Arathi Highlands, Year 18
Karramyn Langston was not in the best of moods. Having travelled far and wide, he had finally reached what appeared to be a Stromgardian encampment. "Warn the Alliance," he thought. "Like they have ever done anything for me." Still, he knew the orcs were watching him, making sure he followed Thrall's instructions. How could the plan fail so miserably? Langston vowed destruction upon the ocs, and the Alliance, and just about everyone. As he entered the camp, he noticed an eery silence. Where were all guards, all Stromgardians who should be here? It was seemingly abandoned. But wait, what was that? Langston thought he saw something moving inside the main tent. He went in, and was knocked unconscious.
The first thing Karramyn Langston saw when he woke up was a bluish banner, with a wave, a forked lightning, and a crescent moon. Some sort of orcish clan? Some orcs clad in various shades of blue, teal, and purple appeared. Yes, it was the Stormreaver clan, he remembered. Warlocks. The most wicked of the wicked. There also were, quite unexplainable, six human children, standing silent amongst the warlocks. Langston tried to move, but was unable to do so, as an ornately-clad warlock with a red beard, obviously the leader, walked up to his paralyzed form, wielding a cruel-looking kris dagger. Using the dagger, the orc carved a pentagram in his prisoner's chest. When he was finished, Langston was in agonizing pain, and the pentagram glowed with fel energy. The other warlocks spoke to each other in orcish, and something that appeared to be eredun. Filthy demoniac scum. One orc went up to the leader and started talking to him in orcish, and then turned to Karramyn and spoke to him in common: "You will make a perfect vessel. But alas, the resources are not ours, so you will have to be preserved. This is why Lord Rage inscribed you with the Pentagram." Vessel? Preserved? What was the orc babbling on about? Langston had not time to elaborate on his thoughts, for he fell into a dormant state, and remained so for quite some time.
Chapter I: His Pathetic LifeEdit
Pools of Vision, Thunder Bluff, Year 24
Karramyn Langston woke up. His first impressions were cold and darkness, a cavern. Strange greenish fog surrounded him, as did several orc warlocks, clad like the warlocks he had seen just before he passed out, but slightly older, and also some black-colored cattle standing on their hind legs. He was tied up to a wall. This was, to say the least, weird. Approaching him with foreboding hoofsteps was one of those cow-men, a female, wielding a heavy whip, or, to be more precise, several spiked metal bars linked together. Nightmarish red flames shot out of her mouth, eyes, and nostrils, as she inspected the awakened prisoner.
"So this is the one," she spoke in a wicked tone, but still in perfect common. "The "perfect" specimen. Are you sure this is the one we want, Gahlvhar? He doesn't look too tough."
An orcish warlock on her side answered.
"Sadly, yes, mistress Jezeel. The other ones have either died or decayed due to their inscriptions. This one has a remarkable resistance to the Fel."
"Ah, he will have to do, then. After all, it is the resistance to fel energies that we crave the most. All other things can be augmented after the process."
"Excuse me," Langston spoke warily. "What is happening, exactly?"
Being ignored, Langston spoke again, in a more familiar, arrogant tone:
"I demand you release me, wicked scum! You have no right to hold me here! I will send the Alliance army upon you!"
Jezeel lashed her whip at him, and took great pleasure from the scream of pain that followed.
"It is you who have no right, filthy human! You will be the vessel with which we once again bind the soul of the Glorious Master to the mortal plane. Of course, you will have to perish first. Nothing personal, I assure you."
"What do you mean with vessel and binding and all that, witch? Speak clearly!"
Jezeel gestured to the far end of the cavern, where a strange black and gold contraption stood, sparkling with fel energies. It was emblazoned with a lapis Stormreaver insignia.
"Can your puny eyes see that, human? This is the Soulbinder, our pride and joy. It will be the harbinger of our will, of our Master's will. Gahlvhar, bring the prisoner to the machine."
The orc warlock at her side unchained Langston, and brought him to the Soulbinder. There, he knocked him to the ground, and placed his body on a pentagram near the machine. He then unleashed a green flash of magic towards the lifeless human.
"There you go, mistress Jezeel. The human is dead, and all is set for the summoning to commence."
"That is most excellent. Finally, He can return."
Jezeel went forth to the machine, and placed her hands upon it. She started chanting words of dread in eredun. Suddenly, the fel energies intensified. The body of Langston was lifted up high into the air, and was assaulted by the energies. It jerked violently back and forth, and eldritch markings appeared all over it.
"By Beautiful One! It is working!", Jezeel exclaimed, and pointed a finger at Gahlvhar, killing him instantly, and transferring his spiritpower into a glowing green orb seated upon a wicked black staff being carried by a warlock. Jezeel took the staff from the orc, and threw it towards the hovering body. The corpse caught it, took it in his hands, and fell to the ground, still brimming with dark magic. The warlocks simply stared at it for some time, while it laid twitching on the floor. Then, it rose to it's feet, a fel green glow in it's eyes, and spoke in eredun, with a deep voice:
"Behold, my devoted servants, for I, your Lord, am back, and I will throw this world that has rejected me into the darkest pits of torment! My name shall once again be feared across the worlds, and I shall consume the souls of the heathens! I will reing supreme! I am Gul'dan!"
The assembly fell to their knees and chanted:
"Gul'dan! Gul'dan! Amathar alash! Galtak Valakash'Narag! Galtak Gul'dan, galtak Gul'dan Man'ari!"
Gul'dan basked in the praise of his servants, until suddenly, he dropped to the floor again, the glow in his eyes abruptly stopped. Not long after he had fallen, he rose to his feet again, looking dizzy, and spoke dazedly in common:
"W-what happened? W-where am i? D-didn't I just d-die? M-my head h-hurts..."
His body twitched, and the green glow in his eyes returned.
"You fools! You have failed me! I will..."
"S-stop this! W-what is h-happening?"
"This is unbearable! Someone will have to pay for this!"
Twitch, and his eyes went completely blank. He fell to the floor again.
Chapter II: MindscapeEdit
For the third time in what seemed like a short time, Karramyn Langstone woke up, but this time in a world that was completely featureless, only white as far as the eye could see. Something suddenly floted past him: an image, an image from his mind. Another one. And another. And a whole lot of more, floating by at various speeds. But there was something else, as well, a darkness approaching him. The darkness emanated from a man, an orc, an elderly but clearly evil orc dressed in black robes. A warlock. Gul'dan. Langston looked at the warlock, and the warlock looked back into his eyes. The world changed. A small room, with stone walls and a dirt floor. No doors, no windows, just Langston and Gul'dan. Gul'dan spoke, but without moving his lips. It was a disembodied voice.
"You are the vessel of my soul, human. It would be wise to surrender, before I shatter your will and make your spirit suffer in the rest of eternity."
"Why should I?", Langston replies, and surprisingly found himself too speaking disembodiedly. "This is my body. I have all rights to it, while you have none. If you have lost your own body, it is still no reason for you to take mine!"
"Ah, I see you have quite the fighting spirit! I am beginning to realize that you are unwilling to give up your corporeal form."
"You got that right."
"Soo, what about we share it?"
"We must have some connection, surely? Something that will make us the perfect brothers in arms."
"I have nothing in common with you, orc scum!"
"Oh yes, you do: hatred. You don't like the Alliance, I don't like the Alliance. You don't like the Horde of the son of Durotan, I don't like it, either. I also believe the "new warchief" humiliated you, is that right, Karramyn Cynewalden Langston? Anyway, good name for him. Thrall. Heh."
"Well, I guess there is something in what you say..."
"Indeed! And imagine yourself as a leader, a conqueror, standing in the front of an unrelenting army, crushing all who stand in your way! You could never achieve such a feat alone."¨
The stone room changed into a great battlefield. Karramyn stood there in full armor, legions of troops, undead, marching against a scrambled gathering of man and orc, slaying them with ease and letting them rise to bolster the ranks. Gul'dan was still at his side.
"Alright then, Gul'dan. You have convinced me. Just as long as you guarantee me an equal share of, well, me."
"I wouldn't dare refuse the Great Conqueror such a thing!"
"Tell me one thing: how do you reckon we achieve this "grand victory"?"
"With the two essential concepts of conquest, of course: conquest and subterfuge. They both lead to each other. We are the Destroyer Lord, at the forefront of the oncoming war, slaying thousands with one sweep of our weapon, but also the Striker from the Shadows, spreading the seeds of deceit throughout the world. We will need a suitable name for this endeavour, of course. What did you say your middle name was again?
"Well, you did. Cynewalden."
"Is it well known?"
"Not at all. Only my closest family knows of it, and Cynewalden is not that an uncommon name, either."
"Then it is perfect. I am Gul'dan, you are Langston, but together, we are Cynewalden."
Gul'dan reached out with his hand, requesting a handshake. Langston returned the gesture. The Mindscape faded out, and the real world faded in. Cynewalden rose.
"I have settled my internal affairs. I am here to lead you! Let this be the start of a new era, the age of darkness!"
The Stormreavers once again cheered.
"Gul'dan! Gul'dan! All hail Gul'dan!"
"Please. Call me Cynewalden."
Chapter III: From the Barrens with LoveEdit
The Barrens, Year 25
The wolf sniffed the ground ahead of the longbow-wielding dwarf. The zhevras looked on with curiosity as the pair hastily traversed the dusty lands. Suddenly, the wolf stopped, and the hunter went up to him.
"What is it, Timber?", he spoke in common in an almost elven-accented way. "Have you found the hideout?"
The grey-furred wolf started to dig with his front paws into the ground, until he encountered a steel trapdoor hidden underneath a thin layer of dirt.
"Good work, Timber!, the dwarf said, and removed a piece of meat from his pocket and fed it to the wolf. While the wolf tore it's "prey" to pieces, the dwarf took forth a vial with a teal liquid. He poured the liquid onto the metal, which dissolved quickly. He and his wolf went down through the hole. Inside was what looked like a cross between a laboratory, a smithy, and a demonic shrine.
"They were right after all...", he mumbled, as the wolf went around snifing on things. The dwarf conjured an orb into his hand. The vision of a female high elf appeared. He spoke into it to the elf:
"We've found the smithy, Ms. Swiftwind, but it appears to be abandoned. No sign of where the Craftsman might have gone at a first glance, but we will turn the place upside down if we have to."
"Good job, Athaniar," the elf-maiden replied. "We really need to know more about this armor. Such an artifact of darkness we would not want to fall into the wrong hands."
"Understood. Ranger Athaniar out."
Athaniar unsummoned the orb, and joined Timber in his search. After some hours of very detailed searching through the shelves and drawers, He found a piece of paper hidden underneath a wooden crate on the floor. He took it up and inspected it.
"I think this may be it, Timber. This must be the blueprints of the armor, And by the looks of it, it's even more powerful than we imagined! This makes it even more important to track down this Craftsman."
Timber let out an encouraged bark.
"Good boy, Timber."
The wolf barked again, and seemed to gesture with his paw towards a statue of a doomguard adjacent to a wall. He jumped up and clamped his jaws around the stretched-out arm of the demon. The arm went downwards, and the statue slid to the side, revealing a metal door.
"Good boy indeed."
But they had not much time to rejoice, for with a hissing sound, gas began seeping into the workshop, and a holographic projection of an ornately-clad ethereal noble appeared before the pair. It spoke to them:
"Well well well, intruders. Since this is only a projection, I don't have the faintest idea of who you might be, or then again, I might, but probably not. Anyway, having guests around always makes me happy, so I'm gonna use this opportunity to test one of my latest inventions: I call it Dreadgas. It will first make you suffer a particularly gruesome death, before your bodies decay into horrific corpses, which will within one day rise into ghouls under my command. It's terrible, I know. I should have been able to make you become undead within three hours at least! Ah, enough of my shortcomings, I'll just say: see you later!"
The hologram faded to the sound of bellowing ethereal laughter and the increasingly loyd hissing of the Dreadgas.
"Fear not, Timber," Athaniar assured his furry companion. "For a ranger is always prepared!"
Athaniar then crushed a small glass pellet against Timber's nose, and then one in his hand, and ran straight throught the metal door, wolf right at his heels. They arrived at an end of a desolate stone tunnel.
"I bet this wasn't the last of his surprises."
This would quickly prove to be true, as the same ethereal as in the projection appeared before the couple in person, holding a small black box in his left hand.
"I suspected you would escape even such a brilliant trap, Athaniar. Yes, your reputation preceeds you. Is that you lifting your bow I see? No use for that, I'm afraid. You can never hope to break this forcefield I singlehandedly constructed, unless those arrows are both silvered, thorium, arcane, and dipped in holy water. Well, time for me to go, I guess. I've got a package to deliver."
He tapped the black box.
"Oh, I almost forgot! I'm going to collapse the tunnel on you. There is no way you can survive it, but I'll try not to be too surprised when you inevitable show up later to crash the conference. What conference, you ask? You'll just have to find out, dead or otherwise. People say I talk too much. I say you can't talk much! Ah, have a nice death. Or survival. Or whatever, I don't really care."
With those words of encouragement, the Craftsman teleported away from the scene, and the tunnel started to collapse. Athaniar quickly took out an inscribed stick, broke it in half, and braced for impact. As the rocks fell upon them, a blue light could be seen escaping the scene.
Cynewalden stood watching a wall in the Pools of Vision, when the Craftsman teleported in behind him.
"You have the armor?", the Stormreaver lord asked.
"Of course, m'lord," the ethereal replied, and tapped the black box he was holding with a wand he was holding in the other hand. He then released the box, which started floating in the air before him, before collapsing in on itself, and releasing a burst of green energy, which grew and enveloped Cynewalden. Seconds later, Cynewalden was clad in a full suit of black plate armor, adorned with vicious edges (but no spikes), insidious demonic and skull motifs, and sinster green jewels. The helmet itself resembled both a skull and the ehad of a demon, with a pair of curved horns emerging from the forehead, just above a pair of fel-gem eyes.
Cynewalden inspected his new armor. "Interesting. I like it. Specifications?"
"I made it from an alloy of fel iron and Saronite," the ethereal informed. "I call it Guldite. The gems are heavily fel-induced Chrysoprases. I made it to be both practical and intimidating. Did I succeed?"
Cynewalden smiled, a smile enhanced by the wicked plate. "As always, Craftsman. Now, how about Project Resurgence?"
"It goes as planned. I was surprised that your mooks actually managed to bring back the shards of the phylactery, but once I had them before me on my workbench, it didn't take long before what had been misused and destroyed was whole and functional once again. Now all is left is the ritual with that machine. Well, it's not for nothing they call me the Nether's Finest Felcraftsman."
"You have served me well, Craftsman. You are dismissed."
"Always a pleasure to serve you, m'liege," the Craftsman said as he teleported out. Where he had stood now was a small runed red box of some strange metal: a phylactery.