Warcraft Fan Fiction ❯ [Epic] What Happened in 49' ❯ Prologue: Preparations ( Prologue )

[ T - Teen: Not suitable for readers under 13 ]

Prologue: Preparations
"In the name of the Inquisition, open up!"
The announcement was followed by the sound of the door breaking, as the soldiers outside knocked it down. They swarmed inside the house, their military boots reverberating throughout the small house.
His cloak billowing about him, Purist Thunderwrath, Inquisitor and Chosen of the Light, strode through the rooms, peering inside to find them all empty. His soldiers followed, their halberds at rest, trusting in the sign on their tabards-the glorious mark of the Inquisition-to keep them safe.
Bootssteps echoing, Purist entered the last room. Snarling upon finding it empty, he drew his sword, marching to a closet. Opening it, he threw aside piles of clothes to reveal a trapdoor.
Finding it locked, the inquisitor beckoned, and the soldiers advanced to put their weapons to good use. Within minutes, the wood shattered beneath halberd blows and, with a disdainful sniff, Purist lowered himself into the darkened tunnel below.
Torches were brought down and the Inquisitorial guard continued on its purposeful journey, the synchronized cadence of steel boot-tips amplified by the sides of the cavern. At the end of the tunnel, a solitary door stood, defiantly opposing the Chosen of the Light.
Smashing his sword-hilt against the weak wood, Purist smiled as the last obstacle collapsed before him. In the room beyond huddled small figures and a bent, old man sat, fumbling with his alchemical set.
"So, Andromath, taken to sheltering dwarves have you?"
The man turned, the gleam on his archmage's cloak gone, his once proud face now looking lined and weathered:
"Purist, please. Don't do this."
A contemptuous smile formed at the Inquisitor's lips:
"By order of the king, you are all under arrest."
Purist gestured and soldiers stepped forward, ringing the room and the frightened dwarves inside.
"You cannot arrest me!" retorted a defiant dwarf, better dressed than the other, "I am Muradin's ambassador! I claim diplomatic immunity!"
"For association with a dangerous traitor and helping to smuggle political fugitives your diplomatic immunity is repealed," the inquisitor yawned, "Take the dwarves away. Give the ambassador a quick trial and burn him, and put the rest in the dungeons."
Andromath stood still as the dwarves were taken out, their begging and pleading recieving no recognition from the stiff soldiers. Waving the guardsmen to stand outside Purist grabbed a chair for himself.
"So Andromath, I'm afraid you won't be able to wiggly yourself out of this dilemma. Was your office and life really worth nothing more than a few dirty dwarves?"
The ex-archmage's eyes burned with hatred, "If the king was still in his right mind he would have you executed, you murderous dog. It's a measure of how insane he has become that he cannot see straight through you and your croneys."
Purist chuckled, "The king's not insane, you know, just occupied with his new...consort. There's no need to insult him just because he's too busy to manage daily affairs himself. And they are so dreary you know."
"She's a Scourge agent! That bitch wants to kill all of us! Don't you see, she's forcing the king away from matters..."
Purist laughed again, "Akasha is a bit strange but definitely not an undead. And what she's doing is for the greater good, even you can see that. With the Inquisition gaining more and more power, soon we will be able to purge all this corrupt elite in the Church and the nobility. With the priests and the nobles gone the Light will come back to us and finally give us the victory we need against the Scourge and treacherous dwarves."
"The dwarves want nothing but peace. It is you and your war hawks that poison the king's ear with..."
"I tire of this, Andromath," Purist stood up and a guard entered, as if on cue, "I have here an order in the king's own hand stripping you of your rank and rights. You are no longer a citizen of this country. And the Inquisition hereby charges you with high treason. Soldiers, take him away."
"Ah, Nortrom, it's been a while!"
The blood elf swept his head out of his drink and turned to survey the tavern. His eyes found themselves staring into a large, furry face.
"Mangix, you old bastard. Still hanging around these pubs I see!"
The two friends clapped each other on the back, the blood elf, through skill and practice, managing to keep his beer from spilling as the pandaren's large hand thumped him on the back.
Taking a step back, the wandering black-and-white warrior regarded his once-companion.
"You know, Nortrom, it really has been a while. We've been wondering where you went."
"Is the old gang still here?" Nortrom questioned, trying to lighten the mood.
"Always," Mangix chuckled, "Rhasta's out talking to Vol'Jin and I have no idea where Rikimaru is. Kardel's out hunting. But you, man, we weren't expecting you."
"It's been a while," Nortrom echoed, thoughts of dead bodies suddenly appearing unbidden to his mind.
"They say you're now a bigshot mercenary. Hundreds at your beck and call and everything."
Nortrom smiled at the understatement, "Two thousand. My own company, can you believe that Mangix? And not just a company, but
the company. The Spellbreakers, two thousand of the best troops in the world."
Mangix smiled sadly, "Buy a cup for an old friend still poor, Nortrom? The others'll be glad to see you I reckon. We missed you, you know."
"We've been through this," Nortrom answered, "I couldn't stay with you. Not after what happened."
"That's what you said," Mangix shook his head stubbornly, "But it didn't have to be. I forgave you, hell everyone forgave you. Just you, still digging yourself for what's past."
"I need to go," Nortrom said, "We're marching to Elthop Forest in a few hours. I need to be back to oversee preparations."
"Elthop forest?" the pandaren questioned, shocked, "How can you go back there?"
"I talked to Vol'Jin," Nortrom answered curtly, "He said I had to. Anyways," the Silencer cracked a pained smile, "It's just undead."
"Don't go Nortrom. You don't have to do this to yourself."
"Yes," the blood elf turned to walk out the tavern, "Yes I do."
"Master, Pudge hear clickity-clicketies!"
"Pudge will you allow me to concentrate?" answered the lich wearily, surveying the pattern he had written on the dirt. As always, Kel'Thuzad was preoccupied with his work, the magic with which he enchanted the ground much more powerful than anyone could guess.
"But master," moaned Pudge, "It's true!"
"Will you shut up!" Kel'thuzad roared, frustrated with the abomination's constant talk, "This is important."
"More important than clickety-clicketies."
"Yes, more important than whatever you're blabbering about Pudge," the lich stared down at the dirt, "Someone killed Terrorblade, and whoever that was wasn't someone he was expecting. Stabbed in the back in the middle of his camp."
Pudge stared expectantly at his master, knowing he was on to something important. Whenever he explained whatever it was to Pudge, Pudge didn't understand, but he knew it made master happy to talk anyways.
"Yes," mused the lich thoughtfully, "A watcher, definitely. The humans haven't yet managed to infiltrate our camp. But who could have backstabbed the Soul Keeper? It had to have been someone completely trustworthy, someone even Terrorblade would trust. Who else could have killed the greatest swordsman in the world inside his own camp, definitely no wandering assassins is for...wait. Pudge? What did you say you heard?"
"Clickety-clicketies," Pudge explained, glad it was his turn to talk.
"And what are clickety-clicketies?" asked Kel'thuzad softly, as thousands of wards reported back to their master.
"Clickety-clicketies make sound like clickety-clickety when they walk," Pudge was frustrated with his inability to explain, "Have more legs than Pudge and Master."
"Nerubians," breathed the lich, "In this camp? How?"
A million thoughts flitted through Kel'thuzad's brain as he sent waves of magic around him, to detect anything that could possibly be moving.
"Pudge," whispered the lich softly, "I want you to stay very very close to me. If you see anything move, kill it. Do you understand?"
Pudge nodded, moving closer to his master, his small head turning around to glare at the bushes.
A deep voice chuckled, making Pudge jump.
"How amusing, Kel'Thuzad, is this really all you have? I was expecting more."
"They thought you were dead," answered the lich, his skull spinning around to see where the bodiless voice had come from, spells of destruction appearing on the tips of his fingers, "How did you penetrate my wards?"
The voice chuckled again, "Not me, again. We have an insider, someone so deep within you that we've been able to do things otherwise unthinkable. Terrorblade! My god, that elf was already a demi-god. And now you, when the world thought your defences impenetrable."
Pudge roared at not knowing where the voice was at the same instant that Kel'Thuzad screamed. Spinning around Pudge saw two gigantic claws rip into his face and knock him over, and then he saw dirt.
The sounds of revelry permeated the air, the boisterous laughs of troll berserkers mingling with the higher-pitched chantings of the shaman and hunters. Everywhere there was dancing and joy, as the entire village celebrated the fruits of the hunt. There was noone who had stayed in his hut for this festival, and even the most shy of young trolls was there, sitting by the fire waiting eagerly for his turn to dance with one of the young maidens.
A dark shape surveyed the now-abandoned tents, noting with distaste that even the usual guards were off celebrating. Striding past the teepee huts the unarmed figure entered the village's centre, where a hundred dancing figures were illuminated by the blaze of a large fire.
It took a few moments before the visitor's presence was noted. The closest trolls looked at him curiously but made no move to disrupt their revelry for this newcomer. At last a particularly drunk berserker strode over to him, bending down to talk to the shorter figure.
Darkterror leaned back away from the alcohol-laden breath and struggled to make sense of the troll's slurred words.
Angry at not being understood, the troll repeated himself louder, at which several of his friends, having crept closer, laughed. Comprehending the taunt, Darkterror whispered a few words to the warrior, whose mouth snapped shut with a pleasingly audible sound of filed teeth smacking together.
The fool backed away slowly and Darkterror waited expectantly for another to speak with him. The trolls nearby had begun to melt away, disappearing in the crowd of dancers.
Finally a chanting witch doctor took notice of him and arrived closer. Upon seeing his face the witch doctor stopped singing.
"Are...are you looking for Vol...Vol'jin?" the troll stuttered. His knuckles were white around his shaman's scepter and his legs trembled uncontrollably.
Wordlessly, Darkterror nodded, and the troll turned to lead him out of the plaza.
The two marched out of the village and into the forest, through lush woodland and greenery. There was silence the whole way, though while Darkterror's silence was confident and smug, the troll's was a shaking, fearful respect.
At last they arrived at a cabin, built over the underlying marshes. The air stunk of peat and bog, and swarms of mosquitoes flew everywhere, though they seemed curiously repelled by Vol'Jin's abode.
"What is it, Rhasta? Are you drunk you fool? Go away!" hollered a voice at the witch doctor's knock.
The knock became more insistent and the young troll's eyes were wide with terror as they stared back at a restless Darkterror.
"What?" growled Vol'Jin, swinging open the door. His eyes looked into the scared ones of his apprentice before spotting the dark shadow beyond.
The witch doctor whispered a few words to Vol'Jin, which Darkterror didn't hear, but their effect was immediate.
"W...would you like to come in, master? My hospitality is always available to those who sail under the Red Blade," the voodoo master was pale as he invited Darkterror inside. Behind, the witch doctor disappeared into the forest, thankful that the problem had been delivered from his hands.
Darkterror swept a haughty gaze around the insides of Vol'Jin's cabin, noting the potion on the corner and the stacks of alchemy ingredients. The dessicated head of an orc decorated a bookshelf while a table supported a scrying ball, it's white shine suggesting it had been used recently.
"Some tea? I have food and..."
Darkterror's stare silenced the troll, and the faceless void took his seat slowly, lowering himself into the area reserved for the high witch doctor. He did not miss the look of hatred that the troll secretly gave him. Leisurely stretching his arms, Darkterror took his time in watching the troll wait impatiently before at last a voice raspy from disuse issued from his throat.
"The Necronomicon."
As pale as he was, Vol'Jin blanched even more. The troll stood still for a moment and the faceless void knew that the sorceror was thinking about something very hard. It was strange that the name of book of demonology should so affect a troll witch doctor but then again, there was a lot Darkterror did not know about mages.
"I don't have it. I have never seen the book in my..." the troll's voice was too high-pitched, the words tumbling out too fast. Something about the Necronomicon had unnerved him more than a simple reference like that should have.
"Find it."
Vol'Jin nodded and practically leaped to his crystal ball, fumbling with it in his hands, treacherous fingers threatening to drop the precious sphere at any moment. After a few minutes of peering furiously into it he stood up.
"The Necronomicon is not here. It is far away, in the possession of a human, one who has seen better times. A warrior, dangerous to cross and..."
"Where is it?"
Vol'Jin blinked at the interruption before continuing tonelessly, "Seek out the Lord of Avernus. He has your Necronomicon."
"You are certain of this?"
Darkterror nodded and walked out. Vol'Jin was acting strangely. The high witch doctor hated him of course, but he never lied. Yet here, for all his pretense and furious peering, it had been obvious to Darkterror that the troll had not really been looking into his scrying ball. He had been pretending, which meant that he either knew of the Necronomicon beforehand or had lied.
He shrugged. There was little point in questioning his words now. If they were false his captain would be enraged and likely kill him, and if not what need was there to wonder how Vol'Jin knew of the Necronomicon as long as it was retrieved from this lord of Avernus.