Friday, September 23, 2011

Planning and Preparation

The searing heat was palpable as the team entered the Firelands portal. On the other side, the Avengers of Hyjal, the night elves’ elite troops, had established a beachhead.

Wiegraff spoke to the night elf commander and nodded even as his team availed themselves of much-needed provisions. The Tauren druid returned with a determined look on his face.

“Hunters, I’ll need you both to map the area and pick out our targets,” Wiegraff started issuing instructions. “This will serve as our fallback position. If things go badly in there, we rendezvous here. The Avengers of Hyjal have agreed to provide us with as much support as necessary. We move out once the hunters are done.”

In a corner, Killstrike and Bladewisp stood with eyes closed and palms held outward, rotating slowly. The skill was called Eagle Eye and was taught to all hunters. With this, they were able to get a bird’s-eye view of the territory for a long distance. “You got it, mon?” Killstrike asked.

Bladewisp nodded. “More or less. There’s a lot fo roving patrols to handle, and some of those giants look nasty. We’ll need to clear the immediate area before the primary targets.” The orc hunter pulled out a roll of soft leather and a hefty piece of charcoal and started sketching a rough map.

Even as he did so, Killstrike was talking to some of the night elves, gathering what information he could. He returned shortly and called Wiegraff over. Bladewisp’s map was done.

“Dere’s a lot of roving patrols and giants, but nothin’ we can’t handle easily,” Killstrike began, pointing at specific points along a rough path that circled the plain. “Mostly elementals, molten giants, core hounds and scorpions.”

“Dere’s a citadel here,” the troll hunter pointed at a northern structure that seemed cut off from the rest of the land. “But dere’s no bridge so not sure how we’ll get across the chasm. Dere be 4 primary targets we can see, and 1 we know about only from de night elves.”

“According to de Avengers o’ Hyjal, dis here be de lair of Beth’tilac,” Killstrike pointed at the eastern part of the map, where a narrow pathway led to a cul de sac. “From what de night elves say, she be a mean old flame spider dat has killed many a mercenary company like ours.”

The troll’s finger moved to the western part of the map. “Up dis ramp is da elemental Lord Rhyolith, supposed to be da strongest molten giant in da Firelands. Near his lair is the Shatterstone plain, where da night elf traitor Fandral Staghelm is supposed to be. Da gateway to da citadel is guarded by Baleroc, called da Gatekeeper. Dat makes 4.”

“De night elves say there is a fifth one that roams around this plain,” Killstrike indicated the central area of the map. “He be Shannox, called the Hunter. He only comes out when many of the beasties in the area are threatened. We’ll likely see him before any of the others.”

Wiegraff nodded slowly, brows furrowed. He called the entire unit over and explained his plan. “Very well, we push outward down this ramp to the flatland. Once there, we’ll head east. I want the eastern area leading to the flame spider cleared of all elementals, scorpions, molten giants, and core hounds. Once we clear enough, I daresay this Shannox the Hunter will show himself. This cleared area will serve as our battlefield to take him out before heading to Beth’tilac. Any questions?”

A bony hand went up. Slippy, the troll rogue, piped up. “What do we know about dis Shannox? Does he have pets like our hunters? Traps mebbe?”

Killstrike stepped forward. “The night elves tell us dat Shannox is accompanied by 2 hounds, named Riplimb and Rageface.”

“We must assume that this hunter will have trapping abilities just like ours,” Bladewisp chimed in.

Oicmus, the other blood elf paladin, waved airily as he patted his nose with a cloth. The sulfurous smell here was annoying. “Pah, hounds. Filthy creatures. We should take them out before focusing on Shannox himself.”

Cyan was already rubbing his hands together. “Wonder how much gold we’ll make off of the leather from those hounds? Ok, who wants potions? Just 50 gold a vial!”

Wiegraff stared at Cyan sternly.

“What? I’m kidding! Here, everyone get a flask from my cauldron.”

Wiegraff turned to Mal and Jizal. “You two will be the vanguard of our assault. Bulalo and Slippy will be melee support while Cyan and the 2 hunters will be ranged support. Oicmus, Veexie, and myself will make sure people don’t die. Understood?”

Mal shrugged. “Jizal can pick up any stragglers after my initial assault.”

Jizal’s eyes widened. “Stragglers? My avenger’s shield will show you…”

The two were still arguing when the mercenary company mounted up and rode out. Killstrike hefted his longbow in one hand.

“You trolls really do favor longbows, eh?” Bladewisp commented.

“Yeh, mon,” the troll responded with a toothy grin. “Nothin’ like a bow and arrow to deliver death from afar with no one da wiser.”

A few hours, 2 molten giants, 2 packs of scorpions, 4 elemental scourges, and 1 core hound later, the mercenary company were gathered on the cleared flat plain resting and preparing for the arrival of Shannox the Hunter.

Earlier, they had heard his horn a few times, each one closer than the last. It was time.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Reboot: Into the Firelands

The heat was stifling here.

Amid the flowing lava just outside the Sulfuron Spire, dry smoke and ash drifted upwards and permeated the atmosphere. They had fought long and hard to get to this point. Supported by the Warchief’s own Kor’kron infantry, their mercenary unit had smashed through the Twilight’s Hammer resistance from Mount Hyjal to the Twilight Highlands, in the process defeating Deathwing’s most powerful lieutenants.

Even as the Bastion of Twilight had fallen, the call had sounded from Grommash Hold in Orgrimmar. The Horde and its Warchief had need of bold adventurers to drive the offensive into the Firelands, deep into the territory of the Firelord Ragnaros. As one of Deathwing’s most powerful supporters, and an elemental lord to boot, Ragnaros possessed the key to final resolution of the Cataclysm on Azeroth.

Warchief Garrosh Hellscream looked upon the mercenary unit’s leader with distaste. He would have preferred an orc be the leader of the mercenary unit that would be the first to fight in the Firelands. “Wiegraff of the Terra Cotta clan of the Tauren. Both Vol’jin and Baine Bloodhoof speak very highly of your mercenary unit.”

The Tauren druid, Wiegraff, bowed deeply before the Horde Warchief. “Lok’tar ogar, Warchief of the Horde. We stand ready for the push into the Firelands. We shall be the head of the spear that destroys Ragnaros and brings peace to this land.”

Mal, a female orc warrior, chimed in. “And glory to the Horde!” Garrosh nodded his approval at the outburst. At least there were more than a few orcs in this unit.

Cyan, a goblin warlock, whispered in a subdued voice. “And riches to us!” Veexie, a blood elf priest, chuckled as she shot him a glance. “Hush, lest you bring the wrath of the Warchief.”

The warlock shrugged. He had never felt beholden to authority, much less that of this Warchief. Garrosh wasn’t even the real Warchief, just a stand-in while the real Warchief, Thrall, was off doing other things. Thrall. Now there was a Warchief one could respect.

“Lok’tar ogar! For the glory of the Horde! The way to the Firelands lies past the gateway of Sulfuron Spire. The way lies open to you. Strike fast and true, warriors of the Horde! Attack!” Garrosh screamed.

As one, all 10 members of the mercenary crew mounted up and flew over the lake of molten fire and onto the platform that led into the Firelands.

“You ready for dis, mon?” Killstrike, a troll hunter, turned to his fellow hunter, an orc named Bladewisp.

The orc shrugged as he adjusted his Lava Bolt Crossbow, twin to the one the troll held. “We’ve fought our way this far. I’ve got a special bolt just for Ragnaros’ eye.”

The troll nodded his approval. “As do I, mon. As do I.”

Bulalo, a Tauren shaman, turned to both hunters. “Remember, when everything starts to fall apart in there, it’s Cyan’s fault.”

The blood elf paladin, Jizal, brightened considerably at that. “Finally, it’ll be someone else’s fault this time.”