I know it's been a little while, but graduate school keeps me away (and The Burning Crusade, of course).

In this chapter, we learn that before you try to infiltrate an enemy city you should probably research what you're using to disguise yourself.

Mission: Highly Improbable

A few hours before morning, Cian felt someone watching him.

“What do you want?” he rolled over and stared into Kiero’s yellow panther eyes.  She crouched in stealth beside him, her whip of a tail lashing back and forth.  “You know, if you want some pointers on sneaking around, I’d recommend not beating the leaves with your tail.”

Kiero bared her long fangs. “Shut up, monster.”

Cian bristled. “I’m getting a little tired of defending myself to everyone we meet.”

“You have a lot to answer for,” Kiero said.  She shifted back into a night elf and stood over him, a tall, slender tower of righteous indignation. “For example, that camp of Forsaken over there.”  She gestured into the forest, towards the mountain range to the east.  A barrow den was carved into the trees and rock there, but the druids who slept within it had all been killed by Forsaken deathstalkers.  “Your kind performed cruel experiments on the helpless druids in that barrow den.  My brothers and sisters can’t even rest peacefully, because your alchemists somehow severed their spirits from their bodies.  You would call these actions anything less than monstrous?”

“I would call them none of my concern,” Cian said.  Kiero’s owlish eyebrows shot up in outrage.

“How can you say that?”

“Look,” Cian said. “It’s not fair to hold me responsible for everything any Forsaken does.  That’s as ludicrous as me holding you responsible for everything your people do.  Like, for example, bringing the Burning Legion here in the first place.  I think the party invitation they received was from your former queen, wasn’t it?”

“That was so long ago,” Kiero began.

“And yet, the effects of that event are still rippling through this world every day,” Cian said.

“Yes.  We were arrogant, in that regard.  I can admit that.”

“You’re not getting it.  I don’t care if you admit that or not.  I don’t care what you think about what Azshara did.  You had no say in it, you had no room to oppose it, most of the night elves didn’t even know what was happening until the deed was done,” Cian said. “Do you understand what I’m saying here?  I can’t hate you for that because you had nothing to do with it.”

“But I would stand against Azshara and her Highborne even now if I were to meet them face to face,” Kiero countered. “Would you stand against your people for their despicable acts?”

Cian did not immediately reply.   He stared at the grass.  He watched the fireflies twinkling, tried to breathe in as much of the dewy air as he could, tried to trace the veins on a fallen leaf.  But he felt only the shadows of sensation.  The experiences were held out in front of him at arm’s length, like a fruit dangling from a tree branch.  He could reach for them and he knew their names, he could even smell them.  But when Cian tried to grasp and hold anything—like the satisfaction of a lungful of air, or the softness of a leaf’s skin—it pulled back, slipped away.  Every one of the Forsaken had to deal with this denial, every day.

Finally, he said, “No.”

Kiero looked smug.

He turned his back to her. “Think what you want.  I’m not saying what they’re doing in that camp is right.  But will I slaughter them for it?  No.  What good would that do?  And anyway, you act like that little pocket of undead is equivalent to every free-willed undead, everywhere.  And they’re not.  They’re just not.”

“So you’re different.  You wouldn’t do what they’re doing.”

Cian tore a blade of grass into shreds. “I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?  You don’t know if you’d feed a poison to a sleeping person, a poison so terrible that not only would that person die but their driven-mad spirit would stick around?”

“I probably wouldn’t,” Cian said. “But what I’m telling you is that I can understand the bitterness that would drive someone else to that act.  What do you think we undead are, anyway, except insane spirits?”

“That doesn’t give you the right—”

“No,” Cian said. “But it gives us the motivation.”

“I’m done with you,” Kiero said.  She shifted into a cheetah. “Tell Eulalia and Ingomar that I said take care.”

“Can do.”

“And if you hurt them, I promise you that I won’t give a damn about your motivations when I come after your moldy corpse.”

“Wouldn’t expect you to.”  He waved goodbye as she ran off, her form quickly disappearing into the dawn.


“You can’t actually be serious about this,” Cian said.

“As an arrow to the brain!” Eulalia replied cheerfully. “C’mere, Ingo.”

She took the orb of deception from her labyrinthine packs and held it out, cupped in her palms.

“So yer sayin’ ye want me ter touch yer ball?” Ingomar said.

Eulalia nodded emphatically.

“Could you be more juvenile,” Cian said.  “I mean, is it physically possible.”

“Don’ be jealous,” Ingomar said. She set her hand on top of the orb. “’S not my fault ye’ve got no balls to touch.”

Cian unsheathed his knives.

“Guys, be niiiice,” Eulalia said. “We have to work together during our secret mission.”

“It isn’t secret for me,” Cian grumbled, glaring at Ingomar.  He had half a mind to throw her to the guards the second they stepped into Orgrimmar.

The orb’s fuchsia glass glowed, its tinted light extending in myriad points from its center.  The light enveloped both Eulalia and Ingomar, snaking over their bodies and then clinging to them like a mold.  When the glow dissipated, the two were transformed.

Ingomar became a female troll: six and a half feet tall, blue-skinned, three fingered, with shiny red hair and two small tusks jutting from her mouth.  Beside her, Eulalia stood as one of the Forsaken.  She had lost almost three feet of height off of her original seven and six, and her body had become thin and rotted.  Like mine, thought Cian.

She wore a simple robe and headband, but the enchanted polearm was clearly visible on her back.  Couldn’t be helped.

Ingomar wiggled her new bottom.  When she spoke, the language was Orcish and in the distinct accent of the trolls: “Nice, mon.  I think I could get used to dis, except for da blue skin.”

Eulalia flexed her bony, claw-like fingers and said in awe, “You could take someone’s eye out with these things!”

The morbid scratch of a Forsaken underlined her speech, but lightly.  Cian frowned.

“Eulie, we undead are not exactly …” he paused. “Sprightly.”

“But your bodies are so interesting,” Eulalia said.  She lifted the hem of her robe to marvel at her capless knees.

“Put dat away before you blind someone, mon,” Ingomar said.

“This is not going to work,” Cian said. “This is suicide.”

After breaking camp that morning, Cian had briefly mentioned Kiero’s departure, although he didn’t go into the details of their discussion.  Predictably, Eulalia had shrugged and smiled, while Ingomar gave him the evil eye.  But she hadn’t pressed him for details (because she had decided to blame him regardless), so they traveled eastward and then south along the Southfury River, until they reached Orgrimmar’s Talon Gate.  A bridge across the river connected the Barrens to Durotar and led directly into the city.

Instead of listening to Cian’s complaint, Eulalia had walked away from him and was now crossing that bridge.  Ingomar went after her, and Cian didn’t realize he was alone until his dissuasive diatribe was nearly finished.

“Hey!” he called. “Wait!”

Ingomar and Eulalia passed the guards without incident, although one looked askance at Cian as he sprinted past, to the point where she grabbed his arm and said, “Sir, I hope you’re not planning to harass those women.”

“What?” Cian said.  “No, we’re traveling together.”

The guard called to Eulalia and Ingomar. “He with you?”

“No mon,” Ingo replied sweetly. “Never seen him in my life.”

“He’s my brother!” Eulalia jabbed Ingomar with her elbow. “Kalika, you remember him, don’t you?”

“No,” Ingomar said grumpily.

The guard released Cian’s arm. “Just try to keep him out of trouble.”

“What the hell,” Cian muttered. “I’m revered with this damn city.”

“Aww, dat be a tough break, baby cake,” Ingomar said. “Now den, where’s dis Warchief I been hearin’ so much about?”

“Just follow me and keep your mouths shut,” Cian said.  “Both of you.”

He started walking and after a minute Eulalia began to fidget.  Then she twitched, then she shook, and just before she entered a full-blown seizure state Cian hissed, “What?”

“Shouldn’t we get onourmounts?” she said, in a rush of shuddery breath.

“The spell doesn’ extend to mounts,” Ingomar pointed out.

“Then no,” Cian said. “I think they’d notice something off about a Forsaken riding a nightsaber.”

“I could say I killed me and took the reins from my smoldering body.”

“No,” Cian repeated. “It’s not that far.”

Orgrimmar was the Horde’s main city.  At any given hour, its dusty streets were packed with members of all the Horde’s allied races, conducting various kinds of business: checking mail, rearranging their bank inventories, and sniping auctions.  Guards were everywhere, including special elite orcs with the ability to detect any stealthy intruders.  Cian wondered, as one such elite warrior passed, if she could detect the spell on Ingo and Eulie.  But she strode past without so much as a turn of the head.

Great bonfires burned on the street corners.  Their embers mixed with the scent of roasting meat and overripe bodies, giving the windless air a heady aroma that Eulalia sucked in with more joy than was entirely necessary.  Halfway through the Drag, Cian noticed that she was also skipping.

Ingomar laughed. “Ya like it here, mon?”

“I could live here,” Eulalia said. “Although I’m not sure about this body.  A couple of my fingers have already fallen off.”

“Yeah, they do that sometimes,” Cian said. “I’ve found fresh boar sinew is a reasonable adhesive.”

They passed through the Drag and into the Valley of Wisdom.

“Okay,” Cian said. “Thrall’s stronghold is just ahead.  Keep it together.”

“We’re fine,” Ingomar said. “You’re de one havin’ a heart attack, mon.”

“Yup, no one suspects a thing!” Eulalia did a joyful flip, but she landed on her knees with an excruciating crack.

“There’s a reason we don’t do that,” Cian said.

“Just a flesh wound,” Eulalia whimpered.

As Ingomar kneeled down to heal the fractures, she noticed a sign for a harness shop. “Hey, I’ve always wanted a harness.  Let’s check dis out.”
“Ing—I mean, Kalika—you don’t need a harness.  We are forty feet from Thrall’s door.  Come on,” Cian said.

“Sure I do,” Ingomar said. “Besides, my armor’s worn out.”

She approached the vendor, a female orc who greeted them warmly.

“What do you need?” she asked.

“To go,” Cian said, grabbing Ingomar’s arm.  She shrugged him off and said, “Now, now, we got time.  Pass over those harnesses, ma’am.”

But as Ingomar’s fingers touched the merchant’s, her body began to glow.  As did Eulalia’s.

“Uh oh,” Ingomar said.

Startled, the merchant dropped her wares, then shrieked, as she found herself face-to-face not with a friendly troll but an evil little dwarf.

“Guards!” she shouted.

“Damn,” Ingomar said.

“I forgot this spell only lasts about five minutes,” Eulalia said. “Oops.”

The merchant’s hut filled with guards who sneered at the two Alliance women and raised their axes.

“Stop!” Cian said. “Don’t … don’t hurt them.”

“Why not,” one guard growled.

“Because,” Cian thought fast, “because they’re my prisoners.”

“That so?” the guard said. “Then why were they in disguise?”

“I just, I was bringing them to the Warchief for questioning and … and I didn’t want to cause a commotion,” Cian explained. “You know, you know how people are excitable …”

“What do they need to be questioned about?” the guard said. “Because I’m thinking it can’t really be that important …”

“Bring it, greenskin,” Ingomar said. “I ain’t scared of you.”

“Wench!”  The orc brought down his axe, but Ingomar parried the strike with her hammer.

“This matter is of great importance to the Horde,” Cian went on doggedly, trying to speak over the clanging metal, “To all of Azeroth.  And, uh, beyond.”

“Fine,” the guard snarled. “Let the Warchief deal with you.  We’ll take you to him.”

“Fantastic,” Cian said.  He glared at his two companions as they were corralled towards Grommash Hold.

“Don’t look so glum,” Eulalia said. “I’m sure we can all be friends.”

Cian couldn’t summon up the anger this situation probably warranted.  He knew, intrinsically, that Eulalia’s plan would go awry somehow, although he had expected the disaster to be more spectacular, to have more of a song and dance to it.  Like Ingomar hurling a slur at a passing orc and then stunning him with her hammer for looking at her funny.  Nothing quite like a troll paladin to sir the citizenry.  Instead, they had been brought down by simple forgetfulness.  Or ignorance, on his part.  Cian had never owned an orb of deception, knew nothing of its spell, and had been too busy panicking to ask.  Ultimately, he supposed he was as much to blame as anyone.

But he was comfortable with keeping that to himself.

“Never was one much for subterfuge,” Ingomar said, marching defiantly in front.  But she licked her lips and her knuckles were white against the handle of her mace.

The walk from the harness shop to Thrall’s throne room was short, but fraught with suspicious, alarmed stares from passers by.  Several of them jeered at the women, but no one dared to attack while they were surrounded by guards.  Not, Cian thought, that the guards would have minded.

The room before Thrall’s was full of troll and orc shaman, who sat at round wooden tables poring over runed scrolls and training the young shaman who visited them.  None of them spoke when Cian and the others entered, but their eyes hardened with mistrust, and they stared down the intruders until the group stood before Thrall’s throne.

The court was completely silent.  Everyone—the guards, the elite guards, the advisors, and Vol’jin, leader of the trolls—looked to Thrall.  Usually, Orgrimmar policed itself: when Alliance visited, the people were all too happy to deal with the problem.  And if any group of raiders fought their way to Thrall’s stronghold, they were dogpiled by waves of elite guards while Thrall watched, impassive.

The Warchief surveyed the dwarf, the elf, and the undead, with what Cian hoped was amusement in his bright blue eyes.

“It’s been a while since I’ve seen any live Alliance in this room,” he said, in perfectly enunciated Common. “What brings you here?”

Ingomar and Eulalia exchanged glances.

“Well, Mr. Warchief, sir,” Eulalia began, stumbling over her words.  Cian thought her nerves had finally sent some fear to her brain, but as he studied her quivering smile he realized that her anxiety stemmed from admiration, not terror.  She wanted his damn autograph.

“First, I, I just wanted to say, it’s so great to meet you, because you’re great, and you’ve done great things,” she stammered.  Some of the guards laughed, while Vol’jin scowled, “You got somethin’ to say, girl, or you just gonna waste our time?”

Cian cleared his throat. “There was an incident at Splintertree.”

Thrall turned to him. “I see.  And what is your name?”

“Cian,” he replied.

“Ah, I’ve heard you spoken of around the city,” Thrall said. “You’ve done much for us.”

“Well, I try,” Cian mumbled.

“And is what your relationship with these two women?  What happened in Splintertree?”

“They’re all dead,” Ingomar said. “Yer Warchiefness.”

Thrall’s brow furrowed, and any hint of mirth drained from his posture and voice.  “And how did that come about?”

“When we arrived, the village had been massacred,” Cian said. “Upon, um, further investigation, we found a group of addled Forsaken.”

He remembered the one eating eyeballs like they were olives, and stalled. “They, ah … they were …”

“They were havin’ a snack of the remains,” Ingomar said.  She clicked her tongue at Cian. “Got yer back.”

“Thank you, Ingomar,” Cian said.  “Yes.  That’s what they were doing.”

“I am, as you might surmise, troubled,” Thrall said. “You are suggesting that the Forsaken are returning to the fold of the Scourge, yes?”

“It may have been an isolated incident,” Cian said. “I just felt you should know, Warchief.”

“And what about you, Cian?” Thrall said. “How are you feeling?  Any desire to rip out the entrails of your allies?”

“No,” Cian said.  No more than usual.

“I’ll dispatch agents to Splintertree immediately,” Thrall said.  He made a motion with his hand, and a number of orcs and trolls bowed and left the room.  “But that brings us to another matter.  Who are these women?”

“We’re traveling together,” Cian said.

“We’re gonna find a cure for undeath, sir!” Eulalia said.

Thrall laughed. “That’s a noble goal, night elf.”

“How do we know ya ain’ lyin’ to save your own skin?” Vol’jin said.

“I would never do to those people what was done to them!” Eulalia cried. “Never!”

“How dare ye accuse a follower of the Light of such atrocities,” Ingomar said.

“I seen plenty of atrocity committed in da name of da Light,” Vol’jin sneered.

“You would do well to remember your position,” Thrall said, not unkindly. “Which, I must warn you, is somewhat more than precarious.”

“Look at dis woman, Warchief,” Vol’jin said, gesturing to Eulalia.  “She be a Commander in da Alliance military.  How many our people ya killed, girl?”

“The combat was honorable!” Eulalia said, becoming more and more agitated.

“Eulie, relax,” Cian said.

“No!  No, I will not!” Eulalia was shouting now, oblivious to the guards’ darkening faces. “I would never dese … descre … I would never ruin another person’s body like that!  I would never attack a defenseless person, I don’t care what city they call home!”

“Your conviction is admirable,” Thrall said. “Although you understand that it proves nothing to us.  So please, calm down.”

Eulalia grit her teeth, but thankfully said nothing more.

“I’ll not perform an open act of war by executing you,” Thrall said. “But you must consent to our hospitality while the events at Splintertree are investigated.”

The court murmured, mostly in disapproval.  Even Ingomar looked surprised.

“We’re not the savages some would have you believe,” Thrall said. “We seek only to protect what is ours.  I’m sure you can appreciate that, dwarf.”

“My name’s Ingomar,” Ingo said. “Of the Order of the Silver Hand.”

“Very well then, Ingomar,” Thrall said.  “And you, night elf?”

“Eulalia,” she said.  Her tone was reserved—she was still smarting over the accusations leveled against her and her friend.

“If you truly had no part in the events you described, then you have nothing to fear for your honor or your lives,” Thrall said.  “As I told you, we are not indiscriminate killers.  But nor can we simply release you without knowing all the facts.”

He nodded to guards. “For now, please rest.  We will speak soon.”

Cian understood this as a polite way of saying, “Take them away,” which the guards promptly did.  They were brought to a network of cells dug out around the Ring of Valor, a battle arena that hadn’t been used in years.

“No one will look for you here,” one of the guards explained. “Cian, you’re free to move about the city.  But don’t think about taking a vacation—we’ve got a mage tracking you.”

“You do?” he said uncertainly, and An’jin appeared, his smile razor sharp. “Man, are you stalking me?”

“I tol’ ya I’d be seein’ ya, didn’t I?”

“Pssst, Cian,” Eulalia said. “Could you bring us some food?”

“Aye, I could do with a nice bit ‘o roasted something,” Ingomar said.  “And a mug of beer!  You cannae forget the beer, lad.”

“And for dessert?” Cian snapped, eyes still on An’jin.

“Homemade cherry pie!” Eulalia called.

“Why are you following us around?” Cian asked, as he left to fulfill their requests.

“Traitors are always interestin’,” An’jin replied.

“I’m no traitor,” Cian said.

“Your company would be sayin’ different,” An’jin said.

“Eulalia and I have, a history.  I knew her when I was alive.  She was like my mentor or something.”

“Or somethin’.”

“Why do you care?”

An’jin shrugged. “Ya can call it bitterness over ya rescuin’ a person who destroyed me.  Ya can call it curiosity.  Ya can call it concern over your doins’.  Maybe alla dat.”

“It’s really not your business,” Cian said.

“Ah, but it is mon.  I would reckon it be the business of us all.”

“Well, I’m not going to take off.  There’s no need to shadow me.” Cian walked into a chop shop and asked for a few cuts of quail.  He carried the meat back to the cell and passed it through the bars, while An’jin watched and followed silently.  Apparently Cian had been unclear.

“No booze?” Ingomar said.

“Fresh out,” Cian replied.

“Hey, mister troll!” Eulalia called. “How are you?”

“Doin’ fine,” he replied. “Better den you.”

“Oh, I think we’ll be okay,” Eulalia said, digging into her roasted quail.

Cian sat down on the dirt floor in front of the cell and leaned back against the bars. “Go do what you do, mage.  We’re not leaving.”

“I’ll be close by,” An’jin said, before blinking out of sight.

“I think that troll has a wee crush on you, lad,” Ingomar said.

“He’s mad at me because I didn’t attack Euls before she killed him in the Gulch.”

“Oh, really?”

“Yup,” Eulalia said.  “He attacked me after.”

“Oh.  Really,” Ingomar said.

“Let’s not bring up old stuff,” Cian said nervously.

“It’s not old, it happened just last week,” Eulalia said.  Cian groaned.

Fortunately, he was spared having to explain the incident by an interruption from a guard.  The orc’s green skin was pale with fear, and his speech was halting.  “You.  Come quickly.  Now.”

He opened the cell and called his wolf mount, gesturing for the others to do the same.  They rode to Grommash Hold, suffused with alarm.

“We’ve hardly been here an hour,” Ingomar said. “What could possibly have happened?”

They rode into the throne room, where a troll and an orc kneeled before Thrall, both gravely injured from claw-like scores on their chests and legs.

“We were attacked almost the instant we landed,” the orc gasped.  Splotches of blood dotted the floor, and more were pooling at his and his comrade’s feet.  Priests were gathered around them, trying to heal the deep gashes in their flesh.  The orc turned his head slightly to glare at Eulalia and Ingomar. “By the Alliance.”



Kieromaris knew that Cian was right.  Staghlem could care less about either a cure for undeath or the Forsaken being retaken by the Scourge.  Like most night elves, he thought the Forsaken were an abomination to be destroyed—regardless of their will.  If she wanted help, she would have to seek out Hamuul Runetotem.  Unfortunately, he lived in Thunder Bluff, a city not known for its love of night elves.

Kieromaris shifted into the form of a sleek, purple-black panther and faded into the shadows.  She jumped onto the lift which brought her up to the entrance of Thunder Bluff, a city built on a series of towering plateaus and connected with bridges.  She crept beyond the guards and took care to mind the elite hunters who stalked the rises in search of stealthy visitors.  Painted signs marked the bridges to other rises, and Kiero slunk around until she found a sign for the Elder Rise.  Feeling sure she had heard this mentioned as Hamuul’s home, Kiero slipped across the bridge and into the largest tent she saw.

Her powers of listening were rewarded—Hamuul was at the back of the tent, standing beneath a wall hung with beautifully decorated scrolls, surrounded by other tauren druids.

Now then, how to approach him?  Kiero drew close, considering.  Should she just reveal herself and hope for the best?  She laid down at Hamuul’s feet and rolled over, exposing the soft fluff of her belly.  Then she slowly allowed herself to fade into view.  Perhaps in this gesture of submission she would be understood.

“Why, hello there,” Hamuul said.

“Greetings, Shan’do Runetotem,” Kiero said.  “I come bearing grim tidings.  May I be permitted to speak freely?”

“All members of the Cenarion Circle are welcome under my roof.”

Kieromaris shifted back to her elven form.  The other tauren in the room were surprisingly undisturbed.  They all smiled at her, and bowed their heads slightly.  Maybe this would go better than she expected.

“What seems to be the trouble?” Hamuul asked.

Kiero explained everything, from her strange visions to their fruition in Splintertree.

“Also, some friends of mine are trying to find the cure for undeath.  That’s the other reason I came here—we know you and your druids have been searching for a cure.”

“Have you told this story to anyone else?” Hamuul asked.

“My friends are probably talking to Thrall right now,” Kieromaris said.

“I wonder how he’ll take it,” Hamuul said. “Anyway, you’re right, we are very concerned with the plague and trying to heal our Forsaken allies.  Now more than ever.”

Hamuul did not ask Kiero why she chose to seek him out rather than Staghelm.  She suspected that he could guess.

“Have you found anything about a possible cure?”

“A little,” Hamuul said.  “You might want to visit the Pools of Vision, beneath the Spirit Rise.  The Forsaken there are the dedicated to uncovering the secrets of their illness.” He paused. “I’ll escort you.”

Kiero shifted back to a panther. “Thank you.  I am honored.”

“Stay very close to me,” Hamuul warned.  “I will try to protect you if you are caught, but some tauren are more zealous than others about perceived enemies.”  He glanced over at Magatha Grimtotem’s hut and the two surly thugs who stood outside of it.  They glowered at Hamuul as he passed.

Kiero nodded and kept quiet as they walked toward the Spirit Rise.  Thunder Bluff was a beautiful city, if you didn’t look down.  Kiero had never been fond of heights, unlike Eulalia, who sought them out, primarily for the purpose of jumping off of them to see if she would die.  She would love this place.

Kiero had to think about her friend to soothe her nerves.  She was doing this for the preservation of the earth, yes, but while Kiero and the earth were on good terms, it was Eulalia who had fought with her in countless battles—many of them, ironically, against the Horde.  But this situation was beyond the Horde.  If the Lich King subdued all the Forsaken, the Alliance would suffer first and foremost: Lordaeron was very near to a number of human settlements.

“Odd,” Hamuul muttered, when they were just outside the cave’s entrance. “Usually there are a couple of guards here.”

Kiero could sense several humanoids within the cavern, all clustered together.  She crept at his heels as he stepped inside.  “Please be careful.”

“Hello, friends,” Hamuul called to the group of Forsaken, who were gathered in a tight circle in a corner of the cavern.  A foul smell burned Kiero’s nostrils, much worse than the usual decaying odor that accompanied an undead.  The rot seemed to be rising with the steam off of the pools of water in the cave, and when Kiero looked down she saw that the pools had a faint crimson tint.

“Everything all right?” Hamuul asked, when the circle did not break.

“Watch out,” Kiero snarled.  She dashed forward and pounced on one of the Forsaken, biting into his spine.  The man howled and thrashed, trying to throw her off.  As she crunched his bones in her jaw, she caught sight of bloody tauren parts in the center of the circle.

“They’re turned!” she said.

“We needed the guards for an experiment,” a female Forsaken said. “They happily volunteered.”

“After we cut out their tongues,” said a male.

“So it’s true,” Hamuul said. “You again serve the Lich King.”

In response, one of the men began to cast a spell.  Arcane light shimmered between his fingers, and before Kiero could stop him, he had turned Hamuul into a sheep.  He grinned, and fire crackled in his hands.

But with a roar, Hamuul broke free, his muscles rippling as they shed the white wool for the coarse coat of a bear.  He charged the mage and knocked him senseless.  “Trying that trick on a druid!  You really have lost your minds.”

Guards responded to the commotion in the cave, and as the small space filled, one of the undead stepped away from the crowd.  He opened a portal to a place Kiero didn’t recognize and motioned for the other Forsaken to follow him.  They hissed and spat at their attackers, and then left, the portal closing behind them.

Hamuul pawed the ground in frustration. “We need to search for any notes or diaries, Kieromaris.  Otherwise any discoveries they managed to make will be lost to us.”

He regained his bovine form and instructed the guards to send messengers to the other capitals.

“Over here,” Kiero said, from the top ledge of the cavern.  “There are a few books on this mushroom cap.  But they’re all written in Gutterspeak …”

“Do you know anyone who speaks that language?” Hamuul asked. “Anyone who isn’t insane with hate for you and all other life?”

Kiero sighed. “Sort of.”


That's all for now~!