I assured them that that was my plan.
"Then you better watch out," they went on, "we had a Merchant here, who only just made it. His Pack-Kodo was attacked on the road, by a pack of Hyena's."


Pack-Kodo


That a Kodo was attacked, was bad news. Kodos were so big, they could trample a hyena with ease.
"And the Centaur have made a camp close to the road too", they said.
Centaurs, being our mortal enemies, would hunt me down and kill me, if they were to spot me. I would rather take my chance with the hyena's.
I had to be very, very careful.


















I thanked them for their advice and told them that I planned to return here, later that day.
Then I went, Westwards again.
After some time, I saw where the Centaur had build their camp. They had guards at the gate but no patrols outside and so, I dared to risk it. I had the choice to run and possibly draw more attention, or to go slow and careful, but be exposed for a longer time.
I chose the careful way, I could still run, if they were to spot me.
It took a long time, before I was out of sight of the camp.

Soon, I needed to go more to the South. I was still not at the opposite side. A small path left the road, going in the right direction. Walking there, I saw the wall of the ravine coming closer. Ahead, there was a big Winged Serpent hovering above the path, blocking my way. There were Winged Serpents in the Barrens too and I knew them and their dangers well, but this one was bigger than I had ever seen! Twice bigger, if not more. What this magnificent monster could do, I could only guess.
It was best to stay far away from it.

Windserpent


Perhaps I should find another path going South. There must be many ways, weaving between the stone pillars. But on the next path, I found myself confronted with a Cougar. It had already seen me and ran directly at me. I was able to kill it, without getting hurt too much, myself. Then I went on-wards and spotted a Hyena. It was only one Hyena and it had not seen me, so, I decided to leave it be.
It is always good to not kill unnecessary.

The wall was now very close and I looked for the road that was going up. I could see it, winding up the side of the canyon, but where did it start? It turned out that it was not far from where I had been before and the Winged Serpent was flying in front of it.
I had to get up this path, so as soon as the monster had moved away a little, I made a run for it. Only a few yards up the path, I was struck by a tremendous lightning bolt! I fell to the ground, but managed to get away before the Serpent could launch another bolt. Luckily, it was not following me.
I could only hope that it would be gone by the time I would return.

Windserpent












Finally, I arrived at my destination. The place where the Star-wood trees grew. It was a secluded place, surrounded by high walls of rock. This was the realm of the Wyvern, that flew around and had their nests here.
The Star-wood trees were growing in a very strange way, the branches staying low and to the sides, not upwards like normal trees. It must be due to the harshness of the place, that they grew in this way.

I could spot several Wyvern-nests, many of them were in use. Luckily, none were too close, and I set out to gather the Wood. Below the trees, there were dead twigs, of which I made a bundle that I put in my bag. This would last us quite some time, but would it not be better if I brought home a decent branch? That would certainly make a difference. Then this arduous trek needed not be made so soon again.

I set out to break off one of the lowest branches, but the living wood proved to be enormously tough. The dry heat had caused the wood to grow to be nearly indestructible.
As I was tearing at the branch, I heard a thunderous roar behind me. A Wyvern was flying directly towards me! I prepared to defend myself and was able to make it fly away.
As soon as I had this branch loose, I would be out of here!

Wyvern



I could not see the Wyvern any more and renewed my attempt to break free this terrible branch. Then I felt a sudden sting in my back. The Wyvern had returned and had struck me with the end of its tail! I felt the poison spreading though my body and I fell to the ground.
I tried to get up, but all I managed to do, was to turn myself on my back.
The pain in my back exploded in a multitude of colors and the poison took control of my body.















There, I was lying, staring up into the sky, being carried by the face of the world.
The poison was altering my perception.
The Sun, the Eye of the Earthmother, was watching me from above. And I saw myself, through Her Eye, far below, as an insignificant little speck.

But there was no malice or contempt in her gaze, just attention. She had Love for all her children and was watching what I was going to do. But I was unable to move and could only look back, to that bright Eye in the sky.
I slipped in- and out of consciousness during that long day, till finally the Eye left and the night fell. But the night had it's own Eye, that looked down on me, with that same unspoken question. A question that I did not know the answer of!
Stop tormenting me this way! I exclaimed in my mind.

I knew that I was going to die. If not this night, then surely tomorrow. Another day exposed to the Sun would bring the end.
I hoped, it would not have to come to that.
I did not fear Death, but I could not say the same thing of dying.





Through the Eye of the Earthmother, I saw myself, walking towards the tree and trying to break off a branch. My thrashing about alerted a Wyvern, that took silently to the air. From his high perch, it had seen me as soon as I had entered his territory, but now, this trespasser was disturbing the peace. He had several females with nests in the area, who depended on him for their protection.
In a long flight, he went closer to assess the situation.
The intruder was trashing about with the branches and it was making the females nervous.
He went for a new approach, to scare it away.

Roaring loudly, he announced his presence, but instead of fleeing, the intruder tried to attack him! He could not risk to get hurt, lest he would be unable to fly, but the invader had to be dealt with.
He readied himself for an attack and lashed out with his tail. The trespasser fell to the ground and the danger was averted.
He went back to his high seat, to again oversee his domain.

The next thing I saw, was how it had been my unawareness, that had caused the Cougar to mistake me for an easy prey.
A mistake that had cost it it's life. I could see how we have responsibility, for everything that we do.













Seeing all this, I knew what I wanted, to live life with the ability to not make any more mistakes.
But there was no life for me to live any more. I was on the brink of Death. It did not matter, I knew now, the answer to the question that had been torturing my mind.
I could die in peace.

The white light of the moon was in my eyes and peace was in my mind. And dying seemed the easiest thing in the world. Lying there, peacefully, I awaited the end.
The Shaman is dying

It was, as if the Earthmother spoke to me: "When a mistake is made, it need not inevitably lead to it's fatal conclusion."
And the white circle of the Moon became bigger and bigger, till it filled my view completely.
I was taken up in Her care. "









-
The Wyvern patriarch had been waiting for the trespasser to leave, but it was still lying there.
Not their type of prey, it was not considered food. Hyena's were his favorite.
He would take the corpse and drop it back into the ravine, so the Hyena's could get to it.
For reasons unknown, his flight, that night, was longer than expected.

-














"In the early morning, I was found by a guard, lying behind a tent, on the high flats of Freewind Post.
With their great care and healing skills, the people there were able to nurture me back to good health.
I gave them many thanks, for saving my life and was able to return home, after several days.
Back in Thunder Bluff, I had a lot to report and the Elders listened attentively.

Then, one of the Elders spoke:
"Every creature that decides to attack, hopes for gain, without getting hurt, or tries to prevent loss, possibly to the brink of Death.
We do hunt, out of need and sometimes to prove skill and bravery, but to kill many, all in the same manner, without need and letting go to waste, is a sign that one has lost the connection with the World and it is to ones own peril. Dwarves do come to mind, they celebrate their greatest hunters by the number of useless kills they make.
We can only hope, that they will once again, return to ways of the Earthmother.
Any other reason to attack is a sign of Insanity.
That includes greed, revenge, fear and anger.
There is great risk in that."

I told the Elder that I understood this. That I had seen, how we are responsible for all that we do and that I wanted to live by the guidance of the Earthmother. They told me that She would find her own ways, to show me how I could help Her lessen the suffering of the World.
Following Her advice, I came to see that by doing that, I helped myself even more.

And now I have to eat this Crab," he concluded, "there is still a lot left."
"That was a great story!" exclaimed the Priest. "I wished I was a Tauren too. Being Undead, I have nothing to expect, but Death."
"Yes, and No." said the Shaman between two bites. "I can tell you about that later."

Why did I never see anything like that?! I asked myself. I had died and was ress'ed and had never seen anything, other than that misty place, where I longed to be alive again. It was like a bad dream, with no substance at all. And he talked about things and the Earthmother, as if it was all real. The only real things we had, were the skulls of our ancestors and the power to defend ourselves. Our magic depended on that, and Fire. Fire was always needed.

Fire













I saw that Wilani had fallen asleep. It had been a long story and we were underground for so long, night must have fallen a long time ago. "We all should get some sleep." said the Rogue, while he brought some more wood for the fire. It was good. Once a fire was burning, I could keep it going with only the littlest use of Mana and very little wood.
But the others would need to feed the fire during the night. If you could call it night.
Here, underground, it was dark all the time.


"I will take the first watch.", said the Shaman.
"I will take the second!", I said quickly.
"Wake me when you get tired", said the Rogue.
The Priest had put away all his cooking things found himself a spot, away from the fire. He dared not his risk to have his dried out bones catch fire while sleeping.
As he lay there, he looked like a parched and long dead corpse.
And I though of what he had said.







The Shaman was still eating and I was too much awake to go to sleep any time soon. What a story that was!
I went over it again in my mind. "So you are of the Clan Dawnstrider" I started. He "Hummed" in response.
"Would you be OK if I called you like that?" He "Hummed" again.


I fell silent and looked into the fire.
There was a lot to think about.
fire

The flickering flames created images in my mind.
Images of things that had happened in my life.
One scene was quickly followed by the next.
It was like a whirlwind with me in the center.
Sometimes, I was still very young,
while others were more recent,
but I always felt myself as 'ME'
and the same one.


Not the same were the feelings and emotions connected to these images; the happiness in my childhood, the competition and connection between Lani and me, the fear when my mother went missing and the desperation and loneliness when she was gone and Lani also not being there.
All the way to the moments of intense fear when I was holding that terrible Murloc sheeped.


And then the whirlwind dropped me somehow into my body sitting by the fire.
I regained my composure and looked up. Had this been a dream?
I saw the Shaman looking at me intently, had he done this, in some way?
Seeing my reaction, he said "I looked after you, while you were away.
Call the Rogue if there is anything. I must sleep now."
And with that he closed his eyes and slumped backwards.
"But.." I started to say, only to get a sonorous snoring as a reply.




























Well, he's not going to be much of a help, then, I thought. What am I supposed to do now?
I looked again at the fire and at the pile of firewood; it looked about as much as it had been before, so how long had I been 'away' then? Somehow I felt it was quite a bit longer then it seemed.
My legs argued that I had been sitting in this posture for way too long and I wanted to get up but a peculiar tug at my mind made me look in the direction of the mouth of the cave. I could not see anything in particular and wondered what it had been that made me look that way.

But then I heard it: the soft flaps of webbed feet: Murlocs! They had come back! They would kill us all! Fear rose up in me like lava in a volcano, ready to burst forth but it had me frozen to the spot at the same time.
In panic I Blinked, away from the fire, where I was in clear view. Now in the shadows, I saw a Murloc coming towards the circle of light, but hesitant to get any closer: it feared the fire.
My heart left my throat to take it's normal place and I was able to think again. Was it only ONE Murloc? It seemed so. Why did it not attack? Yes, the fire. Thank the spirits for fire!
Could I wake the others in time or should I try to kill it myself? Could I kill it by myself?

Then came into my mind what the Tauren-elder had said: to attack out of fear is the sign of insanity.
Well, I had fear all-right, no doubt about that. But what should I do then?! There was no possibility to run away and moreover, I could not leave the sleeping others unguarded!

I looked again at the Murloc; it's attention was not at all at those sleeping by the fire, there was something much more attractive: the rest of the mostly eaten crab. It must be really hungry to go so close to the fire.
For a moment I felt pity for the poor Murloc, but that vanished on the spot: those monsters had killed and eaten my mother! Suddenly the lava in my volcano had changed into anger!
I was going to kill at least THIS one!


















But the Elder spoke again: to attack out of revenge or anger is the sign of insanity.
I looked at the Murloc again and could feel its longing for the pool in the back of the cave, but that was even beyond the much feared fire. I hoped it would take the crab and be off and not make a run for that pool. I would not know what to say in the morning when the others would discover that we had gotten a new house-pet during the night.
And besides, cooked crab was really delicious, but not so much the next day.

And so I found myself wishing for a Murloc to steal our food. The thought made me smile.
Come-on! I thought. Perhaps if I magically made the fire a bit less. I was a Mage after-all.
As the fire burned lower, the Murloc seemed more hopeful, till suddenly it made a quick dash and was gone. The crab also. That could have been someone's head, I reprimanded myself, but somehow I did not really believe that.
I let the fire flare up again and could finally get up.

My legs were not amused.
"Owww", I let out a groan that immediately woke the Rogue.
And now him again, I thought. I wanted to go sleep.
It must have been long past my due time and he was the next one anyway, so I did not feel guilty about waking him at all.
More annoyed. He would surely want to know every little thing that had happened when he would discover the Murloc-footprints all over our camp.

"There was a Murloc. I let him have the left-over crab. There were no problems.
I want to sleep now. Wake the Warrior if there is anything."
If the Shaman could be short and go to sleep, so could I!
I stretched my painful legs, it was wonderful.
* I * felt wonderful and very amused with myself.
And off I was.

















I heard the Rogue talk to the Warrior. It was about our nightly guest, of-course. Wilani sounded not so much impressed but the Rogue spoke as if he had to make a big deal out of it.
"She let it steal the rests of the Crab!" His belittling tone made it sound not how it had happened.
I let it go. - A part of me made a note of that: Was I changing?
I decided to act like I had not heard any of that and acted-out a convincing yawn-and-awake.

"Get ready to be going", he said to me.
"Good morning to you too!", I said.
"We can't stay here for much longer, we nearly ran out of firewood", he added, to clarify himself.
"Yes, I can see you've been stoking the fire quite a bit", looking at the big pile of ashes.
"I had to make sure no Murlocs would be coming back" he replied, "after you let one run off with our food!"

"I can see why it had you worried, since you still smell like fish", I said, half jokingly.
"I do?!", he asked, turning towards Wilani.
"Just a bit", she said.
"I would not worry about it!", she called after him, while he ran off towards the pool in the back of the cave.

He quickly got busy cleaning himself and his gear.
"He should use his Vanishing-Powder!" I said quietly to Wilani.
That made us bust out in badly contained giggles, like we were little girls.
"You ladies seem to be having fun?" said the Priest, getting up, like a corpse from the grave.
It felt so good to have this connection again, with Wilani, I said, "Yes, life is just great."

"I have to take your word for it", he said. "I hope to experience that too, some time."
"I am sorry! I did not mean to make you feel bad", I said.
"No worries" he smiled, a bit of a thin smile. "Do you two care for some breakfast?"
"I am afraid you can't cook now", I said, "we have no more wood and we have to be going soon."
That prospect seemed to make him more sad than what I had said before.

"Why don't you go wake Dawnstrider?" I told him.
"You call him Dawnstrider??" he asked surprised.
"Yes, he said he was OK with that", I replied with a big smile.
"I will conjure some bread and water for all of us, then we have something to eat on the way."

"No water for me!", called the Rogue from the back.
"Yes, I know, darling!" I called back.
Wow! I must be feeling really good today, calling him that!
"Since I will be casting from now on, I could use some more water", said the Shaman.
"So, you two finally got married, then?", said Wilani.
That made us giggle a lot again.














"There are still these things we have to divide", said the Priest, pointing at the heap of spoils that were still left.
"Pick it up, we will have to do that later!", came the Rogue again.
"Oki", he said. "You should take one of these stones", he said to me. "I can not take more then one." I looked puzzled. What was so special about these stones? They did not look very interesting at all. And why could you not take more than one?

"These are bits of a broken gravestone", he explained. "If you bring a piece to the Undercity, you can have yourself a tremendously good Wand made there. It's called The Gravestone Scepter, which is unique in it's kind. I specially came here, in the hope to find this, but I did not expect to find it so soon. So, be sure to take a piece and keep it safe, you won't find anything coming close to this, anytime soon", he concluded.

That must be some Wand then, I thought.
We Mages could use a Wand, but it was never used much, other then as a last resort, for when you were left without Mana. Our Spells were so much stronger than any Wand I had ever seen, but if this was going to be such a great thing, I guess taking one piece along would not hurt.

I started Conjuring the bread and water and reminded myself to dig up the Fiery-Orb, from the ashes of the campfire. It had been lying there in the white-hot blaze, soaking up light and was now filled to the brim. Verily, a dazzling little Sun. Of all the Elements, Fire was really the most useful, I thought. I took it and quickly dimmed it a lot to attach it again to my Staff. I was ready to go.

The Shaman came to stand next to me, asking if I would be so kind as to give him the water, which I did. It was a bit strange to see him as a fellow caster now. Somehow it made me feel a bit protective towards him, being new. "Here you go", I said kindly. "Let me know when you need more."

Standing so close to me, I could get a good look at the Staff that he now carried.
By the Spirits! It was so much better than the Staff I had!
It must have been obvious to see me gaping at it, because he said that was from a dangerous place, far in the south of the Barrens.
"Perhaps we could go there some other time", he went on to say, "but for now, you all want to find some more Pearls, I think."

Yes, Pearls! That was why we came here for. At least Wilani and me.
"Yes!", I said, "but I don't expect to find them now, since all the captured Murlocs had nothing on them."
"We should go on!, said Wilani. Further up there must be more of them and I can't wait to get to use these two beauties!"

She was carrying both of the Dwarven-axes and therefore no shield.
"Are you sure you want to go without a shield?", I asked.
"Let the girl have some fun!", said the Rogue. "We have less in melee now, since he has donned the robes and he can heal too, right?"
"I can, but I am not trained in this yet.", said the Shaman.
"See!?", said the Rogue again. "Everyone is ready? Then we can finally go."

I wanted to say that it was he that needed to go scrub and make us wait, but I felt it was no use.
He was the first to step out of the mouth of the cave that had been our small campsite, followed by the Warrior and the Priest. Dawnstrider and I were last.
















It was quite a bit colder here, our fire had warmed-up our cave and the difference was noticeable. A quick shiver ran over my spine. I wouldn't have mind staying a bit longer. Why was he pushing us to leave so quickly?

Dawnstrider was walking next to me and Gregory alone in the middle.
Somehow it did not feel right. I had felt much more at ease with a big Tauren carrying a shield behind my back than to be the last with an inexperienced caster beside me.
It made me go through all my spells, even though I could ready them blindly.
But 'a sensible Mage is a prepared Mage'.
The ones that had taught me had repeated this so many times.

Wilani and the Rogue were setting a good pace and we had to step up a bit to not fall behind.
We did not check any of the smaller caves here and there, if there were any Murlocs in there, it was unlikely that they would have found any Pearls yet. We had to go on.
With this tempo I did not feel cold any-more!

Walking behind Gregory, the distance to the two in front grew unnoticed.
And so we found that, quite sudden, we had lost sight of our vanguard; they had gone around a corner and we were still some distance away.
I urged us to close the gap quickly and on a trot we neared the corner.

Then, while going round the corner, I bumped into a Naga Oracle!
She was as much startled as I was and hissed her foul breath into my face.
Her two Priestess attendants were appalled that I had dared to touch their mistress and rushed in to attack me.

I wanted to shout for help, but her suffocating breath had made it impossible to bring forth any sound. I readied my Staff to protect myself from their long clawing hands.
In desperation I looked to where the Shaman and the Priest had gone, but they were out of sight already. If at least this silencing would end, then I could finally cast and scream!

I managed to cast an Instant Arcane-explosion. Beng! Under their constant attacks it was the only thing I could do.
All coolness and composure had gone but it did not matter, I was going to die!
Beng! Beng! The sound was deafening in this narrow place.
The priestesses were taking turns in Smiting me and healing their beloved Mistress. And she started to cast some Spell to finish me off, but before it hit me everything went already black.
I had died.















This time, it was different.
For some reason I was able to see everything, in a faint light gray glow. The forms of the Naga and my own corpse were slightly translucent and glowing at the outline.
The Naga turned their attention towards the Shaman who had come back into view. Upon seeing them, he quickly stepped back to take cover around the corner.
It had not taken them long at all to kill me and very little time had actually passed.

Now, lightning bolts were flying from around the corner. These were very bright in this shimmering, grayish world.
They hit the Naga, but to little effect. Two healing Priestesses and an Oracle were pretty hard to kill. It was going to be a race between Damage and Healing and with me being dead, we were one Damage-dealer short.
The two Priestesses, now determined to get the Shaman, were advancing towards the corner, taking turns in healing each-other. The Oracle followed in their wake.



And then I was there, alone, somehow hovering over my dead body.
Seeing myself lying there, crumpled-up and smitten, I felt pity for my poor body.
And sad. The heat of the fight and the fear had all gone.
I looked around and saw the narrow passage where the Naga had come from, more narrow even than where my friends had went. They must have a big fight now, I suppose.

So strange to feel no panic or fear, although I did feel a bit worried. But what could I do? I could not leave my corpse alone, now could I ? What if some Murlocs would find it and ...No! I did not want to think about that!
But there would be nothing I could do IF it would happen, right?
I suppose.
Hmm, I did not feel great about leaving my body, but a part of me wanted to see what was happening around the corner.
That part won, and I drifted there to have a look.
Just for a short while, I told myself.





Time was moving differently.
Things that had my attention happened very slowly and other things seem to get skipped entirely, only to show the result of what had happened.
It was very strange.



It was a good thing that the Warrior was using both Axes and was doing more Damage now, since Tanking all these Healers was pretty much useless. A pointless effort to try and kill an opponent that gets constantly healed. No, they should all three be killed at the same time.
Not an easy task at all.

The Rogue and the Warrior were each fighting a Priestess and the Shaman was attacking the Oracle.
Was he now hitting her with his Staff? Was he out of Mana already?
Oh! The Priestess that the Rogue had been fighting had died!
Oh! The Shaman had also died. The Oracle was attacking the Priest now.
The Warrior had to let go of the other Priestess in order to come and save him.
She was now attacked by both of the Naga.
The Priest used his wand, shooting at the remaining Priestess. She died.
Oh, the Warrior had also died!

The Oracle was now alone and was fighting with the Rogue while the Priest was shooting her with his Wand.
Now the Rogue died. Only the Priest and the Oracle were left.
Who was going to win?
She was hitting him with her Staff now, oh, she died.
The fight was over.
I quickly went back to my dead body.
Hopefully, I would be ress'ed soon!
















After what seemed like an eternity, I got finally ress'ed by the Shaman. We quickly went to the others who were busy with bandages, food and drinks to gain back their lost Health and Mana. They were all talking together, complimenting the Priest and praising him for saving the day. Luckily he had survived, or we would have all been dead.

I felt a bit out of place. I had seen it all happen, what they were talking about, but the feeling of what a desperate fight it had been, had eluded me. Sitting down, drinking to restore my Mana, I let their words come over me, unable to really share their excitement.

The Oracle had been an especially bad adversary, it seemed. She had managed to kill all three of them.
"Yes! And me too!" I said.
But my voice got lost in the commotion.

I looked at my party, each one of them was like a stranger.
Even Wilani, who I knew my whole life, seemed unfamiliar to me and out of reach. Was I really back alive?
My thoughts went back to that shimmering gray realm where I had been for such a long time.
There was no fear there. All that I can remember was a curious interest. A calm place.

The upheaval had died down and swung towards a silence where each seemed lost in their own thoughts.
They were getting ready to go on. I got up too.
"We should stay more close together." I said.
This time, my voice was heard.





Was I mistaken to think that the party had lost it's enthusiasm? We were on our way, but it had the feel of compulsion. These sudden and unexpected deaths were surely part of it, but I felt there was something else contributing to our drudgingly going through these tunnels. Somehow all feeling of adventure had vanished and it felt more like work. Tedious work.

No-one was talking and we were walking in a huddle. There was neither front nor end to it.
The detachment that I still felt made me see how they were plodding along, without any vigor. How would a next encounter be dealt with?
And I, even though I could see it, was not able to break the silence and say something about it.

Moving somewhat more forward, I came to walk next to Wilani who acknowledged me with a tiny smile. She looked weary.
She had gotten up early, because of having the last watch and had been tired since the fight with the big Murloc.
I returned the smile and felt pity for her. Being a warrior was really hard work. Sure, it had it's glorious moments too, where the Warrior was the spear-point of the group, being thrust into a pack of adversaries.
None-other than a Warrior could expect to survive such an onslaught.
Each their own, I thought.

I forced myself to pay attention to our surroundings. We were in a long corridor again with nothing on either side.
Just boring walking.







But after a while we saw something dead, lying on the ground. It turned out to be a dead Murloc. And when we got closer we could see what had killed it: It was crawling with hundreds upon hundreds of tiny spider-crabs!
Wilani gave a bit of an involuntary scream: she really hated those things. And they were terrible: small enough to be easily squashed, but numerous enough to make no difference at all.
They could easily get in between your gear and anywhere else. Brrr!

For now they were busy eating the Murloc, but once they would notice us, we would have their deadly attention.
I told her to stay back and the others too. Weapons were useless in this situation. It was timing that was going to be used.
Too soon and too many would be missed, too late, well, too late would be too late, wouldn't it?

I stepped a bit more forward, not too close, but they had to be able to spot me. This should be about right.
I shot a volley of Arcane Missiles into the dead Murloc. That stirred-up the swarm pretty good. Then I jumped up-and-down to make them notice me.
A flood of tiny monsters left the corpse of the Murloc and came running towards me.






I shot another volley to make the stragglers hurry-up so they would be all as close together as possible.

They were still in a bit of a long spread, too long for my taste, so I started to run to give the ones who were behind time to catch-up with the rest. As they closed in on me, they also got closer together and when they very nearly got to me, I casted a Frost-Nova and Blinked away. Normally I would follow this up with a Blizzard of ice, pelting down, but this vermin was so small, many would still be missed. No, for this occasion I had something more effective: casting the Flame-strike Spell, a great circle in front of me was engulfed in Fire for a short while. Bigger monsters would only get burned a bit and would not die, but these small pests did not need much to turn to a crisp.

Checking to see if I had gotten all of them, I saw that a few stragglers had been beyond the reach of the fire.
I waited till they were very close and killed those with an Arcane Explosion. Beng!
Beng! Beng! And two more, just to be sure.

I looked at my Mana; far more than half was left! I smiled, I could have killed them twice-over, if I had to.
"They are all dead now!", I called to the others.
Wilani came towards me and stepping on this crunchy carpet, she said: "Thank the Spirits for that!
Girl, you really have Icy Veins, letting them get so close to you!"
I smiled. "Each their own, Wilani. You take on the big ones and I the small ones."

How had we become so different? I thought.
A Warrior, so hot with Rage and a Mage so ice-cold and shrewd.


Having casted Fire, I felt more alive again.
I really loved Fire a great deal.
Ice was deadly and indispensable to freeze your opponents in-place and Arcane brought so many handy and clever things, it would be sorely missed, but Fire....
It's pure glow filled my heart with warmth.
It made me feel like a roiling volcano, full of red hot lava, ready to burst forth! Destroying everything!!

But wait! I am a Mage!
We are the ones with Icy Veins!!
How did I get engulfed into this fiery fantasy?
I shook myself awake.
Hopefully I was now really awoke.















Now that we have found one Murloc, others should be not far away.
But were we ready for a real fight?
Only Wilani had said anything, so far.

I dared to bring it up: "Guys," I said, "I really feel not so great."
"You handled those pests, quite decently" replied the Rogue.
"Thanks. But that is not what I mean. Ever since this Oracle killed me, I have been feeling strange and I thought I had got rid of it, but it only seems to get worse. Right now it feels like some oppressive force on my mind. Don't you guys not feel anything?"

"Perhaps you did not sleep very well" said Wilani, stifling a yawn. "I have been feeling a bit tired myself, too."
"Will there be any more of these tiny crabs?" asked Gregory.
"I don't know what you are talking about, Lady" said the Rogue. "But if you want to find any Pearls, we better go on."
"Soon your question might be answered." said Dawnstrider.

Those replies! None of them was answering my question. Oh well.
"That reminds me," said the Rogue, "back there, I picked up this thing. It doesn't look all that great to me, but perhaps you can use it. The Priest got one already, so I guess you can have this one, here." And he handed me the Staff that the Naga Oracle had been carrying.

It was stronger and more roughly made than my own Staff, but it had a quality to it that enabled casting quite a bit. That made it definitely better than the one I currently had.
"Wow! thanks!" I said "Yes, this is going to be a big help!"
"Great!" he said, "Then we can finally go on."




Nobody wanted to search the dead Murloc, so we went on.
It was not long after, till we found another Murloc. I froze it to the spot, so it could not run away and then we quickly killed it. It had a pearl! Only a small pearl, but I thought it was a good sign.
In the same way, we were able to catch four more Murlocs that rewarded us with two more pearls and one of those was an Iridescent one! That went to Wilani.

But where was the water? This long winding corridor had still no caves on the sides and neither any water.
So it was no real surprise to come to a small lake with Murlocs splashing about on the shore.
What was a surprise, were the ruins that only just reached out of the water.
These were similar to the ruins at the beach at the Zoram Strand, but never had I heard of any ruins under the ground.

None of us had been here before. How did we manage to get in a place like this?
"We must have taken a wrong turn somewhere." I said.
"What should we do now? Go back?"






We decided to first get all the Murlocs that were in easy reach from the shore and then to have a closer look at this strange building, so nearly sunken away.

All these Murlocs left us with two more Iridescent Pearls, of which Gregory and I were the lucky recipients. Now I had two! Enough to finish my boots that were waiting at home.

Home! It seemed ages ago. I, for one, would be fine just to make a Portal and be out of here.
But to be fair, the Rogue was still one Pearl behind and it was clear that he had an interest in these submerged ruins.






With all the Murlocs dead, the shore was safe now and we sat down. It was a gloomy place here; the walls and the ceiling were too far to reflect any of the light of the Fiery Orb on my new Staff and the black water was also looking uninviting.
"A fire would be nice." I said. "Do you have any wood left, Gregory?"
"Only a little." He said. "It would be better if we could find something else to burn."
And he went scrounging along the waterline, to see what he could find.

"I like to inspect these ruins." said the Rogue. "And I prefer to go alone, so I can just Vanish if I happen to find anything dangerous."
How can you hope to see anything in this darkness, I wanted to say, but someone who was sneaking around in the dark all the time would probably have his ways.
"I will help Greg" said Wilani, and went along the shore in the opposite direction.
Dawnstrider said nothing. He seemed to be far away in deep thoughts.
And I was holding my Staff, like a beacon, in this small bright circle of light, in the middle of the great darkness.










And the darkness seemed to weigh upon my mind. It was almost as when that Gloom-Orb had been stuck in my hair.
OK, not that bad, but somehow similar. I longed to get rid of it.
Was I the only one to feel this?





Shouting brought an abrupt end to my thoughts. It was Gregory!
"It's after me!" we heard him shout and we got up quickly.















He came running towards us, shouting: "I managed to scare it away, but it came back and now it's after me!"
What was after him?!
It turned out to be only a Murloc and the three of us managed to kill it without much troubles.
"So, instead of you finding something, something found you!" I said with a smile.
"When you are alone, it is not so much fun", he replied indignantly.
Gregory scares away a
      Murloc!
[Gregory scares away a Murloc]

"I found something too." It was Wilani.
"Look at this thing! It is enormous!" And she held up a Giant Clam shell.
"Now I understand where these Murlocs get those big Pearls from."
"Yes, and think of all the Clam-meat that is in such a thing!" said Gregory.
"It would be great to find a few of these. Too bad it is so dark, there in the water."

"Are you afraid of the dark now?" said Wilani.
"Well, who knows what might be in there.", he replied. "Perhaps more of these tiny crabs!"
"You have more chance finding them on the shore, than in the water, Greg!
You can count yourself lucky that you were found by that Murloc and not by those crabs!" I said with a laugh, teasing him a bit more. But I felt a bit sorry for him too. It was his first time here, after all.
"You should just stay with us and not walk off into the dark alone, OK?" I said with a smile.

Unfortunately we had not found any wood to burn, so that meant no fire.
"So, what are we standing around for?" said Wilani, "There is nothing for us here."
"Do you know where to go then?" I asked.
"Over there, I saw a bit of a cliff, if we could get up there, we could go on. There is hardly any water in between."

That sounded like a good idea.
"What about the Rogue?" asked Gregory. "Should we not wait for him?"
"He had not told us to wait" I said, "and he is a Rogue, he can find us.
What do you think?" I asked the Shaman.

He seemed to surface from great depths and said: "Perhaps it does not make a difference. Therefore I will remain here, and wait for the Rogue."
And so, the three of us went off in the direction that Wilani had seen.



But when we got closer to the cliff, it was just a bit higher than we had hoped. And the water in front of it was too deep to stand, so we tried to make Gregory climb on our joined arms, while we were trying to keep our heads above water.
After several attempts, we gave up.
Tired and wet we came back to where the Shaman was still sitting.
We too sat down, to wait for the Rogue to show up.
























...
"So in the end, we decided that it was not worth the troubles, to try to get up that ledge after-all and I made a Portal to Orgrimmar.
I even went all the way to the Undercity, with Gregory and learned a few things from Tailoring, that I could make good use of.
In later years, we tried to go find that long tunnel again, that had lead us to that strange part of the Deeps, where those sunken ruins were, to show others that they were really there, but we never were able to find it again.

Anyway, Wilani and me, we ended up here, in Shadowprey Village, along the shore, much further south. It is a nice enough place and close to the shore it is not so hot.
She is Hae'Wilani now. She ran into this Shadowprey Guardian and decided to stay here and I somehow stuck around.
Sadly, it was short-lived; he died a few years ago, when he was out on patrol.
At one time, when she was really short on gold, she had to sell one of her Dwarven-Axes which made her a good deal of gold and now she is an Axe-crafter and trader.

And I am still Lah'Mawhani and I sell Trade Supplies. I have some contacts in the Undercity that send me goods that sell pretty well here, so I am not complaining. It is a good enough business and I'm just next to Mai'Lahii's Fishing Supply, so you can understand that there is no shortage of fish here.
Yes, I definitely got hooked, as they say here. That Gregory, he had no idea what he unleashed, when he handed me that cooked Sagefish. "It is good for the brain, they say."

Yeah, about that, I finished my studies after some time, when I got into trade. Well, not really finished, I somehow just stopped with it. Too much danger in being a Mage. Yeah, when you really get to the highest levels, then it is really tremendous, but ah, things went differently. I can still do some Spells, of-course, but it is hardly ever needed. Even for a fire, I only have to walk a few yards, since the beacons over there are always lit. So yeah, that is about it, I guess.

What about the others? Hmm, from my contacts in the Undercity, I hear that Gregory is doing OK. He still cooks, but he seems to try to make his fortune with Enchanting. It is a volatile business, I hear, sometimes you can make lots of gold, but losing a lot is also very possible. Dawnstrider has visited us once, here in Shadowprey. He seems to know our Innkeeper, she is a Tauren too. And the Rogue, well, he went off to inform his people and we never saw or heard from him again, though I have to say we hardly ever go to Orgrimmar, so that is just as much our fault, I guess.

Oh, there is a customer. Now, if you excuse me, it was nice talking to you."




Mawhani waves goodbye!
[Mawhani waves goodbye]

































...
"Wait! What do you want from me!?
Let go of me!!
.
Let me go!
.
Let me go!!"
.
"Hani!"
.
"Hani!!, Wake up!"
Wilani was pulling on my arm, trying to wake me up.
I had fallen asleep. In this darkness, it was pretty easy.

Oh! What a dream was that! Pffft! And it looked all so real!!
I hope I am really awake now.

It was not the first time I had been thinking that.
What is going on here? In this dark place.















There was a splashing sound and startled we looked at the dark water: something big and dark was emerging!
It was the Rogue.
He looked tired and weary.
"You guys have no fire?!" He said, as he plumped down next to the Shaman.
"We could not find any wood," said the Priest "and I have only a little left."

"Might as well use that then, since this looks to be the end of the line.
I have been searching these ruins and by the size of the clams that grow here, it is clear that no-one has been here for a very long time. Just look at this pearl I found!" And he held up a beautiful big Iridescent Pearl.
"Now we are even." He said with a tired smile.

"At least let us go back a bit and not sit so close to this dark water." said Gregory
"Yes! Let's go do something!" said Wilani. "I am tired of waiting around at this good for nothing black pool.
Why did you not bring the clam meat too? Then at least we had something to cook.
I have not even had a decent breakfast since we got up.
How do you expect me to do any serious tanking on an empty stomach?!"

"Yes," I said, "you have been rushing us to get up and go, go, go and now you tell us that it's the end of the line?"
"Ho, ho, ho! Ladies, now it's all suddenly my fault? You got your pearls, alright. Didn't you? and he was able to do his job for the Earthmother, right? So how can it be my fault that we ended up here?"
"Can we please go away from the water, at-least?" said Gregory. "I don't feel happy to sit around here."
"A fire will raise our spirits" said the Shaman, getting up. "We can make it over there."

We went back a bit, inside the tunnel, somewhat more sheltered than in that black void.
Gregory put down the last of the wood and I contributed the Fiery Orb, so that together with my magic, it would last as long as possible.
There we sat down to hold our Counsel of War.
Counsel of War
[Counsel of War]

The glow of the fire did indeed raise our Spirit and I said: "I am sorry that I got so irritated, I told you guys that I have not been feeling so great. It is as if something is trying to squish my mind.
But at least tell us why you have been rushing us all the time."

"I would feel much better if I had something decent to eat." said Wilani. "Sorry dear, but your conjured food is just not doing it for me now."
"I still have some Cooked Sagefish that I made earlier." said Gregory. "They're cold, of-course, but you can warm it at the fire." And he dug in his bags.
"Anyone else?" Even the Rogue accepted one.
And silently we were eating, each of us in our own thoughts.



It was the Rogue who spoke first:
"I will level with you guys, as much as I can. I have told you that I did not come here to find Pearls but to find something out. And it seems I have found more than I can chew. Therefore I suggest that we be happy with what we have accomplished and make a Portal to Orgrimmar and go our merry ways.

"What did you find out?" asked Gregory.
"Who says we can not chew that!?" said Wilani.
"You say level with us? You still did not tell us why you have been rushing us!" I said.
"I really wish that you guys would not ask these things." he said, looking uncomfortable.
"If you plan on getting a Portal back to Org, you better start explaining." I said.
"The Earthmother has put me on this path, therefore it can not be wrong." said Dawnstrider.

"You guys don't understand, he said, getting a bit desperate, this is much bigger than any of us."
"You can put your trust in the Earthmother" said the Tauren.
"At least tell us why you have been rushing us." I insisted.
"Lady, then I might just as-well tell you everything!" he exclaimed in agony.
"What can be so bad that it has you sweating like a boar on a spit!?" said the Warrior.
"Come on! Out with it! Then we can still decide what to do."
"We should just go back to Orgrimmar!" he tried with his last effort.
"We can decide that once you are done explaining." said Wilani firmly.

"OK then," he sighed. "I have come here to find out what is wrong with this place. There might be some kind of bad influence here. That's why I have been rushing you all, in order to not stay here any longer than needed. I did not know what to expect or what to look for, but it seems to affect the mind. Since she is trained to use it all the time," here he pointed at me, "she notices it more, apparently. If I could find out what causes it, that would be a great success."
Thank the Spirits! I thought. I have not been imagining things!








The Rogue continued.
"It turns out we are not the only ones with an interest in this place. Over there, beyond that ledge, there is a much bigger lake. There I found an agent from a global organization. He is in very bad shape and I could only make out a few words of what he said because my Elvish is not that great."

Now everyone spoke at the same time:
"Elvish!?" "How did you get on that ledge?" "Did you finish him off?" "What did he say?"
"Yes, he is a Night Elf. If you manage to get on top of the ruins, you can just make it onto the ledge. No, he is protected by powerful magic, way out of our league and besides, this organization is global, there are Orcs in there too, they work for the same goal. We should not kill him, even if we could. The only things I know he said were "Danger" and "Go back". Do you now see how this is so much bigger than any of us?" He said hopeful.
"Anyway, he lies there on a big island in the middle of the lake where he managed to make the turtles guard him since the whole of the lake is full of Naga. I had to Stealth all the time!"

"If he is badly injured, he should be saved." said the Shaman.
"I doubt if we can be of any help to him, his own magic is of much higher level than ours. The best we can do for him is to notify his organization once we are back in Orgrimmar."
"You keep talking of going back to Orgrimmar." I said. "So far I have not heard anything specific that is so dangerous and I too would very much like to know what is causing this seriously annoying attack on my mind!"

"And I really want to see how you got up on that ledge" said Wilani. "We put in a lot of effort trying to get up there! Then at least we can be gone from this useless place."
"Yes! Somewhere away from this dark water would be great." said the Priest.
"Perhaps we can be of some use to him. It is my feeling that we should go have a look." said the Shaman.
"OK then." said the Rogue defeated. "But don't say I didn't warn you while you still had the chance of going back unharmed!"

"Get ready guys!" I said. "The fire is finished."
And I took the Fiery Orb to put it back on my Staff.
"I was born ready!" said Wilani.
"If you would follow me, please." said the Rogue and he went along the shore, to where Greg had been found by the Murloc.






The time at the Fire had given a boost to everyone's Spirit. They all looked more lively. Even the Rogue had regained his composure and didn't look so tired as before. We should have a Fire more often, I thought. So, you keep an eye out for some wood, I made a mental note to myself.

A part of me was full of amazement: from where came this determination? All the time I had been griping about everything, only looking for an excuse to make a quick portal home and now I was the first one to get up to go on! I might not like it when someone told me what I should or should not do, but that could not be all of it.

This strange dream came back to my mind. It had been so real! Was I running away from such a quiet existence? If that wasn't what I wanted, then what?
The powerful vision that I had earlier came to my mind: me destroying everything, like a burning volcano. No! Surely not that! Something in the middle would be better, yes.

The Rogue's voice brought me back to the present moment:
"Here we have to swim a little, so we can get over on that side." And he pointed across the dark water.
Again, into the water, I thought. But it could not be helped.







The shore sloped up there, getting close to the top of the ruins. Aha! So that was the way he got up there! A gap separated the ruin from the shore; a running jump and we all managed to get on top of it. Save for the Priest. Greg had fallen into the water and had to climb onto the shore to try once more. This time he jumped too early and fell short and in the water again. Somehow he had no feeling at all of how or when to jump and he failed once again.
"I can not do this!" he exclaimed. "And I don't want to get into this terrible black water ever again!!"

I went back and said: Let's jump together Gregory! Come on: One, two three, jump!"
It worked and we advanced to the next part where we had to jump again. One, two, three, jump! OK! Only two more jumps until we would get onto the ledge. The others had already reached the last bit and were waiting for us to arrive.

One, two, three, Jump! But he jumped too late again and missed. Now he had to swim all the way back.
Climbing onto the shore he shouted: "I'm NOT going to do it!! I will just walk to where you guys are!" And I saw the little green light of his Wand move along the cave walls towards us. How was he supposed to get up on the ledge?

Meanwhile, the ones in front had got noticed by some Murlocs and had to jump onto the ledge in order to fight them. I did not want to lose track of Gregory, but I had to help with the fight too. And by the time the Murlocs were dead, I could see his little green dot no longer. "Guys!" I shouted, but there were already more Murlocs incoming, aided this time, by well armored shellfish.

Those new adversaries proved to be very tough and the fight lasted quite a while. The Shaman was not equipped to heal for so long and was already Out Of Mana and all that time the Warrior was not healed. Even though these last few crustaceans did not hit very hard, her Health started to get critical. But then, as if out of nowhere, Heals were arriving! Where did those come from?!

Finally, the last shellfish was slain and it was safe to advance once more. And there we saw the Priest! Sitting up high, on a bit of rock. "How did YOU get up there!?" I exclaimed.
"I did not dare to jump down," he said "I was not sure if I could climb back up, if I had to. From the other side, it is not so steep." A happy stroke of luck; now we did not have to go back to find him.

Gregory
        up there


The big cave came into view. The ceiling was much lower and it was a lot wider, with an island in the middle, like the Rogue had said. A good moment to check if everyone was ready for the next encounter.








"This whole pool has Naga everywhere!" said the Rogue.
"So far, I have only seen Witches and Warriors, but there could be Healers too. They will definitely see us, as soon as we get out into the open. The best we can do is to get on the Island as quick as possible. The longer we stay in the water, the more Naga will come to fight us.

We don't have to swim; there is a shallow stretch of water, that we can wade through, but it will still take time.
I think it is best if I go first, to draw their attention, then the Cloth-wearers and the Warrior should be last, so she can keep any of their Warriors from attacking the Clothies.
There is no need to kill them, just make sure we get past the turtles safely. They don't seem to go near the turtles at all, so we can use that to our advantage."
"Any questions?" He asked.

There was silence from everyone and I looked at the circle of turtles in the distance. That agent must surely be a Druid, that he could engage those animals in guarding him. And of high level too.
"If everyone is ready, then let's run there quickly" said the Rogue again.

We exited the tunnel and running towards the water, a warmth enveloped us. This wide cave was not so cold as these tunnels had been. Following the Rogue in file, we waded through the shallow water. This alerted Naga Warriors on both sides of us.
They quickly swam towards us as we kept going. Wilani behind us bashed her Shield, to get their attention. I did not look back, to not waste any time. The Rogue was already back onto the shore and told us to get behind the turtles. Wilani was holding three Warriors at bay, whilst backing up towards the shore. But getting closer to the turtles, they let off and swam quickly away and we were all safe behind the turtle-guard.
turtle









My gaze was immediately drawn towards the Night Elf due to the enormous power that was emanating from him. Renewing Life-force was all around him, so much so that even moss had began to grow where he lay. It was as if he was resting on a bed of moss. There was no doubt about it: this was a Druid!
We Trolls had no druids, but I had seen Tauren that were druids. They were really weird; they could cast and heal, like a Priest, but the next moment they could change into a terrifying bear or a ferocious big cat that could tear someone to shreds. Anything that had to do with living things was their realm. A Druid in a place sprawling with life was nearly impossible to kill.

But for this Elf death was clearly a lot closer: a Naga spear straight through his back had him pinned to the ground. It was obvious how he had been unable to get himself free. And what were we supposed to do? This Spear, so full of barbs, would need the skill of a Blacksmith to do anything to it. It must have been the only way, for the Naga, to eliminate him. I wondered how many of them he had slain, before they had been able to take him out like this. But there were no dead Naga around him, they had taken their fallen when they left.

Somehow he was smaller that I had imagined, but his power was unmistakable.
I had seen Night Elves before, but only from far, far away, when they would ride through the Barrens on their enormous cats. To come close to just one of them would mean certain death and a small patrol, like they used to have, could perhaps take on a small army. Of-course, those were their Elite Scouts, they would not send anyone less, so far into the Barrens, but still.



The Shaman was sitting next to him and that made him look even smaller, but somehow his great power would make even the big Tauren look small. In what way could we be of any help? This guy was far beyond our capabilities, whether to kill or to heal.


"You're a good turtle", said Wilani, patting the giant shell. "Those nasty Nagas really don't want to come near you. You should come with us, don't you think? That would be so much easier, now, wouldn't it?" But the turtle did not leave it's post and made no sound.
turtle


"Can you do anything for him?" asked the Rogue.
"I carry some life-giving Herb with me, but his Spirit is far away" gave the Shaman as reply. "He escaped into a Dream. It will not be of any use, unless he returns to his Body. Even if I dared, I can not go there.
It is not a pleasant Dream." He concluded.

"But we can both Heal!" said the Priest. Together we can save him, right?"
"Gregory," said Wilani, "your biggest Heal would not even show up against this Renew that he has going on. We are wasting our time here, he can lie there for ages and we can't do anything about it. Who knows how long he has been lying here, already?"

"But there has to be something that we can do?" said Gregory again.
"I took the Documents that he carried, I will bring those to their Headquarters in Orgrimmar." said the Rogue.
"Night Elves used to be Immortal," said the Shaman, "therefore they are not used to Dying. He is so afraid of Dying that he chose to dwell in that Nightmare instead. Even though it must torment him relentlessly.
They do not know that they will be taken up in the care of the Earthmother."
"Can you not show him, you know, when you found me?" said Gregory.
"With the Earthmother's help, I might." rumbled the Tauren.

Then he fell silent. We could only imagine what he was doing, sitting there, motion-less.










"Well that's clear then." said Wilani. "Looks like we're again not going anywhere soon. Knowing this guy here," pointing at the Shaman, "he's going to sit there for at least a couple of hours, before anything happens. Might as-well get some shut-eye. Didn't have too much sleep, the last time." And with that she put her shield on the ground and laid her head to rest. "Too bad we don't have a fire, but it's not cold here, so..." And she turned over on one side.

I was astounded. How could she even sleep, in the middle of a lake full of Naga?!
I looked over the water; no Naga were seen, but I knew they were there, suppressing their hatred in fear of the turtles. What could have happened that they had become so hateful? It was a good thing that they never went far from the shore, or there would be no place free from their menace!
Naga female




Gregory sat down and closely watched the Shaman and the Rogue was sitting, reading the Notes that he had taken from the Night Elf. He felt my gaze and looked up.
I said: "Can you read that?!" wondering, seeing an Orc read.
"The Elvish writing is hard to read," he said "but I can make out the words, the problem is that I don't know much Elvish. But others can and in case I lose these Notes, I will have at least some of it stored here." and he tapped his head.
I was amazed.

"What does it say?" I asked.
"Ofnir y gallai fod dylanwad Soggoth y slitherer nad yw ei weddillion ymhell i'r Gogledd o'r fan hon."
read the Rogue.
"What?!" I exclaimed. "And you can remember words like these?!" This made learning Mage-Spells look like child's-play.
"Yeah, Lady, not all of us are raging, foaming at the mouth, War-Axe-wielding Berserkers.
Contrary to common belief." he added smugly.

I was at a loss for words. With such a memory, you could hope to start Master-level Mage-craft in less than 2 years!
"It is all a matter of training" he went on. "And dedication."
And with that he went back to his reading.

I was left speechless. It showed that people can be very much different from how you perceive them. As a Mage, I was used to place great value on Intellect, especially, as Mages desire it above anything else. I can't help but admit, that it made me look down a little, on those who would go along with less.
And now this guy, having me on the wrong foot again!

I felt more than a little bit irritated; it would have been so much easier if he was just an annoying, back-stabbing Rogue, that would do something stupid because he was bored and then bring the whole group in danger, that could only just be averted by resourcefulness of all the other party-members. But no! Mr. Rogue sat down and was reading! Not making any troubles at all! If a Naga would have showed it's ugly head, I would have flung a Bolt at it!

I tried to calm myself down: Icy-Veins! Remember?!
Shut Up! With your Icy-Veins! I am getting totally crazy in here!
This incessant onslaught on my Mind! I can't take it anymore!
I had to do something, it was getting the upper hand.








"Gregory!" I said with a hoarse whisper, "can you cast a Dispel on ME, NOW, please?!"
He shook up and rose quickly to his feet. "What happened?" he said.

"Dispel Magic, Greg!" I said from between clenched teeth.
Startled, he started to cast. The influence was instantly lessened a great deal.
"Phew! That was close!" I said with a sigh of relief, "Thanks a lot!"
Puzzled, he looked at me, "What happened?" he asked again.
"Don't worry, Gregory, I am OK now", I said with a smile.
"This influence was getting the better of me, but your Dispel has caused it to die down a lot."

The Rogue stood next to me, probably to make sure I was OK, or to cosh me over the head, if I wasn't. Looking at me, he said: "It is good to know that Dispel can abate this influence, we should have it cast on each of us, just to be sure." "Oki" said the Priest and got to work. "I will Dispel her when she is awake, I think, and the Shaman when he is ready." he said after he had casted Dispel on himself too.

"I have no need for this yet." said the Shaman, without looking up.
It gave me a bit of a shock, hearing him react; he seemed so far away, when he was sitting there like that, but it showed he heard everything nevertheless.
"Some people just can not be helped" he rumbled, getting up. "He dwells in this Nightmare and he thinks he is doing fine. Thinking it to be better than to look at the situation he is in.

Life giving Herb strengthens the Spirit, so it can see clearly. It does not give Life as such, only the Earthmother can do that. And it should be clear to him that he needs to move on. But his fear of dying prevents him from seeing this and the pride in his power made this evasion look like an attractive option. And now he suffers more in his Nightmare than he would if he were present here.

How can someone be so great, be so blind at the same time? Some, who are in a desperate situation, think that death would be a good way of escape, but actively seeking death is not the way of the Earthmother and is very bad. But he, a Druid, who must know of these things, he is like the opposite, somehow that makes it even worse." He sounded defeated.

"You mean he cannot be saved?!" said Gregory.
"Saved?" said the Shaman. "There are fates that are worse than Death.
I was going to tell you about it, but this is hardly the right place, or time.
Even-so I will tell you. Things are the way they are.

Every Spirit has its own allotted time, as soon that is over, you can try to resurrect a dead body as much as you want, but the Spirit will not return to it. They will return to the Earthmother. What will happen then, we do not know, we think She will give them a new Life to live. In your case, as with all the Forsaken, your Life was cut short by unnatural means, before its allotted time was up and that is why you were able to be re-awakened. You have a living Spirit, but your body is dead. And it will be like this until the allotted time has finished.
In your case it would only be fair if the Earthmother would give you a new Life." he concluded.

"So at least I can hope!" said the Priest. "How long do I need to be in this dead body? I guess it can not be known, right?" "Indeed, it cannot" said the Shaman. "We all know that life is different for everyone. We think that it is Her wisdom that every Spirit receives a different life. More lives than one, would make all this much more understandable."

I noticed that he somehow had been able to get out of his gloomy, defeated feeling and looked now more as before, like how I had come to know him. How had he managed to do that??







I ventured a question: "You said that each Spirit has his own allotted time, so does that not mean that his time is not yet up? Or he could not have stayed here up-until now?"
"You are right." he replied. "The Intellect that you carry makes your Mind sharp. Pointed in the right direction, it could do a lot of good. It was foolish of me to think that I could save him, just because it is my wish. The Elders would remind me: Just as we Call upon the Elements, we do not command them, similarly, we follow the Way of the Earthmother. To expect Her to do my bidding is my foolishness. You see how She works through you this time again? I am thankful for your question, it gives me much to think about.
If you would excuse me, I have to regain my Peace now."
And with that, he sat down again.


This gave me much to think about too! First and foremost, WHY can HE just go sit down to regain his Peace while
> I < have to bottle it up, because the situation does not allow for it?

The cave with the dozens of Murlocs came to mind.
It had felt like a bomb was exploding inside me, and there had been no time for it.
Somehow there was never any time for it.
It made me feel miserable.


Mawhani sitting








"You have time now", said my own voice inside me.
"Yea, but I really don't feel like it" I gave as an answer.
"And where to start? So much has happened... And it will only make me feel worse, if I start thinking about it."

"You are right." I said to myself. (It is always nice to be in agreement with yourself, btw.)
"You are right, so that is not the way to go."
"I know that!" I gave myself as reply.
"Not much help you are, with all your Intellect, is it not?" Scathing words, that I flung towards myself.

How to get out of this situation?
I wished I could ask Gregory for another Dispel Magic, but these were the Demons in my own mind; I had to deal with those myself.











What was it that the Shaman had said? Pointed in the right direction, my Intellect could do a lot of good.
"Yea, in the right direction, we only have to find the right direction and everything will be peachy, sure."
"You know, you have a point there," I said to myself. "What was the idea again? To regain his inner peace, was it not?
"Well, I, for one, would be happy if I could even gain peace, for starters, let alone, re-gain." came my voice again.
"You are right again", I told myself


So how to get Peace?
"It would help if we would not fight with each-other", I said to myself.
I saw what I was going to reply, but my inner voice was too smart to fall into that trap.
"You're right" came as an answer.

A reluctant peace was established.














So, how to gain Peace?
Not fighting isn't exactly peace, although it is a start.
When did I feel really peaceful? So much has happened, yea...
Sorrow and sadness, loneliness and fear, despair....
"Yes, I know", I said to myself, "I was there too..."
There was a tear in my eye.

"Come, let's think of something else" I said to myself, and gently led my thoughts away...












"You know, when I was dead, there was no fear."
I was not sure which part of me had brought this up, but yes, I remembered, the calmness that I had experienced, no fear or anger was present, a feeling of detachment, perhaps a slight wondering.

I let my mind drift into that direction.





I remembered looking down on my crumpled up and smitten body. How it lie there and me ... where had I been at that time?
Somewhere above it all, somehow.
Detached, yes, quite literally too, but also as a feeling and more peaceful than I had ever been whilst alive.

But dying every time to experience peace, that is just not healthy.
No, it would be nice to feel so peaceful whilst alive.
Is that why they call it Inner Peace? I wondered jokingly.

I never had given it much thought, Peace was something when a war with another tribe had ended, not something to do with me. But making peace with my inner voice was somehow similar, no?

We Trolls were not particularly peaceful, there was always some hostile tribe that had to be dealt with and if that was not the case there would be feuds that had been smoldering for generations, only waiting for a quiet time to be set ablaze once more.
No, fighting was our nature!
Besides that, there were dangerous Ogres, marauding Centaur to take care of and behind every tree in the jungle there could be a stealthy big cat, waiting to pounce on you and lots of other dangerous animals. We always had to be vigilant!
There had been many occasions that the whole Tribe's existence had been in the balance.
"So who needs peace?" demanded my inner voice to know.

"Oh, come on!" I replied to myself "You have to admit that all this would be much easier to deal with if I have not ALSO have to fight an inner fight!"
"Yea, you're right" answered my inner voice, "so it is for the better that we have stopped fighting then, eh?"
That put a smile on my face.
"You know," I told myself, "I think I could get used to getting along with you".







I felt pretty good.
I looked around and my eye fell on the Druid again.
But this time I saw not his power but the sad situation that he was in and the fear he must feel.
He had gotten himself stuck, much more than the how the Spear had him pinned to the ground.

And I felt pity, somehow it did not matter that he was an Elf.
All I saw was someone too afraid to do anything. It does not matter if you are powerful, when your fear will make your power work against yourself.
I wished I could do something for him, but even the Shaman had said that he could not do anything.
And what could I do? Casting Fire and Frost was not of much use here.
But I could do Sheep! If the Sheep-spell would wear off, he would be back to his fresh and undamaged self again! Just like that crazy Dwarf!

And before I realized it, I shot a Sheep-spell at the Druid.







Baaaahhh! The Sheep, still pinned to the Spear and with no more healing spells going on, instantly died.
"Oh NO!" I cried out "I wanted to help him!"

The Sheep was gone and only a few bleached bones were sticking out from the bed of moss. It was as if time had caught up with it, leaving not much behind.


"You are coming with me, Lady!, if we get out of this alive!" exclaimed the Rogue, getting up quickly. "Then you can explain to the counsel how an agent was able to die whilst under my protection! They will have my skin for this!"
"I only wanted to help him" I wailed. "The Turtles!" he shouted again, "They are leaving!"
He was right, the Turtles, no longer bound to their guard-duty, went straight for the water. Except for one, of which only an empty shell remained.
These Turtles can live to a very great age, so it was likely starvation that had caused its death.

Entering the water, they created a big stir among the Naga that were hiding there.
It looked as if the water was boiling!

The Shaman got up too and looking at the bed of moss, he said: "The Earthmother's way, so different from what I had in mind. I must strive for greater clarity. It seems his meeting Her was long overdue.
And you, you have once again been Her instrument, you are certainly blessed!"
I felt completely torn! One was calling me guilty while the other one called me blessed!
And I only had wanted to help!

Gregory said: "At least now he will know soon if there is a new Life for him from the Earthmother..."
He did not continue. Somehow he looked very, very, old suddenly. As if all the centuries were showing through.
An ancient being. I could feel his deep sadness. Much too deep for me!
This was not for me to deal with! And besides, I had my own Inner Demons, that were trying to tear me apart right now!
Quickly, I looked away.



But the Inner Demons had to wait:
"Get ready to defend yourselves!" shouted the Rogue.
He was right, like so many times before. We were in a dangerous situation: Naga could attack us from all sides!
Already I saw some ugly heads, here and there, appearing out of the water.
"Wilani! wake up!" I shouted.

"Come with me!" shouted the Rogue. "Over there we can get some cover, at that bit of ruin!"
"Wilani!" I was standing near her, calling her again to get her to wake up.
"Ow!" I heard the Shaman say. He got hit by a frost-bolt; being so big, he was an easy target.
I quickly ducked down besides Wilani, shaking her by the shoulder.
Why would she not wake up?!

"Get to some cover!" I said to the Shaman, casting Frost-Armor on myself. I could protect myself from some of the magic damage, but not the others. Looking up, I saw Naga-Warriors advancing and dished-out some Arcane Missiles, which made them vanish under the surface. But that would be only temporary.
"Wilani! Wake up!!" I called again, getting desperate. Sea-Witches were one thing, but not Naga-Warriors! For that you had to be a Warrior too.

"There is no time!" murmured Wilani. "It is too late!"
"Wake up! Wilani!" I said again.
"Ooooh!" she groaned, clutching her head. "Oh, what a dream was that!"
"Wilani!" I said, "Naga are coming, we have to get out of here!
Stay low, there are casters on all sides and Warriors too!"

She readied herself in an instant. It is in situations like these that Training asserts itself.
"How many?!" she asked.
"Lots!" I replied. "Over there is some cover. I will cast on them, as much as I can, but you will have to keep me safe from the melee."
"Lead the way." she said.





I got up and threw some Arcane Missiles around and made a run for it.
"Right behind you." I heard her say. Followed quickly by an "Ow!" and the characteristic sound of an impacting Frost-bolt.
She got hit and could now only walk slowly, being affected by the Frost.
I turned around and focused my attack on the Witches, preventing them from slowing her down even more.

The Warriors were advancing, but I could only spare them an occasional Frost-bolt and Wilani kept those most near busy.
This way we backed-up towards the others who were in a fight of their own.
Them having some cover and two casters were doing quite well, but at the cost of lots of Mana. Once that would run out, we would be overrun by Warriors from all sides.

"We have to get on the other side of these walls." barked the Rogue. "We get better cover that way."
But on the other side it quickly became clear that our situation was untenable.
We had to get away from this lake!







The shore closest to us was opposite from where we had come. It meant to go in the water again, where the Naga would have the advantage, being so adapted to it.

"Get ready, all of you!" said the Rogue again. "We go in the same manner as how we came, the Warrior in the back." And he started to retreat towards the water. Once in the water, I send Frost-bolts around, to slow down our attackers, but some fights were unavoidable. They made our escape take more and more time. There seemed no end to the supply of Naga. But finally we got back on dry land and the Warrior and the Rogue were fighting off the last Naga while I made sure no Sea-Witch was able to cast from afar.



Suddenly, the Shaman and the Priest fell over, face-down, on either side of me, daggers sticking in their backs.
I immediately casted an Arcane Explosion and saw two Satyr-Rogues!
"Satyrs incoming!!" I yelled.

The Rogue was quickly at my side and attacked one of the Satyrs while the other one Vanished and escaped.
He could be sneaking-up, ready to Back-stab someone again at any moment!
So I casted an Arcane Explosion again, to break his Stealth, but he was not there.

"Hani!!" I heard Wilani shout.
I quickly turned towards her and saw her fighting two Naga-Warriors, who were nearly dead, but so was she!
Immediately I shot Arcane Missiles at them, killing them quickly, only to see Wilani getting hit by a Frost-bolt coming from a far-away Sea-Witch.
"Nooo!" I screamed. "Wilani!!"








But there was no time for that, the Rogue was still fighting the one Satyr while the other one could just be anywhere by now.
Quickly, I casted an Arcane Explosion, but it did not hit the Stealth-ed one.
It gave me a moments respite to cast a big Fireball onto the Satyr.
Beng! another Arcane Explosion followed by another Fireball and the Rogue was finally able to kill the Satyr.
Now for that other one!

I casted Flame-strike, to check an area greater than an Arcane Explosion could cover and at the cost of less Mana too.
We had been fighting for a long time and my Mana was nearly finished.
The Rogue was using bandages, since there were no Healers now, in order to get himself in the best possible shape, before taking on the other Satyr-Rogue.

"If you want to be of any help and stay alive, you better use a Mana-potion, if you still can" whispered the Rogue. "We need to ferret him out, or I can't guarantee you won't get Back-stabbed too. I just don't understand why they chose to attack us. We were five, it doesn't make sense!"

A Mana-potion is something, but not a whole lot, I still had to be very careful on what to spend this precious resource!
Starting from the water's edge, I casted Flame-strike and the Rogue Vanished.







Flame-strike did cover a rather big area and lasted for several seconds.
That time plus the time it would take to sneak-up to me from beyond that reach, I could be sure to be safe from an Ambush. Even so, using the lowest Rank, I could manage perhaps 10 casts in total, before being completely out of Mana and unable to do any kind of Damage.
I remembered what Gregory had said.
Never would I go out without a Wand from now on, if I ever would get the chance to get one, that is.
To be in the Undercity with Greg looked so much better now, than it had before!

But he was dead and the Shaman too! And Wilani! Who was going to ress her now?!
Focus! Another Flame-strike was in order: Fwooomm!








Very slowly, we advanced into the tunnel. At least, I assumed the Rogue was still with me!
I could not expect him to give away his position.

Fwooomm! Another Flame-strike reverberated against the walls of the tunnel.
And another 10 to 15 seconds of relative safety.

Fwooomm! Again 10 yards of tunnel checked and again no Shadow-stalker.
These Satyrs were the worst of them all, being able to hide everywhere.

Fwooomm! I hoped the Rogue was able to keep up with me, but he kept silent still.

The ground sizzled after another cast and still no Satyr was found. I was getting worried, my Mana was nearing its end. This Demon-spawn must be just staying out of reach, every time we advanced a bit.
At least, that is what I would do.

I suppressed the urge to start randomly casting Flame-strikes everywhere. But I could cast one at twice the distance and then another one in between. It was a plan.
After this one then. Fwooomm!

"Get ready, Rogue!" I called. "Where ever you are. It is your time to shine now."
Counting the seconds, I readied myself to cast twice in quick succession.
Fwooomm! Was that him over there?
Fwooomm! We got him! The Satyr was in the middle of the big patch of fire and unable to Stealth again.
Instead he made a run for it, coming towards us!

"Get him!" I screamed.
Satyr-Rogue












But no! He was running to get behind us! All our work would be for nothing!
I shot a small Frost-bolt at him, that much Mana I still had, at least.
"Come on! Get him!" I yelled, getting desperate.


The Satyr stopped dead in its tracks, swaying on his legs and a swirl of action surrounded him.
How could someone be so fast!?
It was only for a short while, however and now I could see the Rogue, fight in a more normal way.
Being a Demon, Satyrs would not just die after being Back-stabbed, like normal beings and the Rogue had quite a fight ahead.

But the Satyr did not want to fight, he tried to run away! I shot another small Frost-bolt, to slow him down.
"It is always good to not kill unnecessary" came into my mind, by the voice of the Shaman, but this was a Satyr, a Demon, they could not stay without doing harm.


"Do you have one more Flame-strike ready?!" called the Rogue. "He might try to Vanish again."
I quickly checked my Mana. "Say when!" I called back.
"Just keep it ready, targeted on me!" he replied.
"OK!" I replied. "That, or one more Frost-bolt, that's all I have left."
He did not say anything and I followed the fight with even more attention.

It was fascinating to see two Rogues trying to get the better of one another.
Trick was countered by some other trick, I could not say what it was that they were doing; the only thing I knew of Rogues was the Back-stabbing and the sneaking.

While the fight endured, my Mana was slowly going up again. I could now spare some Frost-bolts if needed, but he had said Flame-strike, so I kept that ready as requested.







Finally, the Satyr fell dead to the ground and the Rogue sat down, visibly tired.
I sat down too, to drink to replenish my Mana as quick as possible.
"That was a terrible fight!" said the Rogue in a gruff voice. "I had to use every trick in the book!"
From his voice I could tell that he had indeed gone very deep in this fight.
I quickly got up and offered him some conjured food and water. It was all I could do.

"I hope never to have to do such a thing again." he said, between bites. "At least we will be back in Orgrimmar soon."
"But what about the others!" I exclaimed.
"They're DEAD, Lady." he replied. "Their best hope is to find a high-level Priest that will come to ress them."
"Do you know any?" I asked in return.
"I am sure one can be found, willing to help, for a price."

"For a price!" I exclaimed. "A high price, for a high-level Priest! I have nothing that they might want, Gold, or otherwise!"
"So be it." he sighed, "Now get ready to make a Portal. I did not save your hide to also have to argue about it."
"You only saved me to get a Portal to Org?!!" I shrieked. "You can forget about that! I am not going to leave Wilani here to Murlocs! She is all I've got left!"
I got up and made my way back to where the others lay.
"Not just for the Portal!" he called after me.







I reached the water's edge, where Wilani had fallen. And I sank down, next to her.

No Murlocs had been here.
That was the last thought I had, for a very long time.










I don't know how long I sat there, with an obliterated mind.





"Hani! Get up, or you will die here!"

It did not matter. My world had ended, there was nothing more for me, here.



"You have to come with me to Orgrimmar!"

Only slowly it started to dawn that these were not the voices in my head.



"Come on, Hani! I found some wood so we can make a fire."

I let myself lead on to a corner where he showed me a pile of wood.
In a state of total disconnectedness, I casted a Fire-ball. Whamm!
Fire! It brought me back to life, in a way.


I looked around, all sorts of things were stacked up against the wall.
Everything was in a state of neglect and covered with dust and rust.
This must been the stash of the Satyr-Rogues.
Only Demons would know what use they had for things so decayed.


The Rogue had broken a big box to pieces, the worthless content cast to the side.
I sat down at the fire.
And cried.






It took a long time.
But one can not dwell in the depths of sorrow for ever.
Regaining my composure, I said: "I am sorry."
He did not reply.


"Will you now make a Portal to Orgrimmar?" he asked.
"I will make a Portal for you." I scoffed. "You can go. I am not leaving Wilani here."
"You will only die here." he argued. "I need you to come with me to Org."
"Need, need! That's all I hear! Do you even care about anyone?"
"I don't want you to die and you are no use to her being dead." he said.
"Then at least we both will be dead." I replied.
"You're unreasonable." he said.
"That is what you think" I replied. "You don't know what real friendship is. To wager your life for someone, not just because you need something from them!"
He fell silent.

"We do have our Honor." he said. "We are not afraid to die for it."
"Honor!" I scowled. "Would you let your friend die, because of Honor? Do you even have friends? You're a Rogue! No friendship among thieves, right?"
I could see I had really hurt him there.
"It is not always easy to be a Rogue." he said.
"I am sorry." I said in return.

"Not easy at all." he sighed, getting up. "Come."
He took something from his bags and said: "You will have to swear an oath, that you will not tell anyone what you are going to see now. Understand that no only you will be killed but also anyone who comes to know about this from you. I will have to convince some powerful people, to let you live, so make it a very strong oath. Your life will depend on it."
"What for?!" I exclaimed.
"We are going to try to save our Friends over there." he replied with emphasis.







To be sure, I will not speak of what happened next, I don't want anyone to get killed, because of it, but after that, we found ourselves sitting down by the side of the Shaman...
               ...Unless you really want to know. Then you can click here to see it.
                 Are you really sure?


"Thank the Earthmother" whispered the Shaman.
He coughed. It sounded terrible.
"Her blessings, however, are sometimes not easy to receive."
I offered him some conjured water and food; he only took the water.

"She made me stay at my body, so I would be able to use it again when the time came.
I envy not, the Undead, that have to reanimate a long dead corpse."
He coughed again.
He drank some more water and was able to cast a little heal on himself.
I looked around for any signs of enemies; he was in such a fragile state and was our only hope.

He got up and casted more and more heals on himself after which he had to sit down and drink again, to replenish his Mana.
Getting up again, he started to cast the resurrection-spell on the Priest.
I would have loved Wilani being ress'ed, but to ress Gregory first was the wise thing to do.


The spell was finished and the Shaman went on to cast lots of heals on the Priest who got up and said:
"That took a long time, didn't it? You guys must have had a difficult fight, I presume."
"Yes, it was not easy." said the Rogue and me both at the same time.

Finally it was Wilani's turn. The priest started to cast and I waited in anticipation.
Then the Shaman and he cast lots of heals on her and she got up. I was so happy to see her back to life, but she was not happy at all!

"Why did I not get any heals any more?!
"The Priest had died." I replied.
"And what about him then?!" she asked bitter, pointing at the Shaman.
"The Priest was dying!" I came again quickly, preventing him to say something that would raise more uneasy questions.
It seemed to placate her and her grumbling died down slowly.
I could only hope that there would be no more questions coming forth that would draw attention to the death and secret resurrection of the Shaman.

We all went to the place where the fire was burning and sat down around it. Bathing in the warm glow, those recently ress'ed most of all, we felt our Spirit rise and the doom and gloom of before was driven away.
at the fire










"This is a good Fire," said the Priest "if only I had something to cook. But I don't feel like fishing in that water there, with all those Naga."
"I am sure I saw some Giant Clams, when we were in the water. I could go back and try to get them, unnoticed." said the Rogue. "If just someone will come and help me carry them."
"I will assist you." said the Shaman "Perhaps I will get some clarification too."
"Do you really want to go back?" I asked.
"Anything for my Friends!" he replied.



"What got into him?!" asked Wilani, when they had left.
"Don't ask me." I said. "I have tried to figure this guy out from the start and got nowhere."
"So you were interested in him!" she replied triumphantly. "I knew it!"
"Och go away!" I replied. "He is an Orc, Wilani!"
"Don't mind me, Ladies." said the Priest.
"She is just teasing me, Greg." I replied. "I have had to deal with that my whole life."

Wilani got up, quietly humming "Na na na na naa na", but so that I could hear it and went to look what was in all the crates and boxes.
And I had to smile: She knew me so well.


I felt happy that she had something else to focus her attention at, away from the mysterious resurrection of the Shaman, but also unhappy, that I had to keep it a secret from her for the rest of our lives. We always had shared everything.














"Pfioew" whistled Wilani. "Would you look at this!" She had broken open a long flat crate which contained several very long swords, packed in straw. Clearly never used.
She got one, very rusty, sword out and asked the Priest: Greg, do you think these are made by the Undead?"
"Newly forged swords?" he said. "Can't imagine us forging new swords, the War has left us with so many weapons and such. Those cursed Humans must have made them!!"
She nearly dropped the weapon, startled by his sudden expression of anger.

rusted
        claymore

None of us liked the Humans, they were just as dangerous as the Dwarves, but tend to cause much more problems. Dwarves would not bother you as long as you kept out of their way. Humans, however, they made plans and had politics and were always present in the midst of troubles. Never content doing their own business. Yes, we all had suffered a lot, due to the Humans, but none of us were hunted down like the Undead. It seemed that they could not stand the idea of their former fellow man walking around as Undead. We had rumors of Undead Trolls, but those were just used in scary tales for the little ones.
All the Undead from the Undercity had been Humans before.






Our foraging party returned. Each carried a Giant Clam.
"Here! That must surely be enough, I would think" said the Rogue, putting his burden on the sand near the Priest. "Do you know how to open them?"
"Sure!" replied the Priest enthusiastically. His anger had vanished with this new prospect of culinary magic. "Come over here, Wilani! We are going to make something great out of this!"
"Both of you can have one" said the Shaman, putting down the other big shell.

We were doing pretty good; we were in no immediate danger, sheltered in the former lair of the Satyrs, with lots of wood for the fire and plenty food coming up. It was hard to imagine that we had been on the brink of total disaster and death, only so recently.



By the smell of things, I got the impression that the food was coming along nicely.
Wilani was making Spicy Strips, that could keep well for later. She always was planning in advance so she would have food at the ready when she would need it. A wise thing to do, for a Warrior. We mages were not so dependent on food but so much the more on drinking, for our Mana. I can not imagine that you would not want to drink too, after one or a few of those Spicy things.

The Rogue was in the back, investigating the many crates etc. Picking up where Wilani had left off. And Dawnstrider sat by the fire, warming himself. Gregory was making Clam soup or stew, a hearty meal that would make up for our meager breakfast. I conjured some Rye bread and Pumpernickel to go along with it. After that, there would be no more hungry bellies!








"We should be going back to Orgrimmar." grumbled the Rogue.
"How about: we should eat first. It is nearly ready." replied Wilani.
Grudgingly, he went to sit down at the fire.

"Come and get it!" said the Priest loudly.
The stew was ready and Wilani shared the Spicy Strips with all who wanted.
I took just one, for now. As a Mage, I did not need extra hotness, casting Fire was good enough for me.

The stew was hot and delicious, together with the conjured bread, it went down with ease and drove away the gloominess that this underground place emanated. You could say what you want, but this Undead guy could cook for sure.
Only the Shaman was not digging in, like the rest of us. Sitting close to the fire, he had only eaten a little of the hot stew. Just munching on some of those Spicy Strips, while drinking Conjured water.

"Eat some more hot stew, it will warm you up." I said to him kindly.
Halfheartedly he ate a little more. Unlike Wilani, sitting to the other side of me. She was eating like a wolf.
"Here, have some more of these strips," she said to the Rogue, "they are easy to carry and they keep well, for when you need them." And she handed him a big handful, across the fire.
"Thanks. Yes they can come in pretty handy." he replied.

"I hope you all will agree that this place is not safe for us." he went on. "We should be going back to Orgrimmar.
OK, I guess after we are done eating then." he conceded, looking at the Warrior.
It was clear that she was not going anywhere as long as there was any food left.

"It is good to see someone enjoying my cooking, as much as you do, Wilani." said Gregory.
The Shaman said nothing. He had not said much at all since he sat down by the fire.
"We should have a vote on that, shouldn't we?" I asked.
"I don't mind, really" said Wilani, slumping back. "I feel pretty good, now I have had some decent food. I could kill a dragon, right now!"
"What do you think, Dawnstrider?" said Gregory. "I mean, I have my Pearls and the Gravestone-piece, that I came looking for."

Poof! The Rogue Vanished.
"What!?" I started to say.
"Well, well." we heard a strange voice say. "Four new recruits! This must be my lucky day!"











Turning around I saw a female Tauren stepping into the light.
"I knew it was a good idea to go check alone!" she continued.
"What do you mean 'new recruits' !?" said Wilani, turning towards the new visitor.

"Chi uku alo owachi wa Tapupau!" exclaimed the Shaman.
"Don't speak that language to me! she replied, her eyes flashing with anger. "I am no longer a stupid cow! Tell me, is she still standing around at the bank, like always? She will never get anywhere!"
"Tapu is very well respected." gave the Shaman as reply. "She is the sister of Tapupau." he clarified to us.
"Pah! Respected! Too afraid, you mean. She always was a scaredy-cat." she replied.

I was shocked to hear him speak another Tauren's name, just like that. This unexpected encounter certainly must have caught him off-balance.
The sister of Tapupau went on: "But it does not matter. All that matters is that I will be a Lieutenant soon! Heheheh!"

Her laugh was even more unpleasant than her voice. Tauren females have such nice and soft voices, but hers was harsh and shrill. It was intolerable. I had to suppress the urge to just wring her neck, there and then.
I managed to say: "We have some food left, if you want any."
"We have no time for that!" she cut me off. "We have to be going!"

"How did you end up in this underground place?" asked the Shaman.
"Questions!" she exclaimed. "Once you meet Lord Kelris, you won't have any more questions! Now get up, the lot of you!"

There were crazy overtones in her voice, clearly something strange was going on with her.
Wilani was getting up, slowly and I quickly fired off another question, to keep her attention on me: "Who is Lord Kelris?"
"Twilight Lord Kelris! she emphasized. "Twilight! Twilight! The Hour is near!"

"I don't know what you are talking about, Lady." said Wilani testily. "You can get some food, if you want, and if you need any help, you can tell us, then we can decide what we will do."
It was clear that I was not the only one feeling instant aversion towards this Tauren that so unexpectedly had turned up.











"You are not going to decide anything! If you hope to advance in the ranks of the Twilight's Hammer you start with following orders first! And if you don't, there are ways to make you. Heheheh." Again that awful laugh.
"We only want to help you." said the Shaman.
"Oh, you will help me, a lot!" She laughed again.
If there was only a way to make her shut up!

"Now, get up! All of you!" she commanded, getting impatient.
"Would you please go shout somewhere else?!" replied Wilani, visibly getting irritated.
"I don't like your tone." she said. "I am going to make you an Example!" And she casted a Spell that wrapped thorny roots all around poor Lani!

"Let her go, immediately!" I exclaimed.
"Do you want to be next?" she replied.
I got up quickly and casted Frost-Nova on her, freezing her on the spot. Two could play that game!

But she quickly changed shape, back and forth and was free again! Then she casted Roots on me too.
I winced, not having armor like Wilani, the thorns hurt quite a bit and getting more and more tight, they slowly squeezed the life out of me.

"How can you even cast Roots twice!?" demanded the Shaman to know.
"Heheheheh!" she laughed. "I can cast on all of you! The power of the Twilight's Hammer is unlimited, you will see!
If you will live that long."
Both Gregory and the Shaman started to cast, but were quickly surrounded by spiny roots too.

"So, now that I have your undivided attention, you are going to listen to me and listen carefully. I have not much patience with unwilling recruits. You are going to be enrolled in the ranks of the Twilight's Hammer and you should be grateful for that. The world, as you know it, will end. The Hour of Twilight is near. You will be among the ones that will work to make that happen. And you will receive great power in order to accomplish this. You will see! Heheheheh! You will be part of my group and I will advance to the rank of Lieutenant! Lord Kelris will give you a power and I will become even more powerful! Heheheheh!"

"This is no way for a Tauren to behave!" bellowed the Shaman.
"Stop calling me that!" she snapped at him, her delight instantly gone.
"Now, you are going to get up and follow me willingly, or I will keep you here till the Roots have squeezed the last drop of life out of you!"

"Let. Us. Go!" said Wilani, resorting to her last scraps of patience. "We are not going to join your club and we are of no use to you when we are dead."
"After a few minutes, you will think differently!" She replied even more angry.
"You can bet your life on it! Heheheheh!"
And her maniacal laughing at her own morbid little joke bordered on hysteria.

What were we going to do?









She was clearly deranged. It would be wrong to fight with someone like that, even though my gut feeling was that I would love to strangle her with my own hands!
I tried another approach: "How far is it to this Lord Kelris?"

"You will see!" she snapped. "I don't like your questions, Troll!
You're too clever for your own good.
Perhaps I should just kill both of you and that stinking Undead too and be content with just him." pointing at the Shaman. "There will be other recruits."

This was clearly not going the right way.





Paf! The Rogue appeared behind her and had sapped her. She stood, swaying on her legs, unconscious, for now.
"Get ready to Mind Control her!" he barked at the Priest. "The Roots will soon disappear."

As soon as he was able, the priest started to cast.
Now MC-ed, she was docile and no threat.

"How did you get here, underground?" demanded the Shaman to know.
"They make a portal for you, in Orgrimmar." she replied.
"Who?" asked the Rogue.
"Neeru Fireblade. He thinks we fall under the Shadow Counsel."
"Well, well, this is very important information." mumbled the Rogue.

"How did you get involved with the Twilight Hammer?" asked the Shaman again.
"When I was traveling through the Barrens, I got attacked by the Quill-boar. Even though I could manage, I was happy to get the help of an Orc Warlock, since they were many and it looked to be a long fight.

He was able to cast Fear on all of them at the same time and went on to kill them at his leisure. Then he started to burn all of their belongings, their huts and even their corpses. Naturally, I asked him how he was able to cast Fear on more than one adversary at the same time. He said that I too could get such a strong power. Then I would never need to be afraid again. He then took me to Orgrimmar where they made a portal for me."

"What rank do you currently have?" wanted the Rogue to know.
"I am just a Member, I have no rank, but when I get my own group of Initiates, I will be made a Lieutenant."

"Who is this Twilight Lord Kelris?" he went on.
She replied: "Lord Kelris knows the Will of the Old Gods. He is the one through whom we receive their Power."

"What is the Hour of Twilight?" asked the Rogue again.
"When the old Prophecy will come true, the Old Gods will be freed and bring the End to all Life. That is why it is best to die in their service and abandon your Flesh, that way we will not suffer their terrible Wrath."

"How many of you are there, here underground?" he asked again.
"A few dozen, I think, they are everywhere in the Temple. It could be a bit more." she replied.

 "Will you guys be long?! asked the Priest. "I can not keep her Mind-Controlled for ever."
"I don't think we have any more questions, for now." said the Rogue. "We should be going back to Orgrimmar, this is important information.
Wait for me until I have Vanished; we don't want her to pull that trick on all of us. Then you can let her go."
And 'poof', he was gone.
"OK, guys" said Gregory, "get ready, I am ending the Mind-Control!"






"NoooOoooo!" She let out a long drawn-out wail. "You made me lose my Power! I'm gonna tear you to shreds, you filthy Undead! When I'm done, nothing more than kindling will be left of you!"
If the Rogue tried to sap her again, he must have missed, because she changed shape into a Big Cat and leaped into the direction of the Priest. It happened very quick.

Luckily, Wilani was in her way and although shocked, she was able to keep her away from the Priest.
Ferociously, she attacked the Warrior, but her claws were not very effective against Wilani's armor.
Only carrying her two Dwarven-Axes, she had to use her weapons to defend herself while Gregory casted some Heals on her.

Getting more and more Damage, the Cat let off and she changed back to her Tauren form.
While casting Heals and Renew on herself, she shouted: "I am going to kill all of you!" and promptly transformed into a great Bear!

The Bear continued to attack Wilani, who had trouble to just keep standing in the face of this onslaught.
This time she was getting hit much more serious and both the Shaman and Greg were casting Heals onto her.
Her blinkering Axes were a whirlwind of steel, but the Bear attacked without concern for self-preservation.
Getting more and more enraged as it felt the bite of those sharp Axes.

"Back off, Lady!" shouted Wilani. "I don't want to kill you!"






The Bear growled and bit and clawed at her and foam was flying from it's maw. It's Rage bringing it to a frenzy of Bestial Wrath.

The fight went on and got more and more savage but something had changed. The stench of impending Death penetrated the air.
"I said I don't want to kill you!!" roared Wilani. Her voice unrecognizable now due to her own Rage.
It was terrible to see.
The Priest and the Shaman were continuously healing her.
"Raaah! Why don't you back off?!!"
Was that Wilani, making that sound?? It was hard to say, the Bear was making even more noise.

"RAAAAAAAAHHH!!!" The Bear had fallen to the ground and Wilani stood over it and roared like the Bear had not even done.
"I SAID: I DON'T WANT TO KILL YOU!!
I DON'T WANT TO KILL ALL OF YOU!!" she roared and ran off, leaving the dead Bear in our midst.

"Wilani!" shouted the Priest after her. "Don't run off alone! You need healing!" And he ran after her.
I shouted: "Wilani! Come back! Both of you!"


The dead Bear transformed back into the Tauren. She looked unrecognizable. The Shaman went to look at her but I quickly looked away. He seemed very much affected and sat down next to her corpse without saying anything.

The Rogue reappeared and said with an urgent tone in his voice: "You go find those two, I will keep an eye on him."
I got my Staff and the Fiery Orb and ran off into the dark tunnel.









Many thoughts ran through my mind, as I was rushing through the tunnel. Where could she be by now?
What has gotten into her? Was this again this crazy anger that she had shown when she had fought those two elite Naga? But at that time, her anger had vanished even so quickly and she had not ran off like she had now.

Pok! "Aaaahg!" I hit my toes against an uneven bit of stone, jutting out of the floor of the cave.
Even though I had my Fiery Orb at full blast, I had failed to notice it.

"Ow, ow, OW!" I was dancing around on one leg, clamping my poor toes in my hands.
"That's what you get when you are too hasty and don't pay attention where you are going." said my inner voice.
"And before you say something like that, remember that we made peace, together!" my inner voice went on.

"Aarhggg!" I replied, in a flash of anger.
"You're just angry because you know I am right."
"Shut up! I hate you!" I said.
"You are me, remember?! Hating myself because I was stupid is not going to help anything.
Hate doing stupid things, but not me.
OK?"

I sank down on the ground, still clamping my toes.
"OK." I replied. "So what should I do now?"
"Try to stand on it, to see if they are broken?"
It hurt, but not much more than before, so I took another step. It seemed fine, for low standards of 'fine'.
We Trolls are pretty sturdy in the toes-department, however, so I should not be worried too much.

I took a few more steps and the pain slowly lessened a bit. Walking was OK, but no more running.
That worried me. What if there would be an attack?
"What if? what if?!!" said my inner voice. "How about starting to use that great Intellect for something useful?!
And besides, I can always Blink, so stop worrying. Better remember to keep the Inner Peace."

I had to admit, my inner voice brought up some good points. I straightened my back and advanced again into the darkness.








Since I was now just walking I dimmed the Fiery Orb to the point where it did not really drain my Mana. At this level I could keep it going indefinitely.
And the thoughts started to come too: What was I doing here, alone in a dark tunnel, in such a dangerous place like this?
"I am going to find Wilani!" I told myself. "And Gregory too."
A Mind can really be a handful, it needs constant attention.
"If you want something to do," I told my Mind, "just think of how I had no fear when I was Dead."

No fear, no Fear. repeated my Mind.
Aaagh! What was that?
I saw a dead body lying there, was that her??!

No Fear, no Fear, said my mind.
I went closer and saw that is was a Naga Sea-witch!
No Fear.
She was very, very, Dead. Slashed to bits, almost.
No Fear! No Fear!

"OK, stop it." I told my Mind. "Just be quiet."
This must be Wilani's doing and that meant I was on the right track!
Carefully I went on, only to find another dead Sea-witch a bit further on.
So she was still alive at this point...





Hardly limping at all, I went on.
I remembered how, as a disembodied Spirit, I had just floated through that tunnel. Much less hassle.
But then again, you could not do anything, without a body.
So, therefore better to keep it alive and safe.

I had my ears pricked up, while walking quietly. Careful, but not fearful.
Somehow those thoughts of No Fear! No Fear! had done something, it seems.
But what was that?!
Something big showed up in the advancing light.

It was a pile of dead bodies! And Wilani was lying on top of it!!
Was she dead too?!
"Wilani!" I whispered, getting closer. "Are you OK?"










"Go Away! Lah'Mawhani!" she said with a dreadful voice. "I do not WANT to kill you!"
Lah'Mawhani! She would never call me by my full name like that! Something awful was going on here.
"Lani! Are you OK?" I asked again. "Go away, Mawhani!" she repeated.
"She is not hurt. I have healed her." came a voice from behind me.

That made me jump up and I quickly turned around.
It was Gregory. He was sitting, tucked against the wall of the cave.
"She won't let me come near her." he said. "I don't know what to do!"

"It's OK." I said to him. "Lani, you don't have to kill me!" I said to her.
"Mawhani, there are no more Nagas left! You will be next if you don't go away!" she replied.
"And I DON'T WANT to kill you, Mawhani! But when I have regained my strength I will HAVE to kill you! So Go Away Now!"



It sounded really serious. "Come," I said to Gregory, "let's leave her be, just to be sure."
"I am not going to leave her alone!" he shrieked. "She might need Healing!"
"Gregory," I said, "something is not right with her. We might be in danger. We don't know what strange spell she is under."

That thought made me stop in my tracks. I remembered how she had been asleep when the Priest had casted Dispel on me and the Rogue. "Did you cast Dispel on her?!" I asked him, in an urgent tone.
"No, she just kept killing more and more Naga and I kept Healing her, till all the Naga were dead. And now she does not want to get up! At least she does not kill anymore." he concluded.
"For now!" I said. "We can not be sure that she won't attack us, you have heard what she said!"
"But what can we do!?" he wailed.

"Did you cast Dispel Magic on her?" I asked again.
"No. Do you think I should do that?" he asked.
"Yes," I replied, with stretched patience, "but let's first cast it on us."

He went to work, casting Dispel on me. I felt much clearer in my head, as if a veil was pulled away.
"Oh wow!" he said. "That indeed does make quite a difference!" I had not noticed it having such an influence already.
It certainly creeps up upon you!" he exclaimed.
"Get ready, I am going to cast it on her too!"


When the cast was finished, she slumped down from the pile of dead Naga Warriors.
I quickly went to her. "Are you OK?" I asked.
"Yes." she said with an unsteady voice, her body trembling all over.
"Come!" I said, pulling her by the hand, to get her away from the heap of dead corpses.
She managed to take a few steps and sank down to the ground. It was clear that she was in a bad state.

"Is she going to be OK?" asked Gregory.
"We're going to make her OK!" I replied. "You have healed her, so her Health is fine, but her Spirit is very low." I said and threw some firewood on the ground; no time to make a fire by the book.
"Stay clear!" I said and I shot a Fireball into the pile of wood.







Wham! The wood burst into flame and the walls of the tunnel lit up in the shine of the fire.
I shove her a bit closer to the fire to let it do it's work.
Slowly she regained her composure a bit.

"I HAD to kill them, Mawhani! You have to believe me." she exclaimed.
"I was horrible! I did not WANT to kill them, but I HAD to."
"You're OK now." I said to her, hoping it was true.

"My Rage just did not want to end," she went on, "it was burning me up, inside."
She fell silent. A shiver went through her body.
"Luckily, I packed some of these." she said and she pulled out a few of those Spicy Strips.

Seeing her munching like that, I felt reassured, she was going to be fine!





I turned to Gregory: "How do you feel?"
"What answer do you want?" he replied in a dismal voice. "I am Undead, we do not 'feel' anything, other than hatred towards the living."
I was shocked to hear him speak like that. "Gregory!" I exclaimed. "Are you OK?"

"I don't know where that came from." he said in a more normal tone. "Perhaps the Dispel removed a little too much.
It must be from the basic state that all Undead are in when they have been re-awakened.
It is true that we envy the Living, but to therefore hate them and try to eradicate them, only to turn them into more Undead with only more hatred, that is just foolishness. I don't want to be like that anymore. I have been Undead more than long enough!
I will bear my lot, as long as I will have to, because I have seen that seeking Death is not the answer, so I might as well keep my hope on the Earthmother."

Full of amazement, I was at a loss for words.
I remembered how I had seen him as an ancient being filled, with deep sorrow and I could only admire his resolve to step away from that.
"Someone is coming." he added.

I turned around and saw a small light coming towards us.
In the well-lit place around the Fire, we were in plain sight, so hiding was not really an option.
My Spells at the ready, we waited as the light came nearer.









To my relief, it was the rest of our party!
The Rogue was leading the Shaman, each holding a flaming torch.

"We must get him back to Orgrimmar!" said the Rogue urgently.
"He is in a pretty bad state. He tried to ress her four times before I could get him to leave her corpse alone.
I don't know what got into him!"

The shaman started excusing profusely towards Wilani, for his own inability to prevent the death of the female Tauren and that she had chosen Wilani to be the instrument for that.
"In the name of all Tauren, I ask for your forgiveness!" he said.
"She really wanted to die and made you do the dirty work for her. No Tauren should ever have acted in such a way!
And I was unable to prevent it. I could not even resurrect her!"

I could see that bringing this up, did not do much good to Wilani, who herself was just recovering from such a dreadful event.
"Dawnstrider" I said, "Gregory will cast Dispel Magic on you, just to be sure, OK?" and I nudged Gregory to do his casting.
I was not sure if my words even got through to him, but Gregory had understood the hint and started to cast.

"Oh!" said the Shaman, when the cast had finished. "I had no idea ..." Then he fell silent.
"You have my thanks, Priest." He said after a while.

"So, this really works, obviously." said the Rogue.
"Please cast it on me too, Priest and then we should go back to Orgrimmar quickly!"

When that was done, I said: "Lani, are you OK to get up and go through the Portal?"
I did not want to risk to waste such an important Spell if not everyone was ready.
"I can manage." she said, getting up with some effort.
I started to cast the Portal Spell.





"Ow!" A Frost-bolt hit me and it made me fail the cast!
Instantly, I casted Frost-Ward on myself.
Naga? I quickly looked around.
The ground around us burst into flame. That was no Naga Sea-witch! That was Mage-work!
"Spread out!" I yelled.









I saw him! It was a Human!
Gregory went on the offense, blinded by his hate for the Humans, only to get treated to another Frost-bolt.
"No, no!" I called out. "You need to Mind Control him!"

The Rogue tried to get out of the circle of Flame, so he could go into Stealth, while the Shaman went in the other direction and put down a Fire-totem. I shot a Fire-ball at him, but he casted Flame-ward upon himself as I well expected.
That left me Frost or Arcane.

Wilani, though still unsteady on her feet, advanced towards him and got frozen in-place by a Frost-Nova.
This guy was good! Flashy, but good.
And Insane, to attack a whole group of five!
There was no way that he could sustain that many casts as he was flinging around.

The Shaman was casting Lightning-bolts on him while I had resorted to Arcane Missiles, the hits of which interfered with his castings.
He Blinked across the tunnel where he started to cast a new Spell.
 
I could not believe my eyes!
A Water-Elemental!

Water-Elemental
He had Summoned a Water-Elemental!!
We were doomed!

Only very high-level Mages could perform such a feat!

"RUN!" I shouted. "Stay away from that thing!"









Water-Elementals were so strong and very difficult to kill, whether by Fire or by Frost.

So that was his plan: keeping all of us busy while his pet-monster would kill us one-by-one.
I shouted: "Gregory! You have to MC him!"


Fwoomm! Another Flame-strike scorched the ground, disabling the Rogue again from Vanishing.
He gave up on it and went closer to the Mage.
Oh no! he too got hit by a Frost-Nova. How could he possibly cast Frost-Nova so soon again?!
As a Mage, I know you want nothing better than all your enemies close together, where you can finish them off with a Blizzard of Ice.

"Greg!" I shouted again, while shooting more Arcane Missiles. "Stop fighting and cast Mind Control on him!"
"Baaahh!"
Suddenly my point of view dropped down a lot and I was walking up and down, aimlessly.
It was very confusing, being stuck in a body that was not mine to control and being Sheeped made it difficult to see what was going on. Lots of legs, mostly.

I saw the Water-Elemental advance towards the Rogue, who was still frozen on the spot and had no way to escape. And there was nothing I could do!
"You can keep your Mind together." said my Inner Voice.
"Yes, I know, no fear. But what could we do against such a High Level Mage, that can Summon a Water-Elemental?"
"Have you noticed that no-one has died yet? If he is so high level, he would have one-shotted each and all of us." said my Inner Voice again. "Yes, or he is just toying with us." I gave as a grim reply.

All the while, the Sheep's body that I was in, was ambling here and there. It happened to nudge Gregory in the back of the knees, making him fall over backwards and as he fell, his Staff hit the back of the Sheep, breaking the Spell. Now I had my own body again, with full Health and above all: full Mana!

Being so near to Gregory, I shouted at him, waving my hand in front of his face: "Gregory, please stop it! You said you did not want to hate anymore!" It brought him back to his senses. "You're right!" he exclaimed."I don't want this!"
"You have to Mind Control him!" I told him again.
"Yes! Mind Control!" he said and started to cast.
Just at that very moment, the Water-Elemental came to attack him and ended up MC-ed instead!

Being Mind-Controlled, it did no longer see us as his enemies and being of very simple intent, it went to attack the Human, who attempted to Dismiss it, but instead, quickly succumbed under it attacks and the casting of the Shaman and me, after which it de-spawned!
What an abrupt end to such a crazy, chaotic, fight!








I looked around. Save for the Rogue, who had died to the Water-Elemental, everyone else looked to be mostly OK and there was even a little cheer coming from Wilani.
"Thanks for getting me out of that!" said Gregory to me.
"No problem, Greg!" I replied with a smile, "but it seems there is some work for you to do."
He proceeded to ress the Rogue and I had to smile a little: for once a fight where it was not the Mage who had to get ress-ed!

When he got back on his feet, he quickly came to stand near the Fire and said, while shivering vigorously: "Now I understand why those Satyrs chose to attack us! Not even Demons like them would dare to confront a Water-Elemental! That was just terrible! I can't wait to be back in Orgrimmar!"

"It is terrible indeed, how they enslave a Force of Nature in this way and make it do their bidding." said the Shaman.
"Such a wrongdoing can only be expected to redress itself in the terrible ending that we have witnessed."
"Yes," said the Rogue, "it is unfortunate that he died so suddenly. We might have gotten important information from him. Perhaps he has some documents on his person." And he went to search the dead Human.

"Well, well," we heard him say, "would you look at this! We have found ourselves a real Lieutenant of the Twilight Cult!"
And he held up something small. It turned out to be a Lieutenant's Insignia.
"Those at the Headquarters will possibly be lenient, if I present them with this valuable asset. It will come to good use when they send a new party down here. We should waste no time and go back immediately! When can you make a new Portal to Orgrimmar?" he asked me.
"There is something nice for you too, look!" he added and held up another small item. "Azora's Arcane Will" he read, and tossed it over to me.
I caught it in the air. It was a Ring, obviously for Arcane Casters.

"That's a nice one!" I said. Another Ring! This adventure at least came with some benefits!
"Well," I went on, "you know, there is a long cool-down on the Portal Spell so it won't be ready for quite some time."
"Drat!" he exclaimed. "I guess I can not make you have it cool-down faster if I let you have this Staff too?" he said, half jokingly.
"Let me?!" I exclaimed in turn. "Who has made you Loot-master, suddenly?! Let me have a look at that Staff, and quickly! Before I turn you into a toad." I said with a laugh.

The Staff was only slightly better than the one from the Naga but more lithe and not so rough, so I was happy to change to it. It was comparable to my old Staff, that I had carried for so long, all be it more flashy, with a big crystal on top.
"Yes, I think I will keep this one, if you guys don't mind. It is better than the one I have."
There were no objections.




Standing by the Fire, Gregory was the first one to bring up the question that was in everyone's Mind:
"What should we do now? Sit around and wait?"
"That would suit me just fine." said Wilani, sitting down.
"I had my fill of killing for today and many days to come and I would love to have a nice long break and see the sun in the blue sky."
"I would be happy to fulfill your wish, if I could" I replied. "This adventure has been more than long enough for my taste."
"I can't say how happy I am, that you finally agree to go back to Orgrimmar." said the Rogue.
But the Shaman said: "As we have seen that the Portal was not destined to succeed, it must mean that Her task has not been completed."

He had not finished his words or a big group came into view.
Quickly, we all got up and readied ourselves but there were far too many to fight.
"Put away your weapons!" said the Rogue in an urgent tone.
"And be quiet, we just might have a chance!"







It was a big group and they were walking in pairs behind each-other.
As they came nearer, I could count ten of them.

When they had reached us, a female Dwarf approached us and asked with her harsh voice:
What is this then? Who is in charge here?! And stand to attention when you address your Captain!
The Rogue quickly moved to the front and said: "Yes Captain!"

"Loitering with the new recruits, now, are we, Lieutenant?"
"No Captain! I mean, yes Captain!"
"When I return, I do not to want to see any trace of that fire, do you understand?"
"Yes captain!"

"You there, see to it, that they carry out my orders without any delay and escort them to the Temple!"
"Yes, Captain Loreseeker!" said an Undead guy with a big two-hand Sword in the back.
"And you, Dismissed!"

The big group went on their way, leaving one of their sword-wielders behind.

2H-wielder




When they were out of earshot he said: "Must be my lucky day! Heheheheh!
Good riddance! That kind will be around till the end of the world! Mark my words!
Not meaning any disrespect to the higher Ranks, of-course, Sir!" he said to the Rogue.

The Rogue, staying in-character, said in a commanding tone: "You have heard the Captain!
Make the Fire disappear without any trace and get ready to move on!" making it sound just as how she had said it while giving us a wink.
We got the hint and went to work.

"Heheheheh. I can see you are my kind of Officer, Sir!" said the Undead.
Hey, you, Troll Lady!" he went on.
"You were there at the Affray at the Warrior's Training, weren't you? Don't you remember?
I remember you, we were the smallest among all those big Orcs and Tauren. But we showed them, didn't we'? Heheheheh!
We used our noggin instead of rushing in, like the fools they were!"
This guy was certainly talkative!

While we were busy, he continued:
"So, you finally found out that those fools of the Burning Blade have nothing to offer compared to what we can get here at the Twilight Hammer, didn't you? Endless Rage, they gave you, but only on their command!
Hah! We can have Endless Rage whenever we want! And so much more!
We have the favor of the Old Gods!"
In a way, he was his own version of the crazy-talk that the female Tauren had been delivering.

He went on:
"All the big plans of the Shadow Counsel will amount to nothing when the Twilight Hammer ushers in the Hour of Twilight!
Their silly scheme of wanting to overthrow the leadership of the Horde! Pathetic! WE will bring an end to the World!
They think they are so clever and powerful, getting all the Warriors of the Horde under their command, but no matter what they do, it will all work out in favor of the Old Gods anyway! Heheheheh!

Not even those mighty Demons are aware that their fixation on conquering Azeroth is due to the Influence of the Old Gods! They have fallen in the most devious trap of all: they hunger for it and can not let go of their desire, even after having been defeated several times! If that is not irony in it's purest form? Heheheheh!

No-one can withstand the Power of the Old Gods! They can exploit every weakness.
They have planned it all, from the beginning of Time!
Oh! I just can't wait to see this World burn!
Then finally, I will be freed from this rotten corpse! Heheheheh!"
He was beside himself of joy and his fat, dark, laughter ended in what sounded like a death-rattle.




Death-rattle




Coughing loudly, he recovered himself and asked: "But why don't you introduce me to your Friends?"
"Do you know how long before the Captain is due to return here?" asked the Rogue.
"Oh, one hour, two if we are lucky." he replied with a big fat wink.
The Rogue looked in my direction and I shook my head, two hours were not enough for the Portal Spell to be ready.
"Then we better get ready," he said with emphasis, looking at all of us, "we don't want to have another run-in with the Captain and give her any more cause for displeasure, now do we?"
"Very wise Sir!" groveled the Undead. "Once we are in the Temple, we might be able to avoid her the rest of the day! Heheheheh."

"You certainly are a slacker, aren't you?" said the Rogue. "Lead the way, man!
You and the Warrior go in front. She can answer all your questions, she is smart enough for that." he said with emphasis again, looking at Wilani.
"Certainly Sir!" he said. "If you would follow me, please. It is not far."
And so we set out to the Temple of the Twilight Hammer Cult and an uncertain future.
What would await us there?


What would await us there?





Wilani was only walking slowly and the Twilight-guy seemed to be happy with the slow pace. Sure, why rush, if you can draw-out an assignment with no Officer to reprimand you. He was indeed a slacker, if not worse!
But that meant that we had to go even slower, to keep some distance from them, in order to exchange some urgent whispers.

"Do you really want to follow that guy into their Temple?!" I asked the Rogue in a hushed tone.
"I don't know!" he whispered back.
"Don't you all agree that staying in-character is the best for now?" he asked.
"I would feel bad, killing a fellow Undead, just like that, who does not attack me." whispered  Gregory.
"Yes, it is always best to not kill unnecessary." replied Dawnstrider.

"What if there is a way to escape?" I asked. "What do we do with him then?"
"The Earthmother will provide guidance, if we pay attention." whispered the Shaman back.
Hm, the Earthmother again. But since there was no clear alternative, we might just as-well go with this.
"I guess." I whispered back. "We can see what we do when the situation presents itself."
"OK. that is the plan then, for now." whispered the Rogue. "Can you go take Wilani's place?  Then we can inform her."
"OK." I replied and went to the front.

"Warrior!" I said, trying to act formally. "The Lieutenant wants to have a word with you, I am here to take your place."
"Yes, Mage!" said Wilani, with a big grin and went towards the back of the group.
And I was left with Mr. Slacker.





I felt great reluctance talking to this guy and settled for a very neutral "How far is it to the Temple?" to keep his attention on me. I wished one of the others were here in my place. Why had we not asked Greg to chat with him? He was an Undead too. But Gregory was still a bit inexperienced and might give away something, unknowingly.

I listened with only half an ear to the stream of words that had erupted as a consequence of my question, taking care to insert an "Aha" or "Hm hm" at regular intervals. It was Eternal Twilight Talk all over again and I failed to see what could make such a future so attractive, but I took care not to utter a question like that, as it would mark me instantly as an unbeliever.

How could someone long to see the World end? Did they all hate Life so much? It did remind me of the Naga: they also had such Hate, for everything, it seemed. And the Humans hated the Undead and the Undead hated all the Living. There was also lot's of Hate, even among us Trolls, with our endless fights.

I never had thought in ways like this, but the talking of Mr. Slacker somehow made it so obvious that there is too much Hate in the world. But why? Everyone would say: "It has always been like this." But what if it wasn't?
The Undead had not always been Undead. They said so themselves, they used to be Humans.

"... Liberated from the Flesh." I heard Mr Slacker say. His endless stream of words had flown past me and I had no idea what he had been talking about.
"I'm sorry", I said, could you repeat that please?"
"Then we will be Liberated from the Flesh." he said.
I could only just prevent myself from asking what he meant by that.
It sounded ghastly, macabre even, but the Liberated part somehow struck a chord. To be free is good.
"To be free from fear is good too." said my inner voice. "Yes, I know, no fear, no fear!"

My mind drifted away, thinking of something about fear I heard long ago. Only vaguely remembering some words.
... that after the fear had gone, I would still remain.



I had lost track again of what he was talking about. It was difficult to keep my attention on that unending stream.
Instead, I forced myself to look at where we were going. This playing along, to be one of them, gave an unjust feeling of safety and a lack of attention. We were possibly in greater danger than all that we had faced up until now.
There was just no immediate danger.
I told myself to be vigilant.
But this endless talking! It drowned my Mind.







There was a curve in the tunnel and it opened up into a wide cave. It was enormous! In the middle of it, a complex of lanes and corridors and pillars, with water surrounding it. All in the same style as the ruins we had seen before, but here, most of it was still intact.
We had already reached the Temple! It shook me awake more than I myself had been able to make me pay attention.
This was a big place. I could see how you could easily get lost here or avoid you commanding Officer, for that matter.

I turned around, looking for the others, wanting to connect and share my feelings and saw them come round the bend. There were definitely surprised reactions from them too!
"Let's wait a bit for the others." I said, feeling reluctant to enter the Temple alone.

What were we to do now? Trying to get rid of the Undead Slacker was out of the question, here in plain sight of the Temple.
That meant we had to go inside where it would be full of Twilight Zealots!
Sooner than I had expected, the situation had changed and our possible choices had evaporated.
We would have to stay in-character and go on with it, it was our only hope.


"Awaiting your orders, Lieutenant!" I said with emphasis, when the others had reached us. Hoping to make clear what my view of our situation was.
"Fall in line and take my place!" said the Rogue, picking up on it immediately. "I will go in front and make a decent patrol, you lot! Warrior in the back with the Priest!" he commanded.
We all took our places and advanced towards the entrance of the Temple.





I was walking in the middle, besides Dawnstrider. Looking up to him, wanting to draw his attention.
Talking was out of the question, walking right behind the Undead in the front.
He looked his own calm Self, as he had been for most of the time. No gloominess or anything was showing on him.
I felt much better next to him than walking besides Mr. Slacker!
It was not just that Mr. Slacker was a loathsome Undead who was a dangerous Zealot, no, this Tauren had become so familiar, in the time we had been here underground.

I thought of the time at the fire, when I had been 'away' in that weird 'dream'. He had been there, making sure I was OK.
And his long story, that he had shared with us. So much had happened!
It felt weird, to think that we had been just strangers, when we had set out from Orgrimmar.

Orgrimmar! We should definitely take the first opportunity to make a Portal!
The Mind is a peculiar thing. That last thought brought me instantly back to our current situation: We were nearing the guards that were standing at the entrance.

One was a Troll caster. He held a simple looking Staff and there was nothing that gave away what kind of Magic he could make use of. And who knows what extra powers would have been given to casters who were not Mages ? It made me feel quite uneasy. Even more so than the Human female did, who was wielding a beautiful Two-hander. I had seen enough Swords by now and had endured plenty of Wilani's talk to be able to recognize it for what it was. Would we be able to handle her if she were to go instantly into a burn-up frenzy like Lani had experienced? And Gregory! I could only hope his hatred for Humans would not take over again. Too many thoughts! We were there already!


The Human stepped aside to let us pass while Mr. Slacker said "Hello." She did not answer.
The Caster seemed zoned out and was not paying us any attention at all. We all went by and nothing else happened!
A sigh of relief escaped me, releasing the energy of all those many thoughts that had been inside me. I really was a master in stressing myself out!
"Where were you, with your No Fear! No Fear! ?" I asked my inner Self. But I knew I had not left any room for such thoughts.
I promised myself to pay more attention.











We were in a long corridor now and small groups of Cultists moved to and from passageways on either side. Not what you would call a quiet and private place.
When we reached the first on the right-hand side Mr. Slacker said: "Well Sir, if you don't need my presence anymore, can I be excused? You just need to go this way to reach the Moonshine Sanctum." and he waved his bony hand towards the right.
"Yes, you are dismissed!" said the Rogue. "Go make yourself useful somewhere else!"
"Is that an order, Sir?" wanted Mr. Slacker to know.
"Just go!" said the Rogue and I could tell that the stretched patience in his voice was not only from acting in character.
"Heheheh, thank you, Sir!" chuckled the Undead and he finally left us alone.
"We too should find a quiet place." said the Rogue. And we went into the new corridor.



A flight of steps led us to a more open space with big pillars here and there. Not a quiet room, but at least we could see if any cultists would come near.
"So, we got rid of him without a fight. Good!" said Wilani. "My blood begins to boil again, if I have to think of any more fighting!"
Wow, I thought. If she gets so affected, I must be even more careful of this oppressing influence! I could feel that here in the Temple, its effect was stronger than before.
I said: "We should not forget to have Dispel casted on all of us again soon, so it won't get too strong."
"Yea, yea," said the Rogue, "but what we really should do is stand behind that big pillar, and keep out of sight as much is possible." And we followed him going there. "And stay in-character!" he added. "Just to be sure."



"That is a lot of water, over there." said Gregory, pointing to the water surrounding the Temple complex.
"Yea, best make sure you don't fall in, Greg", said Wilani, "I think I saw a Thresher there below!"
Threshers lived everywhere along the coast, where the water was deep enough. They were no real threat for a group like us, but if you were alone, in the water, things could turn nasty quick, especially if there were more than one and there were almost always more than one...

Thresher






A Warlock casting Unending Breath is what a group really needs when taking on those monsters.
I thought again of that Warlock-girl that we ended up not taking in our group.
But then the Rogue would not have been with us and he had played a decisive role many times already.
If only he were not enjoying to boss us around so much ...

I checked my Portal Spell, but the cool-down was still not finished.
I knew he would correct me and say: "The Spell is still not ready, Lieutenant!", so I decided to be the wiser and he was right after-all, it was best to play safe. So I said: "Lieutenant, the cool-down is still not finished yet." and I managed to not feel annoyed by it.
That made me feel pretty pleased with myself!

"Thank you, Mage." he said and I was hoping to hear a tinge of surprise in his voice, but no such thing. And my freshly gained happiness was already back on the way down. And I had to smile. How ridiculously my feelings were depending on the reactions of others! "What do you think of this?" I asked my inner voice.
"I think you are making great progress, dear," said my inner voice, "to realize is the first step on the path of change."
"Where did you get that from?" I wanted to know.
"I don't know." replied my inner voice airily. "It seems such a logical thing to think, won't you agree?" And my smile became a lot bigger. This is actually quite fun, being friends with myself.









"So many Tauren!" sighed the Shaman, watching the many groups of Cultists that could be seen here and there. "Possibly even more common than Humans. Although it is miraculous how they all seem to get along with each-other. I see they even allow Gnomes among them!"
Although Tauren were relatively tolerant to the races of the Alliance, their Druids even meeting up with Night-Elf Druids at times, they had great dislike for Gnomes, who they saw as terribly misshapen, being so unbelievably small of stature.

All the races of the Alliance were smaller than us Trolls, of-course, the Night-elves least so and Dwarves only as tall as our young-ones, but Gnomes were even shorter than them! It was hard to believe how such small creatures could pose any serious threat, but their Rogues were feared for being almost impossible to catch and in order to cast Spells you did not need to be big either. And if that was not enough, they loved all kinds of machines, that would make up for their small size. Luckily they were not very numerous and I can not remember having encountered one of them alive, myself. I also failed to see any of them in the groups of cultists, but Tauren, originating from the wide open plains, had better eyesight than us Trolls, therefore I did not doubt him spotting them.

"Would now be a good time to cast Dispel on everyone?" asked the Priest.
"Yes, please!" I answered quickly.
"Make sure to do it out-of-sight as much as possible!" said the Rogue. "We should not draw any unwelcome attention."

I was the first one to receive a Dispel and my Mind was immediately a lot clearer. "Don't forget yourself, Greg!" I said. "I don't know what we would do without you here!"
"Probably become just as crazy as all those Twilighters!" scoffed Wilani.
"Shh h!" hushed the Rogue. "You never know who might be listening!"
"Oh! That is much better!" said Wilani, when she received the Dispel-treatment. "Yea, sorry, we have to stay in character, I know." She whispered in return.

The Priest went on to cast Dispel on the Shaman and the Rogue and finally on himself.
So, now we would be good for a while, even though it had not been a very long time, the effect of the Dispel was definitely noticeable.
I checked my Portal-spell again, but it was still not ready...
The only thing we could do was wait.







[Naga with Saber][Naga
      with Trident][Naga Sea-witch]

Naga Warriors & Naga Sea-witch


[satyr1][satyr2]
Satyrs


[murloc1][murloc2]
Murlocs!


[enforcer][enforcer-boss]
Dwarf Enforcers


[Wilani][Wilani 2H]
Female Troll Warrior
Lah'Wilani, but we call her Wilani, or Lani


[Morgrin]
Male Orc Rogue
Morgrin A.k.a. Orgrim etc.


[Mawhani][Mawhani]
Female Troll Mage
Lah'Mawhani, Hani for short



[Gregory][Gregory with Staff]
Male Undead Priest (new)
Gregory, or Greg for short


[Dawnstrider][Dawnstrider with Staff]
Male Tauren Shaman
??? Dawnstrider

The whole party.
[The party.]























[Dawnstrider][Gregory with Staff][Mawhani][Morgrin][Wilani]