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The Elemental Investigation (post yours!)
#1
((With all the hectic attacks of raging fire elementals attacking Orgrimmar and the pre-Cataclysm events, feel free to post what your character is doing to get to the bottom of this cultist mystery!))

The sound of parchment hitting the table was what made Kardwel glance up initially from his pot at a small table within the guild hall.

Before him stood a warlock, bedecked in dark robes and shoulder-pads glistening with runes. Beside him, barely high enough to reach the seat of a chair was a small imp, felfire raising from about its body as it waited its master's orders.

Kardwel looked down at the table, noticing yet another copy of the Orgrimmar Times had been what Sentei had thrown down before the paladin.

"I've already heard." Kardwel simply muttered, "Is there anything useful you want to tell me?"

Sentei practically ripped a chair out for himself to sit into, pulling back his Dark Coven Hood at the same time.

"Does this mean nothing to you?" he asked, not beating around the bush.

Kardwel, who had been peacefully viewing his collection of gems and ore, looked back up towards his brother. "It means that a bunch of crazies are parading around Orgrimmar telling people false stories."

"You have to admit, they seem to have something that has the Horde in a tizzy." Sentei said, leaning back in the seat.

"Whatever they're talking about," Kardwel said, placing a small orange gem with a few others, "I highly doubt it's the end of the world."

"You remember my dreams, right?" Sentei asked, "And even you know something isn't right with the energy in the air. Also...the tremors seem to be getting worse."

"All I've heard for the last few weeks is 'earthquakes this' and 'tremors that'." Kardwel replied, "Honestly, I know the crazies are talking about something, but I don't think it's the end of the world. We are finally at peace, besides Alliance matters, and now some stupid cult has to go stir up a bunch of trouble telling us everything is going to explode."

The paladin looked to his older brother again, "You are right, perhaps they may have a point with the odd energy and tremors, but I don't think it's as bad as they say it is. They speak of rising above mortality. When has good ever come of a belief like that?"

Sentei nodded, knowing Kardwel posed a good idea. Still, it didn't settle the uneasy feeling in his gut.

"I'm just saying," he began, "We should at least be prepared for anything worse that may happen." He jammed a finger into the newspaper, "It says here that hundreds of Horde people have gone missing, thousands are expected to be part of this cult now and we have fire elementals attacking the cities and towns of our people at random. There is something going on, and what it is, no one seems to know."

Kardwel tossed a bad ore into a larger growing pile.

"Except this 'Cho'gall' person." He said, "Leader of the Twilight Hammer cult. And since when have we ever helped them?"

"As far as I know," Sentei said, "We're not helping them. I know of quite a few people who infiltrated their little party already." He looked down and scrunched his features as he thought.

"Perhaps..." he began, his voice taking on a tone Kardwel was all too familiar with. And a tone the paladin didn't like hearing. Sentei only ever used it when he planned trouble.

"...we should play a little dress-up ourselves." He posed, quirking one brown eyebrow in Kardwel's direction.

Kardwel sighed and stopped his gem sorting.

"Do you really think that's a good idea?" he asked, not at all thrilled with the aspect.

"It's been a little while since we paid Orgrimmar a visit." Sentei explained, "Maybe we're due again to see how it's holding up. And as for the elementals...well, we seem to have no shortage of shaman within the tribe."
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#2
((Judging distances based on in-game maps is difficult, but I figured the cultists, while crazy, wouldn't be stupid enough to make camp directly outside Orgrimmar, but within close enough distance that travel to and from wouldn't be too great a hassle. Bah. I think too much about these things.))

As night descended on Durotar, Lailya was sneaking out of the encampment the cultists had set up an hour's hard ride from Orgrimmar's gates, a pack full of those strange Elemental Devices slung over her left shoulder while Pizpit clung determinedly to the right.

"Torek'd better be paying a premium for these," the imp muttered.

"Shut up," Lailya hissed as she ducked behind another tent.

"I'm just saying, is all!"

Lailya glared at Pizpit out of the corner of her eye and lifted her right shoulder slightly. The imp got the hint and clamped his jaw shut.

A few tense minutes later, the warlock had left the last of the tents behind as she made a mad dash for the main road. The cultists rarely posted sentries, and while Lailya would normally be loudly and violently calling into question the competence, intelligence, and ancestry of the guard captain for such stupidity, it worked in her favor when she hated all their guts. Bless the overzealous nature of world-ending cults with their narrow focus on ritual and ceremony to communicate with their dark masters.

Or, well, not bless them, really. Damn them, actually. She'd be relaxing back in the guild hall with a mug of spiced tea as she wrote scathing comments in red ink on the latest manifesto published by some Sanctum idiot who couldn't be bothered to test the practicalities of his or her theories if it wasn't for these damn cultists stirring up trouble.

Of course, she honestly had no one to blame but herself for offering her services to Blood Guard Torek to infiltrate the cult in the first place and to continually go back to get more of those devices for study. (The Earthen Rings representatives were hoping to find a way to shut the things down without summoning anymore fire elementals into the city.) Not that she'd admit it when she was tired, hungry, and still seething from the comment about how "No one can tell warlocks and cultists apart anyway."

There was a difference between studying and controlling demonic forces and wanting the world to end in fire and brimstone, for pity's sake!

(Lailya was tempted to host a seminar open to the public at the Ring of Valor called "The Truth about Warlocks: How We Master the Demons So They Don't Master Us," but she strongly suspected she'd be tarred and feathered by both the general population and those warlocks who were servants of the Burning Legion (even though that implied being a half-wit power-mad slave, not an actual warlock). Still, it was an idea that gave her warm and fuzzy thoughts when she'd had one too many glasses of kungaloosh.)

Lailya shook her head as she neared the road. So many years of travel had turned woolgathering-while-walking into an art form, it seemed. As she slowed down, she raised her thumb and index finger to her mouth and whistled sharply.

There was a few tense moments of quiet before a set of heavy footfalls and muffled clicking could be heard. A black raptor emerged from the darkness, stopping before the warlock and lowering his head to shove his muzzle into her stomach with a whine.

Sighing with relief, Lailya scratched Char at the base of the horn on his nose. The raptor made a sound like a high-pitched, scratchy purr. "Your incessant need for cuddles is going to get me gutted one of these days, my dear," she said wryly. Char snorted at her - as if he'd be careless or stupid enough to hurt his mistress - but reluctantly pulled back. She patted his cheek directly beneath his red headstall and handed her pack to Pizpit, who had jumped from her shoulder to the saddle when Char demanded attention.

As Pizpit tied off the pack with the devices stored in it and made sure its weight combined with Lailya's regular traveling packs didn't throw off Char's balance (time was of the essence right now, and even the imp wasn't lazy or stupid enough to make his summoner do it herself when she was cranky and liable to box his ears), Lailya wiggled out of her cultist disguise, muttering darkly about the poorly-made and ill-fitting robes. She finally pulled the hated thing off to reveal the traveling clothes she wore underneath: a tightly-laced black mageweave bodice over a linen blouse, black knothide leather leggings, and a pair of well-worn brown riding boots with low stacked heels.

Comfortable, practical, and loathe as she was to admit it, not likely to get her mistaken for a crazy cultist. Besides, her usual set of robes had been made with Northrend in mind; Durotar, even in autumn, was too damned hot for fancy battle regalia.

Lailya balled up the disguise and shoved it into one of her packs with a final curse at the thing before placing her left foot on Char's knee and hauling herself up into the saddle.

"Hey, watch it!"

"Shut up, Pizpit."

The imp said something in Eredun. The warlock snarled right back in the same language. Pizpit shut up. Char unmistakably snickered.

Lailya gathered up the reins and turned Char north. With a whistle, the raptor was off like a shot toward Orgrimmar. As she settled into Char's rhythmic gait, Lailya hoped this would be the last time Torek had her play spy.

Something told her it wouldn't.
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#3
Lucinther smirked as he donned his battle gear. His leather armor had several metallic plates attached to it to aid with protection. After all, leather wasn't all that great at stopping a blade. His belt now contained more than just a couple of daggers.

His recent scouting mission only confirmed his beliefs. the Twilight Cultists were at it again. It was time to start stabbing things again.
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#4
Mula stood and watched the chaos that was now called Orgrimmar. Cultists in the drag; strange devices everywhere, alliance rushing the main gates (that wasn't actually all that unusual, she mused); and the guards just standing by, sometimes even making jokes. She put on her best armor and made her way to the warchief's chamber.

"Mula, always good to see you," Thrall said.

Mula took a knee. "Warchief."

"What brings you here? Cultists, I would guess."

Mula nodded, "They are causing panic! Is there nothing we can do?"

The warchief smiled, "That is exactly what would cause panic. We must not turn this molehill into a mountain. That is why the guards haven't done anything, yet."

Garrosh Hellscream cleared his throat, "These cultists are like flies: Take away the s#*t, and they will go away. Eventually, people will tire of their prattle. Right now, they make for good entertainment."

Mula nodded at Hellscream, "And the devices?"

"If you can find them, destroy them," Garrosh cleared his throat, "but I am not going to send the guards running around the city on a wild turkey hunt."

"Indeed," Thrall said. "Maintaining order is tantamount. Now, if there is no further business?"

"Thank you for your time, warchiefs," Mula said, bowing.

"Mula, you are one of our best warriors," Thrall added, "if this business with the cultists escalates, I want you close. Be ready. Can I count on you to help protect the city?"

Mula nodded. "Yes, warchief. I will keep watch."

"Thank you."

Mula bowed again and left.
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#5
((Told as Kaerrah, the Feral One))

Her slumber had been disturbed for the third time and her fur itched with irritation. The two-legs of her pack were making those loud chirping noises at eachother again and one of the walking-bad-meat had just thrown a bowl. A familiar feeling scratched at the back of her mind when she focused on their chirping. Some days it almost seemed like she could understand them.

The pack had been on edge lately, all of the two-legs-she-could-not-eat were acting strange in fact. Stretching she shook the last of sleep off and padded quietly out of the pack den. Her ears twitched as the noise of the two-legs assailed her. Flocks of them gathered and squawked at eachother or threw nervous glances about as they scurried to and fro. They all smelled like prey.

She loped easily through the crowds, breaking free of the stench of fear and into the open wilds. She skidded to a halt, her claws digging into the cracked red clay of the ground. Outside with the clear blue sky above her head, her nose was assailed by an entirely new odor. No, not new. Stronger. It had been there before, hidden below the heavy stink of the two-legs. Where had she smelled it before today? Putting her nose to the wind she breathed deeply. It was acrid, dry, and it made her want to choke up her lunch, but still she circled until the scent grew stronger. Angling towards it she took off, her form shifting fluidly into one of speed.

Cresting a hill, the wind shifted and the scent hit her so hard her gait faltered. Stumbling she shifted back to a form of deadly grace and was steady within two strides. Before her a pack of the two-legs-she-could-not-eat were shouting and dying, locked in combat with living flames. She knew the smell, she had always known the smell. It was the smell of a wild fire on the open plains. It was death, clawing desperately through the tall grass to consume her. It was an end of everything.

And in a lucid a moment of clarity she knew- It was everywhere.

With a roar of fear and rage she lunged into the battle.
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#6
Rincewindy awoke with a start; the ground was shaking again. It was very rare that he would wake early from his slumber, and the earthquakes were nothing new. Except there was something different this time. He slid open the coffin lid, and climbed out. He didn’t care much for the soft beds that other denizens were used to. Even after regaining his memories of when he was a human, he found that he still preferred the quiet solitude that the coffin provided. He walked up the stairs of the crypt and stepped into the night. There was a disturbance somewhere in the surrounding forest; he could feel something. Maybe the opening of a portal...he felt the air with his bony fingers, drawing from the arcane powers he was so familiar with. He slowly pivoted until ... there! He started to walk in the direction of the disturbance, the disruption getting stronger. He then realized that he no longer needed magic to direct him. He saw the vortex as clear as day.

He knew what he must do. Closing the vortex would be no easy task, but there was no time to call for backup. He began casting the spell, violet runes forming around him on the ground. He concentrated on pulling the energy from the ground and using it to repair the damage. He was too late. The elementals had also sensed the anomaly and he could see them coming from their plane into his. The only thing he could do was finish closing the rift before it was too late.

First one, then another fire elemental began to emerge from the rift. Rincewindy put up his shield as several more started to come right at him. Just a few more moments. He needed to buy himself some time. Casting any spell beside his shield could cause a disruption with the spell that was repairing the rift. He put everything he had into closing the portal. The runes began to glow a brilliant pink and sped up in rotation until they became a blur. He vaguely realized that the first elemental was beating on his shield. The runes flashed white and then winked out. Rincewindy breathed a sigh of relief. The vortex was closed.

He could now focus on the elementals. He realized that he was surrounded now, and that his shield was quickly failing. There were more elementals than he could possibly handle. By the time the rift was sealed, nine elementals had managed to come through. He also vaguely noticed that there were small patches of burning leaves where the elements passed over. He blasted one elemental with his power, but hardly slowed its attack. He let out a volley of arcane missiles. He let out several more blasts of arcane energy and felt the surge of power. One more blast and the elemental fizzled into thin air. But now there were three on him.

His shield gave out, as if anticipating that the three would be too much to handle. He had to get out of there. He cast an enchantment on the ground and ran. The elementals tried to pursue him, but ice formed around them where they touched the ground. It only stopped them for a heartbeat, though. Their flames burned through the ice, and they were after him, twice as fast, now. One swiped at him, and he felt his cloak catch fire. He released a wave of arcane energy and blinked.

When he opened his eyes, he had put an extra 20 feet between him and the creatures. It was then that he hit the tree. He cursed out loud. He placed his back against the tree and reformed his shield. He was going to have to take a stand. The elementals were on him again, but he had given them several more choices. There were now four of him. He let loose a barrage of arcane power. Another one went down. Still too many left. He reached up to the sky, feeling the moisture in the air and grasped hold, turning it into snow, he gathered power and directed the storm over the elementals. Ice and snow pelted into them and they began to weaken. The forest floor was on fire, the elementals were beating on his clones, and he was running out of power. He watched as his clones dissipated. He once again was surrounded. He continued to direct the snow and ice at the fire elementals. He felt his shield go out again, and then they were on him. He heard a scream, then realized it was his own. His robes had caught fire. He ignored the pain and focused all his energy on keeping the blizzard going. He saw several more go down. Just a few more seconds.

The flames were all over him, now. He had a moment of clarity and then absorbed the energy of the flames consuming him...and then he was consuming them. The fire exploded outwards, white hot flames cutting through the elementals like they were made of paper. He watched with burning eyes as the last elemental turned to smoke and ash, then collapsed to his knees.

He took a moment to recuperate, then conjured up some water and put out the fires in the forest. Exhausted, he walked back to his place of rest. He would tell the others the following day.

The sun crept up over the edge of the world as he walked back. He walked slowly, lost in thought. He passed a young forsaken on the way back and looked back at him. The young one quickly averted his eyes and walked on. Rincewindy looked down at his charred robes. He pulled out a knife and looked at his reflection. His face had been blackened from the flames, his hair was next to nothing, and his eyes had developed an orange glow. He cussed...that is, he tried to cuss, except nothing came out. He tried to scream, but all that came out was a breath of air. He felt the heat building up inside him. He raced to a nearby lake and jumped in, hoping the waters would cleanse his burns and his voice. He scrubbed his face, feeling the heat dissipate. He took the knife out again. He saw the newly formed scars that ran from his cheeks down to his chest. Disgusted, he threw the knife far into the waters. He screamed soundlessly, and fell to the ground holding his head in his hands.

* * *

The following days he kept to the shadows. He kept his head down when passing others, avoiding conversations and dodging questions. He didn’t know how long he could avoid the truth. He only knew he wasn’t ready to face it.
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#7
A shrill whining screech pierced the cool green Feralas woodlands and blasted through the drowsing consciousness of a large black cat sprawled in a puddle of sunlight on the deck of an airy, handbuilt treehouse.

“Gadzooks!” thought Nganga as he peeled himself off the roof beams. “Did someone goose the harpies again?”

The ear-shattering sound faded to a subliminal hum as he assumed his Tauren form. Elune’s blessing on small favors. Never thought he’d be happy to have his little ears back.

He licked his nose as a breeze set the deck swaying. Ozone... Wind spirits in Feralas? Pissed-off wind spirits by the sound of them. Smelled like they were near the coast. What the Wrynn was going on?

Maybe the annual kodo migration was not, in fact, responsible for the intermittent rumbling and shaking of the ground. Maybe those wild-eyed naked folks running around with signs pasted to their chests were not just part of a Hallow’s End celebration gone on too long. Maybe a little trip to Zorbin’s camp by the docks was in order. Zorb always had his ear to the ground and his thumb on the copper. Zorb would know.

Nganga sighed, shook his head, and slid down the polished wooden pole to the ground. Even with the limited senses available to his bornform, the unending shriek of the elementals made his teeth ache.

“All right, you hooligans! Who wants a trip to the beach?” A cacophony of pained neighing, roaring, howling and yelping answered his shout as he thumped off to the paddock to check on his housemates. His jaw dropped. “By the large red sack of Ragnaros, what’s all this?”

The place was in chaos. Food was scattered all over the ground, water bowls were overturned and smashed; a cloud of feathers, bedding straw, and fur drifted through the air. Aki, Pekka, Mika, and Otto seethed in a furry howling pile near the gate, shaking their heads in distress. Kapik, Iqniq, and Naartok thudded their shoulders ponderously against the logs, growling unhappily. Taniwha, Rangi, Koro, and Poto shrieked and hissed at each other, clicking horns. Rani was huddled in an orange and black lump of fur in the corner, head buried in her paws.

Nganga strode quickly to her side. “Rani, jewel of jewels, queen among queens, I will fix this.” He moved among the throng of panicked animals, scratching ears, patting feathers back into place, singing a calming chant. Gradually the madness abated.

“Ho, my children! Follow me to the winter pens inside the tree. It will be quieter there.“ The ungainly pack lollopped off towards the sturdy arboreal refuge, to seek relief behind thick walls of living wood. Relative calm descended upon the glade.

Family settled, the tall Druid strode back to the pen, mucked out the stables and repaired the damage. He bent to shift a haybale. A hard shove to his backside sent him reeling across the grass. Fetching up against a water barrel, he blinked in surprise at the lumpy grey form grinning toothlessly at him. The old kodo, companion of his youth, was deaf as a rock but still strong as a Dwarf’s breath. Nganga picked himself up and clunked the kodo merrily on the noggin with a meaty fist. He bent over and hollered into a scarred, floppy ear.

“Scooty!” Nganga inflated his lungs for another mighty bellow. “Want to go check out this problem with me?” Scooty peered dimly at the black Tauren from watery brown eyes, slowly working his jaws. Finally the kodo nodded his head, and knelt so the Druid could haul himself aboard.

Nearby saplings wobbled as the weighty team moved off towards the coast.
Nganga Nyeusi
He is fast and is the danger.
What's a dazzling urbanite like you doing in a rustic setting like this?
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